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He Made History More Accessible- Judge James R. Knott, Jan. 8, 1910 – Jan. 5, 1999

James Robert Knott was perhaps the region’s best-known historian.
His grandfather was a volunteer in the Second Seminole War. His father lost a bitter campaign for governor in 1916. In 1956, Knott replaced assassinated Circuit Judge Curtis E. Chillingworth and served almost 21 years on the bench.
“All I want to do is practice law and write local history; that suits me fine,” Knott said. “The history of a place is the history of the people who lived there.”
The “Brown Wrappers” he wrote for The Palm Beach Post from 1977 to 1985 featured memories of everyday things, from when the train came to town in 1894 to square dances at Marjorie Merriweather Post’s mansion in the ’20s.
“One of Judge Knott’s great talents was making history approachable and popularizing it,” said Clemmer Mayhew III, former archivist for the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Knott was instrumental in restoring the name of Cape Canaveral. He also fought to save Palm Beach’s Mar-a-Lago mansion and Henry Flagler’s home, Whitehall. He left 22 boxes of interviews and photos to the county historical society, which named an award for him. His crowning achievement: He listened to the old-timers, then wrote their stories down.

Posted in Our Century December 19, 1999 at 11:58 am.

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