Advertisement, horse-drawn fire truck,1871

ELLEN WOLFE WREN (1858–1927)

Ellen "Nellie" Wolfe was baptized on December 7, 1858, having been born at the Glen, the family farm near Cratloe, Parish of Athea, County Limerick. She was the daughter of  Richard E. Wolfe and Catherine White Wolfe, and her siblings included Maurice Richard (b. 1853), Patrick Richard (b. 1861), John W. (b. 1864), Richard White (b. 1866), Catherine (b. 1868), Mary A. (b. 1870), Michael (b. 1870), Johanna (b. 1873), and Nano.

Nellie Wolfe immigrated to the United States in 1885. Records indicated that her brother Richard left Queenstown, County Cork, on May 7, 1885, on a ship owned by the Cunard Steamship Company. The American destination is unclear. It appears that joining Richard were his siblings Patrick, Ellen, John, Mary, and Nano. While Patrick settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the rest of the family went on to Chicago, where Richard W. Wolfe served as the city's commissioner of public works from 1927 until 1931.

Wolfe married Thomas C. Wren, a Limerick native and Chicago firefighter, and the couple had five children: Maurice (b. 1885), Richard James (b. 1887), Johanna Loretta (b. 1889), Thomas Joseph (b. 1893), and John F. (b. 1896).

On March 29, 1897, Thomas Wren, a driver for Engine Company No. 51, and his captain were injured when their horse-drawn vehicle collided with an electric car on Wentworth Avenue in Chicago. According to the Chicago Tribune report, a fire alarm sounded and the engine emerged from its house. "Driver Wren […] failed to see an electric car approaching from the south," the paper wrote, "and before he was aware of danger the car plunged directly into the horses."

Wren and the captain were both "thrown violently to the street under the wreck." One of the horses was killed instantly. After suffering what likely was a traumatic head injury, Wren was placed briefly in the county insane asylum and died in May 1900. Nellie Wren died on September 26, 1927, and is buried with her husband in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Chicago.