Genealogy of the Wolfskill Family (version October 18, 2018)
Please email corrections to Mike Clark
Edward "Ned" Wolfskill (1850-1939) in the 1920s was very interested in his family history, and collected various notes, letters, and other documents about the family that were donated to the University of California at Davis, and are archived in the special collections of the University library. A transcription by David Wolfskill (2003) of Excerpts from Ned Wolfskill's Family Tree relates that the brothers William and Joseph Wolfscale of Nuremburg (Bavaria), Germany were officers from about 1705 on in the Court of King Frederick I of Prussia (who reigned from 1701 to 1713). William's son Joseph Wolfscale was born about 1707 in Berlin. Although he has an uncle of the same name, he is Joseph I in this lineage. Joseph I, son of William, may have married a woman named Margaret about 1745 or earlier in Berlin, but some sources place this marriage in Pennsylvania. Joseph's wife may have had the surname Schmidt, but there is great uncertainty here, and we suspect there is confusion with her daughter-in-law who may have been similarly named. Irregardless, Joseph about this time immigrated to New York (America), possibly to avoid military service under Frederick the Great (who reigned from 1740 to 1786). All the above comes from family stories collected by Ned. In addition, Wilson (1965, p.22) relates a similar story that presumably is based on interviews in the early 1960s with either Ned's children or his nieces and nephews. Some more Thoughts on Early Origins of the Wolfskill Family are given at the end of this lineage.
Joseph (William?) and Margaret Wolfskill of Pennsylvania now make their appearance. However, the validity of the name Joseph is somewhat in doubt. Most authors who have published on the early orgins of the family do indeed call this man Joseph, but three of his great-grandchildren refer to him in their notes and letters as William. These close descendants - Ned Wolfskill, his half-sister Linnie Councilman (neé Wolfskill), and their cousin Sue King - are the main, perhaps only, original written sources of stories passed down within the family. Thus, their notes should not be taken lightly, despite the proliferation of internet lineages that name their great-grandfather as Joseph. Perhaps his full name is Joseph William Wolfskill, or something similar? He might be a close relative of the above-named Joseph I, if the latter truly existed. If so, he is the second Joseph of the name, but it is also quite possible that he is no relation at all.
Regardless of his name and lineage, the man we seek was probably born in the 1740s in either Germany or America, and married a woman named Margaret Smith, probably in the 1770s in Pennsylvania. Barrows (1897, p.12), who married into the family, says that this Joseph (or William) came from Germany and his wife was of Irish descent. They resided for a time in Pennsylvania, possibly Philiadelphia, but more likely in a rural county. Eventually they settled in North Carolina, where there is record of a Joseph Wolfscale who on Nov. 6, 1778 homesteaded a 400-acre grant (no. 627) on Buffalo Creek in Rowan County, receiving a patent on Oct. 10, 1783 giving him full ownership (title). He appears soon after in Capt. Johnston's District as Joseph Walscail in the 1778 "List of taxable property in the county of Rowan" (p. 25). Then we know of a Joseph Wolkskill who in 1805 published a notice in the Kentucky Gazette that his wife had left him and that he was not responsible for her debts - the Gazette being the only newspaper in Kentucky at the time.
To the above Joseph (or William) Wolfskill and Margaret Smith were born in either Pennsylvania or North Carolina at least three children - Margaret Wolfscale, George Wolfscale and Joseph Wolfscale (possibly the third of the name). Wolfskill and Councilman (1926) and Couture (1998) also mention sons Peter and William (d. c.1796). These children are listed below. Couture (1998) gives 1819 as the approximate death date of a Joseph Wolfskill who died in Madison County and is likely to be their father. This date presumably is based on data available to Couture (1998) in the files of the Madison County Historical Society, but we do not know any details.
children - WOLFSKILL/WOLFSCALE
Margaret Wolfskill (1755-1842) was probably born in either Pennsylvania or North Carolina. Wolfskill and Councilman (1926) give March 22, 1755 as her birth date, which we suspect comes from an old family bible. She married Joshua Hendricks (Hendrix) on April 8, 1779, during the American Revolution, in Rowan County, North Carolina. Joshua and his brother-in-law Peter Wolfskill, Margaret's brother, are then said in family stories to have died either of murder, or dysentery in North Carolina, while on their way to enlist in the American Army. Although when is not known for certain, it does seem likely that they died during the Revolution. Margaret in time came to live with the family of her much younger brother Joseph, and they knew her as Aunt Margaret. When Joseph's family moved in 1809 from Kentucky to Missouri, Margaret came with them. Joseph's son Milton Wolfskill recalled many years later how when Joseph's wife Sarah (Milton's mother) was pregnant, probably with her twin sons Mathus and Smith, she was almost helpless, and Aunt Margaret raised the family, which came to also include Milton and his brother Sarchel. Aunt Margaret was illiterate, and her nephew Milton tried in later years to persuade her to allow him to "coach her in the study of reading and writing," but she maintained that she was too old to learn new things. She died sometime on or after 1839 at a very advanced age in Howard County, Missouri. Councilman and Wolfskill (1926) give Oct. 9, 1842 as her death date.
Peter Wolfskill is said in family stories to have died of either dysentery or murder in North Carolina, along with his brother-in-law Joshua Hendricks, while the two were on their way to enlist in the American Army. If true, then Peter is probably close in age to his brother-in-law, which would likely make him either the first-born or second-born child of his parents. Some say Peter and Joshua died in the 1770s or 1780s during the Revolutionary War, while others put their deaths not until 1796, which is well after the war ended. However, we are not aware of any independant evidence for either date, and family stories would seem to indicate that they died during the Revolution.
George Wolfskill (1764?-1849) is shown in most family trees with 1764 as his birth date, but we have no idea where this date comes from. However, it does seem consistent with what little information we know about him. If true, then he is probably the third-born child of his parents. He had at least three wives, likely marrying his first wife, whose name we do not know, sometime in the mid- to late-1780s, as they appear to have had at least four daughters born to them from about 1787 to 1791 in Kentucky. He then married his second wife Elizabeth Brents probably in the mid-1790s, and they had from about 1797 to 1802 at least three more children born to them in Kentucky also. Lastly, George married his third wife Mary Polly Ross on March 27, 1810 in Madison County, Kentucky, and between them they had at least three children that we know of.
George and his third wife Polly moved their family, probably about 1815, from Kentucky to Howard County in Missouri - 1815 being when the War of 1812 came to an end. Howard County was soon afterwards in 1820 split into two counties, part remaining as Howard County, and the rest becoming a new county named Chariton County. George and Elizabeth homesteaded some lots in the newly created county, with George receiving patents (full title) from 1822 to 1826 from the federal government to three lots for a total of 360 acres. Our sources indicate that he lived many more years, and died on Jan. 29, 1849 in Chariton County - those sources being the family history by Wolfskill and Councilman (1926), as well as a family tree drawn up in 1947 by John Hawkins, a descendant of George Wolfskill. We suspect that the date on Hawkin's tree probably came from a family bible, as Hawkins grew up in Carroll County, which sits just on the south side of the Missouri River opposite Chariton County where George Wolfsill died.
Many descendants of the George Wolfskill branch of the family are associated with the Grand River Township (T56N-R22W) in Livingston County, Missouri, and with Bucklin in nearby Linn County. There is in fact a Wolfskill Cemetery located in the town of Bedford in Section 11-T56N-R22W (Grand River Township) in Livingston County, and several of his descendants are buried there. This cemeterey is on land that was originally homesteaded in 1840 by George's oldest son Dr. John Wolfskill (1797-1877). It is possible that George is buried there too in an unmarked grave, but this is probably unlikely as the lands George originally homesteaded in Chariton County in the 1820s are 30 to 35 miles to the southeast of the cemetery lot, which in those days was more than a day away on horseback.
William Wolfskill (d. c.1796) was probably close in age to his brother Joseph, but we know not which of the two was younger. Because his only son, William Joseph Wolfskill (b. 1795), was older than Joseph's oldest son, named William also, we assume Joseph to be the younger of the two. Thus, we have three William Wolfskills to keep straight, which makes it confusing. The elder William is was killed accidently by Joseph when the two were out hunting together and Joseph's gun discharged by mistake. The elder William (Joseph's bother) before he died asked Joseph to take care of his young son William Joseph, which Joseph did, raising him with his own family. For this reason, we include William Joseph as a stepson in the list below of Joseph's children. The elder William's wife Jane Stinson/Stevenson (1775-1861) went on to marry John Heard (d. c.1814) on June 22, 1797 in Madison County, Kentucky. Two of their sons became prominent lawyers - George Heard (1809-1890) and John Heard (1812-1891). The younger son John Jr. came west during the 1849 Gold Rush to Sacramento, California, where he became a judge whose portrait once hung in the county courthouse.
Joseph Wolfskill (1774-1839?) follows as generation II.
Infant child. Ned Wolfskill mentions in his notes on the family that there was a sixth child who died at birth and never received a name.
Joseph Wolfskill (1774-1839?), the son of Joseph Wolfskill and Margaret Smith, was born about 1774, in either Pennsylvania or Rowan County, North Carolina. Councilman and Wolfskill (1926) give Jan. 1, 1774 as his birth date. He moved with his father probably sometime in the 1780s to the famous Kentucky settlement of Boonesborough (Madison County), which Daniel Boone founded about 1778 as one of the first white settlements west of the Appalachians. They settled where the mouth of Silver Creek enters the Kentucky River, a short ways downriver from Fort Boonesborough. The younger Joseph grew up near the fort, and married Sarah Reid (1776-1818?) on July 20, 1796 in Boonesborough. Councilman and Wolfskill (1926) give May 5, 1776 as her birth date. Barrows (1897, p. 12) writes that Sarah's father John Reid (Reed), "was taken prisoner by the British at Charleston, South Carolina, during the Revolutionary War", probably in 1780 when the American side surrendered the city and suffered their greatest defeat of the war.
Joseph moved from Booneborough in 1809 or 1810 with his wife, children and nephew William J. Wolfskill (who was under his care) to western Missouri, where they settled with the followers of Col. Benjamin Cooper on the north side of the Missouri River in future Howard County. There is a family tradition that this move came at the suggestion of Daniel Boone himself. However, Boone had left Boonesborough about 1799 and resettled in eastern Missouri. This makes it more likely that any suggestion came from his sons Nathan and Daniel Morgan Boone, as they began collecting salt in 1807 from springs along the river at Boones Lick in western Howard County, close to where the Wolfskills settled.
Fears of Indian attacks led Col. Cooper's followers at the start of the War of 1812 to build three forts in Howard County, and the Wolfskills moved to the safety of Fort Cooper, which was erected about 2 miles southwest of Boones Lick. This fort, which was no more than a group of log cabins built around an enclosure, was placed under the command of Col. Cooper's son Capt. Sarshel Cooper, who was killed in 1815 when an Indian shot him from a hole dug into the mud chinking between the logs of his cabin. Another family north of the river were the Carsons, whose son Kit Carson later became a famous mountain man. Although the Carsons moved to neighboring Fort Hempstead, the men and teenage sons of both families served together in militias defending the forts, so they knew each other well. When the war ended many returned to their homes in the countryside.
Joseph and Sarah had more children in Howard County, raising a large family. Several of them headed west to California - two moving in the 1820s and 1830s first to Santa Fe, New Mexico where they became mountain men before moving on to California, and the others following them out in the 1840s and 1850s, during and after the Gold Rush. Their father Joseph remained in Missouri, where he may have died about 1839 in Howard County. If true, he died when he was about 65 years old. Presumably Sarah died in Howard County also. She is shown in some family trees to have died in 1818 when she 42 years old, but we have no idea as to the validity of this date.
children - WOLFSKILL (adopted)
William J. Wolfskill (1795-1876) was the son of a brother of the above-named Joseph Wolfskill III, and he was raised by Joseph as a stepson. Excerpts from Ned Wolfskill's Family Tree (transcribed by Wolfskill, 2003) relates that this William was born on April 1, 1795 in Kentucky. His father was accidently killed by Joseph, afterwhich Joseph raised William with his own family. The name of William's father is not known for certain, but most seem to assume that he was named William also. When Joseph brought his family in 1809 to Howard County, Missouri, he brought his nephew William with him, and William in 1812 helped build Cooper's Fort, which was constructed during the War of 1812 by Sarshel Cooper (d. 1815) to protect against Indian attacks. William married Susannah Wheeler (1801-1872) on Oct. 8, 1817 in Garrard County, Kentucky, and they raised a large family with many descendants. When most of William's step brothers and step sisters moved to California, he stayed behind in Missouri, where he died on July 31, 1876 in Saline County. He is buried there with wife Susannah in the Wolfskill Cemetery, which is one of two so-named cemeteries in Missouri, the other being in Livingston County where some of William's cousins are buried.
William Wolfskill (1798-1866) was born on March 20, 1798 in Boonesborough, Madison County, Kentucky, a little more than 20 years after its founding by Daniel Boone. He moved with his family when he was eleven-years old to Howard County, Missouri, which back then was in the heart of Indian country, and headed west as a young man with the famous mountain man Ewing Young in 1822 to New Mexico, where he spent several years trapping furs out of Taos under the tutelage of Young and others. He also took part in expeditions that blazed trails and explored throughout Utah, the southwest, and California. He returned to Kentucky for the winter of 1827-28 for the last time, before returning to Santa Fe, where in 1828 he became a Mexican citizen with the name of Guillermo Guisquiel. He then set out with his old friend Ewing Young in 1830 on an expedition to California, arriving in Feb., 1831 in Los Angeles, where he became one of the pioneer settlers there.
William began living about 1833 with Maria de la Luz Valencia (b. 1808) in Los Angeles, and they had two children together, before she left him for a neigbor named Francisco Araujo. She and Araujo married on July 1, 1836 at the San Gabriel Mission, and leaving her children with William, she and Araujo went Mexico, where he reportedly was killed a short time later in a gun fight. She never returned. William subsequently married Maria Magdalena Lugo (1804-1862) on Jan. 12, 1841 in Los Angeles, his new wife being a native Californio who had been born on May 11, 1804 in Santa Barbara. She was also a cousin of General Mariano Vallejo, and this relationship probably benefited William in some of his subsequent dealings with the Mexican government. William went on to became one of the most prominent citizens of Los Angeles, and he is credited with introducing the growing of wine grapes and orange trees to southern California.
Maria died on July 5, 1862 in Los Angeles, and William died there Oct. 3, 1866, a few days after suffering a heart attack. Both were probably buried initially in the cemetery of the Los Angeles Plaza Church, but their son Joseph William Wolfskill (1843-1928) reinterred them about 1905 in Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles, where Joseph is also buried. William's son-in-law Henry Dwight Barrows later wrote short biographies on both William and his brother John Reid Wolfskill, in which he relates some details on their ancestry (Barrows, 1887, 1897 & 1902).
All of the children of William Wolfskill who are listed below were baptized in the "Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles", which is better known as the Los Angeles Plaza Church. It was actually an "asistencia" (i.e., sub-church) to the mother church of the San Gabriel Mission.
stepchildren (mother MARIA de la LUZ VALENCIA, father unknown)
Manuela Valencia (b. 1829) was baptized on Jan. 2, 1829 in the Los Angeles Plaza Church, and she had a sister named Petra Valencia (b. 1832) who was baptized there three years later, but only Manuela appears in the Wolfskill household in the 1836 census of Los Angeles. Nothing more is known of either girl.
children with MARIA de la LUZ VALENCIA
Maria Susana "Juana" Wolfskill (1833-1897) was baptized on Nov. 18, 1833 in the Los Angeles Plaza Church. She married first in 1853 Henry Cardwell (1818-1859), then second in 1860 Elijah Moulton (1820-1902), both in Los Angeles; and she died on Feb. 17, 1897 in Los Angeles, where she is buried in Evergreen Cemetery
Timoteo Wolfskill (1835-1909) was baptized on Jan. 30, 1835 in the Los Angeles Plaza Church. He moved to Mexico, where he married, and he is believed to have died there in 1909, leaving behind a son named Guillermo Wolfskill (1877-1921).
Jose de la Cruz Wolfskill (1836-1898) was baptized on June 3, 1836 in the Los Angeles Plaza Church. He is probably the Jose Wolfskill who died as a mentally retarded patient on Aug. 31, 1898 in the Stockton State Hospital, where he is buried in the Hospital Cemetery.
children with MARIA MAGDALENA LUGO
Juana "Juanita Josefa Wolfskill (1841-1863) was born on Nov. 23, 1841 in Los Angeles. She married on Nov. 14, 1860 in Los Angeles Henry Dwight Barrows (1825-1914), who was the first to write a biography on her father. She died on Jan. 31, 1863 in Los Angeles, where she is buried in Calvary Cemetery.
Maria Francisca Wolfskill (1843-1923) was born on May 29, 1843 in Los Angeles. She married in 1880 Charles Shepard (b. 1845), and died on May 20, 1923 in Los Angeles.
Jose Guillermo "Joseph William" Wolfskill (1844-1928) was born on Sept. 14, 1844 in Los Angeles. He married Elena Pedorena (1846-1927) on Sept. 20, 1869 in San Francisco; and died on Febreuary 2, 1928 in Los Angeles, where he is buried in Calvary Cemetery.
Maria Magdalena Wolfskill (1846-1930) was born on May 7, 1846 in Los Angeles. She married Francisco Sabichi (1843-1900) on May 4, 1865 in Los Angeles; and died on July 17, 1930 in Los Angeles, where she is buried in Calvary Cemetery.
Luis Maria Wolfskill (1848-1884) was born in Jan. 1948 in Los Angeles. He married Luisa Ann Dalton (1852-1887) on May 16, 1872 in Los Angeles; and died on Feb. 26, 1994 in Los Angeles, where he is buried in Calvary Cemetery.
Maria Rafaela Wolfskill (1851-1855) was born on Oct. 24, 1851 in Los Angeles, and died there in March of 1855, when she was three-years old.
Margaret Wolfskill (1799-1825?) was born on Oct. 24, 1799 in Madison Co., Kentucky. She married John M. Reid (d. 1849) on July 8, 1820 in Howard County, Missouri, and probably died in Missouri during or soon after the birth of her second son Joseph Reid (1824-1874). This Joseph, and Margaret's first son Alfred Reid (b. 1821), remained in Missouri, where they found wives, and both of them had several children.
Elizabeth Wolfskill (1801-1802) was born March 12, 1801 in Madison Co., Kentucky; and died a little girl on May 6, 1802 in Kentucky.
Susanna Wood Wolfskill (1802-1888) was born on Oct. 30, 1802 in Boonesborough, Madison Co., Kentucky; and gave birth when she was 15 years old to a son named Cyrus Wolfskill. She later married Isham Roberts (1802-1878) on Jan. 1, 1824 in Howard County, Missouri; and they had several children as well. She and Isham at some point, probably in the mid-1860s, followed her brothers and her daughter Margaret to California, where they settled in Winters in Yolo County. Isham died there on June 3, 1878 at the age of 75 years, 8 months and 27 days, and she died on Oct. 26, 1888 at the age of 85 years, 10 months and 26 days, according to the inscriptions on their tombstones. Both are buried in the Winters Cemetery with their daughters Margaret Roberts King (1829-1908), Susan Roberts Karcher (1843-1914), and Alice Roberts Hook (1847-1880). They have several descendants in California.
children - UNKNOWN FATHER
Cyrus Wolfskill (c.1818-1841) was born about 1818 in Howard County, Missouri. It is said that his birth came about after the rape of his 15-year old mother. He married Martha Ann Herran on Aug. 18, 1839 in Howard County, and died on Feb. 5, 1841 in Howard County, just 8 days after the birth of his daughter Martha Ann Wolfskill (1841-1924). His wife and child remained in Howard County, where his daughter married and ultimately had several children of her own. It is not known where Cyrus is buried, but his daughter Martha is in the Booneborough Christian Church Cemetery.
children - ISHAM ROBERTS
Margaret Roberts (1829-1908), the oldest daughter of Susanna and Isham Roberts, was born on April 11, 1829 in Howard County, Missouri; and married John King (1821-1863) on Sept. 20, 1856 in the same county. They then joined a wagon train bound for California, and brought with them their daughter Susan (1858-1938), and possibly a son named Columbus (b. 1857), in a covered wagon pulled by oxen. They arrived about 1858 and settled in Winters, probably initially on land provided by Margaret's uncle John Reid Wolfskill. They had three more children born in California, but only a son Joseph Milton King (1859-1926) survived to adulthood. Margaret's husband John died on March 3, 1863 in California; and Margaret died there on May 4, 1908 in Winters, where she is buried with her daughter Sue King (1858-1938) in Winters Cemetery. Sue King had an interest in the family history, and exchanged several letters on the subject with her cousin Ned Wolfskill, some of which are preserved in the Wolfskill Collection at the University of California at Davis.
Susan Roberts (1843-1914), one of the two youngest children of Susanna and Isham Roberts, was born in 1843 in Howard County, Missouri, and married George Karcher. She died in 1914 in Oklahoma, but she is buried in California in Winters Cemetery near her parents.
Alice Roberts (1847-1880) was born on on April 14, 1847 in Howard County, Missouri, and came to California at some point, where she married Solomon Elijah Hook (1831-1878) on Nov. 27, 1866 in Solano County, her husband being one of the survivors of the ill-fated Donner Party. She died on June 14, 1880 in Winters, California, where she is buried in Winters Cemetery near her parents.
Several other children were born to Susanna and Isham Roberts, including Marion (1825-1848), who was killed in the War with Mexico, Joseph (b. 1830), John (b. 1832), Amanda (1835-1863), Joshua (b. 1837), Sarah (b. 1837), William (b. 1838), and Columbus (b. 1840). We do not know if any of these other children followed their parents to California, but the initial evidence seems to indicate that they did not.
John Reid Wolfskill (1804-1897) was born on Sept. 11, 1804 in Madison County, Kentucky, and followed his brother William west by going first to Sante Fe, New Mexico, and then in Feb. 1838 to Los Angeles, California. William, who had Mexican citizenship, obtained in 1842 from the Mexican government a grant of land in an area that eventually became part of Solano and Yolo counties. Although this grant was in William's name, it was occupied by John, who built an adobe on the south bank of Putah Creek (Solano County), just across from a site on the north bank that a few years later became the pioneer settlement of Winters (Yolo County).
John in 1849 took for his common-law wife Carmelita (Carmel) Lucero Tapia (c.1812-1851), who was the widow of William Knight (d. 1849) from the neighboring rancho. Knight's land was located in a part of future Yolo County, not far from the Wolfskill grant, where Cache Creek flows into the Sacramento River. Here Knight and Carmelita for a time operated a ferry, which came to be called Knights Landing, and for several years it was the only way settlers could safely cross the river. Knight also started a second ferry at a place called Knights Ferry that made crossings of the Stanislaus River, and it was here that Knight in 1849 was gunned down in a brutal murder. Although William Knight and Carmelita probably never formally married, they did have eight children, most of whom were living in 1849 at the home of Major Stephen Cooper in Benecia when their father was killed. Carmelita and John Wolfskill also never married, but they did have one child together at Putah Creek - a son Edward Wolkskill (1850-1939), who was known as Ned. Carmelita died about Jan. of 1851 at the Putah Creek ranch, three months after Ned's birth (as he states in his writings).
John married his second wife Susan Cooper (1827-1906) on Jan. 10, 1860 in Colusa, California. Susan, who was a granddaughter of the Indian fighter Sarshel Cooper (d. 1815), was born on March 25, 1827 in Missouri; and she was a cousin to two other members of the Cooper family who were already married to John's siblings Mary and Sarchel. Susan was also the daughter of the previously mentioned Major Stephen Cooper (1797-1890), who had brought his family to California in a wagon train in 1846 at the same time as the ill-fated Donner party. Susan and John had four daughters, two of whom - Linnie and Fanny - survived to adulthood. Many of their descendants today are connected with the town of Winters. John died on May 28, 1897 in Winters, and Susan died there on Jan. 15, 1906. Both are buried in the Winters Cemetery with three of their four daughters. (click here for more history on John Reid Wolfskill)
Edward "Ned" Wolfskill (1850-1939), the only child of John Reid Wolfskill and Carmelita Knight, was born on Oct. 8, 1850 at Putah Creek in Solano County. He writes that his "Aunt Permelia Wolfskill, raised me from infancy I having lost my mother when I was but three months old" - Aunt Permelia being the wife of Ned's Uncle Mathus Wolfskill. Though Ned lived initially at Putah Creek, he moved in 1866 with his Aunt Permelia and Uncle Mathus to the Suisun Valley (Solano County), where he married Annie Bollinger (1850-1891) of Missouri on March 25, 1871, probably at the Rockville Chapel where there is a painting of him with Annie and their three children. Annie died on Sept. 13, 1891 in San Francisco. Ned subsequently enlisted about 1899 in the U.S. Army, either during or just after the Spanish-American War. He served as a quartermaster's clerk in 1900 at Fort Zamboanga in the Phillipines, then in 1905 and 1910 in Manila, and stateside in 1912 at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. His son John Reed Wolfskill (1880-1928) about the same time served first in the Army, enlisting about 1898, then at some point after the Spanish-American War he did a second tour of duty with the Navy.
Ned became interested in the history of the Wolfskill family after he returned to civilian life, and he began exchanging letters with other family members, particulary his half-sister Malinda "Linnie" Councilman (1861-1929). These letters were ultimately donated with other family papers to the University of California at Davis, following a donation of land in 1937 to the University by Ned's other half-sister Frances "Fanny" Wilson (1866-1934). A selection of some of these papers are shown in Ned Wolfskill's Notes. Ned's daughter Aldanita Susan Wolfskill (1884-1958) was a reasonably well-known opera singer for a few years in San Francisco. She was named after her father's half-sister Aldanita Knight (1846-1916), who was closest in age to Ned when they were growing up. Ned died on July 21, 1939 in San Francisco, and he is buried with his wife Annie in the Winters Cemetery.
Nellie Wolfskill (1862-1963) was born on Sept. 4, 1862 at her father's Putah Creek ranch. She died a little more than year later on Oct. 4, 1863 in Winters, and she is buried with other family members in Winters Cemetery.
Malinda "Linnie" Tate Wolfskill (1861-1929) was born on Oct. 20, 1861 at her father's Putah Creek ranch. She married her first husband Henry Clay Goodyear (1858-1914) on Oct. 4, 1880 in nearby Silveyville, and they had three children before they divorced. She married her second husband Charles Claghborn Councilman (1863-1942) on Sept. 3, 1896, probably in either Solano or Yolo County. She died on April 10, 1929 in Yolo County, where she is buried in Winters Cemetery.
Virginia "Jennie" Lee Wolfskill (1864-1935) was born on Aug. 17, 1865 at her father's Putah Creek ranch. She married Franklin Joseph Barney (1856-1907) on June 21, 1883 in Solano County. She died with no issue on Aug. 9, 1935 in Alameda County, and she is buried in Winters Cemetery.
Frances Ann "Fannie" Wolfskill (1866-1934), one of Ned Wolfskill's four half-sisters from his father's second marriage, bequeathed in her will 107 acres of land that was finally gifted in 1937 to the Department of Pomology (i.e., fruit cultivation) at the University of California at Davis. This property today is the Wolfskill Experimental Orchards at 4334 Putah Creek Road, and it is located on just the other side of the creek from the town of Winters. Fannie was born on Oct. 22, 1866 in Colusa County, and she had two husbands, first Samuel Taylor (1849-1906), with whom she had five children, and second Lawrence H. Wilson (1879-1960), who served two terms in the California State Assembly (Democrat, 1909-1913). Fannie died on Dec. 14, 1934 in Silveyville, which is near Vacaville in Solano County. She is buried in the Wolfskill plot in the Winters Cemetery. She is the youngest daughter in the center photo below, and her sister Linnie is the oldest.
Historical Landmark at the Wolfskill Experimental Orchards. It reads, "In 1842 John R. Wolfskill arrived here laden with fruit seeds and cuttings. He ... became the father of the fruit industry in this region. In 1937 Mrs. Frances Wolfskill Taylor Wilson his daughter bequeathed 107.28 acres to the University of California for an experimental farm."
Photo taken about 1869 or 1870 of Mrs. Susan Wolfskill, Frances Ann "Fannie" Wolfskill (1866-1934), Malinda "Linnie" Tate Wolfskill (1860-1929), Virginia "Jennie" Lee Wolfskill (1864-1870), and Mr. John Reid Wolfskill. Not shown are Nellie (1862-1863), who died young, and Ned Wolfskill (1850-1939).
(From the California State Library)
Photo taken in 1883 of the Wolfskill ranch house on Putah Creek near Winters. John Reid Wolfskill is standing third from left in front of the house, which was destroyed on April 18, 1892 by an earthquake. and replaced by another house that later burned down. This site today is part of the Wolfskill Experimental Orchard that is administered by the University of California at Davis.
Joseph Wolfskill (b. 1806), fourth of the name, was born on Oct. 7, 1806 in Kentucky, and he is said to have married Sallie Read about 1827 in Kentucky, but we have not found a record for this marriage. He is known only from brief mentions by Ned Wolfskill in his 1920s and 1930s notes on the family.
Mary "Polly" Wolfskill (1808-1896) was born on April 24, 1808 in Madison Co., Kentucky; and married Tobias Cooper (d. 1854) on Jan. 1, 1832 in Howard Co., Missouri. Tobias was a nephew of the Indian fighter Sarshel Cooper (d. 1815) after whom his brother-in-law Sarchel Wolfskill was named. Tobias died on March 2, 1854 in Saline Co., Missouri, and Mary died on July 29, 1896 in Miami Co., Missouri. She and Tobias had several children.
Mathus (Matthew, Mathias) Wolfskill (1810-1891), who follows:
Smith Wolfskill (b. 1810), the twin brother of Mathus, was born on Aug. 11, 1810 in Missouri. As nothing more is known of him, presumably he died young.
Stephen Jackson Wolfskill (b. 1811) was born on Oct. 11, 1811 in Madison County, Kentucky. It is not known what became of Stephen, but for some reason there are quite a few online family trees that seem to confuse him with his brother Mathus. As nothing more is known of him, presumably he died young.
Joshua Wolfskill (b. 1812) was born on Nov. 21, 1812 in Madison Co., Kentucky. As nothing more is known of him, presumably he died young.
Sarchel Cooper Wolfskill (1818-1887) was born Feb. 23, 1818 in Howard Co., Missouri, and named after his settlement's first leader Capt. Sarshel Cooper, who was killed at Cooper's Fort in 1815 by Indians, and for whom Cooper County in Missouri is named. The present subject, Sarchel Wolfskill married Margaret Ann Cooper (b. April 12, 1829) on Aug. 9, 1849 at Cooper's fort, Margaret being a granddaughter of the Sarshel Cooper after whom her husband was named. Sarchel and Margaret followed Sarchel's brothers to California, via the isthmus of Panama, and settled in 1852 in Solano County in the settlement of Silveyville, which is known today as Dixon. Sarchel died there on Oct. 29, 1887, as did Margaret on Dec. 5, 1918. Both are buried in the Winters Cemetery. They had several children.
Milton Wolfskill (1819-1906) was born on Jan. 28, 1819 in Arrow Rock, Missouri; and married Mahala Ashcraft on Sept. 19, 1844 in Howard County, Missouri. Mahala was the sister-in-law of his brother Mathus. She died in 1847 in Missouri after the birth of her second child Sarchel Cooper Wolfskill (b. 1847), afterwhich Milton came in 1848 to California on a mule train with a large party of gold seekers, leaving his son Sarchel to be raised by relatives in Missouri. He married his second wife Anna Susan Sweany (1841-1922) on Feb. 20, 1860 in Solano County, California, probably near the home of his bother John Reid Wolfskill. Milton and Anna resided initially in the town of Winters, where John's ranch was located, then later in Vacaville where Milton's brother Sarchel made his home. Nephew Ned Wolfskill writes in his notes on the family that Milton in the 1860s was a business partner with one Lockwood Todd (1823-1894), who was a first cousin of President Abraham Lincoln's wife (Ned incorrectly calls Todd a nephew of Lincoln's wife), and that Milton and Todd tried unsuccessfully to get a government contract for hauling overseas cargo out of the port of San Francisco. Milton and Anna moved in the 1880s to Texas, then later to Los Angeles, California, where Milton's brother William had lived many years before. Milton died on June 6, 1906 in Los Angeles, and Anna died on April 20, 1922 in the same city. Both are buried in Los Angeles in the Evergreen Cemetery. Two children? were born from Milton's first marriage to Mahala, including the aforementioned Sarchel. Milton and his second wife Anna had several children as well, including a son William Wolfskill (1861-1943), whose descendant David H. Wolfskill of Redwood City, California is the author of several of the references cited at the end of this lineage.
The Wolfskill Brothers (from left to right) - William Wolfskill (1798-1866) on Sept. 27, 1866 just six days before his death, a young John Reid Wolfskill (1805-1897) in the 1850s or so from Mary Pleasants' Photo Album (c.1885), an older John Reid Wolfskill about 1870, and Mathus Wolksill (1810-1891). The photo on the far right shows Milton and John Reid Wolfskill with their wives in 1890 at a family reunion.
Mathus (Matthew, Mathias) Wolfskill (1810-1891), one of the twin sons of Joseph Wolfskill and Sara Reid, was born Aug. 11, 1810 in Howard Co., Missouri; and married Permelia Ashcraft (1810-1876) on Sept. 1, 1831 in Missouri. Permelia was born on Feb. 10, 1810, and she was the sister of Mahala Ashcraft, who married Mathus' younger brother Milton. These girl's father was Otho Ashcraft (d. 1833), who with the Wolfskills, was among the original settlers in 1809 and 1810 to follow Col. Benjamin Cooper from Boonesborough to the north side of the Missouri River in Howard County, Missouri. When the War of 1812 broke out the Coopers and Wolfskills sought refuge in Fort Cooper, whereas the Ashcrafts went to neighboring Fort Kincaid, about ten miles away. Others, like Kit Carson's family, went to Fort Hempstead. The sons and fathers of all these families knew each other well, as they served together in a common militia that protected all three forts.
Mathus and Permelia lived in Missouri for forty years, until May 16, 1850 when they and their surviving children took a wagon across the plains to follow Mathus' brothers William and John Reid Wolfskill to California. They arrived at John's ranch on Putah Creek in Solano and Yolo Counties on Sept. 30th of that year, and lived there until the fall of 1866 when they moved to just north of Mankas Corner in the Suisun Valley of Solano County. Here their son Joseph Cooper Wolfskill bought from Samuel Gray and Henry Wetmore a 700-acre Ranch, portions of which his descendants still own. He later enlarged this property by purchasing the Nathan Lincoln Ranch to the north that was partly in Napa County. Mathus and Permelia owned a smaller plot just east of Joseph's property and across the road from Christley Manka's store at Mankas Corner. Then in 1885 Joseph and Permelia built a large Victorian house on their ranch that still stands today, and is known as the Armstrong House.
Permelia died in Mankas Corner on Jan. 21, 1876; and Mathus died there Oct. 15, 1891, a little more than 15 years later. Both are buried in the Wolfskill family plot in Rockville Cemetery in Solano County, California. The children of Mathus and Permelia follow. Several of their descendants still live in Suisun Valley, and the neighboring cities of Fairfield and Suisun today.
children - WOLFSKILL
John W. Wolfskill (1836-1913) was born in Aug. of 1836 in Missouri. He came with his parents to California in 1850 in a covered wagon, and settled in Suisun Valley in Solano County, where in 1867 he married Susan B. Moore. He began acquiring land in T1S, R15W in southern California, and he owned by 1903 several thousand acres in an area that in 1911 became the town of La Brea, and which today is a suburb of Los Angeles. He became quite wealthy, and when he died on Dec. 14, 1913 in Pasadena, he left behind a small fortune. His daughter Edith Irene Wolfskill (1872-1929), who was called a wealthy and eccentric heiress in the press, disappeared on July 14, 1929 from her home in Suisun Valley. Her body was not found until almost two months later, when Bernhold Glasshoff stumbled across it in a dry creek bed not far from Mankas Corner. Murder was suspected, but never proved. She was considered crazy by many, having spent time in San Francisco and South Pasadena sanitoriums prior to her disappearance. Her story was followed closely over a three-month period in the Woodland Daily Democrat, as well as in the Los Angeles newspapers. John Wolfskill also had two sons - Ney Wolfskill (1868-1936) and Matt Asby Wolfskill (1870-1949) - both of whom at one time were suspected in Edith's disappearance, but there was little evidence against them and they were never charged. Ney never married; and Matt married Irma Douglas (1871-1953), but they had no children.
Amanda Wolfskill, who died a little girl in Howard Co., Missouri.
Sarah Wolfskill, who died in 1902.
Joseph Cooper Wolfskill (1843-1914), the son of Mathus Wolfskill and Permelia Ashcraft, was born Nov. 23, 1843 in Howard Co., Missouri. He came west with his father to California in a covered wagon during the Gold Rush and lived at first on the ranch of his Uncle John Wolfskill on Putah Creek in Yolo County. He bought 230 acres of the Wetmore Ranch in the Suisun Valley of Solano County on Sept. 16, 1866 from Benicia investor Samuel Grey. Although Gray had owned the property, Gray's brother-in-law Henry Wetmore ran the ranch and had a stable business that serviced the stage stop at nearby Mankas Corner. Joseph and his father Mathus moved their families to the Wetmore ranch in 1866, and planted wheat and a small orchard. Initially, they lived in Wetmore's old house, but Joseph in 1885 built a large two-story Victorian-style house that still stands today.
Joseph married Mary Jane Blake (1856-1937) in 1889 in Solano County, Mary being the daughter of Alexander and Virginia Blake of nearby Green Valley. Joseph subsequently became widely respected as a fruit grower, also gaining fame for raising championship race horses. One of his horses was Edelweiss, a "famous long-distance race horse of the Pacific Coast for many years." Joseph was also well known as a member of the Democratic party, and served one term (Democrat, 1891-92, 29th Session) in the California State Legislature as a representative from the Solano District. He was also a close friend of Christley Manka, who ran the store at Mankas Corner, and he administered Christley's estate in 1888 when Christley died. Joseph himself died on Sept. 28, 1914 in Suisun Valley, and Mary died there on Oct. 7, 1937, probably at the family home. Both are buried in the old Wolfskill family plot in Rockville Cemetery in Solano County, California. The children of Joseph and Mary follow.
children - WOLFSKILL
Mathus Reid Wolfskill (1890-1975) was born on Sept. 10, 1890 in California. He was known as "Reid", and married Nelda Lavina Thomas, who was born on Oct. 6, 1891 in California. Mathus died on July 9, 1975 in Suisun Valley, Solano County, Calif., and Nelda died there Sept. 10, 1981. Both are buried in the old Wolfskill family plot in Rockville Cemetery. Reid and Nelda had no children.
Jarena Loraine Wolfskill (1893-1997) was born on June 10, 1893 in Suisun Valley, Solano County, California, probably in her parents house at Mankas Corner. She married Ernest Cicero Armstrong (1877-1959) about 1919 in Solano County. She and Ernest lived in the old Wolfskill house, which was renamed the Armstrong house, just across the road from the store at Mankas Corner. She lived to be 104-years old, and died on Dec. 8, 1997 in Solano County, probably at Mankas Corner. Both Jarena and Ernest, along with their only child Mary Armstrong Siebe (1922-2012) are buried in the old Wolfskill family plot in Rockville Cemetery, along with Jarena's parents and grandparents.
Clarence Cooper (Judge) Wolfskill (1895-1978), who follows:
Clarence Cooper "Judge" Wolfskill (1895-1978), the son of Joseph Cooper Wolfskill and Mary Blake, was born on April 22, 1895 in Solano County, California at the family home near Mankas Corner. He graduated on June 20, 1914 from Armijo High School in Fairfield, and served from Dec. 13, 1917 to Feb. 22, 1919 as an enlisted man in the Supply Company of the 63rd U.S. Infantry, probably remaining state side for the duration of WWI. He subsequently married Lulu Myrtle Neitzel (1898-1982) of Green Valley on Nov. 29, 1923 in San Francisco, Lulu having been born on July 16, 1898 in Solano County, probably either in Rockville or Green Valley. Clarence's occupation from the 1920s to 1940s is always shown on census returns and military records as laborer or farmer, but he went on at some point to become the judge of the Suisun Valley Municipal Court (Solano County), where he acquired the nickname "Judge". He retired to the family ranch in Suisun Valley (Solano County), and died on July 24, 1978 in Solano County. Lulu died on Dec. 15, 1982 in adjacent Napa County. Both are buried with Leslie (1894-1975) and Virginia Mae Anderson (1900-1989) in a vault at Rockville Cemetery in Solano County, Leslie being a Green Valley boy who was a close friend of Wolfskills. Judge's daughter Dolores Russell tells the story of how Les and her father rolled dice one day at a tavern on the main corner in Rockville to decide who would pay for lots and cement work at Rockville Cemetery for them and their wives. Les lost and had to pay for everything. Inscribed on the slab covering Judge's portion of the vault is C.C. Judge Wolfskill WWI. The children of Judge and Lulu follow.
Dolores Wolfskill (1931-2016) was born on Feb. 6, 1931 in San Francisco, California; and lived her later years in Mankas Corner, California on land once owned by her great-grandfather Mathus Wolfskill. She married Vernon "Ducky" Leroy Russell (1926-1995) of Fairfield, California; and they had two children - Diane Russell (b. 1946) and Richard Rodney Russsel (1949-2008). Both Richard and Diane married and have children and grandchildren. After Ducky passed away her companion at Mankas Corner was "Ken" Chauncey Bruce Kinnaman (1929-2009), until he passed away on Nov. 13, 2009 in Fairfield. Dolores died on May 30, 2016 in Fairfield, and she is buried with Vernon, her grandparents and great grandparents in the old Wolfskill family plot in Rockville Cemetery. Her parents are in the same cemetery, but in a different plot that is close by.
Joseph "Joe" Clarence Wolfskill (1926-1992), the son of Judge Wolfskill and Lulu Neitzel, was born on April 28, 1926 in San Francisco, California; and married Mae Rita Huck (1928-1999), who had been born on June 16, 1928 in Yolo County, California. Joe died on Dec. 12, 1992 in Fairfield (Solano County), and Mae died there on Feb. 4, 1999. Both are buried in Rockville Cemetery. The children of Joseph and Mae follow.
children - WOLFSKILL
Renee Wolfskill was born on May 21, 1953 in Napa Co., Calif. She married Joseph W. Calbert on May 26, 1973 in Solano County, and they divorced on June 7, 1983 in the same county. They have a daughter named Jenea Nichole Calbert (married name Jenea Almendariz) who was born on March 19, 1979 in Solano County.
Bradley Elwin Wolfskill was born on Jan. 20, 1955 in Napa Co., Calif; and married Bonnie Richart, from whom he is now divorced. They have one son, Bradley Joseph Wolfskill, who was born on Oct. 20, 1988 in Solano Co., Calif. Brad, Sr. still lives on the Wolfskill ranch, north of Mankas Corner.
by Janet & Michael Clark
This history is an evolving document.
Despite our best intentions it probably contains mistakes.
Please let us know if you spot any by sending an email to Mike Clark
The documentation for many of the dates and places listed in this history are found in the Ancestry.com online databases (subscription required).
Barrows, Henry D. (1887), Story of an Old Pioneer, William Wolfskill: Los Angeles World, Sept. 24, 1887 & Oct. 1, 1887 issues.
Barrows, Henry D. (1897), A Pioneer of Sacramento Valley: Annual Publication of the Historical Society of Southern California, Los Angeles, v. 4, n. 1, p. 12-17.
Barrows, Henry D. (1902), William Wolfskill, the Pioneer: Annual Publication of the Historical Society of Southern California, Los Angeles, v. 5, n. 3, p. 287-294.
Brooks, Sackett, (1975), "John Reid Wolfskill, the area’s earliest American settler, 1842" in1975 Centennial Edition of the Winters Express (newspaper), Winters, California. This article consists of excerpts from "John Reid Wolfskill: The Pioneer of Solano County", Unpublished MS, Term paper for History 276, U.C. Davis, Dec. 1, 1973 (Larkey Collection).
Councilman, Linnie and Wolfskill, Edward (1926), Memorandum of Mrs. Linnie W. Councilman (neé Wolfskill), A personal diary entry of July 6th, 1926. There is also a July 29th, 1928 letter written by Edward "Ned" Wolfskill to Linnie Councilman (his half-sister) asking her to critique one of his Revisions to the Memorandum. A typed transcript of the Memorandum, and several revised versions of it, are available in the Wolfskill Family Collection, Special Collections Department, Shields Library, University of California at Davis. This memorandum, though virtually never referenced, is the source of many of the birth, marriage and death dates of the early members of the Wolfskill family.
"William Wolfskill was born in Boonesborough 20 March 1798. His parents were Joseph Wolfskill, Jr. and Sarah Reid, who were married in Madison County 20 July 1796. Sarah was the
daughter of John Reid, and Joseph, Jr. was the son of German immigrant Joseph Wolfskill and his wife Margaret Smith. Joseph and Margaret's other children were Margaret, George, Peter, and William."
"According to family tradition, Joseph, Sr. came to America in 1742 to escape impression into the service of Frederick the Great. After spending about 25 years in Pennsylvania, the Wolfskill family moved to Rowan County, North Carolina. They remained there until about 1788 when they moved to Madison County, Kentucky. Joseph and his family settled near the mouth of Silver Creek. In 1805 Joseph posted a
notice in the "Kentucky Gazette" (a Lexington paper, as there were no papers published in Richmond) that his wife Margaret had left him and he was not responsible for her debts."
"Joseph, Sr.'s son, William, died in Madison County in 1796. His widow Jane married John Heard 20 June 1797. Joseph (the records do not specify a Jr. or Sr.) was guardian for the children of William and Jane, but these children were never named. Joseph, Sr. died in Madison County about 1819."
Johannes Wolfskehl Family Tree on FamilySearch.org. Note that most of the information given on this tree is unverified with no references provided. As such, it is tentative. Last accessed 25 July 2018.
Hawkins, John (1947), Wolfskill Family Tree Compiled March 1947 by John Hawkins of Summit California. Available on David Wolfskill's website at George Wolfskill Descendants. Last accessed 17 Oct 2018. John Hawkins (1884-1968) is a direct descendant of George Wolfskill (1764?-1849), and the family tree chart he compliled is based on information collected from his relatives in Livingstone County where John was born, and which is a neighboring county to Chariton County where their ancestor George Wolfskill lived. The data in John's chart is consistent with information collected by his cousin Charles Wolfskill (1882-1961) that was shared with Ned Wolfskill in the 1920s when Ned was researching, and compiling written notes on the family.
Marusich, Conchita Thornton (2017), In Search of William Wolfskill: Journey to Find the Legacy, self-published, Napa, California, 246 p. The focus of this book is a genealogy search by the author into her mother's ancestry, and it is more of a historical novel based on the life of William Wolfskill, than a true biography. It adds little that is not already covered in the excellent biography of Wolfskill by Wilson (1965).
Milliken, Michael (2017), Michael A Milliken's Home Page: Online family tree on Rootsweb.com. This is the database on the Wolfskill family that everyone seems to reference. Unfortunately, it has absolutely no documentation. Last accessed 25 July 2018.
OAC (Online Archive of California), "Inventory of the Wolfskill Family Collection", University of California Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources (website), 38 p. Last accessed 25 July 2018. Also see Vang (2008) in this list of references for an alternate version of the inventory in HTML format.
Pleasants, Mary Carpenter (c1885), "Mary Refugio Carpenter Pleasants carte-de-visite album" on Caliphere (University of California) online digital collections. Last accessed 25 July 2018. This is a photo album in the U.C. Irvine special collections that was kept by Mary Pleasants (neé Carpenter), who was the wife of the foreman in the 1860s of the Wolfskill Ranch, and it contains portraits of various members of the Wolfskill family.
Smith, T. Berry (1917), "Sarshel Cooper" inThe Missouri Historical Review, published by the State Historical Society of Missouri, v. 11, n. 2 (Jan., 1917), p. 231.
"About two miles from Boonslick [Boonesborough] was erected a stockade, as a defense against the Indians during the war of 1812, which was called Cooper's Fort. Capt. Sarshel Cooper and his family lived in a log cabin constituting one corner of the stockade. While a storm was raging on the night of April 6, 1815, some Indians crept up to the cabin, broke a hole through the chinking between the logs, and shot Capt. Cooper in the midst of his family."
"A rather elaborate tombstone was prepared for his grave, but (the story goes) the changing Missouri River washed the grave away and the stone was kept in the family until about 1888, when it was placed in Central College by Nestor Cooper, Ex-Sheriff and Collector of Howard County. [This stone stands today in Cooper Cemetery in Petersburg, Missouri.]"
Additional information on Sarshel Cooper and the Wolfskills is availble at Hemenway, Thomas Dwight (2007), "The History of Howard and Cooper Counties" (online article) at Wolfkiller.net. Last accessed 25 July 2018.
Vang, Payne and Phillips, Elizabeth (2008), "Inventory of the Wolfskill Family Collection - Biography and Collection Contents", Wolfskill Family Collection: 1820-1975 on Caliphere (University of California) online digital collections. Last accessed 25 July 2018. Contains biographies of John R. Wolfskill and his children Ned, Melinda, Virginia and Frances. There is also an archived version of just the biography. Also see OAC (undated) in this list of references for an alternate version of the inventory in PDF format.
Wilson, Iris Higbie (1965), William Wolfskill, 1798-1866 : Frontier Trapper to California Ranchero, published by Arthur H. Clarke Co., Glendale, Calif., 268 p. There is also a more recent treatment on William Wolfskill by Conchita Thornton Marusich (2017), In Search of William Wolfskill, self-published, Napa, California, 246 p. However, it does not add anything new to what is already presented in Wilson (1965).
See also Councilman and Wolfskill (1926) and King (1928).
Thoughts on Early Origins of the Wolfskill Family
Henry Barrows (1897), Ned Wolfskill (1920s) and Iris Higbie Wilson (1965) in the above list of references give slightly different versions of stories handed down through the Wolfskill family of California on the origins of the Pennsylvania German ancestors of William and John Reid Wolfskill. Most stories of this type begin based on fact, but tend to evolve over time with embellishments and distortions as they are told and retold within the family - sometimes to the point where fact can no longer be separated from fiction. Some interesting items follow that bear on the validity of the Wolfskill family stories.
One item to consider is the Wolfskill family name, which is the English version of the German name Wolffskehl. It undoubtedly comes from the village of Wolfskehlen in the German state of Hesse. This village today has transformed into the northernmost suburb of the city of Riestadt, and it is located about 10 miles southwest of the metropolis of Frankfurt. It is also part of a region known historically as the Rhineland-Palatinate, and it encompasses both banks or the Rhine River. The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) devasted much of the Palatinate, and many towns like Wolfskehlen were depopulated as their residents moved to other villages they felt were safer. Because these people were born in the Palatinate, and resettled there after the war, they were known as Palatines. People in those days were identified by their places of birth, so as the Palatines of these villages moved on to new homes, like the villages of Nieder Hilbersheim, Hueffelsheim, Darmstadt, and others, they acquired surnames, like Wolfskehl, that tied them to their ancestry. When these Palatines in the early 1700s began a mass exodus to the New World, they brought with them their surnames, which by then were fixed family names, inherited from their forebearers.
Wolfskill, Wolffskehl, and the other variations of this name were not commonly encountered in the 1700s in the American colonies, nor is it a common name found in the United States today - notable exceptions being Solano and Yolo Counties in California, and Lancaster County in Pennsylvania. Thus, it is an interesting fact that there is record of a German emigrant named Johannes Wolffkskehl who left Rotterdam, Holland on the ship Loyal Judith and arrived on or just before Sept. 3, 1742 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We find him on three slightly different "list[s] of foreigners imported in the ship" that are housed in the Pennsylvania Archives (Egle, 1892). These lists are enumerated by Strassburger and Hinke (1934) as lists 93A, 93B and 93C. Johannes appears as the 48th passenger under the name "Jonnas Woolfscall, age 46" on a list of passengers maintained by the ships captain (List 93A), and as Johannes Wolffkskehl on a list of passengers who swore an "oath of allegience" to the Kingdom of England and Colony of Pennsylvania, and a similar list of those who swore an "oath of abjuration" renouncing the deposed Stuart dynasty and renouncing the power of the Pope (Lists 93B & 93C). There was another passenger listed 48th as "Henrach Woolfscall, age 30" on the ships captain's list, and as Heinrich Wolffkskehl on the other two lists.
Genealogical research has provided some more information on Johannes. Genealogists working with records in Germany have shown that Johannes was from the Rhineland-Palatinate, and he married Anna Maria Viel on Nov. 19, 1730 in the village of Hueffelsheim, which sits 30 or so miles west of Wolfskehlen (Riestadt), Germany. Furthermore, Anna was born on Feb. 28, 1711/12 in Hueffelsheim to parents Theobald Viel and wife Anna Margretha. Also, Johannes sailed on the Loyal Judith with Anna and at least three of their children, all daughters (Strassburger and Hinke, 1934; Krebs, 1960; Tepper, 2000). There also may have been one or more older children (or other relatives) who followed Johannes and Anna to New England at a later date. Pennsylvania church records shows that Johannes and Anna probably settled with their daughters in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, as they had at least three more children born to them in Pennsylvania, two sons and another daughter, all baptized from 1743 to 1749 in the town of Trappe in Montgomery County at the Aug.us Lutheran Evangelical Church, which is the oldest Lutheran church building in the United States (Sachse, 1896).
We do not know when or where Johannes was born and died, but several family tree websites give him the name Johann Heinrich Wolfkiehl with a birthdate of Nov 3, 1706 in Nieder Hilbersheim, Rheinhessen, Hessen, Germany (some give Dec 10, 1712 as the date). They also assign him a death date of June 12, 1787 in Earl, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the source of this information is the Millennium File on Ancestry.com, which is a database created by the Institute of Family Research (which no longer exists) to track the records of its clients and the results of its professional research. Because these records include material submitted by clients, without sources and with no check on validity, it may include unverified information that is the result of guesswork. For this reason, the Millennium File is a questionable resource that is no substitute for original sources. That said the birthdates of 1706 and 1712 for Johannes from this file are inconsistant with his stated age of 46 on the 1742 roster for the Loyal Judith, which would give ~1696 as his birth year. We suspect that Johann Heinrich Wolfkiehl is actually an inaccurate merging of the two Loyal Judith passengers Johannes and Heinrich. Is Johann Heinrich Wolfkiehl the same as Joseph Wolfscale, the German emigrant of the aforementioned Wolfskill family stories, is he a relative of Joseph, or is he no relation at all? We do not know the answer.
Heinrich Wolffskehl was Johannes Wolffskehl's fellow passenger on the Loyal Judith, but we have no idea if they are related. Ned Wolfskill (1920s) writes in his notes on the Wolfskill family about a Samuel P. Wolfskill, "[who] is a descendant of the Heinrich Wolfskill family, who came here from Germany in the year 1742. Sailing from Rotterdam. There is quite a family of them but I have been unable to connect them with our branch of the family." He is referring to Samuel Palm Wolfskill (1875-1964), who was a banker in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Samuel is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Denver, Pennsylvania, and many members of his family are buried nearby at Salem Union Cemetery in Reamstown. We suspect that the birth and death information given in the Millennium File for Johann Heinrich Wolfkiehl (1707-1787) probably apply to Samuel P. Wolfskill's ancestor Henrich Wolffskehl, and not to his fellow passenger Johannes Georg Wolffkskehl (b. c.1696). Nor do they apply to the Joseph Wolfskill who is the German immigrant ancestor of the Wolfskill family of California.
Finally we have the question of Dr. William Wolfskehl (1838-1937), who Wilson (1965) writes visited the Wolfskills of California in 1870 on his way back from Australia. Dr. Wolfskehl stated that he believed his family and the California Wolfskills were related. The ancestry of Dr. Wolfskehl, if he was even a doctor at all, is well established, and he comes from a long line of Jewish-German ancestors (Franz, 1984; with more accessible summaries in English in Barner, 1997 and the Wolskel/Haeberlin Web Site). He does not appear to be related to the Johannes or Heinrich Wolffskehl of the preceding discussion. We need to bear in mind that Dr. Wolfskehl had the reputation in Australia of being a con-artist, whose word was not to be trusted. Also, we are not aware of a mention by Ned Wolfskill (1920s) in his Wolfskill family notes of a Jewish ancestry for the California Wolfskills. If one exists, we did not find it when we looked at those notes at the University of California at Davis. So for now Dr. Wolfskehl's proposed connection between the two families appears tenuous.