George Osborn Knowles (1842-1909).
Among the richer wharves historically was that built by Stephen Cook at 381-383 Commercial Street and best known as the George O. Knowles Wharf, after Cook’s nephew. It was home of a renowned fishing fleet, including Carrie D. Knowles, named for Knowles’s daughter. The wharf served as the first home of the influential Beachcombers association and briefly harbored the Casino, one of the earliest semi-fancy nightspots in town. It was destroyed in 1926 when the Coast Guard’s storm-tossed cutter Morrill, on rum-running interdiction duty, caused more havoc in Provincetown in a few hours than bootleggers caused throughout Prohibition. Bull Ring Wharf is successor to the Knowles Wharf.
Knowles, a Provincetown native, was the son of Cook’s sister, Delia (Cook) Knowles, and Joseph Pepper Knowles. He went to work as a clerk in his Uncle Stephen’s store and took over the business in about 1880. The firm specialized in sperm whale oil and fish oils, and had three whalers in its service. Knowles and his wife, the former Georgia M. Dyer — yes, George and Georgia — had a daughter, Carrie Dyer Knowles, who was born in 1876. Following custom in shipbuilding families, 11-year-old Carrie was the namesake of one of the fleet, a schooner built at the Tarr & James shipyard in Essex, Mass., and outfitted at Knowles Wharf. The boat’s first trip, to the Caribbean, from June 1887 to October 1888, yielded 335 barrels of oil. She made 15 more successful voyages until 27 January 1904, when she set out from Provincetown under the experienced command of Capt. Colin Stevenson, bound once again for the Caribbean whaling grounds. That was the last anyone heard from the ship or its crew. George Knowles was still alive when the ship bearing his daughter’s name disappeared.
¶ Last updated on 4 July 2017.
Provincetown’s Historic Cemeteries and Memorials, Key O-5, Page 3.