Following the Henry Knox Trail

Marker for the Henry Knox Trail

In 1926, honoring the sesquicentennial (150-year) anniversary of the Revolutionary War, the states of New York and Massachusetts erected 56 stone markers with brass plaques commemorating Henry Knox’s 1775 expedition from Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point (New York) to Dorchester Heights outside Boston, Massachusetts. The markers trace the route, which looked something like this:

Sketch of the Henry Knox Trail

I first learned about these markers when I was researching Henry Knox in 2007. My corgi, Annie, and I were on a road trip circling the US in a BMW 3-series station wagon. We spent nights in Motel-6es – they love dogs – or with my relatives. I had just learned I might be Henry’s greatx5 granddaughter and wanted to take a look-see at Fort Ticonderoga. But I was traveling in April and the museum was still closed.

I did, however, pass this marker as I traveled north alongside the Hudson River (the same marker that I show above).

Henry Knox Marker by Road

Since 2007, I proved my Knox heritage through the Daughters of the American Revolution. Here’s the line:

Hereditary Line from Knox to Me

Then I wrote an illustrated, sing-along children’s book to teach my grandchildren about Henry’s expedition. It’s called Henry’s Big Kaboom.

Henry's Big Kaboom Book Image

Book Signings

This Thursday, I am traveling from my home in Northern California to New England to attend two book signings. In between the book signings, I will follow the Henry Knox Trail.

On Sunday afternoon, June 10, I will be at Fort Ticonderoga. I am so excited to finally see the fort. I will be sitting by one of the cannon Henry transported.

The following Saturday, June 16, at 10:00, I will be signing more books at the Henry Knox Museum in Thomaston Maine. They are holding an event honoring the Society of the Cincinnati that Henry helped found. The event is titled “Boom.” It will be one big “Boom” weekend.

In between the signings, I will follow Henry’s route, hunting down the markers one by one. Luckily, through the Hudson River Valley Institute’s website, I obtained a detailed guide for finding the markers. The guide includes maps and explanations for why each marker was placed where it was. In most cases, it quotes what Henry Knox wrote in the journal he kept during the expedition. (I believe the original of the journal is housed at the New York Historical Society.)

Henry Knox’s descendants

Henry and his wife Lucy had thirteen children, but only three lived to adulthood. Only one of those three, Lucy Flucker Knox, left descendants. In other words, there are no descendants with a direct male line or with the last name Knox.

Our line was a sticky thing to prove because Henry’s granddaughter Lucy got pregnant with my great-grandfather Charles when she was not married. The Knox family and Lucy’s father’s family, the Thatchers, tried to keep Lucy’s pregnancy a secret. Lucy married later, but her husband never found out about her affair.

Charles met his mother once. The tender letter in which he describes this meeting is part of a document I have on my website that explains this whole ordeal. After Lucy and her husband died in 1863, Charles tried to contact the Knox and Thatcher families to find out who his father was. They did not cooperate. A cousin led him to believe that his father was a sailor who perished at sea two years after the affair. It turns out there was no such man.

Lo and behold, as a result of seeking genealogical roots through DNA tests, a man named Burt Williams in Kentucky came up with a ‘zero distance’ match to my third cousin-once-removed Peter Lesley Ames who lived part-time in Venezuela and part-time in Florida. My great-grandfather Charles Gordon Ames (he took the last name of the people who adopted him in 1830) has 250± living descendants, but only Peter and his son Charles Gordon Ames the Second have a direct male line to CGA the First. Peter passed away this year, but we still have Charlie, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Burt Williams’ family has traced the Williams male line to the family’s emigration to America in the 1600s, but not, yet, to England. Burt’s cousin Nancy Magnuson is diligently working on this project. She found a Williams family living in Thomaston, Maine, at the time Lucy Anna became pregnant. But their male forefathers don’t match Burt’s. The common ancestor must have lived in the 1500s before the families migrated to America. “To be continued.”

250 Cousins

As a result of this genealogical work, I updated a family tree that includes all 250± of Charles Gordon Ames’ living descendant by his two wives. Through emails, I met my third cousin Amy MacDonald (she is one week older than I am) living in Maine not too far from the Knox Museum. She also writes picture books for children. We have joined forces. She will be there on the 16th with her books, too. I can’t wait to meet her.

Here is Henry Knox’s family tree through the first three generations.

Henry Knox Family Tree