The Knight Family History
We have had great luck researching the Knight family. The first surprise was that Bert's mother had a half-brother that Bert either didn't know about or didn't remember. None of the other Wilson brothers seem to remember knowing about him, either. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Abraham Knight is as far back as we have gone so far. We know little about him but that he was married to Dorcas Barnett, who, according to the Knight family, had red hair and came from England. We found them listed in the Columbiana County, Ohio, Marriage License Book. We also found them on the 1850 census with the children that we know are theirs. There is no record of when Dorcas died, but I did find two more marriages for Abraham…one to an Elizabeth Cooper in 1868 and to a Lucinda in the marriage book dated 1870-1880.
Abraham and Dorcas' son, Robert, is Ethel Knight Wilson Beck's grandfather. I found Robert Night (misspelling) on the 115th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Alexander E. Drake, Captain of the 2nd Infantry, USA, enlisted him at age 22 on August 18, 1862, at Camp Massillon, Ohio. Robert served in the army for three years and was mustered out June 22, 1865. He was discharged as a private. Robert Knight's name is included on the Moultrie Chapel Monument dedicated to veterans "who served, lived and died for their country." His name is on the east side of the monument.
A Knight cousin (9/19/1997) stated that Robert Knight (her grandfather, too) was born in 1838 in New Alexander, Ohio, and was married in 1861 to Eliza Keister. Robert then enlisted in the Union Army, was taken prisoner and sent to the Andersonville, Georgia prison (a “hellhole”). After the war, Robert was released and sent home by train in a cattle boxcar. He started a new life and he and Eliza had eleven children. His service was with Company E of the 152nd Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry and that she found that information at the Columbus, Ohio library. We visited the Andersonville prison this summer but didn't have enough information with us, so we were unable to locate him in their files. It should be noted, however, that the Confederates in charge of the prison did not keep the files in an organized fashion. The only real records were kept by one of the incarcerated prisoners and historians believe his records are only 75% complete at best. The prison is now maintained by the U.S. Park Service and is dedicated to all the American prisoners who have served in “hellhole prisons” in all the wars we have fought.
This cousin told us that the family history claims that when Eliza heard that Robert was coming home from the war, she hitched up a horse and wagon and drove to the nearest train station, where she slept in the wagon all night until his train arrived in the morning.
Robert applied for pension on February 24, 1886, citing an injury to his back and hip attributed to being thrown from a horse while taking his colonel's horse for water during the Civil War. Robert died in 1894 in New Alexander, Ohio.
Marion Calvin Knight is Bert’s grandfather. Marion was divorced from Bert's grandmother, Myrtle Courtney Knight, when Bert’s mother was about 6 years old. Bert remembers his mother taking him on the trolley several times to visit his grandfather in Canton, Ohio. Bert doesn’t remember being informed when his grandfather died in Minerva, Ohio, and he doesn’t know if his mother attended her father’s funeral. What we do know about Marion are mainly recollections of his other grandchildren…those who lived closer to him in Minerva. Marion remarried in 1920 and had a son, Chester. This is the uncle that Bert didn't know he had. Chester married and had four children. We have met three of them. Chester's only son, Tom, works in Washington, DC, for the Department of Energy. We visited him at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, this summer. Both he and his wife are very gracious and talented people.
This is a picture of Marion about the time he married Elta.
Here is another recollection from another cousin about Marion Knight. This cousin’s name is Jane Owens, and she lives now in retirement in Sarasota, Florida.
“The year my mother was expecting my sister, Grandpa and Grandma Knight came and spent 3 months with us. While they were there, Grandpa dug out a fruit & vegetable cellar under the front porch of our house. It was a grand thing! He dug out deep wells and made concrete lids for places to store root vegetables. He put in shelving all around, then cemented the floor and walls, and put in a heavy door so that there was a regulated temperature in the room year 'round. He worked very hard. So did Grandma.
Everyone loved to go to Grandma and Grandpa Knight's house, and it was rare to go there at any time of the day or night and not find others around. Grandma never turned anyone away, and I never heard her complain about being tired, or acting like she was being bothered. We all tramped in and out continually.
Grandpa Knight always welcomed anyone who came, whenever they came. But, for the most part, he was oblivious to much of what went on around him. He was the most docile, quiet, unpretentious man I've ever known. He was also an alcoholic--as were all of his brothers, I've been told. However, he was the only one who did not become mean and violent when he drank. He would sit in his chair by the old coal stove that stood in the center of the front room chewing his tobacco and spitting in the old spittoon that sat near the stove. He never leaned over to spit, but had the shot and the distance honed down to a fine art, and he never failed to hit the dead center of the old spittoon. It never failed to fascinate us kids.
Grandpa had a regular routine that he followed everyday. Mid-afternoon he would take his cane and go for a walk up town to get his bottle of wine and to stop in the newsstand for his True Detective magazines. (He loved to read detective stories. Grandma hated it! She didn't get after him much, but when she did, it was always about his wine and those "rotten magazines”. He didn't pay any attention to her, and she didn't carry on for very long. He used to hide his magazines down along the springs and under the cushions of the old sofa they had. He would be up town for a couple hours, having a few shots of whiskey before heading back down the old hill, and with each step he took, his old cane would bump the sidewalk. Grandpa would kind of sing-song half under his breath, "Bump-de-bump-de-bump", all the way down the hill till he got back to the house. Sometimes, if somebody was there clanging away on the old piano (usually Uncle Clay, Grandma's brother or Chet) Grandpa would join in singing, but mostly he would just sit and read his magazines. He was a good old soul, and we all loved him.”
Marion was called "Butts" when he was young. It seems that as a young boy, Marion was always bumming part of the cigarette being smoked by one of his brothers or his friends. He would yell, give me "butts on that fag"! Hence the nickname "Butts". (Jane said that little tidbit was relayed to her by one of his nephews.)
Grandpa Knight was fluent in German. The Knights are of German descent and I expect that he learned the language from either his parents or grandparents. He used to try to teach Bert some German when Bert was little, but Bert wasn't a very good student when it came to idiomatic expressions. “All I can remember is my asking him, “ Sprechen Sie Deutsch?” To which Grandpa would reply, “Was machts du?”
Notes in Joyce’s workbook indicate that the Knights came to Ohio from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Top of Page
Back to Our Wilson Story