The Wolfes were a very prominent early American Jewish family whose life and business story should be made into a miniseries. So I thought you might find the following of background interest.
"One of the Richmond merchants after the Revolution was Benjamin Wolfe. He attained high rank as a militia officer, served as a member of the Common Hall, and through his political influence with the town fathers secured a burial plot for the local Sephardic congregation, Beth Shalome, House of Peace. His body was the first to be interred in it. When this successful businessman died in 1818 at the age of fifty he left seven sons and one daughter. In later years the daughter's son taught medicine in one of New York's medical schools. One of the sons, James M., was probably the first Jewish lawyer to qualify in Virginia. Two of the boys studied in Charlottesville where one of them, as a captain of the local cadets, sat down to dinner with General Lafayette when he was entertained in the city in 1824. Seated at the same table were Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Another son married a Miss Garland of Virginia, a Gentile. Their three daughters married three Confederate officers, two generals and a colonel. One of the generals was James Longstreet, the corps commander [MY NOTE: I THINK THIS IS AN ERROR AS LONGSTREET MARRIED A GARLAND. SINCE UDOLPHO’S BROTHER SAMUEL MARRIED ANTOINETTE GARLAND, THERE MAY BE A CONNECTION]. Two other sons of the Richmond merchant, doing business as Wolfe & Co., conducted one of the largest liquor businesses in the United States with extensive bottling works in Holland and in Germany. By the time of the Civil War they were shipping their products, primarily gin, to Australia, South America, and China. Udolpho Wolfe, the head of this firm, was one of the largest advertisers in New York City and probably one of the largest in antebellum America. Three, if not four, of the seven male Wolfes married out of the faith and their descendants are probably all Gentile. The other sons may never have married; it may well be that some of the daughter's descendants are still Jews."
Title: United States Jewry, 1776-1985, Volume 1
Author: Jacob Rader Marcus
Publisher: Wayne State University Press, 1989
THE GREAT GIN MAN OF THE WORLD IS FROM VIRGINIA— Udolpho Wolfe, now the largest manufacturer of Gin in the world, is by birth a Virginian. He was born in Richmond. He is the seventh son of Major Benjamin Wolfe, deceased, was an officer of the American Revolution.
Of these sons only three are living: Joel, alluded to hereafter, and Nat Wolfe, the great criminal lawyer of Kentucky for the last twenty years. Originally taken to Kentucky by Henry Clay, Nat Wolfe enjoyed the friendship of the great statesman to the last hour of his life. — Udolpho Wolfe removed to the city of New York in 1826 and entered the counting house of his elder brother, Joel Wolfe, who was then largely engaged in the importation of brandy and gin from France and Holland. Young Wolfe's business qualification and energetic perseverance soon gave him a prominent position in the house of his brother, and when he reached the age of 21 he became a partner.
In 1839 that brother established the first distillery in Schiedam (Holland) ever undertaken by an American, and it yet continues, and is the place where, the famous "Wolfe's Aromatic Schiedam Schnapps" is now manufactured.
In 1848 the senior partner of the house retired from active business, having accumulated a large fortune. In that same year Udolpho Wolfe made the fortunate discoveries that led to the manufacture of the world-wide-famed "Schiedam Schnapps."
Udolpho Wolfe, although a merchant, has ever taken a prominent interest in the political questions of the day, especially in stern, though disinterested, opposition to each and every political party or leader who aimed to disturb the sacred institutions of the South, where he was born.
In any matter that affected Virginia or her leading men, whether of the present or of the glorious past, Mr. Wolfe has taken a deep and patriotic interest. When the removal of the remains of the lamented Monroe, who had been a warm personal friend of Mr. Wolfe's father, as well as of himself, was resolved upon, no one took a more active part than Mr. Wolfe.
When the Seventh Regiment returned to New York, Mr. Wolfe compiled and published a book, with a full narration of everything connected with the obsequies of the late ex-President, at an expense of three or four thousand dollars. This book also contained a full description of the famed Seventh Regiment and also biographical sketches of the principal officers. It contained 346 pages. It has become a book of History.
Mr. W. presented the Seventh Regiment with 1,200 copies and presented, through Governor Wise and the Mayor of Norfolk, copies of the book to all the principal civil and military officers, and, in addition, he placed a copy in every public library in the different States. Not only Southern himself, he married a lady of Mobile, Alabama.
In closing this article, we merely desire to say that the history of this eminent energetic merchant gives the lie to the oft-repeated charge that the South produces no commercial men of distinction. Mr. Wolfe is the most extensive merchant in his branch of commercial manufacture that has ever lived in this Union.— Washington Constitution
from: Daily Courier & Union (Syracuse, NY), January 4, 1861, p. 2
WOLFE'S AROMATIC SCHIEDAM SCHNAPPS.
The following is from the American Commercial Times:
" For more than a quarter of a century the above-named article has maintained a position of prominent commercial importance, and its consumption is literally universal. There is not a country upon the face of the globe wherein it is not known and appreciated, and the demand increases with the lapse of each succeeding year. The time has long since passed when dealers required any information as to the characteristics of Wolfe's Aromatic Schiedam Schnapps, and it is everywhere recognised as a staple commodity, indispensable in the stock of every druggist and dealer in fine liquors. Such exceptional popularity affords conclusive evidence of intrinsic merit of no ordinary description. During the time that this article has been before the public efforts innumerable have been made to rival its success, but in every instance the attempt has resulted in failure. The Schnapps was introduced at a period when there was great need of a perfectly pure diffusive stimulus for medicinal purposes, none of the liquors ordinarily procurable meeting the requirements of physicians in this regard. The medical fraternity speedily discovered that this was exactly the article they needed, and since that time thousands of physicians have given it their unqualified approval, pronouncing it the purest liquor that has ever been placed upon the market. The late Mr. Udolpho Wolfe, whose name has attained such world-wide celebrity, was one of the most prominent and highly esteemed among the old merchants of New York. He was of German descent, his father, Benjamin Wolfe, having emigrated to Virginia in 1774. During the Revolutionary War Mr. Benjamin Wolfe served under Washington, and reached the rank of Major. In 1812 he again joined the army, and had command of the troops in Richmond. Mr. Udolpho Wolfe was born at Richmond, Va., received his education at Charlottesville, and came to New York in 1825. He commenced business in this city in 1826, and for many years was extensively engaged in the importation of wines and liquors. In 1848 Mr. Wolfe first introduced into this country the brand of gin which has since acquired such unprecedented popularity, under the name of Aromatic Schiedam Schnapps. lt was made at his own distilleries at Schiedam, Holland, a city long famous for its production in this line. The finest quality of selected barley is the basis of the article, and by the peculiar process of rectification the spirit is freed from all deleterious properties and rendered absolutely pure. An admixture of the essence of the Italian juniper berry, well known for its aromatic and medicinal qualities, gives the Schnapps its peculiar and distinctive flavor. lt is imported in bulk and bottled in this country, and is never sold except in eases containing one dozen quarts or two dozen pints. Mr. Wolfe's death occurred about four years ago, and in January, 1872, the business of the house was reorganised under the present corporate style of the "Udolpho Wolfe Co.," of which Mr. David H. Burke is the President. Mr. Burke is a brother in-law of the late Mr. Wolfe, and was associated with him in business for some fifteen years past. The New York offices and warerooms of the Company are located at No. 22 Beaver-street. A stock of from 6000 to 10,000 cases is always kept in bond to supply the export trade to the West Indies and Central America, and not less than 10,000 cases are usually in store to meet the demands of the home trade. As an indication of the quantity that is bottled daily in this city, we may state that the Company purchase each day Government stamps to the value of 120 dollars. The Company have their central European depot at Hamburg, Germany, whence they supply the export trade to all the principal ports of Europe, Australia, China, Japan, South America, &c. Last year shipments from Hamburg reached the enormous quantity of 74,000 cases. We have alluded to the medical virtues of the Schiedam Schnapps, and would say a word or two more upon this point. As a diuretic it possesses extraordinary efficacy, and is highly recommended by the most distinguished physicians in all cases where such a remedy is required. As a tonic and corrective it is a positive specific, and will be found to prevent and remove the troubles occasioned by malarious influences or impure water, and is therefore an indispensable 'vade mecum' for travellers and those who are unacclimated. At the same time its palatable flavor, and generally salutary qualities render it eminently desirable as a healthful substitute for the fiery potations which, in this country especially, are productive of such deleterious consequences."
Brisbane Courier, October 2, 1874, p. 1
Daily Southern Cross, Rorahi XXX, Putanga 5335, 29 Mahuru 1874, Page 3 -- see http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=DSC18740918.104.22.168&l=mi&e=-------10--1----0-allhttp://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=DSC18740922.214.171.124&l=mi&e=-------10--1----0-all
There is also a lot more on the family in the book:
Title: The old merchants of New York city
Author: Joseph Alfred Scoville
Publisher: New York: Carleton, 1866
volume: 4th series
Online pdf copy: http://books.google.com/books?id=YGYoAAAAYAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_shttp://books.google.com/books?id=YGYoAAAAYAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s
Udolpho and his brother were even denounced as Confederate sympathizers and traitors to the Union during the Civil War, but nothing seems to have come from it. See:
SUSPECTED AND DISLOYAL PERSONS
Private.) New York, September 14, 1861
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington:
Never was a more righteous and just arrest made in this city than that of Algernon S. Sullivan. He has been the most malignant of all the secession rebels with the exception of the two brothers Joel and Udolpho Wolfe. Algernon Sullivan had meetings of rebels at his house, No. 84 West Fourteenth street, and when not there they were held at Udolpho Wolfe's, No. 99 West Fourteenth street. Udolpho Wolfe keeps his store at 22, 24, 26 Beaver street. If arrested you will find a tin box in his safe any time between 1O and 3. The box is not locked up and is in charge of Mr. Castle, the bookkeeper in the front office. In that box are over $500,000 in bonds, securities and demands, with at least $80,000 in Confederate bonds belonging to Udolpho Wolfe. Udolpho Wolfe is the Confederate friend in this city of Henry A. Wise. He furnished B. Donnelly (Wise's old correspondent) with capital to start and carry on the Union House at Washington. It is a nest for secessionists. Udolpho Wolfe bottles over 3,000,000 bottles of gin every year. It is nearly all sold South. He has a brother in Kentucky. All these Wolfes came from Virginia, and Wolfe in 1860 published a book about Virginia and President Monroe, whose remains were removed from this city.
Joel Wolfe is also a secessionist and is constantly with John J. Cisco, who is ignorant of his real character. From Cisco, who is innocent, Wolfe gets all the statements of the financial affairs of the United States and they are regularly transmitted by means of Algernon S. Sullivan to Jeff. Davis. Udolpho Wolfe has recently returned from Europe. He corresponded previous to his departure with Jeff. Davis and took out Burke, of New Orleans, who is his brother-in-law, and made large purchases for the Southern Confederacy. He has made arrangements secretly to ship directly to any Southern port. This is the way he advertises, but it is all a dodge :
To shipping merchants. Wolfe's Schiedam Schnapps.
30,000 cases of Wolfe's celebrated Schiedam Aromatic Schnapps for sale in bond or duty paid, put up with German, Dutch, Spanish, French and English labels.
Shipping merchants can purchase for the South American, East Indian and European markets delivered on board ship at Liverpool, London, Rotterdam or Hamburg at less than the New York price.
The schnapps is well known and sells freely in all the markets of the world.
For price, &c., apply to Udolpho Wolfe, New York; Hoffman, Dorrepaal &. Co., Rotterdam; Biancone, Klee & Co., Hamburg.
Arrest him and you will find in a desk in the back room of the second floor letters from all these parties in the South. Open any of the cases of his gin that go into the West, to Louisville, and they will be found to contain orders for the rebels. He has connections in every Southern State. He has loaned Jeff. Davis $100,000 through the London bankers of Hoffman, Dorrepaal & Co.
When you arrested Sullivan you got one of the nest. Arrest Joel and Udolpho and you will strike a dozen more leaders of these really dangerous men. The securities und valuables of Joel Wolfe are generally kept in the tin box about one foot square in the front office, second floor of Udolpho Wolfe. If it is so when you arrest the bookkeeper Castle there will be $1,000,000 of stocks and bonds belonging to both brothers who were formerly partners. Joel can be arrested at the subtreasury of Mr. Cisco, with whom he spends several hours nearly every day.
I regard my country more than I do my private concerns, but as my own destruction would be the result of a communication to you under my own name I will only add that all is truth in this letter except my own name, which is fictitious.
Title: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies
Published under the direction
Series II - Volume II
Authors: PUBLISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF The Hon. DANIEL S. LAMONT, Secretary of War,
Maj. GEORGE W. DAVIS, U. S. Army,
MR. LESLIE J. PERRY, Civilian Expert,
MR. JOSEPH W. KIRKLEY, Civilian Expert,
Board of Publication.
Compiled by Calvin Duvall Cowles
Publisher: Govt. Print. Off., 1897
See also one of the books that Udolpho wrote or published (he had several, see Google books)
Title: Grand Civic and Military Demonstration In Honor of the Removal of the Remains of James Monroe Fifth President of the United States, From New-York to Virginia Grand Civic and Military Demonstration In Honor of the Removal of President James Monroe Fifth President of the United States from New York to Virginia
New York: Udolpho Wolfe, 1858
Full-Leather. 1st Edition. 8 Vo. Size 8 1/4 x 5 1/4 inches.
A very unusual book in original gilt-decorated black leather. All edges are in gilt, raised bands, title on spine. Appx . 324 pages. Note: Engraving of American flag with wreath on front flyleaf page with original tissue guard. States: Presented to: Hudson G. Wolfe, 3rd Company, National Guard, With Compliments of the Publisher, 1858. Demarest Engraver Company D, 182 Broadway, New York. The publisher, Udolpho Wolfe, 1820-22 Beaver St., copyright page states, Entered Accordingly to an Act of Congress, in the Year of 1858 by Udolpho Wolfe. Dedication page is to the 7th Regiment, the New York National Guard..This historical record commemorating the last military and civic obsequies of James Monroe, is respectfully and dedicated by the undersigned, A Virginian, the Son of a Citizen Soldier of the Old Dominion, who was a favored friend of the pure and patriotic president, Udolpho Wolfe. Contains a folding regimental chart that was drawn by Hudson G. Wolfe, Company C, Seventh Regiment, between pgs. 282-283. On page 290, The Roll of the Regiment for 3rd Company National Guard, Hudson G. Wolfe is listed underneath "Privates". He must have been a relation to publisher [MY NOTE: YES, HE WAS UDOLPHO'S SON!] Listed Sabin - 50024 which lists the full account of the ceremonies in New York and Virginia attending the removal of the remains of President Monroe, in 1858. President James Monroe had been buried in New York since his death in 1831 and was removed to his home of Virginia in 1858. Lists the attendees in Virginia and New York. Scarce item.
"Udolpho Wolfe, Esq. died in 1869 in his 59th year. His brother-in-law was David H. Burke. (New York Herald, Sep. 17, 1869.) Udolpho Wolfe's oldest daughter, Adele B. Wolfe, married N. Devereux Clapp of Chicago. (Marriages and Deaths. New York Herald, May 10, 1870.) John David Wolfe, a founder of the Chemical Bank and father-in-law of David Wolfe Bishop of the Central Trust, may have been a brother."
Sept. 14 . Mr. Udolpho Wolfe, somewhat known some years ago as a vigorous advertiser and successful seller of what he called " Schiedam Schnapps," died at his country seat on Staten Island.
Hope this is interesting to you.
Richard Alan Nelson, Ph.D
Professor, Louisiana State University
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