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Hi, My name is Vickie and to tell you a little bit about myself, I was born and raised in Kentucky and the majority of my ancestors have been in Kentucky since the 1790’s. I have always loved history, a good mystery and puzzles and that is what Family History Research is all about. As a child we would take day trips on Saturdays and head down some dirt road looking for old cemeteries. A lot of the time we weren't looking for anyone in particular, we just like to read the epitaphs. We would have a picnic lunch packed and have lunch at whatever cemetery we were at. If the weather was bad my Dad and I would go to a court house and dig through old records in musty old basements looking for our ancestors. So as you can see I have had an interest in Family History for quite some time.View my complete profile

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Knowles Family


Delaware, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas & Texas

The first Knowles related to me that I had ever run across was my 5th great-grandmother, Abigail Knowles who married my 5th great-grandfather, John Crow, on March 10, 1827 in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.  For a long time, I did not know who Abigail’s parents were or who any of her siblings might have been.  It wasn’t until January of 2007, when I received an email from a lady who told me about Richard Knowles and Elizabeth Coombs, that I was finally able to put some of the pieces together for this family.  Since that time I have found quite a bit on the family and my DNA is matching up with other Knowles that came from this family as well.

From what I have been able to find so far, I believe Richard Knowles was the son of Zachariah Knowles and Anastasia Morris.   Some of the records I have been finding say they were from Sussex County, Delaware but I also find records that say they were in Virginia as well as South Carolina where in 1790 Anastasia was supposed to have died.  Zachariah supposedly did not die until about 1818 in Hancock County, Georgia.   Census records of Richard’s Knowles living children in 1880 state he was born in either Georgia, Maryland or Virginia, but Richard says in 1850 and 1860 that he was born in Virginia.   Also, there must have been some kind of eye problems in the family because in 1860, Richard is listed as blind and in 1880, his son Lemuel is listed as blind.

My ancestors, Abigail Knowles and John Crow, left Tuscaloosa County, Alabama sometime after their marriage in 1827 and were in Giles County, Tennessee on the 1830 census, then in Warren County, Tennessee by the 1840 census and by the 1850 census they were in Coffee County, Tennessee where John Crow died in 1855.  Sometime after John Crow’s death Abigail went with some of her daughters and their families to Texas living in Robertson County, Texas in 1860, but either during or shortly after the Civil War, Abigail and all of her family came back to Tennessee and settled back in Coffee County.  I know Abigail was still living in October of 1879 because the claim for her widow’s pension for John’s service during the War of 1812 was denied because no proof of his service could be found according to the pension board.  Abigail apparently died before the 1880 census was taken, as I have never found her with any of her children or by herself on that census.

The following are maps showing county outlines for the states of Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia with the counties circled in red where these families lived through the years.  For this story they, meaning Richard and Elizabeth, started off in Columbia County, Georgia where Richard Knowles and Elizabeth Coombs were married on November 26, 1794 and where the majority of their children were born, except for at least the last two.  They then left sometime around 1816 stopping off in Hancock County, Georgia where their son William Matthew Knowles was born in 1818 and by 1820 they had arrived in Alabama and the county of Tuscaloosa where their last son Richard J. Knowles was born in 1820.

I believe there may have been more children, but all of the children that I know of for Richard Knowles and Elizabeth Coombs were the following: Abigail Knowles, 1798-before 1880; Lemuel K. Knowles, 1800-1882; Martha Knowles, 1806-1865; Jonathan Knowles, 1810-after 1834; Matilda E. Knowles, 1812-1873; Patience Knowles, 1814-1896; Sarah Jane Knowles, 1816-after 1837; William Matthew Knowles, 1818-1898; and Richard J. Knowles, 1820-after 1860.

The majority of the family stayed in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama for quite a few years.   After Richard Knowles wife, Elizabeth, died in 1835, Richard continued to live in Tuscaloosa County, but by 1850 he had moved to Drew County, Arkansas with his two youngest sons, William and Richard and their families.  Richard lived there in Drew County until his death in 1866.  Elizabeth Coombs Knowles was buried in the Skelton Cemetery in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama and Richard Knowles was buried in the Sixteenth Section Cemetery in Drew County, Arkansas the following is a picture of his tombstone.  The tombstone says born in Ireland, but I don’t believe that was really true.  Richard said Virginia in 1850 and 1860 and his children said Georgia or Maryland in 1880.

However, Lemuel K. Knowles of whom I will be talking about the most, left Alabama sometime after he was taxed in 1837 in Tuscaloosa County and before the 1840 census was taken when he shows up in Winston County, Mississippi where he lives for the next 20 some odd years, before he moved next door to Neshoba County, Mississippi where he continued to live until his death in 1882.   The following are the tombstones for Lemuel, his last wife Dorothy and two of their children Abigail and Richard.  They are all buried at the Oak Grove Baptist Cemetery in Neshoba County, Mississippi.

The reason I am telling the Knowles story this year along with my slaves and indentured servant stories is because of DNA and family stories that have been passed down.   I have now been contacted by at least four different people, who all trace their lineage back to my Abigail’s brother, Lemuel K. Knowles.  Lemuel had at least three sons with at least one of his slaves, before he was ever married to the first of his two wives.  From what I have been told the descendants of Lemuel, through this slave or slaves, all knew that their ancestors had been fathered by a white man and they also knew his name and where he was from.   The name of the slave woman/mother which has been passed down is Callie Randall.   Primus Knowles descendants say that Callie Randall was his mother and for now we are assuming she was the mother of the other two boys as well.  Callie was born in about 1805 in South Carolina and was still living in 1870 in Chickasaw County, Mississippi at least according to the census records.

Lemuel K. Knowles was born September 2, 1800 in Columbia County, Georgia and by 1820 his family had left Georgia and moved to Tuscaloosa County, Alabama where Lemuel continued to live until at least 1837.  From 1820 until 1837 he had at least six children born to him there in Tuscaloosa County.  The first three children, Claiborne Knowles, 1820-1888, Primus Knowles, 1822-before June 1900, and Louis Knowles, 1824-after 1880, were born to him by a slave woman, possibly all three were children of Callie Randall.  Lemuel’s next three children were by his first wife a Miss. Gamble who he married in about 1825.  These three children by Miss. Gamble were: William R. Knowles, 1828-????, James Knowles, 1836-???? and Renilla Knowles, 1837-????.   By 1840 Lemuel had moved all of his family over to Winston County, Mississippi where he and Miss. Gamble had at least three more children, Melvina Knowles, 1840-????, Rebecca Knowles, 1842-????, and Louisa Knowles, 1846-????.  

On April 14, 1852 in Winston County, Mississippi Lemuel K. Knowles married Dorothy Ann Golden and they became the parents of at least four children, M. A. Knowles, 1856-????, Richard T. Knowles, 1859-1876, Sophronia Frances Knowles, 1862-????, and Abigail Dorothy Knowles, 1872-1903.  You will notice a lot of gaps between his children which makes me wonder if there weren’t some that died young, or maybe he was off somewhere, either way these are the ones I know about for now.

I haven’t found Lemuel on the 1850 slave schedules yet but I did find him on the 1860.  The 1860 slave schedules in Winston County, Mississippi shows Lemuel Knowls (surnamed spelled this way) with 16 slaves and 2 slave houses, all slaves are listed as black, none listed as mulatto.  There was 1 female age 40, 1 female age 26, 1 male age 33, 1 male age 34, 1 male age 20, 1 male age 17, 1 female age 16, 1 female age 14, 1 female age 10, 1 male age 8, 1 male age 6, 1 male age 4, 1 female age 2, 1 male age 1, 1 male age 3, 1 male age 2 (I listed these in the order they were given on the slave schedule, not sure if they are in family groups or not.)  The following is a picture of that slave schedule.

Lemuel’s father Richard Knowles was in Drew County, Arkansas in 1850 when I find him on the slave schedules with the following 10 slaves: 1 female age 60, 1 female age 26, 1 male age 25, 1 male age 22, 1 male age 20, 1 female age 17, 1 male age 13, 1 female age 10, 1 female age 2, 1 male age 8 months.  All the slaves are listed as black, except for the last two.  The following is a picture of that slave schedule.

The following three mulatto children were sons I believe of Lemuel Knowles. They could even possibly have been fathered by Lemuel’s father, Richard Knowles, as well.   The rest of Richard’s sons that I am aware of would have really been too young to have fathered these three boys.

1- Claiborne Knowles who was born in about 1820 in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.   He died about 1888 in Attala County, Mississippi and I have found him listed as the father of at least three known children, Jack, Silas and Mary.  On Jack’s death certificate it states his mother’s name was Sallie Palmer.

2- Primus Knowles was born in about 1822 in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.  He died before June of 1900 in Winston County, Mississippi.  Primus had at least 15 children with Betty Shields and one child with Peggy Humphries.  It is descendants of Primus Knowles that I have been in contact with about the Knowles family.

3- Lewis Knowles was born in about 1824 in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.  He died after July 1880, but before 1900 probably in Clay County, Mississippi where he was last found.  I have found at least two daughters for Lewis, Mary and Ella and a grandson named Lewis T. Naugle, but not who his mother was, which would be another daughter to Lewis.  Lewis Knowles was on the same census page as Callie Randall in 1870, which makes me believe that she was his mother too.

I could probably go on for a few more pages, but I will stop for now until I can find more information about the ones I have written about so far.  If you are a descendant of one of these three men, I would love to hear from you and if you have had your DNA done, that would even be better.

To see all I have on the Knowles family along with all of my notes just go to my online tree at this link: The Ancestors of Vickie Beard Thompson & those others related by marriage!!!


  1. I love all this history. D N A. I think is great. Love old history.

  2. Good job Vickie, I am from Primus Knowles tree line. Penny26s@aol.com

    1. Thanks so much for making contact I always love to hear from new cousins.

  3. Good job Vickie, I am from Primus Knowles tree line. Penny26s@aol.com

    1. Thanks and thanks so much for making contact.

    2. My great grandfather is from Natchez,Ms.his name was Limbert Knowles and his wife name was Priscilla Knowles

    3. I don't have those names in my file Darell, but if you send me what you know about them I can look and see if they might tie into my line of Knowles.

  4. Hi Vickie, what DNA company (or companies) have you tested with? I have tested with Ancestry, 23AndMe and FTDNA. Will go search those now and see if I see you as a match anywhere.

    Am fascinated with the DNA research and would love to try to do some chromosome mapping if at all possible.

    1. I have used Ancestry and FTDNA, nice to meet you.