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Captain John P. Knowlton, a retired merchant of Sunapee, was born in that town, October 10, 1821, son of Samuel and Betsey (Pike) Knowlton. The grandfather, Robert Knowlton, was one of the pioneer settlers of New London, N.H., and a leading man in his time. He was a well-educated man and a successful school teacher. He also had time to attend to farming. His last years were spent in the State of Indiana, where he died at an advanced age. He married a lady named Smith, and she also lived to a good old age.
Samuel Knowlton, born June 16, 1791, was a farmer, and spent the greater part of his life in Sunapee, to which he came when he was a young man. He was also engaged in hewing lumber, saw-mills being then very scarce. His religious views were liberal, and he was a Jeffersonian Democrat. He filled various offices of greater or less importance in his town, and was in the State legislature for two years. His wife, Betsey, who was born in New London in 1787, September 11, had three children, of whom John P. is the only survivor. The father died in Sunapee, September 13, 1846, and the mother, August 28, 1881. The two sons not living were: Dennis G., born September 23, 1815, who died April 11, 1894; and Moses F., born July 19, 1817, who died November 9, 1854. Moses F. left a daughter, Ellen A., who is a successful school teacher. An interesting fact about these three men is that they were the tallest men in the town of Sunapee. Dennis was six feet, four inches; Moses, six feet, seven inches; and John P., six feet, six inches.
John P. Knowlton received his education in the town schools. Then he took up farming, and worked on the home farm for two years, and elsewhere for two or three years. His wages were not large; but in haying time he made a dollar a day, which was considered very good pay. Subsequently he became interested in a mercantile business, and entered into partnership with his brother in the year 1844. After eight years or more he bought out his brother’s interest, and went on as sole proprietor until 1862. At that time he disposed of the business altogether, and retired to his farm. To-day he owns a fine, small farm of twenty-five acres, and has also a comfortable residence, which was built under his personal supervision. In 1870 he erected the large Knowlton Block. He had been a Director of the First National Bank of Newport, N.H., for several years when he resigned the office. He was appointed Postmaster in 1845, September 12, and held the office for eleven years. On January 4, 1848, Governor Jared B. Williams created him Captain of the militia company called the Sunapee Guards. The commission, bearing the signatures of the Governor and the Secretary of State, Thomas R. Treadwell, Portsmouth, is carefully preserved by the Captain. For four years he was Town Clerk, and for one year Town Treasurer. In 1856-57 he served as State Representative, and he was a Justice of the Peace for several years. While bound to no particular creed in religion, he inclines to the Universalist belief. In politics he is a Democrat.
Captain Knowlton was married October 23, 1848, to Abby S., who was born in New London, April 16, 1826, daughter of William and Mary (Stevens) Morgan. William Morgan was born in the latter town, April 15, 1796, and his wife, in Newbury, April 27, 1797. He died October 7, 1875, and she died November 19, 1885. They had eight children, three only of whom are now living. These are: Belden Morgan, of New London; Simeon F., of Richland, Cal.; and Mrs. Knowlton. The names of the other children were: Thomas, Marshall, Franklin, Marietta, and Alonzo. Mrs. Knowlton has had no children.
Captain Knowlton has been a very successful man. Considering the fact in connection with the circumstance that at the age of twenty-one his worldly possessions amounted to twenty-five dollars, no further proof of his industry and enterprise is necessary. Both he and his wife have a large circle of friends.