Pictorial and Genealogical Record
of Greene County, Missouri

Together with Bibliographies of Prominent Men of Other Portions of the State, Both Living and Dead


THOMAS YEAKLEY. The subject of this sketch is one of the largest farmers and landholders in Greene County, and as he has passed his entire life here he is well-known but naught has ever been said derogatory to his honor. His father, John Yeakley, one of the original settlers of this section, was born in Greene County, Tenn., November 15, 1809, his father being Henry Yeakley, of Pennsylvania Dutch stock. He was married to Susannah McNeece, daughter of Isaac McNeece, a Scotchman by birth and a weaver by trade. About 1804, the Yeakleys moved to Greene County, Tenn., and there a family of fourteen children were born to them: Samuel, who was a soldier in the War of 1812, and was at the battle of Horse Shoe, fought by Jackson; Mary, Henry, Isaiah, Elizabeth, Lydia, Ann, George, John, Joseph, Malachi, Jacob and Betsey, all of whom lived to grow up. Henry Yeakley was a gunsmith by trade but owned and worked a farm. He had obtained a practical education in the German tongue, but spoke intelligible English and was well-posted on the current affairs of his day. He was buried in the graveyard at the old Quaker church in Greene County, Tenn. His wife was a little girl when the battle of Brandywine was fought, in Revolutionary times, was near the field and saw the battle, about which she often told her children. Mr. Yeakley was a member of the Lutheran Church while his wife a most excellent woman and deeply religious, was a Quaker. John Yeakley was reared a farmer and learned the blacksmith's trade which he has followed more or less all his life. He owns an old anvil which his father took with him from Pennsylvania to Tennessee and which is over one hundred years old. He quite well remembers of talking with Azariah Doty, who lived to be over one hundred and four years old and who was one of Gen. Marion's men during the war of the Revolution. At the age of twenty years Mr. Yeakley married Matilda Grills, of Greene County, Tenn., (in 1829) by whom he became the father of six children: Thomas, Henry, Rhoda, Betsey A., Jane and Benjamin, who died when a child. In the fall of 1839, he came with his family to Missouri and after passing the winter in Polk County, came to Greene County in the spring and settled on the eighty acres on which he now lives, upon which he erected a log cabin which is still standing. He made the journey from Tennessee in a small two-horse wagon and found Missouri to be in a wild and unsettled state, a great portion of which was covered with large forest trees in which deer and other wild game abounded. He entered a large body of land eighty acres deep and one mile in length on the Big Sac River. Of this he made a valuable farm, through much industry, and gave each of his sons a good start in life. His first wife died and he afterward married Eliza Allen, who also died, and he took for his third wife Margaret L. Cochran, their union occurring on November 4,1880, with whom he is now living and who is now postmistress of Yeakley. Mr. Yeakley has always been a Methodist in his religious views and assisted to build the first Methodist Church in West Center Township, called Yeakley Chapel, and when it burned down he gave the land for a new church which he assisted to build and which also took the name of Yeakley Chapel. He is a steward in this church and attends services every Sunday. His wife is a member of the old Presbyterian Church of Lawrence County, but attends the Methodist Church and is one of the principal teachers in the Sunday-school. For many years Mr. Yeakley voted the old Whig ticket, cast his first vote for Gen. Jackson and his last one for Peter Cooper. During the great evil strife he remained neutral, and contrary to usual custom was left unmolested, having only two stands of bees stolen, one by the Federal and one by the Confederate soldiers. He and his wife are residing in comfort on a fine farm of 100 acres and are surrounded by many friends whom they have gathered about them by a correct mode of living. His children are established in life as follows: Thomas, is a prosperous farmer and large landowner in West Center Township, one mile south of the old homestead. He is married to Lizzie or Elizabeth Young, and has four children; Henry, resides on a part of the old homestead in West Center Township, is well-to-do, is married and has three children; Rhoda, married Aaron Helton, is a widow with eight children, lives two miles south of the old homestead and is in good circumstances; Betsy A., married David Likins, by whom she has four children; Janie, married Lewis Whinrey, of West Center Township, is well supplied with worldly goods and has one child; and Thomas, whose name heads this sketch, and who was born November 25, 1829, in Greene County, Tenn. He has been a resident of Greene County, Mo., ever since he was ten years of age, and well remembers the journey thither, which occupied seven weeks. In the wagon was his father, mother and brothers Henry and Benjamin and sister Rhoda, besides himself. In the party were Henry, Nathan, Ann and Bettie Paulsell, also Daniel Delaney and family, Jonathan Pickering and family. Young Yeakley had but few opportunities of acquiring an education as he was brought up in a pioneer country, but he learned to labor and was naturally intelligent and investigating. July 17, 1851, he married Elizabeth M, daughter of George B. and Margaret (Leeper) Young, and to them four children were born: James, George, Margaret M., and Rebecca J. In 1854, Mr. Yeakley settled on the land where be now lives, then consisting of forty acres on the edge of Grand Prairie, and by industry and thrift he added to it until be now owns about 1,200 acres, half of which is on Grand Prairie and constitutes one of the most magnificent farms in Greene County, being well-watered by Pond Creek and Big Sac River. All the improvements on this place have been made by himself and planned by his own fertile and original brain, and do credit to his intelligence. He and his wife are members of the Methodist Church South and politically he is a Democrat. He has always been interested in the cause of education and assisted to build up fully one-half of the first school houses in his district. He is one of the most successful farmers in Greene County , and has prospered through energy and good management. George Yeakley, the son of Thomas, married Celesta J. Redfearn, December 27,1877, by whom he has three children: Minnie H., Georgia L., and Bessie M. His daughter, Margaret M., was married at her home, March 22, 1887, to Dr. Edwin D. Robinson, of Bois D'Arc, who died seven months after their marriage, October 31, 1887. He was a graduate of the Missouri Medical College of St. Louis, in 1879, and in 1882 graduated from Bellevue Hospital, New York, after which he practiced in that institution for three months and then at Bois D'Arc, where he met with good success and built up a large practice. His widow is now the wife of W. E. Drum, a successful merchant and prominent citizen of Bois D'Arc, their marriage occurring May 13, 1891. During the Civil War Thomas Yeakley had several narrow escapes from death. He remained at home and did some work for the United States government, being supplied with arms for his defense by the Federal officers. He was several times attacked at night and in one encounter was slightly wounded by a bullet which first passed through the side of the house. On another occasion, being called to the door at night and commanded to strike a light he replied with a well-aimed shot and the intruders retreated, bearing away a badly wounded companion, their trail being freely marked with blood. On the day of the battle of Wilson's Creek, he, visited the battlefield with some of his neighbors, mixed with the soldiers and saw the dead and wounded the next day, and describes the scene as terrible for many of the bodies were stripped of their clothing by vandals.

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