J. Oscar Wolfe

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PROF J. OSCAR WOLFE, ex-county superintendent of schools, who is known throughout Armstrong county for his services in various capacities in the field of public instruction, is a resident of Bethel township and was born on the farm where he still resides. His parents, Jacob and Frances (Van Dyke) Wolf, had a family of nine children, of which he is the youngest (see sketch of Jacob Wolf). It became the duty of him and his sister Frances to care for their parents in their declining age, and after their death J. O. Wolfe purchased the old home where he and his sister reside.

Mr. Wolfe began his education in the public schools near his home at the age of six years; and continued to attend the public schools during the winter months until he was licensed to teach. During the summer, for a number of years, he supplemented his early instruction with study at a number of select schools and teachers' training schools of Armstrong county. He has studied under Prof. James A. Storey, principal of the Leechburg Select School for teachers; Rev. Leslie E. Hawk, of Slate Lick, principal of the McVill Select School; and Prof. H. T. Duff, principal of the Leechburg Select School for teachers and others, and of the Leechburg Classical and Normal School three terms. The object of this school was to prepare the young men and women attending the institution for the teaching profession and also to qualify all those desiring a higher education to enter the freshman class in any of the colleges, in the State or elsewhere. The faculty consisted of Prof. H. T. Duff, principal; Rev. Dr. D. H. Sloan; Prof. Will Hill; Rev. Mr. Schaeffer; Rev. George Dyess, and others. More than fifty young teachers took advantage of the training department. It is a matter of record that no better work was done by any school in this part of the State, nor better results obtained than was accomplished by the Leechburg Classical and Normal School.

Mr. Wolfe has been engaged in public school work as teacher and in official capacities since 1876. When he received his permanent certificate, in 1888, he was one of thirteen successful members of a class of twenty-five. He has done much efficient work for the cause of public education outside of the schoolroom, his executive ability and well-directed energy in any line which interests him having long ago received recognition in the profession. In 1891 he was elected by the teachers at the County Institute as one of a committee of five to examine applicants for permanent teachers' certificates. He continued to serve on that committee by election annually for five years, when at the expiration of his term he became a member of the first committee in Armstrong county for the examination of applicants for permanent certificates under the new law, to serve for three years, received his appointment from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Nathan C. Schaeffer. On May 2, 1899, he was elected county superintendent of schools, in which office he served two successive terms, having been reelected May 5th, 1902 (his term expired on the first Monday of June, 1905). During his superintendency he was six times appointed a member of the State board of examiners for normal schools. He has been active and zealous in every line of educational and school work, and his work has been done with an intimate understanding of the needs of the community that makes it particularly valuable.

During his incumbency he attended many educational meetings in different parts of the State, among which were the following: The Pennsylvania State Teachers' Association, which met at Williamsport, Pa.; the Convention of Superintendents and Principals of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, which met in Pittsburgh, and in which he took an active part; the Butler County Teachers' Institute, and at a later date the Butler County School Directors' Convention, Professor Wolfe delivering addresses on both occasions. At the special request of Deputy State Superintendent Hon. John Q. Steward, Mr. Wolfe attended the Convention of School Directors in York, Pa., and addressed the same. He also attended teachers' institutes in Clarion, Brookville, Franklin, Washington, Pa., and Allegheny county, and many other educational meetings in various parts of western Pennsylvania. Superintendent Wolfe made it a rule, before engaging talent for his institutes, always to know his men personally, if possible, and it is a matter of record , which is very gratifying to him, that his talent was always the best that could be obtained at the time, and that not once in his six years of superintendency did his talent fail to appear on time.

Outside of his school hours, Professor Wolfe was interested in farming. Like his father he is a great reader, and he has one of the best libraries in his part of the county.

Mr. Wolfe is associated with the Republican party and is serving at present as committeeman of his township; he served in that capacity for six years previous to taking the county superintendency. He represented his district as a delegate from Bethel Township Republican League to the convention at Scranton, Pa., when Hon. John B. Robinson and Hon. John Dalsell were candidates for the presidency of the Pennsylvania State League.

In 1890 he was engaged in Census work in this locality, receiving the appointment from Hon. George W. Hood, of Indiana. In religious connection he is a Lutheran, adhering to the church of his father, who was one of the four original founders of the Bethel Lutheran Church of Bethel township. He is also connected with the following fraternal organizations: F. & A. M., Leechburg, Pa.; White Rock Lodge, I. O. O. F. , Center Valley, Pa., and Kittanning Encampment, I. O. O. F.; the Jr. O. U. A. M., Center Valley; and the Masonic Consistory at Coudersport, Pa. (thirty-second degree).

Source: Pages 676-674, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed September 1998 by James R Hindman for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)

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