Search billions of records on


 Biographies Index  



California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


William Henry Knowles

In the veins of William Henry Knowles flows the blood of one of the state’s sturdy pioneers of the year 1852. This pioneer was his father, James Hume Knowles, who was born in England in 1831, and in 1852, when he was twenty-one years old, came to the New World practically penniless, and unaided and alone made his way to financial independence. His first experience in the state was in San Francisco, whither he finally came to Sonoma county, and here the remainder of his life was passed in agricultural activities. (A more detailed account of the life of this interesting pioneer may be found on the preceding page.)

It was while his parents, James H. and Clara (Canfield) Knowles, were living on a ranch near Sebastopol, Sonoma county, that William H. Knowles was born October 19, 1857. His schooling was obtained in the public school of Petaluma, and at the age of nineteen he was ready to take up the serious duties of life. While attending school he had learned considerable about ranching through the performance of his share of the chores on the home ranch, and at the age mentioned it was with no little experience that he accepted a position with his grandfather, W. D. Canfield, as a ranch hand, on a dairy ranch of eight cows. This association continued for two years, when Mr. Knowles left Bloomfield and went to Cazadero, where for the following fifteen years he was employed on the large ranch of eleven hundred and twenty-five acres owned by his father. This was maintained as a cattle and sheep ranch, and on its broad acres many hundreds of animals were raised and fattened for market.

Since 1894 Mr. Knowles had occupied his present property in Bloomfield section, where he owns a ranch of five hundred and thirty acres of fine land, well adapted for both agricultural and dairy purposes. A considerable portion of the land is used for dairy and stock purposes, and of the remainder thirty acres are in vines, which yield two tons to the acre, and the same amount of land is in orchard, in which all the best varieties of apples are grown especially. The maintenance of the ranch does not represent all of Mr. Knowles’ activities, for in addition to this he is the owner and proprietor of the well-known Knowles Hotel in Sebastopol.

The marriage of Mr. Knowles in 1876 united him with Miss Mattie Field, a native of New York, and five children were born to them, Mary, Nellie (deceased), Allie, William H., Jr., and Jams H., the latter named for his paternal grandfather. Mr. Knowles is identified with but one order, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of Santa Rosa.

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