My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JOHN McKNIGHT. The biographer in migrating among the farming community of Spring Valley Township, Greene County, noticed particularly the homestead of Mr. McKnight, who is one of the leading farmers and stock-raisers of this region. His farm lands lie on section 2, east of the village of Spring Valley on Caesar’s Creek, and comprises two hundred and twenty six well-tilled acres, whose general appearance indicates the industry and enterprise of the proprietor. Mr. McKnight, although seventy-nine years old, is remarkably hale and hearty, bright and intelligent, retaining much of the vigor of his younger years. He looked upon this section of the country when it was in its infancy, and while growing with its growth, physically and financially, has contributed his full quota to bring about its present prosperity.

The subject of this notice was born April 17, 1811, at the homestead where he now resides. His parents were William and Jane (Fulton) McKnight, further mention of whom is made in the sketch of Samuel McKnight on another page in this Album. The fine brick residence which Mr. McKnight now occupies, was put up in 1828, upon the site of the first cabin which was built by his father when the country was practically a wilderness. It has been subjected to various remodelings and improvements, and now constitutes one of the substantial and commodious farm residences of the township.

Mr. McKnight pursued his first studies in a log schoolhouse with puncheon floor and slab seats, and under the method of instruction, corresponding with his surroundings. He was taught to make himself useful at an early age, and assisted his father in the development of a farm, growing up into a strong and vigorous manhood, fully able to cope with the common difficulties of life. Upon reaching his majority, he identified himself with the old Whig party, and upon its abandonment cheerfully wheeled into the Republican ranks. He was a Union man during war times, a strong Abolitionist, and exercised no small influence in shaping the opinions of men around him.

Mr. McKnight was joined in wedlock with Miss Sarah B. Davis, June 12, 1876, at the bride’s home in Spring Valley Township. This lady was born in Spring Valley Township, May 12, 1842, to Nathan L. and Harriet (Mercer) Davis, the former of whom was a native of Winchester, Va., and was brought by his parents to this county, when an infant of nine months. His wife, Harriet, was born June 26, 1813, in Spring Valley Township. Mr. Davis was a lifelong farmer, and rested from his earthly labors December 6, 1881. He served as Township Trustee, and was a deeply religious man, belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church in which he was Trustee many years, and he was also for twenty-one years President of the Spring Valley Bible Society. There were born to him and his estimable wife, three children — William Edward, Sarah B., and LeRoy S. The latter during the Civil War enlisted in the Seventeenth Ohio Battery, and died at Milliken’s Bend, Miss.

The paternal grandfather of Mrs. McKnight was William Davis, who married Miss Rachel Gorthrop, a native of Virginia, like himself. Grandfather Davis was a professional wheelwright, and left the Old Dominion in 1817, coming to this county and settling one and one-half miles northeast of Spring Valley. He was born October 25, 1770, and his wife, August 6, 1783. They were the parents of seven children, viz: James, Hannah, Nathan L., Mary, Jonathan, William, and Jacob. With the exception of Jacob, all are deceased; he is a resident of Des Moines, Iowa. Grandfather Davis was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which all his children were members. In politics he was originally a stanch Whig, and later a Republican. He departed this life at his home in Spring Valley Township, January 22, 1868, having survived his wife nearly four years, her death taking place February 9, 1864.

The great-grandfather of Mrs. McKnight, also named William Davis, died in Philadelphia, Pa., March 18, 1819. His wife, Mary, died in 1815, at fifty-nine years. They were the parents of one son and two daughters. Harriet (Mercer) Davis was a daughter of Edward and Elizabeth (Hickman) Mercer, who were natives of Mainland. Edward Mercer came to Cincinnati with his parents about 1796, and was there married to Miss Hickman, whose father was killed by the Indians in Maryland while leading a company to battle. Edward Mercer, after his marriage, settled at New Town, near Cincinnati, where he kept a tavern until 1802. He then removed to a farm on Caesar’s Creek, where he spent the remainder of his days, dying in the fall of 1837. There were born to him and his estimable wife thirteen children, ten of whom, four sons and six daughters, lived to mature years. Mr. Mercer was a Baptist in religious belief. His parents were Aaron and Nancy (Carr) Mercer, who were among the first settlers on the present site of Cincinnati.

Elizabeth (Hickman) Mercer was a daughter of Capt. Lewis Hickman, whose widow after his death became the wife of John Smith. The latter was the first tavern-keeper in that vicinity, accommodating travelers in a two-story log house. The eleven children of Mr. and Mrs. Mercer were named respectively: Maria, Nancy, Elizabeth, Sarah, Minerva, John, Ann, Harriet, David, James, and Lewis. Mr. and Mrs. McKnight are devout members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

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This family biography is one of the many biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890. 

View additional Greene County, Ohio family biographies here: Greene County, Ohio Biographies

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