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For thirty-nine years Jesse McKnight has resided in this community, having come to Indian Territory with the early pioneers. Left an orphan at the age of ten years, he soon afterward entered the business world to earn his living, and as the result of intelligently directed efforts, laudable ambition and unflagging courage has won substantial success. A native of Missouri, he was born on the 4th of February, 1866.
Jesse McKnight acquired but a limited education in the schools of his native state and at the age of seventeen years made his way to Indian Territory. Locating at Muskogee, he was engaged in driving the coach from there to Okmulgee for the following two years, and then for the next eighteen months drove from Muskogee to Fort Gibson. After driving the route from Fort Gibson to Tahlequah for six years, he finally took over the mail contract from Fort Gibson to Tahlequah and was active in that connection for a period covering two years. At the termination of that time he determined to engage in farming and as a result removed to his present location, three miles north and six miles west of Chelsea, where he homesteaded fifty acres. This land is in Rogers County and is some of the best in the state. Mr. McKnight farms about thirty acres of this land himself and rents seventy acres more. He likewise owns a four hundred and sixty acre tract, ten miles east of Nowata, in Nowata County. Mr. McKnight has been very successful in his farming and has won for himself a place among the representative agriculturists of northeastern Oklahoma. He keeps in touch with the latest processes for the cultivation of his land and his home is one of the show places of the community. The original homestead has been found to be rich in oil and there are now sixteen wells in operation, Mr. McKnight drawing substantial royalties therefrom. As one of the early pioneers of this country he has watched its development and he often remarks that in the early days this country was a safer place to live in than it is at the present time. He says that all one was expected to do in the old days was to mind his own business and no one molested him.
On the 25th of August, 1894, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. McKnight to Miss Susie Downing, a daughter of George and Elizabeth (Couseen) Downing, both natives of Georgia. The mother removed to Indian Territory with the first emigrants, while the father came with the second emigrants. They located in Tahlequah but after their marriage made their home at Peggs Prairie. Mr. Downing was related to Chief Lewis Downing and was active in the affairs of the Territory. Mrs. McKnight received her education in the Female Seminary at Tahlequah and after graduating taught school for four years at Vinita, two years in the Sequoyah district and one year in the Saline district. To the union of Mr. and Mrs. McKnight seven children have been born: Jessie May married and became the mother of Helen Ward; Joe B., twenty-four years of age, married Iva Weatherby and is the father of one child, Dorothy Irene; George L., twenty-three years of age, married Emily Brown; Cora L. is living at home; Lolo S., Fines E. and Perry J. are all attending school.
Fraternally Mr. McKnight is identified with the Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias. In addition to general farming Mr. McKnight has for some time raised registered shorthorn cattle and registered Irish Setter dogs. Mr. and Mrs. McKnight have a fine old country home and are people of culture and refinement.