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Clarence 'Jay' McKnight


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 Rae 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 miner 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 Depression years when the mines closed due to the poor economy.

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.


~ Daughter Beatrice Maebelle (McKnight) Nelson Forsythe ~

Daughter Beatrice Maebelle McKnight (1916- ? ) was born in about 1916 in or near Dawson.

She 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.

~ Son Charles William "Red" McKnight Sr. ~

Son Charles William "Red" McKnight Sr. (1916-1990) 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


In about 1945, when he was age 29, Charles married 24-year-old Juanita Chloe Mershon (Aug. 2, 1921-1984), a native of Tarrant, Tarrant County, TX.

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

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

Within a year, they relocated to Nebraska, and in 1950-1974, they lived in Chadron, Dawes County, NE.

Sadly, Juanita succumbed at the age of 62 on Feb. 10, 1984. Her remains were placed into eternal sleep in Greenwood Cemetery in Chadron.

Charles outlived his bride by six-plus years. He passed away at the age of 73 on Nov. 12, 1990, with burial beside his wife.

Son Charles William "Chud" McKnight Jr. (1950-2013) was born on Dec. 9, 1950 in Chadron, NE. He attended a local college in Chadron. While in college, he met his future wife Frances Ann Herman (Nov. 14, 1954-2011). She was the daughter of Kenneth George and Mona Fay (Hereman) Wright Sr. and a native of Rosebud, Todd County, SD. They were married on Oct. 16, 1975 and established a home in Mission, Todd County, SD. They were the parents of two daughters -- Lisa McKnight and Larri Faye Kipp. Charles was employed with Foley Belsaw, a tool sharpening and locksmithing firm, and learned how to repair small engines. Over the span of 35 years, he was employed by the Todd County School District and was a longtime bus driver. For 31 years, he was a member of a local fire department and at one point was elected fire chief. Said an obituary, "He had many routes and delivered many children to school and other activities. He loved to drive children to events and support them in whatever activity that they were taking part in. While working with school district he and his wife became involved with the high school spirit council. While working with this young group a toy drive was started. He and his family made it an annual event..." Sadness swept over the family when Frances died in Mission at the age of 56 on Oct. 5, 2011. An obituary was published in the Lakota Times. Charles lived only for another year and a half. He passed away on April 24, 2013. A memorial service was held in the SGU Multipurpose Building in Mission, with interment in Trinity Episcopal Cemetery.

  • Granddaughter Lisa McKnight resides in Mission.
  • Granddaughter Larri Faye McKnight wedded Darrell Kipp. They live in Mission.


~ 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) Gilmore 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 (1921- ? ) was born in about 1921 in Dawson, Fayette County.

In 1936, at the age of about 15, she married Alvie Sherman (Nov. 15, 1916-2005). He was the son of Charles and Ella (Hawk) Sherman of Mill Run, Fayette County. Their union endured for a remarkable 58 years.

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

Alvie was a longtime coal miner with the Eastern Associated Coal Company. The family 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.

At the age of 68, in 1984, Alvie became an ordained minister for the Assembly of God Church. He went on to a 21-year career as a pastor in California.

Alvie's final years were spent in the community of Goose Creek near Charleston, SC. He died in a local hospital at the age of 89 on Dec. 23, 2005. His remains were transported to Connellsville for funeral services in the Assembly of God Church followed by interment in Green Ridge Memorial Park. An obituary appeared in the Charleston (SC) Post & Courier.

Daughter Arlene Frances Sherman ( ? -2020) was born on (?). She appears to have been married twice. Her first spouse was (?) Cohoon ( ? - ? ). Later, she wedded (?) Farmer ( ? - ? ). The Farmers dwelled in Bruceton, TN circa 2005. Sadly, Arlene died on March 9, 2020.

Daughter Dianna Rae Sherman ( ? - ? ) was born on (?). During her lifetime, she has been married at least thrice. Her first husband was (?) Zish ( ? - ? ). She married a second time to (?) Rogers ( ? - ? ). Her third spouse was (?) Kastner. In 2005, she dwelled in Brunswick, OH.

Daughter Patricia Ruby Sherman ( ? - ? ) was born on (?). Evidence suggests she was twice-wed. Her first spouse was (?) McDonald ( ? - ? ). Her second husband was (?) Miller ( ? - ? ). She resided in Goose Creek, SC in 2005.

Daughter Shelvey Jean Sherman ( ? - ? ) was born on (?). She married (?) Knox. Her home circa 2005 was in Brunswick, OH.

Daughter Tami Sherman ( ? - ? )

Daughter Naomi Grace Sherman ( ? - ? ) was born on (?). She was united in matrimony with (?) Wallace ( ? - ? ). She was in Niceville, FL circa 2005.

Son Alvie D. Sherman Jr. ( ? - ? ) was in Raleigh, NC in 2005.


Brothers Charles and Jesse

~ Son Jesse Franklin McKnight ~

Son Jesse Franklin McKnight (1924-1995) was born in 1924 in Dawson.

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 for many years was in Scottdale, Westmoreland County, PA. 

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


Overholt advertising

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.

Edna's fate is not yet known.

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 ( ? - ? )

Son Jay 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 (1929-2020) was born on Christmas Eve 1929 near Dawson, Lower Tyrone Township.

On July 19, 1947, when she was 17 years of age, she married 24-year-old Theodore Garrett "Gary" Mellinger (Feb. 10, 1923-2008), a native of Perryopolis, Fayette County and the son of Theodore R. and Catherine (Wilkes) Mellinger. Their union endured for an extraordinary 60 years.

During World War II, he served with the U.S. Army as a surgical technician and was deployed to Europe. As a GI, he met and in 1945 married 19-year-old Margaret Rainey (Oct. 16, 1926-1946) in her hometown of Belfast, Ireland. He brought her to the United States to dwell in Layton near Dawson. But fate quickly intervened. Within a few weeks, suffering from bone cancer, the newlywed bride Margaret was admitted to Pittsburgh's Mercy Hospital and remained for 45 days. She lost weight and muscle mass. Death spirited her away on June 24, 1946. Burial of her remains was in Mt. Washington Cemetery in Perryopolis.

Trellis and Gary made their home in Dawson and produced a family of three children -- Janice Carocci, Pamela Philburn and Theodore Garrett "Gary" Mellinger Jr.

Composing room of Trellis' employer, the Mennonite Publishing House


Trellis lived a very busy life of work and community. For 23 years, she was employed by the Mennonite Publishing House of Scottdale, Fayette County. During election seasons, she worked at the polls of Lower Tyrone. Among her many other activities were bowling, dartball, puzzles, word search games and camping in northcentral Pennsylvania with a special delight in spotting elk. Gary loved to hunt in the mountains. He also was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Gary earned a living as a bricklayer. He served as a committeeman of Lower Tyrone Township for 30 years and eventually founded the Brownfield Senior Citizens.

Earlier in life, Trellis was a member of the Kingview Mennonite Church of Scottdale. Later, the couple joined the Bryan Methodist Church in Dawson, where Gary is believed to have served as church school superintendent.

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

Gary Sr. passed away on April 15, 2008 at the age of 85. Rev. David Bell presided over the funeral service, and interment followed in Cochran Cemetery. An obituary was printed in the Connellsville Daily Courier.

Trellis outlived her husband by a dozenyears. She was gathered away by the Angel of Death at the age of 90 on Aug. 28, 2020. She was survived by seven grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great grandchildren.

Daughter Janice Mellinger married Robert Carocci.

Daughter Pamela Mellinger ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). In about 1975, she wedded Leslie H. Philburn (June 30, 1950-2021), son of Frank and Margaret (Stewart) Philburn of Connellsville. Their union lasted for 46 years. Together, they produced three sons -- Leslie Philburn, Jeffrey S. Philburn and Gregory S. Philburn. The Philburns dwelled in Dawson, Fayette County and belonged to the Bryan United Methodist Church. For years, Leslie owned and operated Les’s HVAC and Appliance Repair. He also once served as an elected supervisor for Lower Tyrone Township. He and friend Lynn Capan donated their time at recycling events. In his free time, Leslie liked to boat at the Yough Lake, and his favorite local bands were the Poverty Neck Hillbillies and the Crazy Cowboy Band. Sadly, at the age of 70, Leslie passed away at home on May 6, 2021. Pastor Ed Sutton presided over the funeral service held in the family church, with burial in Cochran Cemetery.

  • Grandson Leslie Philburn married Mary Beth. Their two sons are Garrett Philburn and Chase Philburn.
  • Grandson Jeffrey S. Philburn
  • Grandson Gregory S. Philburn wedded Kristy. They are the parents of Madison Philburn, Emma Philburn and Greyson Philburn.


~ Daughter Alma June ( McKnight) Antonini ~

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

At the age of 18, on Dec. 17, 1949, she was united in holy wedlock with 22-year-old Fiorello "Fritz" Antonini (1927- ? ), son of Emedio and Domonica "Minnie" (Orsini) Antonini and stepson of Tony Fair. Their marriage endured for 69 years until cleaved apart by death.

They were the parents of an only daughter Loretta Clara Williams.

Fritz earned a living in early adulthood as a railroader and then employment at the Layton Brickyard. He went into business for himself as a trucking contractor, making deliveries for C&C Lumber of Tarrs, Westmoreland County. Said the Connellsville Daily Courier, he "also built many houses and assisted contractor Stanley Johnson in the construction business."

The Antoninis' residence was in Dawson, and they were active in the Bryan Methodist Church in Dawson. Alma served as president of the Golden Rule Class, and Fritz helped raise funds by constructing an ice cream stand for the annual fair. Said the Daily Courier, he "enjoyed attending the Brownfield Community Center activities and served as janitor and building/ grounds superintendent. He was a member of the Sons of Italy Lodge in Perryopolis and actively enjoyed fundraising, singing and fishing.

Sadly, Fritz passed away at the age of 91 on Jan. 22, 2019. Funeral services were held in the Bryan church, led by Pastor Ed Sutton, followed by interment in Cochran Cemetery.

Daughter Loretta Clara Antonini ( ? -living) was born in (?). She was united in matrimony with Thomas "Tom" Williams ( ? -living). They too dwelled in Dawson and produced two sons, Chad Austin Williams and Troy Aaron Williams.

  • Grandson Chad Austin Williams married Christin. They make a home in Waynesboro, PA.
  • Grandson Troy Aaron Williams wedded Amity. They reside in Dawson.


Copyright 2008, 2015, 2018-2020 Mark A. Miner