A Man of Mystery

Winslow Knowles
Capt. Winslow Knowles, Jr.


"After following the seas" for most of his teenage years, Winslow Knowles Jr., began commanding ships that served American East-Coast ports.

Then tragedy struck. His first wife died in childbirth, and the son she bore him followed her two months later. Grief stricken, the captain then arranged for his mother to take care of their three year old daughter in what is now the Old Manse Inn, and then he mysteriously left for the gold fields in California.

He finally returned home, and after a second marriage that brought him a namesake son, he once again disappeared - this time into the fabulous and exotic world of the East Indies, where he commanded ships until his death in Calcutta in 1863.

Ironically, this portrait of himself (shown above), which he probably commissioned in 1849, was inherited by his son. It was a portrait of a father who the son had probably never seen in his lifetime.

Equally ironic, however, is that this last disappearance - one that was worthy of a Rudyard Kipling novel - had tremendous historical implications in the end. Because it was captains like these, who made the East Indies their homes, that finally broke the European stranglehold on this part of the world.

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