Gravestone of Ellen Wolfe Mulvihill at Saint James Cemetery, Toronto, Iowa (Christine Masterson / Find a Grave)

Gravestone of Ellen Wolfe Mulvihill at Saint James Cemetery, Toronto, Iowa (Christine Masterson / Find a Grave)


Ellen Wolfe was born on November 17, 1833, in Listowel, County Kerry. This date comes from her Iowa death record but is contradicted by another record that indicates she was baptized in the Parish of Listowel on November 14, 1832. Her parents were Maurice Wolfe, a Catholic farmer, and Ellen Catherine Carey. Her baptismal sponsors were J. Carey and M. Carey.

Ellen Wolfe's siblings included James Carey (b. 1831), Maurice Carey (b. ca. 1835), Mary (b. 1838), John Carey (b. ca. 1840), Thomas Carey (b. 1843), Margaret (b. ca. 1845), Johanna (b. 1847), Richard Carey (b. 1848), Catherine “Kate” (b. 1851), and Bridget Veronica (b. 1854).

In 1847, Wolfe, her parents, and several siblings emigrated to the United States, along with Maurice Wolfe’s first cousin John R. Wolfe and his family. (Maurice Wolfe and John R. Wolfe shared a grandfather, James M. “The Barrister” Wolfe.) The families arrived in New York on August 23, and from there made their way to LaSalle County, Illinois.

Many members of the extended Wolfe family made the same journey. Ellen Wolfe's uncle John Wolfe emigrated in 1849. John R. Wolfe’s brother Thomas R. came from Ireland in 1848 and his brothers Maurice R. and Richard separately in 1849. Other cousins came, as well, including Margaret and Elizabeth Maher, daughters of  John R. Wolfe's sister Ellen, and PatrickDennisBridget, and Thomas Sheehan, the children of John R. Wolfe's sister Margaret. Another cousin, John E. Wolfe, and his sisters Ellen J. and Mary Agatha, also emigrated. All of these Wolfes, except for the Sheehans, settled in LaSalle County, Illinois. A few moved on to Clinton County, Iowa, including Ellen Wolfe's father Maurice and Maurice's cousin John R.

On September 28, 1854, Ellen Wolfe married Edmund George Mulvihill, a native of Newtown, County Kerry, in Ottawa, Illinois. The couple had ten children: Jeremiah (b. 1858), Mary Agnes "Minnie" (b. ca. 1860), Maurice (b. 1860), Ellen "Nellie" (b. 1862), Edward (b. 1864), John Ambrose (b. 1866), Catherine "Katie" (b. 1867), James (b. 1870), Thomas S. (b. 1872), and William Henry (b. 1875). James died when seven months old. Thomas died on consumption at twenty-seven.

According to Wolfe's History of Clinton County (1911), written by John R. Wolfe's son Patrick, Edmund Mulvihill had "farmed a while [in Illinois], then in 1852, crossed the plains of the West to the gold fields of California, where he remained two years, returning to Illinois in 1854."

In 1857, Edmund and Ellen Mulvihill moved to Toronto, Liberty Township, Clinton County, Iowa, where they joined her father and his relatives. There they purchased 400 acres from the U.S. government, which they farmed until 1865, when they moved to Sharon Township. They initially purchased 120 acres and, soon after another 280 acres.

In 1895, the Mulvihills retired from farming and purchased a home in Oxford Junction, Jones County.

Edmund Mulvihill died on July 24, 1903, in Oxford Junction, of stomach cancer. Ellen Mulvihill died on April 20, 1908, and they are buried together at Saint James Cemetery in Toronto, Iowa.