George W. Knox


Carroll County IL Biography



The family history of the subject of this sketch is one of more than ordinary interest, and we will begin with the notice of his ancestry, whom, it will be found, were people of considerable importance in their time. His father, John Knox, Jr., was a native of Pennsylvania, and the son of John Knox, Sr., said to be a lineal descendant of the celebrated John Knox, of olden times. The latter will be remembered by historians as having been born in the North of Ireland, of Presbyterian parents, and, going to England when a young man, was there educated in surgery and medicine.

The latter-named John Knox crossed the Atlantic with Gen. Braddock to America, at the outbreak of the French and Indian War, and, as a surgeon, was with Braddock until the latter was killed. John Knox then, having become better acquainted with the condition of the Colonists and their worthy ambition for independence, arrayed himself on their side, and served under Gen. Washington until after the close of the French and Indian War. He then settled in what is now Fayette County, Pa., where he practiced his profession until becoming quite aged, and where his death occurred when he was ninety-six years old. As a result of strictly temperate habits and correct conduct, he was stout, healthy, and active until the last.

John Knox married, in Fayette County, Pa., Miss Elizabeth Morgan, who was a near relative of Col. Charles Morgan, of Revolutionary times; she lived to a venerable age, being nearly as old as her husband at the time of her death. She also was of an excellent family, and a woman of strong character. Their later descendant, John Knox, the father of our subject, was a native of Fayette County, Pa., and born about ten years after the opening of the Revolutionary War. He was one of the younger members of the family, and after the death of his father, which occurred when he was but a boy, he was bound out to a trade; afterward he set out on his own account, and went to work in an iron works establishment at Connellsville, in Fayette County, where he served an apprenticeship of seven years lacking three months, and was that much less of attaining his majority.

The father of our subject now began boating on the Ohio River, during the time of the early settlement of Kentucky. At that period occurred the incidents connected with Burr’s Rebellion, during which Mr. Knox was among those who ran the blockade at Blennerhassett’s Island, in the Ohio River. He resumed boating, and followed it about four years. He finally settled in Grayson County, Ky., where he lived for some time, removed to Hardin County, that State – this latter being located on the banks of the Green River. In connection with farming, he also operated a ferry-boat at Morgantown, where he made his home. The father of our subject, in 1826, left the Blue Grass regions for the young State of Illinois, and settled first near the then village of Springfield, on the farm of Dr. Jayne, thence to the present site of Magnolia, on a Government claim. He sojourned here until the Black Hawk War, with which he had something to do in assisting Maj. Thompson’s regiment in burying the Hall and Davis families, who were killed by the Indians on Indian Creek. He had three sons who served in the army as privates, and who returned home from the fray unharmed. John Knox, in the meantime, visited what is now known as Elkhorn Grove, in this county, in about 1834, and made a claim that year. The land which he then took up was occupied by him many years, and now constitutes the home of his son, the subject of this sketch. This part of Carroll County was then included in Jo Daviess County, from which it was separated in 1839. He took up a claim of 160 acres on section 21, which he improved, and upon which he erected substantial buildings, and there spent the remainder of his life, passing away in February, 1859, when about seventy-five years old. He was, politically, in early manhood, an old Adams and Henry Clay Whig, but after the abandonment of the old party, a few years before his death, identified himself with the Republicans.

He held many of the local offices, including that of Justice of the Peace, in which he officiated a number of years, and was one of the prominent and valued men of his community who rendered material assistance in the growth and development of Carroll County.

The mother of our subject was, in her girlhood, Miss Rebecca Layman. She was born in Pennsylvania, of German descent. She clung to the native tongue in which she had been reared from childhood, speaking it readily until ten or twelve years old, after which, associating with English-speaking people almost entirely, she rather dropped the mother tongue. She was the daughter of Michael Layman, who was also born, reared and married in the Keystone State, and carried on farming, and became the head of a very large family.

The maternal grandfather of our subject finally removed to Grayson County, Ky., where, with his excellent wife, he spent the remainder of his days, both dying at an advanced age. Mrs. Rebecca Knox accompanied her husband to the West, and performed in a most admirable manner, with courage and fidelity, the duties of a pioneer wife and mother, assisting her husband in the building up of the homestead and rearing her children to worthy and useful lives. She was kind and affectionate in her family, hospitable and benevolent with her neighbors, and greatly beloved by all who know her. In religious affairs, she was inclined to the doctrines of the Methodist Church. The parental household included six sons and three daughters – all of whom are living, with the exception of the eldest son, who died in Milledgeville, about 1846. He for many years followed milling at Milledgeville, in Carroll County, this State.

The mother of our subject was the second wife of John Knox, who, by his first marriage to Miss Barbara Greenawaldt, had become the father of three children – two sons and one daughter. Of these only one is now living – William Knox, a farmer of Guthrie County, Iowa. George W. was the third child and second son of the second marriage of his father, and was born in Grayson County, Ky., Feb. 6, 1818. He was quite young when his parents removed to Butler County, that State, and only a lad of seven years when they came to Illinois. He was a youth of sixteen years when they took up their residence in this county. Here he completed his education and attained his majority. He was married in what is now Milledgeville (which town he originally platted), to Miss Mary J. Palmer, Dec. 23, 1851.

Mrs. Mary J. Knox was born in Coneaut, Ohio, Sept. 6, 1834, and is the daughter of Dr. William K. and Anna (Barnum) Palmer, who were natives of Vermont, and came of excellent New England ancestry. After their marriage the parents of Mrs. Knox lived for a time in the Dominion of Canada, whence, later, they removed first to Vermont, and then to Ohio (in 1833), settling in Ashtabula County, the latter State, during its pioneer days. They came to Illinois probably about 1835, settling in Aurora, Kane County, and there Dr. Palmer engaged in the study of medicine. He was of the allopathic school; but the last fifteen years of his life he practiced homeopathy. In 1848 he settled in Milledgeville, where he established a paying practice, but, unfortunately, met his death during a storm, while caring for a patient in a mill at that place. The mill was partially destroyed by a wind storm, and Dr. Palmer was buried in the ruins, although his body was rescued in time to prevent it being burned in the conflagration which followed. This melancholy event occurred Feb. 13, 1872, when he was about sixty-nine years of age, having been born in 1803.

The father of Mrs. Knox, in religious matters, was a firm believer in the doctrines of the Methodist Church. Politically, he was a Republican, and, socially, a member of the Masonic fraternity. He was a man who kept himself thoroughly posted upon events of general interest all over the world, and took pride in his profession, aiming to excel. The wife and mother passed away prior to the decease of the husband, dying at her home in Milledgeville, Oct. 13, 1862. She was also a native of Franklin County, Vt., and was born in 1805. In religion, she sympathized with her husband. They were the parents of six children – four sons and two daughters.

Mrs. Knox is a very intelligent and well-educated lady, having completed her studies in the schools of Aurora. Of her union with our subject there have been born three sons. The eldest, Walter R., operates the farm of his father, in Elkhorn Grove Township, which comprises 200 acres of improved land. He married Miss Bird Hicks, of Wysox Township; Harry C. is cashier of Shumway’s Bank, in Milledgeville; he was educated at Fulton, and is a promising young man; George W., Jr., is a mechanic in the finishing-shops at Pullman, Ill.

Mr. Knox, politically, is a sound Republican, together with his sons. He has held the various local offices, been Associate Justice, and Township Supervisor – the latter for two terms. He officiated as Justice of the Peace for a period of twenty-six years. He has thus made a good record, and it will not be surprising to learn that he is a man whose opinions are generally respected in this vicinity

Transcribed & Contributed by Carol Parrish from Portraits and Biographical 1889 Pg 880

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