He had some formal education in one of more Indian mission schools. He was literate.
Payson worked as a farmer and hunter. He was one of the first Indians to vote in the state of Michigan. He served as constable in Leelanau County Michigan for a time. Between 1863 and 1865 he served in Company K, 1st Michigan Sharpshooters, U.S. Army during the Civil War. He was captured near Petersburg, Virginia and survived several weeks in the Andersonville, Georgia prisoner of war camp. Late in 1864 he was paroled from there, spent a furlough in Leelanau County, and returned to his unit, remaining with them until it was discharged in 1865. Later he collected a military pension for wounds and diseases contracted during his service.
Payson Wolfe walked on December 7, 1900. He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Cross Village, Emmet County, Michigan.