Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


JOHN THOMAS KNOWLES, M. D. Although death is natural and inevitable to all that is mortal, it comes among our friends and invades our homes before we are ever ready. He comes—the Grim Reaper—unbidden, and with no decorum crosses our threshold and removes those we have loved and who have loved us, leaving in his wake only desolation and sorrow, an ache in the heart that Time, even, cannot wholly soothe. Why the human heart was not made to look with more tolerance upon the ravages of the so-called King of Terrors, we cannot say, we do not know; for "seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come" as wrote the greatest of poets, it would seem that we could regard it rather as the friend of storm-tossed humanity than as an enemy. But there are things not given mortal mind to understand. Death is particularly sad when it knocks at the door of the young, promising and useful, as it did when it took from our midst Dr. John Thomas Knowles, one of the leading younger physicians of Springfield, and a man who had much to live for, who was needed, and whose untimely end will long be deplored by the host of friends he left behind.

Dr. Knowles was born September 2, 1879, on a farm in Greene county, Missouri, eight miles south of Springfield. He was a son of Thomas M. and Martha (Yarbrough) Knowles. The father was born in Kentucky in 1833, and there he grew to manhood, received a common school education, and in early manhood removed to Missouri, establishing his permanent home in Greene county on a farm where he still resides, engaged successfully in general farming. His wife, who was Martha Yarbrough, was a native of Missouri, and she grew up in her native community and, like her husband, received a limited education in the district schools. Her death occurred in 1885, leaving two children: Mrs. Minnie Kelly, who lives in St. Louis, and Doctor John T. subject of this memoir.

John T. attended the public schools in Springfield, including high school. Deciding upon a medical career he went to Memphis, Tennessee, where he attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons, making an excellent record and was graduated from that institution with the class of 1908. He returned to Springfield in 1909, opened an office on the public square where he remained until the opening of the Woodruff building, when he removed to the same, maintaining offices there until his death. He was building up a large and lucrative practice among the best people of Springfield and was meeting with pronounced success as a general practitioner.

Doctor Knowles was married April 1, 1901 in Springfield to Flossie V. Moore, who was born in Greene county, Missouri, March 15, 1879. Sheis a daughter of Samuel and Eliza (Payne) Moore, the father born in Tennessee, March 15, 1846, and the mother was born in Arkansas, May 29, 1846. Mr. Moore devoted his active life successfully to general farming, but he and his wife are now living retired in Springfield. Politically, Mr. Moore is a Republican. He is a veteran of the Civil war.

Mrs. Knowles is one of a family of ten children. She grew to womanhood on the farm and received her education in the country schools. She is a lady of broad mind, comprehensive ideals and genial address, and has long been a favorite with a wide circle of friends.

The union of Doctor Knowles and wife was blessed by the birth of two children, namely: Viola, born February 22, 1910 died in infancy; Mary Helen, born April 27, 1912.

Politically, Doctor Knowles was a Democrat. Fraternally, he belonged to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Ladies and Knights of Security and the Court of Honor. He was also an active member of the Young Men's Business Club. He belonged to the Greene County Medical Society and the Missouri State Medical Association. He was a splendid self-made man and accumulated considerable property by his industry and good management, including a handsome home on South Dollison street. He contributed largely to charity and never hesitated to assist a person in need.

The death of Doctor Knowles occurred September 1, 1912, at the early age of thirty-three years. His funeral was conducted by the Elks, Florence Lodge, and also the county medical society attending in a body.

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