Monday, July 11, 2016

James Franklin Jollett's Kids: Leanna Knight

As part of my “Genealogy Do-Over” efforts AND to force myself to get crackin’ on my James Franklin Jollett book, Jollett Reunion, I will be researching and writing brief biographies of James Franklin, his wives, and his children.

Leanna Alice Jollett was the fourth child born to James Franklin and Lucy Ann Shiflett Jollett. That was on March 14, 1867 in Greene County, Virginia. However, there is no record of a “Leanna” in the 1870 census. Oh, the Jolletts were enumerated on time, that is a fact. But there was no Leanna. There was a three-year old daughter though, listed exactly where she should have been listed, chronologically after Laura and before Mary F. Her name was “Columbia A.”

from the 1870 Greene County, Virginia Federal Census

In the next census in 1880, Columbia was nowhere to be found. In her place was Leanna, age 13, right after Laura and before Mary F, the same age expected for Columbia had she been listed.

from the 1880 Greene County, Virginia Federal Census

There is no real explanation for the disappearance of one and appearance of the other. Maybe there were twin girls and the enumerator failed to list Leanna, and then maybe Columbia died before 1880. Or maybe the common nickname “Lum” latched onto a middle name Ann and then “Lumanna” somehow morphed into “Leanna” and it stuck. Maybe the enumerator simply mis-heard “Leanna” and wrote “Columbia.” We will probably never know.

What is true, though, is that Leanna was the name on her marriage record, death record, tombstone, and every census from 1880 to 1930.
James Mitchell Knight and Leanna Jollett Knight

At age 18, Leanna married James Mitchell Knight, a farmer and son of a farmer, whose childhood in Greene County was much like her own. Both attended school, probably the same school since they grew up as near neighbors. One of Leanna’s grandchildren once said that Leanna was not a beautiful woman but her grandfather – who was quite handsome – absolutely adored his sweet Leanna.

The Knights had eleven children, and all survived into adulthood. They owned their own farm in the Monroe District of Greene County. Supposedly for a time they ran a store, but that is not reflected in the census records, only in the memory reported by their son Clyde. Leanna was the postmistress for the Nimrod Post Office from 1919-1925.

Leanna was quite social, and her name often appeared in the society columns when she visited her aunt Clementine Morris, sister of Leanna’s mother. It didn’t matter that they lived just a few miles from one another in the same county; a visit was a visit when it came to local news. Despite their 20-years difference in age, they had much in common. Both boasted very large families, Aunt Clem’s outnumbering even Leanna’s large brood. As a result, they had children of the same age, so they surely had plenty to talk about.

Leanna died in 1936 from endocarditis and myocarditis, in other words, severe heart problems. Some time later, Mitchell went to live with their son James Frank. He died in 1942, just a short six years after his beloved Leanna. The two are buried in the Evergreen Church Cemetery in Greene County.
Jollett Reunion before 1934
at a Jollett Reunion before 1924
Standing: James Mitchell Knight, Sallie Jollett Clift, Leanna Jollett Knight,
Walter Davis, Mary Frances Jollett Davis, Decatur Breeden,
Victoria Jollett Breeden, Laura Jollett Sullivan, Will Sullivan
Seated: Jack Coleman, Emma Jollett Coleman

Leanna Alice JOLLETT (14 Mar 1867 Greene Co, VA – 20 Sep 1936 Albemarle Co, VA) and James Mitchell KNIGHT (9 May 1866 Greene Co, VA – 16 Feb 1942 Greene Co, VA) married 1 Mar 1885 Greene Co, VA
  1. Bertha Ola KNIGHT (18 Jan 1885 Greene Co, VA – 31 Jan 1963 Greene Co, VA) and Benjamin SHIFLETT (10 Jun 1891 Greene Co, VA – 24 Jan 1959 Greene Co, VA) married 24 Dec 1912 Greene Co, VA
  2. Victoria KNIGHT (4 Jul 1887 Greene Co, VA – 2 Feb 1929 Albemarle Co, VA) and Martin Lucas SHIFLETT (14 Aug 1882 Greene Co, VA – 5 Dec 1950 Ruckersville, VA) married 2 Mar 1904 Greene Co, VA
  3. Laura Maybelle KNIGHT (3 May 1890 Greene Co, VA – 20 Apr 1975 Greene Co, VA) and James Pearlie SHIFLETT (25 Jun 1889 Greene Co, VA – 2 Sep 1922 Greene Co, VA) married 17 Jan 1907 Greene Co, VA
  4. Eliza Jane KNIGHT (14 Jun 1892 Greene Co, VA – 23 Jun 1928 Albemarle Co, VA) and Charles Herbert GIBSON (17 Apr 1896 Greene Co, VA – 30 Apr 1990 Charlottesville, VA) married 27 Nov 1919 Greene Co, VA
  5. James Frank KNIGHT (3 May 1894 Greene Co, VA – 18 Apr 1986 Albemarle Co, VA) and Margaret LAWSON (16 Dec 1895 Greene Co, VA – 6 Mar 1963 Charlottesville, VA) married 9 Apr 1913 Greene Co, VA
  6. Pearl Josephine KNIGHT (25 May 1896 Greene Co, VA – 27 Dec 1988 Madison Co, VA) and William Harvey SHIFLETT (Mar 1893 Greene Co, VA – 3 Aug 1926 Greene Co, VA) married 13 Oct 1913 Hagerstown, MD
  7. William Lewis KNIGHT (20 Jun 1897 Greene Co, VA – 2 Sep 1970 Baltimore, MD) and Ethel Florence MORRIS (20 Mar 1899 Greene Co, VA – 6 Dec 1973 Baltimore, MD) married 10 Jan 1919 Greene Co, VA
  8. Edward Cole KNIGHT (6 Oct 1899 Greene Co, VA – 1 Sep 1982 Charlottesville, VA) and Eva Mae SHIFLETT (27 Apr 1906 Greene Co, VA – 25 Aug 2000 Charlottesville, VA) married 7 Sep 1927 Albemarle Co, VA
  9. Lonia “Lonnie” Catherine KNIGHT (24 Jul 1904 Greene Co, VA – 22 Sep 1988) and m1) Isaac Joshua KNIGHT (17 Sep 1899 Greene Co, VA – 29 Apr 1962 Maryland) married 25 Dec 1920 Greene Co, VA ; m2) Meade Elton JENKINS (19 Apr 1904 Winchester, VA – 21 Nov 1971 Staunton, VA) married 2 Feb 1957 Charlottesville, VA
  10. Clyde Henry KNIGHT (28 Oct 1904 Greene Co, VA – 13 Oct 1997 Charlottesville, VA) and Elsie Olyn MORRIS (13 Feb 1904 Greene Co, VA – 28 Sep 1984 Charlottesville, VA) married 3 Jun 1927 Greene Co, VA
  11. Isaac Finks KNIGHT (20 Aug 1908 Greene co, VA – 21 Dec 1994 Dundalk, MD) and Etha MORRIS (15 Oct 1908 Greene Co, VA – 20 Oct 1994 Baltimore, MD) married 4 Apr 1928 Greene co, VA

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. How strange to have such a different name change from Columbia to Leanna - they don't sound the same to me.

  2. You have made Leanna's Bio an interesting read with the thoughts of those who knew her..."Leanna was not a beautiful woman...he adored her". Great photo of the two of them. Oh, those enumerators!!!

  3. Interesting with the names; and like you said, you will never know what the "mix up" was with them. I'm glad to hear she was adored by her husband :)


  4. I know people who have morphed their name over time to something that doesn't resemble their birth name. I know 2 who didn't like their birth name and chose something else completely! It would be interesting to know the full story in your case though.

  5. Virginia probably didn't require any kind of birth records in 1867, did they? In the wedding photo I think there is a likeness in the faces of Leanna and her husband. And I think she's beautiful, but not in a traditional, commonly understood "beauty." I think this was a well-written and interesting post about Leanna, Wendy.