A tidbit more information on the Wolfe family of Brandy Distillers in Orange County Indiana.


I have written quite extensively about the preponderance of distilleries in the Stampers Creek township of Orange County Indiana, most of which centered around the tiny hamlet known as Millersburg.  Most of those distillers lay at rest in the Stampers Creek Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery including three of those mentioned in the following extract.  I took this extract from a series of which I can only find one part of called “One Hundred Years In the McCoy family”.  I know there are still Wolfe’s in Orange County and I probably need to track some down (or perhaps they will contact me at bishopshomegrown@gmail.com) to get any more information that I possibly can.  None the less, the extract below shows that the Wolfe’s ran their distillery for three generations starting with Henry Wolfe Sr. before passing to Peter Wolfe and then to Andrew Wolfe and his brother Lewis, the family also seems in different branches to have married into other well-known distilling families in the region including the Radcliff family in Hardinsburg and many of the names echo the English names and families found at Cavetown cemetery and associated with the Clifty (Cave River Valley) area in which we know there were two operational distilleries (Robertson and Green and a site near Moscow cave owned at various times by the Schroyer, Wesner, and Brewer Families).  Of other interest the Trinkle family is surely related to former Washington County Sheriff Milt Trinkle who was injured in the line of duty during the Gibson-Spurlock feud in Salem Indiana which stated due to a soured business relationship regarding the production and distribution of Moonshine.

Also of interest is that Abram Peters who began the fruit brandy distilling business with Henry Wolfe Sr. owned another grain distillery in the same township as mentioned in the book “The Histories of Lawrence, Orange, and Washington County Indiana” and of course the McCoy family in the form of G.B. McCoy and bros. ran the last functional industrial distillery in the county wherin the focus was on Apple Brandy until about 1914.

One Hundred Years in the McCoy Family. BY JESSE N. TRINKLE. [Continued from last week.] About this time Henry Wolfe, in partnership with Abram Peters, engaged in the distillery of fruit, mostly making apple and peach brandies. Fruit for this purpose could be obtained at from 5 cents to 10 cents per bushel, and therefore the business was very profitable, and was carried on by Mr. Wolfe until his death. Henry and Luck Grigsby Wolfe were the parents of ten children among whom Peter, Henry Jr., Lewis Mahala, Shelby, Louisa and George grew to maturity and reared families Peter became the husband of Louisa Trinkle, and after the death of his father, Henry Wolfe, Sr, Peter continued the distilling business until his death. Peter and Louisa reared a large family, many of whom are still living in our vicinity. They were Lewis, Adeline, Margaret George Ann, Virgil, Mack, Sarah Andrew atid Minnie. Lewis and Andrew have successfully continued the distilling business since the death of their father, but Lewis has recently sold his interest and “Andrew now owns and operates the distillery in his own name. Wolfe’s brandy today is known far and wide in many states and is acknowledged to be second to none for its purity, quality and medicinal purposes. Lewis married Rachel Beeson and they have a large family, all married except one. Lev/is at present, is a member of the County Council, an Odd Fello# and a devout member of the Baptist church. Adeline became the wife of Newton Mays and died several years ago. Margaret became the wife of Wm. R. Jones and died several years ago, leaving four small children, two of whom have since died also. George Ann married Samuel J. Norman and they reside in this township. They have no children. Virgil has been thrice married, first to Lizzie Vickrey, second to Janie Key and third to Miss Kate Stirange. His children are all married, and he and his wife reside at present near this place. Mack married Lizzie Danner and they reside near Chambersburg in this county, owning a good farm. They have no children. Sarah and Minnie were never married, but both are dead. Andrew married Nellie Lapping and they have three children, all sons. Andrew owns a good farm which he operates in connection with his distillery in this township. Henry Wolfe, Jr., became the husband of Elizabeth Comwell, who was the first daughter of Shelby Comwell, Sr., mentioned elsewhere in this chapter. Henry and Elizabeth soon after their marriage settled on Stampers Creek on the land where Jarvis Smith had formerly been running a water mill for grinding corn, but no trace of the old water mill is now to be seen except the old mill race. Mr. and Mrs. Wolfe early in life became members of the Regular Baptist Church at Stampers Creek. Mr. Wolfe died March 24, 1896 but the widow is still living, now 85 years old, on the farm here mentioned. She is yet a devout christian lady and no one in the community is more highly respected than she. To Mr. and Mrs. Wolfe were, bom five sons, Patterson, Alexander, Gil deroy, Henry B., and Elvet. The latter died when quite young and Gilde roy has never married. For the past thirty years he has been a teacher in the public schools and has also had extensive experience in tjhe General Merchandise business. Patterson married Edwina Coulter, a daughter of the late Joseph Coulter, formerly of this vicinity. Patterson and Edwina have two daughters liv ing, both married. Ida is the wife of John R. Boone and has a son, Courtney. Anna the wife of Banks Comwell, and have a son, Kenneth. Alexander married Ellen Speer, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Speer. They have one daughter, Miss Nellie who is a graduate of State Normal School at Terra Haute and is teacher in the Orleans schools, Alexander died suddenly October 27., 1907. Henry B. Wolfe married Elizabeth Galloway, before mentioned and they have one daughter, Mrs. Dora Coul ter, the wife of Scott R. Coulter, a son of Mary A. Coulter, who was daughter of Shelby Comwell, Sr.; mentioned before. Scott R. and Dora have one child, a daughter, Elizabeth Henry B. and Elizabeth Wolfe own and reside at the old Henry Wolfe home, the widow mentioned before residing with them. Shelby Wolfe, another of the chil-dx’en of Henry and Lucy Grigsby Wolfe, was one of the first children bofn in Stampers Creek Township having been bom January 8, 1814 He married Susanna H. Throop November 3, 1817. Their children were Susanna, Rebecca, Adaline, Lucy Jefferson, Hester, Anna and Mary. Of these children Rebecca became the wife of Henry McCoy and her life history is given complete in the last chapter of our story. Jefferson Wolfe was for many years a prominent citizen in our county, being at one time engaged in the drug business at Paoli and later in the merchandise business at Chambersburg. His wife was Mary A. Hunt, a daughter of Thomas Hunt. Hester and Anna Wolfe died young. Lucy Jane married John Johnson. He is dead and Lucy now makes her home with her sister, Mrs. Addie Scott. Addie Wolfe married Solomon Scott and is still living near Paoli. She has five children. Emma Wolfe married Tommy Rad-cliffe and has been dead several years. Susanna Throop Wolfe died in 1863 and Shelby was re-married to to Elizabeth Johnson in 1871. Shelby died several years ago but the widow ia still living, now more than four score years of age. Lewis Wolfe, another son of Henry and Lucy Wolfe married Lydia Brooks and their history is given complete in Chapter VI. Eliza Wolfe, a daughter of Henry and Lucy Wolfe became the wife of Samuel Trinkle and lived in Wash County near Sinking Spring church. Among their children were Jacob, Stephen, Henry, Lewis, George, Billie, Sam, Margaret, Lina, Elizabeth and Lucy Ann. Jacob has been twice married, first to Caroline Trabue, a daughter of the late Castilion Trabue, and second to Anna Perkins. By the last marriage there are no children, but by the first marriage are Sam, Mecie, Oliver, Oscar, Oma and Ed, all married. Jacob resides at Orleans. Stephen, the second named child of Sam and Louisa Trinkle married Ruth Stalcup and they have reared a large family. Their children living are Ott, Charlie, Ola, Arch, Herman, John, Ray and Clyde. At present they reside near Hardinsburg in Washington County. Henry Trinkle, another son of Sam and Louisa Wolfe Trinkle, married Caroline Colglazier of Illinois, and is still living in this township. Their children are Perry, Billie and Brad all married. Lewis Trinkle, another son of Sam and Louisa Trinkle mai’ried first Mary Coulter. She died early in life and he was next married to Sarah Paine. By the first marriage they have two children, Ezra and Wilbur. Lewis and wife still reside near this place. Sam Trinkle married Miss Almira May and at presentí lives on the old home place in Washington County. They have Ho children. George married a daughter Thomas Roll, ‘Fine Roll, and they reside in Washington County, Their children are Tom, Allie, Mattie, Milt, Bert, Ed and Fannie. Billie also married a daughter Thomas Roll, Filda Anna Roll, they have had reared a family of boys and two girls. They reside near Hardinsburg in Washington County. Among the girls were four, Margaret, Lina, Elizabeth, and Lucy Ann Margaret never married. Lina married Nelson Marshall and lives near Hardinsburg. They have two children. Elizabeth married a Mr. Lum Fultz and Lucy Ann married Aaron McBride. These two last named girls went West with their families and we learn but little of their history. When last heard from Elizabeth and Lucy Ann were still living. Mahala Wolfe, another daughter of Henry and Lucy Grigsby Wolf, married Hugh Young and removed to Illinois where her family were all reared Some of their children were Merritt and Henry Young. The last heard from these ttóey were in Texas. George Wolfe, the last of the sons of Henry and Lucy Grigsby Wolfe, was married to Emmaline Johnson, daughter of David and Lizzie (Shive-ly) Johnson. George has always been a farmer and has spent the greatest part of his life in Orleans Township this County. There he has accumulated a competency for his old age. George and Emmaline were the parents of two children, Sarah Jane and Clarence Otis. The former became the wife of Jacob Moulder and Ijoth died in early life. However, they had one daughter, Estelle, who was the first wife of Wesley Galloway, mentioned elsew.

To this the book “The History of Lawrence, Orange, and Washington County” adds the following:

In grain distilleries Stampers Creek Township has been prolific Among the men who have been engaged in this may be mentioned Edward Kirby Abram Peters Joel Kirby Peter Mahan Mason Burgess Edward Moore John Rigney Daniel Murphy Jarvis GSmith William Brooks and Henry Wolfe Sr In the days when these distilleries flourished corn was an abundant crop and there was no outlet for it to the great markets of the world As a consequence it was very cheap the ruling price being about 10 cents per bushel and the distilling of it into whisky became the only means whereby it could be turned into profit Those were the good old times that the old men who still linger around these scenes of their early years are often heard lauding times when pure whisky flowed freely at 12 to 20 cents per gallon and drunkenness was a thing unknown That is what the old men say but if some of the boys of to day had been there then how sadly would their tale be changed Besides this Abram Peters and Henry Wolfe Sr did a considerable business in fruit distilling mostly making apple and peach brandies from those fruits They could be obtained for this purpose at 5 to 10 cents per bushel and this business WB at one time very profitable The only institution of this kind in the township is the steam distillery of GB McCoy & Bros about onehalf mile east of Millersburg where a large business is carried on in the fruit seasons and many gallons of these brandies are manufactured

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