J. Edward Wolfe was born September 12, 1849, at Hampton, Adams County, Pennsylvania, oldest son of Jacob Wolfe, a popular merchant of the same place, and Mary Connor, of Scotch and Irish descent. Edward attended public school until the outbreak of the war, when he became an apprentice to the printer’s trade in the Gazette office, Hanover, York County, Pennsylvania. Here he remained several years, attaching himself for a while to the Carlisle Volunteer, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Later he held a position in the government printing office, at Washington, D. C., after which he was led into evangelistic work through the Rev. E. P. Hammon, with whom he went to Philadelphia and Newport, Massachusetts. At this point he was city missionary, and remained for one year. During this time he had many rough and strange experiences. In order to aid him in his battle against rum, he established a newspaper, which soon stirred the ire of the whisky-sellers, and he was prosecuted for libel by a notorious rum-seller. Being refused bail, he was imprisoned for three days, and during this time the paper was issued from the jail. The consequence was that on December 11, the election day, the temperance party carried the day by a plurality of 929. On this day he was assaulted by a cowardly, prize-fighting rum-seller, who knocked him down and treated him in a brutal manner. But this did not in any way weaken the courage of Brother Wolfe who, after this event, had many friends to assist him in his good work. In 1878 he moved to Quincy, and from there to Uxbridge, Mass., from thence to Bethel, Providence, Rhode Island, and on to Washington, D. C., where he engaged in evangelistic work. In 1881 he moved to York, Pennsylvania, where he remained three years, taking a trip to Mexico through the Indian Territory, where he remained a short time, holding meetings at various points along the line. He was soon afterward made Presbyterian evangelist for Texas, and in 1888 settled in Vinita, Indian Territory, as independent evangelist, where, in connection with his wife, he opened an Indian orphanage based upon the “faith and work” system. In this school he now has a number of orphan children, who are being educated and taught different trades, while cared for and supported by Evangelist Wolfe and wife, through the occasional assistance of friends interested in the work, and partly by products from the orphanage farm, situated about five miles from Vinita, Indian Territory. Mr. Wolfe married, in 1874, to Miss Kate Timberlake, daughter of A. W. Timberlake, at one time president of the board of education. Mrs. Wolfe is connected with some of the leading Cherokee families. By this marriage they have two children. Evangelist Wolfe is about the middle height, heavily built and fair complexioned, with great force of character written upon his countenance. His manner is cheerful and sympathetic; his language is fluent, rising at intervals to the very summit of oratorical grandeur. What matters if he has his faults, so long as Brother Wolfe has it in his power, and uses that power, to lead men to Christ and wean them from the world, which he has undoubtedly succeeded in doing, as the writer of this biography can cheerfully testify. “The good that a man does outlives him,” and begets such good that virtue continues to be immortal. Rev. Mr. Wolfe is conducting a religious paper entitled John 3, 16, which is having a large circulation.
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