John S. Wolfe

Colonel, 135th Illinois Infantry


Photo courtesy of Ken L. Slauson.

Col. JOHN S. WOLFE (deceased), attorney and soldier of the Civil War, was born in Morgan county, Ill., September 21, 1833, the son of George and Mary (SIMMS) WOLFE, the father a native of Virginia, and the mother of North Carolina. His paternal grandfather, Henry WOLFE, was a soldier of the Revolution. The family removed in 1839 from Morgan to Macoupin County,a nd in the latter the subject of this sketch grew to manhood on a farm, remaining with his father until twenty-two years of age, meanwhile pursuing his early studies in the county log school house of that period. Early in life he planned entering the leagal profession and, in 1857, entered the office of the late Gen. John M. Palmer as a student, and, two years later, was admitted to the bar. Promptly after his admission to the bar, in partnership with his fellow-student, Col. J. W. LANGLEY, he opened a law office in Carlinville, whence, a year later he removed to Champaign, and where, during most of his life he pursued his profession. He was one of the first in Champaign to respond to the call of President Lincoln for 75,000 men to resist the assault of the Southern Confederates upon the integrity of the Union, taking a prominent part in a meeting held in a public hall, and after concluding an eloquent address, giving evidence of his sincerity by writing his name at the head of the list of volunteers. He was chosen captain of the company then organized, but owing to the large number of patriotic organizations tendering their services to the Government, it was not at once called into service. After remaining in camp some weeks at Joliet, on June 13, 1861, the company was mustered in as a part of the Twentieth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, being one of the first regiments to be organized in this State for thre three years' service. After a service of about one year, he was obliged to accept a discharge on account of disability incurred in battle. It was after his return home that he was married to Miss Celestia A. YOUNG, a native of Lorain County, Ohio, who survives him. Having recovered from the disability incurred during his first enlistment, in 1864 he assisted in the organization of the One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Illinois Infantry, which, on June 6, 1864, was mustered in at Mattoon for 100 days' service, with Captain Wolfe as Colonel. During its period of service the regiment was on duty chiefly in Missouri, guarding the railroads and other lines of communication from the incursions of guerrillas and "bushwhackers" who infested that region. This service was of great importance to the army in the field, and assisted to check the atrocities which had so long disgraced the State. After returning from the field, Colonel WOLFE resumed the practice of his profession, for about three years having an office in Chicago. He then returned to Champaign, where he renewed his partnership with Col. J. W. LANGLEY, and continued in practice for the remainder of his life, for the last thirty years being local attorney for the Illinois Central Railroad. As a lawyer and citizen he maintained a high reputation for personal integrity and fair dealing. Besides devoting his attention to his profession, he was an enthusiastic student of pure literature, to which he gave his leisure moments. An independent in politics, he was not a seeker for office and never held any political position. He was a Methodist in religious views, and held various positions of trust in connection with that denomination. Socially, he was identified with the masonic Order, being a member of the Blue Lodge, Chapter and Knights Templar Commandery of Champaign. In his later years he traveled extensively, spending considerable time on the Pacific coast, and during the summer of 1903, in company with his wife, making a tour of the principal countries of Europe. His death occurred at his home in Champaign, June 23, 1904.

History of Champaign County, Illinois, by J. O. Cunningham, 1905

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