Biography of Gideon R. Wolfe

Gideon R. Wolfe has one of the longest records of public service of any county officer in Kansas. For practically a quarter of a century he had been county surveyor of Ellsworth County. Mr. Wolfe is a man of thorough technical training and experience and is a pioneer in Western Kansas.

He was born in Center County, Pennsylvania, April 29, 1829, and undoubtedly he is also entitled to distinction as one of the oldest men still active in public service. He was eighty-eight years of age at his last birthday. He comes of English stock, the Wolfes having located in Pennsylvania in colonial times. His father, George Wolfe, was born in Center County, Pennsylvania, in 1789, the year that George Washington was inaugurated President of the United States. His death occurred in Center County in 1857. He spent all his life there as a hard working and plain and substantial farmer. In politics he was identified with the whig party. He was a very active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. His wife, Elizabeth, was born in Center County and died there in 1872. They had three children: William, who died in Center County, where he had been manager in stores; Gideon R.; and Charles, who died at Philadelphia soon after his enlistment for service in the Civil war.

Gideon R. Wolfe grew up and received such advantages as the rural schools of Center County could afford. At the age of twelve he left his father’s farm and for five years served an apprenticeship at the carpenter’s trade. This was the trade which he followed in Center County before the war, when, in 1861, he enlisted in the Bucktails, but later went to Washington, where he was assigned as civil engineer of Geisborro Point. He was there employed as surveyor until six months after the close of hostilities. He then resumed work at his profession in Center County, Pennsylvania, doing journeyman carpentry and also working in a planing mill, and while there he built a number of churches.

Mr. Wolfe came out to Kansas in 1870, first locating in Dickinson County. There he was a builder and was general superintendent of various engineering and surveying projects for three years. In 1873 he transferred his residence to Hays in Ellis County and continued the profession of surveying there until 1889, in which year he permanently located at Ellsworth. Since coming to Ellsworth Mr. Wolfe had done considerable building and was also for a number of years identified with railroad work. Since 1891 he had filled the office of county surveyor continuously except for three years.

Mr. Wolfe is a republican, a member of the Presbyterian Church and he joined the Masonic fraternity back in Pennsylvania. His home is on Douglas Avenue in Ellsworth, where in 1908 he had built a fine modern residence. Mr. Wolfe married in 1846, when he was seventeen years of age, in Center County, Pennsylvania, Miss Sarah McMulley. She was born in Center County in 1827 and died at Hays, Kansas, in 1887. They had nine children: Harry, a merchant in Colorado; Mary, wife of a Colorado farmer; Mrs. Lillie Hall, a resident of Waldo, Kansas; Florence, a widow living at Wichita; Fannie, wife of a Russell County farmer; Catherine, a widow living in Ohio; John, a carpenter at Hays, Kansas; Joseph, a resident of Colorado; and Sallie, living with her father at Ellsworth.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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