Knox Family of Buffalo - Table of Contents

Bios - Knox Family of Buffalo
By Edward T. Dunn

Seymour Horace Knox  1861-1915

1876(?)  - Quits school at age 15

1890   - Moves to Buffalo
1890   - Marries Grace Millard

1912   - Merges his stores with his cousin's to form Woolworth chain, of which he is first vice-president

1913   - Buys out Stephen Clement's share of Marine National Bank - Clement was president of the bank. Clement died in 1913. Knox died two years later. The two widows live next door on Delaware Avenue beginning in 1918.

Grace Millard (Mrs. Seymour Horace Knox) 

1915  - Daughter  Dorothy Virginia Knox, marries Frank H. Goodyear, Jr.
1915  - Frank Jr.'s mother died and left her house at
#672 Delaware Avenue, NW corner at Summer St., to him.  When married, he and Dorothy lived there.  (In 1915, Frank Jr. loses his mother; his wife, Dorothy, loses her father.)

1915   - Grace buys #806 (now #800) Delaware the year her husband dies and the year her daughter, Virginia, marries Frank Goodyear Jr. and lives in #672 Delaware, four doors away from #806. 

(The Goodyear and Knox mausoleums in Forest Lawn Cemetery are next to each other.)

1918  - Moves into #806, the house she built after demolishing the previous mansion on the site.  Her next door neighbor, in the 1914 house, is the widow of Stephen Clement.  Seymour  Knox had bought Stephen Clement's share of Marine National Bank in 1913, the same year Clement died. Seymour  died two years later.

  • 18??   - #414 Porter Avenue
  • 1896   - #467 Linwood
  • 1904   - #1049 Delaware [now #1035]
  • 1918  - #806 Delaware
3 children:
  • Dorothy Virginia
    Born 1896(?)
  • Marjorie
  • Seymore Horace, Jr,

Dorothy Virginia

1915   - Marries Frank H. Goodyear, Jr.
1915   - She and husband live at #672 Delaware Avenue, the house where her husband grew up beginning at age 16.  His mothert died in 1915 and left him the house.

(Her father, Seymour H, Knox I also died in 1915, the same year that her widowed  mother decided to buy the house, #806, now #800 Delaware,  three doors away from Dorothy.)

C. 1916-17   - Builds the main house at the Knox Farm in East Aurora.  They would sell the house to Dorothy's brother, Seymour II, in 1929, and build a grander house three miles away on North Davis Road.

1930   - 39-year old Frank Goodyear, Jr. is killed in a car accident; Dorothy survives with a wrenched shoulder.

1931  - Marries Edmund Pendleton Rogers, a widower from New York. The Rogers lived in New York City, Long Island and East Aurora.


1927  - Marries J. Hazard Campbell.  Their summer home is on Willardshire Road next to the East Aurora estate of Seymour Knox, II. Campbell goes to work at Marine, now a family bank.

1938  - J. Hazard dies in a plane crash witnessed by Marjorie and two of her children.

1948   - MarriedsBenjamin Klopp.
1948   - Lives at #806 Delaware until Marjorie's death in 1971[1980?] after which the house is soid to the Montefiore Club.

Seymour Horace II

1920  - After graduating from Yale, works in the family business, Marine Trust Bank.

1943-1970    - Chairman of Marine Trust Bank when construction begins on Marine's thirty-eight story building straddling lower Main Street.

1943-1971  - Chairman of F. W Woolworth co.

1961   - Albright Art Gallery renamed the Albright Knox Art Gallery

1923   - Marries Helen Northrup.  Helen had graduated from the Albright Art School.

1929   -  Buys the main house at the Knox Farm in East Aurora from his sister, Dorothy,  and brother-in-law, Frank H. Goodyear, Jr..  They would sell the house to Dorothy's brother, Seymour II , in 1929.   They also owned a winter retreat in Aiken, South Carolina.

Helen Northrup
Wife of Seymour H. Knox, Jr.

Helen graduated from the Albright Art School.

1923   - Married.

1923  The newlyweds move into the recently completed mansion behind #806 on #57 Oakland Place.

1971  - Helen dies

2 children:

  • Seymour H., III 
  • Northrup  
    (The brothers bring the Sabres and NHL hockey to Buffalo in 1970)

The text below is excerpted from
Buffalo's Delaware Avenue: Mansions and Families, by Edward T. Dunn. Pub. by Canisius College Press, 2003

Seymour Horace Knox

Of Scots-Irish ancestry, Seymour Horace Knox was born in 1861 in Russell, Saint Lawrence County, New York, the son of James Horace Knox, a farmer, and his wife, the former Jane E. McBrier. James' grandfather had fought in the Revolution. The first of these Knoxes in America, William, came to Massachusetts from Belfast in 1737.

Seymour attended the district school and at fifteen, though he had never gone to high school, began to teach school himself. At seventeen he moved to Hart, Michigan, where for a few years he worked as a salesclerk. Then he left for Reading where in partnership with his first cousin, Frank W Woolworth, he opened a five-and-ten-cent store which failed. Unfazed, young Knox established the same kind of operation in Newark, New Jersey This succeeded, but Knox once again sold out and with Woolworth formed Woolworth & Knox in Erie.

With success here, Knox came to Buffalo in 1890 where he opened two stores, one on Main, the other on William Street, to be known as S. H. Knox. Woolworth expanded his empire by using partners to organize single outlets. Thus he could minimize his own outlay. In 1912, however, he merged his rivals, including S. H. Knox, into a company, which in time boasted 596 stores worldwide. Its headquarters were in the Woolworth Building, a $13 million skyscraper on lower Broadway in New York built in 1913. The new company, F. W. Woolworth, was capitalized at $65 million. Besides his large holdings in this gigantic venture, Knox was made first vice-president. He had also become a heavy player in the affairs of Marine National by purchasing Stephen Clement's interest in 1913.

Grace Millard, wife of Seymour, I

Knox was married in June 1890, the year he came to Buffalo:

Mrs. Knox was the former Grace Millard of Detroit, the daughter of Charles and Sarah Avery Millard .... To some of her friends, Mrs. Knox confided the story of her romance with the young man with whom she was to rise to riches. She recalled to these friends that a trip to Buffalo brought about her meeting with Mr. Knox. She was one of a party of girls who came here on a short vacation, one of the girls knew Mr. Knox and he entertained the group.

Especially attracted to Grace Millard, he saw her frequently during her stay here and it wasn't long after the visit that they were married in Detroit and returned here to make their home. Her parents followed, arriving here shortly before Mr. Knox opened his first Buffalo store in the old Palace Arcade near Lafayette Square in the early 1880s [read 1890s]. -- Buffalo Evening News, August 31, 1936

The newlyweds' first home was #414 Porter Avenue; by 1896 they were at #467 Linwood; and in 1904 the city directory listed them at #1049 Delaware [now #1035].

Seymour, I, and Grace Millard's family

The 1905 census describes this household:

  • Seymour H. Knox 44
  • Grace Knox 40 wife
  • Dorothy Knox 9 daughter at school
  • Seymour Knox 7 son at school
  • Marjorie Knox 5 daughter at school
  • Domestics were Bertha Dengler 40 maid, Florence Heath 40 maid [and over the stable] Damon Sherman coachman, Kate Damon 25 wife.

The oldest of the Knox children, Gracia, born in 1893, died in infancy; the second, Dorothy Virginia, married Frank Goodyear, Jr. and then Edmund Rogers; the third, Marjorie, married J. Hazard Campbell, and after his death Benjamin Klopp, and died in 1980; and the fourth, Seymour H. Knox II, born in 1898, married Helen Northrup.

Seymour Knox, I, died in 1915, at fifty-four. In 1918 his widow moved from the baronial house her husband had built in 1904 into a magnificent mansion at #806.

Grace Millard Knox

At Mrs. Seymour Knox's death in 1936, a writer reminisced on a life style which was hardly affected by the Depression:

... Mrs. Knox's principal joy was her many friends. She seldom wanted to be alone - her great desire was to be surrounded by her intimates and her children and grandchildren. Christmas time at the huge avenue mansion was always particularly happy time for her children, Seymour Knox Jr., Mrs. J. Hazard Campbell and Mrs. Edmund P Rogers of New York City and Buffalo, made a point ofreturning home for the festive celebration at which were present also Mrs. Knox Jr., Mr. Campbell and Mr. Rogers and their children.

Her children have always been close by. Mr. & Mrs. Campbell living with her; Mrs. Rogers owning a home two doors away at Summer street and Delaware avenue and living there until the time of the death of her husband, Frank H. Goodyear, and her son and his wife live in Oakland place.

Mrs. Knox's magnificent summer place in East Aurora has in the last few years become the rendezvous for her children. As each one married, she built a charming home on the land for the couple and the original home has become the guesthouse. Mrs. Rogers, who has made her home in New York City since 1931, joins them here each year.

Mrs. Knox had a track of her own and fine stables in East Aurora. Her love of fine horses was fostered by her husband and for some time she had been vitally interested in the polo team headed by her son, Seymour. When an English team came over last year to play against them, Mrs. Knox entertained for the poloists.

At the time of the Peace Bridge opening ten years ago, Mrs. Knox had a large luncheon in her Delaware avenue home and among the notable guests were Vice President Charles G. Dawes, Premier and Mrs. Stanley Baldwin of England, and Secretary of State and Mrs. Frank B. Kellogg. When Lady Burley of England was in town as the guest of Mrs. Norman E. Mack, Mrs. Knox entertained for the out of-of-town guests. Mrs. Knox's entertainments were not so much for out-of-town people, however, as much as they were for her many Buffalo friends.

The ballroom, with mirrors lining the walls and ceiling is only one of the sumptuously furnished rooms in the large house. The drawing room, library and living rooms of the home, furnished in Empire style with much gilt framework and red brocaded upholstery, combine stateliness with comfortable hominess. Crystal chandeliers reflect the lights in each room.

Travel was balm for Mrs. Knox after the death of her husband and she was heard to remark recently, "If I were 45 today, there would not be a place in the world that I wouldn't see." She has motored all over Europe, traveled in the Orient and over this continent. She has a particular fondness for Pasadena, Cal. Her charities were extensive but she preferred to keep them quiet. -- Obituaries of Mrs. Knox in 1936 in the Buffalo News and the Courier Express.

Doctor Albert Butzer and Bishop Cameron J. Davis conducted funeral services for Grace Knox at #806. Burial was beside her husband in the family mausoleum at Forest Lawn.

Marjorie Knox

In 1927 Marjorie Knox married J. Hazard Campbell, born in 1900 in Providence, Rhode Island, a descendant of Oliver Hazard Perry, the victor at the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812. Campbell was cruise director for a steamship line and met Marjorie aboard ship. They wed at the end of the cruise and returned to Buffalo where they lived at #806 and at Willardshire Road next to the East Aurora estate of Seymour Knox, II. Campbell went to work at Marine, now a family bank.

On August 23, 1938, Campbell and Lieutenant Commander Frank Hawks, a famous speed flyer, were killed in a crash just after takeoff in a small plane made by a company of which Hawks was vice-president and for which he was seeking Campbell's backing. The tragedy was witnessed from Edmund Rogers' polo field by Marjorie and two of their children. Hazard was the second son-in-law of Seymour Knox, I, to have died violently."

The widowed Marjorie returned to her former home at #806. In 1948 she married Benjamin Klopp, Buffalo native, Lafayette High graduate, World War I veteran, and partner in Phillips Brothers Basket Company. He was also associated with Niagara Falls Power Company and Sterling Engine. His first wife, who died in 1948, was Else Helen Schmidt (her middle name came from her mother, born Helen Johanna Maria, daughter of Jacob Schoellkopf), niece of power company president Jacob Schoellkopf. The Klopps lived at #806 until Marjorie's death in 1971.

Seymour H., II

Seymour H. Knox, II, was born in Buffalo in 1898. He attended Nichols and the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. Graduating from Yale in 1920 he needed merely to fold into the family business. Since college he was identified with Marine Trust, of which he became director in 1921, vice-president in 1926, and chairman 1943-1970, when construction began on Marine's thirty-eight story building straddling lower Main Street. He joined the F. W Woolworth board in 1926 and was chairman from 1943 until reaching the mandatory retirement age forty-five years later in 1971.

At various times he was director of the New York Central and of Penn Central when it went bankrupt in1970, American Steamship Company, Hewitt-Robins, and Niagara Share. Like his father, who had bred champion trotters and pacers at his rambling East Aurora estate, the son, known as "Shorty," was a polo enthusiast. He led his Aurora team to the United States Championship in 1932 and later won a tournament in Europe and toured South America. His ranking as a seven-goal handicap player was one of his proudest boasts. He was a top squash player and invited the best to compete with him at East Aurora where he raised Angus Aberdeen cattle. His clubs included Buffalo Country, East Aurora Country, Park, Buffalo Tennis and Squash, and Yale.

Abandoning polo in the 1960s, Knox turned toward art. Conger Goodyear had talked him into pouring millions into avant guard works and donating them to public art museums. In the 1950s, with the advice of Gordon Smith, director of the Albright, Knox began buying for the gallery the works, then modestly priced, of Abstract Expressionist painters. In 1961 the Albright became the Albright-Knox. Knox encouraged younger artists as well as "old masters" of modern art like Picasso, Gauguin, and Giacometti. He was also a major benefactor of U.B., a longtime member of its council, and its chairman 1949-1969.

Helen Northrup: In 1923 Seymour H. Knox, II, married Helen Northrup, born in Buffalo in 1902, daughter of Louis G. and Sara E. Northrup of Buffalo. Helen graduated from Lafayette High and the Albright Art School in Buffalo. It was a marriage of likes since Helen loved horses, was an accomplished rider prominent in the Genesee Valley Hunt, played excellent tennis, and shared her husband's passion for the arts.

The newlyweds moved into the recently completed mansion behind #806 on #57 Oakland Place. They had two sons, Seymour H., III, born in Buffalo in 1926, and Northrup, born in Buffalo in 1928. Both grew up at #57 Oakland, though the family owned a summer home in East Aurora and a winter retreat in Aiken, South Carolina. They followed the example of their father in business, sports, the arts, and community service. Together they brought the Sabres hockey team to Buffalo in 1969..

Helen Knox died in 1971; Seymour, III, in 1990,

Northrup died in 1998; Northrup's widow, Lucetta Crisp, died in 2008.

806 Delaware Avenue

When Marjorie Klopp died in 1971, #806 (later #800) went on the market. The total destruction of the Montefiore Club in 1969 made officers think of #806 as a replacement. They approached Seymour Knox, II, and intimated that for a reduced price they would be glad to rechristen the club Montefiore-Knox. He brushed the hint aside but sold the building anyway.

The club went bankrupt in 1977. The need to build athletic facilities and a furnace house had overtaxed club revenues. Previously #806 Delaware and #57 Oakland had been heated by the same unit, which with the sale went with #57 Oakland.

In 1978 three companies acquired three Avenue mansions as quality corporate headquarters.

  • Number 690 Delaware, the old Pratt place, went to Niagara Trading
  • #806 was sold to Computer Task Group
  • #891, the Orin Foster mansion, was obtained by De Rose Food Brokers.

A Courier-Express writer noted that "all three houses were built with rich, expensive materials which are not commonly used today," and pointed out that, "the imported marbles and hardwoods of these homes could only be acquired now - if at all - at a price many times the original cost" (C-E, August 25, 1978.)

These purchases pleased a scarcely revolutionary local group whose slogan was "Save the Mansions! " Later a News writer recalled that Dr. Charles Battista in 1974 prevented IBM from demolishing three buildings on the 800 block of Delaware Avenue to erect what the writer described as "a god-awful piece of garbage to stick in the middle of a pristine block" (BEN, July 3, 1999.)


The Reading, Pa. store opened Sept. 20th, 1884 [and] was a success from the beginning, where opening day sales totalled $209.20. So successful, in fact, that the inventory was valued at $1,531, and the end of the first week total sales were $1,517.

Newark was a disaster for the two cousins [Knox and Woolworth]. When they partnered in their next launch in Erie, it was also successful and helped them buy out of the lease they had in Newark.

In a bid to branch out on his own, away from cousin Frank Woolworth, he [Knox] had opened at store on Sept. 17th 1887 in Lockport along with his partner (and cousin) Edwin McBrier. In his travels back and forth he was intrigued by Buffalo's potential and partnered with Frank Woolworth in the first Buffalo store, opened at 409 Main St., on October 13th, 1888. The second Buffalo store was opened at 549 William St. on June 20th, 1891. These two stores would be moved to other addresses on the same streets, but the dates above were the original openings.

- Ross Brewitt

Color photos and their arrangement 2005 Chuck LaChiusa
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