Col. Henderson Yoakum (1810-1856)

Traveling West
by Nell Quesenbery 
Thursday, February 28, 1980

Hendersons lineage is as follows:

(1) Mathias Yoakum (~1698 - 1783)
    bd. abt 1705, New Amsterdam, NY
    dd. 18 Feb 1783, Botetourt, VA
    (2) Valentine Yoakum (~1721 - 1763)
       bd. abt 1721, PA
       dd. 17 Jul 1763, Greenbrier, WV
       (3) George Yoakum I (1752 - 1800)
          bd. 15 Jan 1752, Peach Creek, 
                 Greenbrier, VA
          dd. 28 Oct 1800
          (4) George Yoakum II (1783 - 1841)
             bd. 30 Jul 1783, Greenbrier, VA
             dd. 31 Mar 1841, Madisonville, Monroe, TN
             (5) Henderson King Yoakum 
bd. Sept 6,1810
                dd. 1856            - ed.


Powell Valley Executive Order
Ruby Irene


My mother, Louise Yoakum Marchio, has a  glamorous cousin, Richard Austin "Dick" Yoakum of Morristown, 'Tennessee, who ever so often comes to Lone Mountain for a visit with his rustical kin.

For the last few years Dick has formed an active interest in his Yoakum forebearers. He feels justly pleased that Yoakum men and their women were many times among the first people to penetrate "new wilds" in North America, New York; Pennsylvania; The South Potomac River on Peach Creek; Botetourt, Virginia; Green Briar, West Virginia. Mathias and Eleanor Yoakum built the first log cabin in Kentucky; Powell's Valley of Tennessee and on to the west.

One mid-summer day, Dick came to visit my mother. This trip awakened an interest between us to work together to learn more of our ancestors. Much of the bridge to this knowledge was patiently put together by our Ray County Missouri Cousin, Maude Yoakum Kincaide. Maude, an intelligent stylish woman, lost her only child, a son, in World War II.

Fondly, I've-written this story of Henderson Yoakum, for Dick.

Henderson Yoakum was born on a farm, September 6, 1810 in Powell's Valley, Claiborne County, Tennessee. He was the oldest among eleven children of George Yoakum II and Mary Ann Maddy.

The family farm was located near Fort Yoakum , built in 1797 by Henderson's grandfather George Yoakum I. Earlier in 1790, near the site of the fort, George Yoakum I with his wife Margaret, their children along with his two brothers-in-law, John and Peter Van Bebber, had established Yoakum Station.

Henderson attended the Yoakum Academy and other local schools until his appointment at age seventeen to West Point. Henderson was a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy from July 1, 1828 to July 1, 1832, when he was graduated with distinction and promoted into the Army.

Reaching his full manhood, Henderson was a tall, strongly built man, giving credence to the bold cast of his features with his prominent curving nose and great dark questing eyes.

In 1831, Black Hawk, chief of the Sac Indians of Illinois, was ordered to remove with his tribe to Iowa. Objecting to the cession of the tribal lands, he claimed the chiefs were placed under whiskey before they signed the treaty. He then stirred up the Indians of Iowa and Wisconsin in what was called the "Black Hawk War of 1831". The braves fought to regain their Illinois hunting grounds. Black Hawk, now nearly 65, and the tribe, were defeated in August of 1832. Second Lieutenant, Henderson Yoakum, of the 3rd Artillery, served his country in the "Black Hawk Expedition" along with another young American, a volunteer from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln.

Being a staunch democrat, Henderson, about this time, begun the platform of becoming able to associate with the leaders and ideas (movements) of his time. These mighty marked men were people who truly won his esteem. He would become good friends with President Andrew Jackson and Col. Polk, who later would become one of our greatest expansionist presidents.

President Jackson and Col. Polk were also particular friends of Sam Houston. Sam Houston -an enigma-a hero- a man who could draw the people whether dressed in silks or in buckskins. Houston was one of the best stump speakers of his time. As Henderson Yoakum became aware and excited about the annexation of Texas, which was to be talked for years, he also became aware of Sam Houston, a man for whom he was destined to, feel a fierce and devoted love. The man, Sam Houston, would return this love in his final hours, request of his wife Margaret, "bury me near my old friend Col. Yoakum".

1833 was a busy year for Henderson Yoakum. First he resigned from the army, then he married Eveline Cannon of Roane County, Tennessee; whose close relatives would serve Tennessee as senators, congressmen and governor.

Finding great delight in the young and beautiful Eveline, he moved with her to Murfreesboro Tennessee, where be, while a witty man, began the pragmatic study of law.

Now practicing law, he occasionally, as the need arose, again took up military obligations. In 1836, Captain Yoakum, served under General Gaines to protect the western frontier from the attacks of hostile Indians. Two years later, he commanded a regiment in the Cherokee War.

Upon his return home from the Cherokee War, he was elected a member of the Tennesses State Senate. After serving one term as senator, Henderson decided to move Eveline and the children west to Texas. They would go to Huntsville, where Sam on lived in Eastern Texas.

In the eastern part of Texas the land is hilly. The coarse sandy soil grows mostly mesquite, cottonwood, (popular) Black Jack and scrub oak. Henderson came to Texas in isa, the same year Texas was annexed to the United States.

A dispute with Mexico about the southern land boundary of Texas, inaugurated the "Mexican War of 1846". Henderson joined the Texas Mounted Rifle Volunteers. He served under Captain J. Gillespie. For his bravery at Monterey and other engagements, Henderson was promoted to First Lieutenant.

Henderson set up his law office in Huntsville; however, he built his house, a two story structure of hand hued logs, in Shephard's Valley, a country place outside of Huntsville. From Shephard's Valley to Huntsville was a very broad road cut through virgin timber, the road was called Yoakum's Road.

He became a Colonel in the Texas Militia in 1850. About this time, while living at Shephard's Valley, Henderson began to write a "History of Texas 1685-1846". He told of her first settlements, her people, her churches, her great men, her battles, the Alamo, Sam Houston and other great politicians. He finally told of her annexation to the United States. With love, he gave Texas her first complete written history. In return, Texans named a town - Yoakum, for him.

In 1854, Henderson, Eveline and the children left Shephard's Valley, where they had felt so much to live Huntsville. This time a large Colonial style mansion had carefully been constructed for the family.

In the late fall of 1856, Col. Yoakum went to Houston, Texas to speak in front of the masons of that city. He caught cold, his lungs became afficted. Putting a good face on matters, ignoring his weakened condition, November 30, 1856, he died suddenly while talking with friends on the steps of the old capitol building in Houston.

His body was returned to Huntsville and buried i n Oak Wood Cemetery. A tall marble shaft, topped with a large generous urn was placed over his grave site. The white shaft bore these words:    "In testimony of the high appreciation of his character as a man, his usefulness as a citizen, and his ability as a lawyer, his fellow citizens have erected this monument to the memory of Colonel Henderson Yoakum; who was born the 10th day of September, 1810, and died the 30th November AD. 1856, age 46 years, 2 months, and twenty days."

The tomb and remains of Sam Houston (1793-1863) - lie only a few yards away from Col. Yoakum's Memorial.

 A description by Dr. E.M. Carrington: "Yoakum, fiery Historian of Shephard's Valley, by vocation a lawyer, by avocation a fighter, this adopted son gave Texas her first full history."

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Rev 3b: 25 Apr 2000 : rdk
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