The Lawyers

Hunting for Hosea

knolton.jpgIf one is seeking the final resting place of Hosea M. Knowlton, famous prosecutor for the state of Massachusetts in the Borden trial of 1893,  The site called the Political Graveyard might be the place to start. Here’s what they have to say:

Knowlton, Hosea M. — of Massachusetts. Massachusetts state attorney general, 1894-1902. Burial location unknown. ” The ultimate resource book on the book, Rebello’s Lizzie Borden Past and Present has the same thing to say.  And so Hosea has “gone missing” for quite awhile.  There has even been some confusion about whether or not he died in Marion , Maine or Marion, Massachusetts.  Knowing the temperature in Maine in December, it would be a good bet it was Massachusetts.  Although born in Maine in 1847, it was the State of Massachusetts where Hosea Knowlton left his mark both during and after the Borden trial both as a  respected attorney in New Bedford and Attorney General after Pillsbury. 

As luck would have it, while visiting New Bedford recently hunting for Hosea’s final resting place, a thin card tucked away in the old card file at the Rural Cemetery (also listed as New Bedford Cemetery in directories on Rockdale and Dartmouth Sts.) revealed that Mr. Knowlton, alas, is not reposing for all eternity beneath the soil of New Bedford.  Lot # 287 lists him as the lot owner and the following as buried there:

Issac Knowlton

Franz Knowlton

Nellie Knowlton

Mary F. Knowlton (d. July 7, 1902)

Mary A. & Edward Rich 

The faded card reveals Hosea died on December 18th, and was “removed” to Boston. Naturally thinking that Mount Auburn would be the spot for a reknown attorney, the next call to Mount Auburn proved a dead end , until the office clerk, intrigued by the Lizzie Borden story, suggested a call to Forest Hills in the Jamaica Plains section of Boston, another prestigious burial ground nearly equal to the grandeur of Mount Auburn. And it was there that Hosea was found at last- not buried beneath a monument of marble, but scattered to the four winds for all time.  Just two days after Christmas, the crematorium at Forest Hills received the long, black, cloth-covered coffin from E.T. Wilson Funeral Home, still in business after 7 generations.  A call to Wilson’s, on County Street in New Bedford confirmed that the information was correct. 

Also for some years, the state of Knowlton’s demise was disputed. A call to the Marion, Massachusetts town clerk confirmed that Hosea had passed away from a massive stroke on Union Street, December 18, 1902, although his summer home was near the Tabor academy on Front Street.  Today Union Street is no more in Marion. 

Courtesy of Len Rebello today, a quote from p. 60 New Bedford Lawyers of the Past  by William M. Emery 1905 “”.. He died at his Marion, Massachusettss  home Dec 18, 1902, from a shock sustained shortly after Thanksgiving. Funeral Services were held in the Universalist Church in this city on Dec, 22, and all the lawyers’ offices in New Bedford closed that afternoon a a mark of respect. By his request the ashes of the deceased attorney were scattered over the waters of the bay at Marion (Massachusetts) His name is inscribed on a ceneotaph in Rural Cemetery where repose the ashes of Mrs. Knowlton.,  …”

And so, for lovers of mysteries, now it remains to find out why Hosea Knowlton did not want to lie beside his wife in New Bedford, who had preceeded him in death by five months- that may be another story!


Knowlton summer home on Front Street


The fishing harbor, Marion, where Lizzie was fond of visiting to fish and stay at Dr. Handy’s cottage.  Mr. Knowlton may not have gotten entirely away from Miss Borden, after all.