This article is reprinted from the Dallas Morning News,
Dallas, Texas, 19 Nov 1911, p. 11.
Bracketed matter has been added.



Has Seventy-Six Descendants and Very Large Family Connection in Two States.

Without having had a serious illness in her life, Mrs. Serena Caroline Knight has lately celebrated her eighty-ninth birthday. She has lived in or near this city [Dallas, Texas] for sixty-five years of her active life. She has been a steadfast and working member of the Methodist Church for seventy-eight years. Her mind is clear and her life is active, so that she goes to church three times a day, on occasion, and rarely misses twice for Sunday. And some of her life is spent in the out of doors every day, summer and winter. She says that her religion was obtained under a brush arbor camp meeting and that it has been a rugged sort, as a consequence, and that for a church which believes in the theory, but frowns upon the practice of falling from grace, she has an affection as stable as her record for membership.

Mrs. Knight was a Miss Hughes of Maury County, near Columbia, Tenn., and was born Sept. 26, 1822, in Stokes County, N. C., becoming a Tennesseean [sic] at the age of 4 years. At the age of 22 years, she became the wife of Obadiah W. Knight, and with him, in the fall of 1846, two years after their marriage, she came to Texas. She came in a considerable party of relatives, brought the family negroes along and was for eleven weeks engaged in making the journey, some in ox wagons, others in horsedrawn vehicles, from Maury County to Dallas County. But it was not then Dallas County, being a part of Nacogdoches County.

Didn't Want to Buy Shucks.

"It was after corn was gathered in the fall of 1846 that my husband said he was going to Texas," Mrs. Knight said yesterday. "I told him I would not go to that wild country.

"'Well, I've made up my mind to go to a country where we won't have to buy shucks in the winter time, but where there is grass all the year,' he said to me. 'You may do as you like about going.'"

And Mrs. Knight blushed as a girl might blush, as she said, "I told him that if he looked at it that way, I guessed I'd go, too. And I am glad I did."

Early in September the emigrants left Tennessee. It was Nov. 30 when they camped at Cedar Springs, now about one mile from the northern limits of the city of Dallas. O. W. Knight and wife had three ox wagons and two horse teams to convey their chattels to their new home. They had twenty-eight negroes. Her sister, Mrs. William M. Cochran, and her husband, had two wagons drawn by oxen, and several negroes. Mr. Cochran was the first clerk of the newly formed Dallas County a short time after his arrival in Texas. Mrs. Isaac B. Webb, another sister, with her husband, and some negroes, had come as far as Red River, near Texarkana, in 1843. They joined the party and journeyed on to Dallas, or the place near which Dallas was to spring up. Mr. Webb had the first postoffice in Dallas County, that at Farmers' Branch, a short time after his arrival. Mrs. T. C. Williams, a sister, with two children, bringing several negroes, came with the party, her husband having come to Texas some months before. He was the first Tax Assessor for Dallas County. J. H. Walker, with four daughters and a son brought his wife in this caravan.

At Memphis, Tenn., the party entered a ferry boat and crossed the Mississippi. Mrs. Knight says it was the first steam power she had ever seen. She has not ridden on trains since that time. The ox wagons were slow, she says, and frequently in the long drive to Texas were held for days by swollen streams, but the wagons got here after a while. A little steel mill on the back of one of the heavy wagons, hand-driven, furnished the coarse meal of corn that the party used. "Now de [sic] don't even grind coffee," Mrs. Knight observed.

The negroes were laborers and some of them artisans. There were seamstresses, weavers, spinners and clothmakers. The men were blacksmiths, shoemakers and common skilled laborers.

Indians Steal Horses.

The first night of the camp at Cedar Springs the horses and cattle were tied close to the tents, but less careful campers a few feet away lost their horses to the Indians, who sneaked and cut them loose. For years afterward, Mrs. Knight said, it was a common thing for church service to break up upon a rumor of an Indian raid, and men in the field and about the homes wore six-shooters, to be ready. Between Dallas and Denton there were many fights, and there were some to the east of the city, and for years afterward there was fighting westward, in which some well-known Dallas families lost relatives. But none of the Knights suffered, though there were ninety of the first cousins who came from Tennessee and settled close to Dallas.

O. W. Knight bought 1,000 acres for $1,000 a tract, though none of it is in the city, which is refused sale by the owner at offers of $500 an acre.

Five step-children came with the Knight family to Texas. Mrs. Knight's first-born son, Henry, about a year old, died on the long trip, as there were many hardships. Of thirteen children born to her, seven are living. Of fifty-three grandchildren born forty are living. Of twenty great-grandchildren born, eleven are living. It is the boast of Mrs. Knight that none of the men is in jail, though she smiled and said they might be good at concealing, and that none of the women has ever been a discredit to the connection. "Women in my day had more time to give to their children," she said, "and it was our privilege to live in the country and rear them. We did not have mothers' clubs nor moving picture shows to keep us apart."

Besides the sisters already mentioned, Mrs. Knight had other relatives who came to Texas with her or later. Rev. W. H. (Uncle Buck) Hughes came in 1852 and for years was presiding elder and preacher. Mrs. Knight tells on him, and he admits the truth, that once when the congregation to which he was preaching separated, that the men might go out to protect the property and the women might get home, the preacher and church officers, being unarmed and men of peace, to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for the women in such emergencies, a good sister said, when the danger was over and all were at breakfast: "Mr. Hughes, what would you have done if those Indians had come?"

He replied: "Thank the Lord, sister, they did not come. But if they had got to your room first they never would have got me."

Mr. Hughes is still hale and hearty, about six years younger than Mrs. Knight.

Another brother, Rev. John F. Hughes, was for fifty-five years in the Holstein conference, in Tennessee, and the Nashville American said of him that he read the Bible through once each year of his ministry, besides his studying of it. Judge Arch M. Hughes was for years a lawyer and Judge in Maury County, Tennessee. Mrs. Maria Doss was wife of William F. Doss, a preacher forty years in the Holstein conference in Tennessee. None of these came to Texas, though some of their descendants did.

Three other sisters did come to Texas. These were Mrs. John Bachman, wife of the preacher for whom Bachman reservoir of the city was named; Mrs. Levi Dennis, wife of a preacher, and Mrs. George W. Record, all of whom came to Texas in 1852 or 1854.

Mr. Knight, the husband, died in 1868 at the age of 60 years. G. A. Knight, a Confederate soldier, now a Dallas business man; Dr. John W. Knight, a surgeon in the Confederate Army, and William Knight, a soldier who died at Hope, Ark., are the stepsons of Mrs. Knight. She and the father sent a wagon from Dallas to Hope, Ark., near Memphis, and brought the body of William to Cochran's Chapel for burial. George W. Newman, now living at Pleasant Valley, drove the wagon. Two step-daughters were Mrs. Nat M. Burford, wife of a Dallas Judge and property owner, and Elizabeth, wife of Capt. J. J. Mallard of Rusk.

Of her husband, she said that he sold corn and wheat for many years and she has frequently met persons who had bought of him and who remarked at the full measure he gave. He always said, she added, "I never want to go to hell for weight or measure." And she told of his building a home on the place after the war and freedom for "Uncle Dan and Aunt Kizzie," faithful negroes who had been slaves, the care being kept up as long as they lived.

Mrs. Knight's own children were the following: Henry, who died in infancy, while the family was journeying to Texas; Laura, Mrs. Dr. A. M. Cochran, who died in 1877; Monroe D., killed by a horse when he was but a boy; Mattie A., wife of W. H. Lemmon who died some years ago; Kate, wife of John Field, in Oak Lawn; William H. Knight, married to Bessie Turner, residing in Hillsboro, visiting his mother this week while attending the Scottish Rite reunion and Shrine; Amanda, wife of Major B. B. Cannon of Weatherford; Epps G., married to Fannie L. Patton in 1887, living in Dallas and father of nine living children; Loula, who died young; Josie, who lived but a few years; Robert E. Lee, married in 1889 to Amanda Armstrong of Bryan, a Dallas attorney, and Arch J., married to Jessie Newton in 1888 at Waxahachie, and residing in Dallas as a business man.

Her step-children always loved and respected her as a mother and none of her own children, she says, is more loving than her "older children," not hers by birth. Thus a good mother, an example and a loving encouragement of Christian motherhood of the old school, lives and is happy with her children at nearly four score years and ten "by reason of strength." There are many men in North Texas, who as boys boarded at her house and attended school at the first school house in Dallas County. Her husband gave ten acres and $300 in gold for the founding. William Harris and John H. Cochran were early teachers. Such men as the late Judge Thomas F. Nash, Judge Charles H. Jenkins of Brownwood and many of the Cochran, Knight, Harris, Record and Harwood families were taught in it.


Her photograph accompanies this article, headed "HALE AND HEARTY WOMAN NEARLY NINETY YEARS OLD."