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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



DR. WILLIAM McKNIGHT, one of the honored pioneers of Illinois, has been a practicing physician of the State for many years and a resident of Normal since March, 1883. He has been a close student, an extensive reader, and has enjoyed a large and lucrative practice in other portions of the State. Here, the longer he is known the more he is respected as a skilled and reliable practitioner, and as a citizen is one of the most valued members of the community.

Dr. McKnight was born in Allegheny County, Pa., May 20, 1823, his parents being Jacob and Isabella (McNeil) McKnight, also natives of the Keystone State. In about 1826 the family removed to Guernsey County, Ohio, where they settled upon a farm and where the father died at the age of sixty-eight years; the mother survived until she was seventy-six years old, and then passed peacefully from earth, dying upon the homestead which they had established in Ohio.

The parental family embraced six children, one of whom died in childhood and one son at the age of sixteen. A daughter, Julia Ann, became the wife of James Atchison, of Muskingum County, Ohio, and died in her prime, leaving a family of little children. The three living are: Neil, a farmer residing on the homestead in Guernsey County, Ohio; Margaret, who lives with him, and the subject of our sketch, the latter being the eldest of the family.

When the parents of Dr. McKnight removed to Ohio he was but a child three years of age. His youth and boyhood were passed upon the farm and in attendance at the district and a select school. At the age of twenty years he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Stephen B. Clark, of Cambridge, Ohio, who continued his preceptor for three years following. He then took a course of lectures at Miami Medical College, Cincinnati, and engaged in the practice of his chosen profession in Muskingum County, Ohio.

In the fall of 1848 he came westward to Illinois, and located in Granville, Putnam County, where he practiced until 1861. He then entered upon a course of study at Rush Medical College, Chicago, from which he graduated the following year and resumed his practice in Granville. In 1868 he removed to Clayton, Adams County, returned to Granville three years later, where he built up an extensive and lucrative practice, and later came to Normal for the better education of his children.

Dr. McKnight was first married in 1847, to Miss Elizabeth Henderson, of Muskingum County, Ohio, who became the mother of five children, viz., Herman L., now a banker in Battle River, D. T. [ed, D.T. is a/k/a Dakota Territory]: Hannah, a resident of Normal; Jennie, the wife of George M. Adams, of Bloomington, and Emma and George, residing at home. Mrs. Elizabeth McKnight departed this life at Clayton, Ill., in 1870.

The second marriage of Dr. McKnight occurred Dec. 20, 1871. his present wife having been Miss Amanda Moore, who was born in Putnam County, this State, and is the daughter of Shepherd and Margaret Moore. Of this union there were born two sons William and Joseph. Their residence is pleasantly located and they count among their friends and associates the cultured people of the little city of Normal.

Politically Dr. McKnight inclines to the principles of the Republican party, but confesses that his practice engages too much of his attention to enable him to give any portion of his time in assisting the politicians.

Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 345. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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