Biography of Frank F. Knowles

One of the prominent and successful contractors and builders of Mesa county, with headquarters at Fruita, and as well a leading ranchman and stock-grower. Frank F. Knowles has risen to his present consequence and high place in public esteem through his own unaided efforts, having been substantially the architect of his own fortune and his own main reliance in building it. He is a native of Waldo county, Maine, born on March 23, 1856, and the son of Robert S. and Grace A. (Philbrook) Knowles, both born and reared in Maine, where their families lived for generations. In youth and early manhood the father was a sailor, and during the Civil war served one year in the United States navy. For some years before the war and after it until his death, in 1900 at the age of seventy-seven, he was a prosperous farmer. His widow is still living on the old Maine homestead at an advanced age. The son Frank was reared on the farm and received a common and high-school education in his native state. He remained at home until twenty years of age, then began work as a carpenter, following the trade in Maine six years. In 1881 he started west and passed three months at St. Paul, Minnesota, working at his trade, then went to Kansas City where he wrought at the same occupation until the spring of 1882. At that time he came to Colorado and located at Colorado Springs, where he again worked at his trade, remaining until June, when he moved to Trinidad and there enlarged his operations, becoming somewhat prominent as a contractor and builder. In October, 1883, he took up his residence in Grand valley where he found immediate and growing demand for his skill as a mechanic, building the first house erected within the present town of Fruita. He continued his operations as a contractor and builder in this neighborhood for something over a year, then moved to Las Animas, where he remained ten years occupied in the same pursuits. In 1895 he returned to Fruita, and here he has since resided and carried on extensively in contracting and building. In the spring of 1896 he bought a ranch of one hundred and forty-five acres five miles below Fruita on the Grand river, to which he has since devoted a considerable portion of his time and energy, turning it from a desert into a fruitful farm, and improving it with a fine dwelling and other necessary buildings for the proper conduct of his large stock industry which he has developed there. He put in a water wheel thirty-two feet in diameter to raise water for irrigation and has an abundance for all his needs. His residence is a two-story stone house, heated with hot water and furnished with all modern appliances for comfortable living, it being the finest ranch home in the county. A coal mine on the ranch provides him with the greatest abundance of fuel for his own needs and more than he can use, while an immense deposit of fire clay yields handsome returns for the labor expended in working it and getting it to market. Near the ranch he has a range of two thousand acres fenced with a natural wall of rocks and cliffs. Dividing his time between his ranching and his business as a contractor and builder, he is a very busy man, but he still has time to give due attention to the public affairs of the county and contribute to its development and general welfare in many ways. On April 17, 1888, he was married at Kansas City to Miss Jennie O. Hickman, a native of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and daughter of James and Monica (Gates) Hickman, natives of Missouri. Her father was for many years a bookkeeper at the fort in the employ of the government. He died at Independence, Missouri, and since his death his widow has made her home with her daughter, Mrs. Knowles. Mr. and Mrs. Knowles have four children, Anna G., Frank R., George H. and Ethel. In political faith Mr. Knowles is a staunch Republican, earnestly devoted to the welfare of his party. He is a member of the United Workmen and the Woodmen of the World, taking a deep interest in the welfare of these orders.

Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.

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