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Jesse Knight

Birthdate: (75)
Birthplace: Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, United States
Death: March 14, 1921 (75)
Provo, Utah, Utah, United States
Place of Burial: Provo City Cemetery, Provo, Utah, Utah
Immediate Family:

Son of Newel Knight and Lydia Knight
Husband of Amanda Melvina Knight
Father of Lydia Minerva Knight; Raymond Knight; Jesse William Knight; Inez Knight Allen; Jennie Pearl Knight and 1 other
Brother of Samuel R. Knight; Sally Palmer; James Philander Knight; Joseph Ether Knight; Newel Knight and 4 others
Half brother of Eli Knight; Samuel Bailey; Rosanna Bailey; Edwin Bailey and Artimesia Dalton

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About Jesse Knight

Wikipedia Biographical Summary:

"...Jesse Knight (6 September 1845 — 14 March 1921) was one of relatively few Latter-day Saint mining magnates in nineteenth century Western America. Raised by the widow of Newel Knight, Jesse's family was poor throughout his youth. As a young man, he worked as a prospector and discovered the Humbug Mine in the Tintic Mining District near Eureka, Utah in 1896. As the Humbug proved profitable, he acquired other mines in the vicinity, including the Uncle Sam, Beck Tunnel, Iron Blossom, and Colorado mines. After making his fortune, Knight went on to found the Latter Day Saint settlement of Raymond, Alberta, Canada..."

SOURCE: Wikipedia contributors, 'Jesse Knight', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 16 October 2010, 19:02 UTC, <> [accessed 27 January 2011]


Jesse Knight a prominent Elder of the Church and a resident of Provo, Utah county, Utah, was born Sept. 6, 1845, at Nauvoo, Hancock county, Illinois, the son of Newel Knight and Lydia Goldthwait. He participated as a child with the Saints in the exodus from Nauvoo in 1846 and came to Utah in 1850, crossing the plains and mountains in a company led by Edward Hunter, whose train arrived in Salt Lake City Oct. 13, 1850.

The family made their home temporarily in Salt Lake City. Jesse remained with the family, who resided on the Church farm, near Salt Lake City, until he was eleven years of age, when he moved with his mother to Provo. He started out for himself by herding cows, gleaning potatoes, etc., and in due course of time he earned enough to buy a horse, the first property he owned for himself. He also engaged in freighting with ox teams and followed that business for eleven years.

In 1862 he made a trip to the Missouri river after emigrants; in 1863 he made a trip to Montana, teaming and freighting, and in 1866 he participated in the Black Hawk Indian war. Bro. Knight was baptized when about eight years of age and was ordained an Elder Jan. 22, 1891, by Vernee L. Halliday. He was ordained a High Priest March 3, 1907, by David John. In 1868 (Jan. 18th) Brother Knight married Amanda McEwan, who was born Nov. 13, 1851, in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was the daughter of John McEwan and Amanda Higbee. The children of Jesse Knight and Amanda McEwan are Lydia Minerva (died Dec. 28, 1887), Oscar Raymond, Jesse William, Amanda Inez, Jennie Pearl and Addie Iona.

For about twenty years after his marriage Bro. Knight took little interest in the Church. The loss of confidence in men, the faithfulness of his parents, sickness and healing in his family led him to seek the Lord in earnestness and humility. Thereby, in 1887–1888, he received a testimony of the gospel and of the authority of the Priesthood, and he decided that the most effectual way to do good was through the organization of the Church.

Since that time he has developed numerous mining properties. Through his efforts three settlements have been started, namely, Knightville, in Tintic, Utah, Raymond, in Alberta, Canada, and Storrs, in Carbon county, Utah. Each of these towns have a branch of the Church, and none of them have ever had a saloon. Much has been done by Bro. Knight in getting water on to dry lands, developing power plants, and home industries, and in all things his motive has always been as much to help others as to make profits. Brother Knight built the first sugar factory in the Northwest Territory, Canada, the second sugar factory in Canada. He is president of all the Knight Investment Company's industries, including a sugar company, power company, woolen mills, smelter company, coal and other mining companies, railroad, reservoir, light and irrigation companies and others.

A few years ago he was unanimously nominated by the Democratic party as candidate for Governor of Utah, but he refused to accept. In June, 1907, he visited the place of his father's death and burial, which is seven miles from Mobrara, Nebraska. He found remnants of the old fort which was built by a company of Saints who wintered there in 1846–1847. This company was the first to start from Nauvoo for the mountains in 1846, but owing to the call for the Mormon Battalion they could not continue the journey that year and the Ponca Indians inviting them to winter on their reservation they spent the winter of 1846–1847 on the Running Water. The place of the fort is still an Indian reservation. Bro. Knight erected a monument in commemoration of his father and the other Saints who died in that place on account of unusual privation and hardship. Bro. Knight was the principal contributor to the Maeser Memorial Hall of the Brigham Young University at Provo, which was built under the direction of the Alumni Association. As his parents were ready to help the Church in the beginning, so throughout Bro. Knight is a liberal contributor to Church and Charity.

Taken from the Book:

Treasures of Pioneer History

Treasures of Pioneer History: Vol 1

The Old Prospector

Jesse Knight

Jesse Knight was a philanthropist who believed in helping people to help themselves, and he went out of his way to put his philosophy of life into practice. He was a man of destiny who came to Utah with his widowed mother, Lydia Knight, and her seven children, who crossed the plains with ox team and wagon, arriving in Salt Lake, October 1, 1850.

Early in life Jesse Knight felt the responsibility of helping his mother. At sixteen he was hired by Ben Roberts at $30 a month. His employer noted the diligence with which he had been served and rewarded him by paying fifty dollars instead of thirty. Father never forgot this encouragement from an employer to a struggling boy. With the three hundred dollars he had earned he bought a yoke of oxen and a wagon.

Later father became indifferent to the church, arguing against it with his mother, Lydia Knight. On her last visit to the Knight home in Payson, father said, "Mother, how is it you are not preaching to me as you usually do" ? she answered, "Jesse, I have prayed in the St. George Temple for my children many times and on one occasion the Lord made known to me that I was not to worry about you any more, that you would one day understand for yourself." "Mother, I know you must be mistaken, for I am further from the church now than I have ever been before." She replied, "I don't care what you say, I know you will one day see the gospel for yourself, and I never intend to argue again with you about religion." This conversation took place in the presence of the family.

Then death and sickness visited the Knight home. A dead rat contaminated the drinking water in the well and one after another of his five children were stricken with typhoid fever. It was I, the youngest, almost two years old at this time, who was first taken violently ill. Through the power of the priesthood and the prayers of my family my life was spared which brought about a great change in my father's life, who up until this time had been indifferent to the church.

Considerable time elapsed after his first mining claim, the Humbug, was located before he had means sufficient to do development work on this mining property. Jesse Knight tried to interest others with him in his mining ventures, always feeling sure if he could secure some financial help he could soon find ore in the Humbug claim. On one occasion he had a good friend by the name of Jim McHatton, a cattle buyer, who stayed with the family considerably during the winter time and generally purchased our cattle in the spring. Mr. McHatton owned a cattle ranch in Meeker, Colorado and possessed considerable means. After hearing father tell of the wonderful possibilities that existed in his mining claim he agreed to take one-fourth interest with him for a consideration of one thousand dollars, and promised to send the money to father upon his return to Meeker. He accordingly did so, but in his letter he said he had once promised himself he would never invest in mines unless he had the money free from obligation to do so. He added, "I had to borrow this thousand dollars to keep my word with you, and I don't know whether I'm doing the right thing or not in making this venture." Father felt he had talked his good friend into this mining deal against his better judgment; so he immediately returned his money, releasing him from the obligation. Mining ventures are considered risky by most people; in this case, however, only a few months passed before rich ore was found in the very property Mr. McHatton had been released from buying. This property eventually produced over a million dollars.

Jesse Knight found great difficulty in obtaining help from others on this mining venture, but he finally secured a loan of fifteen hundred dollars at 12% interest, giving a mortgage on our Payson ranch home. Work was then soon under way at the Humbug claim.

Jesse Knight organized the Tintic Smelting Company and a smelter site was chosen near Silver City, Utah. During the period of smelter construction he built the Eureka Hill Railroad from the Smelter to the mines, a distance of about six miles. This railroad was a very profitable undertaking. Father held mining property in Nevada and Colorado and other mining districts in Utah. At one time he was perhaps the largest owner of patented mining property in the intermountain region.

Taken from the Book:

History of Utah by Orson F. Whitney

Volume 4

Manufacturers and Mining Men.

Jesse Knight

The eagerly awaited opportunity to emigrate came to Jesses' mother, Lydia. Mrs. Early in 1850, when, her two wagons having returned from the Valley, (one a useless wreck, the other susceptible of repairs) the indomitable little woman hired two yoke of Church cattle, and on the 1st of June started with her children for this place. The company in which she traveled was commanded by Bishop Edward Hunter, the agent of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, who, before leaving home, had received instructions from President Brigham Young to exercise a kindly watchcare over the widow and her family and bring them across the plains that season. Jesse Haven was captain of the ten wagons that included her vehicle, which was driven most of the way by her little son James, aged twelve. He, with others of the children, trudged on foot the greater part of the way to Salt Lake City, where they arrived on the third day of October.

Mrs. Knight settled in the First Ward. She bought a vacant lot and erected a humble log and adobe dwelling, in which she opened a small school, teaching her own children and those of the neighbors, during the winter. She succeeded so well that she was solicited to take the Ward school, and did so in the spring. Her first act, after obtaining enough means, was to pay her debt of sixty dollars to the Perpetual Emigrating Fund for the use of the cattle in crossing the plains. In the fall of 1851 she married John Dalton, and moved with her children upon a farm six miles south of the city. Jesse's earliest recollections are attending his mother's school and herding cows on the East Bench. Afterwards he worked on his step-father's farm, tending sheep. A pet lamb was given to him by Mr. Dalton, and this increased until he had ten sheep of his own, the first property he ever possessed. Five years later, his mother having separated from Mr. Dalton, Jesse left his little flock behind, and returned with his mother to the city, where she again taught school. When he was about sixteen, she married James McLellan, of Payson, and moved south, ultimately settling at St. George, where she was an active and zealous worker in the Temple. Jesse did not live with his mother from this time, but started out in life for himself, making his home at Provo.

For about a year he was in the employ of Mr. Ben Roberts, on Fish Spring Desert, putting up hay for the Overland Mail station at that point. He then went with the Church trains to the Missouri river and back, driving an ox team and bringing in immigrants. Next, he took up freighting as a regular occupation, between home and the mining camps of Nevada and Montana. He bought and paid for a yoke of cattle, and had another yoke and a wagon on credit. He took a load of potatoes, also obtained on credit, to Montana, but was unable to sell them for money, and so traded them for another yoke of cattle. He then went on to Last Chance (now Helena) and spent the summer in logging, at which he made money. It was the time when the operations of the highwaymen known as "Road Agents" and their exterminators, the "Vigilance Committee," were in full blast. Jesse remembers seeing one morning, while driving into Helena with a load of lumber, the dead body of a man hanging to a tree, having been strung up during the night by the "Vigilantes." During the six months more or less that he was in Montana, he did not see a familiar face. He was entirely among strangers, and was called by them "the young Mormon." He returned to Utah just before the Blackhawk war broke out, and saw three months service, scouting in the mountains and guarding the settlements south of Provo against the Indians. He was in Captain Alva Green's cavalry company. At the expiration of his time of service he resumed his occupation of freighting.

The year 1868 found him working on the railroad, helping to build the grade of the Union Pacific, at Quaking Asp Ridge, east of Evanston, Wyoming. His implements were scraper and plow. He stayed till the snow came, and returned home well paid for his season's labor. The same winter he hauled timbers for the construction of the railroad through Weber canyon. There he remained until about Christmas time, when he set out for home, intending to be married on New Year's day, but in Provo canyon he was snowed in, and the wedding had to be postponed. This was the second postponement of the happy event, the first one occurring while he was on the railroad in Wyoming, making money, for which reason it was deemed inadvisable to forsake his employment. His intended wife was Miss Amanda McEwan, daughter of John and Amanda McEwan, of Provo, a young lady whom he had loved since she was a little girl of thirteen. She was now seventeen and he twenty-three. They were finally married at Salt Lake City, January 18, 1869. Their first child, a daughter, named Lydia Minerva, was born at Provo, May 19, 1870.

The young husband and father continued freighting and teaming in the canyons, getting out rock at one time, for the foundations of the Provo Woolen Mills. He was at Promontory when the last spike was driven uniting the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads, and there took a contract from a Mr. Kenner, to deliver nine hundred cords of wood. He was at Tintic immediately after the first mines were discovered in that district, and made some locations, from which, however, he has never yet realized anything. He hauled the first ore from the Mt. Nebo mines to the Homansville smelter, in Tintic, and also hauled ore from the West Tintic mines. Soon after he went into the cattle business, selling out at Provo and moving onto a ranch two and a half miles below Payson, where he had forty acres of land, to which he has continually added. There he reared his family. He gave up freighting, and went to buying and selling cattle, farming, dairying, and occasionally investing in mines; but it was not until many years later that his mining investments became profitable.

He led a reckless life, so far as religion was concerned, associating with rough men, and regarding most pious people as hypocrites. He had forsaken entirely his Mormon affiliations, and in politics was accounted a member of the Liberal Party. The causes assigned by him for this were two-fold. In the first place he was unable to separate the principles of religion from the practices of certain men who professed them; in the next place he was always for the "under dog in the fight"—a position occupied by the Liberal Party at that time. Hence it had his sympathy. For fifteen years he never went inside a meetinghouse or performed any other religious act. He did not teach his children to be baptized, but told them to wait until they were grown, when they could decide all such questions for themselves. In short, he was indifferent to, and even prejudiced against all religious forms.

But a great change was about to come over him. When the "Loyal League" was organized, in the fall of 1886, with the object, as stated in its constitution, to present a united opposition to the "political rule and law-defying practices of the Mormon Church," and oppose the admission of Utah into the Union, it became most popular in the mining camps, where the non-Mormon element predominated. One of its effects, as noticed by Mr. Knight, was to work hardship to the Mormon minority in those places, some of whom were refused employment and even discharged from it because they would not subscribe to an oath not to uphold or sustain any person who believed in or practiced polygamy; in other words, would not renounce their Church leaders. Jesse Knight's soul revolted against this oppression; these Mormons were now the "under dog in the fight," and his feelings began to undergo a change, this time in favor of his own people. One night he was shown in a dream that certain persons, among them a young man whom he had known from boyhood, had combined to defraud him in a mining deal. The next day, after denouncing them on the mere strength of his dream—which subsequent developments justified—he walked up over a mountain to trace the outcroppings of a vein of ore previously located by him. As he went he communed with himself, musing sadly, and at a certain point sat down under a tree. He was alone. His betrayal by men whom he had trusted, and especially by one almost as dear to him as his own son, was a great sorrow to him, and he wept bitterly. In the midst of his mournful reflections he was astounded to hear a voice speaking to him, as from out the midday heavens. It gave him to understand, he relates, that the Mormon people were his people; that this country had been prepared for them by the decree of heaven; and that they would remain here and fulfil their divine destiny, as foretold by their martyred Prophet; it bore testimony to him that if he ever came to anything good, or achieved any marked success, in mining or in anything else, it would be as a Mormon, and not as one of his people's opponents. He was overwhelmed. Trembling in every limb, and almost unable to walk, he made his way back to camp. From that hour he was a changed man. The death of his daughter Minnie, to whom he was devotedly attached, on December 28 of the same year—1887—saddened him still more, and caused him to ponder more seriously than ever upon his past life and future course.

The parties who had deceived him were endeavoring to purchase from him certain claims in Tintic, and he had verbally bonded his interest therein for a period of two weeks. The very night that the option expired he had the dream in question, followed next day by the still more remarkable manifestation of the voice. He refused to sell his claims, or to have any further dealings with the parties, and now proceeded to buy up the adjoining ground, paying for it the sum of four hundred and fifty dollars. About two years later he sold the claims for fourteen thousand dollars, and the proceeds of this sale, added to his ranch and cattle business, made him worth about thirty thousand dollars. It was the beginning of his success in mining. He located the Humbug mine—whose vein he was tracing when the voice spoke to him—and though not immediately remunerative, it ultimately became one of the principal sources of his wealth. Just prior to the fourteen thousand dollar sale—in which the June Bug and Jesse Knight properties changed hands—he removed his family to Provo, in order to give his children better advantages for religious and scholastic training. He was now firmly resolved to be a Latter-day Saint, and to have his family taught and trained in the religion of his fathers. He quit his old companions, began going to meeting, and attended faithfully to his spiritual duties.

Open-handed and charitable, he deemed it his duty to aid every one in distress, especially poor people who applied to him for assistance. To such an extent did he pursue this course, signing notes for others, and almost invariably paying them when they fell due, that he soon found himself "flat broke," his money gone and his credit fast going. In his extremity he mortgaged his wife's home, which he had built for her in Provo, a proceeding acquiesced in by his devoted partner for the purpose of saving his credit. He now went back upon his ranch, and was no longer numbered among the prosperous men of his section. But it was only for a season. In 1896 a rich strike was made in the Humbug mine, and in a few months Jesse Knight was again upon his feet, "making money easy." He now purchased from Mr. McCrystal and the Fred Auerbach estate the Uncle Sam mine, paying for it twenty-six thousand dollars, and within the next three years he cleared from that and the Humbug property three hundred thousand. His income from both soon averaged ten thousand dollars a month.

At the mines he founded the settlement that now bears his name, probably the only-mining camp in Utah and the entire West which has no drinking saloon. The absence of such an institution at Knightville is due to the fact that there are few if any drinkers among the miners there employed. The settlement was founded with twenty families, but this number was soon more than doubled. Mr. Knight made an agreement with his employees at the outset, and rules were adopted to this effect: He would raise their wages without being asked; he would not run a boarding house and require them to patronize it, as often done in other places; and would arbitrarily take nothing out of their wages for hospital funds, insurance fees, or other purposes; nor would he permit his superintendent or foreman to question any man as to his religion or politics. In return for these concessions Mr. Knight was to be free to summarily discharge men who were found spending their wages for drink and neglecting to support their families. He insisted upon being left at liberty to employ men who would properly care for those dependent upon them, and not waste their substance in riotous living. Any foreman failing to report transgressors of this agreement, if he knew of them, was also liable to immediate discharge. The workings of this regulation and the results have been most satisfactory. Industry, peace and temperance prevail at Knightville. Out of the first money cleared from his mines Mr. Knight built a meeting house for the use of the miners and their families—the deeds of which were given to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—and this building is now used for religious purposes, and also as a school house by the inhabitants of the place.

Jesse Knight is a liberal donor, not only to his own church, but to other worthy causes. He does not lend money recklessly as he once did, but is very considerate towards poor people who come to him to borrow, lending when he has means to lend at reasonable and even low rates of interest. He believes it to be his mission to help the poor and do good with the wealth that God has given him. "The earth," says he, "is the Lord's bank, and no man has a right to take money out of that bank and use it extravagantly upon himself." Mr. Knight practices what he preaches. He lives in a comfortable home, but plainly and unostentatiously, affecting nothing showy in his apparel. Humble and earnest in manner, simple in his tastes, and sincere in his convictions, he is fearless and outspoken in his opinions. As an incident of his conscientious course it may be mentioned that when the Smoot estate, in 1897, passed under the hammer and was, sold to pay its debts, leaving the widow and children of President A. O. Smoot without a dollar of the fortune he had accumulated, Jesse Knight, at a time when property would scarcely sell at all, or if sold would bring only about a third of its value, bid in the estate for thirty-six thousand dollars, the amount of its debts, and then, retaining only enough to make himself secure, handed back the rest of the property to the heirs, enabling them to organize the Smoot Investment Company. When he has bought in mortgages he has reduced the interest from as high as eighteen down to six per cent, and once, when invited to go into an enterprise that was paying eighteen per cent dividends, he refused on the ground that it was robbing the poor to enrich the stockholders.

Mr. and Mrs. Knight are the parents of six children, five of them living, namely, Oscar Raymond, Jesse William, Amanda Inez, Jennie Pearl, and Addie Iona. Mr. Knight's sons are associated with him in business. They and their sister Inez—whose biography appears elsewhere—have performed successful missions in Europe. His son Jesse W. has been a bishop at Raymond, Canada, settlement founded by his father and has recently been made one of the Presidency of the newly organized Taylor Stake, in that land, where Knight and Sons have invested extensively in cattle, and are now erecting a large sugar factory.

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Jesse Knight's Timeline

September 6, 1845
Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, United States
January 18, 1869
Age 23
February 6, 1869
Age 23
May 20, 1870
Age 24
Payson, Utah, Utah
April 8, 1872
Age 26
Payson, Utah, Utah
August 20, 1874
Age 28
Payson, Utah, Utah
September 8, 1876
Age 31
Payson, Utah, Utah
November 7, 1885
Age 40
Payson, Utah, Utah
December 18, 1891
Age 46
Provo, Utah, Utah