Perry Thomas Knight (March 7, 1877 – September 16, 1955)
Perry Thomas Knight was born March 7, 1877 at Rays Mill (now Ray City) Berrien County, GA. He was a son of George Washington Knight (born 1845 in GA; private, Company E, 54th Georgia Regiment, C. S. A., serving four years; died 1913) and Rhoda (Futch) Knight (born 1846 in Berrien County, GA; died 1909).
P.T. Knight attended the Green Bay School near Ray City, completing there in 1896. In 1897, he returned to the Green Bay School as a teacher. He made an excursion to Terra Ceia, FL in 1898 , then returned to Berrien County and taught at the Cross Creek School in east Berrien county.
Knight then attended Southern Normal University in Huntingdon, TN. He graduated in 1901 and returned to Berrien County to begin the practice of law. His practice frequently included handling the legal affairs of residents and businesses of Ray’s Mill (later Ray City, GA).
Advertisement for Southern Normal University, 1901.
Perry Thomas Knight married Annie Lotta Dugger on July 19, 1903. She was a daughter of Wiley Jackson Dugger and Sallie (Bowen) Dugger. Her father was a hotel keeper and Justice of the Peace at Boston, GA.
Marriage certificate of Perry Thomas Knight and Ann Dugger, Berrien County, GA
In 1905, Perry T. Knight and boyhood friend Levi J. Clements were part of a quartet of investors in the formation of the Bank of Milltown:
GOSSIP AT THE CAPITOL
Feb 7, 1905 pg. 7
Application was filed with secretary of State Philip Cook yesterday for a charter for the Bank of Milltown, at Milltown, in Berrien county. The capital stock of the new bank is to be $25,000 and the incorporators are J.V. Talley, W.L. Patton, P.T. Knight and L.J. Clements, Jr.
P.T. Knight attended ministerial school in 1909 at Oaklawn Baptist Academy in Milltown, GA (now Lakeland) and served as pastor of Good Hope Baptist church at Naylor, Brushy Creek church near Nashville, Lois church, and Waresboro church near Waycross. He was a Mason and served as lodge master of the Lakeland Lodge 434 F&AM.
During World War I, P.T. Knight registered for the draft , his draft card being completed by D.A. Sapp on September 12, 1918 at Nashville, GA. He gave his address as R.F.D. Milltown, GA. His occupation was Minister. He was of medium height, stout, with blue eyes and dark hair. He was commissioned 1st Lieutenant and Chaplain in the 5th Infantry, 17th Division at Camp Zachary Taylor, KY .
On Nov. 25, 1918 Knight was attached to 5th Infantry at Camp Beauregard, La. He received an honorable discharge on December 4, 1918.
Perry Thomas Knight, WWI Service Record.
Perry T. Knight was listed among the ordained ministers of the United States in the 1919 American Baptists Yearbook. In 1920 he joined the Baptist Chaplains Club, an organization of military chaplains dedicated to supporting the work of chaplains in the service and to securing legislation relative to the chaplains’ work. By 1925, he had served 4 years as pastor of the Baptist Church of Ray City.
In 1921 things were not going well for farmers in Ray City, GA or elsewhere around the state of Georgia. Perry T. Knight wrote an open letter to the members of the Georgia General Assembly proposing a special legislative session to consider the plight of the farmers and to enact legislation to protect them from looming financial disaster.
‘Corn has been sold at public outcry this winter for the pitiful sum of 15 cents per bushel’ the letter states, ‘and other produce has sold equally low. A one-horse crop sold under distress warrant for rent did not bring enough to pay the officers of the court. The landlord got nothing and the tenant had nothing left.’
‘The people of this section want an extra session of the general assembly called by the governor, and let them enact a stay law for a fixed period so that no creditor can sue any debtor for any contract or obligation up to the present time until after the stay period, and at the same time enact legislation that would not permit a debtor to dispose of nor transfer his property without the consent of his creditor.’
Perry T. Knight was elected as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives from Berrien county 1921-1924, and subsequently served in various elected and appointed governmental positions (see Update on Perry Thomas Knight)
In 1923, Knight prepared a record of the outstanding accounts of the Ray City Supply Company in part to reconcile the estate of Francis Marion Shaw, who had an interest in the business. He also led the fundraising effort to pay for the Doughboy Monument in Nashville, GA.
In the 1920s Perry Thomas Knight became active in state politics. He was elected to the Georgia Assembly and worked in various elected and appointed positions. His career in public administration is described in the Georgia Official and Statistical Register.
Senator Perry T. Knight, of Ray City, was appointed to serve on the Western & Atlantic Railroad Commission in 1925. The General Assembly of Georgia, by an act of 1925, directed the Georgia Public Service Commission to compile all data pertaining to the Western and Atlantic railroad and instructed it to employ its consulting engineer, J. Houston Johnston, to prepare the report. The Western & Atlantic is the historic railroad line from Atlanta to Chattanooga, TN and is still owned by the State of Georgia. The Western & Atlantic Railroad was the locale of the Great Locomotive Chase of the W&A locomotive, The General, during the Civil War.
WESTERN AND ATLANTIC RAILROAD COMMISSION
Chairman, Public Service Commission, Ex-Officio
C. Murphy Candler, Chairman, State at Large, Atlanta
Carl N. Guess, Senator, Atlanta
William M. Sapp, Senator, Dalton
Perry T. Knight, Senator, Ray City
Fermor Barrett, Representative, Toccoa
Jud P. Wilhoit, Representative, Warrenton
Edgar B. Dykes, Representative, Vienna
Bessie Kempton, Representative, Atlanta
John M. Murrah, Representative, Columbus
J. Q. Smith, Representative, Cairo
John B. Wilson, Secretary to Commission, Atlanta
(Acts 1925, p. 278.)
While engaged in public service, Perry and Annie moved to Atlanta, GA where they lived until his death.
Children of Perry Thomas Knight and Annie Duggar:
- Loren Ray Knight (October 10, 1904 – June 17, 1911)
- Ralphi Lowell Knight (Mar. 23, 1906 – Nov. 17, 1907)
- Rhoda Adella Knight (May 17, 1808– August 30, 1910)
- James Perry Knight 1911 – 1984
- Elwin Thomas Knight 1913 – 1972
- Lorena Idell Knight (Aug. 5, 1918 – May 30, 1921)
Perry Thomas Knight died September 16, 1955. He was buried at Union Church, Lanier County, Ga.(aka Burnt Church). Annie Lota Dugger Knight died January 15, 1973. Buried at Union Church, Lanier County, Ga.
Grave of Perry Thomas Knight and Annie Dugger, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA