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William W. DeWolf


Posted By: Tammy (email)
Date: 11/11/2011 at 09:55:16

WILLIAM W. DeWOLF, Postmaster at Reinbeck, Grundy County, received his appointment from President Cleveland July 12, 1893. He is very popular in his official capacities, and since having charge of the office has so managed affairs that it has been raised from a fourth-class to a Government office.

Mr. DeWolf of this sketch was born in Orleans County, N. Y., September 22, 1841, and is a son of Sylvanus and Elizabeth (Fishbeck) DeWolf. His paternal grandfather, Franklin DeWolf, is one of several brothers who emigrated from France in the early settlement of America and made their home on Staten Island.

Sylvanus DeWolf was born in the western part of Pennsylvania and was there reared on a farm. He was very ambitious to obtain a good education, and being a close student, made the best of the few advantages offered him. Being one in a large family of children whose parents were poor, the father of our subject began when a boy to make his own way in the world, his first employment being in the salt works near Syracuse, N. Y., whither he had gone and where he remained for several years. In Montgomery County, that state, he was married to Miss Fishbeck, who was descended from an old Dutch family who located in the Mohawk Valley during the early settlement in that part of the state. Mrs. DeWolf was born in 1808, and after her marriage with the father of our subject, the latter turned his attention to boating on the Erie Canal, which occupation he followed during the rest of his life. He was a Democrat in politics, and died when our subject was a lad of eight years.

Within a few years after the decease of her husband, the mother of our subject was again married, and William commenced from that time to “paddle his own canoe.” As might be expected, his school days were very limited, and most of his youthful days were spent in working about a hotel in Holley and also in stage driving. Later he received an appointment by the state of New York as bank watch on the Erie Canal, which responsible position he held for five years, only resigning to enlist in the War of the Rebellion.

In the fall of 1862 Mr. DeWolf of this sketch became a member of Company G, One Hundred and Fifty-first New York Infantry. His regiment was sent to join the army of the Potomac, and Mr. DeWolf with his company participated in many prominent engagements. At the time of receiving his honorable discharge, he lacked but one month of having served three years in the army, and during that period he was never away from his post, with the exception of a short time when he lay ill in the hospital. In western Virginia he received an injury which has been the cause of much suffering on his part ever since.

Returning to his native state after the close of the war, our subject again received the appointment of bank watch on the Canal, and was thus employed for the following two years. November 28, 1867, he was married to Miss Susan L., daughter of George and Mary (Richardson) Ashby. Her parents were natives of England, the father being born in Huntingtonshire, and the mother in Northamptonshire. They are descended from very prominent families in England, those on the father’s side fighting against the Danes in the early history of England. George Ashby was a civil engineer, and emigrated to the United States with his family about forty years ago. The mother of Mrs. DeWolf was reared by an uncle in London, who had the honor of furnishing the camp equipages for the Duke of Wellington on his various expeditions.

To Mr. and Mrs. DeWolf of this sketch have been born five children, of whom one died in infancy, and Matie departed this life when three years of age. Those living are Leonora, now Mrs. Dr. W. G. Mullarky; Sherman W. and Dorothy. In 1872 our subject emigrated to Lee County, Ill., and the following year came to Tama County, this state, where, at Montour, he opened up a store of general merchandise. There he remained until the spring of 1875, when he came to Reinbeck, and here erected the first store. The lumber used in its construction was hauled from Montour. As soon as the building was completed, Mr. DeWolf moved his family to this place in wagons, and at the same time brought a stock of merchandise valued at $2,000. At that time this now thriving city did not have a railroad and was merely surveyed, with the hopes of having a road through it in the near future.

Truman Pierce, who accompanied our subject on his removal here, erected the first dwelling in the hamlet. In the cellar under our subject’s store the first well was dug in the village, which supplied the people for many weeks with water. For the nine succeeding years after coming here, Mr. DeWolf was engaged in the merchandise business, and the building which he then occupied is now occupied by E. K. Green. E. C. Meissner owns the building.

Mr. DeWolf has watched the growth of Reinbeck from a hamlet to one of the first towns in the state. He has been very liberal in his contributions for charitable purposes, and, although a member of the Baptist Church, he promptly identified himself with the Congregational Church, which was the first established here, and of which he was Trustee. He has been very prominent in local affairs, and for ten years was Township Trustee. Socially, he is a Grand Army man, and for three years was Commander of the post at Reinbeck.

Our subject has aided very materially in the upbuilding of this place, and was one of the organizers of the cheese factory located here. He was Treasurer and stockholder of the first Democratic paper ever started in Grundy County, which was in 1877, and at the present time owns stock in the Herald, which is published at Grundy Centre. He is a stanch Democrat in politics, and has been to that party in Grundy County what Andrew Jackson was to his party in the United States.

Portrait and Biographical Record
of Jasper, Marshall and Grundy Counties, Iowa


Grundy Biographies maintained by Tammy D. Mount.
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