This obituary of JAMES BUCKLEY WOLFE appeared in the Oxford Mirror, page 5, on February 3, 1916. Wolfe was my great-grandfather Maurice’s oldest brother. What strikes me is how this obituary, more than most, seems to be a means of remembering the early history of Clinton County, Iowa. Wolfe is cast in the role of the archetypal pioneer: one who made a pilgrim’s progress from Ireland, through the Slough of Despond (Chicago, apparently), fields of fire, and finally to the Celestial City, otherwise known (ironically?) as Lost Nation. It’s as if the obituary writer were not so much taking stock of James Wolfe as s/he was of the entire community.
Anyway, as for the misnomer in the headline: Wolfe did have a younger brother called John B., born in 1851.
Obituary of John B. Wolfe, Pioneer
James B. Wolfe was born in County Kerry, Ireland, April 13, 1844, and died at his home near Lost Nation, Iowa, January 27, 1916. When an infant he came to this country with his parents. The history of his life is the story of the immigrant and pioneer. They came to Chicago. Where a vast city now stands there were then only swamps and sloughs. Afterwards the family moved to Ottawa, Illinois, and later, in 1854 came to Iowa settling on the same farm, a part of which the deceased owned at the time of his death.
At that time, where there are now prosperous well tilled farms, there was a vast unbroken prairie over which the deer roamed at will and through which surged the all devouring prairie fire sweeping everything before it. Here, the deceased experienced the struggles and privations of pioneer life. Through the sides of the rude hut of a home, the wind and the weather blew. Often did he tell of how he shook the snow from the bed covers on awakening and brushed it aside on the floor to make a bare place upon which to stand while dressing. He lived to see the great evolution and progress of the past almost three quarters of a century. He saw the railroad, the steam engine, and the automobile displace the rail and the ox drawn wagon of the pioneer and the transformation which has made an unbroken, unpeopled* prairie the garden spot of the world.
The deceased united in marriage to Annie O’Connor, February 8, 1872, which union was blessed with seven children all of whom with the wife survive. They are John O. C., Nora L. and James L., of this place; Mrs. Frank Goodall [May R.], of Toronto; Doctor Jeremiah, of Grand Mound; Mrs. I. S. Ryan [Anna], of Welton; and Attorney Walter I., of Dunlap. Besides, the deceased leaves to mourn his death four brothers and three sisters as follows: Judge P. B. Wolfe, Mrs. T. D. Fitzgerald [Katherine] and Mrs. D. Langan [Margaret I.] of Clinton; Attorney Richard B. of DeWitt; Maurice B. of Lost Nation; and Sister M. Scholastica [Johanna] of St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital, Sioux City.
He was a man of sterling worth and unimpeachable character who counted every man his friend. Always a natural leader of men he held many positions of honor and trust, though never a seeker after public acclaim. At the time of his death, he was president of the Lost Nation Savings Bank.
The funeral services were held at St. James’ church, Toronto. Requiem High Mass was celebrated by Father McNamara assisted by Father Regan of Oxford Junction and Father Small of Lost Nation and the choir of the Sacred Heart church, Lost Nation. Father Small paid an eloquent tribute to the faith of the deceased—a life-long Catholic in which faith he so calmly and resignedly passed away.
The remains were borne to their last resting place by sight of his life-long neighbors and friends, namely James Connors, Anthony Early, William Burnett, Thomas Early, Edward O’Donnell, Edward Scanlan, M. P. O’Connor and James Hughes.
Those from a distance who attended were, Judge P. Wolfe and daughter Mollie and Mrs. T. D. Fitzgerald and daughter Margaret of Clinton; R. B. Wolfe and family and Mrs. M. Scanlan of DeWitt, Iowa; John B. Wolfe of Melrose, Iowa; Kate Carroll, Kilkenny, Minnesota; Mrs. B. McBride of Hawarden, Iowa; Hugh Buckley, Chicago; O. S. Gilroy and Jennie McLaughlin of Bettendorf, Iowa; and Mr. and Mrs. T. J. Leahy of Fulton, Illinois.
* It should go without saying that this was not true.