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Osage County Biographies

Will J. Knott Osage County Representative, 1868 - 1872 (from "Pen-Pictures of the Officers and Members of the House of Representatives of the Twenty-Sixth General Assembly of Missouri" by J. T. Pratt, 1872, p.53-54)

Collection of Family Histories at the CHC

It is perhaps the misfortune of the majority in the present House that it has not a recognized leader. Among those whose judgment is consulted and whose opinions are deferred to most frequently by their associates no one approximates more nearly to leadership than the clear-headed, conscientious and indefatigable member from Osage county.

The general correctness of his views, the untarnished honesty and integrity of his personal character, his insinuating manners, and, withal, his familiarity with the business of the body and the intricacies of the rules, gives him an influence and power which is recognized alike by friend and foe. His advocacy of any measure is little less than a guarantee of its success, while his opposition, which is never the result of prejudice or traceable to personal motives or interest, is almost a certain defeat. While a ready, pointed and fluent speaker, he makes no effort, however, at oratory. In the subject matter, rather than the manner of his delivery, lies the effectiveness of what he has to say. The fact, also, that he never speaks for the mere love or pride of speaking, but only when his convictions of duty impel him to do so, secures for him the invariable attention of the body.

Mr. Knott is a native Missourian, having been born i St. Charles county in 1836. He has resided at various times in St. Louis, Callaway and Osage counties, finally settling in the latter county in 1856, in which he has since continued to make his home, and where he is at present engaged in manufacturing. Recognizing his superior qualifications, he was chosen by his present constituency to represent them in the popular branch of the Twenty-fifth Assembly, in which body his legislative experience began. It was during the adjourned session of that Assembly that the important measures looking to the political reinstatement of the disfranchised classes in the State were carried through, and to no one of the minority in that body was their success more attributable than to Mr. Knott. During the same session, also, he rendered invaluable service on the special committee to investigate the management of the Penitentiary, and was in a large measure instrumental in bringing about the much-needed reforms in that institution. Re-elected to the present House, he has labored not more earnestly, though much more effectively, with the majority of this body.

Besides his untiring labors during session hours, he has served as chairman of the important special committees on the Revenue, on the Registration law and the committee to investigate the management of the Lexington and St. Louis railroad, and has been a member of the Committees on Printing and the Deaf and Dumb and Lunatic Asylums. Politically, Mr. Knott is a Democrat, and will lose no fair opportunity to strengthen his party in the State. In personal appearance he is rather under the medium height, with a clear sharp black eye, a fine complexion and a good head, which sets easily, almost jauntily, upon broad, spare shoulder and a generally robust physique.