Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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WOMEN of EARLY OCONTO COUNTY

 

FRANCISKA (FRANCES) KNOWLES 

To visit the page of her husband JOSEPH HOEFFEL please click  HERE

Contributed by Descendant Host: John Andrews



Elizabeth Jane Early’s Memories of her Great-Grandmother 
as told to her by her Grandmother, Elizabeth Frances Hoeffel

Joseph Hoeffel and Frances Knowles daughter Elizabeth Frances Hoeffel
with granddaughters Betty and Joan Early before her death in Detroit

 Francis Knowles was born on December 25th 1825 (maybe 1826) in Ballinhasig Ireland (near Cork). Her father’s was named Patrick Knowles, and he was a very good Catholic. She came to the United States from Ireland when she was 16 years old with her older, newly-wedded sister and her sister's husband. They arrived at Ellis Island and eventually settled in Oconto, Wisconsin. [Gerald Norton Hoeffel states that Frances, “was born in County Cork, Ireland and migrated to Canada as a young girl and I think taught school in Halifax.”]

 Her future husband, Joseph Peter Hoeffel and his first wife, Catherine, moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin from Norwalk, Ohio, and Catherine Hoeffel died sometime after their first son, Louis, was born. Joseph Hoeffel then fell in love with Frances Knowles, probably in Green Bay, and they were married in 1851 by Bishop Henni, who had earlier been Joseph's parish priest back in Ohio. They moved to Green Bay the same year where Joseph's brothers, Louis and Anthony, had settled and had built a flour mill.

 Later in their marriage, Frances Knowles was traveling during the daytime on the Oconto River in Oconto, Wisconsin in her horse and buggy with her 3 boys and 2 girls, as was the custom of the time.  The horse and sled broke through the ice, so she told her older children to run for the shore. She then wrapped the baby in as many blankets as she could and slid him across the ice to the waiting children on shore.  She then went to the horse, held its head up and called to her oldest son on shore to run for his father in town, who came with a rope and was followed by every man in town. They safely pulled Frances, horse and sleigh from the icy water.
 

Polly Sainton English, however, states the following:

"There seems to be a good deal of uncertainty about the parents of Frances Knowles. I would like to get a firm record of some kind, like a birth certificate, but have had no luck so far. The following is from my Mother's book (Helen Cole Sainton):

'Maurice Sheridan Knowles was of Scots-Irish Protestant ancestry. (He was cousin of Sheridan Knowles, famous dramatist... [and poet laureate of England knighted by King George III according to Betty Jane Early].) Maurice married Catherine Plunkett of an illustrious Irish Protestant family. They lived in Ballinhasig, near Cork, Ireland. Maurice was an architect. Maurice and Catherine were converted to Catholicism and their estates were confiscated, according to the laws of the day. They emigrated to America in 1843 and settled in St. John's, New Brunswick, Canada. One of their four daughters was FRANCES KNOWLES, born Ireland 1825, Frances, who was privately educated by tutors, taught school for awhile. She came to Milwaukee, and there married, in 1850, Joseph Hoeffel.'

The following is from information given me by Helen Esler Mullen, who is the wife of John Huff Mullen, grandson of Agnes Hoeffel Cole:

'In Helen Cole Sainton's family genealogy, she says that her great-grandmother's name was Catherine Plunkett. In my researching in the Green Bay courthouse, I found the name to be Margaret Condon, of Bandon, Ireland. So I will list both names, hoping to solve the problem later. Catherine Plunkett or Margaret Condon of Bandon, Ireland married Maurice Sheridan Knowles, an architect of Scotch-English ancestry. In reading more of Helen Cole's book, I wonder if Catherine Plunkett was M.S. Knowles' mother.'

Margaret and Maurice had four daughters. One of them was Frances, b. Dec. 25, 1826, in Ballinhasig (near Cork), Ireland, on the River Bandon. At age 18 she came to America with her mother and sisters. She taught school for awhile in St. John New Brunswick.

When I was in Ireland in 1986, I went to Bandon and asked the parish priest to look up Margaret Condon in the parish records. He could find no record. I wish I had gone to Ballinhasig. The Cork library had nothing on Maurice Sheridan Knowles."

Memories of great-great granddaughter, Cathleen Watts Dodson:  “We have legends passed down to us from our grandparents.  One of the legends I remember distinctly, as un-distinctly as children remember things, is that we are descended from royalty. One of our forbears was royal from Ireland… Anyway, we are told that another of our forebears was Lady Sheridan, or Mrs. Richard Brimsley Sheridan. Gainsboro had painted her portrait, which now hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. (part of the Andrew Mellon collection). Gainsborough lived from 1727-1788.


 

Frances Knowles Hoeffel’s illiness:

Oconto County Reporter 
August 19, 1882 
 DR. ELI  JENKS, of Chicago, assisted Drs. O’Keef, Beebe, Moriarty and Bold, of this city performed a very difficult and successful surgical operation Wednesday afternoon, Mrs. Joseph Hoeffel being the patient.  A large water tumor located in the lower part of the abdomen and which attached itself to the intestines, bladder and other vital organs being removed.  The patient stood the operation surprisingly well and is doing as well as could be expected after such a terrible experience, and all hope for her recovery. 
 

 

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