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Josiah McKnight
(1860- ? )


Josiah S. "Joseph" McKnight was born in 1860 in Fayette County, PA, the son of William and Mahala (Minerd) McKnight. He also went by the name "Joseph."


Jennie and a great
grandson, ca. 1943

In 1881, when he was age 21, Josiah married Jennie Doran (or "Dorn") (1859-1944) of Brownsville. She also may have had the last names of Spaulding and/or Johnson. Her children did not know her parents' names.

Seen at right, Jennie and her great-grandson James Howard Moore pose together circa 1943-1944 in Washington, Washington County.

The McKnights had at least four children -- Harry "Henry" McKnight, Mattie Cole, Olive "Ollie" Shannon and Alford McKnight. At least one of the children was born in Fayette County. They may also have had a son Paul who died in childhood circa 1900.

Circa 1899, the McKnights lived in nearby South Strabane Township, Washington County, PA.

In 1910, Josiah and Jennie resided at Mt. Pleasant Township, Washington County, where he worked as a roadman in a coal mine. When the census again was taken in 1920, the aged couple lived in Chartiers Township, Washington County, with "Joseph" laboring as a farmer.

Josiah's fate after that is unknown. 

Jennie spent her final years in West Washington, residing with her son Harry at 830 Broad Street. She showed signs of senility, and suffered from organic heart disease. She died at the age of 85 on Nov. 2, 1944. Burial was in Hill Church Cemetery -- otherwise known as Chartiers Hill Cemetery -- in Canonsburg.


Pike Street in Canonsburg, early 1900s


~ Daughter Mattie (McKnight) Cole ~

Daughter Mattie McKnight (1876-1935) was born in May 1876. As a young woman, she resided in North Strabane Township near Canonsburg.

On June 2, 1898, when she was 22 years of age, Mattie married 28-year-old George Cole (1870- ? ). Rev. J.M. Kersey officiated at the ceremony held in Washington County. Mattie was six years younger than her husband. George is believed to have been married once before, and brought six-year-old daughter Edna to the marriage.

They produced four known children of their own -- Walter LeRoy Cole, Ruth Dunn Rendall, Beulah Sten and Blanche Burns.

Circa 1900, when the federal census was taken, Mattie and George made their home in South Canonsburg. That year, he earned a living as a laborer for a local natural gas company.

The Coles later separated and divorced. In 1900, George is believed to have boarded in the home of Walter and Nellie Jones in Canonsburg, continuing to make a living as a laborer, but now in the bridge building industry.

Mattie made her home in the mid-1930s at 89 Woodland Avenue in Washington, Washington County, PA. Suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis, she died just a week shy of her 59th birthday on April 29, 1935. Interment was in Washington Cemetery.

Daughter Edna Cole (1891- ? ) was born in September 1891.

Daughter Beulah Cole (1899- ? ) was born in September 1899. She married Charles Sten ( ? - ? ). In 1935, they lived in Washington.


~ Daughter Olive "Ollie" (McKnight) Shannon ~

Daughter Olive "Ollie" McKnight (1885-1937) was born on Sept. 12, 1885 in Uniontown, Fayette County. As a young woman, she resided in Westland, Washington County, PA. 

On June 16, 1903, in Washington, Washington County, PA, the 18-year-old Ollie married 23-year-old James Shannon (1880- ? ). Because she legally was underage, her father provided his consent to the union. Rev. Joseph G. Patton officiated. 

The Shannons made their home in Hickory, Mt. Pleasant Township, Washington County. 

In her early 50s, Ollie was stricken with bladder cancer, which spread throughout her body. She died at the age of 51 on July 21, 1937. Interment was in Oak Spring Cemetery in Canonsburg.


~ Son Harry McKnight ~

Son Harry McKnight (1879-1960) was born in 1879. 

He married Ellen Sophia Ireland on Sept. 5, 1899 in Canonsburg, Washington County. He was a resident of McGovern, PA at the time of the marriage. 

They lived in Washington, and went on to have eight children -- James McKnight, William McKnight, Harry L. "Bud" McKnight (1922-2003), John McKnight, Ethel Doty (1906-2000), Gladys Boswell, Virginia Henderson and Edna Moore (1914-2004).

Circa 1913, the family made its home at 183 Ewing Street in Washington.

Sadly, son John died as an infant, at the age of five months, three days, on Jan. 24, 1914. Cause was due to bronchial pneumonia.

They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1949 with their children. 

Harry passed away on Oct. 16, 1960, at the age of 81.


Harry and Ellen's 50th wedding anniversary in 1949.  L-R: Harry, Edna, William, Virginia, James, Gladys and Ethel


Copyright 2000, 2004-2006, 2011 Mark A. Miner