Lavinia Long and David Kennedy McKnight Family

Granny McKnight

Lavinia Long McKnight (1815-1911) lived at 310 Washington Road. An old tale relates that one day Lavinia-later known as “Granny” McKnight- spied some hostile Indians heading toward her house. Rather than hide, she called them to her door and presented them with a gift of her freshly baked bread. After tasting the bread, the Indians left peacefully.

While there were numerous Indian raids in this area during the 1780s and early 1790s, most of the Indian “troubles” had ended by 1795 (the Indian population had dwindled to scarcely 1,200 by 1790). Lavinia was born in 1815-and probably would have had to be at least in her teens before she started baking bread-so the years don’t really jibe. Either Granny was spinning a tall tale or this story has been wrongly attributed to her or perhaps an ancestor was the real bread/peace maker. Granny was the third generation of Longs in the area. Her parents were Thomas and Rebecca Long, and her grandparents were early settlers Alexander and Elizabeth Long, who arrived in the South Hills when Indians still roamed the area. Lavinia’s brother Alexander Long died at age 21.

A booklet prepared for Mt. Lebanon’s 50th anniversary describes Lavinia as “a plump little woman, who laughed and teased and made fun all her years.” According to church records, Lavinia died of old age on July 29, 1911; she was 96. The street Lavina-located behind where her Washington Road house stood-was named for her.

The family of Lavinia’s husband, David Kennedy “D.K.” McKnight (1810-1881), came to America from Ireland in the late 1600s. His parents were John and Nancy (Kennedy) McKnight-they married around 1809. Nancy was the daughter of David and Doreas (or Dorcas) Kennedy, on whose land the first MLEPC service was held. David was a ruling elder of MLEPC. The 1841 census lists him as a tailor.

David and Lavinia married in 1837 and their son Joseph Leander McKnight (1851-1925), a teacher, married Emma Espy (1859-1893), whose family had settled in St. Clair Township in 1806. Joseph and Emma’s daughter Nancy Lavinia died at age 2. After Emma died, Joseph married Eliza Whaley (1863-1945). According to the 1920 census, Joseph was a street inspector living at the McKnight homestead on Washington Road. Joseph and Eliza’s daughter Mary was a teacher.

David and Lavinia’s son David Kennedy received his college education at Washington and Jefferson College, graduated from the Allegheny Theological Seminary, served as a pastor for several churches including Mt. Gilead, Pennsylvania, and was president of Muskingum College.

David and Lavinia’s son Thomas A. was a teamster. He died at age 29.

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