Rose M. Knox

"First Lady of Johnstown"

Amanda Forman Markward - Rose M. Knox's mother                                   Rose M. Knox

Rose Markward Knox on the right and her mother Amanda Forman Markward on the left.   

 More on the Knox Family


Amanda Forman Markward's picture (Rose's mother) as well as the picture of Rose and her sister Arabella (below)
Thanks to Doug Eastman, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada -  descendant of Amanda MARKWARD 

Born on November 18, 1857 to David and Amanda Markward in Mansfield, Ohio, third of 3 girls. Rose M. Knox and her sister Arabella The Markward family moved to Gloversville, NY in the late 1870s. The Charles Knox family moved to Johnstown in 1876. Rose met Charles in 1881 and they were married at her home on February 15, 1883. Mr. Knox was seeking an opportunity to develop some commercial enterprise of his own and he became deeply interested in the subject of gelatine as a food.

The 1947 Knox Jr. High School Yearbook, "The Log," was dedicated to Mrs. Rose M. Knox and her photograph (above) appeared together with the following poem:
(No credits could be given other than the Class of 1947, there were none listed).



Who has given so much to the girls and boys,
Whose gifts to our school have brought many joys;
The beautiful playground for games and recreation,
Cooling shade and green grass if we wish relaxation,
A library of books, man's richest treasure,
Vistas of new worlds -- all for our pleasure,
And when our story of Knox is closed
You say "bon voyage" with a lovely rose.
To you, Mrs. Knox, benefactor and friend,
Whose worth to our school we all apprehend,
As a token of esteem and our high regard, too,
We, the Class of '47, dedicate our book to you."

Charles B. Knox - Rose M. Knox's husband
He watched his wife prepare homemade gelatine and decided there would be a market for a prepared gelatine. Mr. Knox always believed in talking over his business affairs with his wife, Rose. They were business partners from the day of their marriage. Rose had a fixed allowance to run the house and as he prospered, the amount increased. Anything she saved of this was hers and if Mr. Knox borrowed from this fund it was, a business like a transaction, as though borrowed from a bank. That is how she learned to handle money. Rose said, "Because I learned to handle hundreds of dollars, I could handle thousands when I had to." They systematically saved some money every year and finally accumulated $5,000.


                  ~~  Rose Hill ~~

Rose Hill - Knox MansionThey decided to strike out for themselves and take "whatever befell." They moved to Johnstown and set up a gelatine business in 1890 in a large four-story wooden factory building 45' x 100' located near the foot of Montgomery Street along the F.J.&G. Co. railroad tracks. It was also accessible to excellent water and close to the local tanneries that could provide the raw materials. When their new home was built in 1898 it was known as "Rose Hill." It was one of the most elegant homes in the city. It was, and still is today, a huge neo-classic yellow clapboard house with massive pillars supporting a heavy orange tile roof. Behind it was a well appointed carriage barn and stables matching the house. Immense trees surrounded the house and gardens. The carriage barn has since been converted to an elegant home for Virginia and Clark Easterly, Sr.

Rose and Charles Knox were the parents of three children, a daughter, Helen who died in infancy, one son, Charles M. Knox, who died after reaching manhood; and another son, James E. Knox, who, after completing his education, joined the staff in the plant in 1913.

This is a real old box of Knox Gelatine
.... I found it on ...  eBay

Even before her marriage, Rose was one of those girls who loved to cook. As a wife her culinary talents developed in her own kitchen and in helping her husband in his research department and writing his cook books. During an interview for the New York Herald Tribune in 1937, Mrs. Knox said: "I spent all that first summer writing out my own favorite gelatine recipes for him. I thought I had a tremendous number of them, but when the book came out it was so tiny I almost shed tears. I still remember that awful moment."

In the years that followed she created more recipes and in 1896 her recipe book, "Dainty Desserts for Dainty People" was printed. The successes of her book have circulated to millions of people all over the world.

The starting of the gelatine business took so much of the family capital that Mr. Knox did not have enough money left to go out on the road as his own salesman. With characteristic resourcefulness, he secured a position as a glove salesman and thus was able to market Knox Sparking Gelatine as a side line. He often took Mrs. Knox and his two sons with him on his trips, so they could learn every phase of the business.

By 1908, Charles Knox had amassed a very profitable business collective including the manufacture of Spim Soap, Ointment and Tonic, a small hardware store and a power company, and was also known as the largest manufacturer of unflavored gelatine in the World.

He had been in the Gelatine business 18 years and thought about retiring. He had an interest in politics. He bought a local newspaper, The Morning Herald and let contracts worth $152,000 for a new building to house it. Only the foundations were laid when he died on June 17, 1908.

Mrs. Knox said: "I either had to run the buisness myself or employ a manager. If I did the latter, I figured that by the time my boys came of age the business would belong to the manager."  So she took over the reins of the gelatine firm.

It was unthinkable at this time for a woman to be active in commerce,
so she sent black-bordered cards to all her husband's customers and associates
announcing his death and that their son, Charles
would take over his father's responsibilities,
when in truth, Charles was still in school.
Her intrigue was successful until one winter morning when
a salesman arrived at the Knox Gelatine Company
and stood brushing the snow off his boots at the entrance,
he immediately decided a woman must be running the place because he said
"Only a woman would have the common sense to put that broom by the door."

One of the great problems she had was to decide on her advertising policy. Mr. Knox spent large sums of money to publicize the Knox name. Knox Gelatine had a blimp that toured the nation, long before Goodyear blimp. The airship "Gelatine" was seen in the tri-county area, in Syracuse, in San Francisco, and made 23 ascensions at the Lewis & Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon in 1905, a record-breaking performance.

Knox spread the good word about gelatine with "Lucky 13" promotional pieces, and with big signs on horseless carriages which were the first automobiles in New York State.

He also owned a string of pacers that captured horse race titles throughout the country: