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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Joseph Knittel

The ancestral history of the Knittel family, identified with the kingdom of Wurtemberg, Germany, as far back as the records can be traced, began to be identified with the new world during the year 1826, when Frank Knittel, a stalwart young representative of the Teutonic race, immigrated to the United States and secured employment in Wisconsin. For a time he had his headquarters in Milwaukee, but later he became a resident of Madison, the same state, where he and his wife, Lizzie (Suiter) Knittel, reared their children to industry and usefulness and labored unweariedly to provide them with the necessities of existence. In the family were Joseph, Anton, Jacob, Celia, Alice and Sarah. Anton, who is now sixty-three years of age, married Lizzie Sidel and lives in North Dakota. Joseph, who was born at Madison, Wis., July 6, 1850, is now sixty years of age. Jacob married Mary Hassinger and has two children, John and Sarah. Among the sisters in the family Sarah married John Ortley and has two children, Alice and Margaret. The other sisters, Celia and Alice, are in Minneapolis and St. Paul respectively.

After having completed a common-school education Joseph Knittel remained in his native Wisconsin, for a considerable period, earning a livelihood, but saving little or nothing from his meager income. Hoping to do better elsewhere he removed to North Dakota in 1884 and settled in Burleigh county, where he took up a tract of raw land and also became identified with other activities than those of agriculture. For two years he held the office of county clerk and in other ways he wielded large influence, both as a Republican and as a private citizen. After twelve years in North Dakota he came to California and two years later removed to Alaska, being led thither by the excitement caused by the discovery of gold. For eleven years he endured the hardships of that northern country, returning to California in 1909 and settling in Sonoma county, where he invested his savings in a farm of one hundred and sixty acres near Windsor.

In his removal to California during 1896 Mr. Knittel joined his wife, who had preceded him two years. She was formerly Otillia LaValley. They have one child, Lorene, a bright, attractive girl of eighteen years. The family have established a comfortable home on the farm and devote their attention to the care of the fruit and the poultry. Fifty-two acres are planted to a vineyard and each season sees a large harvesting of choice grapes, which bring excellent prices in the markets. The apple orchard comprises two and one-half acres and in addition there are eight acres of prunes of the choicest varieties and two acres of peaches. The sale of the fruit nets the family a gratifying income in return for their care and cultivation. A specialty is also made of the poultry business, which is proving remunerative. While the care of the property demands scrupulous attention and unwearying industry, the returns are sufficiently large to encourage a continuance of the labor and a possible enlargement of horticultural activities. In the attainment of his modest degree of success Mr. Knittel has had the practical assistance of his capable wife, who possesses a common-school education and a fund of common-sense and wise judgment of the greatest aid to their interests. A native of Iowa, Mrs. Knittel is a daughter of William Murty and a sister of James, Elizabeth, Eliza, Rebecca, Josephine, Margaret, Henrietta and Sarah Murty. All of the family are deceased with the exception of herself and three sisters, Sarah, Eliza and Henrietta.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011