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JOSEPH YERKES AND HIS DESCENDANTS

BY ELIAS S. WOODMAN


Few men who came to Michigan previous to 1826 have left their imprint, both in character and descendants, upon that commonwealth as has Joseph Yerkes, of Plymouth, Wayne county, Mich. His history, while possessing nothing that could be called thrilling or miraculous, has, nevertheless, an interest to all admirers of Michigan's pioneers, as well as to those contemporary with his life and labors. In this short sketch I can but briefly outline his antecedents, his life and the many descendants now scattered over southern Michigan, as well as in adjoining states and territories, and many names worthy the pen of a more worthy biographer can only receive the merest mention.
Harmon Yerkes, the founder of the name in this country, came to America from Hanover while yet the colonies bore allegiance to King George, impelled, no doubt, by the religious intolerance that obtained in the mother country, and a desire to better his fortunes in a free land. He brought with him his two sons, both grown to manhood, and all settled in what is now eastern Pennsylvania. One son soon after emigrated south, and so far as' can be learned, was never heard from afterwards. The other son, Anthony Yerkes, remained and reared eight sons, one of whom was Stephen Yerkes, who in time became the father of Joseph Yerkes, the founder of the Michigan branch of the family, and the subject of this sketch.
Joseph Yerkes was born in Pennsylvania, July 5, 1769. He married there Mary Purdy, a sister of the Hon. Robert Purdy, remembered as the father of Joseph, Stephen and William Purdy, all well known men of Wayne, Washtenaw and Shiawassee counties.

Michigan


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