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Thomas Springer McKnight Sr.
(1898-1976)

 

Tom and Margaret

Thomas Springer McKnight was born on Jan. 17, 1898 in Jefferson Township, Fayette County, PA, the son of Henry and Martha (Nutt) McKnight.

Thomas married Margaret Mae McCune (1894-1973). The bride was five years older than the groom.

The McKnights had four children -- Beatrice Rebecca Newhouse, Thomas Springer McKnight Jr., Mary Elizabeth Kinsell and David McKnight.

He was of medium height and build, with dark eyes and dark hair. In September 1918, when he was required at the age of 20 to register for the military draft during World War I, he disclosed that he was employed by Mrs. W.L. Wood as a machinist in Fayette City, Fayette County. He also told the registration officer that Margaret was his next of kin and that they boarded in Fayette City with Fred Johnson.

 

Tom, Margaret & Mary

The family resided lived in Brownsville (1917), Fayette City (1918), Grindstone (1922, 1938) and Adah, Fayette County (1970s).

The young family is seen at right, with daughter Beatrice sitting on Thomas' lap, circa 1920. 

When the federal census was enumerated in 1920, Thomas, Maggie and Beatrice made their residence together on Linn Road in Redstone Township, Fayette County. His occupation was listed as "machinist - coal mine." 

Three more children were born during the decade of the 1920s. The census of 1930 shows the family living along Braznell Road near Grindstone, Fayette County. The census-taker wrote that Thomas worked that year as a "mechanic - railroad shop," likely the Monongahela Railway Company of South Brownsville. 

Tom was a longtime machinist with the company, and was a charter member of the International Association of Machinists.

During the Depression, employment for Thomas was scarce as railroading commerce declined everywhere. In an August 1932 letter from his mother to a relative, she wrote: "Tom was over last evening. He onely has 3 nights [of work] a week."

 

Above, busy railroad junction in Brownsville. Below, Tom (red circle, right) and his son David (red, left) with fellow Monongahela Railway employees in October 1944. Cousin William Gribble, son of Thomas Ira Gribble, is circled in yellow.

 

 

Tom at work, 1944

During the height of World War II activity, in October 1944, Tom worked at the Monongahela Railway along with his 18-year-old son David. They are pictured in a group photograph taken on Oct. 5, 1944. A distant cousin, William E. Gribble of the family of Thomas Ira McKnight, also worked there at the time.

 

Tom's obituary, 1976

The Monongahela Railway was in business to provide short coal-hauling transport between sites in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. It had a combined ownership, a joint venture between the Pennsylvania Railroad, Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. South Brownsville served as the point of connection between the co-owners and was where the company was headquartered. Later, the Penn Central Transportation took possession of the New York Central and Pennsy and operated independently for many years.

Margaret is known to have been a volunteer with the American Red Cross chapter in nearby Republic, Fayette County. In November 1941, on the eve of World War II, she attended a Red Cross dinner conference in Uniontown.

Margaret passed away on March 1, 1973, at the age of 79.

Thomas outlived her by three years. He died at home of a heart attack on March 20, 1976, at the age of 78. His newspaper obituary said he was survived by 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. 

He and Margaret are buried together at Lafayette Memorial Park, Brier Hill, Fayette County.

 

   
Thomas and Maggie, left; and Maggie with daughter Beatrice Newhouse

 

~ Daughter Beatrice Rebecca (McKnight) Newhouse ~

Daughter Beatrice Rebecca McKnight (1917-2002) was born in 1917 in Brownsville. 

She married Roy James Newhouse ( ? -1998) on May 25, 1937, when she was age 20. 

They had one daughter, Janet L. Smith. 

The Newhouses lived in Grindstone, Fayette County, and moved to Waynesburg, Greene County, where they were members of the First Church of the Nazarene. 

Roy passed away on Nov. 24, 1998. 

Beatrice followed him in death at the age of 85 on May 18, 2002, at Rolling Meadows Nursing Home in Waynesburg. She was laid to rest in Lafayette Memorial Park near Uniontown, Fayette County. At her death, she was survived by three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Daughter Janet L. Newhouse married (?) Smith ( ? - ? ).

 

~ Daughter Mary Elizabeth (McKnight) Kinsell ~

Daughter Mary Elizabeth McKnight (1922-2000) was born in 1922 at Grindstone. 

She married Earl G. Kinsell ( ? - ? ) and lived in Waynesburg and Clarksville. 

They had one son, David E. Kinsell. 

Following Earl's death, Mary made her home at Reesman's Mobile Park in Morgan Township, Greene County. She suffered from heart problems, and died at the age of 78 on July 15, 2000.

Son David E. Kinsell ( ? - ? )

 

Obituary, 1976

~ Son Thomas Springer McKnight Jr. ~

Son Thomas Springer McKnight Jr. (1920-1976) was born on Feb. 19, 1920 in Grindstone. 

He married Una Wyatt (1920-1977), the daughter of Olive Wyatt and a native of Brownsville.

They had six children -- Thomas S. McKnight, Joel H. McKnight, Joyce Joseph, Mary Lee Campbell, Sharon K. Barr and Nancy Ann Pfendler. 

The McKnights made their home in Grindstone, where Thomas was a carpenter. 

Sadly, Thomas died at age 56 on July 21, 1976 in Presbyterian University Hospital in Pittsburgh. 

Una only outlived her husband by about one year. She died at age 56, on July 10, 1977, in the Edwin Shaw Hospital in Akron, OH. Her remains were returned to Fayette City for burial in the Little Redstone Methodist Cemetery, where many generations of McKnights rest for eternity. Her obituary in the Uniontown Herald-Standard said that she was survived by nine grandchildren.

 

Tom III

Son Thomas Springer "Tom" McKnight III (1951-2018) was born on Feb. 2, 1951 in Brownsville. In about 1972, at the age of 21, he was united in holy matrimony with Carl Masterann ( ? -living). Their union lasted for 46 years until cleaved apart by death. The couple bore two daughters, Natalie McKnight and Ann McKnight. They lived in Blainesburg, a community near West Brownsville, Washington County, PA. For nearly four decades, Thomas owned McKnight Medical in Charleroi, Washington County. He liked to read, collect classic cars and attend car shows, fish, golf, split wood and using a John Deere tractor to cut grass. In about 2010, they relocated to Perryopolis, Fayette County. Sadly, the day after Christmas 2018, Thomas passed away at the age of 67. Burial was in LaFayette Memorial Park, with Rev. Jeff Marton officiating.

  • Granddaughter Natalie McKnight resides in Perryopolis.
  • Granddaughter Ann McKnight lives in Brownsville.

Son Joel H. McKnight has resided in Cuyahoga Falls (1977), Grindstone and Monongahela, PA (2019).

Daughter Joyce McKnight wed (?) Joseph and made her home in 1977-1994 in Cuyahoga Falls near Cleveland, OH.  She was deceased by 2019.

Daughter Mary Lee McKnight (1942-1994) was born in abouit 1942 in Fayette County. She married Darrel Campbell ( ? - ? ) and lived locally until about 1973, when they relocated to Cuyahoga Falls, OH. Their children were Deborah Kay Campbell, Richard Wade Campbell, Dennis Campbell and Donna Lee Prahle. Sadly, she and Darrel outlived their children Deborah and Richard. At the age of 52, Mary was swept away by the Grim Reaper in Cuyahoga Falls on July 18, 1994. An obituary appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal.

  • Grandson Dennis Campbell wedded Joyce and they live in Akron.
  • Granddaughter Donna Lee Campbell was married to Charles Prahle of Stow, OH.

Daughter Sharon K. McKnight (1943-2016) was born on July 21, 1943 in Brownsville. In about 1961, at the age of about 18, she married John H. Barr ( ? - ? ). The marriage endured for 55 years, all of them spent living in the Harmarville/Cheswick area of Pittsburgh. The two daughters born to the couple were Vicky L. Laslo and Tammy Curti. Sharon earned a living with Eckert Pharmaceutical in Indiana Township and attended the Methodist Church. Sadly, Sharon died at home at the age of 73 on Aug. 3, 2016. The Valley News Dispatch published an obituary.

  • Granddaughter Vicky L. Barr wedded Daniel Laslo and made a home in Cheswick.
  • Granddaughter Tammy L. Barr married (?) Curti and dwelled in Cheswick.

Daughter Nancy Ann McKnight (1948-2019) was born on Jan. 16, 1948 in Brownsville. She was twice wed. Circa 1976, her first husband was (?) Pfendler ( ? - ? ). The couple produced an only son, Grant Michael Pfendler. The family made a home circa 1976 in Warren, Trumbull County, OH. Then on July 28, 1989, at the age of 41, Nancy married Raymond Hanzes ( ? - ? ). He had been married before and brought two children to the union, Patti Hanzes and Cindy Chick. They lived in Newton Falls, OH and were members of the Newton Falls Congregational Church and affiliated with the town's volunteer fire department. She also liked to play bingo and games of skill as well as her hobby of collecting frogs. Sadly, as her health declined, Nancy was admitted to St. Joseph Warren Hospital, where she succumbed at the age of 71 on April 29, 2019. Her cremains were placed into burial in Little Redstone Cemetery near Fayette City, with an obituary printed in the Warren Tribune-Chronicle.

  • Grandson Grant Michael Pfendler made his home in 2019 in Conneaut, PA.
  • Step-granddaughter Patti Hanzes lived in Newton Falls.
  • Step-granddaughter Cindy Hanzes wedded Joseph "Joe" Chick and resided in Newton Falls.

 

David and Marjorie McKnight

~ Son David McKnight ~

Son David McKnight (1926-1995) was born in 1926. 

Circa 1944, when David was age 18, he was employed with his father at the Monongahela Railway shop in South Brownsville.

At the age of about 22, on April 14, 1948, he married 19-year-old Brownsville High School graduate Marjorie Shelor (April 22, 1928-2019), a native of Philipsburg, Centre County, PA and the daughter of Paul Grant and Jane Rachel (Casher) Shelor. The wedding ceremony was held at the Central Presbyterian Church in Brownsville.

The couple produced a family of six children -- David L. McKnight, Avis Elizabeth McKnight, Kevin S. McKnight, Judith Miller, Wesley P. McKnight and Eliza Jane McKnight.

Prior to marriage, Marjorie had been employed as a telephone switchboard operator for Bell Telephone in Brownsville.

The family resided for many years in Adah and Grindstone, Fayette County. The children attended Brownsville schools. Said their daughter Avis, "My Mother was a Christian who dearly loved the Lord Jesus."

They enjoyed visits with Marjorie's parents who had relocated to Sandy Ridge near Tyrone, Blair County, PA.

 

The McKnights' wedding day

 

 

David and Marjorie, 1987

David at work, 1944

Sadly, daughter Eliza Jane was born with excess fluid on the brain, a serious condition known as "hydrocephalus." She underwent surgery at Pittsburgh's Childrens Hospital but died on Sept. 16, 1967 at the tender age of 16 months. Her tender remains were placed into repose in LaFayette Memorial Park. A short obituary was published in the Connellsville Daily Courier.

During the mid-1970s, son Kevin joined the U.S. Air Force and underwent basic training at Lackland Air Force Base.

David passed away at the age of 68 on March 6, 1995, in Brownsville General Hospital.

Marjorie outlived her spouse by 24 years, almost a quarter of a century of time. She was carried away by the Angel of Death on June 12, 2019. Her remains were lowered into the earth beside David's at LaFayette Memorial Park.

Son David L. McKnight

Daughter Avis Elizabeth McKnight

Son Kevin S. McKnight

Daughter Judith McKnight married (?) Miller

Son Wesley P. McKnight

 

Copyright 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2015, 2018-2019 Mark A. Miner