Member Biography

Jonathan Knight 

Sessions Office Position District Party
1825-1826       20 Democrat
1827-1828       20 Democrat

COUNTIES: Washington, Greene  


11/22/1787 - 11/22/1858

Jonathan Knight (D20) Greene (part) and Washington (part) Counties

Early Life: 

Jonathan Knight (D20) born November 22, 1787, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the tenth child of Abel and Anna S. Knight. Attended the common schools. Civil engineer. Died November 22, 1858; interred in West Land Cemetery, West Brownsville, Washington County.  He married Ann Heston.

Early Career:  

Appointed by the state in 1816 to make and report on a map of Washington County, Pennsylvania.

Elected county commissioner and served three years. Secretary of the first agricultural society organized in Washington County. After Congress, he resumed agricultural pursuits near East Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Politics:

Elected, Democrat, Pennsylvania Senate for the 20th district from 1822 to 1828.

Continued Government Service/National Politics:  

Elected as an Opposition Party candidate to the Thirty-fourth Congress. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1856, and for election in 1858.

Names of any service after Senate –year(s).

Railroad career

Knight assisted in the preliminary surveys of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the National Road between Cumberland, Maryland, and Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia). In 1828, he entered the service of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) to help create an engineering staff for the new company. In 1830, appointed Chief Engineer of the B&O and served until 1842. He worked and led the design work of the B&O Main Line from Baltimore, Maryland to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, the oldest common carrier rail line in the United States. He also led the engineering work on the B&O Washington Branch between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.


From History of the B&O Railroad; Portrait of Knight’s Survey of the Potomac Highlands, between Hancock and Cumberland, Maryland, 1820s.  Knight is possibly depicted in the center.
Title: History of Washington County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men / edited by Boyd Crumrine. Illustrated. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts and Co., 1882.

Author: Crumrine, Boyd, 1838-1916; Pg. 987

Legacy: Knightstown, Indiana, named in his honor