WILLIAM WOLF is descended from a stalwart German family who in an early day made a settlement in Washington county. Peter Wolf, great-grandfather of our subject, was born in Germany, and prior to the French-Indian war in this country emigrated from his home on the banks of the Rhine, to seek a new one on the less densely populated American continent, where
A man is a man if he's willing to toil,
And the poorest may gather the fruits of the soil.
When the Wolf family came to Washington county they made their home in the dense forest, where roamed the wolf, the deer and the bear, and the ofttimes less welcome Indian. Here they lived in comparative safety in their little log house, enduring all the hardships and privations incident to pioneer days, and ere they passed from earth were eyewitnesses to very many of the changes that brought about the development of civilization in their midst. At one time the Indians became so hostile that the settlers were compelled to seek safety in the nearest blockhouse. Peter Wolf bought three farms in this county, one for each of his sons, William, John and Jacob. Two sons, Peter and Cresley, had moved to Ohio, where all trace of them is lost. The father died in this county at a very advanced age, and it may here be mentioned that the family have generally been remarkably long-lived.
William Wolf, grandfather of William, was born in Lancaster county, Penn. In 1775 he came to Washington county, and soon afterward enlisted in the service of Louis Wetzel, the great Indian-hunter, as a spy. For some time he taught in country schools. In those days the Indians were very hostile, and the only protection the settlers had was a blockhouse or fort, situated some distance off. William Wolf married Miss Susan Ashbaugh, who bore him eight children: Mary, Betsey, Susan, William, Peter, John, Simon and Christopher, all of whom lived to be over eighty years of age, except William who died when sixty years old. The mother died some time in the early part of the present century, and the father afterward remarried in Ohio; he died in 1840, aged fourscore years, his second wife surviving him. Jacob Wolf, his brother, followed farming in Buffalo township, and was also a justice of the peace. His home was on the road usually taken by travelers, and his house frequently served the purposes of an inn. One of his daughters, Sabina, was a beautiful girl of a comely figure. In 1780, when she was eighteen years of age, Judge Hugh H. Brackenridge, of Philadelphia, being en route, in company with several friends, for Wheeling, W. Va., stopped at her father's house, to seek a night's lodging. Sabina was told to "put the gentleman's horse away," and supposing herself unobserved sprang lightly on the horse's back, and galloped off to the stable. The Judge, however, saw the act, and also observed that on her return to the house she cleared the fence with a running jump. Brackenridge was so delighted at seeing such an agile female, so different from city girls, that he passed the entire evening in conversation with the fair damsel, and became so infatuated with her, that, just as he was about to renew his journey the following morning, he asked the "old squire" for his daughter's hand in marriage. A few days later, on his return trip, the Judge again stopped at the house of his lady-love, married her in her father's house, and took her with him to Philadelphia, where he had her educated in a select seminary. Some of her descendants are now residents of Washington county, where she died some twenty years ago.
Peter Wolf, father of our subject, was a native of this county, having been born in the year 1786, in Buffalo township, where he was reared to farm life, but subsequently learned the trade of cabinet maker with John Wilson, of Washington borough, where he followed the business forty years. In 1849 he was elected sheriff of the county, serving three years, and then retired into private life. In 1813 he married Miss Sarah McGonigal, a lady of Irish parentage, and a native of Carlisle, Penn., who had come to Washington, Penn., when about thirteen years of age. The children born to them were William; Elizabeth, wife of William K. Shannon, of South Strabane township; Jane, wife of John C. Copeland, of Steubenville; Sarah, wife of J. H. Bristow, also of Steubenville, and Simon, who died in Washington, Penn. The father died in 1865 at the age of eighty years, the mother in 1846, aged fifty years.
William Wolf, the subject proper of this sketch, was born in the borough of Washington, Penn., June 10, 1815. He was educated at the schools of the place, and learned the trade of cabinet maker, at which he worked in Washington some twenty-eight years. For twenty years he has been speculating and dealing in real estate. He built the John A. Best store, which he afterward sold to Mr. Best. In 1836 Mr. Wolf was married in Washington to Lavina, daughter of Joseph Hallam; they have had no children. He is a Republican in politics, and during his father's incumbency as sheriff he served as deputy under him. His is a Sir Knight Templar, and at one time was a member of the I. O. O. F. Strictly a temperance man, Mr. Wolf has not tasted liquor for forty years, and has never used tobacco in any form. For thirty-four years he has lived at the same hoome, in South Strabane township, just outside the borough limits. Mr. Wolf has made his own success in life, and has accumulated a comfortable competence.
Text taken from page 698 of:
Beers, J. H. and Co., Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1893).
Transcribed September 1997 by Paula Talbert of Caldwell, OH as part of the Beers Project.
Published September 1997 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com/.
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