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.
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.