JENNIE ALBERTA BRANT, born April 23, 1874, near Troy, county seat of Lincoln county, Missouri, was the fifth of the children of John Hancock and Mary Elizabeth (Collard) Brant. She resides in Pleasant Hill, being now the wife of James Curtis Yokem, descendant of one of Pike county's pioneer families. She was married to Mr. Yokem March 1, 1896. The Reverend J. M. Booth officiated, and her father and mother, John H. and Mary E. Brant, were the official witnesses.
James Curtis Yokem belongs to a family that has been prominent in Pike county history for more than a century. He is a son of Henry B. Yokem and America Ann Dunaven (she signed her name "Merica A. Dunaven"). She also was a member of one of Pike county's pioneer families. Henry B. Yokem was a son of Solomon and Elizabeth (Butler) Yokem, who in 1833 settled near a spring on Six Mile, what was known later as the Maria Briscoe York place, in Section 8, Pleasant Hill township. The place is now occupied by John Guthrie.
Solomon Yokem, paternal grandfather of James Curtis Yokem, was born in Virginia but in an early day became a settler in the land of Daniel Boone in Kentucky. There he took unto himself a bride, Elizabeth Butler, a native of the land which Boone opened to settlement. There also occurred the birth of their first child, William Yokem (maternal grandfather of the Haskins sisters of Pittsfield), born September 26, 1816, who when attaining manhood married, in Pike county, Illinois, Catharine Ferguson, daughter of Henry and Polly (Briscoe) Ferguson, natives of Kentucky, the former born November 21, 1794, the latter December 4, 1794.
Catharine Ferguson was born October 23, 1818 and died at Pleasant Hill October 1, 1878. She is buried in the old Perry Wells cemetery, atop the bluff on the former Richard Kerr farm near Stockland, where so many of the pioneer settlers of the Six Mile country found a last resting place. Tradition has it that the first burial here on this Mississippi river bluff was that of a transient who took sick and died at the Richard Kerr home.
Afterward other members of the early settlement were buried there and the plot became known as the Wells cemetery. Here also is the grave of Catharine's husband, William Yokem, who died October 19, 1895.
In 1816, when William Yokem was an infant in arms, his hardy parents, Solomon and Elizabeth (Butler) Yokem, set out on the hazardous trail from Kentucky to Missouri Territory. It was late October, 1816, when they turned their faces away from Kentucky and the storms of early winter were hurtling around them as they came up across the wild Illinois Territory to a crossing of the Mississippi river, which was made on rafts into the Territory of Missouri. Neither Illinois nor Missouri had yet become states when the Yokems arrived here.
Crossing the Mississippi, the Yokems settled in that part of St. Charles county, Missouri, which is now Pike county, Missouri. St. Charles county then embraced all of that vast territory west of the Mississippi to Cedar Creek (near the east boundary of present Boone county) and from the Missouri river north to the British possessions. Earlier in 1816 (in which year Howard county was cut off from St. Charles) the district or county of St. Charles extended from the Mississippi to the Pacific ocean and north from the Missouri river to the British domain. The Yokems dwelt in Missouri Territory and later the State of Missouri for 16 or 17 years, at the end of which period they came back across the Mississippi and founded a home on Six Mile Creek in Pike county, Illinois. This was in 1833 (one record says 1832).
Henry Yokem, father of James Curtis, and second of the four sons of the pioneer Solomon Yokems, was born in Pike county, Missouri, October 1, 1822. He was 10 or 11 years old when his parents came to the Six Mile country. There, at a point up Six Mile from present Stockland, they built a house and established the Yokem homestead. The last vestige of the pioneer house, the old fireplace chimney, has been torn down within the past few years.
Henry Yokem on August 19, 1849 (year of the California gold rush) married America A. Dunaven, who died in Albemarle county, Virginia, where she was born September 26, 1827. She was a sister of Francis J. (Frank) Dunaven, so well known in the story of Pleasant Hill township. She was the sixth in a family of 14 children born to James and Mary (Allen) Dunaven, who lived and died in Albemarle county, Virginia, near the ancestral seat of Thomas Jefferson.
The family name of the Dunavens is variously spelled in the records. Earliest entries in old family Bible records give the name as Dunnavant. Later entries record it as Dunaven. Records in the Pike county court house give the name sometimes as Donavon. The spelling adopted by later generations in Pike county is Dunaven.
James Dunnavant (as the name appears in the records of Albemarle county and in the old Dunaven family Bible record possessed by the grandson, J. C. Yokem) was born May 10, 1796; his wife, Mary (Allen) Dunnavant, February 26, 1801. They married in Virginia August 25, 1817. According to the Bible record, they had the following children:
Martha E., born February 4, 1820; Francis J., born August 25, 1821; Mary C. (Kit), born November 30, 1823; Katherine, born November 29, 1825; James Jr., born October 26, 1829; America A. (mother of J. C. Yokem); Margaret J., born March 26, 1832; Malvina, record obliterated; Samuel B., born June 14, 1828; Sally T., born April 15, 1837; Shelton G., born February 7, 1839; Rozena, born September 11, 1841; Lucy Cornelia, born May 15, 1844; Arthur S., born December 3, 1847.
Several of America Ann (Dunaven) Yokem's brothers and sisters are associated with the history of Pike county. Francis J. (Frank) Dunaven, who married Katherine Wells in September, 1845, became a prominent resident of the Six Mile country in Pleasant Hill township. Mary C. Dunaven married Jesse Reden, and Amanda Catherine (or Katherine) married William Jackson, the former on march 8, 1850; the latter on March 4, 1858. Lucy Cornelia Dunaven married Joseph H. Bennett April 26, 1862. She died November 8, 1867. Susan Malvina married Henry Wagy, and Virginia Rozena married I. B. Gilham.
Two of America Ann's sisters, Margaret and Sally T. Dunaven, married John J. Browning, Pike county veteran of the Civil War, native of Bracken county, Kentucky, a son of Andrew and Alice (Chick) Browning. He came to Atlas township from Missouri in 1856 and secured employment as a farm hand with William Dustin. Later he worked for Henry H. Yokem, continuing on the Yokem farm until 1860, when he came to Pittsfield where on August 17, 1861, he enlisted on the side of the Union in Company B, 28th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.
On September 14, 1865 Mr. Browning married Margaret J. Dunaven. She died August 5, 1866 and their only child, a daughter, died in infancy. On April 8, 1868 Mr. Browning married his first wife's sister, Sarah T. Dunaven. She died April 8, 1869, and their son died at birth. Mr. Browning subsequently was twice married, first to Sarah A. Carr, by whom he had six sons and three daughters, and second to Mrs. Eliza (Waters) Johnson, widow of James S. Johnson, a veteran of the Civil War.
Solomon and Elizabeth (Butler) Yokem were parents of four sons and three daughters, namely: William, Henry, Ambrose, Dudley, Francis Marion, Amelia Catherine and Mary Ann Yokem.
William Yokem, as already noted, married Catharine Ferguson. Ambrose Dudley Yokem married Rebecca Ferguson, and their daughter, Ellen Elizabeth Yokem, on April 21, 1871, in the old Abe Butz Oregon House in Pittsfield, married Thomas P. Johnson, who will be 92 on December 10, 1939 and who still resides on the old Dudley Yokem place on the bluff road between Atlas and Pleasant Hill, in the house that was built by "Dutch Johnny" Kern 69 years ago.
Mr. Johnson remembers how his uncle, William Jackson (Mr. Johnson's mother was Cynthia Jackson), used to mount Old Charley, his dun horse with the "blaze" face, and gallop up the bluff road toward Payson, in Adams county, to court Catharine Dunaven, whom he later married.
Francis Marion Yokem, born in Missouri in 1831 (two years before the family's arrival in Pike county, Illinois), married Zerilda Starr, September 25, 1854. He was a farmer and carpenter. His farm lay in Ross township, where Fred Priestly now resides. He told the historian of 1880 that in the early days of the Yokem settlement along the edge of the Mississippi valley in Pike county, he saw many bears and deer, as many as 100 deer in a single drove. Marion died in the Imperial Valley in California; his body was brought back to Pike county by Thomas P. Johnson, husband of his brother Dudley's daughter.
Amelia Yokem, on May 30, 1839, married James Gay, Sr., son of William Gay and Ann Rutledge, and grandson of James and Margaret (Mitchell) Gay, the former of whom emigrated from the Emerald Isle to the shores of America in 1766 and took up an abode in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, later removed to North Carolina. He married Margaret Mitchell of Pennsylvania in 1768 and in the time of the Revolution he became a soldier in the Continental Army, engaging in many a fierce battle for freedom.
James Gay, hundred of Amelia Yokem, acquired his education in North Carolina, one of his teachers being Peter S. Ney, reputed to have been Napoleon's famous Marshal Ney of France, popularly supposed to have been executed following the Battle of Waterloo but said by some to have escaped to America through the aid of the Duke of Wellington.
Catherine Yokem married, first, Edward Ferguson, and second, Henry P. Buchanan, who was elected county surveyor of Pike county in 1857. Mary Ann Yokem, Marion's twin sister, married James Griffith.
Henry Yokem and America Ann Dunaven had eight children, of whom there is framed record in the home of their grandson, Oscar Owen Waggoner, who resides on the bluff road between Atlas and Pleasant Hill. The record names following: Mary E. Yokem, born April 13, 1851, died November 25, 1886; Catherine, born January 30, 1853, died January 27, 1857; Mahala R. (mother of Oscar O. Waggoner), born December 23, 1854; Melia I., born December 9, 1856; Eugene, born December 9, 1859; died November 12, 1875; William O., born July 13, 1862, died October 11, 1875; an infant, born and died in August, 1865; James C. Yokem, born December 19, 1866.
Mahala R. Yokem, sister of James Curtis, married Samuel Waggoner October 5, 1880. He was born in Pike county, Illinois, December 23, 1854. They had five children, namely: Dorthula Waggoner, born March 25, 1882, died August 2, 1882; Oscar Owen, born August 27, 1883, married Nettie Mae Criss August 16, 1905; an infant, born and died May 12, 1885; Leslie, born February 2, 1886, died April 13, 1887; and Loren Curtis Waggoner, born November 22, 1888, died February 11, 1900. Samuel Waggoner died November 9, 1931; his wife preceded him on December 26, 1921.
Nettie May (Criss) Waggoner, wife of Oscar Waggoner, born in Calhoun county September 11, 1881, a daughter of John Criss and Odelia Whiteside, is a descendant of the family that gave to present Newburg township some of its earliest settlers. Nicholas Criss was one of the pioneers of Newburg. Two of his daughters married Robert Kerr and Emery Scott, the weddings of these sisters being the first in Newburg township, both of them performed by Mearel E. Rattan, first postmaster, tavern keeper and probate judge in the town of Pittsfield.
Mr and Mrs. Waggoner have one daughter, Mildred Odelia, born September 13, 1909.
James Curtis Yokem, whose family background and connections have here been presented, was born December 19, 1866. On September 21, 1887 he married Ann P. Galloway, a daughter of A. L. (Dick) Galloway by his first wife, Sarah Brant, who was a daughter of John L. Brant and a sister of John Hancock Brant, father of Mr. Yokem's present wife, Mr. Yokem's first and second wives therefore being first cousins.
James Curtis and Ann P. (Galloway) Yokem had one daughter, Fay Yokem, who on March 1, 1910, married Sidney LaDow, who was born in 1886. They had two sons, Lee Scott (born January 31, 1911) and Lawrence Curtis LaDow (born February 27, 1916), both residents of Pleasant Hill.
Lee Scott LaDow married Lillian Thomas, daughter of John and Georgia (Humphrey) Thomas, and they have one child, Sidney Lee LaDow (named for father and grandfather), born August 23, 1939, being Fay (Yokem) LaDow's first grandchild and James Curtis Yokem's first great grandchild.
Sidney LaDow (Fay Yokem's husband) died December 8, 1927 and is buried in Crescent Heights cemetery at Pleasant Hill. His widow, on April 24, 1937, again married, her second husband being Elmer Martin. They reside at Pleasant Hill.
Ann P. (Galloway) Yokem, mother of Fay (Yokem) Martin, died December 27, 1893 and is buried in Crescent Heights. She was born July 30, 1867, being the second child of A. L. and Sarah (Brant) Galloway. She was one of five children, of whom three reached maturity, the others being Lyman H. Galloway and Minnie L. Galloway, who married James E. DeCamp. Clara Myrtle, Milo E., Carrie Lenora (Galloway) Brant and Mayo L. Galloway were half sisters and half brothers of Ann P. Galloway, being the children of A. L. Galloway by his second wife, Maria E. McConnell.
On March 1, 1896 James Curtis Yokem married Jennie Alberta Brant, own cousin of his first wife, Ann Galloway. To them were born two children, Guy Brant Yokem and Mary Eva Yokem.
Guy Brant Yokem on July 29, 1922 married Velma Guthrie, daughter of Neal and Cora (Buchanan) Guthrie. They have three children: Dean Evans Yokem, born April 30, 1923; Edwin Earl Yokem, born July 17, 1925; and Phyllis Ann Yokem, born September 29, 1931.
Mary Eva Yokem, born July 6, 1905, married Russell Thomas Harpole June 4, 1927, he a son of Albert Lycurgus and Etta (Weaver) Harpole. Russell died May 31, 1928, and on August 16, 1934 his widow married Henry Burdette Berry, son of John F. and Elizabeth (Briscoe) Berry. Burdette Berry's first wife was Georgiana Laugharn of Pleasant Hill, born in 1900 and died in 1928. She is buried in Crescent Heights.
Burdette and Mary Eva (Yokem) Berry are parents of one daughter, Mary Elizabeth, born July 4, 1936.
Henry Yokem, father of James Curtis Yokem, died July 3, 1880. His wife, America Ann (Dunaven) Yokem, died August 22, 1889.