The mission of the undertaker, rightly estimated, is not less one of helpfulness and comfort than of the mere burying of the dead for a price. Viewed in the higher aspect it is on a plane with that of the family physician, and but little less sacred than that of the minister of the gospel. The proper discharge of the duties calls for tact and genuine human sympathy. The conscientious funeral director who labors for a long term of years in a community comes, through association in most trying times, to know the people intimately and to be their friend, regardless of their social position.
Such a man is B. F. Knox, who for thirty-five years has been actively engaged in the undertaking business in Rock Island. Few, indeed, in the county are better known than he, and few have more close personal friends. Taking up the work with his father when but twenty years of age he has steadily followed the vocation since, and in his long term of service has at one time or another been called into perhaps two-thirds of the homes of Rock Island and the surrounding country. His standing in his home city may be judged by the fact that he has repeatedly been given public office, serving two terms as Mayor.
B. F. Knox was born in Rock Island December 3, 1852, and has never resided elsewhere. His education was secured in the public schools of the city. When he first set out to earn his own living he worked in a grocery store. Later he had charge of the office of the Rock Island Union. In 1872 he took up the undertaking business with his father, Charles B. Knox, who was then advancing in years. The elder Mr. Knox was born June 27, 1818, and died May 28, 1890. His wife, Mary Gohram Knox, was born September 14, 1819, and died April 20, 1893. The son worked with his father till the latter’s death and thereafter conducted the business for the estate until the affairs were settled after his mother’s death. Since then he has had sole charge.
Mr. Knox has been a Republican and a Methodist ever since old enough to form an opinion on such matters. His first public office was as chief of the volunteer fire department of Rock Island, in which capacity he served in 1886 and 1887. He was elected alderman from the Fifth Ward in 1889, and at the end of the term was re-elected, serving continuously till 1893. He was first elected Mayor in 1895, and held the office for the term of two years. In 1901 he was again similarly honored, completing his second term in 1903.
Of a congenial disposition, Mr. Knox de-lights in fraternal work. He holds member-ship in the Odd Fellows, Modern Wooden of America, Knights of the Globe, North Star Benefit Association, the Eagles and the Elks. In nearly all he has held responsible offices. He is past exalted ruler of the Rock Island Elks, and twice represented them at the grand lodge.
Mr. Knox, February 19, 1875, at Rock Island, married Miss Emma Minter, and the children born of this union are : Lillian, wife of S. R. Kenworthy, of Rock Island; George S., who died July 2, 1900, and Mary A. and Harry T., at home.