Heritage \ Writings \

William Clyman Yawkey (1834-1903)
Native of Massillon, Ohio, lumbering business in Bay City, Mich.
and former owner of Detroit Tigers baseball team.

1898 biogrpahy. - Added August, 2011.

Landmarks of Detroit A History of the City 1898


Second son, of John H. and Lydia (Clyman) Yawkey, was born at Massillon, Ohio, August 26, 1834, and was afforded all the advantages of a private school education, supplemented by earnest study at night up to, and subsequently to attaining the age of fourteen years, when he entered a hardware store in his native place as a clerk at $6 per month, and afterwards became a clerk in his father's office, where he soon mastered the details of the lumber business. He remained with his father until 1851, when he moved to Flint, Mich. (his father afterwards moving his family to Michigan in 1852), and was taken into partnership in the saw mill near Flint, having charge of the mill and manufacture of lumber for the ensuing three years. In 1855 he went to the Saginaw Valley and located at Lower Saginaw (as Bay City was at that time known) in connection with his brother, Samuel, who had located at East Saginaw some time before and who had charge and looked after the business at this point and that part pertaining to the Upper Saginaw River, while he (William C.) had charge and looked after the business at Lower Saginaw and in the vicinity thereto.

In 1856, after the firm of S. W. Yawkey & Co. had been formed by his brother and others, he became a clerk for this firm and was one of their principal inspectors and shippers of lumber and continued with this firm during its existence. In 1857 he became one of the firm of C. Moulthrop & Co., and continued in said firm, having charge of their main office at East Saginaw, Mich., until 1859, when he started an independent business, taking the agency of a leading Chicago firm in the purchase of logs and lumber, while retaining the custom of many of the customers of the former partnership, and at the same time, with that great energy and skill which has been one of the chief characteristics throughout his business career, formed one of the most noted and popular commission and inspection houses in the Saginaw Valley, its clientage including the leading firms of Albany and the East, as well as of Chicago and other western markets. For several years Mr. Yawkey operated this business and most successfully, under his individual name, until it became the largest business of its kind in the valley.

About the year 1863 he formed the firm of W. C. Yawkey & Co., with his father and brother, Edwin, as partners, his business having increased and become so large owing to having purchased pine lands and becoming engaged in the cutting of logs and manufacturing same into lumber, as to need the assistance of others in the operation of his commission business, and about the year 1865, his brother, Samuel, was admitted to the firm. Having worked his way from the beginning to a well merited success through energy and close application to the business in which he was accounted an adept, his operations were from time to time extended to include not only logs, lumber, shingles and lath, but also pine lands, not only for others, but for himself as well, and he held the enviable reputation in each department of being one of the best inspectors and judges of lumber and standing timber in the State. The operations of this combination included from 25,000,000 feet to as high as 75,000,000 feet per season, exceeding in its volume the combined business of any other firm in the valley in the same line of business.

With rare foresight, Mr. Yawkey, as his means increased, invested in pine lands and soon accumulated a vast tract, including some of the best lands upon the streams tributary to the Saginaw River, including the Cass, Bad, Rifle and other rivers noted for the excellent quality of their timber resources. From 1864 his operation in cutting and dealing in logs and in the manufacture of lumber were largely extended, while he at the same time was an extensive purchaser of the cut of other manufacturers. Subsequently to 1868 he was associated with others in some of the largest pine land purchases which were consummated in the State. Up to about 1880 his operations were largely confined to the Saginaw Valley region, but subsequent to that time his dealings have extended to a much larger territory.

In 1878 he removed his residence from Bay City to Detroit, from which point he has since managed his rapidly extending business, which as included several hundred thousand acres of timber lands in the States of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Alabama, Florida and other Southern States, owning at this time no less than 150,000 acres in his individual right, together no less than 400,000,000 feet of standing timber in Minnesota and the South, much of which was patented from the government. In 1888 Mr. Yawkey formed the Yawkey & Lee Lumber Co., Limited, with headquarters at Hazelhurst, Wis., where the company had saw mills with capacity for the manufacture of 20,000,000 feet of lumber per season; of this company Mr. Yawkey was the president.

In 1893 the firm of Yawkey & Lee Lumber Co., Limited, was dissolved and the firm of Yawkey Lumber Company, composed of W. C. Yawkey, president, Cyrus C. Yawkey, treasurer and manager, and William H. Yawkey, secretary, was incorporated, they having purchased the effects of the Yawkey & Lee Lumber Co., Limited, and at the same time purchased of W. C. Yawkey, about three hundred million feet of standing timber, which he had in Wisconsin, and are now manufacturing the same at Hazelhurst. Their mill is equipped with the latest improvements and appliances, including a band saw, and has a planing mill including a box factory for the more speedy preparation of the stock for market, and is located upon the line of the Chicago and Milwaukee Railroad, while a short line built at Hazelhurst Junction, extending into the timber lands, affording ample facilities for logging operations at all seasons of the year and also gives great facilities for the shipment of the manufactured product as fast as sold. About two-thirds of the mill product passes through the planing mill and box factory and is shipped in car loads to all sections of the country.

Among some of the more valuable holdings of Mr. Yawkey in Minnesota, are mineral lands on the Mesabe Range, the iron from which has a deservedly high reputation and includes the celebrated Bessemer Commodore and Alpena mines, which are worked on a royalty. Besides these mines he is interested in others in Minnesota and on the Pacific Coast. Like many other of our successful lumbermen, Mr. Yawkey does not now confine himself exclusively to lumber and timber operations. In 1891 he established at Detroit the Western Knitting Mills, which employs 300 operators in the manufacture of socks, mittens and other knit goods, with a yarn mill located at Rochester, Mich., and of this company Mr. Yawkey retains the presidency.

He was married in 1869 to Emma Noyes of Guilford, Vt., who died December 2, 1892, leaving a daughter, Augusta L., wife of Thomas J. Austin of Detroit, and a son, William Hoover Yawkey, now associated with his father in business. Mr. Yawkey is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and in politics is a Republican. He is interested in the People's Savings Bank of Detroit, the First National Bank of Bay City, and Flour City National Bank of Minneapolis, Minn., as well as the Michigan Fire and Marine and Standard Life and Accident Insurance Companies of Detroit. Few men have been more active or more successful in a business career extending over nearly half a century, and none has better stood the test by which an honored name and reputation are secured. From the age of fourteen years he has depended upon his own native tact, talent and resources, and his success in the accumulation of an ample fortune is by all who know him recognized as the result of indomitable energy and unswerving integrity.

The ancestors on Mr. Yawkey's side were quite numerous, having settled in Pennsylvania at an early day and participated and took part in the Revolutionary war and the war of 1812. Lydia Clyman's ancestors came from England at an early day and settled in Westmoreland county, Va. They afterwards resided near Winchester, Va., and from there they moved to Ohio. Many of them also participated and took part in the Revolutionary war and war of 1812, and several of the brothers were pioneers in the West. James and John Clyman were prominent men in the Black Hawk war and several of the wars that originated out of the settlement of the Northwest. They went with one of the earliest expeditions to the Pacific Coast sent by the United States Government.

Death, 1903. - Added August, 2011.

American Lumbermen: The Personal History & Public Business 1905

Page 153.

William C. Yawkey died in Detroit November 23, 1903. The remains were taken to Brattleboro, Vermont, and there laid to rest by the side of his wife.

With his death ended the career of a lumberman who was one of the first to recognize the value of the white pine forests of Michigan. He possessed qualities necessary for making the most of his opportunities, and left behind him not only a record of successful business operations but the recollection of a personal character which retained its charitableness and gentleness through all the changes of an active life.

William C.'s parents. - Added August, 2011.

Encyclopedia of Biography - 1918

(from biography of son William C. Yawkey.)

Page 103.

John Hoover Yawkey was born May 12, 1806, near Philadephia, but while yet a mere lad went to Massillon, Ohio, and there become engaged in the lumber trade, developing a very considerable business of his own. In the year 1851, however, he disposed of his interests and went to Flint, Michigan, where he operated a mill on the Kersley creek, four miles from town. Two years later he removed his family to Flint, and conducted a lumber there until 1858. In the latter year he removed to Saginaw, Michigan, where he made his home until 1863. His next move was to Bay City in the same State, where he resided for about five years, and then in 1868, retired from the lumber business. His death occurred February 12, 1889, at the age of eighty-two years. John H. Yawkey married Lydia Clyman, May 15, 1828, in the village of Massillon, Ohio, and all their children were born at that place. They were as follows: 1. Samuel W., born April 22, 1830; died March 12, 1882. He married January 17, 1855, Mary Uliaetta Carpenter, of Guilford, Vermont, and they went to East Saginaw, Michigan, to live. There he engaged in the lumber business and became a prominent man in the community, representative in the State Legislature and mayor of Lansing. 2. Mary Ann, born January 31, 1832, died January 11,1841. 3. William Clyman, mentioned below. 4. Edwin Franklin, born June 27, 1837, and made his home at Bay City, Michigan. He was very much an invalid and died unmarried, November 19, 1872, when only thirty-five years of age. 5. Flora Ann, born April 16, 1842, died at Bay City, Michigan, May 15, 1884. 6. Cordelia, born December 16, 1846, died January 2, 1852.

Lydia (Clyman) Yawkey, the wife of John Hoover Yawkey, was a native of Virginia and was born in that State, January 23, 1807. She was a daughter of Philip and Lydia (Hazel) Clyman, and a member of the family that had resided in Virginia many years. Her grandfather had come to that region in young manhood and settled near Winchester, Frederick county, Virginia about the year 1760. He was accompanied by his wife and they were the parents of the following children: Philip, the father of Mrs. Yawkey; Mary, who married Samuel Price; Eve, who married Stoffel Duncan; and Lizzie, who became the wife of Isaac Frey. Philip Clyman was born in Virginia, near Winchester, in the year 1762, and continued to reside near his native place until about the year 1808, when he removed to Steubenville, Ohio. Four years later he went to Perry township, Stark county, Ohio, and took up his abode on Section No. 16 in that township. His wife died there about 1828, and two years later he, with several of his children, removed to Danville, Vermillion county, Illinois, where his death eventually occurred, about 1839. He married Lydia Hazel, a member of an Irish family, whose parents their names are unknown to us came from Ireland and settled in Frederick county, Virginia, about nineteen miles from Winchester. They were the parents of four children: Richard, Elisha, Celia and Lydia.

Additional Notes.

    1860 Census: East Saginaw, Saginaw, Mich.

  • Yawkey, William C. - b. 1836 Ohio.

    1866-67 Pioneer Directory of the Saginaw Valley.

  • Yawkey, E. F. - stoves and tin, 419 N. Water, bds Madison (Bay City)
  • Yawkey, John H lumber inspector, h 221 Madison. (Bay City)
  • Yawkey, Samuel W. - 102 Genesse (E. Saginaw)
  • Yawkey, Wm. C. - Wm. C. & Co., 101 Genesee (E. Saginaw)
  • Yawkey, William C. - inspector and shipper of lumber, 405 N. Water. (Bay City)

    1871 Michigan Marriages: Detroit, Wayne, Mich.

  • Tomas J. Austin, age 34, b. 1859 Mich., son of Thomas H. Austin and Annie E. Neville, married Augusta L. Yawkey, age 22, b. 1871 Mich., daughter of William C. Yawkey and Emma E. Noyes.

    1872 Michigan Deaths: Bay City, Bay, Mich.

  • Edwin F. Yawkey, died November 19, 1872, age 35, son of John H. and Lydia Yawkey.

    1875 Michigan Births: Bay City, Bay, Mich.

  • William H. Yawkey born Aug. 22, 1875, son of William and Emma Yawkey.

    1880 Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.

  • Yawkey, John H. - b. 1807 Pa. - retired lumberman.
  • Lydia, wife b. 1808 Virginia
  • Flora Ann, granddaughter b. 1843 Ohio.

    1880 Census: Detroit, Wayne, Mich.

  • Yawkey, Wm. C. - b. 1835 Ohio lumberman.
  • Emma, wife b. 1848 Vermont
  • Agnes, daughter b. 1871 Mich.
  • William, son - b. 1876 Mich.

    1883 Directory: Bay City, Mich.

  • Yawkey, John R. - res 923 Madison.
  • Yawkey, Wm. C. - (Ross, Bradley & Co.), res Detroit, Mich.

    1903 - The Baseball Biography Project: Biography of Frank Navin.

  • According to this history, William C. Yawkey purchased the Detroit Tigers baseball team following the 1903 season, and he hired Frank Navin to run the business. However, William died suddenly in December, and his son William H. took over ownership of the business, which he held until his death in 1919. The Yawkey family then sold the team, with Navin taking 50% ownership and the other 50% went to Walter O. Briggs and John Kelsey.
Related Note & Pages

William C. Yawkey

Related Pages:
Moulthrop, Clark
People Referenced
Austin, Thomas H.
Austin, Thomas J. (s-inlaw)
Briggs, Walter O.
Carpenter, Mary U.
Clyman, Eve
Clyman, James
Clyman, John
Clyman, Lizzie
Clyman, Lydia (mother)
Clyman, Mary
Clyman, Philip
Duncan, Stoffel
Frey, Isaac
Hazel, Celia
Hazel, Elisha
Hazel, Lydia
Hazel, Richard
Kelsey, John
Moulthrop, Clark
Navin, Frank
Neville, Annie E.
Noyes, Emma (wife)
Price, Samuel
Yawkey, Augusta L.(dau)
Yawkey, Cordelia (dau)
Yawkey, Cyrus C.
Yawkey, Edwin F.(bro)
Yawkey, Flora A.(g-dau)
Yawkey, John H. (father)
Yawkey, Mary A. (sis)
Yawkey, Samuel W. (bro)
Yawkey, Wm. C. (subject)
Yawkey, Wm. H. (son)
Subjects Referenced
Albany, NY
Bad River, MI
Bay City, MI
Bessemer Commoder Mines.
Brattleboro, VT
Chicago & Milwaukee RR
C. Moulthrop & Co.
Cass River, MI
Danville, Vermillion Co. IL
Detroit, MI
Detroit Tigers
East Saginaw, MI
First Natl Bank Bay City
Flint, MI
Flour Savings Bank Minneapolis
Frederick Co., VT
Guilford, VT
Hazelhurst, MN
Kersley Creek, MI
Lower Saginaw, MI
Massillon, OH
Mesabe Range, MN
Peoples Savings Bank Detroit
Perry Twp., Stark Co., OH
Philadelphia, PA
Rifle River, MI
Rochester, MI
Ross, Bradley & Co.
Saginaw River, MI
Saginaw Valley, MI
S.W. Yawkey & Co.
Steubenville, OH
W.C. Yawkey & Co.
Western Knitting Mills
Westmoreland Co. VA
Winchester, VA
Yawkey & Lee Lbr. Co.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.