Hosea Knowlton at Tufts College

08 Nov

Recycled post.

From my Lizzie Borden collection is this Tuft’s College graduating yearbook photograph of Hosea Morrill Knowlton, also showing his signature. Knowlton of course, was the District Attorney who prosecuted Lizzie Borden in her famous 1893 Trial in New Bedford, MA.

From time to time I’ll be posting “little known tidbits” about the people, places and things that factor in the Lizzie Borden case, so I’m creating this new category. I’ve not been able to find this photograph on the internet so perhaps its shown here for the first time.

Knowlton graduated from Tuft’s College in 1867. After he died of a stroke (December 18, 1902), Charles E. Fay, a Tuft’s College graduate of 1868, wrote a 6-page tribute to Hosea in the January, 1903 issue of The Tuftonian, the college newsletter. It is here that we get an insight into Hosea’s younger days and find that he was not without experience in college pranks. (By the way, it wasn’t until July 15, 1892, the Tufts Board of Trustees voted “that the College be opened to women in the undergraduate departments on the same terms and conditions as men.”)

(Right click to view larger type)

Hosea Knowlton had three sons and they all attended Tuft’s College.

Though it is often stated that Knowlton graduated from Harvard Law School, he did not. He attended there for a year but did not graduate. I was able to verify this last summer when I went on a business conference to Raytheon in Andover and spent all my spare time doing research on Knowlton at the Boston Public Library and State House.

When Frank Warren Knowlton, Jr. donated his grandfather’s papers on the Borden case to the Fall River Historical Society, he described his grandfather as “too brash, too cocky. He had a way of standing with his hands on his hips and maybe the jury thought that he was talking down at them.” Source: -Fall River Herald News, Sept. 1, 1989. (Note: It was Frank’s father, Frank Warren Knowlton (Tufts College 1899-1902), who engaged in an 8-year correspondence with noted author Edmund Pearson who resurrected interest in the case with his long essay in Studies in Murder.)

Hosea’s grandson donated The Knowlton Papers in August (see the Fall River Herald News article of Sept 1, 1989 below).

Pictured above: The often seen image of Hosea Knowlton as he appeared in 1893. Taken from the video Hash & Rehash, is this TV screen image of his grandson, Frank Knowlton, Jr. who donated “the Knowlton Papers” to the Fall River Society.

I had the pleasure of meeting Frank, Jr. at the 1992 Centennial Conference on Lizzie Borden at the Speakers Reception and again when both he and Andrew Jennings Waring (grandson of Lizzie’s defense attorney) joined me on a tour of Maplecroft. It was very interesting, though not surprising, that one stoutly believed in her guilt while the other stoutly believed in her innocence. I’ll never forget the dialog between the two out on the sidewalk after the tour of Lizzie’s house on French Street. Both are now deceased and the few letters I have from them are read now with a special melancholy and fond rememberence.

1 Comment

Posted by on November 8, 2009 in Fall River Historical Society


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One response to “Hosea Knowlton at Tufts College

  1. Wanda Taylor

    September 5, 2009 at 7:52 PM

    Interesting article! My first introduction to Lizzie Borden was in 1963 or 1964, when I read Radin’s book, Lizzie Borden, the Untold Story. I was so taken with the case — at age fifteen! –that I wrote a letter to Radin and received a very kind reply, which I still have. Reading Victoria Lincoln’s A Private Disgrace was a revelation. I have been a student of the case for about forty-five years and have a signed copy of Rebello’s reference book. It had just been published in 1999 and I was visiting the Second Street house that year. What a treat to learn more and more about this case — and never to have it solved!


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