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William S. Yost, Johnstown

Originally posted for the Holiday Extravaganza 2003 Families

This biography has been transcribed and contributed by Martha Magill.

WILLIAM S. YOST, one of the pioneers of Rock County of 1843, and a leading citizen of Beloit, was born in Johnstown, Fulton County, N.Y., March 14, 1818, and is of German descent. His grandfather, Peter Yost, was born in Sax Cobeny, Germany, and emigrated to the United States when a young man, settling at Johnstown. He was one of the founders of that place, built the first saw and flouring mill, and was interested in many of its first enterprises. He married a lady by the name of Schultz, and to them were born seven children - John, Jacob, William, Nicholas, Ann, Mary and Elizabeth.

William, the third child, and the father of our subject, wedded Dorcas Dockstader, of Montgomery County, N.Y. They were the parents of eleven children: Joseph, the eldest, is now a resident of Fulton County, N.Y.; Eliza married Matthew Van Horn, and emigrated to Wills County, Ill., in its pioneer days, where they both died; Nicholas D. settled in Jefferson County, N.Y., where his death occurred; Catherine, who died in Johnstown, N.Y., was the wife of John Liswell; Sarah married William Schenck, and came to Rock County in 1843, where both died; William S.; Jane A. wedded John Hayes of Johnstown, where both departed this life; Frances, widow of Frederick Wirt, is living in West Virginia; and Henry C. died in Johnstown, N.Y. Mr. and Mrs. Yost were members of the Episcopal Church, in which he served as Trustee for many years. They were kind, accommodating people, respected by all, and both passed to their final rest in Johnstown, N.Y., where they had lived for so many years.

The subject of this sketch grew to manhood on his father's farm, and like most farm lads received his education in the common school, attending for about three months in a year, while, as soon as he was large enough to manage a plow, the rest of the year was spent in farm labor. Being of a studious nature, Mr. Yost overcame his early disadvantages, and soon acquired a liberal education. On the 4th day of March, 1840, he was joined in wedlock with Miss Harriet Sadliere, who was born in Johnstown, N.Y., July 3, 1821. Her parents, John C.and Jane (Kepp) Sadliere, were natives of the Empire State. The father was of French descent, and the mother was a member of a notable family of New York City.

In 1843 Mr. and Mrs. Yost left New York for the far West, going by canal to Buffalo, and thence by the Great Lakes to Kenosha, Wis., where they secured teams and proceeded to Rock County. They located upon land which Mr. Yost's father had previously purchased, and moving into a little log cabin, began life in earnest. At that time bands of Indians roamed over the prairie, and were frequent visitors at the homes of the first settlers. At one time when Mr. Yost was on a trip to Milwaukee, seven Indians came to the cabin and demanded something to eat. Mrs. Yost being alone, gave them everything she had, and they departed in peace; but we can well imagine with what relief she saw them leave, for they were not always on friendly terms with the settlers. In 1848 Mr. Yost erected a cobble-stone house, which made them a comfortable home for many years, and which is still in his possession. Although in limited circumstances, on his arrival in Rock County the hard labor which he bestowed upon his farm at length brought its reward, and the accumulation of former years now enable them to live in ease, retired from active duties in the decline of life. In 1868 he left his farm and became a resident of Beloit, where he owns a comfortable home.

Mr. and Mrs. Yost are the parents of six children: Joseph H., who was born Jan. 11, 1843, died Jan. 15, 1863; Matilda P., born March 25, 1845, died Feb. 18, 1863; Frankey, born Jan. 27, 1850, is the wife of Willard S.M. Hart, of Turtle Township; Hattie L., born Jan. 10, 1861, died April 1, 1882; William S. Jr., born July 8, 1864, is a traveling salesman of Chicago; John Anthony, born March 12, 1848, is engaged in farming on the old homestead in Beloit Township.

In the same year as his marriage Mr. Yost cast his first Presidential vote for William Henry Harrison. In 1856 he became a Republican, supporting that party until the second election of Gen. Grant, when, not being satisfied with Grant's administration, he voted for Greeley. Since that time he has supported the Democratic party, and was a great admirer of Grover Cleveland and his administration. For over forty-five years Mr. Yost has been a resident of Rock County, and has been identified with its leading interests.

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Rock County, Wisconsin, containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of the state." Chicago: Acme Publishing Company, 1889. Pages 526-27.

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