The Interesting Life of Robert Tennant Stowe Wolfe

If you're a regular visitor to my Instagram, you'll know that a visit to the graveyard is quite common for me, so when I visited the final resting place of Robert Tennant Stowe Wolfe, it was just a normal day. However, my visit to Kenwick Pioneer Cemetery was very spontaneous. I think I'd gone two weeks without a visit to the graveyard. I'm from Yorkshire and Australia was a new country, I just wanted to visit the closest cemetery and this one was it!

A Sparse Cemetery with Few Graves

At first glance, I could see that Kenwick didn't have many graves at all. What I usually do in this instance is get a picture of EVERY grave just in case there are any missing from Find a Grave, and I'll do some research on a few. I didn't know any history of Robert or his family until a few days after I got back to my partner's family's house where we are staying. 

Robert Tennant Stowe Wolfe: A Back Story

Lieutenant Robert Tennant Stowe Wolfe was born August 20th, 1858 in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa. His parents, Robert and Isabella married 2 years prior to the birth of their son. However, the family isn't actually South African. Robert's mother Isabella was born in Nuneaton, England in 1826. His father, Robert was born in South Africa to a Dublin-born father and his mother was from Sri Lanka; he was one of 13 children. 

Robert spent a part of his childhood in England when at the age of just 2, his younger sister Alison was born in London. 

The Move Down Under

Just putting it out there that this paragraph was very testing to research. There is a lot of information online that tells us Robert moved to Australia with the Durack Family, but in most cases, that is as far as I got. However, with a little persistence, I found that Robert moved over with the family of pastoral pioneer, Patrick Durack. In 1886 Wolfe wrote in a diary whilst he was traveling on a boat with his Aboriginal Australian servant, Gobo.

The Naming of Wolfe Creek Crater

Is the penny starting to drop now? This honestly blew my mind when I found it! Shortly after the Wolfe had landed in Aus, he made his way to start working in Halls Creek as a digger/prospector and Storekeeper. It was whilst he was here that he was made Chairman of the Kimberley Goldfields Road Board. Wolfe Creek Crater is far from new. It is believed to have been there for over 300,000 years. However, Robert made such an impact on the gold mining industry, that they decided to name the crater after him!

Robert Wolfe: Life Behind the Bar

Robert got his license to serve alcohol in 1901. I often look at the Australian Outback and the buildings sometimes remind me of the Wild West. It certainly doesn't help things when I see the name of some of the public houses run by the man himself...

  • Kia Ora Wine Saloon - Step Aside Rita, or come in for a drink... well you can, but it's not there anymore. This building once stood at 21 Claisebrook Road.
  • Newcastle Wine Saloon 

Robert Wolfe Settles Down... or tries to

Let's rewind a bit and I'll tell you about Robert's love life. In 1891 Robert marries his first wife Vivian. The pair may have had a daughter named Dorothy 2 years later. This marriage lasted 7 years until Vivian ran off with a man called Joseph Roberts and they filed for divorce. 

Shortly after this, Wolfe met and married Catherine Wilkinson, and they tied the knot in 1889. A newspaper article in 1911 then printed a claim that Robert had attempted to file for divorce. In the article, it shows that Catherine had fled with her mother as she was 'tired of living in the bush'. She then gave a failed promise to return in a fortnight. The divorce request was denied.

I'm unsure what Australian divorce rules are now, let alone back in the day, but Robert managed to marry again. This time the lucky lady was Joan Sylvia Harper. The year was 1914. After two years had passed, the couple birthed a son, James Wolfe who lived until quite recently in 2002 after passing at the age of 86. He is buried in Fremantle Cemetery. Joan's death notice in the newspaper also listed a daughter named Joan.

Did Robert have any children?

An article dated 1909 claims, Catherine was in a targeted attack at her own home. In the article, she claims that her 14-year-old son was home with her, but I still can't find who he is! 

Conflicting records suggest that Catherine had a daughter named Irene who was fathered by her previous husband John William West. Catherine married West just 1 year prior to her marriage to Wolfe. Robert was listed as the father of Irene's marriage certificate to Charles Denny. Denny is buried alongside Robert along with Irene and her next husband Frank Pitt.

Fun Facts About Robert Tennant Stowe Wolfe:

  • Although he was listed as a Prospector, Storekeeper, and Licensee, Robert's primary job title was a farmer. He enjoyed selling pigs, especially the Yorkshire and Berkshire type.
  • Robert was a busy guy. He also owned City Hotel on Murray Street, Perth! This seemed to be where he did his farming too. I'd love to know what this area looked like in those days!
  • There is a full discussion on this family tree on Roots Chat - love that site! Check it out here if you're interested.



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