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Ellis Joseph McKnight   2nd great grandfather                                        Click photo to see full size.  No date.  From Evelyn Eastman.
b. 3 November 1840, d. before 24 March 1932, #22783

Father Joseph McKnight b. 1799, d. 23 January 1855
Mother Lucinda Parks b. 1811, d. 8 October 1846

Birth 3 Nov 1840  Ellis Joseph was born on 3 November 1840 in  Iowa county, WI. His parents were living in Wayne township of what was to be LaFayette county but may have been part of Iowa county at the time of his birth. His gravestone tells us that he was born in 1840. On the 1870 census of himself he says that he is 30 years old. On the 1850 census he appears as 8 years old on his last birthday. On the 1900 census he says that he was born in November of 1840.1,2,3,4

1841  Marie McKnight in her work says that Ellis was born on the Pecatonica River 2 miles West of South Wayne., in a log cabin. The first school was in this building. In 1853 this log cabin school burned to the ground during the winter. on a Sunday night. In later years this land was owned by a John Deetz. He found burned school books while digging fence post holes.5,2

22 April 1852  On 22 April 1852 EJ left to go to California with his father, uncle Anthony McKnight and Anthony's wife. Took Six months to get to California. They arrived in late October in Marysville, California in a covered wagon with oxen, 4 oxen on one wagon, 1 team of horses on another wagon and 2 cows. EJ would have been about 10 years old when they left Wisconsin. While in California EJ delivered mail, the California version of the pony express, from Marysville to Pine Grove to Gibsonville to Iron Valley and back. Some of the route was across log bridges, which he took great pleasure in telling about to his children and grandchildren. They stayed about 3 years. They returned via steamer from San Francisco to Panama, walked across the isthmus, took a boat across the Gulf and up the Mississippi to Dubuque, Iowa. (Marie's notes say that this part of the trip took two months. She does not say, which part of the trip, from California to home or just the trip up the Mississippi) From Dubuque they took a stage coach to South Wayne.5

  EnRoute to California, one night the cattle were permitted to swim to an island in a river for food. E. J. who was the youngest man in the group, probably 12 or so, was asked to swim to the island and get the cattle. The current was so swift that E.J. held to the tail of one of the cows in order to be towed across the river. Each night the covered wagons were arranged in a circle, protection against the Indians. Someone always was on guard at night to watch the cattle and horses. The Indians had a habit of stampeding the horses in order to steal one. Food for the people on this trip consisted of wild game, cornbread and milk.5

Census   A summary of census information for Ellis:
     1840 Eastern Dist of Iowa co WI in R4 or R5, one of two males under 5; ages and sexes in this family do not match perfectly. This is his father.
     1850 South Wayne, La Fayette, WI 8 years, but so is Jerusha???? must have been 10 and census error
     1860 Wayne, LaFayette, WI as farm laborer with the Hamilton family 21 years old born WI. Where are his brother and sisters??
     1870 Wayne, LaFayette, Wi married with 3 children and 2 hired hands value $920 of real estate and ,$400 of personal. 30 years old
     1875 Wis Census Shows E.J. McKNIGHT; 2 males and 2 females.
     1880 Wayne, Lafayette, WI 39 years old, born in WI, Father born in VA, mother in TN. Wife born in Ohio, children all born in Wisconsin. farmer
     1885 Wisconsin census. Wayne, Lafayette, WI with 5 males and 3 females in household.
     1900 Wayne,Lafayette, WI, 59 years old, Rents farm. Living with wife, 4 children and 2 of son Sam's children. Sam's wife is dead. Sam claims he owns a mortgaged farm. Married 33 years, Father born in VA mother born in TN Farm Sch #1.
     1910 Wayne town, LaFayette, WI, 69 years old born in WI. Owns house he lives in free and clear. Has own income. Wife and son Sam and Sam's children are living in household.
     1920 Division St. South Wayne, LaFayette, WI 79 years. Dau Jesse, widow and wife Delia living in household.2,6,7,8,9,10,4,11,12

  At one time EJ was the constable of South Wayne, Deputy Sheriff of LaFayette county, Mayor of the Village of South Wayne for 5 years, treasurer of Center School district for 4 or 5 years. As a young boy they lived on the "Watson farm" from which he watched oxen drawn wagons of lead en route from Galena, Illinois to Milwaukee.5

Marriage 26 Feb 1865  Ellis Joseph McKnight, 24 years old, married Adelia Laura Janette Borden, who was 20 years old, daughter of Russell Borden and Julia Lane, 26 February 1865 in South Wayne, LaFayette county, Wisconsin. Lic in Vol 1, p 167.13,14,15,16

March 1865  After EJ and Delia were married they lived for about two years near the Hoffman cemetery, then the moved across the Pecatonica River to a log house near what later became the McKnight Cheese family. Later they moved to another building on this property. The water here was good so they made cheese and butter which they sold in Warren, Illinois.5

Cen1870 1870  Ellis Joseph McKnight appears on the 1870 census  in Wayne township, LaFayette county, Wisconsin.   Ellis appears as E. J. McKnight on this census. He is a farmer with $920 of real estate and $400 of personal property. He is 30 years old. Wife, Delia is 24. They have three children:
Jessie 4
Sam 3
Eugene 9/12 Born in November 1869.8

1879  In 1879 the only way across the Pecatonica River was on the McKnight Bridge. Whether that bridge was the property of EJ is not known. In 1887 EJ purchased the Asa Parks farm across from the "Round House".5,2

Cen1880 1880  Ellis Joseph McKnight shows on the 1880 census for Wayne township, LaFayette county, Wisconsin taken 1880. Ellis J McKnight is 39 years old, born in Wisconsin and is a farmer. Wife, Delia is 33, born in Ohio. Children all born in Wisconsin are:
Jessie (f) 14
Sam 12
Bert 5 and
Clifford 1.17

Census_Oth 1885  Ellis Joseph McKnight may be on the census of in 1885 in Wayne township, LaFayette county, Wisconsin. . E. J. McKnight appears on this census with 5 males and 3 females. Therefore all of his children and his wife are still living in the household at the time of this census.18

1887  In 1887 E.J. McKnight brought the Asa Parks farm on the top of the hill across the road from the "round House". This would have been very close to Darius Eastman's home.5

1908  About 1908 EJ and Adelia moved into town near the school. They lived with, or maybe more properly son Sam lived with them.5,19

1911  Ellis is mentioned in the Obituary for George Hobbs in 1911, regarding his early job of "hauling wood to Shullsburg". Why would Shullsburg need more wood that South Wayne???

1914  E.J. Was President of the village of South Wayne about 1914. May have had that office more than once. Was told to purchase a stop watch and give it to the city marshall and see that he enforeces the speed laws.!!2

circa 1918  In the general time frame of 1918 Evelyn Eastman and her sisters kept their pony and cart at Grandpa EJ's while they were in School. They lived in the country but came to school in South Wayne. This house was on a hill, maybe at the corner of E. Prospect and Division Street. Evelyn was unable to identify the house in 1990, but EJ and his wife do show on the 1920 census in a house on Division street in South Wayne.20,19

: Photo of the School in South Wayne. p87 of "Through the Century: a History of SouthWayne, Wisconsin"  Centential book 1889 -1989.2

Will 12 April 1923  Ellis Joseph McKnight left a will dated 12 April 1923 that was written at LaFayette county, Wisconsin. This will is recorded at the Darlington court house, LaFayette county, WI as #136409A. The Will makes the usual stipulations that debts be paid etc. Item 2: Wife Delia is to receive the income from all of my estate during her life time and shall have full control thereafter until the time of her death. Item3: To my daughter, Jesse Heltman, I give, devise and bequeath the following fdescribed real estate to wit: Lots #3 and 4 in Blk #76 and lot #8 in Blk #70 in the village of South Wayne, LaFayette couty, WI. Item 4: To my sons, Samuel W. McKnight and Burt R. McKnight, I give, devise and bequeath the following described real estate undivided, share and share alike. To Wit: the SW ¼ of the SE ¼ and that portion of the SE ¼ of the SE ¼ lying West of the publich highway in Sec #15. and the W ½ of the NE ¼ of Sec 22 and that part of the E ½ of NE ¼ of said Sec 22 which lies West of the public highway. Item #5: to son and daughter Clifford McKnight and Jeanette Eastman, I give, devise and bequeath the following described real estate, undivided, share and share alike. To wit:The NW¼ of NW¼ of Sec 23 and that part of the NE ¼ of NE ¼ of Sec 22 which lifes E of public highway. All of above described real estate is locatead in T1N, R5E of PM in Lafayette county WI. All of said real estate to remain in possession of my said wife until the time of her death, as above stated. F. E. Tree was to be the executor of the estate..21

Codicil 18 Dec 1923  Ellis Joseph McKnight wrote a codicil to his will on 18 December 1923 in #1, LaFayette county, Wisconsin, providing "I give and bequeath ot my wife , Delia McKnight and my grandson, Clair McKnight, the sum of $500 each to be paid out of my personal estate as soon as convienent to do so after my death. In all other respects, I do confirm my said will."21

Cen 1930* 10 April 1930  He was found on the 1930 US census taken on 10 April 1930 in  South Wayne, LaFayette county, Wisconsin. Ellis J. McKnight is a 89 year old widower, owns a $5000 house and DOES NOT have a radio. He was first married when he was 22. Daughter Jessie Heiltman is a 63 year old widow, first married when 19.22

Codicil 16 Sept 1930  Ellis Joseph McKnight wrote a codicil #2 to his will, on 16 September 1930, LaFayette county, Wisconsin, as follows:

 In the 3rd paragraph of said will "I gave and devised to my daughter, Jesse Heltman, Lot #8 in Blk 70 of the Village of South Wayne together with other lots in said village. It is now my will that Lot #8 not go to my daughter, Jessie Heltman, but shall be sold at my death and the proceeds used to pay any debts against my estate or any expenses chargeable to my estate." Witnessed by BM Jones and Oscar J. Olson as was the will.21

Death before 24 March 1932  Ellis Joseph died before 24 March 1932 at South Wayne, at LaFayette, at Wisconsin. Funeral expenses were paid on 24 March 1932.23,1

Burial   Ellis was buried at Eastman cemetery in South Wayne, Wisconsin.5

Probate 29 December 1932  E.J's estate probate was final on on 29 December 1932 at LaFayette county, Wisconsin. The assets of the estate totaled $1,375.61 not including real estate. The liabilities of the estate we $3631.03. The executor of the estate stated " That there was not sufficient fund vailable to pay the claims amounting to $3,631.03....and the expenses of administration without selling the real estate."

"That in order to pay the amounts necessary to be paid to settle said estate without selling real estate, I sold Lot 8 in Black 70 in the Village of South Wayne to Jesse Heltman, a legatee in said will for $1,400. That amount being in full settlement of her claim and being at least $250 more than the actual value of said lot.

That I paid the claim of Wm. Chapman and son of $131.03 in cash, as stated in the foregoing account, (this item is included in paid expenses as well as a liability), leaving the claim of S.W. McKnight of $2,100 still unpaid.

That by agreement between the legatees there was an assessment of 16% levied upon and deducted from the share of each of the legatees except the share of Jesse Heltman, to pay the claims against said estate and the expenses of administration."

The other legatees of the estate paid, by quit claim, the note held my S. W. McKnight against the estate. Involved were Hazel Lane, granddaughter, Bessie Goodman, gd, Marion McKnight, gd,(these three were children of Clifford McKnight, desc. Gerturde Bellings (that should read Billings), Esther Babler, Evelyen Black, (that should read Evelyn Black), Clair McKnight, grandson, and the three living children of E. J. McKnight, Jesse Heltman, Burt McKnight and Sam McKnight."23,21

Family Adelia Laura Janette Borden b. 14 October 1844, d. 12 December 1925
Children  1. Jessie McKnight+ b. 12 May 1865, d. 1 Nov 1945
  2. Samuel William McKnight+ b. 7 Oct 1867, d. 7 Jun 1957
  3. Eugene McKnight b. Nov 1869, d. b 1880
  4. Bert Russell McKnight+ b. 4 Oct 1875, d. 1 Sep 1956
  5. Clifford J McKnight+ b. 26 Feb 1879, d. 11 May 1916
  6. Laura Janette McKnight+ b. 25 Apr 1881, d. 11 Mar 1921

Last Edited 13 Jul 2012

  1. [S9131] Various Cemetery markers, Eastman Cemetery, South Wayne, WI.
  2. [S9349] Chuck Parsons with South Wayne Historical Commission, "History of South Wayne, WI".
  3. Larry Johnson, "Borden by Johnson".
  4. [S9453] "1900 U.S. census Lafayette, Wayne twp, WI. Poor film.".
  5. [S9100] McKnight family of Wisconsin, Typed notes, no date on papers Written by Marie E McKnight.
  6. [S9356] "1900 U.S. census Wayne, LaFayette, WI. MFHC #1241796. May need to do further on this. Only Wayne done.".
  7. [S9357] "1875 WIS. census. for Wayne , LaFayette, ONLY. Not Alphabetized so will need to read again. MFHC #1032692".
  8. [S9456] "1870 census for Wayne, LaFayette, WI #553221.".
  9. [S9457] "1880 U.S. Census, Wayne, Lafayette, WI Film #1255433.".
  10. [S9494] "Film #1032698 1885 Census for some counties of Wisconsin, including LaFayette. Only Wayne twp done in LaFayette co.".
  11. [S9355] "1910 U.S. Census Wayne town, LaFayette, WI. A very poor copy of this census. Most of Wayne was readable, many of the other towns and twps. in LaFayette were not. May need to find a better copy. MFHC #1375730.".
  12. [S9345] "1920 U.S. Census of Wayne, LaFayette, WI. MFHC #1821993. Only Wayne done.".
  13. [S9472] "Misc. Wisconsin marriage records from index. More of the index has been duplicated with a B#.".
  14. Download,
  15. [S9245] Extractions from Lafayette co Marriage index done by the Darlington Hist. Soc. Typed copy found at the Darlington Hist. Soc. Museum in Darlington,WI1991.: Vol3,P167 .
  16. [S9350] "Wisconsin Marriage Index, 1852-1907 for McKNIGHT. Fiche 6331479 MFHC.", Vol. 1,p167; Co.Vol A;seq.8664 .
  17. [S9457] "1880 U.S. Census, Wayne, Lafayette, WI Film #1255433.", ED 213, page 14, line 16+.
  18. [S9998] "1885 WisCensus".
  19. [S9091] Interview, Evelyn Eva Eastman Brenner, before 1993.
  20. [S9132] Interview, Alma Perrigo Eastman, Summer of 1990.
  21. [S9248] "Will of E.J. McKNIGHT, abstracted and copied by hand at the Darlington CT House, Darlington, Lafayette, Wis. Summer of 1991.".
  22. Download, 1930 US census ED 33-22, Sheet 3B.
  23. [S9294] Copy of the Probate papers for the estate of E.J. McKNIGHT in LaFayette WIS. in 1932. .
  24. [S9346] "Photos of gravestones of Eliza Borden and Joseph and Lucinda Parks McKnight, in Eastman cemetery in South Wayne, WI. Taken summer of 1990 by Leslyn C. Black.", E457 Two photos of gravestones in EASTMAN cemetery in LaFayette, WI of McKNIGHTS..

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