Genealogical Data for the Wolfskill Family

From time to time, I have poked around in various placs and corresponded with various folks in a rather amateurish pseudo-effort to find out a bit more about some of my antecedent relatives, especially on my father's side. (Much of the corresponding information for my mother's side of the family is fairly well documented; I just need to transcribe it.)

I will be updating this as time & other resources permit; see the bottom of the page for information as to the last update date.

Mike Milliken's “Wolfskill family tree”

Here is a link that has been put together by Mike Milliken. He was one of the catalysts for what follows.

The above chart depicts the descendants of Joseph Wolfskill, Jr. and Sarah Reid. It is my understanding that Joseph Jr. was a son of Joseph Wolfskill, who came to America in 1742 and married Margaret Smith. One of their other sons was George Wolfskill, and here is a link to some information about a chart, a copy of which I received in early February, 2002.

The UC Davis “Ned Wolfskill collection”

On 02 & 03 April, 2002, I spent some time at UC Davis, going through some (less than half!) of the boxes of photographs, papers, and effects that were left to the university by one “Ned” Wolfskill.

There are two items of fairly critical importance that I discovered:

Here are links to images of the above-mentioned questionnaire:
page 1 page 2 page 2 (reverse) page 3
[176 KB] [144 KB] [320 KB] [86 KB]

Please especially note the “reverse” side of page 2.

Note: as of mid-2009, there is now an online inventory of the collection.

Variations on a Theme

Although I have come to appreciate being able to focus the bulk of the research for this part of my family on a relatively uncommon name, consistent spelling has not always been a high priority in all cultures; ease of searching for information tends to suffer some collateral damage as a result.

I will list the names I have encountered that appear (to me) to be likely forms of the same name, and mention some places I have seen each:
Name Found
Wilfskeil 1900 census
Wolffs Kehl Pennsylvania German Pioneers
Wolffskehl Pennsylvania German Pioneers
Wolfkil Pennsylvania German Pioneers
Wolfkill Pennsylvania German Pioneers
Wolfsill CA Birth Index
Wolfske CA Birth Index
Wolfskehl Pennsylvania Marriages Prior to 1810
Wolfskie CA Death Index
Wolfskik 1910 census
Wolfskil CA Birth Index
Wolfskill Birth certificate; census
Wolskel via email correspondence
Woolfskill 1900 census


I don't know if this is related to the “Wolfskill” family or not, but I found a description of a coat-of-arms assigned to someone named “Wolfskehl” in Heilbronn, Baden-Wurtemberg, some years ago.

Village "Wolfskehlen" in Hesse, Germany

[Note: I tried posting this to the RootsWeb "WOLFSKILL" message board and to the WOLFSKILL-L list; neither appears to have worked, and I believe that this may be at least of sufficient interest that I figured I'd put it up here. dhw]

Any connection between WOLFSKILL (WOLFSKEHL) and Wolfskehlen?

I am aware that the surname that I spell WOLFSKILL has had several variations in the records I've found so far (see above), and that it's a near certainty that my ancestor who arrived in the New World in the early-mid 18th century, apparently from German-speaking Europe, did not spell his name WOLFSKILL.

One of the more plausible spellings for his case is WOLFSKEHL.

On a whim, I recently poked around a bit in Wikipedia. In addition to noting entries for Paul WOLFSKEHL (a banker's son, medical doctor, and amateur mathematician) and George WOLFSKEHL (a poet & historian), I encountered an entry for a historical community known as Wolfskehlen, which is now part of the town of Riedstadt, Hesse, Germany.

I note that Riedstadt is near Darmstadt -- and that Paul WOLFSKEHL was from the Darmstadt area.

I do not know my immigrant ancestor's origin, but I have some evidence that he sailed to Philadelphia on a vessel whose voyage started at the port of Rotterdam -- which I understand was the usual point of departure for folks of that era who came down the Rhine River, which is about 10 - 20 km from Wolfskehlen.


Who was that forty-niner named John Wolfskill in the 1880s?

I was informed on 26 Dec 2008 that the "John Wolfskill" who was described as a "forty-niner" in certain local southern California histories, and who once owned the land where UCLA (among other places) is was one John W. Wolfskill, son of Mathus Wolfskill and Permelia (Ashcraft) Wolfskill.

While his obituary in the Los Angeles Times apparently does describe him as a "forty-niner," I believe that's at least somewhat misleading -- to the point that I wouldn't call him a "forty-niner" at all.

John W. [from here on out, I will elide the surname "Wolfskill" and refer to folks by their given names and as much of their middle names as I have] was born in Aug 1836 in Missouri. He died 14 Dec 1913 in Los Angeles, California. There was a fair amount of history in between.

I have record of four children of the union of Mathus and Permelia:

The preponderance of evidence of which I'm aware indicates that the first three listed were each born in Missouri. Amanda also died there.

Mathus and his family departed Missouri for California on 16 May 1850 [source: History of Solano County (1879); ISBN 1-885852-03-7]. I believe it is extremely improbable that they left Missouri prior to the completion of the arrangements for dealing with the death of their daughter.

Thus, at the onset of the journey from Missouri to California, John W. was a lad of 13, traveling with his parents and (surviving) younger siblings.

I note, too, that each of the Wolfskill brothers who came to California (I know of five who did, as well as one of their sisters) became involved in agriculture, rather than mining (though some of their descendants were involved in mining).

Given the above, I would not be inclined to refer to John W. as a "forty-niner" -- though it's apparent that my opinion in the matter is not universally shared.

Reference links that refer to him as a "forty-niner" as of this writing

Comments? Please send them to David Wolfskill. Thanks!

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