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 William Knight “Bill Knight” McDaniel

William Knight “Bill Knight” McDaniel

Derrahs, Lewis County, Missouri, USA
Death 27 Mar 1956 (aged 65)
Kirksville, Adair County, Missouri, USA
Burial Monticello, Lewis County, Missouri, USA
Memorial ID 5077701 · View Source
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Grandpa Mac was a big man in all ways. He was said to be six feet tall and 200 pounds, but I think his true weight was nearer 250. He was a whole foot taller than Grandma, and she always hated that. When you look at pictures of him in his usual overall garb, you can see he had a little, round belly, and I’m sure like that of Santa Claus, it shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

I, as well as my siblings, the rest of the family, and the neighbors were all privileged to know Bill Knight, as he was called. Grandma is the only one who ever called him Willie. Grandpa loved all his grandchildren, though he lived to know only nine of them, and we all loved him.

Grandpa was the youngest of five children, and it is fun to look at pictures of him in the cute, little clothes in which his mother dressed him. He must have been babied by the entire family. His mother kept him at the breast until he was four or five years old, probably in the belief prevalent in those days that continuing to nurse a baby kept the mother from getting pregnant again.

He liked animals, and even as a young man, he kept a canary. His mother died when he was twenty years old, and he continued to live with his father and older sister even after he had married Grandma at the age of 21. His oldest sister, Aunt Evie, was an old maid schoolteacher, and she was so hard to get along with that shortly after Grandma and Grandpa’s first wedding anniversary, his father moved them into a two room house he owned about a mile away. Grandpa’s brother and sister-in-law, Uncle Jep and Aunt Nettie, also lived in the family home, but Aunt Nettie was a lot more docile than Grandma, and so she and Aunt Evie didn’t have the same problems that Grandma and Aunt Evie did.

After Grandma and Grandpa moved to their new home, a nice little place of ninety acres, Grandpa continued to pursue his occupation of farmer, the same as his father before him. He and Grandma always had a couple of work horses and at least one horse for riding. They also kept milk cows and at least one steer fattening for butcher. They also had pigs, sheep, chickens, ducks, and geese. Grandma always had a large garden from which she reaped vegetables for home use, canning, and selling in town. She also had several fruit trees, including apple, pear, cherry, peach, and plum, as well as a mulberry tree, a large strawberry patch, an asparagus bed, and grape vines. In addition, she picked blackberries and gooseberries in the wild. She and Grandpa both hunted and sold wild game from door to door in town, as well as produce, dressed poultry, and eggs. Grandma sold eggs to a hatchery, and the girls were not allowed to eat many eggs, only on Easter, when they could have all they wanted.

Grandpa and Grandma had three daughters, and Mother and her older sister Dorothy were very close. Their oldest sister Aunt Edna Mae, who was born on Grandma and Grandpa’s first
wedding anniversary, was killed as a child when one of the farm mules kicked her in the head at the age of six. This was a major tragedy for the little family to withstand. Although Mother was only a year old at the time and Aunt Dorothy was two, it had a lifelong impact on both of them. Grandpa especially grieved, as he had sent the little girl to see if the mule needed more food, so he blamed himself.

Later, they were to add two more rooms to the house and an unfinished attic, and this is the house where my mother and her sister lived with their parents until they married, and this would be the home where Grandma and Grandpa would live out their remaining lives.

Grandpa was a good neighbor. I don’t think he ever met a stranger; he liked people and they liked him. There was nothing he couldn’t fix or jerry-rig, and neighbors often brought things to him to be repaired. When his farm work was done, he loved to drive the two miles to the little store at Derrahs and sit and visit with people who came in.

He and Grandma also ran a sorghum mill for several years and sold sorghum as far away as Kentucky, Montana, and New York. This was hot, hard work, from which they didn’t shirk. From the time they were old enough, the girls were expected to help out in the house, outside with the farm work, and even in the sorghum mill. There was nothing pertaining to farming that they didn’t learn.

The girls went to the one room schoolhouse, which was about a mile away. They started school together so they could be in the same grade. They rode a pony to school, and while they were still too young to manage the pony, one of the neighborhood boys led the pony to school with them on its back. Later, when they were older, they would drive the pony themselves.

There were no school busses in those days for them to ride, and had it not been for their father’s brother Uncle Bob, they would not have been able to attend high school, as the high school in town was ten miles away. Uncle Bob and Aunt May had no children and were fairly well to do. They owned a house in town where all their nieces and nephews had room and board through the week while attending high school, thanks to the generosity of Uncle Bob. Aunt May had an old maid sister who acted as housemother and kept the kids in line. They usually rode out from town with neighbors on weekends, and Grandpa picked them up at the little one room schoolhouse they had attended in earlier years. By the time they had reached their senior year in high school, all the other nieces and nephews had graduated, so Uncle Bob paid room and board for them to live with an older lady in town. He even paid for their piano lessons and for trumpet lessons for Mother and clarinet lessons for Aunt Dorothy. By the time the girls had graduated, they both had steady boyfriends and were both to marry within a couple of months after graduation, Mother in July 1937 and Aunt Dorothy in August. Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Kenny moved to the small town of Williamstown where he had grown up and which was about ten miles away. Mother married Daddy and settled down to farming within a few miles. Mother and Daddy and later the children they were to have together spent all or part of most days at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Maybe it was because Mother was the baby; maybe it was because Daddy was always sickly; maybe it was because they would eventually have several children; or maybe it was because Mother was more needy emotionally, but she did seem to need more help than Aunt Dorothy, and Grandma and Grandpa always came through, whatever the need.

After the children had left home, I think Grandma and Grandpa enjoyed one another, and as far as I know, the only major setback came when Grandma joined the Catholic Church. Since she and Grandpa had been hard-core Baptists, it was very hard for him to accept, and I think he felt as if Grandma had deserted him after all their years together. I’ve been told that his family tried to persuade him to have Grandma committed because anybody would have to be crazy to be Catholic. I’m sure this was a very hard time for her, too, but she chose to follow her conscience
even at such a great cost.

Grandpa was especially devastated when Daddy died, as they had spent so much time together. Daddy was like the son Grandpa never had and Grandpa was like the father my dad had lost. Then when Mother became pregnant two years later and moved out of the neighborhood, Grandpa was really hard hit. This was such a big disgrace in those days.

In the summer of 1954 Uncle Bob told Grandpa that he had more money than he could spend and wanted to take Grandma and Grandpa on a trip out west. This was the longest trip they were ever to take together, in terms of both length of time and distance. They drove to Yellowstone Park and Mount Rushmore and even on to Seattle to visit Grandma’s cousins. The grandchildren who were still at home enjoyed getting postcards, and we were intrigued by the pictures they brought back, especially the ones of them playing in the snow in the mountains in the summer.

Grandpa went into the hospital in March 1956 for prostate surgery. He begged Grandma to make sure they didn’t let him bleed to death, but sure enough, this is what happened. Somehow the surgery was botched, and he bled to death internally.

William Knight McDaniel, youngest of the five children of William C. and Rosa F. Nall McDaniel was born in Lewis County March 18, 1891. He was married to Bea Gruber on November 27, 1912, by the Rev. K. E. McGruder in LaGrange. To bless this union three daughters, Edna May, Dorothy Ellen and Leta Mildred, were born. Edna May was called in 1920 by her Divine Creator in the 7th year of her tender life. Bereft ones left besides the grief-stricken wife are: Dorothy , husband and children, Kenneth Tompkins, Harlie and Jean, Leta and children, Billy, Lillie, Bernie, Kay, Agnes, Bobby, and Mrs. Rose Bishop and husband, Jim. Also 2 sisters, Mrs. Eva Callihan of Browning, Mo., and Mrs. Ann Wright of Helena, Mont., and 1 brother, John Robert of Dixon, Ill. and many other relatives and friends. Besides Edna May, a son-in-law, Louis Riney, a brother, Jep McDaniel, and his parents, have gone before. In young manhood he was united with the New Prospect Baptist church. Later he moved his membership to Providence Baptist and remained faithful to his belief to death. Although his condition had already become weaker in recent years, he was apparently in fair health. Consequently his death in Laughlin Hospital, Kirksville, on March 27, was quite a shock to his multitude of friends, neighbors and acquaintances and a severe blow to his immediate family to whom he was intensely devoted. Last rites were held at 11 a. m. Thursday at Zion Hill church with Rev. Ivan Cull in charge. Casket bearers were George Uhlmeyer, Billie King, Hilburn Fishback, Frank Wiss, Will Brown and Alex Stotler.

Grandpa Mc
My Grandpa Mc was a very big man
in every sense of the word.
Altho' he was tall, that wasn't all
of his greatness so I've heard
He loved to sit in his rocking chair
and wile away the day.
He'd smoke his pipe and dream his dreams,
of what I couldn't say.
By the look in his eye he must have been,
away in a distant land.
He could've easily been on a mountain top,
or walking thru' desert sand
in one of the places he'd never seen,
for tho' he loved to dream
he was very happy on his farm,
he would really beam
whenever he'd hold one of us on his lap
and let us comb his hair.
We loved to sit with Grandpa Mc
in that old rocking chair.
He'd work half a day with his team of horses,
plowing or fixing a fence.
He always said that he was born tired,
and hadn't rested since.

Written and provided by granddaughter Jean Tompkins Gardner

Family Members


  • Created by: Lillie Riney
  • Added: 12 Oct 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5077701
  • Lillie Riney
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William Knight “Bill Knight” McDaniel (18 Mar 1891–27 Mar 1956), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5077701, citing Zion Hill Cemetery, Monticello, Lewis County, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by Lillie Riney (contributor 22403448) .