The Story of Antoinette Knowles

If you believe “there are no coincidences,” then here is a tale for you. 

A couple of months ago Mattie Ali, the Chair of the DRHS’ Costume Committee, asked me to find out anything I could about a 19th century girl who possibly lived in town.  Mattie had a dress in the Costume Collection that had a curious tag sewn inside.  Although the dress had been owned by Margie Sampson, the tag indicated that it had once been worn by “Antoinette Knowles.” 

After reviewing the Census Records, Vital Statistics and other genealogical material, I found that Antoinette Knowles was indeed a native of Duxbury.  She was born Jan. 18, 1837 to Samuel Knowles and Lucia Ann Sampson (this connection made her Margie Sampson’s cousin).  In 1862 she married George Frederick Tileston of Boston.  Shortly after their marriage, George was killed in the 2nd Battle of Bull Run on Aug. 29, 1862.  Two months later the couples’ only child, also named George, was born.  

The widowed Antoinette lived with her parents in South Duxbury and can be found with her son in the 1870 and 1880 US Census Records.  She died on Feb. 11, 1899 and is buried in the Mayflower Cemetery. 

I sent Mattie this information and closed the book on Antoinette Knowles…until just the other day.  As I was preparing material to show the local Brownie and Girl Scout troops I began looking through our identified cased photograph collection.  The collection is currently uncataloged so there is no easy way to search it – the process involves delicately opening each case to see who is inside.

Antionette Knowles, c. 1845
Antoinette Knowles, c. 1847

I was specifically searching for daguerrotypes of young girls.  Almost immediately I came across one – a young girl sitting, holding what appears to be a fan.  Based on the simple design of the gold frame I surmised that the photograph was a particularily old example.  As I read the tiny, folded piece of paper identifying the subject of the image I almost fell over.  It was “Antoinette Knowles, born Jan. 1837.”

 There are no coincidences.

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3 thoughts on “The Story of Antoinette Knowles

  1. This is a wonderful story and I am enjoying the “catablog’. Maybe it could be a monthly or quarterly feature? I have indicated to the DRHS Survey that I want to organize and start a Genealogy Library connected with DRHS. We might be able to find more interesting material together.

    an especially current thought would be to reconstruct a similar story regarding a Duxbury World War 1 veteran: Patrick and I are members of the town WWI Memorial Committee and our mission will be complete Memorial Day. We located the pieces of a dismantled monument that listed 83 Duxbury citizens names who participated in WWI. I have the list, and you may have one the person clothing in your archive? Wouldn’t this be fun to discover and develop for our monuments re-dedication?
    Let me know if this is of interest?
    Pam Smith

    • Pam,
      I would love to work on the WWI project. I am already planning a WWI themed Letter Reading at the Archives in May. Also, please stop by the Archives anytime and you can take a look at what genealogical material we have. Most of my reference questions at this point come from genealogical inquiries.

  2. This packrat has learned that what the next generation will value most is not what we owned, but the evidence of who we were and the tales of how we loved. In the end, it’s the family stories that are worth the storage.

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