Knowles, Isaac W. 1818-1902

Obituary (Article) Isaac W. Knowles
East Liverpool Tribune


The End Came Wednesday Morning at the Home of his Son, Willis A. Knowles. A Noble man and one of the Pioneer Potters of This Country.

Isaac Watts Knowles, East Liverpool’s venerable and pioneer potter, died at 5 o’clock Wednesday morning, July 23 (1902), in Monticeta, Santa Barbara county, Clalifornia. A telegram was received Sunday evening announcing a third paralytic stroke to which the patient succumbed.

Mr. Knowles had always been in good health and the dissolution was due chiefly to his age, for he was in his 84th year. A few years ago, he had a touch of paralysis while in the south, and later a second attack in East Liverpool. During the winter he journeyed with his wife to California.

The remains will be brought to this city for burial.

Isaac Watts Knowles was born May 16, 1818, on a farm near Beaver, Pa.

His father was John Knowles and his mother a descendant of the house of Warwick. He was a pioneer of western Pennsylvania, and there reared his family. Isaac had the limited school privileges of early settlers, and afterwards with his brother James, who is still living at Shippingport, near Industry, Pa., learned the trade of cabinet maker, and managed a shop at Hookstown. He was remarkably proficient and skillful at his work. He learned his trade under William Warwick, father of Mrs. Richard Thomas, of this city. He first came to East Liverpool when a boy only 13 years and 20 months old and was never long away from here afterward.

In 1854, in partnership with Isaac A. Harvey, he began the manufacture of yellow ware on a small scale. At the start of the business they had but one kiln, located at what is now known as the “Old End” of the Knowles, Taylor & Knowles pottery, and which is being remodeled.

As their business prospered an improved quality of goods was manufactured and found a ready market. After a few years Mr. Knowles bought his partner’s interests and in 1868 Col. John N. Taylor took charge of the office work, and Homer Smith Knowles, a son of Isaac, had charge of the sales department. The capacity of the plant was then two kilns. In 1870 John N. Taylor and Homer Smith Knowles were admitted to partnership and the fir became Knowles, Taylor & Knowles, which has become known throughout the world. They continued the manufacturing of Rockingham and Yellow ware and in 1872 manufactured and marketed the first iron stone china or white granite ware. Additions to the plant were made from year to year and in 1885 the works consisted of 16 large ware kilns, making it the largest pottery in the United States, besides twelve large decorating kilns. A few years later the firm began the manufacture of a superior quality of china and added to its capacity, shipping goods to every state in the union.

It is at present one of the largest potteries in the world.

Several years were expended by Mr. Knowles and his partner prior to 1864 in the production of white ware. Their efforts were crowned with success.

A large amount of money was made out of a fruit jar which kept one department busy. It was the forerunner of the Mason fruit jar and was invented by Mr. Knowles. He invented many things useful to a pottery and expended time in other fields of usefulness. He was a fine botanist, being able to name most every plant that grows in this vicinity.

In character he was the soul of integrity, and despised an untruth. He was genial in disposition, a fine conversationalist and was the best posted man on local history of any man in town. At his death he was the oldest continual resident of East Liverpool.

His first wife was Hester Ann Smith, granddaughter of Thomas Fawcett, the founder of East Liverpool. She was a direct descendant of James Smith, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His first wife died in January, 1855. From this union children were born as follows:

Bellvina Catherine, wife of Col. John N. Taylor; Homer H. Knowles, deceased; Mary Zeletta, wife of Rev. D. N. Stafford, New Brunswick, N. J.; George H. Knowles, deceased.

His second marriage was with Rebecca J. Merchant, of Tuscarawas county, who survives. From that union are the following children:

Elizabeth J., wife of Joseph G. Lee; Willis A. Knowles, of California; Alice Mary, wife of B. B. Downing, London, Ohio; Edwin M. Knowles.

(Note – Isaac Watts Knowles is buried in Riverview Cemetery, East Liverpool, Ohio)