Madame, stage operator’s lives on tap at museum


WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla’s best known madame, Josephine Wolfe, will be portrayed Saturday by Lois Hahn.

John Abbott, a stage coach owner and miner, will be portrayed Sunday by Rod Hahn.

These Living History portrayals will be at 2 p.m. in Fort Walla Walla Musuem, 755 Myra Road.

Better known as “Dutch Jo,” Wolfe was a competent businesswoman who took pride in performing an important service in her community.

She ran an upscale establishment for gentlemen and insisted on a high degree of decorum from her employees.

Her concern for the welfare of her employees led to regular health checkups and clothing that was fashionable, yet not too revealing.

Wolfe came to Walla Walla around 1860.

In addition to her renown as proprietress of two of Walla Walla’s brothels, which were often patronized by miners back from the gold fields, she became a public benefactress, particularly providing for needy firefighters.

She erected the firefighter statue at the city cemetery, where she and several of her employees are also buried, although in different spots.

A copy of the statue is in Crawford Park on Main Street, next to the Farmers Market, in the vicinity of one of her former establishments.

Abbott ran stage lines in the Willamette Valley until 1859 when he brought his Concord coach to Walla Walla and established the first stage line in the Walla Walla Valley.

His first line here connected Walla Walla with the steamers on the Columbia River at Wallula.

He had mining experience in California and saw the wisdom of establishing a stage line from Walla Walla to the Boise gold fields.

He later went into farming and raised stock.

The gold rush of the 1860s was one of the main factors in the early growth of Walla Walla, as the town was a major supplier of goods for the miners.

Performances will be in the pioneer settlement at the museum.

Visitors are encouraged to question the Living History re-enactors about their lives and times.

The Museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.

Admission is free to museum members, eligible service personnel and their families through the Blue Star Museums program, Tamástslikt Cultural Institute’s Inwai Circle cardholders, enrolled members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and all children under 6.

Regular admission for children 6-12 is $3, senors age 62 and up and students is $6 and adult admission is $7.

For more information, call 509-525-7703, or email


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