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Clarence 'Jay' McKnight
(1896-1959)

Jay McKnight

 

Clarence "Jay" McKnight was born on Feb. 7 (or 11), 1896 near Dawson, Fayette County, PA, the son of Charles and Keziah (Stimmell) McKnight

As an adult, he was of medium height and build, with grey eyes and light brown hair.

Jay married Clara Belle Keffer (1893-1974), the daughter of Isaac and Virginia (Snyder) Keffer of Dawson. The wedding took place on July 13, 1915 in nearby Westmoreland County, PA, when he was age 19 and she 22.

They resided in Dawson, Fayette County.

The McKnights produced a family of eight children -- Jesse Franklin McKnight, Charles William McKnight, Pearl Sherman, Thomas Elsworth McKnight, Beatrice Nelson Forsythe, Trellis Mellinger, Ruby Livingston and Elma Antonini. 

In June 1917, when he was required to register for the military draft during World War I, Jay stated that he was married with two children, and at the time was a coal mine at the Jimtown Mines of the Jimtown Coal Company.

 

Dawson along the banks of the Youghiogheny River, 1929

 

 

Jay, in doorway, in a 4-generation photo

When the federal census was enumerated in 1920, the McKnights lived in Dawson. The census record shows Jay employed as a machinist in a local coal mine. He also earned a living as a farmer over the years.

In the four generations photo seen here, Jay stands in the doorway at left, with his father Charles (left) and grandfather Henry McKnight seated, and one of Jay's sons standing at right. 

They were members of the Bryan Methodist Church in Dawson and of the Dawson Grange.

During World War II, at least three of the McKnights' sons served in the United States military -- Charles, Jesse and Thomas. Charles and Jesse were pictured together in a local newspaper article, along with their cousins Oliver and Glenn McKnight, sons of William Stewart and Mary Frances McKnight

In about 1955, at the age of 59, Jay relocated to Wyoming, settling in the town of Casper. There, he was employed by the City of Casper.

 

Uniontown Herald Standard

Jay died in Casper at the age of 63 on July 29, 1959. His remains were shipped back to Fayette County for burial at their church cemetery. An obituary was published in his hometown newspaper, the Connellsville Daily Courier, which said he was survived by 18 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Clara Belle survived him by 15 years. She was a member of the Bryan Methodist Church in Dawson and the Dawson Grange No. 419. Her home was on Bridge Street in Dawson.

She passed away at the age of 80 on Feb. 22, 1974. She was laid to eternal rest in Cochran Cemetery in Dawson, and was survived by 19 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren. Her obituary was published in both the Daily Courier and the Uniontown Herald Standard.

 

~ Son Charles William McKnight ~

Son Charles William McKnight (1916- ? ) was born in 1916. 

He graduated from Dunbar Township High School. As a young man, he was employed by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, and received training at Lincoln, NE.

 

Views of Charles' alma mater, Dunbar Township High School, 1929

 

Charles married Juanita Mershon (1912- ? ). 

They had two children -- Daryl McKnight and Charles William McKnight Jr. 

Circa 1949, Juanita chaired the child care and training department of the Moose Lodge in Vanderbilt.

Later, they relocated to Nebraska. In 1959-1974, they lived in Chadron, Dawes County, NE.

 

~ Son Thomas Ellsworth McKnight ~

Son Thomas E. McKnight (1918-2008) was born in 1918. 

He served in Germany with the U.S. Army during World War II, and before the war was employed at a coal mine of the H.C. Frick Coke Co. Later, he worked for Duraloy, and was a member of Flatwoods Baptist Church.

Thomas married Ruth Gilmore (1918-2014), the daughter of Jesse and Alberta (Ridenour) Gilmoe of Dickerson Run, PA. They resided in Vanderbilt but did not have any children. They were members of the Flatwoods Baptist Church.

Thomas passed away at the age of 90 on June 25, 2008, at home. He was laid to rest in Cochran Cemetery. 

Ruth survived her husband by six years. She spent her final time at the Anna Lisa Personal Care Home in Perryopolis, Fayette County. She died there at the age of 94  on New Year's Eve 2014.

 

~ Daughter Pearl Berdina ( McKnight) Sherman ~

Daughter Pearl Berdina McKnight ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). 

In 1936, she married Alvie Sherman ( ? - ? ).

The couple had seven children: Arlene Frances Cohoon, Dianna Rae Zish Rogers, Patricia Ruby McDonald, Shelvey Jean Sherman, Tami Sherman, Naomi Grace Wallace and Alvie Sherman Jr. 

They resided in Whitsett, Fayette County in 1941. In 1950-1959, they made their home in Vanderbilt, Fayette County. Later, by 1974, they moved to Beckley, Raleigh County, WV.

 

Brothers Charles and Jesse

~ Son Jesse Franklin McKnight ~

Son Jesse Franklin McKnight (1924-1995) was born in 1924. As a teenager, in the early 1940s, he was employed by A. Overholt & Company at its Broad Ford Distillery near Connellsville.

He married Edna R. Fretts (1924- ? ). Their home was in Scottdale, Westmoreland County, PA. 

The McKnights produced three children -- Susan Martucci, James Russell McKnight and Barry Donald McKnight.

During World War II, in January 1943, Jesse enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He held the rank of seaman first class. He was pictured in a local news story along with two of his brothers and a cousin, with the article saying that he "went into the service last December, [and] is somewhere at sea with the fleet. When last heard from, he was operating in the Atlantic."

Jesse died at the age of 70 on July 11, 1995.

Daughter Susan McKnight ( ? -living) was married twice. Her first husband was (?) Martucci ( ? - ? ). They were the parents of Michael D. Martucci and Bryan Martucci. Later, she was joined in marriage with John Czarick ( ? - ? ).

  • Grandson Michael D. Martucci was joined in wedlock with Sharon E. Barris. They produced two sons -- Deacon M. Martucci and Cannon D. Martucci. They resided in St. Marys, GA circa 2001 and on Birch Lane in Glenville, NY. Sadness swept over the family when their 16-year-old son Deacon, an athlete at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Senior High School, died on Aug. 17, 2018. Father John Varno celebrated a mass of Christian burial at Our Lady of Grace Church in Ballston Lake, NY.
  • Grandson Bryan Martucci wedded Jodi.

Son James Russell McKnight

Son Barry Donald McKnight

 

~ Daughter Ruby Virginia ( McKnight) Livingston ~

Daughter Ruby Virginia McKnight (1926- ? ) was born in 1926. 

She wed Glen A. Livingston (1925-1999). 

They had two sons, Daniel Livingston and Dennis Livingston, and made their home in Dawson. 

Glen passed away at the age of 74 on Oct. 18, 1999.

 

~ Daughter Trellis Rae ( McKnight) Mellinger ~

Daughter Trellis Rae McKnight married Gary Mellinger. 

They made their home in Dawson and had three children, Janice Carocci, Pamela Philburn and Gary Mellinger Jr. 

Gary is believed to have served as church school superintendent at the Bryan Methodist Church in Dawson.

Sadly, Gary Jr. died at the age of 37 on June 11, 1994.

 

~ Daughter Alma June ( McKnight) Antonini ~

Daughter Alma June McKnight (1931- ? ) was born in 1931. 

She married Fritz Antonini (1927- ? ), son of Minnie Antonini and stepson of Tony Fair. 

Their residence was in Dawson, and they were active in the Bryan Methodist Church in Dawson, where Alma served as president of the Golden Rule Class.

They had one daughter, Loretta Clara Williams.

 

~ Daughter Beatrice Maebelle (McKnight) Nelson Forsythe ~

Daughter Beatrice Maebelle McKnight was married twice. 

Her first husband was Julius Nelson ( ? - ? ), son of Nancy G. Nelson. They were wed on Feb. 1, 1934 in Uniontown. 

The couple had two known children, Fanchon Maetta Pringle and Jay Robert Nelson..

In 1945, citing desertion, Beatrice sued for divorce. She was awarded alimony, but sued him again in 1952 for non-support. In 1953, Julius' home was in New Castle, Lawrence County, PA

She later married Ira Forsythe and lived in Perryopolis, Fayette County.

 

Anchor Hocking plant in Connellsville

Daughter Fanchon Maetta Nelson married Korean War veteran William L. Pringle (1929-1999). On July 17, 1953, they were wed in Winchester, VA, at the Methodist parsonage, with Fanchon's uncle, Glenn Livingston, giving her in marriage and her aunt, Ruby Virginia Livingston serving as her matron. They resided in Dawson, where Fanchon worked at Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation and William was employed with the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad as a fireman. William died at age 69 on Oct. 19, 1999.

Son Jay Robert Nelson graduated from Dunbar Township High School and immediately joined the U.S. Navy. While in the Department of the Navy in Washington, DC, he met fellow employee LeVonne Heiman, daughter of Oscar Heiman of Emery, SD. On Feb. 22, 1958, the couple was united in marriage in a ceremony held in the Lutheran church in Winchester, VA. Jay's mother and step-father served as attendants. The couple lived in Oceana, VA. Jay later was promoted to senior chief aviation electrician's mate and served aboard the USS Forrestal with Attack Squadron 85.

 

Copyright 2008, 2015, 2018 Mark A. Miner