Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


James Knox[p. 387] is an esteemed and honored citizen of Ellwood City, Wayne township, Lawrence County, whose life story reads more like a romance than the prosaic sum of every-day existence. He has no record of his birth, but believes he was born in Allegheny shortly before the Mexican War. His parents were James and Lizzie (Matthews) Knox, and he was named for his father. James Knox, Sr., enlisted, when the Mexican War broke out, to serve under the glorious Stars and Stripes, the emblem of the United States, and became a member of Col. Black's famous regiment; while serving his country, he bravely met his death in the front ranks of the advance at the Battle of Stone Bridge. The mother also died during the war, leaving James W., Joseph, and a daughter. The children were separated, the little girl died in childhood, and James and Joseph did not meet for many years. James grew to manhood and knew nothing of his parentage until he ran across his father's brother, a hat manufacturer in Pittsburg, who gave him the family history as fully as he could.

When the home was broken up after his mother's death, James became an inmate of the Allegheny County Home, and there attracted the notice of John H. Wilson of Franklin township, Beaver Co., Pa., who owned a large farm of five hundred acres, and was one of the most well-to-do farmers in his county. Mr. Wilson was a generous, warm-hearted man, fond of children, and liked to have them about him. He had children of his own, but opened his heart and his home to the friendless little lad, and James Knox was as a son of the family for twenty-six years. Mr. Knox received from the hands of his benefactor and wife the nucleus of his property. They were good guardians and faithful friends, and their portraits hang on the wall of his home to-day among the most treasured objects of his care; but there is another more substantial proof of his gratitude in the persons of three sons and a daughter who were left orphans like himself, whom he has taken into his care and keeping, as none came to bless his home and bear his name. He has returned measure for measure, providing for each daily want, educating them, and providing them with a suitable start in life. Surely, he could find no more fitting way in which to express his appreciation of the kindness shown him when he was in need of it.

Mr. Knox's first employment after he left the farm of his foster-father to earn his own living, was to run an engine in Pierce's Mill on Pine Creek, Allegheny County. Then in 1862, responding to the call for more men at the front, he enlisted in Co. F, 140th Reg. Pa. Vol. Inf., and served through the two dreadful years that followed. His brother, Joseph, also served in the Union Army, and after his second enlistment received a wound, from which he never fully recovered, and which was the cause of his death in 1869. Our subject was wounded at the Battle of Spottsylvania, Court House, and bears the mark of battle on his person in the shape of a maimed hand. The father and two sons on the field for the honor of their country and the preservation of the National Union, what a noble record it is! The young men of the present day will not fall very far short of their duties as citizens, if they but emulate such worthy examples.

In 1875, Mr. Knox went on a prospecting tour through several of the Western States, stopping for a considerable period in Missouri and Washington Territory. His active mind caught at the chance of making money by dealing in hogs, and he added materially to his bank account by his gains in that line of business. In 1877, he bought fifty-five acres, then known as the Cunningham place, in Wayne township, this county, and in 1884 added to this tract twenty acres more, known as the McGregory place, showing sagacity in the investment, and becoming the owner of a snug property. Business men on the alert to establish a town saw a favorable location in Mr. Knox's farm, and, after conveying to him a due consideration, the land was surveyed and laid out in town lots, Tinplate, Franklin Forge and Ellwood City and the Glass Works then appearing for the first time on the map of Lawrence County. Mr. Knox became impressed with the wisdom of the corporation that was occupied in furthering the growth of Ellwood City, so as a speculation he bought quite a number of lots, which he still retains. In 1892, he built the fine residence on the corner of Ninth Street and Crescent Avenue, which affords him a home that is complete and finished in regard to all of its arrangements. Mr. Knox took an active interest in the growth of the fast-developing town, and supervised the grading of the streets, and also a considerable part of the work that was done to provide facilities for the draining-off and the disposal of the sewage. Mr. Knox controls important interests in the Gas Company. He is very popular among his townsmen, and has been honored by being elected school director.

Mary KnoxIn 1879 our subject was joined in the bonds of matrimony with Mary Catherine Rouser, daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Gillespie) Rouser. She was the youngest of her parents' five children: Minerva Jane, deceased; James Milton; Thomas Jefferson; Joseph Preston; and Mary Catherine. Mr. and Mrs. Knox are members of their chosen church home, the Presbyterian. Mr. Knox is a member of the Knights of Pythias, and also a member of Eden Park Lodge, No. 10, I. O. O. F.

As a man of unimpeached honor and good name, who has made his own way through life and attained success in his endeavors, Mr. Knox has made his name respected in his community. He is a man of sterling integrity and good principles, whose friendship is a precious boon, whether the recipients are young or old. It becomes our pleasant duty to round out this personal history and bring it to a satisfactory close by announcing that on a foregoing page appears an excellent likeness of Mr. Knox, as a gentleman who represents the class of men who have been exceedingly fortunate and successful in life. As a companion picture, we also publish the portrait of Mrs. Knox.

Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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Updated: 31 May 2001