Family  Association




Peter  Knowles or Nowels  (1716 - aft. 1769)

Knowles Progenitor:  MD - 01 (Baltimore Co.)

(based on research by Dr. Michael D. Lacopo, Audrey (Rocque) Nowels, Bob & Delores Knowles, et al )

Y-DNA Profile (Allele Values) for
Peter Knowles 
&  his Direct Line Male Descendants
(12 Marker Haplotype)  (Haplogroup is I1a)

Peter Knowles or Nowels  (1716 - 17??)
Marker # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Haplo


DYS # 393 390 19 391 385a 385b 426 388 439 389-1 392 389-2
Modal 13 22 14 10 13 13 11 14 11 12 11 29 I1a

Knowles Surname DNA Project

See the Knowles Surname DNA Project
for more genetic genealogy results

Knowles  Genealogies

Some Knowles Progenitors have
Genealogy Reports for 3 Generations

David  Nowels  Bible

Names & Dates from the
David Nowels (1798 - 1859)
Family Bible


Biographical Sketch & Genealogy for:  Peter Knowles
by Michael D. Lacopo, D.V.M.  (5 September 1999)

Nowels Family

Skip to:   2nd Generation,    3rd Generation,    4th generation


PETER KNOWLES was born around 1716, presumably in Maryland.   The identity of his parents is unknown at this time.

(Note: Y-DNA test results have not shown a connection to an older Knowles ancestor).  

There were many Knowles families in the Talbot and Queen Anne’s Counties area of Maryland in the 1600s and 1700s, many of whom used the names John, James and Peter frequently.   These names are equally predominant in this family line, and research in this area of Maryland may show where Peter’s family originated.  The name is probably English in origin.  A biographical sketch of Stephen Nowels, son of David Nowels (1798-1859) states that the Nowels were Connecticut Yankees, so even a New England ancestry for Peter is possible!

Peter first appears in the public record in 1737 in the Baltimore Tax Lists as Peter Nowel with Look (Luke) Wiley, Henry Taylor and Henery Pemlenton (Henry Pembleton) as inhabitants at Edward Rnollemor’s (Mortimore?) quarters.   All these men were young adults and all were involved in leasing land in “My Lady’s Manor” as is later described.

Peter was married, presumably in Baltimore County, Maryland, around 1740, to MARY FUGATE (born around 1723, daughter of James and Ann Fugate).   Baltimore County Parish Records indicate they were the parents of two known children, Peter born 30 December 1741 and Ann born 12 May 1744.  Peter Knowles, aged 26, leased 61-1/4 acres of land in Baltimore County on 25 November 1742.  This was part of an original 413 acre tract known as “My Lady’s Manor”.  Peter’s lease was to run for the lifetimes of himself, his wife Mary, aged 19, and their son, Peter, aged 1.  On the same day, 100 acres were leased to Peter’s father-in-law, James Fugate.

To get a little more information on the location and history of “My Lady’s Manor” a direct quote is taken from the Web site of My Lady’s Manor Driving Club at:

My Lady’s Manor Driving Club was founded in 1979 by a group of local driving enthusiasts headed by Mrs. Edward C. Dukehart and Mr. Dean Bedford.  The club takes its name from an historic tract of land in Maryland’s northeast Baltimore County and western Harford County.  In 1713, on the occasion of his fourth marriage, the 76 year old Charles Calvert, the Third Lord of Baltimore, gave his young bride, Margaret Charlton, a wedding gift of 10,000 acres to be known as My Lady’s Manor.   However, Margaret never left England to visit her estate in the colonies and thus never saw the “faire land” that so impressed Charles Calvert when he first visited northern Baltimore County in 1667 to make “an Amity with the Susquehannocks until the World’s End."

Upon Margaret’s death in 1731, ownership of the land, designated in Margaret’s will as “Lord Baltemore’s Guift”, passed to Calvert’s granddaughter Charlotte Calvert Brerewood.  To settle the debts of her poet husband, the heiress transferred the land to her father-in-law Thomas Brerewood the Elder, who moved to Maryland to establish a community on the Manor.  Thomas the Elder subdivided the Manor into 30-300 acres lots which he leased out to farmers with rent to be paid in “good merchantable leaf tobacco."   He also laid out the only town within the Manor’s borders, originally called Charlotte Town, now known as Monkton, Maryland.  

After Thomas the Elder’s death in 1744, the ownership of the land became involved in a lengthy litigation among the heirs, which continued until the Revolutionary War.   After the war, with the question of ownership of the Manor still unresolved, the land was confiscated by the newly formed U.S. Government and auctioned off at Slade Tavern in 1782, mostly to establish tenant farmers and soldiers mustering out of the Revolutionary Army.  

Of all the Manors established in colonial Maryland, My Lady’s Manor is quite unique in that it has preserved its identity through the years.   The boundaries of the Manor are still defined by 16 cast iron markers, which have replaced most of the original stone markers engraved LBG (Lord Baltemore’s Guift), and much of the land is still owed by the original families.  The area is well known for its natural beauty and rural, agricultural character, as well as many facets of equine activity, including My Lady’s Manor Timber Race, the first jewel in Maryland Hunt Racing Triple Crown, and the Elkridge-Harford Hounds’ traditional Thanksgiving Day Meet with the Blessing of the Hounds at St. James Church, the oldest remaining building on My Lady’s Manor.”


Little else is known about the life of Peter Knowles.   He did not seem to own land, as his lease is the only record found of a land transaction.  He is present in Frederick County, Maryland, in 1769 as a witness to the will of David Watson, whose daughter incidentally married a son of James Fugate.   He presumably lived and died in Frederick County, or in the part that was divided off in 1776 to form Washington County, Maryland.   Peter could not sign his name to the will, and therefore signed with an “X”.   Although assumed to be Peter Knowles, the elder, it is not impossible that the witness to this will could be Peter Nowels, the younger, who would have been 28 years old at the time. 

Additionally, there is a Peter Nowells in the 1790 census of Georges Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania with just one single adult male.  This again could be Peter Sr., aged around 74 years, or Peter Jr., aged about 49 years.   It is known that James Nowels at this time had moved to Fayette County, so this Peter is likely a relative.  A Peter Nowel is living in Bullskin Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania in 1800, but as a male aged 26-44, he does not fit the profile for any of the Peters that we know of. 

Peter and Mary (Fugate) Knowles/Nowels are presumed to be the parents of not only the above named Peter and Ann, but also of James Nowels who continues this lineage.   They may also be the parents of an Edward Nowels who served in the Revolutionary War with James, and a John Nowels who follows the same migration trail through Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana as that of James Nowels and his descendants.

Note #1:  Y-DNA test results for two descendants of Peter Knowles, both via the son James Nowels, R.S. are a match at the 12-marker level.   More direct male descendants need to be tested to establish if John, James and Edward were in fact sons of Peter Knowles and Mary Fugate

R. B. Noles (9/26/2007)

Note #2:  The Y-DNA test results for descendants of Benjamin Noles (1765 - 1845) (North Carolina Knowles Progenitor #18) are an exact match at the 25-marker level with descendants of Peter Knowles (via son James).  This probably means that Benjamin, who was in Raleigh, Wake Co., North Carolina in 1790 was a grandson of said Peter Knowles who broke off from the family in Baltimore and migrated south to North Carolina during the American Revolution. 

R. B. Noles (9/26/2007)


Skip to:   1st Generation,    3rd Generation,    4th generation


JAMES NOWELS, R.S. was born around 1750, presumably in Maryland.  Since very little is known about his supposed father, it is not known where his place of birth might be.   Peter Knowles resided in Baltimore County in 1744 and in Frederick County in 1769.   Very little is known about James Nowels until his marriage to MARY FUGATE around 1775. 

Mary Fugate, born around 1755, was the daughter of Peter and Mary (Watson) Fugate and was James Nowels’ first cousin.   Marriages amongst cousins were common in the colonial days and a great many examples can be found in the David Watson family from which Mary descended and for whose will Peter Knowles witnessed in 1769.   It is assumed that James and Mary were married in Frederick County, Maryland.

A James Nowles and Edward Nowles from the Upper District in Frederick County were enlisted by Lieutenant Moses Chapline in the Maryland Troops in the Continental Service during the Revolutionary War.  The enlistment was on 24 July 1776.   No other records of service or pension have been located for these men, and it can only be assumed that this is the James Nowels of whom we are concerned.

A James Nowels appears in the tax records of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, in the area which was to become Franklin County in 1784.   James Nowels is a taxpayer on 150 acres, two horses and two cattle in Lurgan Township in 1779.   By 1781 he is living in adjacent Letterkenny Township with no land, one horse and two cattle.   In 1782, still residing in Letterkenny Township, James Nowels is listed as a weaver with only two cattle to his name.

James Nowels and his family moved westward to Wharton Township in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, by 1786, when he appears in the tax records there.   He remains taxable in Wharton Township until 1788.  A John Nowels also is taxed in this township in 1787.

On 12 January 1787, James Nowels entered in agreement with Anthony Roads of Wharton Township for the possession of 300 acres of land on the waters of Sandy Creek in return for “one thousand pounds weight of Pott Mettle cast in potts, Kettles and Dutch Ovens delivered to him ...upon the first day of October (1787)...and one thousand pounds Weight of bar iron on the first day of October (1788) and five hundred pounds weight of Pott mettle cast as aforementioned, and five hundred pounds weight of bar iron, all which is to be delivered safe and sound at any of the ferrys on the Monangahalia River that lys between redstone fort, and where Cheet River empties itself into the Monangahalia that will answer the said Anthony Roads best."

In June of 1787, James Nowells brought suit against Robert McClelland, a neighbor, for trespass.  A rule to take depositions was given in September 1787.   In June 1788 the defendant pleaded not guilty.   The case remained on the record book until June 1791, but no final decree seems to have been delivered.   Anthony Rhodes also brought suit against James Nowells (Noaels) for capias covenant in the June, September and December terms of 1788.     

On 17 November 1787 a stray mare was returned to the County Clerk by Augustine Moore being “a small bay mare about 13 hands high with a star in her face inclining to the near side a small snip down her nose, a natural pacer, has sundry saddle spots on both sides; a small crop off the near ear, is about 10 years old.”  On 27 December 1787 it was proved on the oath of James Nowls to be the property of Mary Nowls.

James and Mary Nowels cannot be located in the 1790 Census for Pennsylvania, but there is a Peter Nowells in nearby Georges Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, with a household of only one adult male.   This could be James’s brother, who would have been 49 years old, or possibly even his father who would have been about 74 years old.

There is a large gap between the last known record of James Nowels in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, in 1788, and his appearance in Ohio in 1801.   It seems apparent that James Nowels was present in Belmont County, Ohio, long before his appearance in the records after the turn of the century.   Belmont County in the Northwest Territory was established on 7 September 1801, and Kirkwood Township within the county established on 24 November 1801.   At this time the election precinct encompassing Kirkwood Township held its election at the home of Bassil Isreal in Nowelstown, which later became St. Clairsville.   In February 1802, Richland Township was formed from Kirkwood Township.   Nowelstown was located in Richland Township, although James Nowels resided in the original Kirkwood Township.   In May 1803, the Kirkwood Township election precinct held its election at the home of James Nowels.

The fact that the town was known as Nowelstown as early as 1801 indicates that the family had probably been established in the area for a few years previously.   James Nowels and Nicholas Gassaway are considered the first settlers on Stillwater Creek in Belmont County.   At the November 1801 term of the county’s first Grand Jury, James Knowles was appointed to act as a supervisor of Kirkwood Township.   Also at this court session it was ordered that a courthouse be built for Belmont County.   This did not occur until 1803, when the name of Nowelsville was changed to St. Clairsville, in honor of the governor Arthur St. Clair.

The Act of May 10, 1800, opened up land purchase in Ohio to “land office business” and permitted land to be purchased on credit.   The first Federal Land Office opened in Steubenville in July 1800.   It was here that James Nowels entered his deed for 640 acres of land in Section 7, Township 9, Range 6, in what was then and still is Kirkwood Township, Belmont County, Ohio, on 30 March 1802.   It is assumed that this was just a final legalization of land that he had lived on for quite some time. 

Interestingly, at around the same time, on 7 April 1802, Mary Nowels, wife of James Nowels, purchased a quarter-acre lot (Lot 101) in St. Clairsville from David and Sally Newell for ten dollars.   James and Mary Nowels sold this lot for sixty dollars on 1 August 1804 to Peter Moore.   James Nowels signed his name to the deed, while Mary signed with an “X”.   All this land speculation was probably made possible by money received from the estate of Mary’s father, Peter Fugate.   Peter Fugate died in Washington County, Maryland, on 9 December 1799, but the land transactions and financial arrangements were not finalized until 12 March 1802, less than a month before Mary’s purchase of a lot in St. Clairsville and James’s entry of land at the Steubenville Land Office.

While in Belmont County, Ohio, James Nowels kept a “house of Publick entertainment” and tavern on Zane’s Road (also known as Zane’s Trace).   There is record of his tavern license renewal in November 1802 and April 1804.   James “Nowles” was also paid $1.50 for serving as a Grand Juror at the Supreme Court at the August term of 1805 in Belmont County.

The last mention of James Nowels in Belmont County, Ohio, is for receiving $1.00 for killing one six month old wolf in 1807, although it is unclear whether this is this James Nowels or his son, who would have been 21 years old by then.   Also, the last marriage filed in Belmont County is for the 1807 marriage of James Nowels’ son, James.  The next reference to this family is in 1812 in Coshocton County, Ohio, when another son enlisted for service in the War of 1812. 

The final reference to James and Mary (Fugate) Nowels is found in the Bible that belonged to yet another son, David Nowels.   In it is the following notation, “James Nowels Senior died on the 18th day of March 1816."  “Mary Nowels his wife died December 18th 1812."   It has been assumed that they were living in Coshocton County, Ohio, at the time, but there are no cemetery markers or records of interment of them in this area that later became Holmes County, Ohio. 

The Bible record previously noted has been an immense help in the identification of the next generation of Nowels families.  The Bible not only contains the death records of James and Mary Nowels, but also information on their presumed children, John, James, Moses and David Nowels and Catherine (Nowels) Beall.

The children of James and Mary (Fugate) Nowels include the following:

1.  JOHN NOWELS, born March 1776.   See second generation

2.  PETER NOWELS, born c1780.   He married Rebecca Wilson in Belmont County, Ohio, on 16 October 1804.   She was the daughter of Thomas and Nancy (McBride) Wilson.   They had one son, James, who was born in 1805.  This James married Sarah Jones on 1 Jun 1825 in Harrison County, Ohio.  Rebecca (Wilson) Nowels was born 27 August 1788 and supposedly died at the age of 83 years (i.e. 1871).  Peter Nowels bought land at the Steubenville Land Office on 25 June 1805 in Section 17, Township 10, Range 7, in what was then Belmont County, but is now Londonderry Township, Guernsey County, Ohio.  Peter was considered one of the early settlers of Berlin Township, in what is now Holmes County, Ohio, arriving there around 1812.  He purchased land in Section 1, Township 8, Range 6 at the Zanesville Land Office on 25 November 1814, which lies in Berlin Township.  He sold this land in 1825 to Jonathan Miller.  Peter was the original land owner of military lots 21 and 22 in Section 3, Township 9, Range 5 of what is now Holmes County, Ohio, but there is no record of this purchase.  He sold the land on 1 January 1830 to Samuel Shane.  Peter, with his brothers James and Moses, witnessed the will of Matthew Miller in Coshocton County, Ohio, on 20 January 1816.  In 1820 he is enumerated in Berlin Township in Coshocton County with his wife and one son.  Peter was taxed in Holmes County in 1825.  In 1830 and 1840 he is still in Berlin Township.  On 21 January 1830, Peter Nowels purchased many lots in the city of Berlin, Ohio, of which he sold several in 1832.  Peter “Nowles” of Berlin was also granted a tavern license during the June term of 1830.  He continued to sell off his Berlin lots until 1841, when he is last mentioned in the Holmes County, Ohio, deed records.  He is not to be found in the 1850 Ohio census.  It is assumed, like all of his westward wandering siblings, that he left Ohio after 1841.  No further records of him have been found.

3.  CATHERINE (CATY) NOWELS, born c1782.  She was married in Belmont County, Ohio, on 18 September 1804 to Josiah Beall.  He was born in Virginia on 26 December 1780.  Catherine died as a young woman around 1822.  Her husband remarried in Wayne County, Ohio, on 15 April 1824, to Selenah Poulson.  They later moved to Apple River Township, Jo Daviess County, Illinois, where Josiah Beall died 31 March 1864.  Selena (Poulson) Beall was born 15 April 1799 and died 1 May 1872 in Apple River Township, Jo Daviess County, Illinois.  The children of Josiah and Catherine come from the Bible records of David Nowels.  They include Mary (28 Nov 1805), William (20 Oct 1807), James (5 Dec 1809), Robert (8 Apr 1812), David (5 Oct 1814) and Elizabeth (8 Jul 1817).  Census indicate probably another son and two daughters.  One of these is probably Nancy Beall, who is 31 years old in the census of 1850, making her born c1819.  Josiah resided in Prairie Township, Coshocton County, Ohio, having purchased land at the Canton-Wooster Land Office on 8 November 1813.  Deed records in Holmes County, Ohio, indicate Josiah Beall and his family had left for Fulton County, Illinois, prior to 1838.  At the time of his death in 1864, the only children mentioned in his will by his first wife Catherine were Robert Beall and Elizabeth (Beall) Jackson. All the other children alive in 1864 were by his second wife.

4.  JAMES NOWELS, born c 1786.  He married Jane Wilson, the daughter of Thomas and Nancy (McBride) Wilson, on 27 January 1807 in Belmont County, Ohio.  He apparently followed his brothers to Coshocton County, Ohio, as he is a witness to a will there with Peter and Moses in 1816.  In 1820 he is a resident of Hardy Township, Coshocton County, Ohio, and in 1830 a resident of Berlin Township, Holmes County, Ohio.  Although the deed of purchase has not been located, he seems to have owned 180 acres of land in Berlin Township which he sold along with Lots 33 and 34 of the city of Berlin to George Myers on 21 November 1828.  He sold Lots 1 and 2 of Berlin to Henry Hott on 29 October 1830.  He apparently left Holmes County, Ohio, shortly after this time as he is not found in the 1840 census of Ohio.  He is next found in the 1850 census of Mercer County, Illinois, age 64, with his wife, Jane, also age 64.  James may have very well died in Mercer County, Illinois, but his wife is buried in Wintersville Cemetery, Wintersville, Sullivan County, Missouri.  She died 23 January 1873 at the age of 86 years, 7 months and 4 days, making her birth 19 June 1786.  The Nowels family Bible gives their children as Aaron (21 Dec 1806), Elizabeth (3 Mar 1809), Nancy (Mar 1811), Mary (24 Mar 1813), Rebecca (22 Dec 1815), Wilson B. (14 Nov 1817), Katharine (17 Mar 1820) and John W. (14 May 1822).  A family history written by Amariah Wilson, brother of Jane (Wilson) Nowels, gives her children as Aaron (1807), Betsey (1809), Rebecca (1811), Wilson (1813), John (1815), Nancy (1818), Polly (1820), Rheuhamy (1822), Amariah (1824), Peter (1826) and Moses (1829).

5.  ELIZABETH NOWELS, born c 1789.  She married Daniel Dulaney in Belmont County, Ohio, on 17 April 1806.  It is only assumed that she was a daughter of James and Mary (Fugate) Nowels based on her marriage record and presence in Belmont County.  There is no mention of the Dulaney family in the Nowels Bible.  Researcher Charlie Septer believes that this is the Daniel Dulaney who died 25 January 1833 and his wife, Elizabeth, who died 21 March 1849, aged 52 and 60 years respectively, who are buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, Chillicothe, Ross County, Ohio.  The lack of records of this family in the David Nowels Bible may be a reflection on the fact that this was the only known sibling not to have migrated to Coshocton County, Ohio.

6.  MOSES NOWELS, born c 1792.  He is first noted as serving in Captain Isaac Evans’s Company from Coshocton County, Ohio, from 18 October 1812 until 17 February 1813 during the War of 1812.  He married in Coshocton County, Ohio, on 5 October 1813, to Mary (Polly) Bird.  Polly was born in 1793, the daughter of Thomas and Sarah (Butler) Bird.  Moses Nowels is said to have been one of the early settlers of Berlin Township, Holmes County, Ohio, having settled there in 1812 and being an original land owner of 160 acres.  He purchased land in Section 13, Township 9, Range 6 at the Zanesville Land Office on 7 August 1815.  He is present in the 1820 census of Hardy Township, Coshocton County, Ohio, with his wife and four sons under the age of 10 years, but after this date he is difficult to track.  He is taxed in 1825 in Berlin Township, Holmes County, Ohio.  On 21 August 1826 he sold the SW quarter of Section 13, Township 9, Range 6 to Joseph Wolgamot, that he had purchased on 4 August 1824.  It was on this land that Moses Nowels filed a plat for the town of Lima with the Holmes County Recorder on 27 March 1824 indicating he probably lived on the land prior to the actual date of the deed.  Moses filed this plat in attempts to enter the race for the new county seat.  No actual town was built, and Moses cancelled his project on 27 March 1826.  He is probably the Moses Nowels who purchased land in Shawnee Township, Fountain County, Indiana, on 14 December 1827.  He also purchased land jointly with his brother, John Nowels, on 19 October 1827.  There is no other mention of him in Indiana, and he is not found there in the 1830 census.  He may have returned to Ohio and was the Moses Nowls enumerated in Canaan Township, Madison County, Ohio.  It seems apparent that his wife, Polly, died prior to 1837, as Edward and Peter Nowles of Marion County, Ohio, quitclaimed their rights to land entitled to them as heirs of Thomas Bird, who died in 1835.  No evidence of Moses Nowels can be found in Marion County, Ohio.  According to the Nowels Bible, he had children Thomas (1814), Edward (27 Sep 1815), Peter (24 Dec 1816), Isaac Butler (14 Dec 1818), Abraham (23 Jul 1821) and David (5 Feb 1824).

 7.  DAVID NOWELS, was born 6 February 1798 presumably in Pennsylvania, and we know more about him than his siblings since he was the son who kept the family Bible, but also who stayed in Ohio and did not succumb to wanderlust.  He does complicate things a bit by marrying four times and producing at least sixteen children!  David Nowels first married Nancy Wilson, the third daughter of Thomas and Nancy (McBride) Wilson to marry a Nowels son.  This marriage occurred on 1 April 1816 in Wayne County, Ohio.  Nancy was born 3 March 1795 in Ohio and according to the Bible record, died 29 May 1823.  Her brother, Amariah Wilson, later wrote that his sister died in 1824 in Holmes County, Ohio.  He states that “they had no heirs” but in a list of children of David Nowels in his Bible, it begins with “Metilda Critchfield born June the 27th 1822”.  There were certainly Critchfield families in this area, and it is not know if Matilda was a daughter of David and Nancy (Wilson) Nowels who later married a Critchfield, or if not, why she is listed in David’s Bible records.  Around 1824, David Nowels married Elizabeth Bird, daughter of Thomas and Sarah (Butler) Bird, and sister of Polly Bird, wife of Moses Nowels. They were the parents of five children: Aaron (21 Mar 1825), Nancy (16 Dec 1827), Govenor Ray (2 Sep 1829), Sarah B. (16 Nov 1831) and George Washington (17 Nov 1834).  Elizabeth (Bird) Nowels, born 12 June 1801, died 17 April 1835.  David Nowels married for the third time less than six months later, on 4 October 1835 in Holmes County, Ohio, to Mary Ann Sweazy.  They became the parents of eight children: Martin VanBuren (22 Dec 1836), Lucinda Ann (12 Nov 1838), Peter (2 Dec 1840), Stephen A. (2 Aug 1843), Mary Jane (28 Dec 1845), James J. (23 Apr 1848), Elizabeth (20 Apr 1850) and Catharine Sophie (12 Mar 1853).  Mary Ann (Sweazy) Nowels, born 9 October 1817, died probably shortly after the birth of her last child, as David Nowels married for a fourth time on 4 January 1855 in Holmes County, Ohio, to Rebecca Francy.  She was born around 1825 and died 30 July 1884.  They became the parents of two children: John S. (19 Oct 1855) and Eugene Reese (4 Mar 1857).  David died in Holmes County, Ohio, on 19 April 1859.  As seems to be more the norm amongst Nowels ancestors, there are no tombstones marking the resting place of David or his wives, so it is not known where he is buried.

David Nowels purchased land at the Zanesville Land Office on 16 January 1816, being situated in Section 3, Township 9, Range 6.  He was enumerated in Berlin Township, Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1820, and was listed as a taxpayer in the township in 1821 and 1825.  Although there are no land records in Fountain County, Indiana, indicating that David Nowels bought land in the county, there are records that he sold all the same land deeded to Moses Nowels in 1827.  David and his family can be found in the 1830 census of Fountain County, Indiana, whereas Moses Nowels cannot.  David and his family lived in Fountain County, Indiana, near his eldest brother John until 1832 when he and John both apparently left the area.  John went on the further explore the lands of Illinois and Indiana, while David and his family returned to Holmes County, Ohio.  The last sale of land in Fountain County, Indiana, from David Nowels occurred on 22 April 1833, when David and Elizabeth Nowels are given as residents of Holmes County, Ohio.  David acquired land through the estate of his father-in-law, Thomas Bird, who died in 1835, and also purchased land from his nephews, also heirs of Thomas Bird, in 1837.  He is enumerated in Berlin Township in 1840 and 1850 and presumably died there on 19 April 1859. 

Skip to:   1st Generation,    2nd Generation,    4th generation


All records of JOHN NOWELS generated in the latter part of his life give his birthdate as March 1769.  It is agreed that John died 21 May 1865 in Jasper County, Indiana.  His headstone gives his age as 96 years, 2 months and 11 days which figures as a 10 March 1769 birth.  The Bible of Sarah (Nowels) Yeoman says he was 96 years, 2 months and 3 days old, thus a birth of 18 March 1769.  Thirdly, an 1899 biographical sketch of son David gives his father’s birth as 13 March 1769.  Finally, John’s last census entry in 1860 gives an age of 90 years, meaning he was born in 1769 or 1770.

If all of this is correct, it would mean that John was 33 years old at the time of his marriage, being 13 years older than his wife.  It would also put him nearly eleven years distant from his next eldest sibling.  None of this ever seemed to make logical sense, but it was not entirely improbable.

When I had the opportunity to examine the David Nowels family Bible in the summer of 1987, I was able to list all of John’s eleven children and get a clue toward John’s birthdate.  John’s birth is written on the top of a page, followed by his wife and children.  Unfortunately, the top corner has been ripped away leaving only “J-------orn-------ou------7076”.  I believe it was meant to read “J[ohn Nowels, b]orn [March -?- in the year of] ou[r Lord 1]7076”.  The year is written as his wife Hetty’s following -- with a central “0”.  Hetty’s is given as “17082”.  Thus, from this record, John was born in 1776, which I find to be more acceptable.  All sources say he was born in Maryland.  I am assuming Frederick County, as his father enlisted into the service in July of that year from Frederick County.

John moved with his parents through Pennsylvania and Ohio, finally settling in Belmont County, Ohio, as a young man.  He was married there to HETTY WOLGAMOT (or VULGAMORE) in Kirkwood Township on 20 April 1802.  John Nowels purchased land from the Steubenville Land Office on 11 June 1805, two weeks prior to his brother Peter and in the same section, now located in Londonderry Township, Guernsey County, Ohio.  This is probably the same John “Nowles” who filed a petition with the Belmont County Court of Common Pleas in August and December 1807 for relief as an insolvent debtor.  Jeremiah Martin was appointed to take possession of John’s “property for the use of his creditors according to law."

It is assumed that John and his family joined the emigration to Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1811 or 1812, as he is present there to file a suit in the Court of Common Pleas for Coshocton County in September 1812 for a debt of twenty dollars owed him by Constant Bowen that was unpaid.  The original written voucher states “Jenery 2d one thousen - 1812.  I promis to pay John nowels teenty Dollars on or Before the first Day off March nets, It Bein for value received off him here as Witsnnes My hand and seal.  Test: John Musgrave, Constant Bowen”.  On 4 May 1813 the case went to trial, and a jury of twelve men found in favor of John Nowels and awarded him twenty-one dollars and sixty cents.

On 16 January 1816, John Nowels of Coshocton County, Ohio, purchased land in the Zanesville Land Office in Section 5, Township 9, Range 6, in the vicinity of his brothers David and Moses Nowels in Berlin Township.  John is enumerated in the 1820 census here next to his brothers James, Moses and Peter.  Also in the same are are many members of the Vulgamore family.  On 6 February 1821, John Nowels witnessed the will of John Guinn of Coshocton County, Ohio.  John paid taxes in Berlin Township in 1825, but he and his family probably left shortly thereafter.  John Nowels is listed as an original land owner in Section 3 of Berlin Township, but interestingly his land was sold on 21 November 1828 by James Nowels.  It appears that his brother either obtained the land privately from John prior to his removal to Indiana, or he served as John’s agent in disposing of the land at this time.

Early histories of Jasper County, Indiana, and biographies of the Nowels family state that John and his family moved to Fountain County, Indiana, in 1824.  This seem unlikely, as he was still paying tax in Coshocton County in 1825, and his son Isaac is said to have been born in newly formed Holmes County, Ohio, also in 1825.  Secondly, Fountain County, Indiana, records do not show John Nowels purchasing land until 19 October 1827 when he and Moses Nowels obtained the deed to land in Section 28, Township 21, Range 8.  He again purchases land in this section in Shawnee Township on 27 March 1828.  He is enumerated here in 1830 and remained in Fountain County, Indiana, for only a short time afterward until tragedy struck the family.

Hetty (Wolgamot) Nowels died in Fountain County, Indiana, on 15 December 1831.  This date given in the Bible records of David Nowels agrees with the family tradition that after her death in Fountain County, the family of John Nowels splintered and scattered.  Many of their young unmarried sons went off to Iowa to seek their fortune, and only a few remained in Indiana.  Without the help of David Nowels’s Bible, this family would have been very difficult to piece together.

Hetty Wolgamot was born, presumably in Monogalia County, Virginia (now West Virginia) on 15 March 1782.  She is named as Hetty Vulgamore in her marriage record of 1802, and interestingly many members of her family can be found in early Ohio records as Vulgamore.  This is perhaps a phonetic spelling of the original German name Wohlgemuth, and although Vulgamore predominates in early nineteenth-century records, the name “standardizes” to Wolgamot in the middle of the century.  Hetty herself is listed in the Bible of David Nowels as “Hetty W. Nowels”.  She is very probably the daughter of Joseph and Juliana (Olinger) Wolgamot of Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio.

John Nowels sold all of his land in Fountain County, Indiana, that he acquired in 1827 and 1828 in small increments.  John and “Esther” Nowles sold five acres to Anderson D. Byrn on 1 March 1829 for forty dollars.  On 13 November 1830, John and Hetty Nowles sold twenty acres to James L. McConnell for forty dollars.  The last of the homestead was sold on 3 December 1832, when John Nowles, then a widower, sold 91.5 acres to John Wilson for five hundred dollars.  After 1832 it is said that John Nowels moved with his family to Bunkum, Illinois, now Iroquois, Illinois, at the head of the Iroquois River just over the state line.

According to family legend, tales of the “falls of the Iroquois” in Indiana lured John Nowels with his son David and his daughter and son-in-law, Joseph D. and Sarah (Nowels) Yeoman to pack up and travel to this spot in present-day Jasper County, Indiana, in the present city of Rensselaer.  They arrived in the summer or fall of 1834, and liking what they saw, stayed there to build a cabin while Joseph Yeoman returned to Bunkum to retrieve the remainder of their belongings and other family members.  They became the first permanent white settlers in Jasper County, Indiana.

John Nowels returned to his old home in Fountain County to find a new wife and was married there on 28 June 1836 to Nancy Marvin.  Very little is known about her, except that she is probably the woman born between 1790 and 1800 living with him in the 1840 census of Jasper County, Indiana.  She is present as the wife of John Nowels on an 1839 Jasper County, Indiana, land deed.  There is a possibility that John Nowels married a third time, as he is listed in the 1850 census of Newton Township, Jasper County, Indiana, as an 88 year old man with a 48-year-old woman, Diantha Nowels, living with him.  The records of Jasper County, Indiana, were destroyed by fire in 1865, so no record of a marriage can ever be located.  An in-depth study of the deeds of Jasper County, Indiana, has not been done to document John’s dealings nor to determine his wives’ names at this time.

Joseph D. Yeoman, John Nowels’s son-in-law, had plans of laying out a town at their place of settlement, but prior to 1837 land could not be legally purchased in this area of Indiana.  Settlers made claim to their land with intention of legalizing it through proper titles at the earliest opportunity.  The claim made by Joseph Yeoman and John Nowels was superceded by what was called a “float”, or a governmental warrant for a certain amount of land to be located at the option of the holder.  James Van Rensselaer happened to have one of these “floats” and in 1837 took the land upon which the Nowels family had settled.  They were left to abandon their homestead and improvements upon the land and start anew.  John Nowels purchased land in Section 30, Township 29, Range 6 on 19 December 1838 which is now in the present city of Rensselaer.  Joseph Yeoman purchased land to the north in Marion Township where the townships of Newton, Marion, Barkley and Union come close to intersecting.  It is in this area that John Nowels lived out his life, having spent his final days in the home of his daughter Sarah (Nowels) Yeoman.  He died on 21 May 1865.  John Nowels is buried in an abandoned cemetery on the old Yeoman homestead in Union Township, Jasper County, Indiana.

John and Hetty (Wolgamot) Nowels had the following children: 

1.  JAMES NOWELS was born 30 June 1803, presumably in Belmont County, Ohio.  David Nowels’s Bible records state that he was born on 31 Jun 1803, but since there are only 30 days in June, it is assumed that the last day of June was implied.  He was married in Coshocton County, Ohio, on 29 December 1822, to Susan Maxon.  They apparently came to Fountain County, Indiana, with his father.  He did not purchase land in Fountain County, but he is enumerated in the 1830 census near his father with his wife, two sons and two daughters.  According to a biographical sketch of his son, Hamilton, both James and his wife died shortly after locating in Fountain County, Indiana, while Hamilton was still a lad.  James was still living on 25 November 1832 when he apprenticed out his eldest daughter, Deby, for eight years, ten months and ten days to John McKinney.  Interestingly this is the only document found in the Fountain County, Indiana, packet labeled “Estate of James Nowles, 1832”, so it is assumed that he died shortly thereafter.  His children were Deby (Deborah?) (5 Oct 1823), Hamilton (8 May 1826), William (5 Apr 1827) and Eunice (c1829).

2.  JOSEPH NOWELS was born on 28 February 1805 per Bible record, or 28 April 1805 per age calculated at the time of death, presumably in Belmont County, Ohio.  He was married on 29 June 1826 in Holmes County, Ohio, to Sarah Chambers, and was the only child of John and Hetty (Wolgamot) Nowels to remain in Ohio when the family left for Indiana.  Sarah died in Holmes County, Ohio, on 10 March 1838, age 30 years and was buried in Berlin Cemetery, Berlin, Ohio.  Joseph remarried in Holmes County, Ohio, on 6 August 1839 to Lucinda Williamson (born 14 April 1822).  They moved to Noble County, Indiana, sometime between 1845 and 1849.  Joseph died in Noble County on 30 July 1883 and is buried in Eden Cemetery, Eden Township, Lagrange County, Indiana.  His wife Lucinda died 1 May 1893 and is buried next to him.  Joseph’s children were unknown daughter (c1827), John J. (c1829), Sarah Jane (27 Oct 1830), unknown daughter (c1833), James Ezekiel (21 Sep 1834/1835), Joseph Williamson (Nov 1840), William Edward (15 Jan 1843), Benjamin F. (c1845), Sevilla (Oct 1849) and Isaac L. (26 Jan 1855).

3.  STEPHEN NOWELS was born 18 December 1808, presumably in Belmont County, Ohio.  His headstone and Bible entry agree to his birth date.  He too went with his family to Indiana as a young man and married in Fountain County, Indiana, on 24 October 1830 to Mary Jane Wolf.  Mary Jane, or Jane as she was called, was born 14 November 1809 in New Jersey and her presence in Fountain County, Indiana, as a young woman has remained a baffling mystery.  There are no Wolf families in the area, and certainly no families from New Jersey, that can be associated with Mary Jane.  Her parentage at this time is unknown.  Stephen does not seem to have purchased land in Fountain County and probably lived with relation or rented land from another farmer.  They may have followed John Nowels to Bunkum, Illinois, as they also soon followed him into Jasper County, Indiana.  Stephen was not there at the time of the first settlement in 1834, but he was present at least by 21 October 1837 when he voted in the election in newly formed Marion Township to elect a Justice of the Peace.  The Old Settlers Association of Jasper County in 1875 gave the names of many old settlers and how long they had resided in Jasper County.  In this list is Stephen Nowles, 39 years (1836) and Jane Nowles, 40 years (1835).  Stephen purchased land in the northeast quarter of Section 30, Township 29, Range 6, in the area that is now Rensselaer on 12 December 1838 and 8 January 1839 from James VanRensselaer.  He sold pieces of this land in 1839 and 1844.  A full analysis of Jasper County, Indiana, deeds has not been done at this time, but from the 1850, 1860, and 1870 census, it is apparent that Stephen Nowels and his family remained residents of Newton Township.  In 1878, Stephen and Mary Jane Nowels moved westward with the families of many of their children and settled in Elk Falls, Elk County, Kansas.  Between 1880 and 1889, Stephen Nowels purchased dozens of lots in Elk Falls and seems to have been a prosperous older man.  His wife died 27 November 1888 and was buried in Elk Falls Cemetery.  Stephen followed her in death on 27 April 1891 and was buried by her side.  Their children were:  Joseph (8 Dec 1832), James (7 Dec 1835), Sarah Emily (2 Mar 1838), Elizabeth Ann (24 Sep 1841), George S. (14 Dec 1844), William L. (11 Sep 1846), Martha Jane (11 Aug 1850) and John William (9 Jan 1853).

4.  SARAH NOWELS was born 10 January 1811 in Ohio, although it is not certain if her parents had yet moved to Coshocton County.  According to her family Bible, she married Joseph D. Yeoman on 3 June 1830, although it is a marriage record has never been located.  It is said that Joseph Yeoman was a teacher in Ohio and that Sarah was one of his pupils, but it seems unlikely as the Yeomans and the Nowels were from different areas of Ohio.  Joseph and Sarah (Nowels) Yeoman seemed to follow the same path as John Nowels, settling for a short while in Bunkum, Illinois, and then coming to what is now Rensselaer, Indiana, in 1834.  James Van Rensselaer’s governmental claim caused him to leave his original homestead, and on 13 March 1839 and 6 April 1839 purchased land in Marion and Union Townships.  Joseph died 12 March 1846 and is buried in the Sayler Cemetery in Newton Township.  Sarah died 19 March 1867 and is buried next to him.  Their children were Cynthia (14 May 1831), Hellen M. (4 Jun 1833), Thomas Jefferson (26 Sep 1837), David Hufman (26 Sep 1841) and Sarah Osee (21 Feb 1845).

5.  MOSES NOWELS was born 20 February 1813 according to the David Nowels Bible, presumably in Coshocton County, Ohio.  Census records consistently list his age with a birth year compatible with 1811 or 1812, and his obituary states that he was 88 years old at the time of his death in 1900.  His marriage license states that he was 26 years old on 2 August 1840, therefore giving a birthyear of 1813 or 1814.  We do know this is the correct man as his marriage record in 1887 states that he was the son of John Nowels and Mary Bulgamore, close enough to confirm him as the son of John and Hetty.  He must have left for Iowa shortly after his mother’s death as some of his siblings did also, as he was married in Van Buren County, Iowa, on 2 August 1840 to Mary Tong (or perhaps Long).   Moses was one of the first settlers of Jefferson Township, Mahaska County, Iowa, settling there in April 1843 and staking off his claim on 1 May 1843.  Moses introduced the first fanning mill into the county, having brought up the river from Keokuk by boat.  Moses lived in the rural township for some time, burying three of his children and his first wife in the Coal Creek Cemetery there.  His wife Mary, born c1814, died 15 July 1863.  On 8 June 1864, Moses remarried to Hannah Jane Gass.  Although this marriage resulted in the birth of two children, it must have ended in divorce, as Moses married for the third time on 26 November 1887 to Martha C. (Taylor) Martin, while Hannah (Gass) Nowels remarried J.L. Goodwin on 8 December 1887.  Moses lived out his final days in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and died there 6 January 1900.  He is buried alone in an unmarked grave in Forest Cemetery in Oskaloosa.  His children were David T. (3 May 1841), Moses A. (12 Jan 1844), Sarah E. (c1846), Mary M. (18 Dec 1847), William Thomas (Jan 1849), Comodore P. (19 Jan 1851), Addison Grove (Apr 1853), Mary A. (c1856), Madora E. (c1858), John (c1865) and Clara C. (c1875). 

6.  WILLIAM NOWELS was born 18 July 1815 according to David Nowels Bible, presumably in Coshocton County, Ohio.  His headstone says he was born 11 July 1817, but census records actually agree more with the 1815 year.  His marriage license states that he was 27 years old on 13 August 1843, supporting a birth year of 1815 or 1816.  He also went to Iowa as a young man and was married there in Muscatine County to Cordelia Usher on 13 August 1843.  William was living in Linn County, Iowa, as early as 1840 as a single man, and it is there that the family lived until the 1870’s.  By 1880, the family of William Nowels had moved to Glidden, Carroll County, Iowa, where William died 28 October 1885 and was buried in Dickson Cemetery in Glidden Township.  His wife, Cordelia, died 7 August 1904 in Glidden Township and is buried by his side.  Their children were:  Mary A. (c1845), James Benjamin (6 May 1848), William Henry (Feb 1852), Orpha Jane (c1855) and John Wesley (Apr 1864). 

7.  ELIZABETH NOWELS was born on 31 June 1817 per the David Nowels Bible.  Of course, without 31 days in June, the entry may mean 30 June 1817.  There is no indication in the censuses of 1820 or later that a daughter of this age survived infancy.  Therefore it is assumed that Elizabeth was born and died in Coshocton County, Ohio. 

8.  JOHN NOWELS was born 18 July 1819 per David Nowels Bible, presumably in Coshocton County, Ohio.  Census records are very inconsistent for calculating a birth date, and his death record states that he was born 4 May 1818.  His marriage license states that he was 26 years old on the first day of 1843, supporting a birth year of 1816!  According to his obituary, he came to Iowa in 1837, and it was in this state in Van Buren County that he married Martha F. Jackson on 1 January 1843.  By 1850 he and his family were residents of Chariton Township, Appanoose County, Iowa, where they remained until his death.  John served with Company I of the 3rd Iowa Cavalry from 1861 to 1863.  Martha (Jackson) Nowels, born 15 December 1818, died on 15 May 1875 and was buried in Salem Cemetery near Moravia, Iowa.  John remarried in Appanoose County on 16 September 1875 to 19-year-old Eva Jane McKern.  Late in life, John became feeble and senile and his wife had to obtain a guardianship of him and handle his affairs.  He died 30 July 1909 and is buried next to his first wife.  Eva outlived him by many years and died 28 April 1936.  John’s children were:  James (c1844), Sarah (c1845), Thomas J. (c1847), Isaac (Jan 1849), Francis M. (Mar 1852), Moses A. (c1854), Julia A. (1856), Cassius L. (c1875), Ora Myrtle (9 Jul 1876), Nevada (17 Sep 1878), John Edwin (22 Sep 1882) and Eva Fern (Mar 1892).

9.  DAVID NOWELS was born 15 September 1821 per his own written statement, but the David Nowels Bible states that he was born 1 November 1821, again showing that the Bible dates can be somewhat questionable.  He was born in Coshocton County, Ohio. David Nowels was somewhat of a Jasper County, Indiana, celebrity, as he was considered the first white settler in the county with his father, sister and brother-in-law.  He was married on 10 March 1842 in Jasper County to Phebe Ann (Benjamin) Piper, a young widow of John M. Piper to whom she was married for ten days.  David and Phebe began their married life about five and one-half miles northwest of Rensselaer in a small cabin built in one day.  Through prosperous farming and land speculation, David at one time owned 3,000 acres of land in Jasper County as well as many lots in Rensselaer.  He retired from farming in 1882 and spent the rest of his life in Rensselaer.  He died 16 January 1913 in Rensselaer and was buried in Weston Cemetery in that city next to his wife who had died 8 December 1907.  Their children were Jared (29 Aug 1843), Ezra Crane (30 Jan 1845), William Riley (2 Aug 1846), Charles Dallas (14 Nov 1847), Mary Ellen (9 Nov 1849), Eliza Jane (1 Jul 1852), Eliza Jane (1 Apr 1854), David Benjamin (5 Mar 1856) and Ida Ann (14 Jan 1859).

10.  ISAAC NOWELS was born in newly formed Holmes County, Ohio, in May 1825.  The David Nowels Bible states that he was born 4 May 1825, while his headstone figures a birthdate of 7 May 1825.  It seems as if he would have also been a key figure in the settling of Jasper County, Indiana, but his name is never mentioned in narratives of the settlement.  As a nine-year-old boy, he might have been left in Bunkum with friends or relatives until the settlement was established.  Also, since it is not known what the older boys Moses, William and John were doing at this time or why they scattered to Iowa, it is reasonable to assume that other families were caring for the large motherless family.  Nonetheless, Isaac made it to Jasper County at an early day, and it is assumed that his marriage to Cynthia A. Kenton occurred there around 1846.  Since marriage records of Jasper County prior to 1865 have been destroyed, no document has been found.  Both he and his wife died young and only two months apart.  Cynthia died 23 May 1852.  Isaac followed on 30 July 1852.  They are buried in Smith Cemetery, Barkley Township, Jasper County, Indiana.  His brother, David, became guardian of his surviving children Hester and John.  Their children were Hester Ann (10 Feb 1847), John Wesley (4 Nov 1848), Lewis D. (14 Jun 1850) and William K. (25 Feb 1852). 

11.  PERRY NOWELS was born 17 February 1831 in Fountain County, Indiana.  His placement as a child of John and Hetty (Wolgamot) Nowels is presumptive.  It is questionable whether Hetty would be bearing children at the age of almost 49 years, although it may have been one reason for hastening her death ten months later.  Perry’s name is at the end of the list of John’s children in the David Nowels Bible.  In the Bible, John, Hetty and children James through William were entered at the same time in the same handwriting.  Elizabeth was a separate entry.  John was a separate entry.  David and Isaac were written at one time, and then Perry was a separate entry.  Further complications arise in biographical sketches of David Nowels that say he was the seventh son of eight sons and three daughters (1883) or the seventh son of eight sons and one daughter (1899).  David was the seventh son, but if Perry was the youngest, there would have been nine sons.  This discrepancy has not been resolved.  Perry Nowels married Julia Ann Long in Jones County, Iowa, on 4 October 1855.  His presence in Iowa is also unexplained, unless he went there with his elder brothers.  He returned to Jasper County, Indiana, and was living near the other Nowels families in 1860.  He enlisted as a private in Company G, 9th Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry on 24 August 1861 and was killed in the Battle of Buffalo Mountain, West Virginia, on 13 December 1861.  His children were Joel W. (c1853), Mary J. (c1855) and James S. (Mar 1859).  Again, another mystery is presented in that two of his children seem to have been born before his marriage in 1855.  Julia remained in Jasper County, Indiana, for a short time, but was a resident of Laporte city, Blackhawk County, Iowa, in 1862 and 1863.  She returned to Jasper County, Indiana, to marry Nathaniel Wyatt on 18 August 1867.  Nathaniel was killed by Indians in Cherokee City, Alfalfa County, Oklahoma, on 7 May 1883.  Julia moved to West Mineral, Cherokee County, Kansas, by 1916 where she died 7 May 1929.

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There are seventy-one grandchildren of John Nowels and Hetty Wolgamot listed above.   These children were born between 1823 and 1892 and have been a very mobile generation.  The Nowels family has always been a difficult family to research due to their constant migration and this generation has been no exception.   Whereas Jasper County, Indiana, once was a center for the Nowels family, the name is no longer known there.   Whenever new land or a new territory became open for settlement, the family went there.   The family today is scattered and many people with the name are unaware of their ancestry.   Modern literacy has retained the Nowels spelling, but earlier uncertainties in spelling has left many of today's descendants with the name Nowles or Knowles.   The search for members of this family is ongoing and rare finds like David Nowels family Bible are always possible to shed further light on this elusive family.

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