Benjamin Lewis Knowles was born in 1834 in Hardeman County, Tennessee to Samuel Lihu Knowles (1797-1887) and Elizabeth Providence Johnson Knowles (1796-1852). He married Mary Hulda Kellogg on December 23, 1852 in Mississippi. Ben served in the Mississipi State Infantry during the Civil War. Over the next twenty-some years the couple had at least ten children, most of whom were born in Mississippi. By the time the 1870 census was taken, the family had moved further west and were living in Washington County, Texas near Brenham. Ben’s occupation was listed as farmer. In 1880 per the census, they were living in Burleson County in central Texas. Benjamin was in his mid to upper 40s. Moving forward to 1890, they had moved to what was likely their last residence in Texas and were living in rural Mills County, still in central Texas. Ben’s age was listed as 66.
A few short years later in 1903, the family moved to Lea County, just under ten miles north of Hobbs when Ben was about 70 and Mary was about the same age. Ben built a simple adobe structure with two rooms and a dog walk or breezeway separating them, a common layout for residences, including wooden houses, of that time. Ben ran a mercantile store and made a successful application for a post office. Around them sprang up a few businesses, including more stores, a school, a blacksmith shop and others. It is estimated that the community, once known as Oasis and longer as Knowles, might have had as many as 500 residents including his son Ruben Benjamin Knowles and his large family who had moved to the area with Benjamin and Mary.
Mary died in 1907 and is buried there in Knowles. Ben lived to the age of about 91 and died in Wier, Williamson County, Texas while visiting family members. He is believed to have been interred in Texas, but there is no known headstone or grave marker. Ruben lived to be 101 years old and remained in Lea County most of his life. His wife, the former Mary Elizabeth Scrivner, had died in her mid 50s back in 1921. Ruben survived her another forty-plus years and both of them are buried at Woodbine Cemetery in Artesia.
Oil was discovered near Hobbs in the 1920s which led to the decline of Knowles as an active community as people were drawn to Hobbs and other towns in the county.