|Birth: ||Feb. 1, 1737|
|Death: ||May 8, 1818|
Timothy Kneeland was a Revolutionary War Veteran and the third person to settle in what would become Gardner, MA.
Timothy Kneeland is known to have served in the Revolutionary War for over three years.
Timothy Kneeland came to what would become Gardner from Harvard in 1771 with his wife Maria and four children. Kneeland was a carpenter who proved to be very helpful to other settlers as they came to what would become Gardner.
Many of the Kneeland family's early experiences as settlers in Gardner were recorded and have become part of the folklore of Gardner, MA.
Timothy Kneeland died in 1818 at the age of 81 and was survived by his wife and ten children, six of whom were born in Gardner, the town he helped found.
Kneeland's tombstone reads:
May 8 1818 in
his 82 year
Timothy Kneeland is also noted as being the father of Abner Kneeland who wrote "The American Definition Spelling Book" and is credited as as Gardner's first author.
In addition Timothy Kneeland was the father of Miriam Kneeland and Sarah Kneeland Phinney known as the "Kneeland Maids". Tragically on Wednesday March 7th, 1855 the two aged sisters, Miriam Kneeland (85-born May 1st, 1769), a maiden woman, and her sister, Mrs. Sarah Phinney (75-born March 26th,1779), a widow, were found brutally murdered in the home that they shared. This home was the one that Timothy Kneeland made when the Kneeland family first settled Gardner.
Some unknown party (or parties) entered the home and murdered the two elderly women in their beds with a heavy chair post.
The Murder scene was not discovered until the afternoon of the next day when a neighbor saw cows belonging to the sisters wandering about uncared for. A window found broken was presumed to be the entry point for the intruder.
The news of the crime so shocked Gardner that a $500.00 reward (a small fortune in pre-Civil War New England) was offered for information leading to the conviction of the murderer(s). Legend has it that a Mrs. Shattuck went blind from excessive crying over the untimely passing of her two friends.
The town of Gardner held a collection to purchase a proper gravestone for the beloved sisters. Attendance for the church service for the Kneeland Maids was so great that alternate services at the town hall were held to accomidate the overflow of mourners.
While a man named George Stacey was arrest for the murder a Grand Jury acquitted him. However to this day some still believed him to be the culprit.
Mysteriously, the Kneeland Maid's home burned to the ground a month after the murder. Some whispered that the fire was arson perpetrated by the murderer to destroy evidence...but nothing was ever proven.
To this day the Kneeland Maids Murder remains a topic of debate and speculation. A morbid curiousity about this century and a half old murder still exists in Gardner much in the same manner that many unsolved crimes still fascinate many.
The Kneeland Maids murder has been the subject of multiple newspaper articles, is mentioned in several books on Gardners history and was the subject for historical fiction E-novel "Across Lots" by Carla J Charter.
Even today the Gardner Museum has a display regarding the Kneeland Maids consisting of a wanted poster with a $ 500 reward and a bedside table taken from the crime scene.
The Kneeland Maids grave (ironically) is less then 1/10 a mile from the Gardner Museum and still recieves an ocassional visitor. The Kneeland Maids were laid to rest next to there beloved father.
To this day the Kneeland family is very much a part of Gardner folklore and history.
Oliver Kneeland (1764 - 1832)*
Miriam Kneeland (1769 - 1855)*
Sarah Kneeland Phinney (1779 - 1855)*
Old Burying Ground
Created by: Kyle Brinkmann
Record added: Jun 06, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11098707