Pages 733-735, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




To have attained to the extreme fullness of years and to have had one's ken broadened to a comprehension of all that has been accomplished within the flight of many days, is of itself sufficient to render con-


sonant a detailed consideration of such a life in a work of this order, but in the career of Mr. Yates there are more pertinent, more distinguishing elements. His name is inseparably associated with the history of Kansas as the founder of Yates Center, and as long as the city endures it will be a monument to his progressive spirit. No shadows darken any period of his long, honorable and eventful life, and now at the age of eighty-two years he receives the veneration and respect ever accorded to one who has walked upright before his fellow men, commanding respect not only by reason of a successful and prosperous career but also by his unfaltering devotion to duty in every relation of life. Such is the history of Abner Yates.

A native of Gallatin County, Kentucky, he was born August 4, 1819, and is a son of Henry Yates, a native of Caroline County, Virginia, and a grandson of Abner Yates, Sr. The former was married in the Old Dominion to Miss Millicent Yates, his cousin, and in an early day they emigrated to Kentucky, where the father became prominent in the work of early development. He laid out the town of Warsaw and there carried on merchandising until his removal to Illinois in the year 1831. For a time he resided in Springfield, the capital city, and then founded the town of Berlin, in Sangamon County, Illinois, where he conducted a general mercantile establishment. His enterprise resulted greatly to the benefit of the place, and he was recognized as a leading factor in the progress and advancemnt[sic] of the town until his death. He had a large family, one of whom was Governor Richard Yates, Sr., of Illinois who was the youngest member of the thirty-second congress of the United States, was afterward elected to the same office and in 1860 was elected chief executive of Illinois, and is known in history as the "war governor" of that commonwealth. He was a most active supporter of the Union, and the day following the attack on Fort Sumter took military possession of Cairo, Illinois, which he garrisoned with troops. It is his son and the nephew of our subject, Richard Yates, Jr., who is the present chief executive of Illinois.

Abner Yates was reared in his parent's home and through the period of his youth became familiar with business methods and measures through practical experience in his father's store. After attaining his majority he was admitted to a partnership in the business and his enterprise, sound judgment and the progressive spirit of youth added largely to the success of the enterprise. In 1851 he removed to Morgan County, Illinois, where he continued to reside until 1883. In the meantime he was engaged in mercantile pursuits, and his close application to business, keen discriminating mind and unflagging industry enable him to acquire a handsome competence. He judiously invested some of his capital in realty and became the owber of section eleven, Center township, Woodson County, Kansas. In 1875 he was induced to plat a town site, having been given assurance that if he would do so the new town


should become the county seat. He therefore platted one hundred and sixty acres—the southwest quarter of the section—and it was decided that the newly established town should be made the seat of justice for the county. Frank Butler insisted that the place should be called Yates Center and therefore in honor of the founder the city was named. Its growth has been pleasing and continuous, aided largely by the efforts of Mr. Yates who donated many lots to persons desiring to improve them. The first house in the town was owned by G. W. Wille who moved the building to the town site from Kalida. Mr. Yates also moved a small building from Kalida and located it upon the northwest corner of the square where Frank Butler's pharmacy now stands, and this served as the first court house. In 1883 Mr. Yates permanently took up his abode in the city which bears his name and has contributed to all measures for its upbuilding and cooperated in many movements for the general welfare.

The home life of Mr. Yates has been very pleasant, and his family is one which does honor to an untarnished name. On the 7th of August, 1851, in Jacksonville, Illinois, he was united in marriage to Miss Mary Geers, a daughter of William and Mary Geers, natives of Virginia, who removed to Kentucky and from Lexington, that state, to Illinois. Two children were born unto Mr. and Mrs. Yates: Mary M., the wife of John B. Dobins, of Yates Center, and William H., who has charge of the annual report department in the office of the secretary of state, at Springfield, Illinois. Mr. Yates cast his first presidential vote in 1840, when he supported William Henry Harrison for the presidency. On the dissolution of the Whig party he became a Republican, and voted for the first candidate of the party in 1856. He has since never wavered in his allegiance to its principles, although he has never sought or desired the honors or emoluments of public office. In three states the name of Yates is recorded in history as that of the founder of a town, and the prosperous and thriving city of Yates Center, which owes its origin and much of its later advancement to our subject, is a fitting monument to the life and labors of one who in the busy walks of commerce has ever borne himself with signal honor and dignity, awakening uniform regard by his upright career.

Previous | Home | Next