The Knox Family of Livermore, California

Thomas Elliott Knox, my wife Ellen’s great grandfather, was sufficiently prominent in early California to deserve a biographical section in “A History of The New California: Its Resources and History, Volume II,” edited by Leigh H. Irvine, published in 1905 by The Lewis Publishing Company. Thomas is seen on the right side in the above 1923 photo taken in Orillia, Ontario, Canada, along with his wife Amy Squires Knox (centre) and Edward Latimer (on the left) with their granddaughter, and Ellen’s mother, Olive Teresa Evelyn ‘Tess’ Latimer.

The information contained in these biographical sketches can not only confirm that which vital records provide but add ‘flesh to the bones’ in providing a wide variety and chronology of occupations and locations that otherwise would be difficult to attain. One interesting note, in the first paragraph, the author states that Thomas’ father died in 1873 – he actual year of death was 1875. When this book was published in 1905, Thomas’ mother was still living as stated but she died the following year.


Thomas Elliott Knox, mayor and postmaster of Livermore, was born
in Huron county, Canada, on the 13th of March, 1855, his parents being
Thomas and Catherine (Young) Knox, the former born in Buffalo, New
York, while the latter was a native of Canada. The father died in the year
1873, but the mother is still living and yet makes her home in her native

Thomas E. Knox pursued his education in the schools of Canada and
at the age of fifteen years he left home, going to Michigan, where he secured
employment in the lumber woods. After engaging in scaling timber two
years he made his way to Lake Superior, Michigan, where he worked for a
time at brick work and at plastering. The year 1875 witnessed his arrival
in California. He was then a young man of twenty years, and he made his
way from San Francisco to Santa Barbara and the following year came to
Oakland. Here he followed his trade for a time, and subsequently removed
to Berkeley, Alameda county, California, where he remained until 1878, and
during that period assisted in the organization of the town, which at that
time contained only about two hundred voters. This was during the period
of the Kearney excitement, and Mr. Knox organized what became known
as the Workingmen's party, and, although in no way connected with the
Kearney principles, placed a ticket in the field and was instrumental in elect-
ing the whole ticket. In 1879 he was elected town marshal and held that
position for two terms, being the second incumbent in the office in Berkeley.
In 1880 he purchased one hundred and fifty acres of land near Livermore
and established what is known as the Berkeley colony. He was here engaged
in the conduct of a vineyard for ten years, and when that decade had passed
he took up his abode in the town of Livermore and has since been very active
in its political circles. He first entered the assessor's office as an employe,
doing field work in the district known as Murray township. He was thus
employed for eight years, a part of the time being under Tom Molloy, the
first county assessor, and a part of the time under Robert Leckey, the present
chief deputy recorder. On his retirement from that position he began con-
tracting and building, and has since been identified with industrial interests
in this locality. He has taken and executed the contracts for considerable
bridge work in the county, and at present is associated with Mr. Bradshaw
as contractors in the construction of the new Livermore opera house.

Mr. Knox, however, has never put aside his active and helpful interest
in political affairs, and is a stanch Republican in his views. He has been
to many of the county conventions of his party, and his opinions carry weight
in its councils. He was elected a trustee of Livermore in 1899, and has
continuously served in that capacity for more than four years, being chairman
or mayor of the city during 1902-3. In April, 1903, he was appointed by
President Roosevelt to the position of postmaster at Livermore and has since
acted in that capacity. His official service is always faithfully and promptly
performed, and he is as loyal to the welfare of his community as he is to his
private business interests, whereby he is acquiring a comfortable competence
for his family. In his social relations he is connected with the Independent
Order of Foresters.

In October, 1881, Mr. Knox was united in marriage to Miss Amy
Squires, a native of England and a daughter of John Squires, the former
treasurer of Berkeley, California. Her brother-in-law is now secretary of
the harbor commission. To Mr. and Mrs. Knox have been born two sons
and a daughter: Arthur, who is assisting his father: Elliott, who is now in
school; and Mattie, a student in the high school at Livermore.

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