Sargeant Prentiss Knut Papers mssKnut

Gayle Richardson
The Huntington Library
May 2020
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108

Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
Title: Sargeant Prentiss Knut papers
Creator: Knut, Sargeant Prentiss, 1855-1939
Identifier/Call Number: mssKnut
Physical Description: 22.67 Linear Feet (20 boxes)
Date (inclusive): 1830-1972
Date (bulk): 1865-1938
Abstract: A collection of letters and documents related to the life and work of American lawyer Sargeant Prentiss Knut.
Language of Material: Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item]. Sargeant Prentiss Knut papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Miss Carolyn Pollard and Ward Pollard, June 1977.

Biographical / Historical

Sargeant Prentiss Nutt (who later changed his name to the old spelling, "Knut") was a Mississippi lawyer who was involved in Democratic politics. Knut was born approximately 1854, one of the eleven children of Dr. Haller Nutt and Julia Nutt; Dr. Nutt was a wealthy cotton planter at Natchez, Mississippi. In 1860, Dr. Nutt began the construction of his mansion, Longwood, designed by the architect Samuel Sloan. A Union sympathizer, Dr. Nutt suffered tremendous losses during the Civil War. After his death in 1864, his widow filed a lawsuit against the Federal government in an attempt to recover some of the damages. Sargeant Prentiss Knut attended the University of Virginia, and was admitted to the bar at Natchez in 1878. He then practiced law in Washington, D.C., pursuing the settlement of the war claims of his own family and the claims of many other Southerners. In 1896, he married Lily Barret who died in 1898, a few days after giving birth to their daughter Lily Knut Brown. At her death, Lily Barret Knut willed her large estate to her daughter Lily Knut Brown; this will later became the subject of much litigation in which father and daughter opposed each other. Sargeant Prentiss Knut was also involved in Democratic politics and was the treasurer of the Mississippi Democratic Association in Washington, D.C; he died there in 1939 and was buried at Longwood.

Scope and Contents

A collection of 2,700 items from 1830 to 1972; it contains professional papers and personal, professional, and family correspondence of Sargeant Prentiss Knut. Included is material related to the Civil War claims regarding family property and other litigation, including the settlement of Lily Barret Knut's estate. The collection also contains material from Knut's professional and political career. Also included is correspondence of the Barret and Knut families, biographical information, notebooks, typewritten copies of the diaries of Dr. Rush Nutt (1805) and Rittenhouse Nutt (1834), newspaper clippings and ephemera.

Processing Information

Processed by Huntington Library Staff, circa 1985. In 2020, Gayle Richardson created the finding aid derived from a legacy summary report.


Organized in the following series: 1. Personal and family correspondence; 2. Business correspondence of the Nutt family; 3. Business, personal, and political correspondence of Sargeant Prentiss Knut; 4. Correspondence of the Barrett and Knut families; 5. Correspondence and documents relating to war claims; 6. Biographical and genealogical data; 7. Newspaper clippings and ephemera; 7. Sargeant Prentiss Knut's notebooks, diaries of Rittenhouse Nutt and Dr. Rush Nutt (copies).


Former call number: mssKnut papers.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Lawyers -- Mississippi
Lawyers -- Washington (D.C.)
Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)
War damage compensation -- Southern States
Wills -- United States -- Cases
Mississippi -- History
Natchez (Miss.) -- History
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
Estate records -- United States
Family papers -- Mississippi
Legal correspondence -- United States
Letters (correspondence) -- United States
Personal papers -- United States
Professional papers -- United States
Knut, Lily Barret, -1898
Nutt, Haller, 1816-1864
Nutt, Rittenhouse
Nutt, Rush, 1781-1837
Democratic Party (Miss.)

Box 1

Family correspondence: Bla-Knut 1870-1937

Box 2

Family correspondence: A. Nutt - J. W. Nutt 1854-1932

Box 3

Family correspondence: M. E. Nutt - L. F. Ward 1885-1937

Box 4

Family correspondence: F. F. Ward - M. Ward 1875-1936

Box 5

Friends' correspondence to family members excluding Sargeant Prentiss Knut 1867-1929

Box 6

Business correspondence of family members excluding correspondence addressed to Sargeant Prentiss Knut; correspondence relating to Nutt and Knut war claim 1854-1960

Box 7

Business and political correspondence addressed to Sargeant Prentiss Knut: A - N 1873-1937

Box 8

Business and political correspondence addressed to Sargeant Prentiss Knut: O - Z 1875-1937

Box 9

Sargeant Prentiss Knut correspondence addressed to friends and business associates 1882-1937

Box 10

Correspondence and documents relating to Barret/Knut; letters addressed to Lily B. Knut: A - Z; correspondence of families: Bar - Knut 1890-1937

Box 11

Correspondence and documents relating to Barret/Knut; correspondence among family: Knut, S - War; material pertaining to the settlement of Lily (Barret) Knut's estate; newspaper clippings and ephemera 1893-1936

Box 12

Correspondence and documents relating to war (cotton) claims by the general public 1880-1938

Box 13

Correspondence and documents relating to war claim filed by Nutt and Knut families; miscellaneous bills and receipts 1873-1932

Box 13a

Correspondence and documents relating to war claim filed by the Nutt and Knut families 1837-1929

Box 14

Biographical data and genealogy of Knut and Nutt families; family photographs, negatives, tintypes, print, studio photos 1830-1972

Box 15

Miscellaneous newspaper clippings, journals, and pamphlets relating to the Knut and Nutt families and the South approximately 1850-1950

Box 16


Box 17

Sargeant Prentiss Knut manuscripts and notebooks 1872-1917

Box 18

Sargeant Prentiss Knut notebooks; list of Longwood furnishings 1873-undated

Box 19

Sargeant Prentiss Knut record book; wedding invitation list; inventory of Fair Haven; diary of Rittenhouse Nutt (typewritten copy), diary of Dr. Rush Nutt (typewritten copy) approximately 1880-1890