My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Shipshewana Walldogs, Part Five: Wolfe Grain Company

The Walldogs mural on the Wolfe Grain company was easier to write about than some of the other murals; it is one of two that have a mini-biography right in the mural!  This one reads like this:  “Edward A Wolfe was born January 20th, 1890 on an 85 acre farm at CR675 & SR120.  Ed was the youngest of 7 children and died 80 years later, after achieving much during his lifetime.  He was a strong backbone in the community with his grain elevator business (now Hubbard Milling), served as the Bank President of the Shipshewana State Bank for 25 years, and served as an Indiana State Senator.”  The large mural is found near the site of Hubbard Milling, on Main Street.

The painting shows him in his later years, along with his grain operation in Shipshewana, most of which stands today.  Edward’s World War One draft card tells us that, at age 27, he was medium height and build, with light brown eyes and light-colored hair.  (He gives his birth date as January 25th, not January 20th.)  He gives his occupation as “grain dealer” with the firm Wolfe & Bevington.

There is a biography of Edward Wolfe in the book History of Northeast Indiana, which was written a few years later, in 1920, by Ira Ford.  It says that Wolfe & Bevington operate two grain elevators in Shipshewana and that “the members of the firm are men of sterling character and considerable business experience.”  It says that Edward’s parents were born in Wurtemberg, Germany and came to America after their marriage—settling first in Ohio and then coming to Indiana in 1880.  They later moved to southern Michigan, where Edward’s father was killed by a lightning strike in 1896.  This would have made Edward, the youngest, only six years old at the time.

Edward and a brother came to Shipshewana in 1913 and bought a grain elevator.  Edward married Miss Norma Bevington in November of that year.  Soon after that, Mr. Frank Bevington, Edward’s father-in-law, bought a half interest in Edward’s grain business.  By 1920 Edward was the locally elected Justice of the Peace and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

In World War One, the biography goes on to say, “Mr. Wolfe proved true and loyal.”  He enlisted in the Motor Transport Corps and trained at four different army camps—but before he could be sent overseas, the armistice was signed and the war was over.

The 1930 census shows Edward and Norma living on Morton Street in a home valued at $4000—more than twice as much as any of the neighbors’ homes, excepting Hewlitt Davis, president of the bank, whose home is valued at $3500.  No children are listed in the census records for the couple.

The 1940 census shows Edward and Norma’s house as valued at $3000—effects of the Great Depression?  It tells us that Edward finished two years of high school and his wife, the 8th grade.  It also says that he worked 64 hours the previous week and 52 weeks the previous year.  Not exactly the “idle rich”!

Edward died in 1969.  His widow, Norma, had the Wolfe Community Building in Shipshewana built and dedicated it to the town in memory of her husband.  The building houses the Town Clerk and Town Manager, and the City Council Chamber—and on its front is another Walldogs Mural, “Sunthimers Building,” which I will write about in another post.