Biography of Edwin B. Knox

One of the earliest born residents of Rock Island County is Edwin B. Knox, of Moline. Since October 15, 1842, when he first saw the light of day at Rock Island, Mr. Knox has continuously made his home in one of these two cities or their immediate vicinity. At the time of his birth, Rock Island, then known as Stephenson, was but a fair sized village and Moline but a settlement. His parents, Charles B. and Mary (Gorham) Knox, then lived in the middle of the present block east of Twentieth street, opposite Spencer Square, and the son first attended school in a small brick school house in the middle of Spencer Square. Later he pursued his studies in the basement of the old Methodist Church, located in the early fifties in the northwest corner of the same square. He finished the common branches at what was the first high school erected in the city  at Seventh Avenue and Twenty-first Street.

The parents of our subject came to Stephenson in the Spring of 1842, their financial resources consisting at the time they landed from the steamboat that had brought them from St. Louis, of a single shilling. The father, though a cabinet maker of ability, sought work at anything that offered, putting much of the time for the first two or three seasons digging wells for the new settlers, and. making furniture at odd moments, till he secured a start.

Charles B. Knox was born at Blandford, Massachusetts, June 27 1818, and died May 28, 1890. He was a grandson of four brothers who came to America from Scotland soon after the Revolutionary war and settled in the Bay State. Mary Gorham was born at Holyoke, Massachusetts September 14, 1819, and died April 20, 1893, at Rock Island. Her marriage to Mr. Knox took place at Blandford, Massachusetts, April 9, 1839. Six children were born to the couple : Edwin B., John Milton, Theodore, Curtis B., Samuel P., and B. Frank Knox. John Milton and Theodore died in infancy and the others are still living.

As before stated, Edwin B. Knox secured an education in the ordinary branches in the public schools of Rock Island. The Summer he was twelve years of age he set out as a bread winner, working at a brick yard con-ducted by John Atkinson south of town. The following Summer he found employment under John P. Wharton, editor of the Rock Island Advertiser. In the Summer of 1857 Mr. Knox and Thomas Pilgrim farmed the Brashar place on the Milan road in South Rock Island. In 1858 and 1859 Mr. Knox worked the Erskine Wilson farm just east of Coaltown. Two following years were spent tilling the soil in what was then the Glen settlement and then our subject returned to Rock Island and began the manufacture of brooms. This he continued till the spring of 1864, when he enlisted, May 3, in Company G, One Hundred and Fortieth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, serving as First Sergeant. On completing his term he again entered the Army with Company G, Forty-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, being Orderly Sergeant. His last term of enlistment began February 27, 1865, and he was mustered out at Selma, Alabama, January 21, 1866.

After the close of the war Mr. Knox took up house painting, first with George Alters and later with Henry Boggess as partners. In 1870 he purchased and occupied a fruit farm of thirty acres northeast of Black Hawk’s Watch Tower. Four years later he disposed of his land and took up his residence in Moline, where he established the under-taking business which he has conducted with great success ever since. For thirty-three years he occupied the building at 413 Fifteenth Street, having also a picture framing and art novelty establishment. In 1896 he sold the Fifteenth Street property and built a new store and residence at the corner of Eighteenth Street and Fifth Avenue.

Mr. Knox has been many times honored with election to public office. When he had been a resident of Moline for but four years he was, in 1878, chosen to represent the Third Ward in the City Council. He served again in the same capacity in 1881 and 1882, and in the Spring of 1883 was elected Mayor, succeeding S. W. Wheelock, and served one term. Later he was chosen member of the board of supervisors of Rock Island County. He also filled the office of president of the board of education of Moline for a term. Mr. Knox is a Republican, and a man of influence in the party. He is a member of the Methodist Church. He is a past noble grand in Lodge No. 133, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and a member of R. H. Graham Post, No. 312, Grand Army of the Republic, in which he has served two terms as post commander.

Mr. Knox was united in marriage September 15, 1868, with Miss Lizzie Verharen, youngest daughter of Anton and Mary (Lindsey) Verharen. The parents came to America from Germany, their native country, and located at East St. Louis, where the father died many years ago. The couple were the parents of six children: Henry, Frank and William Verharen, Amelia, wife of Peter Schwin; Gertrude, wife of David Thompson, of Rock Island; and Mrs. Knox. All save the last named were born in Germany, Mrs. Knox’s native city being Alton, Illinois. Of the family, Amelia, Frank and Henry have passed away. The mother died October 17, 1869, at Rock Island. Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Knox: Amy, wife of Robert Bennett, Jr., of Rock Island, and Luther C.. Knox, of Moline.



Biographical Publishing Company. Portrait and Biographical Album of Rock Island County. Illinois; Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co.

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