A Personal Note from the Author
My long interest in what we have referred to over the years as “the Wolf family murders” is very personal. When I was born in 1940 my father was already fifty-five years old, meaning that he would have been thirty-five when the murders were committed—five years younger than Jacob Wolf and the same age as the man originally charged with the crime. He and my grandfather homesteaded thirteen miles northwest of Turtle Lake in 1903—the same year that Jacob Wolf homesteaded three miles north of town. My father was a friend with Mr. Wolf and the other man, and, to a lesser extent, he knew the members of their families.
Whenever we would go out to the cemetery west of town, I would almost always visit the site containing the graves of all eight victims. And as I got older I would ask my father questions about them and about how and why they were all murdered on that fateful April day so many years ago. He always gave me answers to my questions but never volunteered
I believe I was about seven years old when I first started wondering seriously about it all. I remember my first connection with the murdered children was with little Edna, who was seven at the time of the murders. A couple of years later I would be the same age as Maria, nine, a few years later the same age as Bertha, twelve, and a year later the same age as Jacob, the hired boy. I never had the same connections with Liddia and Martha, who were five and three when they died. Emma, eight months at the time and the only one to survive, was a friend of my mother and the mother of children I knew when I was growing up.
Although we lived in town, my father still had farmland in the area where he had homesteaded. We would almost always drive by the abandoned Wolf farm on the way out to our place, and I don’t believe I ever passed by there without giving some thought to those little children whose lives were cut short long before their time.
What has bothered me most over these many years is that all eight victims, especially the children, were not much more to me than names and dates on grave markers in the town cemetery. It was only recently after I started my research into all of this that I began to try to imagine something more about the lives of Jacob and Beata Wolf, their daughters, and the hired boy.
We will never be absolutely certain, I suppose, who was really involved in killing the Wolf family and their hired boy, how, and for what reason. This book provides nothing more than information that has long been in the public record in the form of newspaper reports, court documents, historical records, and census reports.
I hope, though, through the vehicle of historical fiction and being as true as possible to what we do know about what happened that fateful day and the months and years that followed, that I can honor the memory of this hardworking farm couple who never lived to see their dreams fulfilled. But most of all, I want to dedicate this story to the memory of their five daughters and their young friend, Jacob Hofer, who never lived to grow up near my hometown and to live out dreams of their own.
--Vernon Keel, Author
The Murdered Family
Selected content from
Midwest Book Review
When an entire family is murdered, the motives of the perpetrator seem as if they can only be pure evil. "The Murdered Family" tells the tale of a North Dakotan family that was wiped out by a cruel act. One man is charged with the crime, and he is captured and quickly sentenced to life imprisonment. Stating his confession was under unlawful pressure, he maintains his innocence, as Vernon Keel crafts an intriguing story of pre-Depression law. "The Murdered Family" is very entertaining and intriguing reading, recommended.
Where to buy . . .
In addition to bookstores and online book sellers, copies of THE MURDERED FAMILY can also be obtained directly from the Minneapolis distributor.
Contact: Itasca Books and Distribution
The novel is also available as an eBook