Virgil Nelson Knowles

Our Iowa roots ancestry began with him

In researching the Knowles ancestors, it appears some are more difficult to trace than others. What I know from researching Virgil is through an obituary. The obituary dated August 1st 1901 from the Keosauqua Republican.

He was born May 23rd 1837 in Knox County, Ohio to David Knowles and Mary  (Stultz) Knowles. The obituary goes on saying that when he was about 23, he and his mother moved to Illinois for two years before moving to Henry County, Iowa. He was employed by the Pinkerton Grist Mill. Later on, after he moved to Van Buren County, Iowa, he worked for the Coltrane Grist Mill ( previously Siglers). He married Martha Jane Coletrane on February 2nd 1865. Virgil and Martha had eight children, four boys and four girls. Virgil died on July 23rd 1901 at his home. The obituary said that when Virgil was younger, he was kicked in the head by a horse, and must have suffered from the injury most of his life.

In 1860, Virgil was listed living with his mother and sister, Ann in Cedar Township, Van Buren County, Iowa with the Post Office Winchester.

Mary, Virgil’s mother died on July 27th 1862. She is buried in the beautiful Spencer Cemetery located outside Stockport, Iowa.

By 1870, Virgil and wife Martha, are living in Cedar Township, Van Buren County, Iowa, with the Post Office listed as Hillsboro. Virgil and Martha have been married 5 years and have the following children listed: Harvey, Lafayette, and Laura.

In looking at the 1880 census, it appears as if Virgil and Martha are still living in Cedar Township, Van Buren County, Iowa. They add the last five children to their family, and they are: Ida Ann, Evalena, Jessie, John, and Elizabeth.  Martha is listed as having rheumatism.

Finally, while perusing the 1900 census, he is showed as the father-in-law under Silas Gregory, the husband of daughter Evalena. He is listed as being 63 years old. Silas’s family were heavily involved within the Friends Church. Additionally, daughter, Elizabeth’s obituary said she was a member of Hickory Grove Friends Church. While researching at the library in Keosauqua, microfilm references in several scrapbooks about the old hickory neighborhood.

Virgil’s wife Martha, died in 1881. Ida Ann, their daughter, or “Izzy” as she was called by close ones , died when she was 16 in 1886. They are also buried in Spencer Cemetery, Stockport, Iowa. There is a tall three-side faded headstone that can be viewed here: Virgil, Martha and Izzy’s headstone .



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