If you had a lot of money, what would you do with it? Jesse Knight, who made a fortune in mining and other businesses, saw his money as a stewardship. He used it to do good, build up his church and communities, strengthen education, and help people.
Jesse Knight settled in Utah County in 1857 as a 12-year old. Already he had known stark poverty and hard work. Over time he acquired a dairy farm, but in the 1870s he began prospecting for minerals. Years later, he discovered the rich Humbug Mine in the East Tintic Mountains, which made a lot of money for him.
Amanda Knight, wife of Jesse
He bought or developed coal, copper, and iron mines and also mined for gold and silver. Unlike many other mine owners, he didn’t exploit his workers but paid them a good wage.
He became wealthy at mining, and wealthier still as he started a sugar company in Canada, bought and sold land, and operated lumberyards, brickyards, lime kilns, a woolen mill, and stone quarries. He also had farms and ranches.
For his family, he built a nice house in Provo, but it wasn’t an ostentatious mansion. “The earth is the Lord’s bank,” he said, “and no man has a right to take money out of that bank and use it extravagantly on himself.”
Instead, he used his money to help others. People and institutions in need would come to him and get assistance. In particular, he helped Brigham Young Academy (now University) survive and also gave freely to the LDS church during hard times.
The dining room of the Jesse Knight home in Provo, Utah
Jesse Knight died in 1921.