An American Family History

Silas Yerkes

A yeoman was a man who owned and cultivated a small farm. He belonged to the class below the gentry or land owners. A husbandman was a free tenant farmer. The social status of a husbandman was below that of a yeoman.

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.
Yerkes has also been spelled Gerkes, Gerckes, Jerghes, Jerghjes, Jurckes,Yercas, Yercks, Yerkhas, Yerkas, Yerkiss, Yerks, and Yerkus
Silas Yerkes was born on February 15, 1723 in the Manor of Moreland. His parents were Herman Yerkes and Elizabeth Watts.

Silas was baptized in the Pennypack Creek, and became a member of the Southampton Baptist Church on June 1, 1742.

He married Hannah Dungan on June 14, 1750 at Southampton Baptist Church. The Reverend Joshua Potts performed the wedding. Hannah was born in Bucks County on September 24, 1725. She was the daughter of Thomas Dungan and Esther Evans.

Silas and Hannah's children included:
Elias Yerkes (1751, married Martha Coffing, daughter of Abraham Coffing),
Deborah Yerkes (1753, married Samuel Ayers),
Esther Yerkes (1755, married Charles Ayers),
Thomas Yerkes (1756),
Elizabeth Yerkes Howell (1758, married her cousin, Daniel Howell),
John Yerkes (1760),
Silas Yerkes (1762),
Hannah Yerkes Wright (1764),
Daniel Yerkes (1767, married Martha Collom and Esther Lykens), and
Benjamin Yerkes (1768, married Rachel Buzart). 

He was a large land owner, farmer, and miller. He built a grist mill on the Pennypack Creek at the juncture of Huntingdon and Creek Roads some time before the year 1760.

In 1755 he united with others in founding the Union Library Company of Hatboro.

In the Assessment of Moreland of 1776 from Bean's 1884 History of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania he had 100 acres, 3 horses, 5 cows, a grist mill 9 children and "1 idiot." In 1787, he sold the mill and property to George Shelmire.

In 1780 their son, Silas, was a private in the 3rd Company, First Battalion of the Philadelphia County Militia.

In 1790 the Silas Yerkes family was in the Manor of Moreland, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. There were 9 members of the household.

Hannah died on August 22, 1792 and Silas died on September 25, 1795 in Moreland and is buried in the graveyard of the Southampton Baptist Church .

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 Union Library of Hatborough was formed in August, 1755 by 38 men who met the Crooked Billet Tavern. They each paid ten shillings a year to buy books. In August, 1756, the first shipment arrived from England.
    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.
    A grist mill is a building where a miller grinds gain into flour.
    Estate inventories give us a glance into the home life of Colonial Americans.
    Early European settlers in the American colonies were mostly farmers and craftsmen. They had to work hard to provide daily neccesities for themselves.



    History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania by William Watts Hart Davis, Warren Smedley Ely, John Woolf Jordan published by The Lewis Pub. Co., 1905

    Silas sixth child [of Herman Yerkes], born February 15, 1725, died September 25, 1795, married Hannah, daughter of Thomas Dungan, Warminster, and for a time lived there. They had ten children, from one of which, the late William L. Elkins, of Philadelphia, was descended, and was buried at Southampton.


    Chronicle of the Yerkes Family: With Notes on the Leech and Rutter Families by Josiah Granville Leach

    Silas Yerkes (Herman2, Anthony1), sixth child and fifth son of Herman Yerkes by his wife Elizabeth Watts, was born in the Manor of Moreland, Montgomery (formerly Philadelphia) County, 15 February, 1723; died there, 25 September, 1795, and was buried in the graveyard of the Southampton Baptist Church.

    He was a large land-owner and a prosperous miller and farmer. Under the will of his father, Silas Yerkes became entitled to a one-fourth interest in the property in Moreland that had been the homestead of the father and grandfather, and by deed of 10 February, 1755, the remaining interests in the property, which consisted of two hundred acres, were conveyed to him by his mother and his brothers Stephen, Elias, and Titus.

    At this time Silas Yerkes was residing in Warwick Township, Bucks County, where he would seem to have been engaged in the milling business, as he is described as "miller" in the conveyance here mentioned, and he continued to reside there until after the birth of his daughter Elizabeth, when he removed to the homestead estate in Moreland, and there continued the milling business, as well as carried on farming...

    In 1780 the tax list of Moreland contained over four hundred names, the third highest assessment being that of Silas Yerkes.Mr. Yerkes was a man of much intelligence and a devout Christian.

    In 1755 he united with others in founding the Union Library Company of Hatboro, one of the earliest library organizations in Pennsylvania, and he was an active member of the Baptist Church, the principles and doctrines of which he imbibed from his mother and inherited from his grandfather, the Reverend John Watts. A formal profession of religious faith was, however, not made until 1 June, 1742, when he was baptized in the Pennypack Creek, and became a member of the Southampton Baptist Church, Bucks County, retaining membership until his death. Mr. Yerkes no doubt received his Christian name in honor of his uncle, Silas Watts.

    Silas Yerkes was married by the Reverend Joshua Potts, pastor of the Southampton Baptist Church, 14 June, 1750, to Hannah Dungan; born in Bucks County, 24 September, 1725; died at the seat of her husband, 22 August, 1792;

    daughter of Thomas and Esther Dungan, and granddaughter of the Reverend Thomas Dungan by his wife Elizabeth Weaver. Silas Yerkes's will, dated 21 March, 1795, was proved 22 October, same year, and names the children given below, with the exception of Thomas and John, both of whom are supposed to have died before the will was made. His five eldest children were born in Warwick Township, Bucks County, and the others at the homestead in Moreland.

    Children of Silas and Hannah (Dungan) Yerkes:

    Elias Yerkes, born 7 December, 1751; died 15 January, 1828; married.
    Deborah Yerkes, born 3 September, 1753; died 11 February, 1826; married Samuel Ayres.
    Esther Yerkes, born 13 February, 1755; married Charles Ayres (a brother of William Ayres, who married her sister Deborah), and had one child: (56) Mary Ayres, who married Jonathan Yerkes.
    Thomas Yerkes, born 24 September, 1756; died in 1781.
    Elizabeth Yerkes, born 26 March, 1758; died 2 September, 1826; married Daniel Howell.
    John Yerkes, born 26 September, 1760; probably died young.
    Silas Yerkes, born circa 1762; died 15 January, 1837, unmarried and without issue. His death is thus noted in the records of the Southampton Baptist Church:

    Silas Yerkes, beloved disciple, fell asleep in Jesus, we think, on Sunday, about noon, the 1sth of January, 1837, and was buried at Southampton.

    Hannah Yerkes, born circa 1764; married John Wright, by whom she had: (62) Esther Wright', who never married.
    Daniel Yerkes, born 23 July, 1767; died 30 September, 1824; married (1) Martha Collom; (2) Esther Lykens.
    Benjamin Yerkes, born 22 February, 1768; died 25 June, 1847; married Rachel Buzart.

    Bucks County, Pennsylvania is one of three original Pennsylvania Counties and was formed in 1682. Originally it was a large territory that included all of what would later be Berks, Northampton, and Lehigh.


    from Pennsylvania Genealogies: Chiefly Scotch-Irish and German on Ancestry.com

    Charles Ayres, (William, Samuel) b. 1750; d. 1806, in Montgomery county, Pa; a Revolutionary soldier; m. Esther Yerkes, b. 1755; d. 1809; sister of his brother Samuel's wife. Had one child, Mary; b. January 10, 1780; d. July 24, 1869; buried in the Baptist cemetery at Davisville, Bucks county; she m. Dec. 31, 1804, Jonathan Yerkes, of Moreland township, Montgomery county, Pa., son of George and Rebecca Yerkes. Had issue.

    It was common for bequests to include wearing apparel.

    The rod or perch or pole is a surveyor's tool equal to 5 1⁄2 yards.

    Will Abstract
    Silas Yerkes, Moreland.  March 21, 1795. 
    October 23, 1795
    To son Elias, 10 pds. and wearing apparel. 
    To daughter Deborah, wife of  Samuel Ayres, 6 pds. 
    To daughter Esther, wife of Charles Ayres, 6 pds. 
    To daughter Elizabeth, wife of Daniel Howell, 6 pds. 
    To son Silas, farm  in Moreland, 90 acres, 
    subject to the payment of 60 pds. 
    To daughters [sic] Hannah Yerkes; 
    ½ legacies above also. 
    To son Daniel,  farm, 76 3/4 acres,
    subject to payment of other half of legacies above. 
    To son Benjamin, 2 acres, 26 perches. 
    To daughter Hannah, 60 pds., feather-bed, pewter, &c. 
    To son Silas, feather-bed. 
    Rem. of household goods to 4 daughters: 
    Deborah, Esther, Elizabeth and Hannah. 
    Execs:  Sons Silas and Daniel. 
    Wit: George Yerkes, James Dungas, John Watts

    Pewter is an alloy composed mainly of tin, but can include lead. It was used for dishes and utensils. Some colonists suffered lead poisoning from using it. It dents easily and lasted about ten years. It was expensive and wooden dishes were used most often.
    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.

    The rod or perch or pole is a surveyor's tool equal to 51⁄2 yards.

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
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