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Paul Wolfe Papers, 1908-1976

Paul Wolfe Papers, 1908-1976

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Paul Wolfe Papers, 1908-1976 UALR.MS.0242

UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture
401 President Clinton Avenue
Little Rock, AR, 72201

Profile Description

Creation: This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2015-10-27T11:09-0500

Repository: UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture
creatorWolfe, Cynthia, 1937-
Title: Paul Wolfe Papers, 1908-1976
Dates: 1908-1976
Quantity: 3.0 linear feet; 6 document boxes
Identification: UALR.MS.0242



Scope and Content Note

This collection contains correspondence, photographs, postcards, and legal papers concerning Paul Wolfe. The correspondence includes letters written during World War II to his family in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Wolfe wrote from various locations, including Camp Chaffee; Washington, D.C.; Indian Gap, Pennsylvania, as well as England, France, and Germany. The photographs during this period are of Paul Wolfe, his family and friends, and the locations he visited. Postcards depict propaganda art used by the United States during World War II. Three spiral notebooks in box two contain duplication of all World War II content.

Later correspondence, 1961-1971, concerns Wolfe's work as judge in the 12th Judicial District, including trial procedures and jury instructions for the state of Arkansas. Among this correspondence are several drafts of both the Trial Judge Book and the Jury Instructions Book.

Paul Wolfe's daughter, Cynthia Wolfe, composed the narrative and arranged the letters, photographs, and postcards.

Biographical Note

Harry Paul Wolfe was born 1908 January 5 in Weir, Kansas, to John Walter (1878-1950) and Myra Este Vasser Wolfe (1879-1965). The Wolfe family moved to Fort Smith sometime before 1911. On 1924 December 13, though still a 16 year old high school student, Wolfe joined the Arkansas National Guard 206th Coast Artillery Medical Detachment. He served for two years until he was honorably discharged on 1926 September 25. Wolfe left Fort Smith for Fayetteville to attend the University of Arkansas. There he joined the university’s ROTC program until his college graduation in 1928. He then enrolled in the law school at the university in 1930. Although he passed the bar on 1932 September 19, he continued at the law school until he graduated in 1933 May.

Wolfe married Jean Johnson (b. 1911) on 1932 January 12 in Memphis, Tennessee. Wolfe and his wife returned to Fort Smith, where Paul joined the Hardin Law Firm. The couple had three children: Jean Jackman Wolfe (1934-), Cynthia Vassar Wolfe (1935-), and Myra Lynn Wolfe (1942-).

Believing that war in Europe was imminent, in 1938 Wolfe joined the Army Reserves and was assigned to the Judge Advocate Generals Department (JAG) as Captain. While he was on reserve status, Wolfe became Prosecuting Attorney for the 12th Judicial District. While still a member of the JAG reserve, he served Camp Robinson and Camp Chaffee in all their legal matters as Division JAG where much of his work concerned the acquisition of lands surrounding the camps. In 1942 February, Wolfe applied for and was granted a position in the Regular Army and was promoted to Major. He was also re-assigned to the JAG headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In August of 1942, Wolfe accepted a promotion as the Division Judge Advocate for the Third Armored Division and joined them for training in the Mojave Desert. At the end of 1942 Wolfe was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. As a Division Judge Advocate, Wolfe was responsible for the initiation and supervision of courts martial including recommendation to the commanding general of the final adjudication of charges. He advised the commanding general on the rules of war and provided legal counseling for the 16,000 soldiers of the division. For a year the Third Armored Division trained to get ready for the war in Europe. Orders were issued on 1943 January 8 for the Third to transfer to Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania for the final phase of training.

In 1943 September, Wolfe and the Third Armored Division departed for England from New York Harbor. Over the next several months, Wolfe was committed to his duties as the Division JAG, which included advising the commanding general on relationships with Allied civilians and participating in drills and exercises. During this training period, Wolfe continued to write letters home. Letters from this time discuss his father's failing business, his daughters, and a troubled marriage that ended in divorce in 1945.

In July 1944, Wolfe landed at Omaha Beach in France almost a month after the D-Day invasion. In France, the Third Armored Division spearheaded the Allied forces. Serving as the Division JAG for a commander who liked to be on the front lines, Wolfe was often in danger. His right hand was injured by shrapnel from an exploding mine and later shrapnel from a bomb damaged his back. He recovered from both wounds and was twice awarded the Purple Heart. In recognition of his exemplary work as a Division JAG, he was also awarded a Bronze Star.

By 1944 October, the Third Armored Division had pushed through Belgium and crossed the Rhine River into Germany. In 1945, the Third Armored captured Cologne on March 7, and liberated the concentration camp at Nordhausen on April 11. The Third Armored ended the war in Darmstadt where the Division JAG gained additional staff to process courts martial.

Instead of being discharged, Wolfe was reassigned to Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, near his home. He returned to reserve status and was promoted to full Colonel. Shortly after his return to Arkansas, he married Jim Henderson. Wolfe's second marriage would also end in divorce, but there was a son born out of the union, Jim Paul Wolfe. Wolfe married again in late 1959 to Ruth Flanagan Gramlich and became step-father to her children, Ginger and Louis Gramlich.

Wolfe joined the U.S. District Attorney's Office in Fort Smith as an Assistant U.S. District Attorney until 1948. He was recalled to active duty for the Korean War and was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Munich, Germany where he was Chief of the Military Justice Branch. In 1952, when he was transferred to reserve status, he was again promoted to Colonel and returned to Fort Smith.

Upon his return to Arkansas, he again became an Assistant U.S. District Attorney until 1954 when he ran for the Circuit Judge of the 12th Judicial District. He won the position and held it from 1955 until his retirement in 1974.

During his tenure as Circuit Judge, he was appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court to organize and chair a committee to write the State National Trial Judges Notebook which became the textbook for the new National Council of State Trial Judges under the administration of the American Bar Association. He was also initiated by the Arkansas Supreme Court to organize and chair a committee to write the Model Civil Jury Instructions. Upon completion of this task he became a member of the Model Civil Jury Instructions Committee that edited later updates to the instructions and served as a member of the committee to write the Model Criminal Jury Instructions. He was later awarded the Award of Merit by the American Trial Lawyers Association for this work.

Upon his retirement from the bench, he was appointed as a consultant for the Speedy Trial Act, an act that was approved by the U.S. Congress in 1974.

In addition to his numerous judicial activities, Wolfe became active in the Fort Smith community. He organized and chaired a committee to restore the site of the former Judge Parker's court. Under his direction, the successful restoration led to the enlargement of the court and gallows, and the site later became a National Park. Wolfe also organized the community's role in the bicentennial celebration of the Butterfield Overland Mail Express, which included an active and famous stop for the new delivery of mail in the United States. Wolfe also served as an umpire for local Little League baseball games and as a volunteer for the new telephone hotline operating under the auspices of the local Sparks Medical Center.

Paul Wolfe died of cancer on 1976 October 26 and is buried at Fort Smith National Cemetery.

Fort Smith (Ark.)--History--20th century
Judges--Arkansas--History--20th century
Wolfe, Paul, 1908-1976
World War, 1939-1945--Europe


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for viewing at the Arkansas Studies Institute.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17-U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. The person using this material is liable for any infringement.

Copyright for correspondence in the collections belongs to those correspondents or their beneficiaries. Persons wanting to re-use those materials are advised to obtain permission from copyright holders.

Administrative Information

Citation Notes

Bibliographic citation:

Paul Wolfe Papers, 1908-1976, UALR.MS.0242. UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture, Arkansas Studies Institute, Little Rock.

Footnote or Endnote info:

Description of item, folder number, box number, Paul Wolfe Papers, 1910-1976, UALR.MS.0242.

Processed by:

John H. Jones, Graduate Assistant, M.A. in Public History, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Spring 2014.

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