Walter Howard Knight (1859-1934)
Walter Howard Knight, a son of William Washington Knight (1829 – 1863) and Mary Elizabeth Carroll (1839 – 1906) was born November 28, 1859 in Berrien County, GA. The tintype photograph above depicts him in his senior years, perhaps in the 1920s.
Tintype photographs such as this were made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of iron coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emulsion. Since the image is produced directly on the medium, tintype photographs normally appear as a mirror image, reversed left to right. Each tintype is usually a camera original – one of a kind. Compared to other early photographs, tintypes were very inexpensive and relatively easy to make. A photographer could prepare, expose, develop and varnish a tintype plate and have it ready for the customer in a few minutes. Tintypes became very popular during the Civil War, and enjoyed their widest use during the 1860s and 1870s. Although prints on paper soon displaced them as the most common type of photograph, the tintype process continued to enjoy considerable use throughout the 19th century and beyond, especially for casual portraiture by novelty and street photographers.
Historical records of Walter Howard Knight first appear in the Census of 1860 when he was enumerated in his father’s household in Berrien County, GA.
Walter Howard Knight had little chance to know his father who went off to fight in 1861 as a Sergeant in the company of Berrien Minute Men. The Civil War letters of William Washington Knight spoke tenderly of his children as he wrote from the camps and battlefields, but he was not to see them grow to adulthood. Illness was rampant among the Confederate regiments, and Knight was furloughed home sick in 1863. He died of chronic diarrhea at Milltown, GA December 27, 1863, one month after Walter Howard Knight’s fourth birthday.
After the War, Walter’s mother married William Joseph Lamb who was also a veteran of the Berrien Minutemen (see William J. Lamb ~ Confederate Veteran). The census of 1870 shows Walter Howard Knight was living with his mother, step-father and sisters (Mary Virginia and Lillian Melissa) in the 1144th Georgia Militia District, later known as the Ray’s Mill District. (A third sister, Margaret Ann, had died during the Civil War).
At age 19, Walter Howard Knight married Jimmie Gullett in Dougherty County, GA. She was the 14 year old daughter of George M. Gullett and Julia Lindsey. Her father was an insurance agent in Daugherty County.
According to the Census of 1880, Walter and Jimmie Gullett Knight made their home in the Rays Mill District, near the farm of his step-father, William J. Lamb. Walter, like his neighbors, was engaged in farming. Property tax records from 1884 show Walter H. Knight did not own the land he farmed, but did own $60 in livestock, $5 in tools and books, and $25 in household furnishings.
By 1890 Walter had acquired 490 acres consisting of lot 426 in the 10th Land District. The land was valued at $1 per acre. At the time taxes were assessed he had the farm, $75 in household furnishings, and no other taxable property. Among the property owners on adjacent land lots were James M Sloan, Elizabeth E. Knight ( portions of Lot 450), Joseph E. Langford (portions of Lot 450), and Barney B. Chism on Lot 427.
By 1900 Walter H. Knight was farming land on the Valdosta Road near Rays Mill, GA. The Census of 1900 shows Walter H. Knight owned a farm free and clear of debt, which he occupied with his wife Jimmie, and eight children. His brother-in-law William E. Langford, husband of Mary Virginia Knight, was farming nearby. Among his other neighbors were Greene Bullard, and Henry Bullard.
In October of 1900, Walter’s daughter Dollie married “the boy next door,” Louis Malone Bullard , a son of Mary Ann and Green Bullard, and moved with her husband to Valdosta, GA. In 1901 his daughter Julia married David Jackson Rigell, merchant of Ray’s Mill, GA. (She later married W. D. Sloan, son of her parent’s neighbor, James M. Sloan).
Walter H. Knight and Jimmie Gullett Knight continued farming land near Ray City into the following decades. In the spring of 1910, their daughter Ruby Texas Knight was married to James Randall Johnson and the couple made their home next door to her father’s place on the Valdosta Road, Ray City, Georgia. Walter’s eldest son, Paul Knight, was farming nearby. The Langfords farmed neighboring land, but both Mary Ann and Green Bullard had passed away.
It was a terrible blow to Walter and Jimmie Knight when their son Ralph was lost in the sinking of the HMS Otranto in the closing days of World War I. They carried on working their farm through the 1920s. Their daughter Laurie remained at the old home place, but the rest of their children had moved on to their own lives. In 1919, their daughter-in-law Marie “Toni” Poblete Knight, wife of Owen “Adrian” Knight, came to live with them on the farm with her two children Owen, Jr and Ralph. Toni had married Adrian while he was serving in the Army at Ft. Bliss, El Paso, TX. But at the end of WWI, Adrian had abandoned his young family and disappeared (see Ray City Love Story Told by Betty M. Williams.)
Walter and Jimmie kept their daughter-in-law, Toni Poblete Knight and grandchildren with them on the farm for four years, until Toni lost any hope that Adrian would return to his family. Toni returned west and obtained a divorce.
Laurie Inez Knight, the youngest Knight daughter married Horace Webb in 1928. They made a home on Charlton Street in Valdosta, GA
Adrian Knight eventually did return to Ray City and his parent’s farm. He married his brother’s widow, Effie Guthrie Knight. In the census of 1930, the enumeration of Walter H. Knight’s place shows Owen A “Adrian” Knight and Mary E. “Effie” Knight had a home on the Knight farm.
Children of Jimmie Gardener Gullett and Walter Howard Knight:
- Julia Elizabeth Knight, born August 9, 1880; died September 10, 1955
- Dollie Howard Knight, born April 12, 1882; died March 26, 1956
- Paul Knight, born July 22, 1884; died 1949
- Walter Raleigh Knight, born November 14, 1886,
- Ralph Knight, born 19 Apr 1889; died in the Otranto disaster October 6, 1918
- Ruby Texas Knight, born October 11, 1891; died June 17 1977
- Laurie Inez Knight, born April 9 1894; died April 1, 1974
- Owen Adrian Knight, born October 7, 1896; died September 25, 1972
Walter Howard Knight died June 13, 1934.
The Nashville Herald, June 21, 1934 MR. KNIGHT DIED AT RAY CITY HOME Many friends here of Mr. Raleigh Knight sympathize with him deeply in the death of his father, Mr. Walter Howard Knight, which occurred at his home in Ray City last Wednesday. Mr. Knight was seventy-four years of age and was a well-known and highly respected citizen of his community. He was a native of that section and had lived there all his life. He is survived by his wife, four daughters and three sons. His wife was before her marriage Miss Jimmie Guelette of Albany. The daughters are Mrs. W.D. Sloan of Stockton; Mrs. L.M. Bullard and Mrs. Horace Webb of Valdosta; and Mrs. J.R. Johnson of Ray City. The sons are Paul Knight and Owen Knight of Ray City and Raleigh Knight of Adel. There are also 12 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren among the survivors. The funeral services were held at the Baptist church at Ray City Thursday afternoon. – Adel News.Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker
Jimmie Gullett Knight died three years later, August 3, 1937. Husband and wife are buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.