April 27, 2015

Happy Pi Day Birthday Will Knox Yates

William Knox and Minnie Caroline Smith Yates_0

Cerilda, Myra & Jim Yates

One hundred and twenty-three years ago today, a second baby boy was born to Jim and Cerilda Breedlove Yates in Oregon County, Missouri. His name was William Knox Yates and he was my grandfather. (Cerilda and Jim Yates are seated; Jim’s sister Myra is standing).

I don’t have any pictures of my grandpa Yates as a small boy. I think the earliest one I have is the hunting photo I posted (see link below), and I think Grandpa was around 20 years old. Two years later Grandpa would be inducted into the Army artillery at Ft. Dodge, Iowa and sent off to France for WWI service. I don’t have any pictures of him in uniform.

1912 Washington State Gun Fanatics

will-k-yates-as-a-young-man

When Grandpa came back from service overseas, everyone in the family was worried that he might have brought home the Spanish Flu (he didn’t). He and my grandma Minnie Smith married 29 June 1917, most likely when Will came home from the war.

William Knox and Minnie Caroline Smith Yates_0

Their first child, William Gale Yates (my dad) was born 16 March 1920 in Howell County, Missouri. Most likely, it was a home birth as my maternal grandmother’s mother Mary Elizabeth Pentecost Smith Yates (Will’s father Jim and Minnie’s mother Mary were married) was a midwife of sorts for the family. The photo below is my dad William G. Yates, age about 4 months.

gale-yates-baby-picture

 

1912 Washington State Gun Fanatics

George Martin, Will Yates, , Lem Yates

Gun Fanaticism Or Just Practicality?

Admittedly, I don’t really know what these men really felt about their guns and how ‘fanatical’ they might have been about using them. Anything I say here about them comes from my own views of how my family used their rifles, how they talked about them, and our family history with guns.

First, a little background on the people in this picture and where it was taken. From left to right is George Martin, obviously older than the other men in the picture. Next is William K Yates (my paternal grandfather, age 20), unknown man, and far right is Will Yates’ older brother Lemuel W Yates (age 25). On the back of this picture postcard is the postmark of “July 6, 1912 Union Mills, Washington.” I suppose it’s possible that the picture was taken somewhere else and then made into a postcard sent from Washington.

George Martin, Will Yates, , Lem Yates

All that said, I do believe it was taken near Union Mills, WA. I’m not showing the back of the postcard here, but I do have the original and it has been clipped along the edges, and the original message on the postcard was written in pencil and is now so light after 115 years I’m unable to read it. Union Mills, Washington was located in Thurston County near what is now the town of Lacey and was base for the Union Lumber Company.

Union Lumber Co. History

Source: Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History: Oregon, Washington

 By Donald B. Robertson

So, were they fanatics about their guns? I think they were in the sense that they felt they were a invaluable tool which they could always use to hunt game to feed their families. Or, at least supplement the larder at home. Considering there were no freezers of size at the time I assume they would dress their game in the woods if it was large like a deer, perhaps cutting it in smaller sections to be shared as they saw fit, and much of it eaten immediately. In this picture, I don’t think the men were actively hunting, but rather ‘posing’ for the photographer to make it look like an interesting tableau. The reason I say that is because it was probably taken and sent in July as the postmark indicates, and hunting season wasn’t until much later in the fall.

One thing I do know from my family history with my dad, “Never touch my gun” was law in our house and neither my brother nor I ever considered going against that edict. The men in my family (none of the women hunted, as far as I know) were fanatics about gun safety. I don’t think any of the hunters in the family ever used pistols because it just wouldn’t have been practical for their needs. I do know that when my dad hunted in he used a .30-06. I wonder what happened to that rifle. I bet my brother has it.

 

Google Books: A Surprising Source For Genealogical Documentation

Google-Books

 

My budget is pretty tight when it comes to genealogical research, so when I found I could add documentation to my family tree using (mostly) free Google Books, you can imagine my elation.

Google-Books

Most recently,

I found a book

about Archibald Glasscock Register written by one of his descendants (G. W. Register Jones) and originally compiled by two of his daughters from letters he had sent to family members back in Greene County, Tennessee.

The title of this article is somewhat misleading in that the results of a search in Google Books doesn’t just bring back links to books, but any sort of written documentation that has been added to Google. It could be old newspaper articles, snippets from books, biographies, or even lists from surname newsletters. So far, I’ve just scratched the surface of what’s available.

My Book List On Google

My current preferred method of adding books to my book list on Google is on my PC, but you can also add them to your device using Google Play and read them on your tablet, e-reader or phone. Depending on the amount of storage you might have on each device, you’ll be able to start reading on one, stop, and then continue on another. For more detailed information please visit Google’s Supported reading device (“best for”) page.

Surnames I’m researching in Greene County, Tennessee are: REGISTER, CHANCE, YATES, KELSEY, ROBERTSON, HACKER and GLASSCOCK.

 

1917 Ethel Mae and Lillie Mae Vitatoe Yates Die From Burns In Fireplace Accident

Walter, Lillie & Ethel Mayfix


It’s always serendipitous how new family information comes to light in the most innocent of ways. A few days ago I received a message from “Louise” through the FindAGrave site. Louise had asked me to change a Yates grave location from Ponders cemetery in Roane, Tennessee to reflect that it actually was in the Kelsay cemetery in the same county.

As it turned out, Louise and I determined that all of the Yates family graves that she had added in Kelsay/Kelsey cemetery were my family members, so she was kind enough to transfer them to me.

So, now I’m in the process of checking each new memorial, connecting it to other family members when it’s possible, and downloading photos of headstones if they are new to me.

As I download new photos I can upload them to my Yates Family Tree on Ancestry.com , add my own photos to FindAGrave and/or to Ancestry as well.

One of the families I have been able to add information for was my great grand uncle Walter Jackson Yates and his first wife Lillie Mae and their daughter Ethel Mae. It’s quite a sad story really. Walter and Lillie (Vitatoe) had two boys James Steven and Samuel Joseph, and then the youngest was the little baby girl Ethel born 23 December 1916. I’m not sure yet of the full details of the accident, but there was a fire and little 3 month old Ethel was burned so badly that her shoelaces were completely gone. (I’m citing that because it was something my great aunt Martha Yates Scott wrote in her memoir. She was in direct contact with some of the Yates family in Tennessee at the time.) Lillie must have tried to save her and in the process she too was burned and died from her injuries.

Walter, Lillie & Ethel Mayfix

The picture of them is the only one our family has of the three of them together. What I didn’t have before, and what I have now is a photo of the homemade headstone for Lillie and Ethel. This family was the epitome of being dirt poor, but someone, maybe Walter, found a large piece of stone and it looks like he lovingly scratched his wife and baby’s names and dates as best he could.

Ethel and Lillie Yates headstone

In the “It Pays To Look Again” department, I had added Lillie and Ethel’s birth and death information, but since then more documents have become available through Ancestry, and so this death certificate for Ethel showed up in a search. I think I can read part of it, but the writing is so light I’m not sure what it really says.  I think it says “Caught in bedding ___ fire grate”.  This happened in February of the year and most likely the only source of heat was a fireplace.  Today, I found the death certificate for Lillie Mae Vitatoe Yates which helps me document names and dates. Previously, I didn’t have Lillie’s birthdate.

TennesseeDeathRecords1908-1958ForEthelYates

TennesseeDeathRecords1908-1958ForLillieMaeYates

Rest in peace Lillie and little Ethel. We have not forgotten you! redheart2