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Nathan Birdsey (1851-?)
Farmer, son of Nathan and Harriet (Stevens) Knight., of Hampton Twp., Bay Co., MI

1905 Bio., includes father. -- Added Aug. 2008.

History of Bay County, Michigan - Augustus Gansser (1905)


Hon. Birdsey Knight, one of the leading men of Bay County, who owns and operates a fine farm of 240 acres and resides in section 17, township 14, range 6, in Hampton township, was born Avon township, Oakland County, Michigan, July 18, 1851, and is a son of Hon. Nathan and Harriet (Stephens) Knight and grandson of Ebenezer Knight, a native of Maine.

Hon. Nathan Knight was born at Otisville, near Portland, Maine, July 14, 1817, and accompanied his parents to Oakland County, Michigan, in 1826. He completed his education at Austinburg Institute, Ohio, where he taught school prior to coming to Bay City, in 1854. Securing a farm in Hampton township, he lived on it two years and then was a resident of Bay City until 1860, when he returned to the farm, which continued to be his home through life. For four years he was engaged in the practice of law at Bay City in partnership with William Shearman, this being the only law firm at that time in the city. Nathan Knight was a very superior man, both in education, mental attainments and in the sterling qualities needed in the early days of any community. He was sent to the Legislature and worked for his section with success and filled almost all the offices which demanded a man of ability and tact. His death took place in Bay County, December 28, 1886. The mother of our subject was born in Vermont and died in Bay County, Michigan, February 14, 1892, aged 64 years, six months and six days. Our subject is the only survivor of their three chldren, one of who died young and the other at the age of 16 years.

Our subject is the of this old pioneer family. He can recall the time when no road had been surveyed between his farm and Essexville. The present smiling fields of grain and rich meadow lands were nothing but wild, unbroken prairie, with here and there an oasis of timber.

His father, Nathan Knight, secured 160 acres from the goverment and that was the nucleus of the present large farm which is located in sections 17, 20 and 8. The first winter passed on the farm was one of many privations, chief among these being a lack of that humble vegetable, the potato, which perhaps is only truly appreciated when it is impossible to obtain. The grandfather sent a supply from Detroit by the first boat in the spring, that then being the only means of transportation. Our subject's father had brought several head of stock with him and entered into stock-raising with his brother-in-law, John V. Stephens, now of Vermontville, Eaton County. Enough hay was harvested the first season to winter the stock, but, unforunately, 33 stacks of hay were burned by prairie fire and two-year-old steers were sold for $10, which 300 head of sheep were given away to save them from starvation. He had already suffered from theives and wolves and did not resume sheep growing.

In addition to being one of the leading agriculturists of Bay County, our subject has, like his father, been closely identified with public affairs. A staunch Democrat, he had been the choice of his party for almost every office in its gift, being elected on many occassions and on others running ahead of his ticket when defeated. He served for 18 consecutive terms as supervisor of Hampton township, an office his father had filled for 16 terms previously. For two years, Mr. Knight held the office of superintendent of the poor, and in 1891 he was sent as Representative to the State Legislature and again in 1893, serving on very important committees during both terms. He was mainly instrumental in securing the State system of road building. His career at Lansing was in every way honorable and his service was such as to perserve the esteem in which he was held by his constituents and to invite the regard of the public, outside his own district.

On November 21, 1876, Mr. Knight was married to Eren A. Hilker, who was born in Oakland County, Michigan, September 21, 1857, accompanied her parents to Clinton, then to Ingham and in 1875 to Bay County. She is a daughter of Andrew C. and Harriet Hilker, natives of New York. Mr. and Mrs. Knight have two daughters, namely: Bessie I., born June 30, 1878, and Mable B., born February 26, 1880, both young ladies being at home. This home is a commodious dwelling full of comforts, which was erected by our subject's father to take the place of the small frame edifice, which was the pioneer residence. Mr. Knight belongs to the Knights of Pythias and to the Maccabees.

Related Note & Pages

Birdsey Knight

Hampton Township
1916 Plat Map

Related Pages
Knight, Nathan (father)
Bay Co. Poor Farm
People Referenced
Knight, Birdsey (ref)
Hilker, Andrew C. (F-in-law)
Hilker, Harriet (M-in-law)
Hilker, Eren A. (wife)
Knight, Bessie I. (dau.)
Knight, Ebenezer (g-father)
Knight, Mabel (dau.)
Knight, Nathan (father)
Shearman, Wm.
Stephens, Harriet (mother)
Stephens, John V.
Subjects Referenced
Austin Institute, Ohio
Avon, MI
Bay City
Bay Co., MI
Clinton, MI
Eaton Co., MI
Essexville, MI
Hampton Twp., Bay Co.
Ingham, MI
New York
Oakland Co., MI
Otisfield, ME
Portland, ME
Vermontville, Eaton Co.
Internet References
Source: [FamilySearch.org]
  • 1880 U.S. Census: Nathan and wife, Harriet (B. Vermont), living in Hampton Twp., children: Guy (b. 1863) and Barbary (b. 1863).
  • MI Deaths: 28 Dec. 1886, Nathan Knight, farmer, son of Ebenezer and Sallie Knight.
    Michigan Death Records
  • Guy Knight, died 9 May 1881, son of Nathan & Harriet Knight.

    Michigan Birth Records
  • Gail Knight, born 26 Feb 1880, dau. of Birdsey & Eren Knight.
  • WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.