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Knower, Ben

Clerk, Merchant

Ben Knower was one of several men who were associated with the Fred Gray Association, "a loose confederation of young men who seemed anxious to explore new possibilities of male-male affection" (Folsom & Price "Walt Whitman"). E. Miller explains that "during this period Walt [Whitman] was intimate with a group he called the Fred Gray Association. Not much is known about this circle. Gray, the son of a noted New York physician, took a medical degree after the war. Nathaniel Bloom became a successful merchant. Hugo Fritsch was the son of the Austrian consul. The others are only names: Charles Chauncey, Charles Kingsley, Ben Knower, Charles Russell, Perkins, and Raymond. From Whitman's and their letters we can deduce that they were young men, that they drank and caroused together at Pfaff's and elsewhere" ("Introduction" 11).