WOLFRAM FAMILY of Dodge/Jefferson County, Wisconsin
In 1835 Michigan Territory was in the midst of petitioning Congress to become a state. One of the requirements was for Michigan to assist Wisconsin in becoming a separate territory. The US Government moved the process along in 1835 by advertising land for public sale in Wisconsin, prompting thousands of New Englanders to come to Wisconsin to purchase the cheap land at $1.25 per acre. They traveled by way of the Erie Canal to Buffalo, New York and then by way of the Great Lakes (Lake Ontario to Lake Huron to Lake Michigan for $6 per person; Lake Huron and Lake Michigan have the same elevation; Lake Superior was “landlocked” until a canal was built in 1855) on ships to Wisconsin where they found bountiful land and new business opportunities.
Almost all of the desirable land in Milwaukee had been sold by the time of the second public land sale in March of 1839. The population had grown to nearly 5000 people in the four years since the 1835 sale. The 1839 sale opened up the rest of Southeastern Wisconsin including Ozaukee County for settlement, particularly to thousands of immigrants who bought land amongst the Yankees who preceded them.
Buying land 1846 in the Watertown area.
According to family oral history, Carl had met Elizabeth Shiels on the journey by ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean and had convinced her to marry him. His older brother Joseph A. Wolfram did not marry until 1853 when he takes Anna Raismaier as his bride at St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Watertown.
Our WOLFRAM ancestors first appear in recorded census taken 1850.
1850 Census taken 15 August has Joseph Wolfram, farmer age 30 yr old in Jefferson County-Town of Watertown as Head of Household.
Living in same household is 66 yr. old male (Gregory?) and 71 yr. old female named Barbary.
This information is from Jefferson County- Wisconsin - Town of Watertown, US Census.
However, across the border line in Ixonia Township -- From the Town of Ixonia census, dated a month later, we find Charles (English for Karl) Wolfram age 28 yr. old living with 28 yr. old Elizabeth and two small children, age 2 and 1 yr. old.
Karl’s family would be living on the property owned by Christoph Wolfram, Sr -- and their children are named Christoph, Jr, and Barbara after the elderly Wolframs who are residing nearby. The properties may have been next door to each other as the land was on a dividing line for the Townships of Watertown and Ixonia.
Joseph was residing with two elderly adults and the census taker recorded “Barbary”, 71 yr. old female and “Grea” as 66 yr. old male farmer living with Joseph. Was “Grea” a different WOLFRAM (perhaps Gregory) --- or --
Was “Grea” actually Christoff G. Wolfram, married to Barbara??????
The Parish Records of St. Henry's Catholic Church, Watertown, start with marriage registration of Joseph WOLFRAM.
Page 1, dated 1853 has a handwritten entry of the marriage of Joseph Wolfram to Anna Raismaier on June 27.
The parents listed for the bride were Anna (maiden name WARM )and George RAISMAIER of "Town 7" and the parents listed for the groom were Barbara (maiden name WILD ) and Christoph WOLFRAM, living in "Town 8".
The sons of Christoff, both Joseph A. Wolfram and Karl (Carl - or Charles), were considered founding fathers of St. Henry's Parish in Watertown. Their names are mentioned in a book written in 2003 by Kenneth Riedl for the 150th Anniversary of the Church in Watertown.
These young Wolfram brothers, as they entered their early 30s, started raising families that would continue to live in the Watertown area for the next 150 years.
present Wolfram family – Charles Wolfram of
The story so far -------
or Charles WOLFRAM was a weaver of cloth, belonging to a German Guild in
Bavaria. Copy of his traveling
"passport" that allowed him to move between cities in Germany give us
clues to his identity. He was well
educated and may have been involved in the politics of the time since his
German "Wanderbuch" shows he moved between
several cities from 1841 to 1843 at a time when it was usual to train
in just one area. His Wanderbuch showed he had permission to travel as a
journeyman from 1841 to 1843. He was
still in Germany
A copy of this Wanderbuch was provided by a great-granddaughter, Florence Donahue nee Lutovsky and there are hand written notations of monies owed to Carl that he recorded in this booklet.
The German Karl Wolfram had lived in Tirschenreuth where he was a weaver of cloth. He would have belonged to a Guild but the industrial revolution had made the “home cottage” industries unprofitable. His journeyman’s passport describes him as 5 ft. 10 in. with grey eyes, blond hair and “stumpf” nose. Family oral history recalls Karl as wearing high leather boots and a tailcoat as he carried children “piggy-back” over creek water to the rural school where he was the school master. He had been well educated and owned many school books which were passed on to his son, Anton after Karl died.
His daughter Anna Neis would say that she recalled seeing her Mother giving birth in the farmhouse and then having to get up to clean up after herself by washing her own bedsheets and hanging them on a line outdoors to dry. She proceeded to give birth about every 2 years as there were ten children born in twenty years.
newspaper advertisement printed
Karl’s older children marry. Barbara marries Joseph BAUMGARDNER, Christoph marries Anna RIEDL, and Anton marries Mary ENGELHART a few months before his sister Clara marries Gregory ENGELHART.
Karl’s son, Anton, moves in with his father on
Karl was known to teach children at a rural schoolhouse. He had been well educated in Bavaria and could probably speak Latin as well as German and English. Family oral history tells of him wearing large black leather boots and walking over the countryside, carrying children “piggy-back” to his school house. He left many dozens of books with son Anton.
Karl would live to be 80 yr. old, dying
in 1902 at
It is a house close to the Rock River where Anton’s wife, Mary, can fish for carp, which she then pickles as is the Bohemian custom. Her granddaughter, Florence recalled seeing her Grandmother fishing for carp by taking a washtub and hay rake to the river. There she would easily pull the fish into the tub because the fish were so plentiful in the springtime. Mary then pickled the carp, which was considered a delicacy. There were also plenty of strawberries from the garden. Florence remembered chickens in the yard as well as a few cows and a horse.
The time spent on
After Anton and Mary’s son, Edward, also dies at this residence, May, 1903, the family talks of
moving further out in the countryside. Looking back at the east side of town
where their farm had been, they move to
After youngest son. Ben, married in 1916, they moved back to
Joe Wolfram born on Wolfram homestead
Joe had been born 1881 on his grandfather's farm that sat on the
dividing line of Ixonia and Watertown townships. The house he was born into had been built in the
German tradition with white stucco plaster finish on the sides with exposed oak
timbers that crossed in the Old World Bavarian style. It had a fieldstone
foundation that could have served as storage cellar as well as housing animals.
The front of the house faced south looking toward
Joe's grandfather had bought farm land that was heavily wooded with a hilltop providing protection from easterly winds and lower wetlands to the west. His grandfather had settled there in September of 1864 after emigrating from Germany and marrying a girl he had met on the journey over the Atlantic Ocean. His grandfather was a widower with children in June of 1875 when Joe's parents married and moved into the farmhouse they were to share with Karl and his other five children still living at home.
1875 - 1897
The Wolfram family lived on Gopher Hill Farm until Joe was 16 yr.
old. Grandfather Karl had sold the farm
to his son, Anton, signing it over to him on
In 1897 grandfather Karl moved with son Anton and his family into the city of
Watertown to a small house at
St Henry's Marriage Record Book - Pg 5 -
Joe was known for his ability to handle horses.
1905 – 1935
By 1905, Joe was farming again with his new bride in Dodge County at
the Flor farm.
His parents had moved to
Joe and Augusta farmed and raised nine children during the next thirty years. Their last son, Francis, was born 1921.
Their eldest daughter became pregnant and a son was born to Clara Wolfram circa 1924. This child, George, was raised by Joe and Augusta as their own although he was in fact their grandson.
Family oral history: According to her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth EGYHAZI Wolfram, Augusta was a tidy housekeeper. She "always had the table set ready for guests. She always had a tablecloth and crackers on the table. She would babysit her grandson, Charles, and would sit rocking him in her chair. She often sat in rocking chair in a corner of the living room. She washed her clothes by hand and did her own housework and cooking. She was soft spoken and Liz recalls her often saying "Now you mustn't quarrel. The Lord doesn't want you to do that." She had suffered the death of one child who died 8 days after birth in 1916 when she was 32 yr. old. However, three more children were born, making a total of eight births.
The elderly Joe and Augusta retire in old age to the city of Watertown,
living out their last years on
Augusta died of congestive heart failure on
Son, Raymond, had been born 1920 ----
in a farm house in Dodge County, near Lowell, Wisconsin in the Township of
Shields, Ray was raised on this farm. He attended the nearby St. John's
Catholic Church where he served as an alter boy and received First Communion on
Ray had 6 siblings, 3 brothers and 6 sisters, and also a nephew who was raised as a sibling.
At 16 yr. of age, Ray left home to work and lived on the August Kopfer, Sr. farm near Lebanon, Wisconsin. He did chores for the senior Kopfer, farming 90 acres, and he helped Aug. Kopfer Jr. farm his 80 acres of land. The Kopfer family treated Ray well paying $25 per month plus room and board. For an increase of $1 per day, Ray moved on to the Koser farm of Richwood, Wisconsin. However, he had to sleep in an unheated upstairs room with only oatmeal for breakfast every day. Each day began with chores at
Mr. Koser had a habit of driving into town afternoons to socialize at a local pub. He had a well trained horse that could deliver him safely home at a late hour. However, Ray would have to get out of bed to unhitch the buggy and bed down the horse because of a drunken master. After 2 months of this work, Ray decided to leave his employment. To avoid a confrontation, he did this by carefully packing his belongings and hid them in his closet in the early morning. That afternoon, he had hitched up Mr. Koser's fine horse and buggy and helped Mr. Koser prepare for the trip into town by tucking warm blankets around him to protect against the cold weather. He saw Mr. Koser off as he usually did, but then returned to the farmhouse where Mrs. Koser was taking her afternoon nap. He was then able to slip upstairs to get his belongings and leave the farm unnoticed. He walked all the way home.
Ray then worked for Louis Zimmerman of Juneau for about 2 years. He roomed there and Louis' adopted daughter cooked meals for them.
Ray's first employment with a company in the city of Watertown was with the Otto Biefeld Co. where he earned $22 per week. In May, 1941, he left that job to serve in the U.S. Army in Bermuda during WWII. He was paid $21 per month plus benefits!
to Watertown after the war, Ray was working at Hartig's
Brewery. A friend and co-worker, Mr.
"Stoney" Luther, introduced Ray to
Since Mrs. Luther had moved from South Bend, Indiana, her friend
Elizabeth had been traveling by train to visit her and spend weekends in
Watertown. After a few short months of
courtship, "Liz" and Ray were married in South Bend, Indiana on
The couple settled in a rented house in Watertown. Soon after the marriage, Ray was laid off work from Hartig's Brewery. Fortunately, he began employment with Brandt, Inc. of Watertown and had a secure job there until retirement in early 1985.
1927, Mary Wolfram obit with supplemental genealogy info
1953, Joseph Wolfram obit with supplemental genealogy info
1966, Augusta Wolfram obit with supplemental genealogy info