William “Billy” Wolf (Wolfe)

by Bruce Whitaker

William “Billy” Wolf was born in North Carolina around 1792. It is not known for certain who his parents were. I tend to believe he was the son of Michael Wolf (1770–1830) and his wife Cathrina. The other possible parents were Gottlieb (Caleb) and Christina Wolf. All tend to believe his parents or grandparents were from Germany. Michael and Caleb may have been brothers. I descend from Billy Wolf, and my DNA says I descend from Michael, too. A woman who also descends from Billy says her DNA descends from Caleb. My guess is that they were brothers. Which one is the father of Billy Wolf is up for debate. Both Michael and Caleb appear to have moved to Barren County, Kentucky.

Billy Wolf married Jane Hayes around 1814. Jane was born in Tennessee on December 14, 1794. She was the daughter of Revolutionary War veteran John Hayes (1760-1839) and Mary Randall (1764-1850). Jane was most likely a large woman. Her brother, James Hayes (1803-1856), was said to be the biggest man in Buncombe County when he died. James’ daughter, also named Jane Hayes (1829-1898), weighed around 300 pounds, according to my grandfather Henry H. Ingle (1884-1973). James Madison “Matt” Hayes (1831-1900), Jane Hayes Ingle’s brother, was a very large man, as well.

Billy and Jane Wolf’s home was located near the present site of the Grove Park Country Club’s clubhouse. Jane Wolf was granted the right by the state to sell “spirituous liquors” in 1823. This may indicate that the Wolfs owned an inn or tavern.

Billy began to acquire a lot of land. Around the time of his marriage to Jane, he bought 242 acres on Glen’s Creek from John McLatchy. He bought 210 acres on Beaverdam Creek from Joseph Killian on July 5, 1826. On December 20, 1838, he bought 100 acres on Beaverdam Creek from the state. On May 7, 1839, he bought 67 acres on the French Broad River from Reuben Deaver. On September 10, 1838, he bought three tracks of land from George Hise (Hice): 100 acres on Dick’s Creek, 95 acres on Newfound Creek, and another 12 acres on Dick’s Creek. On September 8, 1845, William bought 100 acres from William Hill.

Besides being a farmer and selling liquor, I believe Billy Wolf had another occupation; he was a counterfeiter. I do not know if it was coin or paper. I am certain he was not in on it by himself. He was very likely Buncombe County’s first counterfeiter.

Billy was walking from his house near what is now the Grove Park Inn to his daughter Mary Wolf Rice’s house on Rice Branch Road in Beaverdam on February 6, 1847. The law took in after Billy Wolf before he reached his daughter’s house. They supposedly chased him up on top of Sunset Mountain, where his coat got caught on a fence. He supposedly could not free his coat, so he pulled out his knife and stabbed himself 13 to 15 times in the chest and died.

Mysterious Death

June Long and I use to have lunch together at the Beaver Lake Country Club. She belonged to the Daughters of the American Revolution, and I belonged to the Sons of the American Revolution. The two organizations would meet together every other month and listen to a speaker and then have lunch. I descend from Billy Wolf’s daughter Elizabeth Caroline, who married Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Foster. June descended from Billy Wolf’s daughter Jane Eliza Wolfe, who married William Thomas Wilson. June’s husband was Buncombe County Sheriff Charles H. Long, who would have lunch with us on occasion. One thing all of us agreed on was that Billy Wolf did not stab himself to death.

Sheriff Long said he had run across a few people who have stabbed themselves to death, but it only took one stab to the heart. They did not stab themselves all over their chest. I think Billy Wolf was murdered, and likely by a person (or people) who was in with him on the counterfeiting. It was likely one of several prominent people in Asheville or the county, if not both. It was also likely someone who held elected office.

Jane Wolf outlived her husband by 26 years. She died on May 10, 1873. Both are likely buried in Asbury Memorial Methodist Church Cemetery (in Asheville) in unmarked graves.

William and Jane Hayes Wolf had 12 children, all of whom were born in Buncombe County, NC.

1. John Jackson Wolfe was born on March 15, 1815. He died in Henderson County, NC, on January 20, 1881. He is buried in Patty’s Chapel Cemetery. He married Eliza Herron (March 28, 1819–January 25, 1859). She is buried in Asbury Memorial Cemetery. His second wife was Martha Taylor (April 18, 1834–August 10, 1915).

2. Mary Elvira Wolfe (February 21, 1818–October 11, 1870) married James Overly Rice (1819–1863).

3. Sarah Eveline Wolfe (December 2, 1819–September 6, 1884) married Pleasant “Ples” Israel (March 16, 1816–February 26, 1901).

4. Jane Eliza Wolfe married William Thoma Wilson (1813–after 1880). He was the son of John Wilson and Elizabeth Forester.

5. Elizabeth Caroline Wolfe (1824–December 3, 1861) married Benjamin Franklin Foster Sr. (January 10, 1817–August 1893). He was the son of Capt. Thomas “Tommy” Foster (1774–1858) and Ora Sams (1779–1857).

6. Solomon Wolfe (1825–?) married Nancy Murdock, and they moved to Tennessee.

7. William Wesley Wolfe was born on December 11, 1827. He married Margaret McMinn (ca 1828–1869). She died in Union County, Arkansas. His second wife was Lugenia Buchanan. He died on July 6, 1878 in McLennan County, Texas.

8. Francis Marion Wolfe got divorced and moved to Texas in the 1860s. He second wife was Ruth Stradley (November 11, 1835–July 10, 1905).

9. James P. Wolfe was born on June 10, 1832. He died in Candler, Buncombe County, NC, on December 29, 1904. He married Elizabeth S. Curtis.

10. Harriet C. Wolfe (March 16, 1835–
February 18, 1892) married Thomas Stradley Jr. (September 15, 1827–January 29, 1905). Both died in Lower Hominy Township, Buncombe County, NC.

11. Clarrisa M. Wolfe (1837–after 1880) married Elias Stone (1804–after 1880).

12. Mira Ann Wolfe was born in 1840. She married John Smathers and died of tuberculosis after 1900.

Bruce Whitaker documents Fairview area genealogy. To get in touch with him, contact the Crier at [email protected] or
828-771-6983 (call/text).

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