Wolf Family History
From Württemberg to California

by Kenneth Baxter Wolf
(revised January 2021)



Part Two: The Wolf Family in America:
1853-1973


(including the Bremermann, Keyt, Owen, Stuart, and Adams lines)

A follow-up to: Part One: The Wolf Family in Germany: 1740-1853





The Crossing

Late in her life, Amalie Louise Wolf Geister (5/30/1840--1/19/1926), a longtime resident of Pacific, Missouri, recorded on a slip of lined paper a few details about her arrival in America in June, 1854. Translated from the German, it begins: [I,] Amalie Louise Geister, nee Wolf, was born on May 30, 1840 in Tailfingen, Württemberg. I came with two of my siblings to America in June 1854." 33 Amalie's recollection is corroborated by official records from the time. The Württemberg Emigration Index contains an entry for Amalie, as well as for her sister Wilhelmine ("Minna") Wolf (7/18/1832--3/13/1912), indicating that the two applied for permission to leave the then Kingdom of Württemberg sometime in 1854 with the intention of going to Missouri.34 Of their three brothers only Eberhard Ludwig Wolf (12/6/1835--c. 1863) is listed in the index, with an application date of July 1853. 35 Happily the names of all five of the Wolf siblings appear in the passenger lists of two separate vessels bound for New York from Le Havre, Normandy. Gustav Friedrich Wolf (6/4/1830--8/23/1860) and Eberhard, ages 23 and 18 respectively, were among the 398 passengers of the Trumbull, a Brigantine sailing ship which arrived in New York harbor under the command of William D. Smith, on September 5, 1853.36 Nine and a half months later, on June 24, 1854, the rest of the Wolf family--Wilhelm Christian Wolf (5/28/1831--12/10/1876), Wilhelmine ("Minna") Wolf, and Amalie Louise Wolf--ages 23, 21, and 14 respectively, arrived on the Antelope, with a total of 370 passengers on board.37 Family momentos reflect this two-stage emigration process. Gustav and Eberhard each wrote farewell cards from Emmingen on July 7, 1853, presumably on the eve of their departure for Le Havre. Gustav's card--which captures his florid signature--is signed "Dein treuer Bruder" ("your faithful brother") and so could have been directed at any one of the three siblings that he left behind. Eberhard's note, which begins "Schwester!" ("sister"), had to have been intended either for Wilhelmine or Amalie Louise.38 Three days after Gustav and Eberhard put pen to paper, their aunts Auguste Caroline Baumgarth and Friederike Philippine Baumgarth (sisters of the recently deceased Heinrike Eberhardine Baumgarth Wolf) wrote cards from Emmingen (7/10/1853), each identifying herself as a liebende Tante ("loving aunt"). Given the timing of these notes, they must have been presented to Gustav and Eberhard on the eve of their voyage. Finally in a goodbye-card dated April 29, 1854, Heinrike Eberhardine Wolf (the oldest daughter of Johann Jakob Wolf's brother, Christian Friedrich Wolf) bid farewell to her cousine ("female cousin") from her home in Eßlingen.The date on this card--April 29, 1854--is our best guess as to when Wilhelm and his sisters set out for Normandy to meet the Antelope. In any case, it is clear from all of this that Gustav, the oldest of the siblings, went to America first, taking his younger brother Eberhard with him, with the intention of paving the way for the arrival of their two sisters in Wilhelm's charge.

The timing of the Wolf family's departure placed them squarely in the middle of the most active phase of German migration to the United States. It is estimated that more than a half million Germans immigrated to America between 1850 and 1854, with the single largest burst occurring precisely in 1853-54.39 There were many factors behind this largescale mid-century emigration from Germany, prominent among which were crop failure, political instability, land inheritance problems, and peasant emancipation.40 Of all the U.S. ports of arrival, New York was by far the most active in terms of immigration, handling 74% of the foreign arrivals by sea (which numbered 175,190) in 1853 and 71% (201,580) in 1854. In 1853, 40% of foreign passengers to the United States were German, second only to the Irish (42%).41 In 1854, the percentage of Germans increased to 48% while the Irish, the next largest group, accounted for only 22%. At this point, there was no distinct processing center for immigrants in New York. The first of these, Castle Garden (a.k.a. Castle Clinton) in Battery Park, opened in 1855 in response to the recent surge of immigrants. Ellis Island would follow in 1890. The ship masters of the Trumbell and Antelope would have simply submitted their lists to the customs officials, who would then have processed the passengers and released them into the city.42

It is worth noting that immigrants coming from southern Germany and the Rhineland often left from the French port of Le Havre. Northern Germans tended to use Bremerhaven. Because American cotton bound for the mills of Alsace entered France via Le Havre, many of the ships, emptied of cotton, would be filled with immigrants in an effort to make the return voyage profitable.42a As a result, many southern German immigrants found themselves in Louisiana, where they boarded river boats to make their way up the Mississippi. This was not the case for the Wolf family, whose ships sailed from La Havre directly to New York.



When the Trumbell arrived in New York harbor, the two Wolf brothers parted paths for a time. While Gustav seems to have gone directly to St. Louis, Eberhard made his way south to Philadelphia. There he met and married another immigrant named Louise from Fellbach, Germany and fathered three children in the space of three years. But by the summer of 1859, Eberhard and family had left Philadelphia and joined the rest of the Wolfs in St. Louis. Naturalization records definitely place Eberhard in St. Louis on August 1, 1859, when he officially renounced his allegiance to the King of Württemberg.43 The 1860 Census, taken the following year, found Eberhard working there as a 26-year-old cabinet maker and living with his wife Louisa (age 25) and now four children: Frederick (age 6), Charles (age 5), Wilhelm (age 3), and Louisa (age 1). While the census entry lists Philadelphia as the birthplace of the three boys, little Louisa is identified as a St. Louis native. 44 There is some confusion about the date of birth of Eberhard's second son, Charles Gustav Wolf. His death certificate records his birth date as June 22, 1854 while his headstone reads June 2, 1855.45 The later date turns out to be a better fit. For one thing, if Charles were born in 1855, he would have been five years old in 1860, just as the census data indicates. 1855 also makes more sense in terms of Charles's chronological relationship with his older brother. For if Charles had been born in June of 1854, Frederick could not have been born any later than September, 1853, the very month in which his father arrived from Europe! Since Louisa's name does not appear on the passenger list of the Trumbell,46 it seems most likely that Eberhard met her in Philadelphia and married her shortly thereafter, with Frederick entering the world sometime in the middle of 1854 and Charles following his lead a year later.

The St. Louis that greeted the Wolf family was a very German city. Already by 1837, an estimated 6,000 Germans called St. Louis their home.47 and that number would grow dramatically over the next two decades, partly in response to the exaggerated claims about this new American "Rhineland" that were circulating at that time in Germany. According to Emil Mallincrodt, founder (in 1844) of the German settlement of Bremen-- which is now the Hyde Park neighborhood of St. Louis--"One often imagines he is in Germany when he hears German and the sound of wooden shoes clattering on the streets."48 The influx of German Lutherans also affected the religious topography of the city, with the foundation of Trinity Lutheran church and the establishment of Concordia Seminary in 1849.49 Though the rate of immigration from Germany to St. Louis peaked in the 1850s, large numbers of German immigrants continued to pour into the city for another half century, dominating its cultural identity until the advent of WWI, when anti-German sentiments ran high and German Americans began to downplay their "German-ness."

Gustav Friedrich Wolf in St Louis

When Gustav finally surfaces in the records of his adopted country, he does so as someone already well established in St. Louis. The St. Louis Directory of 1859 indicates, in two consecutive entries, that one Gustav Wolf ran a hotel and restaurant at 23 Market Street and a saloon at 56 S. 2nd Street, the addresses corresponding to two different faces of the same building, it would seem. A year later we find "Gustavus Wolf" listed in the 1860 Census as a "keeper of restaurant" from "Wurtemburg." According to this census entry, he was 30 years old and lived with his wife, Mary (who, as we shall see, appears in other documents as "Marie"), age 23; his son of less than a year named Eugene; a fourteen-year-old "servant" from Bavaria named Clara Kuhn; and two "clerks" (who presumably would have helped run the hotel and restaurant) named Alexander Miller (age 21 from Baden, Germany) and Frederick Bushings (age 27, from Hannover, Germany). From his death certificate (1901), we learn not only Eugene's date of his birth--August 23, 1859--but his mother Mary's maiden name: Kuebler, or Kübler (1838--3/16/1918).51 The same source indicates that Mary, like Gustav, was born in Germany. This contradicts the census records from 1860 and from 1880, which indicate that she was born in Missouri and Alabama respectively! 52

As fate would have it, Gustav died on August 23, 1860, less than two months after the census was taken in his neighborhood, and, as if to add insult to injury, on the very day that his little son Eugene turned one. The St. Louis Registry of Deaths lists one "Gustavus Wolf" of Germany, age 30, dying "the week ending September 1, 1860." The records of the Holy Cross cemetery in St. Louis where Gustav was interred verify August 23 as the actual date of death.52a Though I have not yet found an obituary in any St. Louis newspaper, the August 25th (Saturday) issue of the Hermanner Volksblatt, the German-language newspaper of Hermann, Missouri (some 80 miles west of St. Louis), published one, that reads: "From St. Louis the sad news comes to us that the well-known Mr. Gustav Wolf, who ran the popular restaurant on Market Street, was taken by death on Thursday morning [i.e., August 23]. His friends had feared for him for some time, yet his death was sudden. A very young wife and a one-year-old child mourn their painful loss. Sit illi terra levis [Latin for: "May the earth be light upon him"].




[Von St. Louis geht uns die Trauerkunde zu, dass der auch hier wohlbekannte Herr Gustav Wolf, der beliebte Restaurant an Marktstrasse, am Donnerstag Morgan mit Tode abgegangan ist; seine Freunde hegten schon laengere Zeit diese Befuerchtung und dennoch trat sein Ableben ploetzlich ein; eine noch sehr junge Gattin und ein erst einjahriges Kind beweinen diesen herben Verlust. Sit illi terra levis!] Although the Registry of deaths does have a column for "cause of death," in Gustav's case the entry has been partly obliterated by poor document scanning technique.53a It reads, tantalizingly enough: "[XXXX] of brain." (Another good reason to visit St. Louis!) Among the many claims made against the estate of Gustav Wolf are two doctor bills. The invoice submitted by Dr. Philip Weigel (whose name, by the way, appears in Steigerwalt's probate records) made multiple housecalls to the Wolf home beginning on March 19, 1860, and culminating on August 23. The bill is not very explicit when it comes to itemizing his treatments, typically referring only generically to the administration of "medicines" and "prescriptions." There are only two exceptions to this rule: the "4 galvanic operations" that were administered on May 2, 3, 5, and 7, and the "visit at Ferzinger's (or Herzinger's) Water Cures." The mid-nineteenth century was the heyday of hydropathy ("water cures") and the therapeutic use of electric currents, but the maladies for which these technologies were prescribed are so wide-ranging that they turn out to be of little help when trying to deduce a cause of death. The other medical bill, submitted by Adalbert Godron, is equally reticent about Gustav's condition, listing (alongside a series of prescriptions identified only by number) what we would today consider more homeopathic remedies: Chamomile fl(ower), fennel seed, mustard, juniper berries, "blister" (root?), and smelling salts. Ironically the bill for Gustav's funeral is much more explicit: the $62.50 charge included the plot and the coffin, as well as the hearse and carriage rental.


The probate court records related to Gustav's death open with a petition, written and signed on August 29, 1860 by Mary Wolf, "Widow of Gustav Wolf," asking the court to appoint someone to manage the estate of her dying husband. 53


This task was assigned to a fellow member of the St. Louis hospitality industry, Frederick Steigerwalt. Immigration records indicate that Steigerwalt first arrived in St. Louis in 1849. On November 17 of that same year, he married Regina Kaes. The 1850 census lists him, age 28, as a native of Bavaria and the owner of a "coffee house." The only other members of the Steigerwalt household listed are his wife, Regina, age 30, from Wuerttemberg, and a 23-year-old "barkeeper" named "Friderick Schleitner" from Hesse. The St. Louis city directories first mention Steigerwalt in 1852, as the proprietor of a coffee house on the south side of Franklin Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Streets. By the time the next city directory (1853-1854) was published, Steigerwalt's coffee house had moved to 25 Market Street and he had taken on a partner identified only as "Kuebler." We know this to have been Charles C. Kuebler, whose name graces a number of previous city directories, beginning in 1847. At that time Kuebler had a "coffee house" at 31 S. Main, a business that moved to the northwest corner of Second and Walnut sometime before 1851. By 1852, Kuebler is listed as the proprietor of a saloon on the northeast corner of Second and Myrtle. The 1854-1855 directory, which is the first to refer to the joint "Kuebler-Steigerwalt" business venture, identifies it as the "Social Hall Saloon" at 25 Market Street. It lasted until 1857, at which point Kuebler assumed sole ownership of the business while Steigerwalt opened another coffee house on the northeast corner of Fourth and Morgan. The city directory of 1859, the only one to list Gustav Wolf's business, has no listing for Kuebler (who, as we shall see had died the previous year), but names Steigerwalt as the owner of an "Oyster Saloon" at 47 Morgan, a business that lasted long enough to be included in the 1864 and 1865 directories. These details are significant for a number of reasons. First of all, they show that Frederick Steigerwalt was familiar enough to Gustav's business and close enough to his widow for him to be trusted with managing the estate when Gustav died. Second, Steigerwalt was, at the time, still managing the estate of Charles C. Kuebler, who had died on July 21, 1858. Unlike Gustav, who died intestate, Kuebler managed to prepare his last will and testament a few weeks before he died, dividing his entire estate between his three children. The first child mentioned in the will is "my step-daughter marie Louise, wife of Gustav Wolf, in this City." The pertinent paragraph of the will reads:

I, Charles C. Kuebler, of the City and County of St. Louis, in the sate of Missouri, do make and publish this my last will and testament: I give, bequeath and devise all and every my real and personal property to my three beloved children, viz: a) my step-daughter Marie Louise, wife of Gustav Wolf, in this City, b) my son Christian Daniel and c) my son Gustav Friedrich, both in this City, and I will and order the same to be divided into three equal parts among them. And I hereby commit the guardianship of both my said sons Christian Daniel and Gustav Friedrich, until they shall respectively attain the age of twenty one years, unto my trusty and much esteemed friend F. Steigerwalt, and unto my beloved son in law, Gustav Wolf, both in this City, their executors and assigns; and do hereby declare that the expenses of the maintenance and education of both my sons until they shall attain the age aforesaid, shall be paid and borne by and out of the real and personal property and estate given and bequeathed to them in and by this my will. I do appoint as executors of this my will my said friend F. Steigerwalt and my said son in law Gustav Wolf, both of this City: hereby revoking all former wills by me made. In witness thereof I have come hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of July, A. D. 1858. C.C. Kübler.

Knowing that Mary Kuebler was the step-daughter of Charles C. Kuebler, allows us to fill in some of the blanks in Gustav's biography between his arrival in St. Louis in 1853 and his debut in the St. Louis City Directory of 1859. It seems likely that he found work in one of Kuebler's or Steigerwalt's businesses--perhaps the "Social Hall" saloon that they owned together--and there Gustav met Kuebler's step-daughter, Mary, seven years his junior. They were married sometime before Charles' death in July 1858, leading Kuebler to assist his son-in-law in the launching of his own business. Hence the reference, in the inventory of Gustav's property, to "An Indenture of Lease made by C. C. Kübler to Ernst Müller and Alvis Reinhardt, dated 24th April 1858, and by them assigned and transferred to Gustavus Wolf, by endorsement on said Indenture, dated 24th June 1858." This transfer occurred less than a month before Kuebler's death, suggesting that he was setting up Gustav and Mary so they could keep the family business going; his two sons, aged sixteen and nine at the time of his death, were still too young to assume that kind of responsibility. The confidence that Charles had in his son-in-law is evidenced by the role Gustav played as co-executor of the estate alongside Frederick Steigerwalt. Gustav signed his name to a number of the documents included among the probate records. On a side note, Gustav also purchased a number of items at the Steigerwalt estate sale held on October 20 "at the NE corner of Morgan and Fourth Streets;" specifically: "1 gold pen holder, 2 gold finger rings, 1 set (3) gold studs, 1 gold watch, 1 vol. 'History of the Inquisition in Spain' in German, 2 brass candlesticks, 1 oil painting (landscape), 1 alpaca coat (black), 1 cigar [xxx] and money purse, 1 silk umbrella, 1 syringe." Unfortunately Gustav did not enjoy the use of these items for long.

Before turning to Gustav's probate records, a word about Mary Kuebler's mother (who is not mentioned in Charles' will, probably because she predeceased him) and her two half-brothers. According to the 1850 census, "Charles C. Kubler," a forty-year old "keeper of coffee house," lived with his wife Louisa (38), and their three children Mary (12), Christian (Daniel) (8), and "Gustaph" (Gustav Friedrich) (1). Charles, Louisa, and Mary are all identified as natives of Germany, while "Alabama" and "Missouri" are assigned to Christian and Gustaf respectively as their birthplaces. Fourteen years later, Christian Kuebler, appears in the 1864 city directory as a clerk. But on October 19 of that same year, he died of Typhus fever and seems to have been buried the same day. Not surprisingly, given the fact that Frederick Steigerwalt had handled Charles' estate and was still serving as trustee for his two minor sons, he stepped in to handle Christian's estate. Christian's birthdate remains unclear. Based on the age ascribed to him by the census of 1850, he would have been 22 when he died. Yet the probate records reveal that he had not yet inherited his third of Charles Kuebler's estate, which should have happened when he turned 21. The fate of Christian's brother, Gustav Friedrich Kuebler was named as one of two heirs of his brother, the other being Mary Kuebler Wolf. Interestingly enough, because she was Christian's half-sister, Mary's share of the inheritance was half of Gustav Friedrich's share.

Getting back to Gustav, Steigerwalt was still managing the patrimony of his friend Charles Kuebler on behalf of his two minor sons, when he assumed responsibility for Gustav's estate. This entailed preparing an inventory of Gustav's assets and debits, collecting moneys owed to Gustav, paying off those to whom Gustav owed money. The fact that Gustav has just inherited, my virtue of his marriage to Mary Kuebler, a third of her step-father's estate and had just launched his own new business made this a complicated process.

The documentation related to the settling of Gustav's estate turns out to be full of fascinating information. One particularly poignant document is a request from Gustav's widow for a one-time allowance of $182.50 to support her for one year, based on the fact that "at the time of the decease of her said husband there was no grain, meat, vegetables, groceries or other provisions on hand." Testifying to the legitimacy of the request is none other than Gustav's younger brother, Eberhard Wolf. It might seem odd that Mary, who had recently inherited a third of her step-father's estate, needed this kind of subvention. But in all likelihood, the third that she and Gustav received was tied up in the family business, which Gustav and Mary must have imagined as a continuation of Charles' entrepreneurial trajectory.

The actual "Inventory of all the Real and Personal Estate of Gustavus Wolf," recorded on September 5, 1860, indicates that Gustav had secured a three-year lease (commencing May 15, 1858) at a cost him $1,500 per year) on a three-story brick house "situated on the north side of Market Street between Main and Second streets" on the west side of the alley that ran between Market and Chestnut Streets. This description fits what we learned above from St. Louis Directory: that Gustav ran a hotel and restaurant at 23 Market Street and a saloon as 56 S. 2nd Street. But the inventory in more precise, indicating that Gustav had sublet the hotel that occupied the upper floors to one Christian Fluhr beginning June 1, 1860. It is possible that Gustav's physical condition was deteriorating and he felt the need to take on a partner to run part of the business. The inventory further shows that Gustav was the owner of "six lots of ground" along Pennsylvania Avenue, property that he had purchased on May 21, 1858. It is not clear what he intended to do with property. Gustav's investments were not confined to St. Louis. He also bought a share of stock in the town of Havana, in Shawnee County, Kansas Territory, entitling him to "one eightieth part of the said town." This investment, made on May 11, 1858, corresponded to the creation of a stage coach stop there, a development that could have made Havana an important stop on the Santa Fe Trail. Havana did attract some fifty German and French families as settlers. But in the end the settlement failed and was abandoned altogether in early 1870s. The remains of the station and hotel are today commemorated by a historical marker on Kansas State Highway 31 not far from Burlingame in Osage County Kansas. Had Gustav lived to see the fate of his investment, he would not have been pleased. Good or bad, all of this investment activity on the part of a man who had only recently arrived in America suggests that he brought considerable capital with him from Germany.

The official inventory of Gustav's moveable property is a remarkable--if banal--piece of social history since it reveals precisely what a hotel owner and restauranteer in St. Louis in 1860 would have needed to run such a business. Of particular interest is the selection of beverages, including not only the usual whiskeys, brandies, and other hard spirits, but a wide variety of wines by the barrel: Haute Sauterne, Catawba (from Germany as well as Cincinnati), "Rhine wines" (including Hochsteiner, Durchheimer, Feuerberger, Ungsteiner, Forster Rieslinger, Wachenheimer), and two forms of "Neckar wine" that of all his wines must have reminded him most of his youth in Plochingen. No beer is mentioned in the inventory, but the list does include twenty beer mugs. Food items are not as well represented as drink in the inventory, though there are plenty of references to the implements necessary to hold or prepare them, including a pewter cracker box and a "cabbage plane," used to make coleslaw. The fact that Gustav had 1,750 cigars in stock when he died (along with the accumulation of seventy-seven empty cigar boxes) testifies to what most of his customers liked to do when they drank. Two chess boards and two sets of dominoes rounded out the entertainment options. Whether intended to be used by his clients or simply a part of his own personal property, Gustav's small library reflects his immigrant status as well as the fact that he was the son of a school teacher. Among the German authors, which constitute the majority of the collection, were the works of contemporary authors such as Heinrich Heine (1821-1881) and Friedrich Wilhelm von Hacklander (1816-77), as well as recently deceased ones like Heinrich Zschokke (1771-1848) and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). The handful of English titles reflects an immigrant's effort to get a handle on his new environment: Brucker's Geography of America, Brownell's Indian Races (1857), Allendorf's English Grammar, and the Constitution of the United States. One title missing from this inventory is a book in German on the Spanish Inquisition, one that we know Gustav purchased from the estate of his father-in-law.

The total estimated value of all of Gustav's moveable goods: $2227.66.


Gustav Friedrich Wolf's Siblings in St Louis

As noted above, The 1860 census describes that Gustav's youngest brother, Eberhard Ludwig Wolf, as a 26-year-old cabinet maker from Metzingen, Wuerttemberg, married to Louise, a 25-year old immigrant from Fellbach, Baden. The couple had four young children: Fred (6), Charles (5), Wilhelm (3), and Louise (1). The first three were born in Philadelphia; only little Louise was a native of St. Louis, meaning that the relocation from Pennsylvania must have happened in 1858 or 1859, about the time when Gustav was setting up his business. Perhaps this is what prompted Eberhard to move, or maybe it was Gustav's death. In any case, Eberhard had been in St. Louis only a short time before the Civil War began with the shelling of Fort Sumter on April 13, 1861. Eberhard's pension records 56 indicate that he served in Company F of the 2nd Regiment of the U.S. Reserve Corps (Infantry) and Company D of the 5th Regiment of Missouri (Infantry). Neither the exact date of his enlistment nor that of his death is known, but we do know, from the St. Louis Marriage Index, that his wife Louisa married again on June 16, 1864, this time to a man named Charles Hauser.55 Louisa's remarriage is corroborated by her and her children's appearance as "Hausers" in the 1870 census . Louisa Hauser is indentified in the as a 35-year-old "washwoman," originally from Baden, Germany. "Fred" is listed as a 16-year-old brush maker and Charles, a 15-year-old errand boy. "Will," age 13, and "Louise," age 11, round out the list of Wolf children. Mr. Hauser (who must himself have been dead by the time of this census since his name does not appear in it) had added two children of his own to the family: Dina and Alex, age 9 and 5 respectively. These two, like young Louisa, were born in Missouri; the four older children were--as we have noted--natives of Pennsylvania. Judging from the list of jobs held by Louisa and her two oldest boys, life for the Wolf-Hausers after the war was not easy. Twenty years later, we find Louisa Hauser filing for Eberhard's pension (June 5, 1890). Her death on February 21, 1891 opened the door for her married daughter, Louisa Wolf Wahl, to claim the pension for herself on June 14, 1891.56a

Wilhelmine "Minna" Wolf, the second oldest of the Wolf immigrants, was 21 when she crossed the Atlantic in June, 1854. In was in St. Louis that she met and married Henry Kuhn in July 1858. He witnessed and signed the court petition with which his sister-in-law, Mary Kuebler Wolf, authorized Frederick Steigerwalt to handle her estate. Beyond that we happen to have a loving note in Henry's hand written to his Wiebchen ("little wife") on February 19, 1861. Sometime before 1870, Henry died, but not before giving Minna a baby boy named James. The appropriate entry in the census records of 1870 indicate that James was seven at the time, thus suggesting a birthdate of 1863. But local death records state that a "Henry Kuhn" died in St. Louis on February 18, 1862. 56b If, as seems likely, this is a reference to Minna's husband, then James could not have been born any later than November, 1862, making him eight years old rather than seven at the time of the census. In any case, the census of 1870 finds "Minna Kuhn" (age 38) living in Washington, Missouri (about sixty miles due west of St. Louis) with her son James (7) in the home of Alex Brunner, a Bavarian-born "bar keeper" for whom Minna kept house. It would appear that the widowed Minna and her son had moved in the wake of Henry's death so that they could live near Minna's brother Wilhelm/William (see below). Ten years later, according to the 1880 census, we find Minna back in St. Louis living with her brother Gustav's widow Mary/Marie, who had since remarried a man named John Fehlmann (see below). 56c When the 1900 census was taken, Minna was living in Pacific, Missouri (twenty miles southwest of St. Louis) with her widowed sister, Amalie Louise Geister (age 60, a "nurse") and her unmarried daughter Minnie (age 31). Minna died in Pacific on March 13, 1912, at age 79. On her death certificate she is described as a German-born housekeeper and widow who died of diabetes.

Wilhelm/William Wolf first appears, in the St. Louis Directory of 1859 as a boarder with the same address as Gustav's saloon. About four years later, William married a young widow with similar Württemberg roots named Mary Seifert Fausel. When her first husband, William Fausel, died in 1862, Mary was already the mother of four children--Pauline (b. 1855), Herman (b. 1857), Caroline (b. 1859), and George (b. 1861). After marrying William Wolf, Mary gave birth to five more. By the next census (1870), William and family were living in Washington, Missouri, where William is identified as a 39-year-old "hotel keeper." With him and his wife Mary (age 30), lived not only Mary's four children from her previous marriage (ages 15, 13, 11, and 9), but the three surviving ones of their own: Bertha Wolf (age 6), Mary Wolf(age 4), and William Wolf (age 2). A local newspaper (3/14/1873)58 contains an advertisement for the "Washington Hotel and saloon, Wm Wolf, Proprietor." William's and Mary's lives in Washington, Missouri, were marred by personal tragedy. Beyond the two of their own children (Gustav and Heinrich) who died in infancy, a third (Mary) would die at age 16 after her dress caught on fire when she was cleaning the hearth. To top it off, William Sr. was only 45 and Mary 36 when, in 1876, they both died of pneumonia. Their two youngest surviving children, Bertha (age 12) and "Will" (age 8) moved in with their aunt Amalie Louise Wolf Geister (see below) in Pacific, Missouri.59a Both of them would marry and contribute five children to the next generation.59 Will and his wife Betty would actually live to see their golden wedding anniversary, a feat acknowleged by Will's cousin Helen Wolf Ernst, the daughter of Eugene (see below) in a letter dated July 24, 1947.60

Amalie Louise (a.k.a. Louisa) Wolf, the youngest of the Wolf immigrants, married Valentin Geister (8/7/1829--9/8/1884), another German immigrant, on May 16, 1864, in St. Louis.61 The two of them moved to Pacific, Missouri a short time later and had their only child, a daughter named Minnie (6/5/1865--8/28/1950). Minnie was eleven when her orphaned cousins Bertha and William came to live with her family. The 1880 census finds "Valentine," a 51-year-old farmer in Pacific, living with his wife "Louisa" (age 40), his daughter Minnie (age 15), and his nephew William Wolf (age 12). For some reason there is no mention of Bertha, who would have been 16 years old at the time. Valentine died only four years later, in September 1884. Young William Wolf stayed with his Aunt "Louisa" up to the time of his marriage in 1897. Amalie Louise remained in Pacific until she died on January 19, 1926 at age 85. Minnie Geister, her only child, never married.

The Eugene Wolf Family

As we saw above, Eugene Wolf (8/23/1859--7/30/1901), the only child of Gustav Wolf and Mary ("Marie") Kuebler Wolf, turned one on the day his father died. He was fifteen when his widowed mother married a Swiss immigrant named John Fehlman (8/4/1832--11/24/1904) on March 31, 1875. Like his new wife, Mary, Fehlman had been married before. In fact his first wife, Margaret Steigerwalt, whom he married on March 6 1864, was the sister of Frederick Steigerwalt! This is confirmed by Frederick's will, where one of his heirs is identified as "Margaret the wife of John Fehlmann" (along with another sister--"Apollonia, the wife of Anthony Dommer[]th of Wayne County in Pennsylvania" and Frederick's "step-daughter Bertha the wife of Ferdinand Diehm, of this city)." It is worth noting, in this regard, that John Fehlman served one of the two "securities" for Frederick Steigerwalt, who served as the "principal" in the handling Christian Kuebler's estate in October 1864. John Fehlman and Margaret Steigerwalt married on March 6, 1864, and had three children in quick succession: Adolph Kuebler (3/7/1865-2/2/1946, Mary Kuebler (b. 4/1/1866), and Anna Kuebler (b. 1868). In the 1870 census, John is listed as an 38-year-old "importer of cigars" from Switzerland. His wife Margaret, 27, responsible for "keeping house," is given "Prussia" as her birthplace (which complicates the case for her being Frederick Steigerwalt's sister. Adolph (5), Mary (4), and Anna (2) are all listed as products of Missouri). Margaret died on December 24, 1873, and Fifteen months later, John married Mary Kuebler Wolf. The newly blended family of John Fehlman and Mary Kuebler Wolf first appears in the 1880 census, with John listed as a 47-year-old "cigar dealer" in St. Louis, supporting his wife "Marie" (age 43, from "Alabama"!), her son Eugene (age 20), and three of John and Marie's own children: Adolf (age 15), Marie (age 14), and Anna (age 12). By then Eugene, identified as the "stepson" of the "head of the household," was working as a bookkeeper for a pulley company. He seems to have begin following this career at age 18, appearing in the 1877 edition of the St. Louis City Directory for the first time as an "assistant bookkeeper" for the U.S. Savings Institution. The only other person listed in the Fehlmann household is "Minna Kuhn," identified as a "sister-in-law" of John Fehlmann, although she was actually Mary's sister-in-law (see above). The 1900 census has John and "Marie L" Fehlmann still living in St. Louis, ages 68 and 62 respectively, with John still plying his trade as a "cigar merchant." Four years later, on November 24, 1904, John passed away. According to the entry in the St. Louis Register of Deaths, the death occurred at 927 Morrison Ave. in St Louis, presumably the family home.

On July 20, 1883, Eugene, age 23, married Clara Bremermann (8/23/1863--10/15/1916), age 19, in the town of Greenleaf Kansas, some 400 miles west of St. Louis. What brought these two natives of St. Louis to Kansas to marry is not clear. Clara was the daughter of Gerd Bremermann, a prosperous merchant who had immigrated from Bremen, and Johanna Clara Briegleb (m. 4/20/1844 in St Louis).61a

[Bremermann, Briegleb, and Bartenstein lines]

Eugene and Clara would have three children, all of them born in St. Louis: Helen Clara Wolf (June 1885--1957), Marie Louise Wolf (2/3/1887--5/16/1964), and Walter Richard Wolf (10/9/1891--1/25/1969).

Unfortunately for this young family, Eugene contracted tuberculosis, a disease that presumably prompted the family's relocation to Colorado in 1893. According to the city directories (1893 and 1894), Eugene's last job in St. Louis was as a "clerk" at Charles H. Gleason & Company, and his first position in Denver was as a bookkeeper with Dunn & Blass Leather Company. The first address for the Wolf family in Denver was 2950 Williams Street, but by 1897 they had moved to 3060 Josephine.

Tuberculosis was a veritable scourge of nineteenth and early twentieth-century American cities, responsible for one in five deaths in the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century. Though the incidence of the disease declined somewhat in the second half of the century (accounting for one eighth of the deaths in the 1880s), it was still a specter that haunted American society well into the twentieth century. 54 Before Robert Koch's discovery of the Tuberculosis bacillus in 1882, the general medical consensus was that the disease was hereditary and chronic, not contagious. Consistent with these mistaken ideas about the disease was the tendency on the part of nineteenth-century physicians to prescribe little more than changes in routine designed to remove the environmental "irritations" that they imagined might exacerbate the symptoms. Men of Gustav's time who were well-off would have been advised to spend time in what were considered cleaner, more therapeutic environments: the sea, the islands of the Caribbean, or the new lands of the western frontier, including Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. Men with more obligations than means--and women of all social ranks--tended to stay home and make the most out of what little could be offered them in the way of treatment. Since it was not uncommon for people who had contracted the disease to live for years or even decades after the symptoms first appeared, most went on with their lives as best they could, marrying, having children, and pursuing their careers. Unfortunately Eugene's bout with the disease would only last eight years after the family's move to Colorado.

We have a letter that Eugene wrote from this address to his cousin "Will" Wolf on June 21, 1897. In the letter Eugene congratulates Will on his upcoming marriage to Betty and refers in passing to his own "broken road of health."62 His illness would prevent him from joining his wife Clara on her trip to see the newlyweds the following month.63 Sometime in 1898 the family moved to 2933 Gilpin St., and Eugene began working as a bookkeeper for the L. Anfenger Agency Company. Consecutive city directories indicate that Eugene worked as a bookkeeper for Midland Foundry & Machine Works Company (1899) and a clerk for Schirmer Insurance & Investment Company (1900), where he was still employed for the first half of 1901, before he died on July 30 of that year at age 41. The 1900 census, the last one to include Eugene as the head of household, lists him as an "accountant" living on Gilpin St. with his wife and three school-aged children. The census takers found the Wolf family still intact in June of that year. Eugene was buried at Fairmount cemetery in Denver. His wife Clara, who is not given an occupation in the 1900 census, became a school teacher and continued to raise their three children in Denver until her own death in 1916. The 1910 census identifies her (age 45) as the head of a household at 3234 Marion St. that included her daughter Marie (age 22) and her son Walter (age 19); Clara's oldest daughter Helen (age 24) had already married by then, though she, her husband, and her young son lived right next door (3136 Marion). All three members of the Clara Wolf household were working at the time: Clara as a public school teacher, Marie as a stenographer, and Walter as a clerk in a seed company. On October 18, 1916, Clara Bremmerman Wolf died and was buried next to her husband in Denver's Fairmount Cemetery. Less than two years after that, on March 16, 1918, Marie Kuebler Wolf Fehlmann passed away and was laid to rest next to her son and daughter-in-law. 64 Marie's death certificate indicates that she had resided in Colorado for eight and a half years before she died. That means that she moved to Denver from St. Louis in 1909, five years after her husband John Fehlmann's died. Helen, Marie, and Walter thus got to know their grandmother well, calling her "Grossmama," presumably one of the last vestiges of spoken German in the Wolf household. 67 It is likely that Clara was the original source of the Christmas cookie recipes that have made their way down through the succeeding generations of the Wolf family.

Eugene's three children, born in St. Louis but raised in Denver, ultimately followed very different paths. Helen Wolf married a Texas-born accountant by the name of Louis William Ernst (9/5/1879-6/5/1970) in 1908. He was the son of Charles W. Ernst and Joanna Hannah Lamers. Helen and Louis purchased a $3,200 house at 1233 Elizabeth Street with the help of Helen's share of Marie Fehlmann's estate. There they raised two sons: Louis Eugene ("Gene") Ernst (1909-2006) and Howard Ernst (1912-2005). Gene Ernst described his mother as "gifted in all the homemaking arts" and an active member of the Divine Science Church in Denver.68

Helen's younger sister Marie Wolf--who, according to the 1920 Census, moved in with her sister after their mother's death--used her share of the inheritance to go to New York. She returned to Denver in 1929 with her friend Helen Althouse (a.k.a. Trigg) and took a job as an advertising manager at the bank where she had worked before she left for New York. But Helen Althouse, who was originally from California, wanted to return to the "Golden State" and Marie followed her in the very early 1930s, living in Los Angeles for the rest of her life. At one point Marie owned a bookstore in Eagle Rock (at 4121 Eagle Rock Blvd.), which would have catered to the needs of Occidental College students, among others.69 Her California nephews and nieces (Walter's children; see below) got to know Marie well as they were growing up, referring to her affectionately as "Auntie Me."70 Gene Ernst remembered his Aunt Marie as a wonderful story teller, an amateur actress, and an avid sportwoman, who enjoyed mountain climbing and tennis.71

The Walter Richard Wolf Family

Walter Richard Wolf seems to have used his share of his grandmother's estate to finance his young family's relocation to California in 1920. Four years before, Walter had married Helen Cary Keyt (7/24/1894--7/25/1963), the daughter of William Baxter Keyt (3/16/1860--8/2/1911) and his second wife, Gertrude Gardner Grubbs (5/29/1860--4/8/1945). Helen had a younger brother named Thomas ("Tom") Grubbs Keyt (3/24/1902--11/20/1958) 72.

[The Keyt, Degolyer, and Grubbs lines]

Helen Keyt was actually engaged to a local banker named Kent Whitman when she first met Walter. According to family lore, one day Walter Wolf came to the Keyt house and, upon seeing Helen coming down the stairs, addressed her as "my dear little girl." That bit of gallantry seems to have left a deep impression on Helen, who ultimately called off her engagement to Whitman. Helen's and Walter's wedding took place in Denver at the home of Alex and Betty Ernst73 in 1916 on April 1; April Fool's Day. Disappointed with Helen's choice of husband, her widowed mother Gertrude Grubbs Keyt did not attend the ceremony. Presumably she thought that Helen's former beau was a better match for the daughter of a dentist. Fourteen months later--on June 5, 1917--Walter Wolf filled out his military registration card . It tells us that Walter, age 25, lived at 4009 Quitman St. in Denver with his wife, Helen, who was pregnant with their first child. It also reveals that he worked as a clerk at the "Colorado Seed Company," presumably the seed company mentioned in the 1910 census. Walter is described physically as "medium" in height and build, with blue eyes and dark brown hair. Very little additional information from Walter's Denver days has survived. Gene Ernst had fond memories of his "Uncle Walter,"74 dating back to the time when Walter still lived in Denver. Gene remembered the kites, the wooden swords and guns, and the "little cannon and mud bombs" that Walter made for him. He also recalled that his mother Helen [Ernst] and her younger brother Walter were like children every Halloween and every Fourth of July.

Walter's and Helen's first child, Baxter Keyt Wolf (11/28/1917--6/16/1973), was born in late November, 1917. His name was a tribute to his maternal grandfather, who died of a heart attack at age 51 when Helen was only seventeen. Baxter was the only one of the five children born before the move to California in 1918. That date is based on Walter R. Wolf's death certificate, which indicates that he lived in the "county of his death" for 51 years. Since he died on January 25, 1969, that would put the move in 1918. The 1920 census takers found the young family--including two-year-old Baxter--living at 299 Fourth Avenue in "Arcadia City" of "Pasadena township." It was a small wooden house that Walter built with his own hands in an otherwise wide-open field.74a Due to the construction of the 210 Freeway (the relevant section of which was completed in the fall of 1968), the original Wolf address no longer exists; much less the house that Walter built. Currently the lowest numerical addresses on Fourth Avenue are 306 and 311, flanking either side of a dead end butting up against a freeway wall. The same census records lists Walter as a carpenter. Voter records from 1920 confirms the address ("4th Ave") and the occupations ("carpenter" and "housewife") of these two democrats. The first Wolf Christmas in California was overshadowed by the arrival of twins on December 26: Walter Richard Wolf, Jr., (12/26/1920--3/39/2007) and Clara Louise ("Helen") Wolf (12/26/1920--12/29/2007). The family was still living in Arcadia three years later when, on February 21, 1923, Robert Eugene ("Bob") Wolf (2/21/1923--4/20/1996) was born. In 1925), the family moved to nearby Monrovia, where, according to Walter, Jr., they had a goat that provided them with milk . . . and eventually a baby goat! Walter, Jr., recalls a subsequent move to Highland Park, where they lived in four different places, each for a short period of time. It was there that the Wolfs got their first car: a 1922 Chevrolet touring car, which, Walter, Jr., remembers, was used on occasion to take the family to Hermosa Beach.

By 1930, the allure of the coast inspired yet another move, this one to Redondo Beach, which Helen Keyt Wolf remembered fondly as the place where she and her Denver family vacationed on her fifteenth birthday. It was there that the 1930 census found them. Aside from his wife Helen (age 35), the Wolf household included the four children, ranging in age from Baxter (12) to "Bobby" (7), plus a "lodger" named Helen J. Pruner (age 10) from Michigan. In that census Walter is listed as a 38-year-old independent commercial artist, which mostly involved painting cardboard displays for department store windows in downtown Los Angeles. At one point Walter worked for the Metlox ceramics company in Manhattan Beach. According to a website on Manhattan Beach history, The "early success [of Metlox] came in the manufacturing of large ceramic letters for neon signs in an eye-catching style that was used for the early movie palaces in the late 1920s and early 1930s, most famously for the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, which opened in 1930." Walter applied his freehand lettering skills to help create patterns for the neon signs. This was good work for him, but the Depression prompted Metlox to terminate the neon sign part of their business and focus on more conventional ceramics. But not before Walter bought his second car, a 1926 Studebaker "Big-Six" touring car. In the South Bay area, the family moved as frequently as they had in Highland Park, regular paychecks being hard to come by. According the Walter, Jr., his uncle Tom teased Walter, saying "it must be cheaper to move than to pay rent." The summer of 1932 brought the Olympics to Los Angeles; Walter Wolf remembers a visit to Olympic Village, where he and his siblings met some of the athletes. Less than a month after the closing ceremony, on September 7, 1932, Carol Ann Wolf, the youngest and last of Walter and Helen's children, was born in Hermosa Beach. At that time the family was attending a Christian Science church, so Carol Ann was born with a "practitioner" present. But complications with the birth led to the timely intervention of a conventional doctor.

The family involvement with Christian Science, which seems to have begun with Helen's father, William Baxter Keyt, Jr. (who is remembered as a minister as well as a dentist and a musician), evolved over the years into his daughter Helen's close relationship with Religious Science and especially Unity Church. In July 1939 young Helen (age 18) would make the pilgrimage to Lee's Summit, Missouri, the headquarters of Unity Church, to attend a "Youth of Unity" (YOU) conference. She left from Los Angeles' Union Station, which had opened for business only two months before. Carol Ann--who remembers the excitement of seeing her older sister off at the station--also remembers being steeped in Religious Science and other manifestations of the "New Thought" movement, thanks to her mother. Many of the poems that Helen wrote and left behind in her "button box" reflect her unwavering faith in the power of positive thinking.

[Helen Cary Keyt Wolf's photo album].

[Helen Cary Keyt Wolf's "Button Box" poems].

Walter Wolf was a "jack-of-all-trades" with an eighth-grade education. Though remembered as a man who could fix or build anything, he never seems to have found an economic niche that satisfied him or allowed him to support his large family with any consistency. At different points after that he turned to carpentry, construction, sign painting, neon-sign designing, and furniture building. At one point he even ran for City Clerk in Hermosa Beach. His sons Walter, Jr. and Bob remembered hanging up hand-painted postes and passing out leaflets during his father's unsuccessful campaign. But it was "Walter Wolf's Wonder Waffles"(a.k.a. "Walter Wolf's World-Wide Wonder Waffles," a.k.a. "Walter's Wonderful World of Waffles," "Walter Wolf's Wonder Waffles") that stands out as his most memorable entrepreneurial venture.74b By building this tiny brick diner himself (in the spring of 1931), he avoided much of the overhead normally associated with a new business. And he built it well: it survived the big Long Beach earthquake of March 10, 1933. Walter, Jr. recalls his father putting his sign-making talents to good use, crafting a big metal waffle sign for the purpose. There are no images of that sign, but the two pictures of the waffle shop that do exist not only testify to its diminutive size, but provide a sense as to some of the menu items and their cost: "Waffles 15 cents, Toasted Sandwiches 10 cents, Soup 5 cents, Salad 5 cents, Chilli [sic] & Beans 5 cents, Entrees... Sandwiches... Desserts... Coffee...." The fact that the restaurant was so small (offering its customers no more than a counter to sit at) and the fact that Walter financed the building by selling meal cards--cards that entitled the holder to a break on the cost of breakfast--meant that when he finally opened for business, Walter suffered from a real cash flow problem. He soon found it expedient to expand the menu, and so he enlisted Helen to cook other dishes as home. This "outsourcing" was made possible by Baxter's delivery of the home-cooked food to the waffle shop in the family Studebaker, despite the fact that he was only thirteen at the time. As his younger brother Walter would later recall, "On his 14th birthday, Baxter went to the City Hall to get his license. Eddie Messenger, the Chief of Police, told Baxter there was no need for a driving test. "I've seen you driving past here many times." Even after expanding the menu, Walter had trouble breaking even. The waffle business lasted only a year and a half. In November 1933 the Wolf family left the South Bay area altogether and relocated to Glendale. According to Walter, Jr., the point was to be closer to potential commercial art jobs. In 1934, Helen's widowed mother, Gertrude Grubbs Keyt ("Mima," to her grandchildren), appears in the voting records as a resident of 117 S. Isabel Street in Glendale. Depending on when she moved there, this might explain the choice of Glendale as a new home for the Wolf family. In any case, Walter Jr. remembers being a part of the Boy Scout honor guard for the dedication of the new Glendale post office building (1933), where he got to shake the hand of Vice President, John Nance Garner, a.k.a, "Cactus Jack." Voter records from 1938 place Walter ("artist") and Helen ("housewife"), both registered democrats, at 1262 Ruberta Avenue in Glendale.

For an inside look at the Wolf family in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as the wartime experiences of Walter, Jr., there is no better source than his own reminiscences.
"A Life-long Love Affair with Aviation"
"A Man and his Wheels"
"To My Sister, Carol from Walt"
"Politics and I"
"The Boy Scout and the Vice-President"
"St. Patrick's Day, 1944"
"War's End/Hiroshima"
"Hiroshima"
"Homeward Bound. Osaka to San Francisco, 1946"
"KEYT-TV, an Adventure in Time"

For Carol Ann's first memories of life with her older sister, Helen, in honor of Helen's 90th birthday (Dec 2010), see:
"Memories of Helen Clara Louise Wolf Shanteau"

Needless to say, under such economic circumstances, Walter's children remember their youth as a time of "doing without." A noted, the family moved many times (Clara Louise "Helen" remembers 28 moves in 25 years!), living in Arcadia, Monrovia, Highland Park, Hermosa Beach (five different homes in that town alone), and Glendale. The Great Depression only added to the family's economic woes. More than once, when Walter couldn't find work in Los Angeles, he went back to Denver to live with his older sister, Helen Ernst, and her family. But there was no more work to be had there than in Los Angeles and he sent very little home to his family. Economic problems were ultimately to blame for the straining of relations between Walter and his children. He insisted from very early on that they earn their keep by taking on odd-jobs to help support the family. According to Helen's son Gene, she and her family did not condone Walter's periodic abandonment of his family. Nevertheless they felt obliged to assist him when he turned up on their doorstep, confident that his mother-in-law, Gertrude75 would help keep her daughter's family afloat.76 But the real "angel" as far as the Wolfs were concerned was "Cousin Margaret" from Cincinnati.

"Cousin Margaret's" precise blood tie to the family was not entirely clear to the Wolf children who were so often the beneficiaries of her generosity. All they were told by their mother Helen was that she was "Otie's daughter," without any of them knowing for sure who "Otie" was. In fact "Cousin Margaret" was Margaret Kent Burchenal (11/9/1887--1/15/1973) of Glendale, Ohio, who married a man named Roger Kemp Rogan (5/15/1877--1/28/1947, b. Chicago), who rose through the ranks to became a vice president of Procter and Gamble. Margaret's parents were John Jackson Burchenal and Leota Blanche Grubbs (b. 9/14/1862 in Richmond, Indiana). "Otie" would seem to have been a child's rendition of "Leota," one that ultimately stuck as a nickname. Leota was the youngest of four children of John Warren Grubbs (6/6/1820--3/17/1893) of Cynthiana, Kentucky and Mary-Margaret Ramsey (5/8/1823--2/?/1881) of Washington County, Pennsyvania. John Warren Grubbs was the son of William Gardiner Grubbs (11/27/1786--4/20/1850) of Fayette, Kentucky and his second wife, Rebecca Croake (10/26/1796-1872) of Virginia. They had nine children, the oldest of which was John Warren Grubbs, Leota's father. The fourth oldest was Thomas Marshall Grubbs (9/12/1825--4/27/1864; born in Kentucky), the father of Gertrude Gardner Grubbs (5/29/1860--4/8/1945). Because John Warren Grubbs and Thomas Marshall Grubbs were brothers, Leota ("Otie") Grubbs and Gertrude Grubbs were first cousins, making Helen Cary Keyt and Margaret Kent Burchenal Rogan second cousins. Despite the genealogical distance between Margaret Rogan of Glendale, Ohio and Helen Keyt Wolf, of Glendale, California, "Cousin Margaret" took it upon herself to help her struggling west-coast kin. Being in the habit of wintering in Pasadena at the famous Gamble House, Margaret had regular contact with Helen and her family. Margaret helped finance three different home purchases in Glendale for Helen and her family: one on Idlewood Road, another at 1262 Ruberta Street, and a third at 1064 Newby in which Helen and family would stay for many years.76a According to Walter, Jr., an affluent friend of Margaret's was so impressed by Baxter's efforts to keep the family afloat financially that she bought him a used 1932 Chevrolet sedan to reolace his tired 1926 Chevy. But the Wolf children's fondest memories of Cousin Margaret centered around Christmas, when she would provide boxes of gifts for them. Once she even arranged for a New Year's Day (1931) family excursion from San Pedro to Catalina Island on board the S.S. "Catalina." But Margaret's generosity was not confined to the holiday season. She also regularly provided young Helen with formal dresses for her dances and Carol Ann with dolls and ultimately voice lessons. Carol vividly remembers the time in the late 1940s when Margaret came to pick her up from high school in a limousine, taking her to her singing lesson in style. Margaret even offered to pay for Carol to attend the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, but Carol declined, already engaged to be married at the time (1951). In 1952, Carol went by train to visit Margaret in Ohio. The last time that Carol remembers seeing Margaret was in 1962, when she and her four small children went to visit Margaret at the Gamble House.

Getting back to Walter, it was Baxter, as the oldest, who bore the brunt of his absenteeism. A promising artist who had clearly inherited his father's talent, Baxter was forced to walk away from a scholarship (1935) to Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles so that he could work at a service station for trucks and help support his mother and younger siblings. Baxter also put in time at the the federally-sponsored WPA gardens not far from the Wolf home on Newby so as to earn a share of the produce. Before long he secured a night-shift job at Gladding, McBean ceramics company, putting his own high school art class experience to work making terra cotta pots. In the midst of this, Baxter and his brother Walter Jr.--who both towered over their father--executed a sort of familial "coup d'état," by insisting that he --who had returned from Colorado after Helen had secured the house on Newby--share more of the burden of supporting the family. Walter, in turn, insisted that his older children contribute 50 percent of their earnings to the household budget. Angry at the insubordination of his sons, Walter made Helen choose between him or her children. When she (with some reluctance; her relationship with her husband was always a passionate one) chose the children, Walter left the family for good, returning temporarily to Denver where he worked in a feed store (perhaps the same as the "seed company" we have seen before?). That was in September, 1940. His youngest child, Carol Ann, remembers her mother saying that out of Carol's first eight years of life (1932-40), her father was present for only four of them. Carol remembers writing her father a letter in late 1940 asking him to come home for Christmas, which he thought best not to do. Before long Walter did return to California, but he seems to have had little or no contact with his family. Carol remembers that once in 1942, when she was ten years old, her father showed up completely unannounced at her grammar school in order to see her. Fast-forwarding to about 1950, Carol remembers her boyfriend, Bob Baldwin, asking to meet her father, a request that upset her mother even though his wish never materialized.

At some point, presumably after he returned to California, Walter met a woman named Hazel "Susan" May Miller (10/8/1908-8/6/1984). In order to marry her, Walter had to file for divorce from Helen. Helen challenged this, counter-filing on the grounds of desertion and she won, though she never succeeded in collecting any alimony or child support. According to family lore, Walter and Hazel one day ran into Tom Keyt, his former brother-in-law, who was not yet been informed of the divorce. In any case, Walter and Hazel married on September 11, 1944. According to voter records from that year, the couple--identified professionally as an "artist" and a "housewife"--began their new life together at 557 N. Berendo Street in East Hollywood. Walter was 52 at the time of his second marriage and Hazel, 35. Presumably they could have had children together but opted not to.

The only one of his children with whom Walter maintained contact was his youngest son Bob, with whom he seems to have enjoyed a special bond (and who may not, in his father's mind, have been implicated in the "coup" orchestrated by Baxter and Walter, Jr.). Reminiscing about his father, Bob remembered him as an avid U.S.C. football fan, who loved to listen to the games on the radio while munching popcorn. Bob recalls fondly going with his father to see some of the games in person at the Rose Bowl. Bob's success as a "light-weight, signal-calling fullback" for Hoover High was a source of great pride for his father. For his part, Bob was impressed with his father's command of the English language, despite his lack of formal education, and his uncanny ability to fix and build things. "There was nothing that dad couldn't do and do well. He was a perfectionist." But in the end even Bob's connections with his father wore thin when Walter took offense at a donation that Bob made in his name to the Heart Association, for which Bob worked at the time; Walter preferred the kind of gift that came wrapped in a box. Walter managed to maintain better ties with his family in Denver. Gene Ernst, Walter's nephew, kept in touch with his uncle, and remembered Walter and "Susan" (Hazel) as a reasonably happy couple despite their perpetual financial problems. After Gene's last trip to California in 1957, Christmas cards and cookies were the only link between uncle and nephew. Walter clearly played a much more active role in his second wife's family. Teresa Miller Swafford (a granddaughter of Hazel's brother) came across this website and informed me that Walter was her dad's (David Miller's) favorite uncle and that "was a real character."

Shortly after Carol Ann's marriage to Bob Baldwin in 1951, Helen Keyt Wolf sold her empty house on Newby and went to visit Cousin Margaret in Cincinnati. During the visit, Margaret received a call from the president of The Masters School, a private girl's boarding school in Dobb's Ferry, New York. A medical emergency had left him in need of a resident house mother and he sought Margaret's recommendation for a suitable substitute. It just so happened that the perfect person for the job was sitting right there in her living room, and so Helen was off to New York to begin a new chapter in her life. In 1952 Helen's daughter Carol took the train to visit Margaret in Cincinnati and then continued on to visit her mother in Dobb's Ferry, staying with her there for a few days. She remembers how happy her mother was at the Masters School. Unfortunately Helen was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1956 and underwent a colostomy. Thank goodness (recalls Carol) that the school provided medical insurance. Undaunted, Helen continued working as the housemother of "Second House" through the 1958-59 school year, by which time she had reached the mandatory retirement age. A scrapbook given to her by the last students to benefit from her guidance contains an assortment of pictures, cards, and letters of recommendation. Helen's reputation at Dobbs Ferry helped her secure a similar position at the The Bishop School in La Jolla, California. When her cancer returned, she went to live with her son Bob and his family in Ventura, in a room decorated in purple, her favorite color. She died in Ventura at the age of 69 on July 25, 1963.78













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Exactly five and a half years later (on January 25, 1969), Helen's ex-husband Walter died in a convalescent hospital in Arcadia, where he had suffered from the final stages of lung cancer. The memorial service was held at Unity Church of San Gabriel and he was buried in Inglewood Cemetary. Walter was survived by his widow Hazel and five children who apparently were not informed of his death. His death certificate lists his last place of residence as 9522 Giovane St. in South El Monte and his occupation as a vacuum cleaner salesman. He had worked for the Electrolux Company since at least 1952, the longest period of consistent employment in his life.


The Baxter Keyt Wolf Family

Baxter Keyt Wolf, the eldest son of Walter Richard Wolf, married Ruth Elizabeth Stuart Adams (3/20/1919--4/13/2016) on April 18, 1941. Ruth was the daughter of William Stuart Adams (6/23/1892--12/3/1930) and Ruth Lillian Owen (7/25/1894--10/18/1974), both of Brooklyn.

[The Stuart and Adams lines]

[The Owen line]

[A Trip Down Memory Lane: Ruth Adams Wolf Reflects on the Glendale Years (1927-1954)]

Having known "Ruthie" from shortly after the Wolf family moved to Glendale, Baxter ultimately proposed to "Ruthie" on Chevy Chase Drive. As they were driving one evening he asked her if she would like a stick of gum from his glove compartment. She reached in, but did not find any gum. Instead she found a small box with an engagement ring inside. The ceremony took place at the Church of the Lighted Window in La Caņada. Shortly thereafter, Baxter and Ruth left for their honeymoon on Catalina Island, and then set up their new home in one of the units of a court on Justin Avenue in Glendale, not far from the Wolf family home on Newby Street. Later they moved to a house on Stocker Street, where they were living when Linda Jean Wolf was born on July 27, 1942. At that time the United States was mobilizing for war in Europe and the Pacific. Die to Ruth's pregnancy, Baxter was eligible for a draft deferment that led to his employment at Lockheed Corporation in Burbank, where he contributed to the war effort and learned to be a draftsman at the same time. While Linda was still a toddler, the Baxter and Ruth bought their first home in Roscoe (now called Sun Valley) in the San Fernando Valley, but soon decided that that part of greater Los Angeles was not for them. So Baxter bought an empty lot in Altadena, (at 150 W. Foothill boulevard, now Altadena drive), secured temporary quarters for his family at his mother's house at 1064 Newby, Street, and, in his "spare time" (while working long hours at Lockheed), began building a home. Baxter's plan had been to build the garage first and then use it, in modified form, as a home while he finished the house proper. In the end, that provisional garage-home was deemed sufficient, with one subsequent addition, and no separate house was ever built. Baxter and Ruth's first son, William ("Bill") Baxter Wolf--born three days after the Japanese surrendered on August 18, 1945--was six months old when the family moved into their new garage home. Baxter, Ruth, Linda, and Billy, lived there from the beginning of 1946 until August 1954, when the family moved to Santa Barbara. Baxter's favorite uncle, Tom Keyt, had lived Santa Barbara on and off from shortly after his marriage (September 6, 1922) until his death (November 20, 1958), making the town a natural focus of visits for Baxter and family. Baxter's love of the sea, stemming from the time he spent growing up in and around Hermosa Beach, and the smog levels in Altadena ultimately led him to follow Tom's example and relocate to Santa Barbara. The family first rented a house at 408 Grove Lane, in the middle of the lemon orchards just south of Foothill Road. There, on September 17, 1954--just a month after the move--Ruth gave birth to Richard ("Rick") Baxter Wolf. Less than three years later--on June 1, 1957--came Kenneth ("Ken") Baxter Wolf, the last of the Wolf children. In the spring of 1961, after seven years on Grove Lane, Baxter and family moved to a brand-new house in the Mesa area of Santa Barbara. A year later, Baxter decided to take a job in Campbell, California (near San Jose), but it was only a matter of months before he and Ruth decided to move back, occupying the same house on Linda Road.

Though Baxter's work career was nowhere near as checkered as his father Walter's, he was still hampered by his lack of formal education beyond high school. Like his father, he was a natural artist, he could do anything with his hands, and he innately understood how all things mechanical worked. When he married Ruth in 1941, he was working for Vega, a subsidiary of Lockheed in Burbank. Then he worked for Lockheed itself. After the move to Santa Barbara, he worked, among other places, at Smith-Nelson, a machine shop, and Astro Research, a company that supplied parts for the nascent space program. But he was always drawn to the sea. For a time he had a barge in Santa Barbara harbor and made a living securing and maintaining permanent moorings. His son Bill remembers long hours as a young teen working on the barge. Later Baxter decided to apply his Lockheed-honed talents as a draftsman to boat design. After serving an apprenticeship with John Leuschen, a local naval architect with an office at the harbor, Baxter ultimately bought the business and entered into the most fulfilling phase of his work career, as a naval architect and a marine surveyor. His sons Rick and Ken remember spending lots of time down at the harbor, sometimes helping in the office, but mostly fishing with drop lines purchased at Carter's Bait and Tackle or renting rowboats from Otto Fisk. One of the other fringe benefits of Baxter's job was the fresh fish that grateful clients would send his way. A master of the backyard barbeque, Baxter's swordfish came to be as legendary as his chicken. Baxter worked at the harbor for a number of years, witnessing first hand the famous oil spill of 1969. But ultimately he could not make a consistent living so he accepted a position as an engineer at Rolair Corporation in nearby Goleta. As disappointing as it was to leave the harbor behind, the family thrived on the regular paychecks.

Baxter was passionate about his interests, both professional and otherwise, and he threw himself fully to each of them. While he was still living in Altadena, he and Ruth became avid square dancers. At one point they were part of a group that called themselves the "Buzzin' Boots," the members having little leather boot-shaped badges pinned to their outfits. Ruth, who knew her way around the sewing machine, made cowboy shirts for Baxter that matched her own western-style dance dresses. Soon Baxter was doing his own calling, carting a phonograph, a microphone, and a wooden file box full of records with him wherever he went. Young Bill, dressed in a matching, home-made outfit and boots would often accompany Baxter on his gigs. Baxter also loved boating. The garage on Newby in Glendale witnessed his first boat-building effort. After the move to Santa Barbara, he built or refurbished other small boats--including "Los Lobos" and "Lil Toot"--and borrowed many bigger ones, leading to regular expeditions to the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. He became a member in the United States Power Squadron, an organization dedicated to the promotion of safe boating, and rose to the position of District Commander. Once he no longer worked at the harbor, Baxter followed his two youngest sons into scouting, becoming the scoutmaster of Troop 52. Under his leadership, with Jim Davis as his principal assistant, Troop 52 rose to be the flagship troop of Mission Council, with weekend backpack trips into the mountains behind Santa Barbara and Ojai every month and a 50-mile trek in the Sierras every summer.

[Ruth Elizabeth Stuart Adams Wolf's photo album].

Baxter suffered his first heart attack in November, 1969. True to form, he turned his recovery into his newest "mania." Determined to get back in shape, he began each day with an hour's worth of exercises on the living room floor, ending each session with "push-ups." The first time that he tried a push-up after that heart attack, he managed to produce only one. Four years later, on the morning of Saturday, June 16, 1973, he proudly knocked out 90 of them. But later that day, on the trail to Haddock campground (off of Highway 33, north of Ojai), Baxter had a second, this time fatal heart attack. His two youngest sons delivered the news to their mother later that evening, the night before the saddest Father's Day in history. To her great credit, Ruth, age 53 at the time, quickly moved beyond this tragedy, thankful that she still had children at home to care for. She found work as a baker in the local school cafeteria system. Every school morning for the next 22 years, she reported to work, mostly at La Cumbre Junior High and Santa Barbara High, at the crack of dawn. At age 75 she finally retired, not so much because she was tired of the work but because in the "microwave" age the services of a baker were no longer needed. She continued to make the house at 333 Linda Road a home for another 22 years until her own death at age 97 on April 13, 2016.



Ruth Elizabeth Stuart Adams Wolf's obituary



Postscript: New Connections

As a result of Walter Wolf's isolation, few of his many grandchildren ever knew him as anything more than a name. Aside from his son Bob's children, only his daughter Helen's (Clara Louise's) children ever met him and even that was by accident: Walter just happened to stop by Bob's house in Santa Barbara when Helen and her family were there for a family reunion. Young Helen's oldest son recalled: "When I was young, I remember going to Uncle Bon's and Aunt Jo's for a reunion. there was a great deal of excitement among the adults because Walter Wolf, Sr. was there (by accident) visiting Bob. It was the only time I ever saw him and it was only briefly as he was leaving. As I recall some in the family wanted him to stay. But others wanted nothing to do with him." Walter's separation from the family also contributed to the relative lack of contact between the Colorado and California branches of the Wolf family. Gene Ernst recalled a trip that he made in 1930 to visit his cousins in Hermosa Beach. In July, 1939, Helen (Clara Louise) Wolf, who was eighteen at the time, visited her Denver kin by train, using the city as a link between Lee Summit, Missouri, where she attended the "Youth of Unity" conference, and San Francisco, which was hosting the 1939 World's Fair. While in Denver, Helen stayed with Alex Ernst (her uncle Louis Ernst's older brother) and his wife Betty and got to know her cousins Howard and Gene Ernst and their families. In 1959, Helen Keyt Wolf, visited Alex80 and Betty and attended the wedding of Gene Ernst's daughter Gretchen. Sometime in the late 1970s, Helen (Clara Louise) Wolf Shanteau called Gene's brother Howard from the airport in Denver. At about the same time, Alex and Betty Ernst's daughter Ruth (who lived in Tucson) contacted Helen and came to visit her and her husband Bob in Sun Lakes, Arizona a number of times.

This contact, and the efforts (beginning in 1989) on the part of W. John Wolf 81 (a great grandson of William Wolf) of New Jersey to contact the descendents of Gustav Wolf, opened the door to intermittent bursts of intra-familial correspondence. Two other long-lost family connections were forged via this webpage. Gregory Myers of Missouri provided key information about Eberhard Gustav Wolf, his great-great-great-great grandfather. And Tana Salvaggio of Wisconsin added virtually everything that is recorded here about the Baumgarth family in America.


Part One: The Wolf Family in Germany: 1740-1853


For more information about this branch of the Wolf family, contact:  Ken Wolf (Gustav's great-great grandson): kwolf@pomona.edu

Path of discovery: a presentation to the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society.

Special thanks to: 

  • W. John Wolf, for his work on the descendants of Gustav, William, Mina, and Amalia Wolf.
  • Greg Myers, for his work on the descendants of Eberhard Wolf.
  • Walter Wolf, Jr., Helen Wolf Shanteau, Carol Wolf Marshall, L. Eugene Ernst, and the late Bob Wolf, for their memories of Walter Wolf, Sr., and his family.
  • Karen Shanteau Davis, daughter of Jim Shanteau and granddaughter of Helen Wolf Shanteau, who, gathered information on Gertrude Grubbs and Helen Keyt.
  • Tana Salvaggio, for her work on the Baumgarth line.
  • My wife, Friederike Liese-Lotte von Franqué Wolf, for her indispensable assistance with the German sources.
  • All of the local archivists in Germany who dutifully answered my many letters, particularly Frau Pankrath in Plochingen.
  • The former German Genealogical Society of America, whose library has recently been added to that of the Southern California Genealogical Society in Burbank, CA.
  • Ancestry.com
  • FamilySearch