Jacob Wolf House - Finding the Clues for the Town of Liberty - Norfolk, Arkansas
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
N 36° 12.623 W 092° 17.208
15S E 564108 N 4007519
Quick Description: This marker is on the eastern (highway) side of the Jacob Wolf House located at Highway 5 and Fishermans Street in Norfolk, Arkansas.
Location: Arkansas, United States
Date Posted: 4/29/2014 7:30:23 PM
Waymark Code: WMKM24
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member arkansas stickerdude
Views: 1

Long Description:
Marker text:


Jacob Wolf was serving as a legislator in the Arkansas Territorial General Assembly in 1829 when he wrote the legislation to create the structure you see as the county's first permanent courthouse. In the legislation he noted that the courthouse should be "adjoining the present seat of justice" (meaning his dwelling house).

Archaeologists did confirm that the two original chimney for the courthouse were of the same hand-made brick as is seen on the upper portion of this south chimney. The existing stone chimneys were added in the late nineteenth century and are now over one hundred years old. Their antiquity has been honored during the restoration, and the brick chimneys have not been replaced.


Using the site map, archaeologists found many food-related items, such as dishes and food remains, where the map shows the kitchen. The deep deposits at this site suggest that the kitchen had a root cellar under it.

Other Town Sites

County seats of the 1830s usually had a jail that was often made of logs. No record of a jail at Liberty exists.

But Joseph Wolf recorded that his father, Jacob, maintained a general store as well as a blacksmith and carpentry shops to serve residents and travelers. One ledger from Wolf's general store has provided valuable information in helping to understand early nineteenth-century life at Liberty. Hand-forged hinged and a few household items made by Wolf still exist today. Letters sent from the post office here also exists.

Unfortunately, the sites of Liberty's general store and the blacksmith and carpentry shops have not been located.

Liberty was the name Jacob Wolf gave to the town he created here in the early 1820s. He planned it carefully so he could provide the services needed by the county residents and travelers coming here for court functions.

Often the oldest photographs and documentation provide the most valuable clues for researchers evaluating historic sites. The above ca. 1903 photograph is the oldest known photograph of the Wolf House, It was taken more than 75 years after the town of Liberty was created when the first railroad came to this area.

By using this photograph in conjunction with the site map drawn in 1915 by Joseph M. Wolf, a son of Jacob Wolf, the photograph takes on new meaning. Looking carefully at all details of the photograph, researchers noted vanishing clues indicating the locations of early structures that were part of the town of Liberty.

Follow the clues yourself and find the town of Liberty.

Original Dwelling House

By the time Joseph Wolf was born, the courthouse served as his family home. He recorded that the building next to the courthouse, identified on the map as "addition," was a two-story log structure with two stone gable-end chimneys. This structure would correspond with the existence of Wolf's original dwelling house that served as Izard County's temporary seat of justice from 1825 to 1829. Joseph may never have realized that the smaller house had been the family's first home.

The dwelling house was multi-functional since it served as an inn (called a tavern) for travelers as well as being the family dwelling.

The ca. 1903 photograph of the Wolf House reveals a collapsed and deteriorated log structure at the site of the original dwelling house.

Barn and Stable

A barn completes Joseph's site map. This would have been important for the home site since Wolf kept a tavern in his home. With people coming by horseback to his tavern, store and blacksmith shop, a large stable or barn was a necessity.

Slave Cabins

Jacob Wolf did own slaves when he lived here. The slaves' cabins were behind the kitchen and cook's cabin. According to Joseph Wolf, these cabins had "mudcat" chimneys made of mud and small logs. These chimneys were frequently used on the Arkansas frontier as they did not require a stonemason to build.

Family history has recorded the names of a number of the slaves, but few records remain about them after the Civil War when they were emancipated.

This and additional signs interpreting the structure and its history have been funded in part by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

From the National Register application:
(visit link)

"The Wolf House is a two-storey "Saddle bag" log structure built by Major Jacob Wolf after his arrival in north Arkansas.

The foundation is stone, supporting a hand hewn log sill system. The squared outer log walls are connected at the corners by the chamfer and notch method common to early 19th century construction. The average log sectional dimensions are 11" x 7". The original chinking material has been replaced with a cementitious mortar.

The first floor has two rooms of equal size flanking the open dog-trot breezeway. The upper floor also has two rooms. One room is larger as it extends over the one-storey dog-trot. The second floor is reached by a run of open stairs from the first-storey porch to the second-storey porch. Access to all rooms is gained from the full length porches front and rear. The overall dimensions of the building, including porches, are 30 x 45 feet.

The roof is bellcast gabled with the porch roofs pitched at a slightly lower pitch than the main one. The roof is covered with hand riven cedar shingles. The porches are supported by a series of eight peeled, rough posts, not squared.

There are two chimneys outside on the gable ends. They are constructed of stone up to a line approximating the eave line and brick from there up.

The windows are double hung with a pattern of 6 x 6 lights. They are shuttered with solid, vertically boarded blinds."
Additional Parking: N 36° 12.626 W 092° 17.203

Link to Marker: Not listed

History of Marker: Not listed

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