In Boulton-le-Moors Parish in Lancashire County, England, Richard Knowles and Margaret Hopkinson were married on July 18, 1595. Richard and Margaret had seven children, as follows: John, who was baptized on January 25, 1603; Robert, who was baptized on January 28, 1604; Elizabeth, who was baptized on April 2, 1609; Francis, a son who was baptized on March 3,
1610; James, who was baptized on January 6, 1616 and probably named for King James I; and Mary, who was baptized on April 8, 1620 and possibly named for the king's late mother. Anne was the name of the king's Danish wife. All Richard's and Margaret's children were born at Quarlton in Boulton-le-Moors Parish and were baptized by Church of England clergy.
James Knowles was married at the age of 23 years to Elizabeth Isherwood on May 2, 1639 in Boulton Parish. They lived at Edgeworth in that parish and had three children, as follows: Henery, who was baptized on July 6, 1640; Thomas, who was baptized on October 23, 1643; and Elizabeth, who was baptized on February 25, 1645. All James's and Elizabeth's children were born at Edgeworth and were baptized by, Church of England clergy.
Thomas Knowles was married to Agne Hoarth in her home parish, Bury, in Lancashire County on June 8, 1680. They lived at Quornton near Turton and had only one child, Edmond, who was baptized on March 6, 1685 by the official clergy. So it happened that Thomas was ied at the age of 37 years and that he was 42 years old when his son Edmond was born.
The area in which the Knowles families lived during this time is about five miles northeast of the city of Bolton, which is 25 miles northeast of Liverpool and 11 miles northwest of Manchester. Edgeworth is five miles north-northeast of Bolton. Turton is four miles north-northeast of Bolton and half a mile southwest of Edgeworth. At the time of Edmond's birth, Bolton lay in the center of England's major coal producing region. Later it was the center of cotton production.
With the discovery of America, the crown chartered companies to do monopolized trading there and enrich the government through taxation. To enhance its investments in the New World colonies, the Virginia Company promised a headright of 50 acres of land to original members for each immigrant brought over the Atlantic Ocean as inexpensive labor, to be employed mostly on riverside tobacco plantations. King James inherited and continued this policy, whereby planters financed the passages of young, able-bodied people in exchange for their work under contract.
In the year 1700, Edmond left his home at the age of 15 years and went to Liverpool. There, on November 19, he embarked on a voyage to Virginia aboard the ship "Elizabeth and Judith" which was under the command of ship's master Edward Payne.
Edmond was indentured to serve planter Jonathan Leivsay of Virginia for seven years to pay for his passage. Edmond and other bondsmen and bondswomen aboard were sworn to loyalty to their masters for their indentureships by Church of England clergy. On this voyage Edmond was Leivsay's only bondsman. Edmond served Leivsay, whose name was also spelled Livesay and Livesley in legal records, in Prince George County, Virginia, on the south side of the James River southeast of Richmond about 25 miles. Leivsay owned about 300 acres in this area in around 1704. He apparently died soon after filing his will in 1720 at the town of Prince George, the county seat of government.
Indentured servants were 75-85 percent of the estimated 130,000 English immigrants to the Chesapeake Bay area of Tidewater, Virginia and Maryland during the late 1600s and early 1700s. Roughly three-fourths of these bondsmen were males aged 15 to 24 years and most had been common farmers and laborers in England and had not established firm roots there or could look forward to hard, menial jobs and never owning land. Many came from portions of England which were experiencing overcrowding and severe economic disruption. Wealthy English landowners banished many longtime tenants from their land - "enclosure" - to increase space available for sheep when wool prices rose.
While the New World provided new hope, life there was far from easy. Servants worked ten to 14 hours a day, six days a week in.a climate much warmer than that to which they were accustomed. Their masters could punish them or sell them and there were harsh penalties for running away. Their masters had to give them sufficient food, clothing and shelter, however, and they could not by law physically abuse them. Servants were given Sunday on which to rest. Death rates were much higher in the New World than in England. Servants' "seasoning" included the expected cases of malaria, dysentery, influenza, typhoid fever and other diseases and hazards, including attacks by hostile Indians. About 40 percent of the young men did not survive long enough to ever become freemen and most of those who did survive lived only as long as their early 40's because of their weakened conditions. Survival brought opportunities, beginning with "freedom dues" of clothes, tools, livestock, casks of corn, tobacco and other valuables and sometimes land, making them "freeholders." By 1700, however, the Chesapeake area was no longer the land of opportunity it had earlier been and land, which was becoming harder to obtain along the navigable rivers, was seldom included in freedom dues. Also, the extraordinarily high ratio of men to women among young singles made the prospects of being patriarchs of one's own family less likely and many men never found wives after gaining freedom.
IN MARYLAND - DELAWARE
When Edmond Knowles had completed his indentureship to Leivsay he went to the relatively unsettled interior of what is today called the Delmar or Delmarva Peninsula between Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. He made his home in northern Somerset County, Maryland.
Edmond settled here sometime around the early to middle 1700s, according to traditional stories from among later Knowles families in the area. They also recount that Edmond was once wounded in the head by an Indian who fractured his skull with a tomahawk. A silver coin was cut and beaten to fit the shape of the hole to protect his brain and for the rest of his life Edmond was known as "Old Silverhead."
Edmond's home was in that part of Maryland lost to the Delaware colony in an agreement ratified in 1775 after a survey was completed in 1767 to settle the Calvert-Penn Provincial Boundary Dispute. His home was in the watershed of Little Creek, which after his death lay in the extreme southwest comer of the Colony of Delaware. The land is within the later political unit of Sussex County called Little Creek Hundred, bounded on the north by Broad Creek and Broad Creek Hundred and on the south by the Maryland border. Swamp lies close by to the southeast on the border.
The use of the term "hundred," exclusive to Delaware among American colonies, began in Saxon times before Norman rule in England. It meant roughly 100 "hides" or family holdings whose legal records of ownership were tabulated in 1086 in the Domesday Book of King William the Conqueror. The term "hide" means a parcel of 60 to 120 acres and comes from the Old English "higan," meaning home, and the Middle English "higid," meaning a portion of land or a household.
Before the settlement of many Englishmen in the eastern shore of Maryland, the east coast of the Delmar Peninsula was inhabited by colonists from Sweden. "New Sweden" extended from the town of Zwaanendael on the Atlantic coast of the peninsula northward along the Delaware River. As more English people settled here, the town became known as Lewes, which it is called now.
From these Swedes, Edmond found a wife whose name has been :forgotten. They reared seven sons, as follows (age order unknown): Thomas, Richard, Edmond, Henry, Rice, Charles and Elija.
Edmond "Silverhead" died around 1762 without a will. His estate was distributed in 1765 as follows: One-third went to his widow and the remainder was divided equally into seven shares which were given to sons-in-law or grandsons George Oaks and Thomas Wilson; to grandson John Knowles; to daughter, granddaughter or daughter-in-law Ruth Knowles; and to sons Richard, Thomas and Edmond. At the time of the probate the share intended for Edmond junior was held in trust because his whereabouts were unknown or because he was a minor. Richard, the oldest son, was administrator of the estate as appointed by the presiding court judge in the Sussex County seat, Georgetown.
With the moving of the boundary line between the colonies of Maryland and Delaware and migrations and generations of Edmond "Silverhead"'s sons and daughters it came about that Knowleses, settled thickly both in Sussex County, Delaware and in Maryland's Eastern Shore area which later included the lower counties of Worchester around Snow Hill, and Wicomico around Salisbury, adjacent to Somerset County from which they were formed, and Dorchester County to the west.
The Knowles, Marvel, Prettyman and Wilson families intermarried in the first few generations after their respective forebears arrived in America. Records show extensive marriages between the families, often with several siblings of one family marrying siblings of another, through the late 1700s in Sussex County, Delaware. Edmond's son Richard settled not far to the north along Cod Creek in Little Creek Hundred. A deed warrant was issued to him for a tract of land which he called Knowles Venture, north of Cedar Swamp. In that time and place, warranted or patented tracts were recorded under such names in the way that later patented tracts or surveys in some western states would be named for the original headright owners or would be surveyed as grids and referred to bv number.
Cod Creek is a many-forked stream wholly within Delaware, flowing from its headwaters in a northwesterly direction until its branches converge about two miles from its mouth. From this point of convergence the stream flows northerly until it meets the Nanticoke River about half a mile east of today's boundary with Maryland, just above Sharpstown, below Bethel on Broad Creek.
On Cod Creek were eventually located five water-powered mills, and the second mill up the creek was the Knowles saw mill owned by Richard. He made use of the white cedar and bald cypress forests of the lowlands and the pines on higher ground to supply cut lumber for sale to the area's inhabitants. As Richard's wealth increased he became owner or more tracts of land either adjoining Knowles Venture or in the immediate vicinity. They were called Chance, Hill Lot, Good Luck, Friendship and Green Woods. Altogether they included about 800 acres. All these tracts were located in what later became Ellis's Grove School District No. 5 of Sussex County between the state line on the west and by the Nanticoke River and Broad Creek on the north, in the extreme northwestern section of Little Creek Hundred. The area's chief town is Laurel to the east.
Richard Knowles, planter and mill owner, was married to a Finnish woman and after her death he was married to her sister, family tradition says. Neither wife's name was recorded for history and Richard outlived both.
Richard was the father of seven sons as follows: Richard Jr, Charles, Zachariah, Edmond, Thomas, James and Ephraim. Eight daughters were also born: Eve, Abigail, Patience, Elizabeth, Sarah, Asseny, Nancy and Prudence.
Young James, when he arrived at manhood, looked upon Patience, a daughter of David Marvel, who was born January 31, 1758, a good girl and one who was admired by all that were so fortunate as to obtain her acquaintance, and by the consent of her parents, she became his wife in the twenty first year of his age. For about 17 years, in the land of their nativity, they lived happily and toiled hard for a plentiful support. There was born unto them six sons and one daughter: Prettyman, James, Eddy, Jesse, Comfort Marvel (for her grandmother), and Nathan. With an increasing family and enlarged expenses, they sought better opportunities.
The unsurpassable climate of Georgia and the adaptability of her soil to the cotton plant was everywhere known. The excitement produced by the invention of Eli Whitney in 1793 of the famous cotton gin was universal. The glow of cotton enamored the farmers. They saw through it the sure and immediate way to wealth. Prettyman Marvel and James Knowles were among those affected. During the summer of 1795, James and Patience prepared to leave Delaware and in the fall they loaded a wagon and moved through Maryland to the Chesapeke Bay. They boarded a schooner which had been previously engaged and crossed to Virginia. They took their long and tedious journey through Virginia and the Carolinas into Greene County, Georgia, fifteen miles from Greensborogh, the county seat, and sixty miles northwest from Augusta. In the midst of general prosperity, on the 25th of October, 1797, another son came and they called him Ephraim, a name properly applied, for it signifies fruitful. Two more sons were eventually born in Georgia: Eli and Asa.
IN INDIANA - ILLINOIS
They soon discovered the error of their move. Delaware was a plain of no hills that retained the fertility of her soil with an increasing ration, while Georgia was hills without a plain and two or three years' cultivation exhausted her soil. The family struggled but stayed close with the Prettyman's and Marvel's often intermarrying. They heard of fertile soil in Indiana and Prettman Marvel took some young men to head out and scout the land. Upon their return, plans were made to move. Not all could move, nor did they all want to move. In 1809, several families headed North. They stopped off in Kentucky but finally made it to Southern Indiana by 1811 and sent word back. James and Patience and family headed North and reached their "promised land by December of that year, an area now know as Gibson County, Indiana.
Ephraim grew to be a full 6 feet tall plus and was the tallest man around at the time. On October 25, 1825 he married Cynthia Kimball, the daughter of Jesse Kimball, a man of genius from Connecticut, who proved to be very resourceful in a new country. The Kimball's were Mormons and had been slowly moving west. Ephraim and Cynthia had thirteen surviving children (one dieing in infancy): William, Mary, Lucinda, James, Elizabeth, Patience, Mahala, Jessie, Eli, Lamira, Cynthia, Franklin and Eliza. Ephraim obtained the east half of his father's farm when his father died and added more to the farm on the north.
James was born on the farm on September 28, 1831 and continued the ways of farming. He married Mary Price McClane on January 30, 1856. Mary lived across the Wabash river in Illinois. Many families spread out over the region ending up on both sides of the river. James and Mary took up farming on the Illinois side. When the Civil War broke out, James was instrumental in getting the farmers to join up. He signed on as a private with Company K of the 64th Illinois Infantry and was with General Sherman on his march to the sea. Upon returning home from the war, he was the model for the statue to the Civil War soldiers that was erected in front of the Gibson County courthouse in Indiana. James and Mary had four children: William Harvey, Susan Adelia, Ephraim H, and Cynthia. James bought a farm near Keensburg, Illinois and lived out his days as a farmer. Mary died on February 19, 1898 and James allowed other family members to work the farm. Having been a prosperous farmer, James spent his winters in Florida and died on January 17, 1913 in Lynn Haven, Florida
The whole Knowles clan were highly intelligent. Mary's father Henry McClane was a successful businessman in Mt. Carmel, Illinois and pushed his grandchildren to further their education rather than remaining farmers. They did. William became an engineer, Susan and Cynthia became teachers and Ephraim studied law. Ephraim married Sarah Crackel, the daughter of a wealthy family from Edwards county. The had a son, Roy Otis on June 7, 1886. Sarah was a frail girl and died rather young. Ephraim took his son and moved to Iowa where he became the Lucas County attorney in the city of Chariton and eventually a judge. He remarried and prospered in the area until fortune called from the big city. He move to Chicago in the early 1900's to continue the practice of law.
OFF TO SEE THE WORLD
Roy Otis was a gifted man of letters and studied journalism and this love created a life of wanderlust. Roy was in Dallas, Texas in 1913, working for a newspaper when his grandfather died in Florida. He took the train to Mt Carmel and handled the funeral arrangements. It was then that he met the beautiful and vibrant Sarah Leora Canedy. Sarah was one of the most popular girls in town and was already engaged to be married to a local boy by the name of Ray Jay. The worldly sophistication of the brash young writer from Texas, with local ties to the area, was more than she could take. In a whirlwind one month romance, they were wed on February 22, 1913. They began to travel immediately, going first to Aberdeen, South Dakota where Roy became the editor of the local newspaper. Their first child Roy Canedy was born there. They moved on in a few years to Fullerton, North Dakota where Roy was again editor of the local newspaper. Their second child, William James was born there. With a growing family, Roy looked for other opportunities for income and began to work in sales using the railroads as a medium. He made it to Kansas City with the Ringling Brothers Circus where his third son was Born, Rex Hanna. Rex was named after a good friend who played French horn in the circus band and assisted the family. The circus wintered in Florida so the they followed the trains all the way to Key West, Florida. The Florida East Coast Railroad went from Waycross, Georgia to Key West and Roy worked that route, taking his family with him. It was on one stint to Waycross that their only daughter, Alma Illona, was born. Now with four children, it was best for mother to stay at home. Key West was the spot for a few years.
As the 20's roared on, opportunity continued to call and Roy and family bounced around from place to place looking for the elusive dollar. They ended up in Brooklyn, New York for several years having already lived in six locations in six years. When the stock market crashed, times got tough. Roy was a hustler, but money was too tight. Sarah had to work to make ends meet and the oldest child, Roy had to keep the family together. A move to upstate New York and the town of Little Falls was the last straw. Sarah took over and became the major bread winner of the family and Roy was gone. Through the help of friends, Sarah raised the four children, putting them all through college. She began to work for the Curtis Publishing company and was head of subscription services. She traveled the country while neighbors and friends looked out for the younger children. They all had their own jobs, selling newspapers, delivering milk and anything they could scrape up. The oldest son Roy, went off to medical school at the University of Alabama and was exempted from the army when WWII began. But the family that worked so hard to stay together, did stay together and on a leave from WWII, William got married to Helen Anita Coffin on May 15, 1942 and headed back off to war. Alma followed that winter, marrying William Roberson on the day after Christmas that same year. The two remaining, Roy and Rex, arranged weddings the next August and by the summer of 1945, they were all back together again, all married, and all with one child.