An American Family History

Elizabeth Yerkes Howell

Yerkes has also been spelled Gerkes, Gerckes, Jerghes, Jerghjes, Jurckes,Yercas, Yercks, Yerkhas, Yerkas, Yerkiss, Yerks, and Yerkus
Byberry is a township in the northeast corner of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. The Walton brothers were early settlers. Moreland Township was just west of Byberry. When Montgomery County broke off in 1784, Moreland was divided into two townships, both called Moreland. In 1917 the Montgomery County Moreland split into Upper Moreland Township and Lower Moreland Township.

Elizabeth Yerkes Howell was born on January 29, 1725 in the Manor of Moreland. Her parents were Herman Yerkes and Elizabeth Watts.

She married John Howell, Esquire. John was born on August 8, 1721 in Amwell Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. He was the son of Captain Daniel Howell and Elsie Redding of Hunterdon.

John served in the Revolution as a private from Pennsylvania. John was a saddler and harness-maker. He inherited a grist mill and 60 acres in Hunterdon County from his father in 1732.

In 1751 when her father died, she received 30 pounds according to the provisions of his will.

Their children included:
Mary Howell Norton (1743, married Thomas Norton),
Elizabeth Howell Schuler (1747),
Hannah Howell Levering (1752, married Major John Levering),
Daniel Howell (1753, married his cousin Elizabeth, the daughter of Silas Yerkes),
(1758, married Mary Busby), and
Sarah Howell Levering (1761, married Anthony Levering).

In 1774 he inherited from his uncle, Benjamin Howell. In 1780 he was elected justice of the peace and held that office until 1785.

When she was 68 years old, she died on March 11, 1793 in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. John died on August 8 1721. They are probably both buried in the burying ground of the Ridge Baptist Church at Roxborough, Philadelphia where they were members.

Children of
Herman Yerkes
& Elizabeth Watts:
  • Anthony Yerkes
  • John Yerkes
  • Sarah Yerkes Hufty
  • Josiah Yerkes
  • Herman Yerkes
  • Silas Yerkes
  • Elizabeth Yerkes Howell
  • Stephen Yerkes
  • Elias Yerkes
  • Titus Yerkes
  • The Manor of Moreland was composed of a tract of ten thousand acres, and was created, in 1682, by a grant from William Penn to Dr. Nicholas More. Most of the Manor was in Philadelphia County, but is now Moreland Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

    In the Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic of 1793, 5000 or more people died between August 1 and November 9.

    New Jersey's first permanent European settlement was in 1660.



    Lawrenceville, Mercer County, New Jersey was founded as Maidenhead in 1697, as part of Burlington County in the colony of West Jersey. In 1714, the village became a part of Hunterdon County.
    Slavery is an immoral system of forced labor where people are treated as property to be bought and sold. It was legal in the American Colonies and the United States until the Civil War.

    Will of Daniel Howell
    1725, August 30. Howell, Daniel. of Trenton, Hunterdon Co., blacksmith; will of.

    Wife, Mary.
    Son, David, land on east side on the middle road, Trenton; lot on the west side of Kings Street, Trenton, adjoining John Severam; lot of meadow in Maidenhead great meadows, adjoining James Price's land, said lot bought of Samuel Hunt.
    Son, Daniel, when 21, house at Trenton which John Severin lives in; half of meadow lot in Maidenhead great meadows, bought of Ralph Hunt, Senior.
    Son, Joshua, 100 acres of plantation where testator lives, adjoining Ebenezer Prout and John Dean; also lot in Trenton, adjoining Josiah Howel's lot.
    Son, John, balance of plantation where testator lived, when of age; lot in Trenton.
    Daughters— Phebe, Elizabeth, Hannah, Mary and Prudence, when aged 18.
    Testator bequeaths "my son Daniel unto my son David that he may live with him," until he is aged 20 years; Daniel to be taught trade of glazier.
    Executors—son, David, and friend Nathaniel Moor.
    Witnesses—George Woolesey, John Carpenter, Moses Dickinson.

    1732, April 21. Codicil. Son, Hezekiah, having been born since writing of will, to him a lot of land with a house, and a bond due from Hezekiah Bonham and Johanas Anderson, of Maidenhead.
    Witnesses—Ann Yearley, Henry Woodward and Enoch Armitage. Proved August 2, 1732.

    1732, June 3. Inventory (£418) includes 24 swine, 50 sheep, negro man Jack about 50 years old (£20), negro woman and her child (£40), and bonds of Samuel Everit, Samuel Ruckman, Isaac Reeder, John Moor, Richard Morril, David Davis, Jonathan Davis, William Merril, Isaac Hutchinson, Henry Oxley, John Smith of Maidenhead, Matthew Rigby, Nicholas Roberts and Edward Hart. Made by Enoch Armitage and Jonathan Davis.

    1733. Sept. 9.
    Howell, Daniel, of Amwell, Hunterdon Co., yeoman; will of.
    Eldest son, Daniel Howell, Jr.
    Son, John, "a mare bought from Thomas Lambert."
    Sons, Joseph and Benjamin, the copper furnace.
    Two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, household goods, etc., "which was their mother's income from the mill and plantation," for bringing up of minor children.
    Sons, Daniel and John (under age), the corn or grist mill. Plantation where testator lived, fronting on the river.
    To daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, the plantation "at Alias Hokk in the Township of Amwell."
    Executors—brother-in-law, John Reading and William Rightinghouse.
    Witnesses—Samuel Fieming, Frances Mason, Waiter Cane. Proved October 24, 1733.

    A blacksmith forges and shapes iron with a hammer and anvil.

    American colonists continued to use British monetary units, namely the pound, shilling and pence for which £1 (or li) equalled 20s and 1s equalled 12d. In 1792 the dollar was established as the basic unit of currency.

    Seals were used to authenticate documents and men were expected to have a personal die. Records in deed books are copies and signatures are usually in the clerk’s handwriting. The clerk drew a circle around the word “seal” to indicate that the original document was sealed.

    Genealogical and Biographical Memorials of the Reading, Howell, Yerkes, Watts, Latham, and Elkins Familie by Josiah Granville Leach, published by Lippincott, 1898

    John Howell, Esquire (Captain Daniel3, Daniel2, Thomas1), was born in Amwell township, Hunterdon county, New Jersey, 8 August, 1721; died at Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 27 July, 1808.

    He received, under the will of his father, one-half interest in a grist-mill, and in a plantation of sixty acres, located in Hunterdon county, on the banks of the Delaware. How long he resided at Amwell is not known.

    His uncle, Benjamin Howell, resided in Philadelphia, at what is now Chestnut Hill. He was childless, and it is conjectured that upon the decease of his brother Daniel he became interested in the latter's son John, and induced him to settle at Chestnut Hill. The uncle died in 1774, and evidenced his esteem for his nephew by naming him executor of his will and residuary legatee and devisee there-under.

    John Howell engaged in the business of a saddler and harness-maker. He came to be highly regarded by his fellow-citizens, as is abundantly shown in his election as justice of the peace, to which he was duly commissioned, 7 June, 1780, by the supreme executive council of Pennsylvania.The minutes of the council contain this entry:

    A return of an election for Justices for Germantown Township, by which it appears that John Howell and Joseph Ferree were elected; Whereupon," Resolved, That John Howell, Esquire, be appointed a Justice of the peace for the County of Philadelphia, and that he be commissioned accordingly.

    He maintained the dignities and performed the duties of "the country squire" until 11 January, 1785, when he tendered his resignation to the council, as shown by this note in the records of that body:

    A letter of John Howell, Esquire, of Germantown township, declining to serve longer as a Justice of the Peace, was read, and his resignation accepted.

    He married Elizabeth Yerkes, daughter of Herman Yerkes by his wife Elizabeth Watts daughter of Rev. John Watts. She was born in Moreland township, Philadelphia county, Pennsylvania, 29 January, 1725; died 11 March, 1793.

    Both Mr. and Mrs. Howell were members of the First Baptist church, Philadelphia, and later of the Ridge avenue Baptist church at Roxborough, Philadelphia, in the burying-ground of which they were doubtless buried. The following is his last will and testament :

    "Be it remembered that I John Howell of Germantown Township in the County of Philadelphia and state of Pennsylvania, late saddler, being aged and infirm in Body but through the Blessing of God of sound disposing mind and memory Do therefore think fit to dispose of all my Outward effects which it hath pleased God to bestow upon me in the following manner.

    "Item I give unto my Eldest Son Daniel all my Wearing Apparel of whatsoever kind with the Desk when entered to him, to him his Heirs and Assigns.

    Item I give unto my son Reading all the money he may owe me at my death to him his heirs and assigns.

    Item After my just debts and funeral expences be fully paid and discharged in a Christian like manner then my Executor shall sell all my Land for what it will fetch subject to the ground rent specified in the Deed.

    Item I give unto Mary Howell and Sarah Howell equally my Bed and Bedding share and share alike.

    Item After my Lands and the remaining movables be turned into Cash I will that it be put in one common stock and to be divided into six equal shares. The first sixth part in following manner that is to say Mary Norton shall take out of Common Stock Eighteen Dollars and give her daughter Elizabeth six dollars and Mary Six Dollars and Ann Six Dollars. I give unto Thomas Norton and Mary his wife the remainder part of this first sixth part to them their Heirs and Assigns forever.

    Item I give my second sixth part in the following manner: Daniel Howell shall take out of second sixth part of Common Stock two Dollars for each of his maryed children and the remaining unto him the said Daniel and Elizabeth his wife to them their Heirs and Assigns forever.

    Item I give my third sixth part in the following manner that is to say that Hannah Levering shall take out of third sixth part fourteen Dollars and shall give unto Jonathan Levering four dollars and four to Mary Stern and two Dollars to Sarah Lobb and four Dollars she shall deliver unto the Ridge Baptist Church for the use of the first poor that shall come on the Church after my death.

    Item I give my fourth sixth part in the following manner that is to say: Sarah Levering shall take out of fourth sixth part Eight Dollars and she shall give two dollars unto Sarah Lobb and six unto Ridge Baptist Church for the use of the first poor that come in the Church after my death and the remainder of the fourth sixth part I give unto Anthony Levering and Sarah his wife to them their Heirs and assigns forever.

    Item I give my fifth sixth part in the following manner that is to say Elizabeth Shuler shall take out of the fifth sixth part two dollars for each of her marryed Children and the remainder part I give unto her the said Elizabeth Shuler her Heirs and Assigns forever.

    Item I give my sixth and Last part unto my son Reading Howell to him his Heirs and Assigns forever. It is my Will that Reading Howell shall have full power and Authority to settle Benjamin Howell and Catharine his Wife's Estate as if I was then and there present. I was often threatened to be sued at Law but at Last gave a Bond of twenty one pounds on Thomas Roberts to Isaac Allen of Trenton and he went of[f] with said Bond and I have never heard of him since. I have lost a receipt of Seventy pounds and upwards but believe it may be found by applying to Colonel Proctor office when Sheriff of the County of Philadelphia.

    Item and Lastly I do hereby nominate constitute and appoint my son Reading Howell Executor of this my last Will and Testament revoking and making void all former Wills by me made, ratifying and confirming and by these presents doth ratify and confirm this my last Will and Testament.
    In Witness whereof I have set my Hand and Seal
    this Eighth day of July in the Year of our Lord One thousand Eight hundred and eight.

    John Howell. [seal]

    Children of John and Elizabeth (Yerkes) Howell, all born probably at or near Chestnut Hill:
    46. Mary Howell, married Thomas Norton.
    47. Daniel Howell, married Elizabeth Yerkes.
    48. Hannah Howell, born 30 December, 1752; died 28 October, 1820; married Major John Levering.
    49. Sarah Howell, married Anthony Levering.
    50. Elizabeth Howell, married Shuler.
    51. Reading Howell, married, 3 June, 1792, Mary Busby.

    Hunterdon County was originally part of Burlington County, West Jersey. It was set off from Burlington County on March 11, 1714. It included Amwell, Hopewell, and Maidenhead Townships.

    It was common for bequests to include wearing apparel.
    Germantown Township, Pennsylvania was originally settled by German Quakers and Mennonites in 1681. It was divided into settlements, called Germantown, Cresheim, Sommerhausen and Crevelt. The township became part of the city of Philadelphia in 1854.

    New Jersey's first permanent European settlement was in 1660.