Sepia Saturday #349: Uncle Billy – William M. Knox

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These two little Scottie dogs, wearing festive gold bows, are peering up at a sign which is pointing the way to Merry Christmas. In fact, “All signs point to a Merry Christmas” if the one-sided card is to be believed. Aunt Belle sent this card to Mercedes Strait and it’s one found in her Shirley Temple Scrapbook. Aunt Belle has also written on the back “Sorry you people didn’t get out this fall – hope you can before long. We want you [to] see Dotty Lee – she’s a p….” Not sure what Dotty Lee is but my best guess is a “pip.”

Given that Scottish terriers were one of the most popular pets in the 1930s (Monopoly token anyone?), they feature very prominently in the Christmas cards that Aunt Sadie received.

sepia-349005sepia-349006Snuggled up next to the fireside, these two Scottie dogs are enjoying some relaxation. This card came to Aunt Sadie from someone named Joan who spells Sadie’s given name as Meresida.

sepia-349003sepia-349004And one more Scottie dog related to Christmas before I start this post about Uncle Billy. This card came from Aunt Sadie’s great-grandfather, John Adam Karthaeuser, and was sent in 1937. The saying inside read, “I’ll bite if there’s a better wish than the same old Merry Christmas.”

Belle S. Hunt, Sadie’s great Aunt, was married to William Knox. This post is about him.

William M. Knox was born 1867 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to parents William Knox and Mary Lewis.[1]

William might have been born in Pennsylvania but the family moved to New Jersey shortly after his birth. Three-year-old William is found in the 1870 census living with his parents William M. (43) and Mary L. (43) in Stillwater, Sussex County, New Jersey.[2]

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1870 Census

In this census, William’s siblings were Isabella (13) at home, Jennie N. (12) at school, Charles S. (9) at school, and Rose A. (8) at school. William was listed as being at home. William’s father had $800 in real estate and $300 in personal property. Everyone was listed as being born in New Jersey.

Twelve-year-old William is found in the 1880 census living with his parents William M. (51) and Mary L. (51) in Hampton, Sussex County, New Jersey in dwelling #25 of enumeration district 179.[3] William’s father was working as a carpenter and his mother was keeping house. His father’s parents are listed as being born in Scotland. Everyone else (parents and children) in the household were listed as being born in New Jersey.

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1880 Census

William’s siblings were listed as Jennie (22) working as a dressmaker, Charles (19) working as a farm laborer, and younger siblings Rose Ann (17) and John (7) both listed as having no occupation. The sister from the earlier census, Isabella, was not listed with the family.

When William was 25, he was married to Miss Belle Hunt on 24 September 1892 by the Reverend Frank Hunsinger in Belle’s parents’ home.[4]

Thirty-two-year-old William is next found in the 1900 living with wife Della (30) in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey.[5] They were enumerated by Fred L. Foster on 21 June 1900 and were living with their six-year old son Julius. This particular census lists the person’s birth month and year. William’s was listed as July 1867, Belle’s as August 1869 and son Julius’ as November 1893. This census does have William listed as being born in Pennsylvania. Likewise, Julius was listed as having a father born in Pennsylvania.

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1900 Census

The Knox couple had been married for seven years and Belle said (assuming she’s the informant) that she had one living child** for the one child she has had. William’s occupation was listed as a shoemaker and he had not been out of work during the year while Belle was keeping house. Julius was attending school. The family owns their home but it did have a mortgage on it.

** It should be noted here that everyone on the Strait side of the family has told me that Julius was an adopted child.

In 1910, William M. Jr (42) was listed in the census living with wife Bella (40) in Newton, New Jersey.[6] Son Julius (16) was still living with them. Additionally, William’s father William M. Sr. (81) had been widowed and was now living at 44 Pine Street with them. William Jr. was listed as being born in Pennsylvania but William Sr.’s parents are now listed as being born in New Jersey where they had been listed as being from Scotland in the 1880 census.

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1910 census

William Jr. was still working as a shoemaker at the shoe factory and Belle was keeping house. Neither William Sr. nor Julius was listed with an occupation. The family owned the house they were living in but it was mortgaged.

William’s father had most likely died between 1910 and the 1920 census; after all, he was 81 in 1910! William M. (52) and Bella (50) were living in Newton, New Jersey, on 14 January 1920.[7] Their son Julius (26) was still living with them but now they had a new daughter-in-law named Marion (22).

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1920

William was working as a laster, someone who fastens the upper part of a shoe to the inner sole, in the shoe factory. Julius was working as a teller at the bank. Both were working for wages. The family was still living at 44 Pine Street and they owned the house that was mortgaged for $7 per month. Think about that for a minute. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

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Knox family headstone

William and Belle lost their son Julius in 1920. He was buried in Newton Cemetery and they erected a beautiful light grey gravestone on the family plot for him and placed a footstone with his initials on it. The writing on the headstone is hard to make out but it does say, “Julius C. Knox 1893-1920.”

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Julius’ footstone

In 1930, William (62) and Belle (60) had taken in Belle’s younger sister, Audrey Strait (42) who was my great-grandmother, as she had been recently widowed. Audrey’s two sons, William (19) and Carl (16), were also in the household. 44 Pine Street was (and still is) a big, 2-story Victorian home near the corner of Pine Street and Sussex Avenue. The house was owned by William and was valued at $2,000. Again, think about that for a minute… The family owned a radio.

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1930 census

William listed that he was married when he was 25 and Belle was 23. The interesting thing that I found in this census is that William was now unemployed but Belle was working as a practical nurse in a private household.

The last census currently available to search for William and Belle is the 1940 census. It’s often called a double census because it asks questions relating to where the people were in 1935. This particular family didn’t move around much. William (72) and Bella (70) were living at 44 Pine Street.[8] Audrey’s son, William was living next door to them at 46 Pine Street.

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1940 census

Belle was the informant for this census as indicated by the little circled x next to her name. Bella’s sister, Audrey R. Strait (52) was still living with them and paying rent. Joining the household were three children designated as “state child”: Harry (11), Margaret (9) and Andrew (8) Burtt. William was listed as a laborer for the road contracting industry. No one else in the household was listed as having an occupation.

This census also asked about education levels. William, Belle and Audrey had all completed the 8th grade. Harry was in 4th grade, Margaret in 3rd grade and little Andrew was in 1st grade.

William and Belle celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on 24 September 1942. They were featured in an article in the Newark Evening News.

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The full article reads:

“Married 50 Years Today – Special to the Newark News. – NEWTON – Mr. and Mrs. William Knox of 44 Pine street are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary today. They were married at the home of Mrs. Knox’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Hunt of Lafayette by Rev. Frank Hunsinger. Mrs. Knox was Miss Bella Hunt.  They have lived at Newton since their marriage and in the house where they now reside for 46 years. Knox was born in Scranton, Pa., the son of William Knox and Mary Lewis Knox.  Mrs. Knox was born in Newton. He is 76 and she is 74. Both enjoy good health and take an active interest in present day affairs. They have no children. Knox was employed by the H. W. Merriam Shoe Co. 46 years, retiring when the company moved to Baltimore several years ago. Tonight the couple will have a party of relatives and friends at their home in honor of the anniversary.”

I find it a little sad that they chose not to mention Julius as their son in this announcement.

William was affectionately called Uncle Billy by those in the Strait family. The picture below is of Belle’s nephew (Audrey’s son) William and her husband Bill Knox.

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William Strait with William Knox

My father (Audrey’s grandson and Belle’s grand nephew) remembers that Uncle Billy built a chicken coup in the backyard and would spend time with them.

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Uncle Billy with his chickens

William Knox passed away in 1951 and was buried in the Newton Cemetery. He has a beautiful grey footstone to mark the place.

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The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.
Theme taken from Sepia Saturday photo (originally #298, 26 Sept 2015): Scotty dogs

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[1] “Married 50 Years Today,” anniversary, Newark Evening News, 24 September 1942. Also, Newton Cemetery (19 Lawnwood Ave, Newton, New Jersey), William M. Knox marker; photograph taken by Jodi Lynn Strait, 19 May 2008.
[2] 1870 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Sitllwater, p. 9 (penned), dwelling 71, family 74, Wm M. Knox; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 November 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 889.
[3] 1880 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Hampton Township, ED 179, p. 3 (penned), dwelling 25, family 25, William M. Knox; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 November 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 798.
[4] “Married 50 Years Today,” anniversary, Newark Evening News, 24 September 1942.
[5] 1900 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Newton, ED 172, p. 24A (penned), dwelling 511, family 562, William M. Knox; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 September 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 995.
[6] 1910 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Newton, ED 179, p. 9B (penned), dwelling 184, family 202, William M. Knox; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 November 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 909.
[7] 1920 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Newton, ED 138, p.11B (penned), dwelling 273, family 285, William M. Knox; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 September 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1068.
[8] 1940 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Newton, ED 19-23, page 263 (stamped), sheet 14A, family 292, William Knox household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 September 2016); citing NARA microfilm publicationT627, roll 2384.

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