Historical Details

Wolfe Family

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 01/21/2021

THE WOLFE FAMILY

by Mrs. Robert Wolfe

One of Niobrara County's most interesting and colorful family histories is that of the Wolfe family, which spans four generations and more than a century of time, most of which was spent in this region of Wyoming.

The great grandfather, William Wesley Wolfe, was born in Morgan County, Illinois, Nov. 9, 1831.   His parents moved to Burling­ton, Ia., when he was two years of age, crossing the Mississippi river in a flat boat.     Burlington at that time had but one store. As a young man he was one of a vast throng of "forty-niners" who visited the California Gold Fields.     His route took him down the Mississippi across the Gulf of Mex­ico, across the Isthmus of Panama, by way of the Pacific. He related to his children and grandchildren through the years many realistic and thrilling stories of incidents he encountered, both by land and sea, during this adventure.

He returned to Iowa where he bought a farm, and resided there until 1856 when he again pushed westward into Cass County, Nebraska. On March 27, 1865 he was married to Jennie Brinson, who was born in Andrew County, Missouri, May 28, 1844, the daughter of David Brinson. The young couple acquired a 400 acre farm near Union, Nebr. They had three sons born to them: Wesley T., David H. , and Jay J. One son, David, passed away in early childhood.

In the year 1885 it was decided to move the young family westward due to the delicate health of the mother, Jennie.  Hav­ing heard of the invigorating climate in Wyoming, plans were made for the trek by wagon, bringing with them a milk cow tied to their wagon.  In June of that year, they arrived near what is now Lusk.   At that time it was located west of the Silver Cliff hill. They lived in a tent until a livable abode could be built east of Silver Cliff hill, which is the present site of Lusk. The town then consisted of an old stone stage station for stages enroute on the old stage coach trail from Cheyenne to Deadwood, 'a store,' some saloons and a few other buildings.

After living here for a short time, the family homesteaded land near Rawhide Buttes and began a cattle business which has con­tinued through the years. William W. Wolfe died Sept. 30, 1924, and was preceded in death by his wife Jennie.

Wesley T. Wolfe, the eldest son, started in the cattle business on the Rawhide Buttes homestead with his father.

In 1891 he went back to Nebraska and married Alice Chalfant. Two sons were born to them, John Wesley Feb. 1, 1893 and Robert Eugene Sept. 17, 1908 in Lusk.

In 1898 they bought the Lowry Ranch on Rawhide and went into the stock business. The ranch was named the 9 Ranch and has since been the scene of many interesting activities.  They raised cattle, sheep and at one time hogs. The cattle and sheep were worthwhile, but the hog raising was not so profitable as not enough corn could be brought in to feed them.   This project was for the elder son, John Wesley, and he termed it one of those hard work and no profit ones.

Mr. W. T. Wolfe was very interested in purebred show horses and went to Kentucky and brought back many of these and trained them for various horse shows over the coun­try. One of this original strain is still owned by his youngest son, Robert.

If one should drive up Rawhide Creek, he could still see parts of an old cement dam which was built by Mr. Wolfe to irrigate an alfalfa field nearby. With the huge number of cowpokes, sheep herders and guests to feed came the need for a larger supply of food stuff. Thus a commissary was stocked. This became a source of supplies to the surrounding community.

Mrs. Wolfe always gave her time and efforts to all who passed by. She was never too busy to care for the sick child of a relative or friend or to entertain the easterners who were seeking some adventure in the new west.

The old 9 Ranch afforded the setting of several colorful and interesting books written by William Lighton who, with his family spent much time as guests at the ranch. Two of his best known books being, "When Cupid Came to 9 11 and the "Billy Fortune Stories".        

The Wolfe family also is in possession of some beautiful paintings of scenes on the ranch done by Robert Gilder, another frequent visitor from Omaha, Nebr. Students and professors from Amherst College and the American Geological Institution made 9 Ranch a stopping place when working in this part of Wyoming. Some of these eastern professors became close friends of the Wolfe family.

Mr. W. T. Wolfe was 32nd degree Mason and always took an active part in all com­munity activities. He passed away in 1926 and for a number of years Mrs. Wolfe and son, Robert, operated the ranch.

Later a greater part of the ranch was sold to Frank Harris and the remainder was kept by the youngest son, Robert. Mrs. Wolfe moved to Jay Em in 1948 and although she was 80 years old, it was a familiar scene to see her making her daily visit to the post office and store with a cheerful word and a pleasant smile for all. The dynamic personality which she possessed indeed marked her an unforgettable character. She died Sept. 16, 1951.

After returning from overseas duty in World War I, the elder son, John Wesley, returned briefly to the ranching business and later accepted a position with the Ohio Oil Company which
he held until  his retire­ment.  He was married to Oneita Scott from Nebraska, and they moved to Lusk.       Their family consisted of a son, Edward Scott (Eddie) and a daughter, Elizabeth Ann (Bet­ty). They both attended school and grew to adulthood in Lusk.  Eddie moved to Cali­fornia where he lived until his death at the age of 33. He is survived by his wife, Jeannine and three children, Linda, Marilyn and Wesley Robert. The daughter, Betty and her husband, Leroy Redfield and their five children, Leanne, Becky, David, Jon and Lisa are at the present time operating the "Hospitality House" Motor Motel in Lusk.

The mother, Oneita, passed away in April, 1966 and the father, John Wesley, in October 1972.

Robert Eugene remained on the ranch until 1941 when he was married to Lavon (Bonnie) Gabbert from Missouri and they moved to San Diego, Calif. for a number of years where he was employed by General Dynamics.

In 1946 he and his wife, Lavon returned to Jay Em where he operated the Wolfe Re­ pair Shop in conjunction with raising cattle on his portion of the original Ranch for 21 years.

They then returned to California where he worked in his former position of employ­ment until the time of his death on March 13, 1972.  He is survived by his widow Lavon Wolfe, who remains the owner of his portion of the original Wolfe 9 Ranch in the Raw­hide Buttes near Lusk.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Wolfe, William (11/30/-0001 - 09/28/1924) View Record
Obituary Wolfe, Alice (05/22/1869 - 09/16/1951) View Record