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