The DeWolf Family of Bristol, Rhode Island - Part IV
The DeWolf Family Biographies - Continued
(Scroll Down for Biographical Information and Background History)

Mark Anthony DeWolf - Son:  Charles DeWolf
And Grandson: General George DeWolf


Charles DeWolf was born on February 25, 1745 in Bristol, Rhode Island to Mark Anthony and Abigail Potter DeWolf. Although he never sailed as master on slave ships, he was the owner of several including the infamous schooner Lucy, (SEE: DeWolf Letters Part III - Lucy Account) He was also engaged, as was brother James in the China Trade. He was the owner of the Juno which was the first ship to return to Bristol with goods from China in June of 1804, (The DeWolfs had previously sent Lavinia to China in 1800, but she was lost on the return voyage off Cape Cod.) and in August, 1804 he gave command of the Juno to his Nephew "Northwest John" who was to take the ship to Alaska, trade for furs, then exchange the furs in Canton for tea, silk and spice and return to Bristol. (This trip is covered more in detail in Part V - Additional Information.)  

Charles was married to three different wives; first to Mary Tyler on April 28, 1771, then to his second wife Elizabeth Rogerson on June 3, 1789. I could find no information on his third wife, Abigail Green other than that they had no children. He was a member of the Republican Party and a parishioner of St. Michael's Protestant Episcopal Church in Bristol. He was an active participant in the War for Independence and the War of 1812. He owned one of the finest mansions in Bristol located on Thames Street. Charles DeWolf died on August 20, 1820.


George DeWolf was the seventh child and second son of Charles and Mary Tyler DeWolf. He was born on June 15, 1778 in Bristol, Rhode Island. George, like his father and uncles was a successful merchant, ship owner and slave trader. Unlike most of the family he never served on board any of his ships. He also owned a Sugar Plantation in Cuba called Noah's Ark where he worked many slaves of his own. 

George DeWolf  married Charlotte Patten Goodwin on October 17, 1804. He was appointed Brigadier-General to command the First Rhode Island Brigade composed mainly of Bristol and Newport men in 1818, which post he held until 1821. In 1822 he was commissioned as a Major General in charge of the State Militia and held that post until 1825.

The two Stampless Folded Letters used to illustrate this article were sent and signed by George DeWolf and concern the cargo of his ship New Packet and instructions for the Super Cargo, George West and the consignees of the cargo F. D. Ferni & Co of Trieste, Italy.

SEE:  June 28, 1825 George DeWolf Signed Letter 
SEE:  June 29, 1825 George DeWolf Signed Letter 
The full text of both letters has been reproduced
separately on the following pages:

Text of June 28 Letter 
Text of June 29 Letter

It should also be noted here that the cargo of the ship New Packet referred to in the letters above concerns a cargo of sugar. These letters are dated June 28th and June 29th, 1825 respectively, (one to the Super Cargo and one to be delivered to Messrs P. D. Ferni & Co). It was on July 6, 1825 that the news first reached Bristol on the schooner Eagle that George's Cuban sugar crop had failed. It would seem to this writer, that if communications were what they are today, and George could have diverted the New Packet and her cargo; the bankruptcy and disaster that ultimately befell George, the DeWolfs and all of Bristol might have been averted.

In June of 1825; George DeWolf's financial empire began to come apart; he failed to deliver a cargo of sugar promised to Captain Eddy and the brig Jacob at Havana in that month and on July 6, 1825 word reached Bristol via the schooner Eagle that George's sugar crop had failed and the banks and lenders began to call in their notes. (George's London banker, Samuel Williams lost 700,000 pounds.) Most of the lending institutions and indeed, a goodly portion of the local Bristol citizenship had speculated heavily in General DeWolf's ventures and when George fell, he took his brothers and Bristol down with him.

NOTE: Bristol's economy, prior to 1820 was built almost entirely on the three aspects of the "Triangle Trade;" Sugar, Rum and Slaves. Many of George DeWolf's ventures  after 1808, when the Slave Trade was outlawed, included the continued and surreptitious smuggling of slaves into Cuba and other Caribbean Islands. A part of the financial failure of the port of Bristol can be directly attributed to the demise of this trade after 1820 as well as to George's crop failure.

George resigned his command of the State Militia and announced he would not run for reelection to the Legislature in August and on December 6, 1825, George packed his belongings and departed Bristol secretly in the middle of the night with his wife and six children. The family sailed from Boston on December 7th aboard Benjamin Tilley's schooner Milo bound for the General's plantation in Cuba. Prior to sailing, George had signed the bankruptcy papers assigning his assets through his brother Charles, Jr. and Clapp's Accounting House in Boston to his creditors. They fell short by over $300,000.00 of meeting his obligations. (George's Brother Charles, Jr., also became bankrupt in 1833.) 

When the news reached Bristol the following day, the townspeople swarmed the General's Mansion, (Linden Place) and began taking whatever items they could find that had been left behind. The Collector for the port and a Squire Howe had positioned themselves outside of the mansion and proceeded to write up receipts. Two copies of each receipt were recorded for every item taken, one of which was given to each creditor as they left with their goods. By dawn of the next day, the house was an empty shell.

The family continued to reside in exile on their plantation, "Noah's Ark" along with other Bristol expatriates who had also fled to the island. The General's creditors tried to attach his plantation, however they were unsuccessful in their attempts. (Many other residents fled to the Mid and Western United States.)

George DeWolf seems to have been moderately well off in Cuba and he sent his daughters, Theodora and Charlotte to a private finishing school in the states. In 1844, George and his wife Charlotte returned to the states under false names and visited both Saratoga and Niagara Falls. There is an old story, which may have some truth to it, that George snuck into Bristol during this time. It is said that he hid out in the family mausoleum and received food from the wife of Braddy DeWolf, who had inherited Captain Jim's mansion, "The Mount." George DeWolf died shortly thereafter on June 7, 1844 in Dedham, Massachusetts.

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George DeWolf's mansion was constructed for the General in 1810. It stands today, as one of the finest examples of Federal Period Architecture. The mansion includes a beautiful portico, an intricately patterned balustrade and tall and stately Corinthian columns.

George DeWolf's Mansion remained vacant for nine years. During this time George's uncle, James DeWolf paid the mortgage. He sold the home to his son William Henry DeWolf in 1835 (Visit: Linden Place On-Line)

William also declared bankruptcy, however the home had earlier been transferred to his wife Sarah. She took in borders in order to maintain the house and following her death in 1865, the home was purchased by one of George DeWolf's daughters, Theodora DeWolf Colt.  Theodora renamed the mansion, "Linden Place."

Theodora DeWolf Colt, the daughter of George and Charlotte Goodwin DeWolf was born in Bristol, Rhode Island on October 12, 1820. When she was five years old, she fled with her father and mother to Cuba after the family bankruptcy. She married Christopher Colt, the brother of the arms manufacturer, Samuel Colt on November 14, 1837. Theodora died in Bristol, Rhode Island on December 15, 1901.

Linden Place remained in the family until the mid-1980s when the last living grandchild, Elizabeth Colt Stansfield placed the home back on the market. Friends of Linden Place, a group of Bristol citizens purchased the home in 1989 with the assistance of a State bond of one and a half million dollars and today the home is one of the premier tourist attractions in the state of Rhode Island.

GO TO: DeWolf Family Letters Part V - Additional Family Information

RI Historical Society
Stampless I
Stampless II

Stampless III
Stampless IV
Stampless V
Stampless VI
Brown & Ives Letters
The Hazard Family Letters
Joseph Tillinghast
Free Franked Letters
DeWolf Family Letters

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