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Mary (McKnight) Prewett


Mary Prewett

Mary E. (McKnight) Prewett was born on Feb. 27, 1870 in Uniontown, Fayette County, PA, the daughter of Arthur A. and Jane (McGovern) McKnight.

In 1903, Mary gave birth to a son, whom she named Harry L. McKnight. Four years later, in 1907, she bore another son, to whom she gave the name David M. McKnight. 

The federal census enumeration of 1910 shows Mary, with two sons aged seven and three, residing as a "servant" in the household of farm laborer Everett E. Prewett (1876-1960). The dwelling was on Washington Road near Canonsburg, North Strabane Township, Washington County. Mary's 65-year-old father, separated from his wife, also was in the home. Living a few doors away was Mary's brother William McKnight and wife and family. 

On Aug. 8, 1911, when Mary was age 41, she wed Everett, who was a native of either Pennsylvania or West Virginia. The ceremony took place in Pittsburgh. She was five to six years older than her husband. 

The Prewetts went on to produce two sons of their own -- Everett D. Prewett and Arthur Clay Prewett.

Mary, right, with her younger
Mahala "Hallie"

When the census was taken again in 1920, the family lived on Arden Mine Road in Chartiers Township. Everett's occupation was written as "farmer." Mary's aged mother, who had been separated from the father for more than a decade, also lived under their roof, and died there ni July 1926.

In 1930, the census shows that the family home was along State Route 28 in Avella, Independence Township, Washington County.

The Prewett marriage was rocky. In an article in the Connellsville Daily Courier, Mary alleged that he threatened physical violence, accused her of infidelity and ultimately sold their home without her knowledge in 1931. Moving to Fayette City, possibly into the home of relatives, she filed for divorce in the courts of Fayette County. Her petition was granted in September 1934 by Judge S.J. Morrow.

Mary undoubtedly was deeply concerned for the safety of her son Harry as he served as a master sergeant in World War II. Making Fayette City and Avella her home for her remaining years, she was a member of the Presbyterian Church of Avella. 

In about 1945, when she was age 75, Mary and her sister Mahala "Hallie" McKnight resided at the home of their aging uncle, James Hart McKnight, providing care for him in his final years. When the uncle died, Mary and Hallie were mentioned in the news obituary, and later received a financial bequest from his estate.

Mary's final years were spent in rural Fayette City, suffering from hardening of the arteries amd chronic heart disease. As her health failed, she was admitted to the Charleroi-Monessen Hospital. There, she died at the age of 79 on Dec. 28, 1949. David Prewett of Fayette City signed the Pennsylvania certificate of death. Her remains were laid to rest at Oak Spring Cemetery in Canonsburg, Washington County. A two-sentence obituary was published in the Daily Courier, with a longer version in the Uniontown Morning Herald.

Everett outlived his former wife by 11 years. He continued farming and was a member of the Loyal Order of Moose in Canonsburg.

Residing under the roof of son Arthur of Fayette City, Everett died on Oct. 9, 1960. An obituary appeared in the Uniontown Morning Herald on Oct. 10 -- three days before Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates hit his famous home run to beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. He was buried in Mt. Joy Cemetery in Cameron, Marshall County, WV. At this death, said the Morning Herald, he was survived by 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.


~ Son Harry L. McKnight Prewett ~ 


Harry with his mother, 1940s

Son Harry L. McKnight (1902-1971) was born on Oct. 23, 1902 in or near Bridgeville, Allegheny County, PA.

He apparently took the Prewett surname when his mother married Everett Prewett in 1911, when the boy was age eight.  

Harry lived at home circa 1920, at age 17, and helped his father with farming labor. 

By 1930, at age 27, he was a lodger in the household of Alexander and Sarah Storey in Wilkinsburg, Allegheny County, PA. That year, he was employed as a lineman for a telephone company. He apparently never married.

During World War II, Harry was a master sergeant in the U.S. military. 

In 1960, at the death of his father, Harry made his home in California.

Harry's final years were spent in Stockton, San Joaquin County, CA. He died there on Sept. 17, 1971, at the age of 69. His remains were shipped to Fayette City for funeral services led by Rev. Fred G. Gnatuk of the Little Redstone Presbyterian Church. Burial followed in Oak Spring Cemetery in Canonsburg. 


~ Son David Marion McKnight Prewett ~ 

Son David Marion McKnight (1907- ? ) was born in 1907 in Uniontown, Fayette County.

He was age four when his mother married Everett Prewett. Raised in the Prewett household, he took the surname "Prewett" as his own.  

In 1928, at about age 21, he wed Elizabeth Dankowsky (1909- ? ), a native of Carnegie, Allegheny County, PA in 1928. 

They initially lived next to David's parents near Avella, Washington County.

The Prewetts had two known daughters -- Mary Elizabeth Kolick and Adaline Stephens Prewett.

The federal census of 1930 shows that David, like his brother Harry, was employed as a foreman with Bell Telephone Company, and he specialized in linesman work. He lived in Fayette City circa October 1960, and in the Carnegie section of Pittsburgh in 1971.

Daughter Mary Elizabeth Prewett (1929- ? ) was born Aug. 13, 1929 in Avella. Circa 1949, she was employed as a teller by Bell Telephone Company, and resided in Fayette City, Fayette County. On April 23, 1949, at the age of 19, she married 19-year-old William Walter Kolick (1929- ? ), the son of John and Susanna (Fifick) Kolick, immigrants from Czechoslovakia who lived in Allenport, Washington County. Rev. W.D. Savage, of St. Joseph Church of Roscoe, Washington County, officiated. At the time of marriage, William was a carpenter and lived in nearby Stockdale, PA. 

Daughter Adaline Stephens McKnight, named after her great-aunt Adaline (Stephens) McKnight, studied with the Earl Wheeler School of Modeling in Pittsburgh. She also was a painter, working in oils. In May 1959, she was pictured in the Uniontown Morning Herald


~ Son Everett D. Prewett ~ 

Son Everett D. Prewett (1913- ? ) was born in 1913. 

He entered into marriage with Phyllis Esther Coldren (1920-1954), the daughter of Catherine Coldren of Perryopolis, Fayette County. 

They had two children -- Myrna Lee Prewett and Ellis Prewett. 

They were members of the Little Redstone Methodist Church. The Prewetts lived in Newell, Fayette County, circa 1949. By 1954, they made their home on Warwick Drive in Sheffield Lake, OH, following a series of company promotions. 

Everett initially was employed as a salesman for Montgomery Ward in Charleroi, Washington County. In about 1961, he joined Rink's Bargain City Center, and spent time in these Ohio cities, building and growing company stores: Marion, Toledo, Lima, Lorain and Zanesville. 

Sadly, Phyllis died in their home at the young age of 34 , on Oct. 5, 1954. Her remains were returned to Western Pennsylvania for interment in Rehobeth Cemetery in Belle Vernon, following a funeral led by Rev. D. Earl Daniel of the Fayette City Presbyterian Church. 


~ Son Arthur Clay Prewett ~ 

Son Arthur Clay Prewett (1915- ? ) was born on Oct. 10, 1914 at Arden, Washington County, PA.

He married Grace Elmira Masten (1920-2003), the daughter of Louis Cope and Laura Anna (Stephens) Masten of Uniontown. The ceremony was held at Scenery Hill, Washington County, PA on June 30, 1939, officiated by Rev. Hahn.

They lived on the Prewett farm near Fayette City and produced two daughters -- Elmira Jane Hasek and Anita Belsick. 

Circa 1942, their address was 85 Delaware Avenue. The following year, in mid-June 1943, they moved to a new home in Fayette City, where Arthur continued his employment with Bell Telephone Company.

As a driver for Bell Telephone, Arthur in February 1955 was among Uniontown area drivers honored for driving for more than 10 years without a chargeable accident. He received award during the company's 100,000 Mile Club dinner and safety rally, held at the White Swan Hotel. He retired from Bell's Uniontown office in 1979 after 42 years of service as "an assignment man," said the Uniontown Herald Standard. He was a member of the Bell Telephone Pioneers.

Grace was a member of the Redstone Methodist Church and the Morning Star Grange. A creative writer, she authored a poem during World War II that was published in the Uniontown Morning Herald. Entitled "I'm Enlisting," the first of the five stanzas began:


While ling'ring o'er my coffee 
In a restaurant one day 
A friend of mien remarked to me 
That no matter what a man may be 
He has a debt to pay...


More poems followed in print in the Morning Herald, including "My Creed" on May 4, 1942 and "Me Fightin' Irish" on June 6, 1942.

Sadly, the marriage apparently did not last.

In about 1947, Grace married again, to Clyde P. Rossell (1916-1985). They enjoyed 38 years of married life, making their home in Perryopolis, Fayette County. They had twin sons, Clyde Rossell and Claude Rossell. Clyde died in March 1985, making Grace a widow for the second time. She survived her second husband by 18 years. After battling lung cancer for 10 weeks, she passed away on Dec. 23, 2003, in Beverly Health Care Nursing Home in Uniontown. At the time, said the Uniontown Herald Standard, she was survived by eight grandchildren and a dozen great-grandchildren. 

Having made his home on the old family farm for 54 years, Arthur left there and moved in 1994 to Taylor, SC. He died at his home in Taylor on Feb. 15, 2001, at the age of 86. His remains were returned to Western Pennsylvania for burial at Oak Spring Cemetery in Canonsburg. 

Daughter Anita Grace Prewett married James Carl Belsick, son of Theodore Belsick of Lynwood in Uniontown. The ceremony took place on Oct. 25, 1962, at the Little Redstone Presbyterian Church, by the hand of Rev. Leslie R. Papp. At the time, James was stationed in Loring, Maine with the U.S. Air Force, and that is where the newlyweds began housekeeping. 

Daughter Elmira Jane Prewett married Albert Hasek Jr. Circa 1962 they made their home in Valley Stream, NY.


Copyright 2000, 2010-2012, 2019, 2022 Mark A. Miner