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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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Hon. Julius Wolff

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 510 - 511

Few men were better known to the early settlers of Sheboygan County than the gentleman whose name heads this record. He was born in the province of Brandenburg, Prussia, Germany, on the 18th of April, 1818, and died at his home in the town of Rhine, March 22, 1879. He was reared in his native land to the occupation of farming. His superior natural talents were polished by a good education in the German language. This gave him extraordinary advantages on coming to this country, and made him very helpful to his own countrymen who emigrated to this part of the State. For some five or six years prior to his coming to America, Mr. Wolff was Government Inspector of a distillery. Having decided to try his fortune in the New World, he sailed in August, 1847, for New York. On account of calm weather, it required eighty-five days to make the voyage, during which time the passengers suffered greatly from lack of food and water. In New York, our subject purchased a Government land warrant for eighty acres. A mouth was consumed in making the trip from that city to Milwaukee. From the latter place he came on foot to Rhine Township, and located, as he supposed, on the tract of land described in his warrant. Having begun the arduous task of making a farm in the woods, he discovered, to his surprise and chagrin, that he was three-quarters of a mile west of where his land lay. Abandoning the fruits of his wasted efforts, Mr. Wolff made a small clearing on his own land, and erected a round-log house, having one door and one window, but no floor. Mr. Wolff was married at the home of John Matthes, in Rhine Township, to Miss Catherine Matthes, who was born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, February 22, 1821, and in 1847 accompanied her brother, Jacob Matthes, to this country, locating in Rhine Township. To his log cabin home Mr. Wolff brought his young bride, and there were spent the happiest days of their lives. Their house being on an Indian trail running to Green Bay, the red men as well as white travelers often received food and shelter gratis at this hospitable home. As there were no roads, the husband took an active part in helping to establish them. He assisted in cutting out and building the Corduroy Road, which ran nearly on the same line as what is now known as the Calumet Plank Road.

By industry and wise investments of his accumulations, Mr. Wolff became one of the wealthiest men in his community, and by honorable dealing won the implicit confidence of his fellow citizens. On all questions his opinions and advice were greatly sought, and were generally accepted as authority. His countrymen had such unbounded faith in his ability and integrity, that they would scarcely have a deed drawn, a will written, or any other legal paper made out without his assistance. Mr. Wolff helped to organize the town of Rhine, of which he was the first Clerk. In everything that pertained to the welfare of his town or county, he took a warm interest. To those in trouble he was a true friend, and his sympathies were ever with the laboring masses.

Possessed of ability and fine address, he was looked up to as a leader among men, not only in business circles, but in political affairs as well. On the organization of the Republican party, he became a stanch advocate of its principles, which at that time were very unpopular with many foreign-born citizens. By the force of his character, as well as his logic, he wielded great influence, especially among the German people of the county. His popularity is best shown by the official positions which he was called upon to fill. For some twenty terms he was a member of the County Board of Supervisors, and was one of the County Commissioners during the building of the court house. He was Sheriff of the county in 1856 and 1857; was a member of the Assembly in 1866; and from 1868 to 1870 held the office of County Treasurer. In every official position, he discharged his duties promptly and faithfully, winning thereby the highest commendation of his constituents. While not a member of any church, Mr. Wolff always strove to live with charity for his neighbor and at peace with all men.

After the death of her husband, Mrs. Wolff moved to Plymouth, and spent her last days at the home of her daughter, Mrs. H. C. Laack, her death occurring February 24, 1893. A woman of most estimable character, she shared with her husband the hardships as well as the pleasant experiences of pioneer life, and nobly did her part in rearing their family, which consisted of four children, two others having died in infancy. The living are: George W., an account of whom is given elsewhere; Mary, wife of H. C. Laack, of Plymouth; and Eliza, now Mrs. Frank Seidemann, of Sheboygan. Thomas, the youngest that grew to mature years, was born in the town of Rhine, September 15, 1857. After receiving a good literary education, he read law under the direction of Judge W. H. Seaman, of Sheboygan, and graduated from the law department of Michigan University in 1879. Two years later he established himself in practice at Sioux Falls, S. Dak., continuing there until 1883, when he removed to Pierre, of the same State. He was cut off in the prime of manhood, June 24, 1887. He was a young man of much promise, and his early death was considered a great loss by all who knew him.


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