Knight Family History
Special Planned Giving Opportunity for Knight Descendants

After the death of President Abraham O. Smoot in 1895, the mantle of financial benefactor of the school fell upon Jesse Knight. Born in Nauvoo in 1845 and brought to Utah at age five, he married Amanda McEwan in 1869. They established a ranch near Payson, where most of their family was born and reared. Jesse had lost interest in the Church, but in 1887 he experienced a reconversion after the miraculous healing of his children from typhoid fever, and thereafter was not only a faithful worker but one of the largest contributors as well.

Much of his wealth was invested in projects for the benefit of the state and the Church. Substantial tithing, sometimes paid in advance, a $10,000 loan to the Church in 1896, and a $10,000 gift to leading brethren in 1898 to redeem them from serious financial difficulties, came at moments when financial disaster could have fallen on the Church. The Maeser Memorial Building was completed in 1911 at a cost of $130,000, of which the Knight family contributed $65,000. His other contributions included 500 acres of land on the Orem Bench, part of the land for the upper campus, a blacksmith shop, and $15,000 for the Training School Building. Moreover, he and his family were among the ten principal donors to the College Building. Their largest gift was the donation of Blue Bench Irrigation bonds with a maturity date of 1934, the principal and interest from which amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Money was borrowed from this fund to build the Amanda Knight, Allen, and Knight-Mangum halls. Jesse Knight died on March 14, 1921. In 1960 the Jesse Knight Building, which houses the College of Business, was named in his honor.

For more information on the Jesse and Amanda Knight Society, please contact Julie Geilman
at 801-422-7205 or knightsociety@byu.edu