Mary Escott McConnell Knowlton


Mary Escott McConnell Knowlton was born November 12, 1854 in Michigan.  She is the daughter of John and Mary Escott McConnell, both are from England.

In 1860, five year old Mary is living with her family in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Her father, John is a hardware dealer.  Her siblings are eleven year old Joseph and eight year old Henry.  Living with the household is also a domestic servant, Joanna O’Brien.

In 1870, Mary is 15 and attending school.  She is also living with her family in Grand Rapids, Michighan.  Her father is a merchant and her mother is keeping house.  Joseph is not living with the family.  John Henry is eighteen and working as a clerk in a store, most likely working with his father.  There is also a domestic servant, Elizabeth Skelley from Ireland living with the family.

Marriage to William Henry Knowlton

On September 24, 1878, Mary Escott McConnell Knowlton  married Reverend William Henry Knowlton.  An exact location isn’t found, but most likely the marriage took place in Grand Rapids.  William was born in Dansville, New York on April 22, 1848.

To this union, four children were born: Louise Dean Knowlton on June 25, 1879 in Illinois, Anna Isabel Knowlton on April 13, 1883 in Illinois, Rhoda McConnell Knowlton on March 8, 1889 in Minnesota and then Gilbert Addison Knowlton on June 15, 1898 in Minnesota.

In 1880, Mary is living with her husband in Chicago, Illinois.  William is working as a Clergyman and Mary is keeping house.  They have their first daughter, Louise, William’s seventy-two year old mother Rhoda, and Adeline Meyer their domestic servant living with them.

The family then moved to San Mateo, California in October 1891.  In the Star Tribune found printed on October 15, 1891 is an article that reads: Rev. W. H. Knowlton, for many years pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Winona, departed today with his family for San Mateo, Cal, where he has accepted an Episcopal charge.

The family is living in Estherville, Iowa in 1900, while renting a house on south 9th street.  William is working as a Clergyman.  Mary is listed as having four children and all four are living.

By 1910, the family have moved to St. James, Minnesota where William is working as a Clergyman for the Episcopal Church.  All of Mary’s adult daughters are also living at home.  However, only Anna is listed as working as a teacher in the public school.

Death of William in 1914

William died on August 24, 1914 in St. James, Minnesota.

An obituary was found for him that reads: “Death of Rev. W. H. Knowlton.  William H. Knowlton, an old Dansville boy, died August 24th at St. James, Minn., where he was pastor of Calvary Episcopal church.  He left a wife and four children; who, happily, were all with him at the end.  The children are Mrs. L. E. Austin of Beach, N. D., Misses Louise and Rhoda and Master Glibert Knowlton.

W. H. Knowlton was born here in Danville April 27th, 1848, and his youth was passed here.  All the upper Main street boys will remember him most pleasantly and kindly.  From here he went to Faribault, Minn., to a Divinity school, graduating in 1873.  He filled parishes at Grand Rapids, Mich., Chicago, Galena, Ill., and Winona.  From thence he went to California to Paso Robles and San Mateo, and in 1892 returned to St. James, Minn., where he has since lived.  For ten years he was dean of the Mankato Deanery.

The funeral was conducted by Bishops Edsall of Minneopolis and McElwain of Faribault, while an immense attendance taxed the capacity of the church and visibly testified to the deep affection and esteem chereished for Mr. Knowlton by his fellow townsmen.”

Another newspaper article found

The Winona Daily News on August 25, 1914 reads: “According to a telegram received in Winona this morning by A. B. Youmans from Miss Louise Knowlton at St. James, Minn. the Rev. W. H. Knowlton had been ill for some little time.

Mr. Knowlton was well known in Winona, where for the five years following August, 1885, he was rector of St. Paul’s church.  Since that he has served other churches in Minnesota, and for some years past had been stationed at St. James.

Mr. Knowlton has one of the former rectors who came here to  help St. Paul’s church celebrate its semi-centennialnn a few years ago, and he took an active part in these proceedings and furnished some lively reminiscence of the days when he was rector.

Four Children Survive.  There are four children surviving, Louise, Anna who is married, Rhoda, who graduated from the Normal school here a year ago, and Glibert, a son, who was named after the late Bishop Gilbert, who was a very close friend of Mr. Knowlton.

A more extended notice and appreciation of Mr. Knowlton will appear in these columns later from the pen of William J. Whipple, the historian of St. Paul’s church.

Mary’s Later Years

After William’s death, Mary remains living in St. James until her death in 1930.  On the 1920 census, Mary is living with her daughter Louise.  They are renting a house on 6th street and neither one has an occupation.  The same is the case on the 1930 census.

Mary Escott McConnell Knowlton died on August 9, 1930 in St. James, Minnesota and is then buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.


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