Dr. Reuben Huntley Knox, Sr. was born 1801 in Blandford, Hampden County, MA, one of 8 known surviving children (3 boys/5 girls) born to Revolutionary War Capt. Elijah V. Knox (1761-1833) and his wife, Ruth Huntley (1763-1847). He was the paternal grandson of John Knox & Rachel Freedland of Hampden County, MA.
Reuben was educated in Massachusetts and, for reasons unknown, removed to Kinston, NC by 1821 where he began the practice of medicine. In 1829, the 28-year old physician married 20-year old Olivia Kilpatrick, daughter of Alexander J. Kilpatrick and Susannah Cobb (aunt of his future wife, Eliza Heritage Cobb Grist).
Reuben and Olivia would become parents to 5 known children (all sons):
* Joseph A. Knox (1830 - aft 1900)
* Dr. William A. Knox (1832 - aft 1900)
* Henry Elijah Knox, Esq. (1835 - aft 1900)
* Alexander Knox (1837-1841)
* Reuben Huntley Knox, Jr. (1834-1836).
Olivia Kilpatrick Knox died in 1839 at the young age of 30. The 38-year old widower was left alone to raise 3 surviving sons under the age of 10.
On July 21, 1840, Dr. Knox of Kinston, married (2nd) to Eliza Heritage Washington, the 39-year old widow of Richard Grist. Eliza came to the marriage with her only surviving child, Franklin R. Grist; and she became stepmother to Dr. Knox's children. The couple would start a family of their own, with their first child born in Kinston; but they soon removed to St. Louis, MO where 3 more children were born. Sons, John and Reuben Knox would die in St. Louis.
* John Washington Knox (1842-1842)
* Reuben Knox, Jr. (1844-1845)
* Eliza "Betty" Washington Knox (1846-1900)
* Augustus Washington Knox (1849-1936)
In St. Louis, Dr. Reuben Knox practiced medicine and conducted various business affairs. He was often not paid for his services, and the cholera epidemic of 1849 increased his patient load beyond what he felt he could handle. To better conditions for himself and his family, and perhaps motivated by the "gold fever" from the Gold Rush of 1849, Dr. Knox decided to move to California.
In May 1850, he began his journey accompanied by his sons Joseph and Henry, his nephew Reuben Knox, and a few slaves. Wife, Elizabeth, with the couple's two youngest children, went to visit friends and relatives in Massachusetts and North Carolina. She and the children were to join Knox and the older sons in California once a home and business had been established.
Knox and his party arrived in Sacramento on September 14, 1850 and he established a mercantile business and began plans for a store in San Francisco. He later purchased large Spanish land grant ranch in Marin County near what is now Novato, California. Here, he and his eldest son Joseph Knox, farmed and raised livestock.
On May 28, 1851, Dr. Knox drowned in a sailboat accident in San Francisco Bay. (Another source stated it was San Pablo Bay.) Several sources report that Dr. Knox's sons also died in this boating accident, but that is not true; However, it may have been a nephew that perished with him.
Dr. Knox wrote many letters from California to his family back East that relate to personal and business affairs, which included ranching, merchandising, and mining. His letter of 14 October 1850 mentions a "submarine armor," apparently worn to dive in search of metal in deep rivers or old mines filled with water. In his letter of 1 May 1851, Knox mentioned a fire in San Francisco that destroyed many businesses and in which he himself suffered some financial losses. His last letter, begun on 18 May 1851, was completed on 27 May 1851, the day before he died.
Son, Joseph would remain in California until his death; but his son Henry and stepson Franklin Grist would return back East. His wife, Eliza, never saw California and newver remarried. She died in Raleigh in 1890 at age 82.
It is doubtful Dr. Knox is buried here in Oakwood, as he died in California; however there is a gravestone memorializing him, which was probably erected by his widow and children.
As for his surviving children:
JOSEPH A. KNOX - Joseph remained in California after his father's death. In about 1858, he married Maria Antionio "Mary" Ynitia, daughter of Native American chief Camillo Ynitia, the Last Headman of the Olompalis Tribe. They would later purchase/inherit her father's land in Sanel, Mendocino County, CA where they raised two daughters -- Louisa Teresa Knox (Mrs. William Young) and Mary A. Knox (Mrs. William Smith, Sr.). Joseph died sometime after 1900. He and his entire family are buried in the Old Hopland Cemetery in Mendocino Co.
DR. WILLIAM A. KNOX - married Georgianna "Unknown" and was father of 5 known children who all died young. He was last known to be practicing medicine in Chicago in 1900.
HENRY ELIJAH KNOX - Traveled with is father to California but returned East where he studied law at the Albany Law School with the Hon. Charles O'Conor. He married Onie A. Bardell of New Hampshire and resided in New York City where he practiced law and was father to 6 known children. He was last known to be living in NYC in 1900.
From his 2nd marriage:
ELIZA "BETTY" WASHINGTON KNOX - became the 2nd wife of Dr. James Bettnor Hughes of New Bern where she became mother to 7 known children. She was widowed in 1890 and died in New Bern in 1900.
DR. (JAMES) AUGUSTUS W. KNOX - studied medicine and was a noted physician in Raleigh. He married Eliza Hardesty Smedes in 1886 and was father to 6 known children before his death in 1936.