Arkansas Heritage Month – LR Mayor John E. Knight

May is Arkansas Heritage Month. This year’s theme is “Arkansas Arts: Celebrating Our Creative Culture.”

Did you know that a former Little Rock mayor was a published songwriter?

John Elliott KJno E Knight signight (1816-1901) published a song entitled “I A Near to Thee” in 1858. He wrote the lyrics while Benjamin Scull wrote the music.  The song was dedicated to Mary Woodruff, a daughter of Arkansas Gazette publisher William Woodruff.


As an attorney and newspaper editor, John E. Knight collected documents about the settlement of Little Rock. Those papers are now part of a collection at the Arkansas History Commission.  The majority of these papers are from William Russell to Chester Ashley, pertaining to pre-emption claims in and around Little Rock. Other material concerns the 1819-1822 dispute related to the the New Madrid Certificate and pre-emption claims of James Bryant, Stephen F. Austin, and William M. O’Hara.