This collection contains correspondence of the Knight family, a family of farmers who lived in Pike and McLean counties in Illinois. A majority of the correspondence is between Isabella Knight and her sister, Martha (Gill) Mack.
Martha (1833-1916) and Isabella (1834-1881) Gill were born in Ireland, but came to live with grandparents in Virginia after they were orphaned. In 1853, Isabella married Harvey J. Knight, a farmer and shepherd, and moved to Ohio. Martha lived with other relatives, the Mack family, who came to Pike County, Illinois, later in the 1850s, and she married her cousin John T. Mack. John and Martha Mack moved to a farm near Towanda, Illinois, in McLean County, and attempted to convince the Knights to follow. Harvey Knight moved to Towanda in 1866, and the following year, Isabella joined him with their daughters, Martha (called Mattie) and Anna. Mattie and Anna Knight both attended school in Normal, Illinois, and later worked as teachers.
The collection contains correspondence of the Knight family from 1853 to 1888. Earlier letters are primarily from Martha (Gill) Mack to her sister Isabella Knight, and discuss family and local news, as well as details about land, crops, and livestock farming. Later correspondence, written to Mattie and Anna Knight, concerns their careers as teachers and news from friends. Other correspondence is exchanged between Harvey Knight and John Mack, or involves Harvey Knight's business.
The Knight Family collection was transferred to the Illinois Historical Survey, predecessor of the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, from the University of Illinois Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1967.