JOSEPH E. and THOMAS C. KNOWLES
JOSEPH E. KNOWLES AND THOMAS CRAWFORD KNOWLES
The following information(and diary excerpts)are not meant to embarrass or insult anyone. They are, instead, offered for historical accuracy, and the furthering of Knowles family research. Hopefully, descendants of these men will find the facts enlightening, and, the incident, perhaps, somewhat amusing-given the passage of time, and progression of generations. I have made no concerted effort to uncover details of the crime, but I am convinced of its commission, and perpetrator(s). My curiosity is keen, however, and I would like to "share" any-and all-further information with any member of the "Uncle Joe Knowles family", using whatever degree of discretion required.
Larry C. Knowles
The relationship of Uncle Joe and Cousin Thomas Knowles to James Bellah Knowles is clearly defined in the latter's diary(#1). It seems certain that Joseph Knowles was unaware that his brother had moved to South Georgia. And, that young James had never met these relatives. It is also obvious that whoever was following Joseph E. Knowles, and his young son Thomas, knew that they were headed for Henry Co. Georgia. And, it seems likely that the crime occurred in Alabama(references to letters make this clear-see diary guide!). The only suggested location, there, came through the Henley Brown letter-"Kingston P.O.". Initially, I thought Kinston(in south central Alabama)to be the likely place of the crime, and location of the "Ala. jail". Unfortunately, many of the early records of Coffee County were lost, and my early interest waned. Little more than a year ago, quite by accident, I found a jail in "Kingston beat" in Autauga Co. AL(1860 census)which could have been the possible location. As yet, I have not attempted further research in that area. So, the particulars and legalities of the "case" remain a mystery. I have, however, accumulated a few facts about Joseph E. Knowles, and his son, Thomas C. Knowles.
I found Joseph Knowles on the 1840 Dooly Co. GA census, adjacent to G.W. & George Knowles(obviously relatives!). As yet, his exact relationship to these two men has not been determined. It appears certain that he was not the son of the older man, George(born c.1790). He could have been a brother of G. W.(George Washington)Knowles, who did become his brother-in-law, when Joseph married Mary Ann Swearingen in Dooly on July 25 1839. Mary and Jane Swearingen were the daughters of Thomas Swearingen of Dooly Co., and moved with their husbands to Claiborne Parish Louisiana before 1860(#2). [Joseph E. Knowles, and George Knowles(Sr.)are found on the 1850 Census in Baker Co. GA. George W. supposedly moved briefly to Florida, but was reunited with Joe by 1860.] The older man, George Knowles, is believed to have died in Baker Co. about 1858, and clearly came from Bladen Co. NC(having married there-1811, Gainor, daughter of Benjamin FitzRandolph) . All of Joseph E. Knowles' census records note that he was born in North Carolina, lending credence to my family tradition of connections there. Cemetery records in Claiborne Parish say that George Washington Knowles was born in Bladen Co. NC.
JOSEPH E. KNOWLES AND THOMAS CRAWFORD KNOWLES
It appears that Joseph E. Knowles was only in Alabama for a short while. According to census records, all of his older children were born in Georgia. Two sons, C. C. and John H. Knowles were born in Louisiana. First wife, Mary Ann, died about 1861. On May 29 1862, in Claiborne Parish LA, Joseph married Emma E. Beaird. Two daughters, Ruth S/L? and Carrie L. Knowles, were born before the family moved to Texas. Three of Joseph's older sons served in Louisiana units during the Civil War: Thomas C., Co. I 28th LA Infantry; George L., Co. H, and, Alexander R., Co. B-both, of the 12th LA Infantry. Shortly after the war, Joseph Knowles moved to Navarro Co. Texas. It is unclear how many of his older sons left Louisiana(#3). There were three other children who were born in Georgia: Emily E., Joseph E., and Mary Ann Knowles.
Thomas Crawford Knowles remained, or returned, to Claiborne Parish. He is buried in Vienna cemetery in Lincoln Parish(taken from Claiborne in 1873)-b.June 14 1840, d.July 11 1909. His wife, Christine(Chestine?)who was older, is also buried there(d.May 4 1910). It is not known if they had any children, none were noted on the 1870 Claiborne Pa. census, Athens P.O.(adjacent to the older George W. Knowles, who was listed as a merchant). Thomas C. Knowles was closely associated with George W. Knowles, both being active members of the Terryville Masonic lodge. The latter is buried in Lincoln Parish, Salem Methodist Church cemetery. The tombstone notes his birth in Bladen Co. NC(Oct.12 1812) and, his marriage in Dooly Co. GA(Nov. 22 1838). Wife, Jane Swearingen Knowles is also buried there(b.Sept. 20 1820, d.June 29 1905).
After the move to Texas, at least three more children were born to Joseph E. and Emma E. Knowles: Bertie C. Knowles, c.1870/1, and twins, Lafayette F. and Emma F. Knowles, c.1874/5(Navarro Co. census 1880). Joseph was always listed as a blacksmith or farmer on his census records. Perhaps, his troubles resulted from his work as a "smithy". In any case, his sentence was evidently overturned(or he escaped!)and, he managed to live a long life in Navarro County. I found him, age 82, in the household of L. F. McCoy in 1900.
L. C. Knowles-April 4 1995
Note: A last minute look at the 1850 Autauga Co. Alabama census, revealed an older Joseph Knowles(42)-perhaps, a relative? And, more notably, Henley Brown, occupation-"Judge, P. Court"(see previous page). Both, were listed in "Kingston Beat"(#4). It appears that the crime took place in that area! (L.C.K.-April 14 1995).
JOSEPH E. KNOWLES AND THOMAS CRAWFORD KNOWLES
The first two pages were composed as an addendum(with "guide" and ten diary pages)to "A South Georgia Connection"-a summary of the James Knowles diary(#5). I had always intended to share the limited diary information on "Uncle Joe and cousin Thomas" through public libraries in Navarro Co. Texas, and Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, with the hope that a descendant of either man might find it. I had no idea that my current efforts would lead so quickly to productive research. An absolutely incredible series of events rekindled my interest in "Joe", and added yet another colorful chapter to our family history! I had often joked that perhaps Joe had stolen a horse, given his occupation-and the severity of "frontier" justice, but his crime was much more serious. Fortunately, he had legal counsel, and, though tried and convicted(twice!)-he somehow managed to "escape". We may never know the complete story, but my "concerted effort" is now in full force.
In August 1994, Sam H. Henderson of Denton TX(a descendant of George W. Knowles-pg.1)contacted me, thus providing an early generation South Georgia connection. Sam's family tradition had G.W. and Joseph E. Knowles as brothers, a fact yet to be proven. In his last letter(May 5th)Sam produced Joe's place of burial: Midway Cemetery, Navarro Co. TX-[Dec. 23 1817/Jan.13 1907--as well as, 2nd wife Emma, who died in 1895]. In February 1995, while reminiscing with my father(87)in Flovilla GA, where he began school about 1914, we were directed to the home of Vivan Hightower, a former classmate. There, we met the Dunlaps(a nephew & family)of Navarro Co, TX, who had come to the aid of an elderly aunt. As it happened, they were into genealogy, and enjoyed my "tale" about Joe from the James Knowles diary(and other accumulated facts)-and very kindly agreed to carry my data to the Corsicana public library, over the Easter holidays. Shortly thereafter, I told my best friend(and good genealogy buddy)about our luck, and we began "our" search for details about Joe in Alabama. The key, of course, was the Henley Brown letter-and "Kingston Beat"(see pg.2). As Brown was the Probate Judge of Autauga Co. Alabama, and the crime occurred in adjacent Dallas County, there is a bit of mystery. It may be, as I initially thought, that he was a friend or relative of James B. Knowles-several "Browns" having been mentioned in the diary in Dooly Co., or, it may have been, simply, that Joseph Knowles was temporarily housed in Autauga Co.'s new brick jail!
Finally, through the KNOWLES RESEARCHER, Robert W. Knowles' terrific newsletter, I have contacted a descendant of Joseph E. Knowles, Delores Forester of Tacoma Washington. Her query in the June 1995 issue, just days after I had compiled the bulk of this material, capped a delightful three months of research. To add more coincidence, "Bob's" ancestor(Joseph T. Knowles)was also in the J.B.K. diary! In his final issue, Bob graciously included a summary of this story. I have reserved several copies of this booklet for "future" descendants.
Larry C. Knowles-June 2 1995
[Discretion aside, this story was too good to hide! Others may
have found it, no one enjoyed finding it more. L.C.K.-10/16/97]
# 1) The James B. Knowles diary(1852-1858)is now in the Georgia State Archives. Born and raised in Henry Co. GA, young James began his "Journal" shortly after returning there, for additional schooling. In 1850, his father(James Sr.)had moved the small family to Dooly Co. GA, near Warwick-and Fort Early, on the Flint River. GO BACK
# 2) A marriage announcement for Joseph E. Knowles and Mary Ann, "daughter of Thomas Swearingen", was published in the Macon(Georgia)Messenger on August 8 1839. GO BACK
# 3) George Lawrence Knowles was listed two pages away from his father on the 1870 Navarro Co. census. Brother, Alexander R. Knowles, an early mayor of Vienna LA, later moved to Cade TX, perhaps the "Cade's Chapel" community, just southwest of Midway Church & Cemetery(Navarro Co.)where Joseph and Emma Knowles are buried. GO BACK
# 4) Now an obscure crossroads, Kingston was the seat of Autauga County until 1868. The term "Beat" indicated a political/judicial district, or precinct. GO BACK
# 5) The James B. Knowles diary(1852-1858)supplied the clues for this search. While most of the material covered his life in Henry and Butts counties, the visits and letters to his family in South Georgia formed a convenient outline for a summary(SGC-available, LDS Family History Centers; relevant-J.B.K. descendants). GO BACK