Perry Thomas Knight (1877-1955)

Perry Thomas Knight (March 7, 1877  – September 16, 1955)

http://berriencountyga.com/

Perry Thomas Knight. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

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).

Perry Thomas Knight attended Southern Normal University, Huntingdon, TN in 1901. In 1908, the building became the home of the Industrial and Training School. Image source: http://tn-roots.com/tncarroll/photos/postcards.htm

Perry Thomas Knight attended Southern Normal University, Huntingdon, TN in 1901. In 1908, the building became the home of the Industrial and Training School. Image source: http://tn-roots.com/tncarroll/photos/postcards.htm

Advertisement for Southern Normal University, 1901.

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

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

Atlanta Constitution.
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. He had a farm on RFD #2 out of Milltown (now Lakeland), GA. He employed Robert Lee Mathis and Charles Anthony Ray to farm it.

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 .

Army Training School for Chaplains and approved chaplain candidates, Camp Zachary Taylor, Louisville, Ky.,

Army Training School for Chaplains and approved chaplain candidates, Camp Zachary Taylor, Louisville, Ky., “Lining up for Mess”. Original image courtesy of Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/pan.6a29832/

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 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
Governor, Ex-Officio
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:

  1. Loren Ray Knight (October 10, 1904 – June 17, 1911)
  2. Ralphi Lowell Knight   (Mar. 23, 1906 – Nov. 17, 1907)
  3. Rhoda Adella Knight (May 17, 1808– August 30, 1910)
  4. James Perry Knight 1911 – 1984
  5. Elwin Thomas Knight 1913 – 1972
  6. 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

Grave of Perry Thomas Knight and Annie Dugger, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

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Perry Thomas Knight Attended Oaklawn Baptist Academy

Perry Thomas Knight, subject of previous posts, studied the ministry at Oaklawn Baptist Academy in Milltown (now Lakeland), GA.  Perry T. Knight was the son of George Washington Knight and Rhoda (Futch) Knight, and the grandson of Aaron and Nancy (Sloan) Knight, and of John M. and Phoebe (Mathis) Futch.  Knight grew up in Ray City and became prominent in local and state government.

Perry Thomas Knight image detail. Original image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Perry Thomas Knight image detail. Original image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

While a ministerial student at Oaklawn Baptist Academy in 1909, Perry Thomas Knight was already a popular preacher.

While a ministerial student at Oaklawn Baptist Academy in 1909, Perry Thomas Knight was already a popular preacher.

Young Preachers’ Good Work

Milltown, Ga., April 28 – Rev. P. T. Knight, one of the ministerial students of the Oaklawn Baptist college, who is pastor of Good Hope Baptist church, near Naylor, is having phenominal success in his church work, Rev. Knight at almost every service gets an accession to his church.  In addition to being pastor of Good Hope Baptist church, Rev. Knight is also pastor of Brushy Creek church, near Nashville, Lois church and Waresboro church, near Waycross.  H. D. Warnock, W. O. Young, Willie Chism, other ministerial students of the same college are doing great work as missionaries for the Baptist cause.

Oaklawn Academy

Oaklawn Academy

Work began on the school in 1905 and the construction progressed rapidly.

The Valdosta Times
June 23, 1906  pg 7

Work on Milltown School   

Work has been progressing bravely upon the Milltown college, a large force of hands being already at work.  The construction is being pushed as rapidly as possible on account of the desire to be ready to open the school as soon as possible.   The original plans called for the construction of three large buildings, though it is thought now that five buildings will be erected.    The building grounds are said to be the handsomest in the state and the college campus will be one of the prettiest in the south when it is completed.  It contains fifteen acres and a pretty creek runs through the groves making it easy to convert them into a beautiful park.

The Atlanta Constitution
August 20, 1907

NEW  EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION IS BEING BUILT UP AT MILLTOWN

The new buildings of the High school of the Valdosta Baptist association, at Milltown, Ga….are rapidly nearing completion and will soon be ready for occupancy.    The larger building in the center, in which the classrooms will be located, is practically finished.  It will easily accommodate four or five hundred students.  The smaller buildings on each side are the dormitories, one for boys and one for girls, each having accommodations for practically one hundred.    The large building and one of the dormitories have been erected on small subscriptions, not a single give of more than $1,000 having been received.  The other dormitory is the gift of one man, who agreed to furnish the money for it, if enough to completely pay the cost of the other two buildings was raised.  Of this amount only $10.000 is now lacking and strenuous efforts are being made by the Valdosta Baptist association to raise this sum.     Rev. Graham Forrester, formerly one of the most prominent lawyers of the state, but now missionary of the Valdosta Baptist association, which includes portions of Lowndes, Berrien, Echols, Coffee, Ware, and Clinch counties, with headquarters in Valdosta, has been put in charge of the work of raising this money and is now in Atlanta for that purpose.    Mr. Forrester, in speaking of the school, said that it was one of the most promising institutions in South  Georgia, ideally located, and with no other school of like character in its immediate section.  Its graduates are fitted for the sophomore classes of the large colleges.  The school is situated at Milltown, in Berrien county, owns 15 acres of land, through which a beautiful stream runs, and which is heavily wooded with water oaks.    The institution had last year, when it was run in connection with the Milltown public school, an attendance of 200 and an increase is looked for this term.    Mr. Forrester declared his intention of staying in north Georgia until he got his $10,000, “for,” said he, “south Georgia has been contributing to north Georgia educational institutions for years and it is now north Georgia’s time to help us.”

By fall of 1906 construction had progressed to the point where classes could begin. The school opened September 17, 1906.  A partial list of the administrators and faculty who served at the school has been gleaned from newspaper accounts.

Board of Trustees
Dr. John E. Barnard, President
Dr. W. S. Patten
S. K. Patten
J. H. Bostic
Lucius M. Stanfill
Ewell Brown
J. W. Garbutt
Reverend A. C. Pyle, 1909

Principal
1906-1911 James Cuthbert Wilkinson, Science and English Bible
1911 J. A. Lott
1911 Sidney J. Underwood
1916-1921 J.A. Lott, Jr.

Teachers
1906
Reverend L. R. Christie
M. W. Bargeron
Miss Annie Hall, A.B. – English and History
Miss Ossie H. Burruss, A.B.  – Latin and Greek
Miss Leila Connell, A.B. Mathematics
Miss Annie May Arnold, A.B., B.M. – Piano and Coronet
Miss Belle Brinson,  A.B., B.M. – Violin and Preparatory
Miss Elizabeth Morgan – Preparatory
Miss Davis, Oratory

1908
Miss Lizzie Morgan
1909
Miss Jessie Elliot, Elocution

1910
Miss Lizzie T. Bennett, Latin and English
Miss Etna Shaw, Principal of 6th, 7th, and 8th grades
Miss Fannie Clements, Primary Grades
Miss Ethel Jones, Instrumental and Vocal Music
Miss Kitty Watson, Oratory
Miss Orrie Brown, Shorthand and Typewriting

1911
Ruth Smith, Expression
Miss Addie Stansell
Miss Wells, Music

 

Construction on the school continued for years, sometimes in the face of financial challenges.  By spring of 1909 the main building was nearing completion.

 

The Atlanta Constitution
April 24, 1909

Big Time at Milltown

    Milltown, Ga., April 23.  – (Special.) –  The local Masonic Lodge is figuring on having a big time on the completion of the main building of the Oaklawn Baptist college situated at this place.  The Masons will lay the cornerstone with the usual Masonic ceremonies.  They expect to have Grand Master Jeffries and Grand Senior Warden Henry Banks and, possibly some other men who stand high in Masonry.  The Oaklawn school will also have, on the opening day, several prominent speakers, and together with the Masons, they expect to have a big time.    The date for this big occasion will be announced later, as the carpenters and painters are putting the finishing touches on the building now.

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