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Correspondence, 1817-1895 and undated 1.5 Linear Feet — 3 boxes

Correspondence consists chiefly of business letters by John Knight and his partners and friends. However, there are also many letters by Knight family members and their relatives and friends. The correspondence begins in 1817 with letters from Mary (McCleery) Knight in Indiana to her sister Frances (McCleery) Beall, William M. Beall's wife. There is also correspondence between Fanny Knight, John and Frances Knight's daughter, and Thomas McDannold during their courtship. Correspondence also includes letters from friends and relatives while the Knights were traveling abroad. Many letters also mention John Knight's attempts at various cures for ill health, including water cures, hot springs, and baths.

Between 1830 and 1864, Knight's business correspondence with Enoch Pratt, a Baltimore banker in charge of Knight's finances, William Beall, and others, predominates. Topics include: the U.S. political and economic climate: the conflict between Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson; the cotton market; banking and bank failures; investment in cotton land in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas; the purchase and sale of slaves, with some bought by William Beall and sent to Knight in Mississippi; the treatment and medical care of slaves; the operation of Knight's plantations; piracy on the Mississippi River, 1841; cholera and yellow fever epidemics in New York and New Orleans in 1832, 1833, 1837, and 1841; the economic panic of 1857; education at the Frederick Female Academy, Frederick, Maryland; financial conditions in the United States during the Civil War; the relations between the United States and England during the war; and the course of the Civil War, especially the Union invasion of Maryland. One early letter from Roger Brooke Taney to William Murdock Beall explains his refusal of the vice-presidency and discussing his interest in the U.S. presidency.

Other smaller groups of correspondence were written by Frances "Fanny" Knight McDannold, the daughter of John and Frances Knight, her children Knight and Alexandra, and husband Thomas McDannold, and that family's acquaintances.

The correspondence ends with a much smaller series of letters, which include items to Frances S.Z. Knight from her grandchildren, and other correspondence reflecting her financial and legal activities as she managed her husband's large estate and the guardianship of her grandchildren even as she approached old age.

Some additional correspondence can be found in the Legal and Financial Papers series.

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Notebooks, 1831-1884 0.5 Linear Feet — 1 box

A variety of small volumes kept by family members make up this series. Frances Beall Knight's 1831-1879 notebooks include a scrapbook with a few entries from her husband and friends, pasted-in clippings with obituaries for Elisha Beall, William M. Beall, and Zeruiah Bell, pasted-in engravings, copied poems, and other writings. There is also a notebook with medical and financial content; a notebook with mostly religious content; and a notebook on various subjects.

There is one notebook from 1858 identified as John Knight's, in which he describes the family's trip to Russia. Also in the series are Frances (Fanny) Beall Knight's booklets of schoolwork dated from the 1840s to 1854.

This series also includes four anonymous notebooks. The smallest item, from after 1862, is actually a small folded sheaf of notes on world history, perhaps from a lecture or a book. Another small volume, circa 1864, contains needlework patterns, recipes, and housekeeping notes, and may be Fanny Knight's; a notebook from 1884 listing traveling trunk and bank vault contents, and medical receipts, which may be Frances B. Knight's while she acted as guardian of her two grandchildren; and another is a baby journal recording in detail the first years of Knight McDannold's life, 1875-1882.

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Financial Papers, 1829-1900 17 folders — 3 boxes

The earliest financial papers include promissory notes from Natchez, Mississippi, 1829-1842. Other folders contain John Knight's account and bank books from 1856 and 1861; Knight family financial papers, 1870-1897; Frances Knight's guardianship documents for the two McDannold children, 1883-1885, and her dividends notebook, 1887-1891. Various bills and receipts, 1830-1900, generally concern John Knight's business interests, travel expenses, and Knight family living expenses; some pertain to plantation expenses, slaveholding and related activities. Additional financial information, including references to enslaved people, is found attached to documents in the Legal Papers series.