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McKnight, Piercy, and Jacobs Collection (MS051)

Identifier: MS051
This collection consists of three series related to the McKnight, Piercy, and Jacobs families. In each series there are sub-series of letters, legal documents, and genealogical materials. Contents also include military records, harbor and ballast master papers, an 1849 inaugural ball invitation, and miniature portraits of William P. McKnight and Margaret Jacobs. McKnight correspondence relates to the Civil War.


  • 1792-1973 (bulk, 1800-1865).



2.64 Cubic Feet (5 boxes; 1 oversized box.) : McKnight Series: Box 51 1 Affidavits and legal correspondence 1928-30 2 Antigua papers 1928-30 3 Bill of Complaint, Estate of William P. McKnight, 1927 4 Civil War Letters Index 5 Civil War Letters 1861 6 Civil War Letters 1862 7 Civil War Letters 1863 8 Civil War Letters 1864 9 Civil War Letters 1865 10 Copy book John McKnight 1819-20 11 Harbor and Ballast Master papers 1792-1815 12 Inaugural ball invitation 1849 13 Land records 1802-17 14 McKnight, Charles biographical information (prepared Jan. 1970) 15 McKnight document index (prepared by Jean Elliot) 16 McKnight genealogy 17 McKnight kidnapping 1822-24 18 McKnight letters: family 1802-1973 19 McKnight letters: Captain John 1822-24 20 McKnight letters: William to Mother 1816-1854 Box 52A 21 McKnight letterbook, Captain John 1822 22 McKnight, William P. and Jacobs, Margaret miniature portraits 23 Mechanic's Hall Institute, Annual Circular, 1851-52 24 Newspaper clippings 25 Sale and Rental Deeds 1783-1925 26 Schooner Fair Play, account book 1810-1811 27 Shipping correspondence 1802-1828 28 Suffer to pass, 1820 29 Will: Baldwin, P. McK 1916 30 Will: McKnight, Charles 1853 31 Will: McKnight, William P. 1929 Piercy Series: 32 Piercy family genealogy 33 Piercy family legal documents 1793-1824 34 Piercy family military records 1777-1780 35 Piercy family tree 36 Piercy tax list 1788-93 Jacobs Series: 37 Jacobs & Chew Genealogy 38 Jacobs family letters 1828-1924 39 Jacobs family legal documents 1805-1851 Box 52B Oversized documents Boxes 52C, 52D Photocopies

Biographical / Historical

Captain John McKnight (1705-1786) was born in Scotland and came to America about 1735 settling in Pennsylvania. His son, William (1733-1812) was commissioned a Captain in the First Battalion of the Pennsylvania Regiment and with his command participated in the capture of Fort Duquesne. William moved to Alexandria in 1775 and soon thereafter began operating McKnight's Tavern. William fathered two sons: Charles (1774-1853) and John (1769- 1834). Charles was a Captain of the Independent Blues and later took over the tavern renaming it Eagle Tavern. He never married. John, a sea captain, piloted the Polly and Nancy and was a partowner in the Schooner Adventure. John married Catherine Piercy; they had 12 children -- one of whom was William H. McKnight, who married Margaret Jacobs. They begot Charles H. and William P. McKnight.

Captain Piercy came to Alexandria in 1792 and established a pottery on a 1/2 acre plot on the northeast corner of Duke and Washington Streets. Two of his other brothers, Christian and Jacob were also potters. All three brothers served in the Revolutionary War and all three spent the winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge. Henry served in every battle of the Revolution with George Washington except the Battle of Yorktown in 1782 near which he was wounded 2 days before the battle.

Presley Jacobs, an Alexandria tailor, married Elizabeth Chew. Presley was a member of the Alexandria Lodge of Masons. His father served in McKnight's Regiment in the War of 1812.


Three series of family papers; one oversized box

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Many of the Letters sub-series, purchased from Katherine P. Howard, August 1981.
McKnight, Piercy, and Jacobs Collection Finding Guide
Kay Kessell
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Local History and Special Collections Branch, Alexandria Library Repository

717 Queen Street
Alexandria VA 22314 United States