THE YANCEY FAMILY
THE YANCEY'S IN EARLY DAYS
Compiled by Bertha Yancey Jensen
assisted by other members of the family
[Source: Family Book of
Remembrance and Genealogy With Allied Lines
(often referred to as the "Meacham/Tolman/Yancey Book") by Leonidas D. Mecham.]
Although an important
much of the information from this book has been updated and/or corrected
- see the following site for further information -
- Yanceys West -
- Information concerning Hiram John Yancey Sr & Jr & Adam Yancey -
Possible Relatives of William Yancey
ORIGIN OF THE YANCEY FAMILY
The origin of the "Yancey" or "Yancy" family name is obscure, but it is generally believed to have been of Welsh derivation. One writer asserts that the family were of Huguenot ancestry and went into Wales at an early date, but no authority for this belief has been found. The most likely theory is that the name was originally "Nannau" or "Nanney" and was taken by its first bearers because of their residence at "Nannau" in the county Merioneth, Wales.
From the Welsh Genealogist, 0. E. Ruck, we have the following: "Sir William Berkley who lived in Cariganshire, Wales was a descendant of a Welsh family and was evidently in touch with the "Nanney" brothers of Merionethshire, the adjacent county, who came with him to America. Sir William was a connection of the "Nanney's" through his ancestor, "Bleddyn Cyfyn" of the Royal Tribe of Wales. One of the "Nanney's" descended from Carado Fraidhefras, a Knight of the Mystical Round Table.
Uron Goch, just north of Merioneth, was the home of the "Nanney" brothers who emigrated to America about 1642. (I am sending a little map in which "Uron Goch" is marked in the valley of the river "Dee" which rises in Bala Lake.) My theory is that the "Yancey" or "Nanney" brothers of Uron Goch, four or five of them, emigrated to America about 1640, and they did not leave their address, gradually becoming known perhaps at first as "Yanney" and finally by the name of "Yancey" as people were not particular as to the spelling of names in those days.
Strength is given to this theory of descent by the following quotation taken from a letter written by Samuel Shepherd of Virginia to his brother, Robert, in 1805, and published in Virginia and Tennessee periodicals:
"Since I last wrote you, my wife has been delivered of a fine boy at the home of her cousin, Charles Yancey. The boy even now resembles that old Welsh stock While visiting we discussed old Welsh stock, and Charles tells me that a Mr. Evans of Cumberland, Virginia says he does not believe the "Yancey" name is correct, but that it was "Nanney" and got amended in transportation across the Atlantic. Charles had heard something of the kind from his folks. My wife has an old "Arms" of the family. Charles says he has seen it in his father's books.
Mr. Evans was a distinguished soldier in the Rev. War, a gentleman and a scholar. The letter describes a reunion of soldiers too long to copy. Other letters we have tell of "Yancey's" in London, England, so they perhaps went into England from Wales and then to America."
In another letter from Woodville, Virginia dated May 26, 1928, we have the following:
"Mr. Victor Graves,
I think you have discovered something for which I have been hunting for years, the original Welsh name of our family. I have always believed it was not "Yancey" but had been changed on reaching America. My ancestor, Lewis Davis Yancey, tells his children that the first settlers were four "Nanney" brothers who came from Wales in 1640. I note the "Nanney" name disappears and that of "Yancey" appears all over Virginia in the second and third generations. Certainly the possession of the "Nanney Arms" in the "Yancey" families is strong evidence.
Signed W. T. Yancey."
From a book in the Genealogical Library in Salt Lake City, Utah (B 12 B 14) we find, "The Yancey's were of Welsh origin, and they first came to America in 1642, there being four brothers who arrived with Sir William Berkeley, gov. of Virginia. The founder of this Southern Branch was Benjamin Yancey and his son, Lewis Davis Yancey, settled on a plantation near Culpepper, Virginia. His son, Major James Yancey, married Miss Cudworth of Charlestown, South Carolina, and they had a son, Benjamin C. Yancey, born 1789, and married Carolina Bird, daughter of Col. William Bird of Warren Co. Ga., and they had two sons, William Lowndes and Benjamin Cudworth Yancey."
The Yancey's in EARLY DAYS
Among the first records we found about the "Yancey" family was a history of St Marks Parish in Culpepper County, Virginia, written by Raleigh Travers Green in 1900 (Va. C.I.) from which we take the following: "The first trace we have of the "Yancey" family is that of four Welshmen, Charles, Joel, William and Robert Yancey, who came from Wales to Virginia with Sir William Berkeley and settled on the James River and prospered." From the "Crawford Book" we have, "John Yancey came from Wales about the middle of the 17th Century and settled on the Rappanock River, Virginia." (So there must have been another brother.) Continuing from Raleigh's book we have, "From one of these four or five brothers descended Lewis Davis Yancey, who settled in Culpepper County, Va. about 1710, and married "Mildred or Winifred Kavanaugh, daughter of Charles or Philemon Kavanaugh of Irish parentage, who owned a large estate of 40,000 acres in said county. A portion of this land has never been out of the "Yancey' family, and at this time (1900) is owned by Benjamin M. Yancey, a great grandson of Lewis Davis Yancey and by James Yancey, a great great grandson. Lewis Davis Yancey lived and died and was buried on this estate which was called "Arlington."
In a letter dated Feb. 26, 1943, from Mrs. Rebecca Yancey Williams (Author of this "Vanishing Virginian") she says:
"I surely wish I could help you with your family record, but alas I am the world's poorest Genealogist. I have had letters from all over the country from Texas to New York, from Yancey's, and I keep thinking how my mother would have loved to have followed up all these threads, but she died in 1936. One thing I can assure you of, all the "Yancey's" are related for they descended from those four or five brothers, and it is a distinct Virginia name. My own branch of the family came to Lynchburg, Va. from Louisa County, Va. right after the Revolution. My great grandfather, Joel, was the first of the family at Lynchburg, and he bought his land from Thomas Jefferson. I am sure you do not belong to this branch, but believe you must be descended from the Culpepper Branch, as they were the great migrators and some of them went to Kentucky and from there farther west."
Signed Mrs. Rebecca Yancey Williams
As far back as we have been able to trace our immediate line is to Austin Yancey, born about 1777, and we think he came from Virginia to Kentucky, as our great grandfather was born in Cary Bell Co. Kentucky. All we have that gives us Austin Yancey is in a Patriarchal blessing given to Hiram John Yancey, Sr. in 1853, which is recorded in the Historian's office in Salt Lake City. In this blessing he names his parents as Austin and Marie Yancey. Having a blessing at this time Hiram John Yancey, Sr. was undoubtedly in the Church and was perhaps the first to join the Church, but no other record is to be found, so we have taken him, Hiram John Yancey Sr. as our heir.
In data gathered from the second family and from other sources, our sister, Sylvia Anderson, who started the work on the "Yancey" line, it gives the children of Austin Yancey and wife, Marie, as Matilda, born Jan. 26, 1803, and married William Stevens. Hiram John, Sr. born Aug. 3, 1804, married first, Elizabeth Pratt, second Mary Tuttle. Richard Kelly born about 1806 married Nancy or Elizabeth Smith. She also made a note that the father of Austin Yancey was said to be Sterling Yancey, but up to date we have found nothing which verifies this information.
Through correspondence Sylvia found the whereabouts of the second family of our grandfather, Hiram John Yancey, Jr. and a lot of them were living in Oregon, and they invited us to attend their family reunion which was held at Cottage Grove, Oregon. In June, 1937, my husband and I accompanied Sylvia and her husband, Jared Anderson, to this reunion and here she secured the data on the second family of our grandfather, Hiram John Yancey, Jr. About seventy-five were in attendance at the gathering. A program and picnic were held in a lovely grove near the home of Mrs. Ida Garroute, the daughter of Edmond H. Yancey, who was the eldest son of Jesse Pratt Yancey, a brother of our grandfather. Quite a number of the Yancey families in attendance were living at Prineville, Oregon, among them Steve Yancey taken in the picture with Edmond H. Yancey. Steve Yancey was a younger brother of Edmond.
Steve Yancey and Edmond Yancey
of Prineville and Cottage Grove, OR respectively
"One of the oldest residents of Cottage Grove, E.H. Yancey observed his 92nd birthday anniversary on Sunday, July 20, 1947, when a large group of his children and other relatives and a few friends gathered at the city park to celebrate the occasion with him.
Mr. Yancey came to Cottage Grove, Oregon at the age of 11 with his parents, who spent the winter at Creswell and emigrated to Nevada in 1866, where he married Rachel Rhodes. Two children, Ella and Ivan, were born to this union in Nevada. They came to Prineville, Oregon in 1880, where four more children, Ida, Frank, Ethel and Carl, were born. In 1888 they came over the McKenzie pass by covered wagon and settled near Cottage Grove. Here two more children, Irvin and Hester, were born.
"The Yanceys lived in this vicinity most of the time since. He packed supplies by horseback into the Bohemia mines in 1898 and helped build the first wagon road into the mines. He is now making his home with his daughter, Mrs. Ida Garoutte, In Cottage Grove, and reports excellent health" (Taken from Cottage Grove paper, The Sentinel).
At this family gathering we got acquainted with father's two half brothers, Uncle Alfred and Uncle George, who with their families had come from California to the reunion, our sister, Alice, who lives in Los Angeles accompanying them. Uncle Alfred came to Blackfoot to visit with us before mother's death and seemed to enjoy it very much. Uncle George died in 1946, so Uncle Alfred and their sister, Etta Walsh, who lives in Colorado are all who are living of their mother's family.
Alfred Franklin Yancey Family
Life Sketch of Alfred Franklin Yancey as written by himself in 1944.
I was born 24 October 1870 in Pleasantown, Kansas the second child and second son of Hiram John Yancey Jr. and his second wife Hester Ann Harris Rhodes (she was the daughter of George Harris and was the widow of Seymour Rhodes).
After father took his son John and left, first going to California then by boat to New York, then again to Illinois, then on to Missouri, where he met and married my mother about 1867. She was born July 1833 and died 1920. From there he went to Pleasantown, Kansas where I was born and where we lived for three years, my father working at his trade as a carpenter.
We left Kansas about 1873 and went to a place in Missouri on a big farm with a large house in a big grove of trees surrounded by a cornfield, this place I remember as if it were yesterday. Here it was I was given a little hatchet which I was very proud of, and was told if I planted it, I would have a lot of little hatchets, so I planted it in the tall corn and day after day hunted for it, but could never find the place.
It was here also that my little brother Eddie died, I have a very vivid picture of him lying on a wide hoard between two chairs with a white cloth over him, I remember leaving this place in a wagon and how mem. hers of our outfit bragged on me for walking five miles on my birthday.
My childhood life was not a happy one by any means Father went almost blind when I was quite young though he tried doctors and medicine, so it left mother and I to hustle for the five of us. The next I remember was we were on our way by train to the then territory of Nevada.
Here we moved onto a big cattle ranch near Austin City, there were many Indians here, some tribes of as many as three and four hundred. Here my brother George was born in 1876, 9th of January. From this ranch we moved to Malta, Iowa, where my sister Etta was born, 1 May 1878, and where I first went to school at the age of nine years. The next 12 years we lived in many places in Missouri, Iowa and Kansas.
In the winter of 1890 we moved to Nebraska, where I entered the service of the Rock Island Railroad Company in the track and signal department. This w1l Fairburg Nebraska. It was here I met and married Ida Louise Leman 31 Jan. 1894. She was the daughter of John Charles Leman and wife Dorothy, and here our first child Victor was horn 30 Dec, 1894.
We lived here at Thompson, Nebraska until 1897 then moved to Oklahoma where I homesteaded 160 acres of land. I followed farming and railroading here till 1906 when I sold my farm and stock and went to Alberta, Canada and took up a homestead in the Saddle Lake country, where we lived about two and one half years, when on account of my wife's ill health we had to go south, and went again to Thompson, Nebr. where I worked on the Rock Island railroad till June 1911, and here my wife died in 1910, leaving five children ranging from 15 years down to 10 months old.
Shortly after my wife's death I moved to Edmonton, Canada in the service of the Grand Trunk Railway, and worked there till 20 Dec. 1914. For four years I kept the children together all by myself, although I had friends who offered to take them.
From Edmonton I went to Fairburg, Nebr. and here I met and married Rose Jordan Shortridge in 1915 and here again I entered the service of the Rock Island railway as extra gang foreman and continued this service at different points, mostly at Lincoln Nebraska until April 7 1937 when I was retired and moved to Los Angeles, Calif. where we have a nice little home in which to enjoy our declining years.
In June 1937 at our family reunion held at Cottage Grove, Oregon. I met some of the family of my fathers first wife's children and have enjoyed visiting and associating with them many times since. I visited with them in June 1947 and also went to see my sister Etta in Denver, and my sons at Edmonton, Canada.
Uncle George Yancey's Family
This cousin, Edmond, mentioned before, took us out to an old forgotten cemetery there in Cottage Grove, where among a heavy growth of weeds, we found the grave of our great grandfather, Hiram John Yancey, Sr. Three other Yancey relatives were buried in the same plot. Cousin Ed, then 82 years old, had a wonderful memory and told us about the Yancey families coming to Utah, we quote: "Hiram John Yancey, your great grandfather and my grandfather lived in Placer Co. California, that being the first place I remember him being. He also lived at Heildsburg, Sonoma Co., California. He was a wagon maker by trade and also did some farming. Then he moved to Cottage Grove, Oregon and lived there until his death at the age of 86 years. His first wife was Elizabeth Pratt who died before he came West. Mary Tuttle was the name of his second wife whom he married here in California.
There were seven families of the "Yancey's." Hiram John Sr. and his married children and their families, who left Illinois. Hiram John's four sons were William Riley, Hiram John, Jr., Jesse Pratt, and Oliver. The four daughters were Adaline who married Gilbert Cox, Elizabeth married Thomas Wycoff, Emeline married her second cousin, Thomas Yancey, and Charlotte married Lem Davis. While Emeline and her family were living in Placerville, California, her husband left to join the army at the time of the Civil War, and was never heard from again. Later on Emeline married Ambrose Toleman, but they had no children.
The "Yancey" families were considered well off for those days as they had a lot of fine cattle and horses, new wagons, nice furnishings, and money for those days. They arrived in Salt Lake City sometime in 1853. Several different stories are told of them not being well received in Salt Lake City by some of the people they had known in Illinois. At any rate when an immigrant train came through Salt Lake City, they went on West with them and landed in Placerville, California in 1857.
Adaline Yancey and her husband never went any further West than Salt Lake City, but from there went to Mound City, Lynn Co. Kansas.
The above is a photo of the only living child of Adeline Yancey and her husband, Gilbert Cox, and her family. She was Martha Cox, born Oct. 10, 1865 and married George Shearer, now dead. The picture shows Martha with their son, Paul, and his wife, five of her daughters and four grand children. This was taken in 1947 when Martha was 87 years old. They live at Independence, Mo.
Edmond Yancey also said that his father, Jesse Pratt Yancey and Hiram John, Jr. who lived with them at different times, was in the habit of picking up and leaving on a moment's notice. He remembers his mother shedding tears at times when she had to move. When they lived in Placer County, California, they were near a gulch where 100 Chinamen were working, when a stump fell and hit one of the Chinamen, and they all threw down their tools and things and left, leaving their machinery and all right where they were working. Jesse and Hiram and the others could have used this machinery and made thousands of dollars, but they went right on chopping wood with an axe (there were no saws in those days) and sold it for a living. William Riley, Jesse Pratt, Hiram John and Thomas Yancey and Um Davis were here at this time doing the same kind of work. They all left together and went to Sonoma Co., California. Jesse Pratt Yancey at one time owned 300 acres in Sonoma Co. He traded it for four horses and left. Edmond and his mother did not want to leave. He was catching quails at this time and getting Six Dollars a dozen.
During their stay in Placerville, Calif., flour was cheap but at Carson City, Nevada they were paying one dollar a pound. Edmond's father, Jesse Pratt, Hiram John Jr., and William Riley packed ten horses with 200 pounds of flour each and started to Carson City, thinking to make some easy money as they had only paid. 75 cents a sack for the flour.
They were snowed in on their way through the mountains and had to feed the flour to the horses and almost starved themselves, before they could get, out. Hiram thought his eye trouble could have been caused by being there so long in the snow.
Jesse Yancey, Owen Penrod, and a Mr. Comstock discovered the Comstock mines at Virginia City, Nevada. Jesse traded his share (one third) for a yoke of oxen. Penrod later got ten thousand for his share.
Uncle George Yancey said his father had told him that there was Cherokee Indian blood in the Yancey family through Pocahantas and said that he was one eighth Indian. George said his father had high cheek bones and long loose straight black hair which showed his Indian blood.
THE FAMILY HEIR
Up until March, 1947, we had thought that our grandfather Hiram John Jr. was the first to join the church, but after a thorough search by the library in Salt Lake City, his father Hiram John Yancey Sr. was established as the family heir, he being baptized in January 1844. But no endowment date could be found, and we were unable to secure a picture of him.
Our grandfather Hiram John Jr. was baptized in Sept. 1853 and married first, Harriet Wood, 22 Nov. 1853 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Utah. Harriet was the daughter of Daniel Wood and Mary Snider. (See Wood History.)
Hiram John Yancey and his wife Harriet Wood
Four children were born to Hiram John and Harriet: Elizabeth, John H., Parley and Adam.
Elizabeth and Parley died as infants.
MEMORIES OF GRANDFATHER HIRAM JOHN YANCEY, JR, BY ALICE TOLMAN YANCEY, WIFE OF ADAM YANCEY
Adam's father was a carpenter by trade and traveled around a great deal. Very little is known about his life. He became partly blind at an early age and never fully recovered his sight.
Hiram was not contented to stay in Utah although his wife was and did not want to leave the church and her people. At the time of Johnston's Army (1857), he left home and went back East, though he did not stay long and soon returned to his family in Bountiful. Later on he wanted to leave again. Harriet did everything she could to persuade him not to go, but to no avail. One day they took the team and wagon and went to Salt Lake City to do some shopping. When ready to return home, Hiram took the groceries and the baby, John H., who was about two year old, got into the wagon and told Harriet he was going East and wanted her to go along with him, but she would not and supposed he would come back. However, he did not return and that was the last she ever saw of him or her baby boy, although she did hear of them in later years.
Hiram kept the child with him and rode on until he caught up with an emigrant train that was passing through Salt Lake City. Harriet's father, Daniel Wood, sent men after him but he always kept a gun by his side along with the child, and they were not able to get the child away. Hiram's purpose in taking the child was that he thought his wife would follow, but she was too devout a Latter-Day Saint to leave the Church.
Hiram John, Jr. followed several occupations until after the Civil War. He then went to Missouri where he married the widow, Rhodes. She was Hester Ann Harris, daughter of George Harris, who had married first Seymour Rhodes by whom she had four or five children. (Mrs. Etta Walsh, daughter of Hiram John, Jr. and Hester Ann Harris, names four-Rachel, Emma, Ivan and Marie Rhodes) The three daughters married three of Hiram John's cousins. At one time when Hiram John Jr. was in Austin, Nevada, he talked of going to Salt Lake City to see his son, Adam, but was afraid he would not be well received so returned to Missouri where he died in January, 1912, and is buried at Independence, Mo.
FINDING THE LOST BROTHER
Adam was born after his father left, so never saw his father. After we were married, we had letters from Uncle John H. and he said he would come out and see us if we would send the money, so we sent him $100 just before we moved to Idaho, but conditions prevented him from coming, so he returned the money.
John Yancey and Adam Yancey
We then lost track of him and not until Cyrus went on a mission to the Central States did we hear of him. Cyrus heard of a John Yancey living in Independence and found him to be Uncle John. We then went to see him, and he and his second wife, Ida, came out later to see us but they separated after they went back. After Adam died Uncle John came and was not well so I tool care of him until his death in May, 1922. So he is now buried in the same plot as his brother, Adam, in the Groveland Cemetery.
When at Independence, we went and saw Adams' father's grave, and we gave Uncle John some money to get a marker to put on it, and that is as far as Adam ever knew his father. Uncle John had two lots in Independence. One lot had his home on it and it was mortgaged so we paid off the mortgage of about $300.00 and were given the title to the one lot for so doing. Later on I deeded the lot to the Church through the Presiding Bishopric. Uncle John's wife, Ida, said to Adam, "You certainly had a good father. For although, being blind he did more than a lot of men with good eyes."
Uncle John and his first wife, Marthann Edwards, five children, all of whom are now dead but one son; Charles F. Yancey, who lives at 216 State St., Jefferson City, Missouri.