Saturday, October 10, 2009

My cousin Bessie Yoakum: Belle of New York

We both descend from George Yoakum of Greenbrier Va and Powells Valley, Tn. Her ancestor went to Texas and wrote the first state history there. He's buried by his good friend Sam Houston. But that story is for another post. My grandmother's married name was also Bessie Yoakum.

BESSIE'S FATHER: Benjamin Franklin Yoakum circa 1900


From VAN BIBBER PIONEERS E-NEWSLETTER Vol. 4 No. 4 February 2001, Gary
R. Hawpe, ed.

Isaac VanBibber and Sarah Davis
Martha VanBebber and George Yoakum, Sr.
George Yoakum, Jr. and Mary Ann Maddy
Franklin Laughlin Yoakum and Narcissa C. Teague
Benjamin Franklin Yoakum

YOAKUM, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (1859-1929). Benjamin Franklin Yoakum, railroad
executive, was born near Tehuacana, Texas, in Limestone County on August
20, 1859, the son of Narcissa (Teague) and Franklin L. Yoakum. At age
twenty he became a rodman and chain bearer in a railroad surveying gang,
laying the International-Great Northern Railroad into Palestine, Texas. He
later became a land boomer and immigration agent for the Jay Gould Lines.
He drilled artesian wells and brought European immigrants from New York to
farm the land of the Trans-Mississippi and Rio Grande valley. In 1886 he
became traffic manager of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway. In 1887
the town of Yoakum, Texas, was named for him. In 1889 he was promoted to
general manager of the railways, and in 1890 he became receiver. For three
years he was general manager and third vice president of the Gulf, Colorado
and Santa Fe. In 1897 he became general manager of the Frisco (St. Louis
and San Francisco Railway Company). Under him the lines grew from 1,200 to
6,000 miles. In 1905 the Frisco and Rock Island lines were joined, and
Yoakum was the chairman of the executive committee. This line was known as
the Yoakum Line and at the time was the largest railroad system under a
single control. His career was one of the most colorful of the many men in
railroad history. He knew each branch of work - engineering, traffic,
operating, and finance. In his later years he became very interested in the
farm problem. He was an advocate of an agricultural cooperative society,
growing and marketing farm products to reduce the spread between farm and
consumer. It is said that his genius made Hidalgo and Cameron counties into
agricultural communities. In 1907 Yoakum moved to New York, where he had a
farm in Farmingdale, Long Island. He became president and later chairman of
the board of the Empire Board and Mortgage Company. He wrote articles for
popular magazines and lectured about railways to clubs and labor unions. He
worked for farm legislation in Congress but deserted the Democratic party
in 1928, because he considered their farm relief programs inadequate.
Yoakum married Elizabeth Bennett of San Antonio, the daughter of a pioneer
Southwestern banker. They had two daughters. Yoakum died at his home in New
York on November 28, 1929.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Paul C. Boethel, The History of Lavaca County (San
AntonioNaylor, 1936; rev. ed., AustinVon Boeckmann-Jones, 1959). Dictionary
of American Biography. S. G. Reed, A History of the Texas Railroads
(HoustonSt. Clair, 1941; rpt., New YorkArno, 1981). Who Was Who in America,
Vol. 1.

The Handbook of Texas on line


Isaac VanBibber and Sarah Davis
Martha VanBebber and George Yoakum, Sr.
George Yoakum, Jr. and Mary Ann Maddy
Franklin Laughlin Yoakum and Elizabeth Wright
Charles Henderson Yoakum

YOAKUM, CHARLES HENDERSON (1849-1909). Charles Henderson Yoakum, attorney,
state legislator, and United States Congressman, son of Narcissus (Teague)
and Franklin L. Yoakum, was born near Tehuacana, Texas, on July 10, 1849.
His father, a physician, educator, and Presbyterian minister, was the
brother Henderson King Yoakum, attorney and friend of Sam Houston, and
author of a two-volume history of Texas published in 1855. Charles Yoakum
was educated at Larissa College, Larissa, Texas, which his father served as
president, and at Cumberland College. Upon completion of his education,
Yoakum became a schoolteacher. He studied law in his spare time, was
admitted to the bar, and began a practice at Emory, in Rains County, in
1874. Two years later he was elected county attorney, a position that he
held for several years. Yoakum moved to Greenville, the county seat of Hunt
County, in 1883 and established a law practice. Three years later he was
elected district attorney of the Eighth Judicial District and remained in
this position until 1890. His experience in public office no doubt aided in
his election to the Texas Senate in 1892. Four years later Yoakum won
election, as a Democrat, to the House of Representatives of the
Fifty-fourth Congress. He declined a reelection attempt in 1898 due to ill
health and in that year, seeking a healthier climate, moved his law
practice to Los Angeles, California. He met with continued success in
business and legal affairs in California. In 1904, having received an
appointment as general attorney for the Frisco Rail system in Texas-a
system made up of the Fort Worth and Rio Grande, St. Louis, San Francisco
and Texas, and Paris and Great Northern lines-of which his brother,
Benjamin F. Yoakum, was chairman, Charles Yoakum returned to Texas. He
settled in Fort Worth, headquarters of the Frisco lines in Texas. Yoakum
died of a heart attack at his home on January 1, 1909. He was a lifelong
Democrat, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the
Masonic, Odd Fellows, and Grand fraternities. Charles H. Yoakum was buried
in his family's plot at Myrtle Cemetery in Ennis, Texas.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Dallas Morning News, January 2, 1909. Fort Worth Record,
January 2, 1909.

The Handbook of Texas on line


Isaac VanBibber and Sarah Davis
Martha VanBebber and George Yoakum, Sr.
George Yoakum, Jr. and Mary Ann Maddy
Franklin Laughlin Yoakum and Narcissa C. Teague
Finis Ewing Yoakum

Pisgah Home Founding by Dr. Finis E. Yoakum

Faith healer and social reformer, A medical doctor in Texas, Colorado, and
California, Finis Yoakum (1851-1920) gave up his lucrative medical career
following a personal healing miracle to found the Pisgah Home Movement in
Highland Park at the Christ Faith Mission/Old Pisgah Home. Born to Franklin
and Narcissa (Teague) Yoakum; his father was a country physician in Texas,
who later became a minister with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and
served as the president of their college in Larrisan Texas. A younger
brother, Benjamin Franklin Yoakum, was an important figure in American
commerce, serving as president of the San Antonio and Arkansas Pass Railway
and chairman of the board for the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad
("Frisco") as well as several other major railroads and business enterprises.

In 1873, Finis took a wife, Mary. They had three sons and twin daughters.
Yoakum studied at Larissa College ultimately graduating from the Hospital
College of Medicine in Louisville, Kentucky, with the M.D. degree on June
16, 1885. Following medical school, he specialized in neurological
disorders and finally occupied the Chair of Mental Disease on the faculty
of the Gross Medical College in Denver, Colorado.

On the evening of July 18, 1894, while on his way to organize a Class
Leader's Association for his Methodist Church, Finis Yoakum was struck by a
buggy operated by a drunken man. A piece of metal pierced his back, broke
several ribs, and caused internal hemorrhaging. A medical assessment of his
injuries predicted them to be fatal. Plagued by infection for several
months, he moved to Los Angeles hoping to gain relief in its mild climate.
In early 1895, he made a miraculous recovery during a dramatic healing
experience and by the Summer of that year he was again practicing medicine.
After his recovery Dr. Yoakum received visions directing him to create a
mission for the needy. He soon turned his home at 6044 Echo Street into a
mission moving himself and his family into a tent adjacent to his home. The
site soon grew with additions to his original Queen Anne home and the
conversion of an adjacent barn as a new tabernacle that also doubled as a
dormitory. He vowed to spend the remainder of his life serving the
chronically ill, poor destitute, and social outcasts. This is what gave
rise to the Mission Site still operating today.

While in Los Angeles, he associated with a number of churches speaking on
divine healing and hosting many camp meetings at the Mission site or along
the Arroyo Seco two blocks to the east. During the Azusa Street revival
gatherings in Los Angeles (credited as the founding movement of the
Pentecostal Church) he hosted many followers at the Mission site in
Highland Park. He named his Mission site, Pisgah Home after the hill where
Moses stood to view the promised land. By 1915, he had built an impressive
Tudor home just three blocks from the Mission at 140 S. Avenue 59. Most of
the labor to build this home came from Mission residents.

Headquartered from Christ Faith Mission on Echo Street, Dr. Yoakum created
a variety of outreach ministries throughout the Los Angeles area. These
efforts were called Pisgah, giving the Mission Site the additional name as
headquarters for many of these efforts. In 1911, Pisgah Home provided
regular housing for 175 workers and stable indigents and made provisions
for an average of 9,000 clean beds and 18,000 meals monthly to the urban
homeless, the poor, and the social outcasts, including alcoholics, drug
addicts, and prostitutes. Each week, Yoakum sent his workers throughout Los
Angeles to distribute nickels for the cost of trolley fare to Pisgah Home.
Other activities included the nearby Pisgah Store, Pisgah Ark (recovery
House for Women), Pisgah Gardens (rehabilitative center, orphanage, and
farm in North Hollywood), Pisgah Grande (3,225 acres for a utopian
community in Chatsworth), and a later donation of a 500 acre retreat center
and farm in Tennessee.

Dr. Yoakum was a controversial figure throughout the latter part of his
life. He was the object of a love hate relationship with the City of Los
Angeles, because his ministry at the Mission site attracted indigents to
the City from across the country, yet the City was happy to send many of
their own to him for care.

The site is closely aligned with the founding of the modern Pentecostal
church. Pentecostalism, a world wide Protestant movement that originated in
the late 19th century in the Los Angeles area, Kansas and in the Southern
Appalachian Mountains in the Southeast, takes its name from the Christian
feast of Pentecost, which celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the
disciples. Pentecostalism emphasizes a post conversion experience of
spiritual purification and empowering for Christian witness, entry into
which is signaled by utterance in unknown tongues, also known as glossolalia.


Isaac VanBibber and Sarah Davis
Martha VanBebber and George Yoakum, Sr.
George Yoakum, Jr. and Mary Ann Maddy
Henderson King Yoakum

YOAKUM, HENDERSON KING (1810-1856). Henderson King Yoakum, historian, son
of George and Mary Ann (Maddy) Yoakum, was born in Claiborne County,
Tennessee, on September 6, 1810. He graduated from the United States
Military Academy at West Point in 1832. On February 13, 1833, he married
Evaline Cannon of Roane County, Tennessee; they became the parents of nine
children. In the spring of 1833 Yoakum resigned his lieutenant's commission
in the army and began to practice law in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He became
captain of a company of mounted militia in 1836 and served near the Sabine
River under Edmund P. Gaines. In 1837 Yoakum was mayor of Murfreesboro.
In 1838 he reentered the army as a colonel in the Tennessee infantry and
served in the Cherokee War. He was a member of the Tennessee Senate from
1839 to 1845 and as senator urged the annexation of Texas. On October 6,
1845, Yoakum established residence at Huntsville, Texas, and on December 2,
1845, was admitted to the Texas bar. In 1846 he was instrumental in making
Huntsville the county seat of Walker County. At the outbreak of the Mexican
War he volunteered as a private under John C. (Jack) Hays and served at
Monterrey as a lieutenant under James Gillaspie. With the expiration of
his enlistment on October 2, 1846, he returned to his law practice at
Huntsville, where Sam Houston was his close friend and client. Although a
member of the Methodist Church, Yoakum, in 1849, wrote the charter for
Austin College and served as a trustee for that school from 1849 to 1856.
He helped establish the Andrew Female College in Huntsville and in 1949
was appointed director of the state penitentiary there. In 1853 he became
"master mason" and then "high priest" of the Huntsville Lodge. In July of
that year he moved to his country home, Shepherd's Valley, seven miles from
Huntsville, where in 1855 he completed his two-volume History of Texas from
Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the United States in
1846, for which Houston was said to have given him much of the information.
In the fall of 1856 Yoakum went to Houston to deliver a Masonic address,
attend to some courtroom duties, and visit his friend, Judge Peter W.
Gray. While attending court he suffered a severe tubercular attack and
was treated after being taken to Judge Gray's home, but weakened and died
there on November 30, 1856. Yoakum County, established in 1876, was named
in honor of Henderson King Yoakum. In 1936 the Texas Centennial Commission
erected a marker at the site of the Yoakum home in Shepherd's Valley.

BIBLIOGRAPHY George W. Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and
Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York (8 vols.,
New York [etc.]D. Van Nostrand [etc.], 1868-1940). Dallas Morning News,
August 21, 1932. Dictionary of American Biography. Harold Schoen, comp.,
Monuments Erected by the State of Texas to Commemorate the Centenary of
Texas Independence (AustinCommission of Control for Texas Centennial
Celebrations, 1938). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center,
University of Texas at Austin.

The Handbook of Texas on line

You can also review the archived postings by going to the following
internet address http//


Established around 1920, this branch in Pikeville, Tenn., not too far from where George Yoakum once lived, is still going strong. Here's what the movement has posted at :

WHO? HavenRest Farm is part of a larger Christian organization, Pisgah Home Movement, Inc.

We are a non-profit religious corporation, registered in, and recognized by The State of Tennessee, USA.

WHEN? In 1896, a medical doctor from Denver, Colorado, founded Pisgah Home Movement. His name was Finis E. Yoakum, and his original headquarters was known as Pisgah Home, located on Echo Street, in Highland Park, the first suburb of Los Angeles, California. About 1922, the parent organization was moved to the mountains in San Bernardino County, California. After a devastating fire in 1943, the organization moved for the final time to the Sequatchie Valley, in Bledsoe County, Tennessee, our current home.

WHAT? A greater vision for HavenRest Farm was visited upon members of the Board of Directors in the winter of 1993, at a special prayer and board meeting at the farm. The name A Haven of Rest was created (And later shortened to HavenRest); the farm/retreat was re-dedicated to serve God's ever-evolving purpose and master plan.

WHERE? HavenRest Farm is located about 2 miles southeast of Pikeville, Tennessee, at 326 Cooper Lane (Intersecting State Highway 30 E). The farm encompasses nearly 450 acres of pasture-land, crop-land, and forest. This is the famous Sequatchie Valley, utilized by forces of both the Union and Confederacy, in American Civil War history.

WHY? In our dedication to the Lord, we hope only to fulfill His will, and reap His divine pleasure.
In so-doing we seek:
Primarily to act as a physical sanctuary for meditation, inner healing, counsel, relaxation, and spiritual renewal for Christians, and their families. At HavenRest Farm the retreatants will experience an environment similar to how most Americans lived their entire lives a century ago, far from the cities' lights, pollution and congestion--out in the country, in the atmosphere of a working farm. There is NO formal activity structuring imposed. Our farm/retreat guests may decide exactly what their individual pace should be.

Secondarily, we serve as a rural retreat location for Christian groups needing a place to do church planning, business seminars, conferences, charity events, and for the younger, or rugged, outdoors-minded Christian individuals, a great camp-out site with lots of hiking trails.

“Come Away” to HavenRest Farm; be alone with God, in His nature.