The Yeldell Family (Through My Eyes)

Jefferson and Annie Mae Yeldell

Jefferson and Annie Mae Yeldell

This was supposed to go into the first issue of New Beginnings our family e-newsletter.  It was a suggested article by our cousin Nicki to do a story about our grandparents.  I thought to myself this should be easy.  I have written so much about our family I was sure I could just use an old writing from my blog.  I searched and searched and low and behold there is not a story written specifically about them.  I never knew my grandparents personally, but the research has allowed me to chronicle their steps from birth through their death.

In December of 1913 Jefferson Davis Yeldell (age 19) married Annie Mae Senior (age 15) at Springfield Baptist Church in Edgefield SC.  If they knew then what we know now do you think it would have made a difference?  I would like to hope that it wouldn’t.  The story says they met at church.  They lived in the time of circuit preachers. What are circuit preachers?  Traveled from church to church to spread the word.  So it is said that granddaddy traveled to a different church each Sunday to receive the word of GOD.  One Sunday they went to Springfield and he met Annie.   Well I am not too sure that was the way they met.  Granddaddy lived in Greenwood while Grandma lived in the city of Edgefield.  They both however lived in the same county which was you guessed it Edgefield County, SC.  The county was split up in to townships.  Townships are made up of 36 sections each measuring one square mile. The 1910 Census states that both granddaddy and grandma lived in the same township called Blocker.  Given the area they did not live that far apart.  They could have met in the neighborhood or even went to the same school.  No matter where they met their union created a legacy that should never be forgotten.

When they married grandma was pregnant with their oldest son Thomas.  From 1914 to 1923 every 18 months to two years they had

Katie Adams Yeldell Death Certificate

Katie Yeldell’s death certificate

six children.  Out of those six, three of them were introduced to granddaddy’s mother Katie.  Katie died in 1919 from what is now known as Congestive Heart Failure but back then it was called Dropsy.  She was 52 years old when she left this earth.  So far my count of grandchildren for her before she died was eleven.   It is clear now why my aunt’s and uncle’s did not know her.  Granddaddy’s mother lived with his youngest brother Gary and his family lived next door according to the 1920 census.  Did you know that granddaddy and his younger brother both registered for WWI?  This was the first time I saw his signature.  So just

Jefferson Yeldell WWI Reg Card

Jefferson Yeldell WWI Registration Card

like us they lived around each other, worked together, went to school together, played together and just simply hung out.  The census says that Granddaddy lived in Richmond for a time.  My mother says that he traveled a lot for a year so I am guessing this was the time he did the traveling.  In spite of the travel they found time to get pregnant again. So in 1926 his address was 1711½ Venable Street, Richmond VA, while grandma was living in at 90 Mountain Street, Asheville, NC.  During this time Uncle Dave was born.

For whatever reason they did not stay in Asheville long and they moved to DC. I don’t know if grandma was pregnant with Uncle Rob when they moved to DC or not but he was the first of the second set of children to be born where we all call home.  She did another 18 months to Two year trick with the children and by 1939 the entire set was born.  Did you know that Aunt Josephine was a twin?  Some say the twin lived a little while and even had a name, while others say the baby was stillborn.  Well I have records from the “District of Columbia Deaths and Burials, 1840-1964” that states the baby was stillborn and she was not given a name.  After Aunt Josie and her twin but during the pregnancy with my mom (Aunt Juanita) the start of grandchildren had begun.  There were five grandchildren before my mom was born.  The grands were from Uncle John, Aunt Lula, Aunt Sis and Mama Nell.  Uncle John had a son, Aunt Lula had a son, Aunt Sis had a boy and a girl and Mama Nell had a set of twins.  Her twins died before my mother was born.  Then my mother was born and around the same time two of her daughters had three more children Morris a.k.a Maurice, James a.k.a Monkey and Edna.

thanksgiving with the yeldells

Thanksgiving with the Yeldells

By 1940 they had birthed all of their children and had 6 grandchildren three of those six were older than their aunt by one year.  Realizing this made me think of the Thanksgiving picture of our grandparents, their daughters, one son and their grandchildren.   If we ever wanted to date it we could.  Barbara Ann was the baby being held by the lady to the right in the picture and she was born in 1943.  Looking at the picture she could not have been more than one or two years old so this picture was taken in 1944 or 1945.

With all of these children they still found time to found a church.  In November of 1939 they decided to bring the church that we were told brought them together to Washington DC.  Yes they made their own Springfield right here.  They nurtured that church just like they did their children and 73 years later it is still in existence.  When my mother spoke at the honoring of her mom at the Springfield of DC she spoke about how great her mother was.   She was chairwoman of the Deaconess Board and Founder and President of the Women’s Auxiliary Club, Pastor’s Aid club, the Nursing Unit and the kitchen committee.  In 1950, our grandmother passed.  She left behind a loving husband 6 sons, 7 daughters and 18 grandchildren.  Granddaddy remarried before the year was out and continued to take care of his family the best he could. He kept the church afloat and in 1964 he was called home to be with the Lord.  Both of them were eulogized here in DC but their bodies were sent back to Edgefield and fittingly buried in the cemetery of the church where they began.

We can only guess at how they met or how long they courted before Jeff popped the question.  But had he not done that we would not be where we are today.  Right now they have over 400 hundred offspring.  For every beginning there is an end.  Because of the size of our family the end is nowhere in sight.


{January 10, 2013}   Two Cities, One Church

Does your church have a unique name? What I mean is can you go outside of your state and find the name of your church somewhere else?  More than likely you can.  Did it ever make you wonder if those two churches were connected? I never would have thought like that had I not researched my family.  There are two Springfield Baptist Church in two different states that are connected.  One is located in Edgefield SC and the other in Washington DC. Both happen to play a huge part in my life.  These two churches didn’t even know they were connected until I started to research my family.  Who am I, my name is Donya Williams and my ties to both Springfield’s run deep may be even to both of their beginnings.


Springfield of DC

When I first started my research I already knew my connection with the Springfield of DC.  It was organized in 1939 by my grandparents and three other people. The first church was a store front on 7th street NW in Washington DC.  Although the suggestion of the first pastor came from a friend my grandfather was the one who acquired him, the Late Reverend Eddie Gallmon.  From the beginning granddaddy was the go to man.  His name is on the cornerstone as Chairman of the Deacon Board, I have documents that had to have his signature and from stories I have been told they went to him for everything.  Finally there was my grandmother. I am sure she held her own when it came to the founding of the DC Springfield but the most important part was naming the church after the same church she attended as a child. You guessed it The Springfield of Edgefield. My grandparents involvement was so instrumental that one person said the Yeldell’s were the glue that held the church together. In Edgefield SC the history of Springfield was not that different.  With the exception of how long both have been around their story is very close to identical.

The Springfield of Edgefield was organized in 1870.  The history tells us that the first pastor and four other men brought it to light in a blacksmith shop on the Major Bowles Property.  Natonne Kemp a friend, family member by marriage and fellow genealogist was able to dig up the deed and get the name of the men.  Joshua Peterson, who we are not sure if he is both of our relative, Andrew Harrison, Pickens Rearden, Miles Holloway and Nelson Shepard were all involved with the organization and founding of that church.  With the exception of Pickens Rearden I know that Harrison, Holloway and Shepard are all connected to my family.  Like my grandfather in DC they were deacons of the church in Edgefield.  Both churches are still in existence.  The Springfield of DC just celebrated 73 years while Springfield of Edgefield has been around for 142 years.

I met my cousin from Edgefield in September 2012 and he sent my mom two pictures. One picture was of the original Springfield that was built in 1870.  The other was of what the Springfield of Edgefield looks like today.


1870 Springfield of Edgefield

When I viewed the older picture several thoughts popped through my head.  For example, the Springfield of Edgefield history teaches us that the second Pastor W.M Peterson was and still is their longest-serving pastor.  He served for 65 years.  Knowing this information and looking at that picture the doors are the same doors my grandparents walked through.  They met there, fell in love there, got married there.  They started their first six children spiritual walk there.  I realized my great-grandmother was three years old when this church was brought into existence.  She grew up there and probably met my great-grandfather there and definitely married there possibly by the same pastor who married her daughter.  That picture captured my mind and my heart.  I am so glad to be doing what I am doing to learn about my family and the spiritual connection that spans within two cities.  Nothing is more exciting to find my family responsible for founding not one but TWO churches!



{January 2, 2013}   NEW BEGINNINGS

When I look through my looking glass and I think about the year 2012, I would say that it was the worse year of my life.  I have family members that I don’t talk to anymore and a friend who I miss with every beat of my heart.  I have entered into new frontiers with my children with no way of understanding how to deal with it.  I was mad at the fact that just when I was getting in a groove with my babies they grew up and were no longer babies.  My daughter is working and talking about moving out while my oldest son is old enough to go to a New Year’s eve party.  Did he go?  Well no, but I didn’t realize he was old enough until he asked.  Then there is Demetrius who feels he is oldest enough for rated M games and Cameron who wants to know why he can’t play them now because its not like he doesn’t understand most of what goes on in the games.  I have also been unemployed for two years and could not have been any poorer than what I am.

However through that same looking glass I saw my blessings.  Those family members I don’t talk to I have come to a type of peace that as long as they know that I love them I won’t be hurt if we didn’t speak again, that friend and I are trying to find a common ground even though we have feelings that work even harder to stop us from agreeing.  My daughter and I have come to an agreement to help her get her own while I made it a point to apologize to my son for not realizing that it was something that he was able to do.  As for Demetrius and Cameron the lord has to work on me, with me and through me when it comes to them. I realized that although I am unemployed my landlord has worked with me and helped me in ways that you would never expect a person with no ties with you would.  I eat every single day somehow bills are paid.  I never had the fear of losing the roof over our head while I am unemployed.  I joined my church and I added over 20 new members not even known to us to the family tree.  I found and met family members outside of my grand parents children and on the last day of the year I talked with a side of the family that I was starting to believe had died out and would never get a chance to truly learn about.    If I didn’t know… I know right now that I am truly “Blessed and Highly favored”.

Some wanted us to believe the end of the earth would be December 21st, but it wasn’t the end but a new beginning.  The Mayan calendar wasn’t predicting the end but the start of new…a beginning.  A beginning to acknowledge what I have, an opportunity to try new things, an opening to meet new people.  It has broaden my thought process which in turn given me a new outlook on life.  My journey in finding my family, or should I say more of my family, has become more than a hobby to me.  It is now apart of my life that will not end for me.  It started out with me searching for my grandfather’s family and now I have both my grandparents family. We are not just Yeldell’s anymore.  I mean don’t get me wrong we were never just Yeldell’s.  There were always other surnames, but the difference is we were all descendants from one man and one woman.  But now everyone isn’t from them they are from their parents. We are Freeman’s and Harrison’s and Peterson’s and Seniors.  We are bigger and stronger and we need a new name.  Because I am doing this I feel responsible for letting them know that all are welcome.  We are a new Beginning.

et cetera