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Charles Knight

Charles Knight

Charles Knight, the son of Charles Knight, a bookseller, was born in Windsor in 1791. One of his customers was King George III. On one morning he was horrified to find the king reading in his shop, a copy of The Rights of Man by Tom Paine. Although the king made no comment the book was soon banned and Paine was charged with seditious libel.

In 1812 Knight began writing for The Globe . Later that year Knight and his father began publishing the Windsor and Eton Express . Other publishing ventures included The Plain Englishman , The London Guardian and Knight's Quarterly Magazine .

In March 1828 Charles Knight joined with Henry Brougham to form the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Knight became the society's publisher and over the next few years produced the Quarterly Journal of Education (1831-36), Penny Magazine (1832-45) and Penny Cyclopedia (1833-44). Other innovations included the publication in parts of The Pictorial Bible (1836), The Pictorial History of England (1837), Pictorial Shakespeare (1838) and Biographical Dictionary (1846).

Charles Knight's Penny Magazine sold 200,000 copies a week. Richard Altrick, the author of The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public (1957), has pointed out: "Knight... went to great trouble and expense to obtain good woodcuts. Like the publishers of number-books, he seems to have consciously intended this emphasis upon pictures as a means of bringing printed matter to the attention of a public unaccustomed to reading. Even the illiterate found a good pennyworth of enjoyment in the illustrations each issue of the Penny Magazine contained. And these, perhaps more than the letterpress, were responsible for the affection with which many buyers thought of the magazine in retrospect."

Some of Knight's business ventures were very successful. For example, the 27 volume, Penny Cyclopedia were very popular. Others were complete failures and when the publication of the Biographical Dictionary lost £5,000, the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge came to an end.

Knight continued with the idea of pictorial part-works. In 1847 he began The Land we Live In , that contained pictures and descriptions of everything noteworthy in England. The following year he started the weekly periodical, The Voice of the People , but it only lasted for three weeks.

The English Cyclopedia , a revised version of the Penny Cyclopedia appeared between 1853-61, and the Popular History of England (1856-1862). Knight said that his latest venture was "to trace through our annals the essential connection between our political history and our social history" that will enable the people to "learn their own history - how they have grown out of slavery, out of feudal wrong, out of regal despotism - into constitutional liberty, and the greatest estate of the realm.". Knight also wrote his autobiography, Passages of a Working Life (1864).

Charles Knight died on 9th March, 1873.

Knight... And these, perhaps more than the letterpress, were responsible for the affection with which many buyers thought of the magazine in retrospect.

Charles Knight: Father and Son

Charles Knight (senior) was born around 1750, and brought up by the Rev James Hampton, a Yorkshire clergyman. The rumour that he was the illegitimate son of Fredrick Prince of Wales and Henrietta Knight may well be true. Fredrick died in 1750, and was known to have had a liaison with Henrietta Knight, a society beauty. James Hampton was in the pay of the royal court, and after James’ death, Charles Knight inherited a considerable legacy, and moved to Windsor. He set himself up as a printer and bookseller opposite the castle gates, where George III paid him frequent visits, like brother to brother.

In 1812 Charles Knight senior with his son Charles Knight junior started printing Windsor’s first newspaper, the Windsor and Eton Express. By this time he had become an alderman, and was twice Mayor of Windsor. In 1819 he retired, and left his printing business to his son. He died in 1824, but there was no obituary to him in his paper, just a brief death notice.

Charles Knight (junior) was born in 1791. His mother died shortly after his birth, and his father never re-married. He grew up learning about the printing business, but was also overseer of the poor in Windsor, encouraged by his father. He made the startling and unheard of suggestion of actually visiting the poor in their homes.

After his father’s death, Charles sold the newspaper and moved to London to follow a career which made him famous. He had ever been keen to bring books and learning to the poorer classes. In London he got involved with the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge and published The Penny Magazine, The Penny Cyclopaedia, The Library of Entertaining Knowledge, and other publications specifically aimed at the working classes. He died in 1873 and was returned to Windsor to be buried on Bachelors’ Acre where all his family had been laid to rest.

See Windsor and Eton Express, 1812-1830, the Charles Knight Years.

The Knight Ranch and Charles Lindbergh

In Grand County during the 1920's, you might have been lucky enough to have taken a plane ride over Grand Lake with Charles Lindbergh. It may sound preposterous, but Gordon Spitzmiller and his father, Gus, were two of the many fortunate people who got private sightseeing tours over the Grand Lake area with Charles A. Lindbergh as tour guide.

In the early 1920's, the aviation industry was a brand new field open to the adventurers, the thrill seekers and the adventurous. Charles Lindbergh was one of those men. In the spring of 1926, Lindbergh had the dream of flying solo over the Atlantic Ocean, from New York to Paris nonstop. He was a determined man and was resolved to be the first man to cross the Atlantic and win the Orteig Prize.

On May 22, 1919, Raymond Orteig of New York City offered a prize of $25,000 "to be awarded to the first aviator who shall cross the Atlantic in a land or water aircraft (heavier-than-air) from Paris or the shores of France to New York, or from New York to Paris or the shores of France, without stop."

Besides Lindbergh, there were four serious contenders for the Orteig prize, one of which was Commander Richard Byrd, the first man to reach the South Pole. Lindbergh's courage and enthusiasm for such a flight were not enough he needed financial backing. Lindbergh found his financial answer in Harry H. Knight, a young aviator who could usually be found bumming around the Lambert Field in St. Louis. This was the beginning of the Knight-Lindbergh partnership that would soon change the course of aviation history.

After being denied any financial assistance by several of St. Louis's businessmen, Lindbergh made an appointment with knight at his brokerage office. Knight, the president of the St. Louis Air Club, was fascinated with Lindbergh's plan and called his friend, Harold M. Bixby, president of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce. Bixby also displayed a strong interest in the obscure stunt flyer and mail pilot. Together Knight and Bixby formed an organization called "the Spirit of St. Louis", which was dedicated to gathering funds for the flight. More than $10,000 was needed in order to build a single engine plane and acquire the proper equipment.

Knight went to his father, Harry F. Knight, who was a major power in the realm of finance and an equal partner in the firm Dysart, Gamble & Knight Brokerage Company. Like his son, the senior Knight was interested in the aviation field and backed every effort to make America conscious of airplane transportation.

Without the financial aid and moral support offered by the Knight family, Charles Lindbergh may not have been able to cross the Atlantic in 1927. Lindbergh's gratitude to these two men never ebbed. Lindbergh and, his famous wife Ann Morrow, came often to Grand County as guests of Harry F. Knight whose ranch encompassed 1,500 acres on the South Fork of the Colorado River. The ranch today is covered by the waters of the Granby Reservoir.

Knight, a nature lover, spent much of his time at this ranch. It was a haven for sportsmen and adventure seekers, and Lindbergh was a natural for these two categories. One of the largest and best airstrips in the west was added to the Knight Ranch in order to accommodate the owner and his guests. Besides the airstrip, the ranch boasted a miniature golf course, a 28 room estate, a private guest "cabin", a good selection of livestock and an array of entertainment that would suit all. It was a sanctuary for the affluent.

Local people were so enthused about the handsome aviator that they named a 12,000 ft. peak in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area (east of Granby) "Lindbergh Peak". However, during the 1930's the hero was honored by Adolph Hitler and Lindbergh made a speech favoring Nazism. This lead to a fall from grace in the eyes of the public. Even though Lindbergh changed his mind as World War II began, it was too late to regain his former popularity. The peak was renamed "Lone Eagle Peak" which was a nickname for the famous aviator.

After Harry F. Knight died of coronary thrombosis in 1933, his son, along with ranch manager Harry Morris, turned the ranch into a major breeding and beef cattle operation. It continued as such until 1948, when the Knights were asked to sell it to the federal government or have it condemned to make way for the reservoir. Moss bought out the cattle operation and most of the buildings were sold, but the colorful memories of the Knight ranch were buried in the depths of Granby Reservoir.

Ray City History Blog

In Lakeland, GA there is an official military headstone marking the grave of Charlie Parker, who was a resident of Ray City. Charlie Parker enlisted in the army days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was in the first African American military unit to arrive in England, and he was the first African-American from Berrien County to die in WWII. Like the Army in which he served, the cemetery where he was buried was racially segregated – the Lakeland Colored Cemetery. Today this burial ground is known as the Charles Knight Cemetery.

Grave of Charlie Parker (1919-1945), Lakeland, GA
World War II

Charlie Parker, a son of Will Parker and Girtrude “Trudie” Reddick, lived most of his short life at Ray City, GA. He was a nephew of Stella Reddick Wright and Mose Wright.

His father, Will Parker, was born August 8, 1884. As a man, Will Parker was medium height and build, with black eyes and black hair. His mother was Girtrude Reddick She was a daughter of Albert and Sylvia Reddick. His parents were married in Coffee County, GA on November 4, 1916 in a ceremony performed by Reverend R. N. Thompson.

By 1918, Charlie’s parents were residing in Berrien County, GA. Will Parker, was employed by Samuel I. Watson as a farmer, working Watson’s property on RFD #2 out of Milltown (now Lakeland), GA. By 1920, Will and Girtrude Parker had relocated to Ray City, GA, renting a house in the “Negro Quarters” which were located between Hwy 129 and Cat Creek in the present day vicinity of the Ray City Senior Citizen Center. Will Parker had taken a job with the Georgia & Florida Railroad, and Gertrude was working as a laundress. Will and Gertrude had started a family, with their firstborn son Albert Parker born March 1917, and Charlie Parker born January 9, 1919. Matthew Parker was born in 1921 and Mary Parker in 1922, followed by Stella, Mack, and the twins, Ethel Mae and Willie both of whom died young. The Parkers neighbors were men like Charlie Palmer, Joe Davis, and Jerry Mullin, all of whom worked for the railroad, and their wives Henrietta Palmer and Essie Davis, who, like Gertrude, worked as laundresses, and Annie Mullin, who was employed as a domestic cook.

1920 Census enumeration of Charlie Parker and his family in Ray City, GA

Charlie Parker and his siblings attended grade school, Charlie completing the 5th grade according to his later military records. Of course, at the time schools were segregated. It wasn’t until 1954 that the supreme court ruled on segregation and the 1964 Civil Rights Act compelled the desegregation of schools. Yet segregated schools persisted in the South In 1965, “In Berrien County, Georgia, 32 Negro parents chose white schools for their children, but the school Superintendent told the U.S. Office of Education that all 32 parents came to him before school opened and said that their names had been forged on the choice forms.”

Charlie’s mother, Girtrude Reddick Parker, died some time in the 1920s. The 1930 census shows Will Parker, widower, raising Charlie and his siblings alone, although Girtrude’s sisters also mothered the children. Will was renting a house in Ray City for two dollars a month and continued to work for the railroad. Charlie’s older brother, Albert, quit school and went to work as a farm laborer to help support the family. The Parkers also took in boarders to help with family expenses Census records show Eugene and Luvicy Thomas Campbell living in the Parker household. Their neighbors were the widow Nina Dowdy and Charlie Phillips. Down the street was the residence of Henry Polite, who later married Queen Ester Wright.

1930 Census enumeration of Charlie Parker, his father and siblings in Ray City, GA

In 1939, Charlie Parker was working on the Guthrie farm on Park Street extension. When the men were cropping tobacco in the summer of 1939, one of Charlie’s tasks was to go into town to get ice. The Guthries had a mule that pulled a sled which was used to haul the tobacco from the field to the tobacco barn for curing. At lunch time, when the tobacco croppers were taking a break, Charlie would take the mule and sled down the dirt road into Ray City to the ice house. Ferris Moore kept a little ice house by the railroad track in front of Pleamon Sirman’s grocery store. The ice was shipped into Ray City from an ice plant in Nashville. Sometimes seven-year-old Diane Miley, one of the Guthrie grandchildren, would ride in the sled with Charlie for the trip into town and back.

Sometime in late 1939, Charlie Parker and his cousin, Dan Simpson, left Ray City and went to Florida to try their hand at working for the Wilson Cypress Company. Dan was a son of Charlie’s aunt Luvicy Reddick and her first husband, John H. Simpson.

1940 Census enumeration of Charlie Parker at the Wilson Cypress Sawmill Camp, Crows Bluff, FL

The 1940 census enumerated Charlie Parker and Dan Simpson in Lake County, FL, working at the Crows Bluff Camp of the Wilson Cypress Sawmill. Each rented a place to live at the camp for $2.00 a month.

Crows Bluff on the St. Johns River, was about 65 miles up stream from the Wilson Sawmill at Palatka, FL. At one time, the Wilson sawmill was the largest cypress sawmill in the world.

Parker and Simpson worked as “rafting laborers.” The cypress trees were cut and hauled to the river. They were dumped into the water and assembled into rafts which were floated down the river to the sawmill.

Wilson Cypress sawmill camp in Lake County, FL, dumping logs into the Saint Johns River.
Charlie Parker and Dan Simpson, of Ray City, GA found work with Wilson Cypress Company in the late 1930s as “rafting laborers.”
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/38983

Wilson Cypress Company logging operation on a tributary of the St. Johns River. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/38992

Timber rafting on a tributary of the St. Johns River, Florida. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/27761

Wilson Cypress Sawmill.
Charlie Parker worked for the Wilson Cypress Sawmill prior to WWII. At the time, the sawmill was the largest producer of red-heart tidewater cypress lumber in the world.

The Palatka sawmill operation of the Wilson Cypress Company was shut down December 5, 1945 during WWII. Later, the chairman of the company board remarked, “There just was no more marketable timber. We had cut it all.” Over the next 37 years, the company’s assets were sold off piece by piece, including 100,000 acres of cut over cypress wetlands.

But the war drew Charlie Parker away before the end came for the sawmill. His elder brother, Albert Parker, had joined the Army nearly a year before the U.S. entered the war, enlisting at Fort Benning, GA on January 21, 1941.

U.S. Army records show that Charlie Parker enlisted with the Army on November 26, 1941, eleven days before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He entered the service at Camp Blanding, FL. His physical description at induction was 5𔄃″ tall and 151 pounds. His cousin Dan Simpson would be inducted at Camp Blanding the following year.

Camp Blanding was established in 1939 and by 1941, the camp had grown to be the fourth largest city in Florida with more than 10,000 buildings to accommodate two divisions, about 60,000 trainees. In addition to housing and mess halls, maintenance buildings, PXs, field artillery and rifle ranges, the camp had a 2,800-bed hospital, enlisted men’s and officer’s clubs, bowling alleys, four theaters, and five chapels… The camp had separate training and induction centers for soldiers of both races, although they remained in separate areas of the post…During World War II, approximately one million men received basic training here, the largest of Florida’s 142 military installations built in the 1940s.

Following training, Charlie Parker was initially assigned to the 60th Ordnance Ammunition Company and later transferred to the 65th Ordnance Ammunition Company.

“The 65th Ordnance Company were the first Aviation ammunition Unit to arrive in the UK. They were set to immediate work establishing the first Aviation Ordnance Section in a General Service Depot, at Burtonwood. They were briefly transferred to Barnham before being moved to Wortley, Yorkshire to man the first depot to accept AF munitions in quantity from the US. This Unit was the first African American Unit to arrive in England! Its arrival being the subject of an FBI document, relating to a press release, downplaying the arrival of ‘negro’ troops.”

When America entered the war, there were fewer than 4000 African Americans in the armed services by the war’s end more than 1.2 million African Americans would serve in uniform. Like Charlie Parker, many black soldiers served in segregated units in support roles:

“While most African Americans serving at the beginning of WWII were assigned to non-combat units and relegated to service duties, such as supply, maintenance, and transportation, their work behind front lines was equally vital to the war effort, serving behind the front lines…By 1945, however, troop losses virtually forced the military to begin placing more African American troops into positions as infantrymen, pilots, tankers, medics, and officers in increasing numbers. In all positions and ranks, they served with as much honor, distinction, and courage as any American soldier did. Still, African American MPs stationed in the South often could not enter restaurants where their German prisoners were being served a meal. ”

The 65th Ordnance Ammunition Company served in campaigns in Algeria-French Morocco, Tunisia, Naples-Foggia, and Rome-Arno. By 1945, the 65th Ordnance Ammunition Company (munitions supply) was assigned to Mondolfo Airfield, Italy. USAAF units known to have been stationed at Mondolfo were:

Part of Charlie Parker’s job while serving in Italy as a corporal in the 65th Ordnance Ammunition Company was handling toxic bombs. According to the textbook Medical Aspects of Chemical Warfare published by the U.S. Army, the US Army Air Force in WWII:

had 100-lb mustard agent bombs 500-lb phosgene or cyanogen chloride bombs and 1,000-lb phosgene, cyanogen chloride, or hydrocyanic acid bombs… None of these chemical weapons was used on the battlefield during the war, but the prepositioning of chemical weapons in forward areas resulted in one major disaster and several near mishaps. The disaster occurred December 2, 1943, when the SS John Harvey, loaded with 2,000 M47A1 mustard agent bombs, was destroyed during a German air raid at Bari Harbor, Italy. The only members of the crew who were aware of the chemical munitions were killed in the raid. As a result of the ship’s destruction, mustard agent contaminated the water in the harbor and caused more than 600 casualties, in addition to those killed or injured in the actual attack.

Just days before the German surrender and the declaration of Victory in Europe, Parker suffered his own chemical weapons mishap, a fatal exposure to the toxic gas from a poison gas bomb . His death was reported in the Nashville Herald.

The Nashville Herald
May 31, 1945

Cpl. Parker, Negro, Passes In Italy

Cpl. Charlie Parker, colored, of Ray City, died in Italy April 26, in a United States Army Station Hospital, located in Southern Italy, where he had been stationed nearly two years.
While working with toxic bombs, Cpl. Parker inhaled a concentration of the gas. After reporting to the Medical Aid Station he was admitted to the Station Hospital for further treatment. Reports stated that everything possible was done to save his life but to no avail.
His burial services were conducted on Sunday, April 29, attended by all officers and men of his company except those on duty. Burial was in an American cemetery in Southern Italy. The letter from his commanding officer stated that Parker was a splendid soldier and well liked by those of his company.
The deceased volunteered in the U.S. Army about three years ago, having in Italy. He was the son of Will Parker and a nephew of Frances Goff, both of Ray City. So far as known at this time, he was the first Berrien county colored person to make the supreme sacrifice in World War II.

(transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker)

After the end of World War II, Charlie Parker’s body was returned to the United States. The U.S. government mandated a program to return the bodies of servicemen who had been buried in temporary military cemeteries overseas. Following surveys to the population, the government decided that about three fifths of the 289,000 personnel involved would be returned in accordance with family wishes. Between 1946 and 1951, over 170,000 servicemen were returned.

After WWII, the body of Charlie Parker, of Ray City, GA was returned to Georgia aboard the U.S. Army Transport Cpl. Eric G. Gibson.

The body of Charlie Parker was returned to America aboard the U.S. Army Transport Cpl. Eric G. Gibson, originally built as a Liberty Ship. As a funeral ship, the USAT Eric G. Gibson was painted white with a large purple mourning band. The ship arrived at the Brooklyn Army Base, NY, in February, 1949, with the bodies of 92 Georgians along with the bodies of more than 5000 war dead from other states.

Ironically, in the 1960s, the Army loaded the S.S. Corporal Eric G. Gibson with chemical weapons of mass destruction- rockets armed with VX nerve gas – and sank it off the coast of New Jersey to dispose of the deadly weapons. Today, the sunken ship and its deadly cargo remain one of the most dangerous chemical weapons dump sites in U.S. waters.

In 1949, Francis Reddick Goff applied for a flat marble military headstone to mark the grave of her nephew.

Charles Knight's school history of England, abridged from the Popular history of England. [With . [Reprint] (1868)[Leatherbound]

Charles Knight

Published by Pranava Books, 2020

New - Hardcover
Condition: NEW

Leatherbound. Condition: NEW. Leatherbound edition. Condition: New. Language: English Leather Binding on Spine and Corners with Golden leaf printing on spine. Reprinted from 1868 edition. NO changes have been made to the original text. This is NOT a retyped or an ocr'd reprint. Illustrations, Index, if any, are included in black and white. Each page is checked manually before printing. As this print on demand book is reprinted from a very old book, there could be some missing or flawed pages, but we always try to make the book as complete as possible. Fold-outs, if any, are not part of the book. If the original book was published in multiple volumes then this reprint is of only one volume, not the whole set. IF YOU WISH TO ORDER PARTICULAR VOLUME OR ALL THE VOLUMES YOU CAN CONTACT US. Sewing binding for longer life, where the book block is actually sewn (smythe sewn/section sewn) with thread before binding which results in a more durable type of binding. THERE MIGHT BE DELAY THAN THE ESTIMATED DELIVERY DATE DUE TO COVID-19. Pages: 129 Pages: 129.

Knight, Charles Robert, 1874-1953

Charles Robert Knight, paleoartist with artwork featured at the American Museum of Natural History, was born on October 21, 1874 in Brooklyn, New York to George Wakefield and Lucy Anne Knight. During his career Knight mastered the restoration art genre, depicting for viewers prehistoric creatures and landscapes (1). He is credited with painting well-known large murals commissioned by Henry Fairfield Osborn, AMNH paleontologist and the Museum's first curator of Vertebrate Paleontology and later Museum president, whom Knight first met in 1896 (2), beginning an association with the Museum for Knight that would span more than 50 years. Knight's work on canvas and in sculpture can be seen at the AMNH, the Chicago Field Museum, other major institutions around the United States, and in many major scientific and popular publications such as National Geographic (1). In addition to drawing extinct animals, Knight captured on paper and canvas approximately 800 living species.

Though an injury left Knight with blindness in one eye as a young boy, he was educated at the Froebel Academy and by age 12 studied art at the Metropolitan Museum School of Art, the School of Design, The Architectural League, and the Art Students League under several masters including Frank Dumond (3). Knight’s mother died of pneumonia when he was very young and his father remarried in 1882, to Sarah Davis. Knight’s step-mother was an amateur painter who inspired the young Charles and she encouraged his art (4). He showed a strong interest in animals and art at an early age and drew animals from life while observing them at the Central Park Zoo and the Bronx Zoo. He also studied anatomy behind the scenes at exhibition preparation and taxidermy at the AMNH (3). He was able to gain access to these Museum activities as his father, George Wakefield, worked for J.P. Morgan, who served in many roles for the Museum and contributed to Museum expeditions and public exhibitions. As early as age 16 Knight was selling artwork to publications.

At age 19 Knight designed stained glass windows for J. and R. Lambs Studio and served as an illustrator for books, newspapers, and magazines including McClure’s, Harpers, Scribners, the Illustrated London News, and the New York Times (3). Knight gained wide recognition when his restoration painting illustrated paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn’s article in an 1896 issue of the Century Magazine discussing fossils discovered in the American West (2). The following year, in 1897, Osborn introduced Knight to Edward Drinker Cope, famous paleontologist whose discoveries inspired Knight’s work depicting dinosaurs as they might have been in life (2), notably among these Dryptosaurus, titled Leaping Laelaps, painted in 1897. Many of Knights’ works were exhibited next to the fossils on display at the Museum. In 1901 Knight married Annie P. Hardcastle and they had a daughter, Lucy Hardcastle Knight (3).

In addition to his restoration work, Knight was also known for his depictions of modern wildlife and early man. He designed the Palmer Memorial Tiger for Princeton, New Jersey (3), elephant head sculptures for the façade at the Elephant House at the then New York Zoological Park (now the Bronx Zoo) in 1906, and he designed the Zoo’s logo, as well, which featured a bighorn sheep (1). His work, Cro-Magnon Artists of Southern France, a mural painted for the AMNH in 1920, showed his expertise in depicting early man. He blended artistic talent with scientific knowledge and won the respect of both fellow artists and the scientific community. Charles Robert Knight died at Polyclinic Hospital in New York City on April 15, 1953, at the age of 78.


    Milner, Richard. Charles R. Knight: The Artist Who Saw Through Time. New York: Abrams, 2012.
    Milner, Richard. "Charles R. Knight: The Artist Who Saw Through Time." Fine Art Connoisseur, March/April 2013.
    Charles Robert Knight. American Biographies, Volume 4. Washington, D.C.: Editorial Press Bureau, 1954, pages 59-62.
    Knight, Charles R. Autobiography of an Artist. Ann Arbor, Michigan: G.T. Labs, 2005.
    Library of Congress Name Authority File, n82073093

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Written by: Stacy Schiff
Last modified: 2019 May 1


From its very inception, The Knight Center was designed to provide you and your guests a wholly valuable meeting experience.

The Charles F. Knight Executive Education & Conference Center was established in 2001, built under Dean Stuart Greenbaum’s leadership. Our institution allowed the Olin Business School to expand its executive education offerings and provide a space for the St. Louis business community to thrive. The Knight Center increased the channels of communication within the local business community, allowing faculty and students across multiple educational backgrounds to interact, research, and mentor.

Since our opening, the Knight Center has served over 300,000 guests, hosted more than 40,000 events, and provided an intriguing educational opportunity for over 6,000 Executive MBA students.

The Scientific Art of Charles R. Knight

A 2014 exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History featured original artwork created by the famed illustrator of prehistoric life for a 1942 article in National Geographic.

Charles R. Knight is considered a pioneer in the field of dinosaurs, yet he was not a scientist. Knight never went on a fossil expedition, nor did he write any detailed treatise for academic journals. Charles Knight was instead an artist that specialized in life-like animal drawings, and in the late nineteenth century began illustrating restorations of dinosaurs based on bones that had been found throughout the Midwest United States. His depictions were the first dinosaurs that millions of people ever saw, and also enabled scientists to gain a better understanding of the creatures that they were studying.

In November 2014, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, displayed many of Knight’s more famous works in “The Scientific Art of Charles R. Knight,” a retrospective on the artist’s career that likewise showcased how mankind’s knowledge of the Age of Dinosaurs has evolved over time.

Charles R. Knight believed in the accuracy of his drawings, arguably the major reason that he was one of the most influential artists of prehistoric times despite creating his works close to 100 years ago. He fell into the field of animal illustrations early in his career by accident – a number of magazines hired Knight for depictions of circus life and children’s books that allowed him to craft a reputation within the field.

Ever the perfectionist, Knight honed his craft by sitting in front of the cages at the Central Park Zoo in New York City. He also became a regular visitor to the American Museum of Natural History, especially its taxidermist department. His connections at the museum enabled him to study the muscles and bone structure of specimens sent from the zoo of deceased animals, allowing Knight to fine-tune his artistic talents even further.

“I very soon found that when I again drew from the living animals, my bone and muscle studies had given me a far deeper insight into their general construction than I had formerly possessed, and that I was better able to interpret the position and flow of the muscles as the animals moved about in their cages,” Knight wrote in an unfinished autobiographical manuscript published after his death in 1953.

His ability to understand the basic form of animals based on bones would help the young artist in his next assignment, which derived directly from the friendships he had forged with members of the American Museum of Natural History. When Dr. Jacob Wortman – who would later work for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History – needed an illustrator for a pig-like animal called an Elotherium, Knight was recommended. From there, Charles Knight went on to meet some of the biggest names in paleontology, including Henry Osborne and Edward Cope.

Henry Osborne served as president of the American Museum of Natural History in New York for 25 years, while Cope was a one of two giants in the field of dinosaur studies during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Discussions with both Osborne and Cope would assist in Knight’s understanding of prehistoric life, as well as the necessity for accurate illustrations of dinosaurs.

“I like to think that we were mutually helpful as we talked over various projects for the exhibition of the fossil skeletons, and we might make models and paintings of them for the edification of the general public,” Knight wrote in regards to his conversations with Osborne. “Few museums in the world at the time could boast of more than a very few fossil creatures actually set up in approximate natural position. For the most part, collections consisted of separated bones, very interesting to specialists but totally lacking in popular appeal.”

While Henry Osborne ingrained in Charles Knight the need for accurate depictions of dinosaurs, it was Edward Cope who taught Knight the intricacies of bringing them to life in his artwork.

“Cope drew pictures for me, and explained with delightful clarity the methods by which he had arrived at certain conclusions regarding the forms and proportions of these monsters,” Knight explained in his unfinished autobiography. “Under his expert guidance I felt that I had stepped back into an ancient world—filled with all sorts of bizarre and curious things, and in imagination I could picture quite distinctly just what these mighty beasts looked like as they walked or swam in search of food. It was only natural therefore that I applied myself most energetically to the making of my little sketches, took notes, and got Cope’s approval of them, enjoying myself hugely meanwhile in such inspiring company.”

In 1898, Henry Osborne convinced banking entrepreneur J.P. Morgan to finance a series of watercolors and sculpture restorations by Charles Knight for the American Museum of Natural History, and for the next half century, Knight created numerous additional paintings and murals for a number of other museums across the country. The majority of the illustrations that comprises “The Scientific Art of Charles R. Knight” exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, meanwhile, were original artwork that Knight created for a self-penned article in 1942 for National Geographic entitled “Parade of Life through the Ages.”

The collection included an impressive array of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, including “sea monsters” that inhabited the ancient waters of present-day Kansas, the ever-popular Triceratops, Woolly Mammoths, Cro-Magnon man and even a group of Diplodocus, the species that the famed “Dippy the Dinosaur” of the Carnegie Museum is a member. Each painting was accompanied by a small placard describing the piece, how mankind’s knowledge of the creatures depicted has evolved over time, and the continuing work of the Carnegie Museum within the realm of paleontology.

Charles Knight’s drawing of Diplodocus, for instance, shows the creatures primarily residing within a swamp. “At the time that Knight created this painting, sauropods – long-necked plant eaters – were thought to have been so heavy that they would have needed the support of water to carry their immense weight,” the exhibit explains. “However, discoveries of fossilized sauropod footprints throughout the world show that these dinosaurs spent most of their time on dry land. The Diplodocus in front is shown dragging its tail along the ground, reflecting another line of thought that has long since been discarded. Research on sauropod anatomy and fossil trackways of these dinosaurs show that the long necks counterbalanced their length tails, and that these animals actually walked with their tails elevated.”

Mark A. Klingler served as Scientific Illustrator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History during the Knight exhibit, and even had his own artwork on display at both the AAAS Gallery in Washington DC and the Carnegie Museum in 2006.

“In my own career, I have been an admirer of the work of Charles R. Knight,” he writes in the opening placard to “The Scientific Artwork of Charles R. Knight” exhibit. “And, like Knight, I have also been inspired by the ‘real thing’ in nature and at museums. Scientific collections such as the one at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History form a critical component of the ongoing research that helps us understand the world in which we live. These collections and our exhibits continue to speak to artists and scientists alike as they share with us their wondrous stories of the natural world, past and present.”

From November 8, 2014, through April 26, 2015, visitors to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History were able to witness these “wondrous stories” through the eyes of the premier artist in the field of dinosaur and prehistoric illustrations. Close to 100 years later, the collection of paintings that encompassed “The Scientific Art of Charles R. Knight” still resonate with the power and majesty of these long-extinct creatures that once walked the Earth, as remarkable of an achievement as the dinosaurs themselves.

Charles Knight Brooch

Brooch with a lock of hair from Charles Knight, editor of the Penny Magazine, which brought knowledge to the masses The donor of the brooch, contacting the collection in 2008, always felt that it 'never really belonged to me', and should be returned to Windsor where Charles Knight was born, worked and lived. The cavity is inscribed: To Eleanor Henly, the attentive nurse of Charles Knight during his last illness - From his eldest Grandson William Charles Knight Clowes, 9th March 1873. Charles Knight junior (1791-1873) together with his father, Charles Knight Senior, founded the Windsor and Eton Express. Charles Knight became editor and publisher for the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, publishers of the Penny Magazine and the Penny Cyclopedia, enabling the Victorian working classes to have access to high quality articles and illustrations. Charles Knight was the first to suggest a scheme for free public libraries for all and he died in 1873 having achieved his ambition to bring good literature within the reach of all.

Brooch with a lock of hair from Charles Knight, editor of the Penny Magazine, which brought knowledge to the masses

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Hugues de Payens 

As the co-founder and first Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Hugues de Payens (c. 1070 – 1136) was a key figure in this history of the Crusades. Historical details of his early life are sketchy, but the French nobleman may have fought in the First Crusade, in which European Christian armies captured Jerusalem.

As Christians increasingly took part in pilgrimages to the holy city, they often found themselves under attack on the road. And so, around 1118, de Payens and eight fellow knights sought permission from Jerusalem’s king, Baldwin II, to form a protective service for the pilgrims. The Knights Templar earned support from Christian authorities, including Pope Innocent II, who in 1139 granted them exemption from taxes and from any authority except his own.

The Knights Templar grew into a major economic force, with a network of banks, a fleet of ships, and chapters all over Europe. But, when Muslims retook Jerusalem in the late 12th century, the order lost its place there. More than a century later, King Philip IV of France dealt the Knights its death blow, having many of its members tortured and killed and finally executing its last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, in 1307.

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