James L. York (1867 - 1933)

James L. York
(1867 - 1933)

James L. York was born 7 October 1867 in the Village of Goodrich, Atlas Township, Genesee County, Michigan, the youngest child of John H. York and Anna Crothers.  His siblings were Mariam York (Mrs. Henry Frick) (c. 1849 - 1912); Jeremiah "Jerry" F. York, II (1855 - 1946); John N. York (c. 1859 - c. 1861); Ellen "Ella" M. York (Mrs. Alton Dillenbeck) (c. 1862 - 1943); Matilda Mary York (Mrs. Charles M. Watkins) (c. 1865 - 1949); and Milton York, who died young, and who probably was born between Mariam and Jerry.

James's parents and paternal grandparents (Jeremiah F. York, I and Rhoda Sweers) had emigrated from Erie County, New York, as did many settlers in Atlas Township.  James's parents had arrived in the Goodrich area in the fall of 1850, and settled on a 40-acre farm on Kipp Road on Section 36 in the southeast corner of the township, near their Sweers relatives' farms.  This corner of the township is bordered on the east by Hadley Township, Lapeer County, and on the south by Groveland Township, Oakland County.  As a child, James appears with his parents and siblings on the 1870 and 1880 Federal Censuses on their farm.  A school house was a half-mile west of the farm on Kipp Road, which James most likely attended, and just over into Lapeer County, about a mile and a half away, was a Methodist church, of which his parents were practicing members (later the church building was either moved or rebuilt on the inside of the township border).  It is likely that James and his siblings were members of this church as well.  James's paternal grandparents arrived in Atlas Township sometime during the 1860's, and settled on neighboring land where they lived until their deaths in 1876.  It appears that at that time, the grandparents' farmland was added on to James's father's farm; the farm now included land in Section 35 of the township.

Around 1893, James married Mary E. McArthur, also called "Mae".  It appears that they were married in nearby Oakland County, Michigan, as their marriage record does not appear in either Genesee or Lapeer County records.  Mae's brother Daniel McArthur had married James's cousin, Jennie Mae Ebler; this is probably how James and Mae met.  In April 1894, their first child, Ernest L. York, was born in Goodrich.  Their daughter Hazel's birth followed on 30 October 1895, and their youngest, Howard Merkel York, was born 17 September 1898 in Goodrich.  Two months after Howard's birth, James's father John passed away, due to cirrhosis of the liver.  James's older brother Jerry had his own large farm to care for, as did his brothers-in-law, so James worked the family farm for his mother.  He apparently rented the farm from her, and she and his family all lived together in the farmhouse, according to the 1900 Federal Census.

On 14 February 1904, James's mother Anna Crothers York, died of pneumonia in Goodrich, in the home of one of his sisters.  Five weeks later, he filed for a divorce from Mae, which was granted June 3.  It appears that while he retained custody of the boys, Howard and Ernest, Mae kept their daughter Hazel.  Mae remarried the following year to Evan J. "Dick" Randell.

When the 1910 Federal Census was taken in April, James with living on the farm with his two sons and a housekeeper, Mrs. Mary A. (Bogert) Popplewell.  James and Mary were married November 10 of that year, at the county seat (Flint, Genesee County, Michigan).  Ernest was married in 1915, but Howard remained living at home until 1920, when he moved in with Ernest and his wife.  On the 1920 Federal Census, James and Mary were farming in the north part of the township, on Maple Road (now Avenue), probably on a rented farm.  It may be that James had sold the farm.  Earlier land maps show that the farm was divided between James and his brother-in-law, Charles Watkins; perhaps Charles bought him out.  Mary's 14-year-old niece, Bertha Bogert, was living with them.

By the time the 1930 Federal Census was taken, James and Mary had bought a house on Atwater Street in Lake Orion, Oakland County, which was worth $3,500.  Howard, divorced and unemployed, was living with them.  James died 15 September 1933 in Lake Orion (probably at home), and was buried three days later in the York family plot in the Goodrich Cemetery (obituary).  Mary lived in the area for many years, and finally settled with her family members in Cadillac, Wexford County, Michigan.

Children of James L. York and Mary E. "Mae" McArthur:

Ernest L. York was born in April 1894 in the Village of Goodrich, Atlas Township, Genesee County, Michigan.  On 10 September 1915, he married Esther Lucretia Scott in Flint, Genesee County, Michigan, where he was a factory worker.  They had two daughters, who may yet be living.  The last known information I have about Ernest was found in the 1930 Federal Census, when he and his family were renting a house at 406 West Wood Street in Ward 5 of Flint.  At that time, he was working in an auto factory.  It is known that Ernest and Esther divorced.  When and where he died is not known to me.  He is not listed in the Social Security Death Index, which begins in 1965, or in the Michigan Death Index of 1971 - 1996; it is likely he died in Michigan before 1965.

Hazel York was born 30 October 1895 in Michigan (probably in Atlas Township).  After her parents' divorce, she lived with her mother, step-father and two half-brothers in Hadley Township, Lapeer County, Michigan.  In her step-father's obituary in 1933, she is mentioned as living in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan.  She was likely already married to her husband, Earle Charles McIlveen.  They had a daughter, known to be living in 2003.  Hazel and Earle lived in Harbor Beach, Huron County, Michigan for many years.  She passed away in July 1967.

Howard Merkel York - see individual biography

More about James L. York can be found in the AnceStories of his wife, Mary E. "Mae" McArthur, and his son, Howard Merkel York.  You can also read about other York relatives in the pages of The Atlas Project and the York Family History page.

Many thanks to my cousins Sharon Flood, Nancy Peugh and Connie Shade for all their research and their patience in answering my questions about my "lost" family.  Photo of James York, taken c. 1885, courtesy Sharon Flood.

Miriam Robbins Midkiff
created: 29 Aug 2003
created: 29 Aug 2004

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