One of the early settlers of Sheboygan county and an active factor in the growth and development of Rhine township, is George W. Wolff, who for many years was engaged in general farming on this section. He was born in Rhine township, Sheboygan county, in 1848, and is the eldest of four children born to Julius and Katherine Margaretha (Mathes) Wolff.
Hon. Julius Wolff, the father, was born in April, 1818, in the province of Brandenburg, Prussia, where he was raised and received his education. He enjoyed liberal facilities of learning and while in Germany acted as government inspector of distilleries. He came from the fatherland directly to this state by the way of Buffalo and the Great Lakes and Milwaukee, and located on section 22, Rhine township, in 1846. Shortly thereafter he married and lived with his wife on his eighty acre farm during all his life. When he came here the country was a wilderness, not inhabited but for the Indians. Whatever roads there were, were Indian trails.
Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Wolff, namely: George W., of this review; Thomas J.; Mary; and Leiza. The father was a republican politically prominent and a man of much influence in this section. He was honored by election to various public offices and served as county sheriff, for one term as a member of the general assembly, from 1867-71 as county treasurer, was a county commissioner during the time the present courthouse was built, and served for twenty-five years as a member of the county board. He took an active part in the organization of the township of Rhine and acted as its first town clerk. He died in 1879.
George W. Wolff spent his boyhood days upon his father's farm, attended the district school and later passed two terms in the Sheboygan high school and one term at the Lawrence University at Appleton, Wisconsin. He did not take the regular course at either of these institutions and returned to his father's farm after leaving school in the year 1863.
When Julius Wolff died his son sold a large portion of his acres and moved to the village of Elkhart Lake, in Sheboygan county, where he is now residing. During this period he has seen the town of Rhine grow from almost a wilderness to a modern community with all the advantages of schools, churches and conveniences of travel and improvements of every kind and nature. He has always taken an active part in the affairs of the community. He was town chairman from 1886 to 1906 and for fourteen years held the position of county chairman. For four years, from 1895 to 1899, he was a member of the Wisconsin general assembly and state senator for eight years, from 1901 to 1909. His politics are stanchly republican and he cast his first vote for Grant as president. He is a member of the Sheboygan. County Agriculture Association and was one of its vice presidents from 1889 to 1907. He is also active in business circles and takes an interest in the commercial development of his community. He is now acting president of the Bank of Elkhart Lake and holds the same position in the Town Herman Fire Insurance Company, in which capacity he has acted since 1890. He is a member of Wisconsin Grand Lodge, I. 0. 0. F., and has been prominent in this organization since 1875. He does not hold membership in any church but no call upon his resources when made in a worthy cause has ever been left unanswered.
In 1880 Mr. Wolff was united in marriage to Miss Helen K. Bettelhauser, a daughter of Augustus and Katherine (Maurer) Bettelhauser, and they became the parents of two children: Sylvia, the wife of William F. Roecker, a professor at the University of Wisconsin; and Waleska, at home. Both daughters are graduates of Grafton Hall at Fond du Lac. Mr. Bettelhauser was a native of Germany, arriving in America in 1845 with instructions from a German syndicate of merchants to choose a site for a linen manufactory. He settled in this district, and although the business upon which he came to America never materialized, he became one of the pioneer residents of Sheboygan county.
George W. Wolff is now sixty-four years old. All his life has been spent in this county and his efforts have been given, during all his active career, to the promotion of its growth and prosperity. He has many friends in the town in which he resides and his qualities of honesty, industry and sound judgment have made him successful and prosperous.
Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL