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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George Washington Knight and the Populist Party

George Washington Knight was born September 8, 1845 in Lowndes County, GA.  His parents were Ann Sloan and Aaron Knight (1813-1887), brother of Levi J. Knight.

At age 16, on  July 3, 1862, George W. Knight enlisted as a Private  in Company E, 54th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry.  His  unit fought all over Georgia; at Dug Gap, Kennesaw Mountain, and Atlanta, and other battle locales.  Matthew Hodge Albritton, James Baskin, William Gaskins, Samuel Guthrie, William J. Lamb, Jeremiah May, Rufus Ray, and Samuel Sanders, among other Berrien countians, also served in this Company.  On April 20-21, 1865, two weeks after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, the 54th Georgia Volunteers, under the command of General Howell Cobb, joined in the last defense of Macon.

George Washington Knight surrendered as a corporal with Company E, 54th Infantry Regiment Georgia on May 10,  1865 at Tallahassee, FL.

On Sept 20, 1865 George W. Knight married Rhoda Futch, a daughter of John M. Futch. She was born October 31, 1846; died January 4, 1909.  At first, the newlyweds made their home on a farm owned by George’s father.  But within a few months George bought a farm on Ten Mile Bay near Empire Church, about five miles northeast of the site of Ray’s Mill. George and Rhoda resided on this farm the rest of their lives.

Rhoda Futch and George Washington Knight

Rhoda Futch and George Washington Knight

“In 1892 Georgia politics was shaken by the arrival of the Populist Party. Led by the brilliant orator Thomas E. Watson this  new party mainly appealed to white farmers, many of whom had been impoverished by debt and low cotton prices in the 1880s and 1890s.”   Georgia farmers were being driven into ruin by the combination of falling cotton prices and rising railroad freight taxes .  Populism attracted followers in all of the southern states, but it was especially strong in Georgia.

Populist Party 1892 Campaign Buttons.  Campaign buttons for the Populist Party candidate, James B.Weaver, in the presidential election of 1892.

Populist Party 1892 Campaign Buttons. Campaign buttons for the Populist Party candidate, James B.Weaver, in the presidential election of 1892.

The Populist Party ran a candidate for president, as well as candidates for Congress, Governor of Georgia, and the Georgia Assembly.

George Washington Knight was the Populist party’s candidate for Georgia state senator of the Sixth District in 1894, but was defeated.

The platform of the Populist movement called for financial policies to drive up the price of cotton, banking reform, government ownership of the railroads, direct election of senators, and an agricultural loan program, known as the Sub-Treasury Plan,  which would help farmers get the best prices for their crops.

“Realizing that the white vote would probably split between the Populist and Democratic parties, the Populists—and Tom Watson in particular—tried to gain the support of African Americans. Although never calling for social equality, they invited two black delegates to their state convention in 1892 and appointed a black man to the state campaign committee in 1894. They also demanded an end to the convict lease system, a program by which the state leased its prisoners to private mining companies. Work in the mines was dangerous, conditions were brutal, and most of the prisoners were black. Democrats quickly accused the Populists of allying with former slaves. Such racist claims drove many whites from the People’s Party movement, and the contest was marked by fistfights, shootings, and several murders.”

On election day, the Democratic party triumphed over the Populists in the races for the top offices. But the Georgia elections of 1892 and 1894 that kept the Populists out of state offices were marked by blatant corruption.  In 1894 ballot boxes in many Georgia counties were stuffed with more votes than there were voters.

When the Populist ran a presidential candidate in the election of 1896, it split the democratic vote giving the national election to the William McKinley and the Republicans. At the state level, the Populists lost the gubernatorial race to the Democrats. After the defeat of 1896, white Populists slowly drifted back to the Democratic Party, although many of the Populist issues continued in Georgia politics. The Populist Party had never convincingly embraced African-American voters,  who quickly returned to the Republican party.  The Populist party was not always acceptable to the Primitive Baptists of the Wiregrass, either.  In November, 1892, for instance, in Empire Church near Rays Mill (Now Ray City), GA charges were preferred against Hardeman Sirmans “for voting the Populist ticket in the preceding General Election.” 

In later years, George Washington Knight returned to the Democratic party.

He died 8 Feb 1913 in Lakeland, Berrien, Georgia. Rhoda Futch and George Washington Knight are buried at Empire Church, Lanier county, GA.

Rhoda Futch and George Washington Knight, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Rhoda Futch and George Washington Knight, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

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Mulberry Tree Strikes Down John M. Futch

The Holt County Sentinel (Oregon, MO), reported July 02, 1880 the random page two fact that “Farmers in Berrien County, Ga., grow mulberry trees for their fruit for hogs.”

Not always with good result, we learn From the Columbus Daily Enquirer-Sun,  Feb 16, 1883  page 3

Mr. John M. Futch, of Berrien county, met with a very serious accident on Thursday of last week.  He was having a large mulberry tree dug up,  and when it fell one of the limbs struck him on the back of his neck crushing him to the ground, nearly killing him.  He was improving at last accounts.

John M. Futch lived on the road that ran  between Lastinger Mills at Milltown (nka Lakeland, GA.) and the Berrien county seat at Nashville. This road, one of the first roads built in Berrien county,  passed by the residences of Isben Giddens and  Levi J. Knight,  among others. John M. Futch was the father of Rhoda Futch Knight.  In 1875 he served as foreman of the jury in the case of The State vs Burrell Hamilton Bailey.

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For more Ray City, GA history see http://raycity.pbworks.com

Rhoda Futch Knight

News item in the previous post referred to S.J. Knight’s attendance at the funeral of Mrs. George Washington Knight.  Census data and family records show that  George W. Knight was the uncle of  Sullivan Jordan Knight, so Mrs. Geo. W. Knight  was S. J. Knight’s aunt.  Her maiden name was Rhoda Futch, she was a daughter of John Malcom Futch and  Phoebe Mathis. The Valdosta Daily Times provided the following obituary:

Valdosta Daily Times  Jan 6, 1909
Mrs. Knight Dead
Prominent and Aged Lady Dies in Berrien County

     Milltown, Ga.,  Jan 5 — Mrs. Rhoda Knight died at her home in Ray’s Mill district on Monday morning shortly after one o’clock from a choking in her breast.

Mrs. Knight was as well as usual until Sunday morning when the pain came in her breast. Dr. Talley was sent for and remained at her bedside until she died, doing every thing possible to relieve her.

    Mrs. Knight was sixty-three years of age, and was a devout member of the Primitive Baptist church at Empire. Before her marriage to Mr. Knight she was Miss Rhoda Futch, and leaves the following sisters: Mrs. Polly Webb, Mrs. Bettie Green, Mrs. Margarette Swindle, and Mrs. Rachel Allen.  She leaves a husband besides the following children: Mrs. Nancy Sirmans, Mrs. Phoebe Rowan, Mrs. Fannie Rowan, Mrs. Cora Cook, Mrs. Miza Watson and Messrs. L.J., D.A, and P.T. Knight.

Grave of Rhoda Futch Knight, Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Rhoda Futch Knight, Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Children of Rhoda Futch  and George Washington Knight:

  1. Nancy Elizabeth Knight 1866 – 1938
  2. Phoebe America Knight 1868 – 1953; married James Henry Rowan June 17, 1886
  3. Lucius John Knight 1871 – 1933
  4. Orville A. Knight 1874 – 1950
  5. Perry Thomas Knight 1877 – 1955
  6. Fannie A. Knight 1879 – 1941
  7. Cora Malissa Knight 1882 – 1941
  8. Mary Luannie Knight 1885 – 1887
  9. Miza Ellen Knight 1887 – 1945

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Sullivan Jordan “Sovin” Knight (1858 – 1911)

Sullivan Jordan Knight (1858 – 1911)

Sullivan Jordan “Sovin” Knight. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Continuing research on  Aaron Anderson Knight: his brother, Sullivan Jordan “Sovin” Knight, was a farmer at Ray’s Mill, GA.   The following is transcribed from the Valdosta Daily Times, January 6, 1909

Valdosta Daily Times
January 6, 1909
Rays Mill Home Burned
Residence Of S. J. Knight Consumed While He was At Funeral

Milltown, Ga., Jan. 6. — Tuesday morning while Mr. S.J. Knight and family of the Rays Mill district were at the burial of Mrs. Geo. W. Knight, his home and smokehouse burned down. One of the two sons, who did not go to the burial, was at work in a back field and saw the flames coming from the direction of his home. He was quickly on the scene and with the assistance of the neighbors, who joined him, and succeeded in saving a portion of the furniture, and most of the meat from the smokehouse. It is not known what started the fire, unless it was rats, as the fire seemed to have started in the upper part of the house. It is not known whether Mr. Knight carried any insurance.