was born at Carlisle, in the north of England, August 2, 1832. His parents, Thomas and Sarah (Iveison) Knowles, emigrated to America with their family in 1841. They remained at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they landed, until 1842, when they removed to Salem, Henry County, Iowa. His father dying when he was quite young, he was obliged to assist his widowed mother in maintaining her family, and consequently he received only a limited education. Thinking that he could earn more money by coming to California, and be better enabled to assist his mother, he, in the spring of 1852, made arrangements to accompany a neighbor by the name of Henry Brown, for whom he was to drive an ox team across the plains, thereby paying the expense of the trip. They arrived in August at a place between Sacramento and Stockton, where they camped. After working for Mr. Brown several weeks, putting up hay, and receiving no pay, as he supposed he would, he, nearly destitute of clothing and without a cent of money, started for Sacramento, where he accidentally met an old friend and school-mate, Jackson Ong, by whose assistance he obtained board and lodging until he found employment at chopping wood by the cord on the banks of the Sacramento River a few miles from the city.
Being eager to earn money so as to go to the gold diggings, he over-did and was laid up some two or three weeks by sickness, and only a part of his hard earnings were ever received; so, after recovering, he was again penniless; but, fortunately meeting with Enos Mendenhall, a friend from the East, he was employed to drive a freight team, by which, within a month, he procured money enough to carry out his purpose of going to the gold diggings. He went to Doty’s Flat, in Calaveras County, where he was employed at $4.00 per day, and during the following winter he sent his mother $250. In the spring of 1853 he went to Sierra County, where he successfully mined on a large scale for nearly sixteen years, up to 1868, at the diggings of Pine Grove and Howland Flat. In 1860 he made a visit East, and returning he brought his mother and family with him. In 1879 he engaged in the grocery business at Santa Clara, and still carries on a successful business in that place. He is an Odd Fellow, being a member of True Fellowship Lodge, No. 238, I. O. O. F., of Santa Clara.
January 22, 1863, when on a second visit East, he was married, at Mount Pleasant, Iowa, to Amanda Pepper, a daughter of John Pepper, of that place. Before going for his bride, he had provided a well-furnished home and a ranch near Santa Clara, which he still owns. They have three children: Oliver J., a farmer in San Luis Obispo County; Fannie S., and Nettie, still with them; the former daughter is a graduate of the High School of Santa Clara, with the class of 1885.
Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy
SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight