John Yeo or John E. Yeo?

John Yeo and Mary Ann Warren married in 1842; their marriage was registered at Newton Abbot in the first quarter of the year. They had a son John Yeo (no ‘E’), born in Ipplepen on 3 December 1842 according to his birth certificate and consistent with the information shown for him in the 1851 and 1861 censuses.

John appears to have been apprenticed to a carpenter or joiner. He moved to Windsor, over 170 miles away in Berkshire. There, he married Mary Moore at a chapel in the Windsor registration district, which included several parishes in Berkshire and the Surrey parishes of Egham and Thorpe.

The marriage certificate shows that the ceremony took place on 8 July 1865. John Yeo (no ‘E’) is 23 and is recorded as a joiner of 2 Portland Place, Alma Road, Windsor, son of joiner John Yeo deceased. Mary is 29 and is recorded as a spinster of Hartland, Devon, daughter of mason Richard Moore. The as yet unidentified ‘Wesleyan chapel’ or its minister might not have been licensed for weddings – the ceremony was attended by the local registrar. A Wesleyan chapel was built in Alma Road a decade later, so perhaps the service took place in a temporary place of worship or elsewhere in the district.

John and Mary remained in Windsor and had three sons there: Frederick George Yeo (1866), Alfred Ernest Yeo (1867) and Sidney Horace Yeo (1868). A fourth son Charles M. Yeo was born in England according to the 1920 US census, where his age is given as 48. This age might not be accurately stated, for if Mary left England in 1870, Charles would have been born in America. The same 1920 census return shows Charles’s brother Herbert living in an adjacent property, age 43, born in Alabama.

Records examined by David Yaw show that John Yeo emigrated to the United States in early 1870, sailing to Boston, and from there travelled overland to Michigan. His wife Mary and four children joined him there later in the year, arriving at New York (the passenger list, not yet found, should confirm which children were with her). Over the next twenty years they do not appear to have led a settled life, so might John have had to travel to find work? They are recorded in Michigan, Alabama, Nebraska and Kansas.

The 1880 US census shows John and Mary – with children Alfred, Sidney, Charles and Herbert – in Nebraska City. An 1885 census for the state of Nebraska shows the same six people, plus a 12-year-old daughter Annie in Nebraska City (so where was Annie in 1880?). These returns consistently show John as a carpenter. Mary died in 1888 but is buried in Kansas – had the family moved back west by then?

The 1900 US census for the Kansas township of Grant shows English-born John E. Yeo, a 57-year-old farmer who had arrived in the US in 1870, living with his German-born wife Frances E. Yeo. Is this the same John, even though has he acquired an extra initial?

John later move to Oakland, California to live with his son Sidney. There, on 4 June 1910, he married 40-year-old Anita Marie Dewey – in view of the record in the previous paragraph, was she his second or third wife?

John died in Oakland in 1932 – yet he was buried some 1200 miles to the east, in Kansas.  The following death notice appeared in the Oakland Tribune for 12 September 1932:
YEO–In Oakland, John E. Yeo, beloved husband of Anita M. Yeo, loving father of Sidney H. Yeo of Napa, California, Alfred E. Yeo, Annie L. Everles and Herbert E. Yeo of Colby, Kansas, aged 89 years, 8 months, 8 days. Funeral services at the parlors of James Taylor Co., northeast corner Fifteenth and Jefferson street, Oakland California, Tuesday, September 13, 1932, at 11 a.m., to which friends are invited.
Why is John shown as John E. Yeo? His widow Anita died in 1946.

John and his first wife Mary are buried together at Ilion Cemetery at Levant, Kansas. Their headstone contains a wealth of genealogical information, including their dates of birth and death and the date and place of their marriage. The headstone – which bears what might be a masonic symbol at upper right – shows them as John E. Yeo and Mary Moore Yeo, gives John’s date of birth as 3 December 1842 and gives the date of their marriage as 8 July 1865. So this is clearly the right family, but again, why is John shown as John E. Yeo? Did his son Herbert add the E, and was the burial arranged in Kansas because Herbert lived there?

The headstone also lists shortened names for their children Frederick George Yeo (Fred), Alfred Ernest Yeo (Alf), Sidney Horace Yeo (Sid), Charles Moore Yeo (Charlie), Annie Louise Everles (Annie) and Euclid Herbert Yeo (Herb). There is no indication whether any of these children were later buried with them.

John Yeo senior, as mentioned in the first paragraph above, raises queries too. He has not been found in the 1851 census, is noted as ‘Abroad’ in the 1861 census, and his wife Mary Ann is recorded as a widow in the 1871 census – consistent with his being shown as deceased in the 1865 marriage record described above. Did he emigrate, and die overseas? No matching English death registration has been found.

John and Mary Ann had daughters Susan Yeo (b. 1844, married surname Oxenham) Margaret Yeo (b. 1845) and Martha Mary Yeo (1846–1924, married surname Blatchford), all born after their son John.

The Hartland area would be the place to look for a birth or baptism record for Mary Moore, John Yeo’s first wife, if the information given on her 1865 marriage certificate is correct. No record has yet been found.

If you are connected to this family or can answer any of the outstanding questions, please let us know via the Contact Us page.

See also the related pedigrees researched by Mike Darch and David Yaw.