NORTHERN NEW YORK
Genealogical and family history of northern New York: a record of the achievements of her people
in the making of a commonwealth and the founding of a nation.
New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co. 1910.
Transcribed by Coralynn Brown
The surname Knowles is identical with the ancient English Knollys, which is found spelled in a great variety of ways in both England and American records.
(I) Thomas Knowles, immigrant ancestor, was born in England and was in New Haven, Conn. as early as 1645. He sailed from New Haven in the new ship "New Haven" for Liverpool in January 1646, and was lost with that ship. His widow, Elizabeth, of New Haven, married (second) in 1650, Nicholas Knell.
Children of Knowles, born in England:
Eleazer, mentioned below.
(II) Eleazer, son of Thomas Knowles, was probably born in England. He settled in Stratford, Conn., and married Jane Porter.
Eleazer and Thomas.
(III) Eleazer (2), son of Eleazer (1) Knowles, was born in Stratford, Conn., about 1650. He was one of the original signers of the compact for the settlement of Woodbury, Conn., Feb. 16, 1672, and was one of the first settlers on the Pomperague plantation, as it was originally called, about 1673. He died Jan. 3, 1731. His wife, Mary, died Oct. 24, 1732, at Woodbury.
Children, born at Woodbury:
1. Thomas, Dec. 26, 1683.
2. Isaac, died young.
3. Mary, born March 22, 1686-87.
4. Ann, Jan. 5, 1688-89.
5. Samuel, April 15, 1691, mentioned below.
6. Isaac, July 28, 1696.
7. Elizabeth, March 30, 1697-98.
(IV) Samuel, son of Eleazer (2) Knowles, was born in Woodbury, April 15, 1691. He married (first) Huldah Mitchell, who died Feb. 1, 1727; (second) Elizabeth Brown; (third) Oct. 28, 1744, Mary Wooster, widow.
Child of first wife:
Born at Woodbury:
1. Eleazer, May 29, 1726, died young.
Children of second wife:
2. Thomas, baptized at Woodbury, July 28, 1728.
3. Huldah, born June, 1730.
4. Ann, Aug. 5, 1732.
5. Mary, Nov. 16, 1734.
6. Eleazer, March 22, 1737, mentioned below.
7. Betty, baptized Nov., 1739.
8. Mercy, baptized May 16, 1742.
(V) Eleazer (3), son of Samuel Knowles, was born in Woodbury, March 22, 1737, died in 1814. He was commissary in the American army during the revolution, in a Connecticut regiment. In March, 1786, he removed to Lotana, afterward Freehold, now Greenville, Greene county, New York.
He married, in 1764, Hannah Mitchell.
1. El (son, the first syllable of the name Eleazer, so common in the family), baptized at Woodbury, Oct. 4, 1767.
2. Liberty Washington, mentioned below.
3. Eazar (son - second syllable of Eleazer).
(VI) Liberty Washington, son of Eleazer (3) Knowles, was born in Southbury, formerly Woodbury, Conn., Nov. 5, 1774. He went with his father's family to Greeneville (Greenville?), Greene county, N.Y., and attended the district schools there. He was graduated from Williams College and began the study of law in the office of Dorance Kirtland, of Coxsackie, N.Y. He was admitted to practice in the supreme court of the state of New York in 1809, and opened his law office June 14, 1809, at Potsdam. He was successful in his profession, but in middle life was obliged by ill health to abandon his profession. He turned to agriculture and found pleasure and profit in his farming. He was one of the first to experiment with Potsdam sandstone as a building material. He also engaged in manufacturing in the village and on the Racquette river. He was a citizen of much enterprise and public spirit, a leader of men naturally. The village owes to him the splendid elms that adorn Market and Elm streets. He was a prime mover in organizing various religious and educational societies.
In religion he was a Presbyterian, in politics a Federalist and Whig. He was strongly anti-slavery and outspoken in his views when anti-slavery sentiment was not only unpopular but dangerous to hold. He was an earnest promoter of public education. For thirty years he was president of the board of trustees of St. Lawrence Academy and among the largest donors in establishing that institution. Whenever additional funds were required by the academy, he was a ready and liberal contributor. The instructors always found in him a kind and wise adviser and the students a friend when in trouble. He aided many young men to get an education.
In 1811 he erected the dwelling house on the east side of Market street, now the head of Depot street, and lived there until his death, Jan. 7, 1859.
He married, in February, 1812, at Richmond, Massachusetts, Melinda, daughter of Paul and Rachel (Stevens) Raymond. She was exceedingly capable, helpful and wise, an earnest Christian, kindly and charitable, and greatly beloved.
1. Catherine, born Nov. 12, 1813.
2. Henry L., June 23, 1815, mentioned below.
3. William L., Feb. 26, 1818; graduate of the University of Vermont; was admitted to the bar and practiced for a time; then turned his attention to the insurance business. He married (first) Miranda Partridge; (second) Sarah Bramen, and has two children: Mary and Catherine.
Mary married George Gardiner, of Worcester, Mass., and has three children.
4. Augustus L., May 11, 1821, died Oct. 19, 1824.
(VII) Henry L., son of Liberty Washington Knowles, was born in Potsdam, June 23, 1815; died March 2, 1892. His early education was received at St. Lawrence Academy. In December, 1831, he entered the University of Vermont, at Burlington, changing afterward to Union College, from which he graduated in the class of 1836. He immediately began to study law at Potsdam, completing his studies in New York City, and being admitted to the bar in 1839. He began to practice his profession in his native town, succeeding his father. He had. from the first, an excellent and interesting clientage and he rapidly won his way to a place of leadership at the bar. He pursued his study of law diligently in conjunction with his practice and became one of the soundest lawyers of this section of the state. With unusual native ability and enthusiasm for his profession, he possessed high ideals and consceientiousness.
In politics he was originally a Whig, but in its early days he joined the Republican party, accepted its principles and supported its candidates and platforms earnestly. He cast his first vote for President William Henry Harrison and his last for President Benjamin Harrison. He never sought or wished for public honors, yet in 1863 was elected county judge and was on the bench until 1872. He was an able, just and impartial magistrate.
From the age of sixteen he was an active member of the Presbyterian church. In 1867 he was elected a ruling elder and he continued in that honorable office until his death. He often represented his church in the presbytery and genearl assembly and was one of the most prominent and influential Presbyterian laymen in northern New York.
He married in Jan., 1841, Jane L., born in Vergennes, Vermont 1817, died in Potsdam, March 7, 1907, daughter of Alexander and Serviah (Spencer) Brush.
1. William G., died young.
2. Rosa A., born Potsdam, N.Y. 1844; resides at the homestead of her father, Potsdam.
3. Frances S., born Potsdam, 1846; married C. H. Wheeler, real estate broker in Minneapolis, Minnesota; child, Walter H.
4. Henry B., born 1849, died February, 1905; married Elizabeth Orr; children: William Henry and Margaret Jane.
5. Winifred G., born 1852; resides on the homestead, Potsdam.
6. Grace R., born 1854; resides on the homestead, Potsdam.
These three women are all workers in the church and Sunday school as well as in temperance societies.
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