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The Wooden Masonic Ring of Major Enoch Obid Wolf

The Wooden Masonic Ring of Major Enoch Obid Wolf

James T. Tresner

While awaiting execution by a firing squad during the Civil War, Major Enoch Obid Wolf, CSA, carved a wooden ring from the end of his cane.

During the Civil War, Confederate Major Enoch Obid Wolf (1828–1910) served with Ford’s Battalion Arkansas Cavalry, Company C. In 1863, he was captured by the Union forces.

He was held in prison, condemned with six others to be shot in retaliation for the shooting of a Union officer. While he was a prisoner of war, Major Wolf, a Freemason, cut about ¾ inch from the end of his cane, and carved it into a Masonic ring.

He recounted his story some 50 years later to a newspaper reporter from the Sharp County Herald:

I am the Major Wolf who was condemned to be shot at St. Louis in 1864, together with six Confederate privates in retaliation by the Federals for the killing of their Major Wilson and six of his command by Tim Reeves, one of our Majors belonging to Marmaducke’s [sic] command. When we were captured we, in company with some others, were sent to St. Louis and there drew lots for our lives. There had to be one Major and six privates shot and the unlucky number fell to me as Major, and Charlie Molken of Batesville, Blackburn of Independence, Burch and Ladd of this state, and two others whose names I have forgotten were the unlucky privates. I had four days for preparation for my doom because I was Major, while those poor boys only had 6 hours. During my 4 days of doom my Masonic brothers went to work with a zeal that is known only to a Brother in distress and wired to Washington City and had me reprieved just before the fatal hour arrived.

At the last minute (while the firingsquad were loading their weapons), orders arrived from Abraham Lincoln himself, commanding that Major Wolf was not to be shot. In fact, Wolf became one of the outstanding citizens of Arkansas, a substantial and highly-respected leader of the community. He lived until an old age—dying in 1910—and was buried as he wished on the family farmstead new Franklin, Arkansas, in view of the Strawberry River.

Brother Wolf was a fascinating man. According to his great granddaughter, Arlene Wolf Singleton, during his life he was a fighter in the War with Mexico, a Major in the Civil War, a sheriff, and a judge. “He … drove a team of oxen to the Gold Rush in California, went through the Panama Canal, traveled up the Mississippi to Memphis and walked, the many miles back to Arkansas.”

For many years, the ring was kept in the box of a military sewing kit, which is also in the display case at the Library and Museum of the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma. The family has the letter signed by Abraham Lincoln which followed the telegram of reprieve, and they have donated the ring to the Library and Museum of the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma.

The Grand Lodge of Oklahoma is deeply grateful to the family, and in particular to Warren Enoch Wolf, Paul Enoch Wolf, Arlene Wolf Stapleton, Greg Alan Wolf, and Michael Paul Wolf for this artifact of a brave and courageous Brother.

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