Arthur Yonge biography

HON. ARTHUR YONGE. No history of business development in Snyder would be complete without mention of this gentleman and it is with pleasure therefore that we present to our readers his life record. He comes of English ancestry, the line of descent being traced down from Henry Yonge, who emigrated from England sometime between the years 1800 and 1812, settling in the West Indies, where he afterward went to Florida when it was under Spanish rule and again he conducted a plantation. He was in that state at the time of its occupation by the United States troops and he had a large amount of property confiscated by the soldiers while this country was engaged in the war with England in 1812. He spent much of his time at St. Augustine and Tallahassee, but his last years were passed in Georgia, where he died about 1834. He was twice married, his second union being with Miss Cox, of Washington county, who was a lady of some prominence in social affairs of that part of the country.

The youngest child of the second marriage was William Penn Chandler Yonge, who was born in Georgia about 1822. Henry Yonge died when his son William was about twelve years of age and the latter obtained no property from his father’s estate and from that early age made his own way in the world. Having arrived at years of maturity he wedded Miss Mary Anne Godwin, of Girard, Alabama, the wedding being celebrated about 1846. Mr. Yonge was living at Girard at that time, being engaged in merchandising there. He had previously been a clerk at Columbus, Georgia, for the firm of Mulford & Adams, dry goods merchants. In 1849 he went to California, spending eighteen months in that state, during which time he traveled extensively over the gold fields and was reasonably successful in his search for the precious metal. In 1851 he returned to Alabama with the intention of going again to California but while in Columbus, Georgia, he was shown a piece of raw lime stone by a Negro brick layer. His attention was thus called to the fact that there was valuable lime stone in Russell county in eastern Alabama from which good lime was being made on a small scale. He became interested in the matter and after investigation organized what was known as the Chewacla Lime Works, admitting to a partnership Charles T. Pollard, of Montgomery, Alabama, and Samuel G. Jones, also of Montgomery. Mr. Yonge was actively in charge of the enterprise as superintendent. The company was chartered under the laws of Alabama with a capital stock of one thousand dollars and he successfully conducted the business until 1872 or 1873. During the war he manufactured the large amount of lime that was used in fortifications for the Southern Confederacy. He also owned what was known as Spring Villa in Lee county near the Chewalca Lime Works, where he maintained his home. This was known as the finest country home in that part of the south because of its proximity to the lakes, its beautiful flowers and splendid orchards. William Penn Chandler Yonge was a man of excellent financial ability and keen business insight as was manifest in his capable control of the lime works, but he spent much of his money in lavish entertainment at his country home and died in 1879 in limited financial circumstances. He was small of stature, weighing perhaps one hundred and twenty to one hundred and twenty-five pounds and his educational privileges were extremely limited, for owing to his father’s death he has to rely upon his own resources from an early age. He had not the opportunity for an education that other members of the family enjoyed, yet he gave people the impression of being a well educated man, possessing a Chesterfield manner. His knowledge had been acquired through reading, observation and experience and was largely supplemented by a natural adaptability. He was of an impulsive nature, generous in the use of his money, and entertained his friends and gave freely to every enterprise that promised to be of benefit to the community at large.

William P. C. Yonge was united in marriage to Miss Mary Anne Godwin, who was with one exception the eldest child of John Godwin, of Girard, Alabama, formerly from Cheraw, South Carolina, in which place Mrs. Yonge was born. Her father was an architect of considerable reputation and owned a crew of Negro mechanics with Horace King as foreman. He built the first bridges across the Chattahoochee river at Columbus, Georgia, and also many of the finest residences of that city are standing today to remind the citizens of his ability as an architect. He also built the present capitol of Alabama at Montgomery—the building in which Jefferson Davis was proclaimed president of the southern Confederacy. Horace King, before referred to, was manumitted by John Godwin before the war but remained with him as foreman of his mechanics until Mr. Godwin’s death in 1861. While the latter was at one time worth a large sum of money he divided it among his children before his death and when his demise occurred had but little property. The Columbus (Georgia) Enquirer said, “All that remains of John Godwin are the shade trees around the place where his beautiful home was long since been burned and the lonely graves on the little hill top to half a mile distant that mark the spot where he and the greater number of the members of the family lie buried. On a tombstone are engraven these words, ‘John Godwin, born October 17, 1798, died February 26, 1859.’ This stone was placed there by Horace King in lasting remembrance of the love and gratitude he felt for his lost friend and former master.” This tombstone was in Girard, Alabama, one mile west of Columbus, Georgia. Mrs. Penn Yonge is still living, making her home with one of her sons in El Paso, Texas. By her marriage she had four sons: Arthur, Claude and Charles, who are residents of El Paso; and Joseph, who died in Spring Villa, Georgia, when twenty-one years of age.

Arthur Yonge, born August 15, 1852, at Girard, Alabama, was only about two years old when his father removed to Russell county, that state, which county was afterward divided, Lee county being set off. The family lived alternatively at Yongesboro and Spring Villa. Mr. Yonge remaining with his parents until the 10th of April, 1869, at which time, having become fascinated by tales of western life in Texas, be came to this state, making his way at first to Jefferson. When he left home he was in his seventeenth year and he never saw his father alive again. He gradually drifted westward and engaged in the business of driving cattle, generally in the employ of others, spending his time between Texas, Indian Territory, Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado until 1879, at which time he returned to his native state on account of the death of his father and in order to look after his mother’s interests. There he remained until November, 1884, when he came again to Texas. At that time he engaged in the railroad business, first at Toyah as an agent of the Texas & Pacific Railway, and he was afterward employed in the same capacity at Baird, where he remained until the fall of 1889, at which time he was made train master of the eastern division of the Texas & Pacific Railroad Company with headquarters at Marshall. This position he filled until the spring of 1890, when the office was abolished. Mr. Yonge was offered other positions with the railroad company but in the meantime he had acquired some cattle and other interests at Baird, Texas. His health had also become quire [sic] seriously impaired and he left office work and gave his attention to the cattle business and merchandising until April, 1893. In the meantime he also began reading law and in the month of April, 1893, was admitted to the bar at Baird, where he immediately afterward entered upon the active practice of law, there continuing until September, 1901. He has since been in the practice of law, there continuing until September, 1901. He has since been in the practice of law at Snyder, Scurry county, and he also owns a fine and complete set of abstract books, being the only abstract books compiled in this county. In March, 1905, the county judge having resigned his office, the same was tendered Mr. Yonge by the commissioners’ court without any solicitation on his part. He accepted the position but will not be a candidate for the office on the expiration of his present term.

Judge Yonge was married in Alabama, in 1882, to Miss Amanda Cordelia Edwards and they became the parents of two children, Mabel and Ellen. The wife and mother having died, Judge Yonge afterward married Miss Edna Teeple in Baird, Texas, in 1891. By the second marriage there are six children, four sons and two daughters: Arthur, Philip, Anne, Louise, Charles and Rienzi.

Judge Yonge is regarded as one of the most prominent, influential and valued residents of Scurry county. He is a director in the Snyder National Bank and he confines his practice to civil law, being connected almost entirely with land litigation and land titles. While he has managed some important cases in the courts yet the greater part of his business is connected with the law relating to property and to examining and perfecting titles. In the early days he met with some of the experiences usual to the cattle man on the plains and as the years have advanced he has progressed in keeping with the development of the state which has made rapid strides in the business world and in the assimilation of all of the advantages and improvements known to the older and more thickly settled districts of the south and east.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 411-413.