James Frederick Moore Yonge

James and Helene




This account owes an enormous debt to the late Bonnie Stevens for her original research and knowledge of family legends. The family legends seem in general terms to be usually supported by known facts although at times incorrect in detail. Her full published research with sources can be seen at:





James Frederick Moore Yonge (S15) was the second son of JOHN FRANCIS DUKE YONGE and ALICE ELIZABETH REED nee HOLMES. They married in October 1839 in Brussels according to the rites of the Church of England. She had been married twice before. Her first husband was a one Cavalie Mercer, a British army Officer, and the second a Colonel Reed.

James was born on 8 March 1842 at Koblenz, then the westernmost part of the state of Prussia, where his father was then living. His father was a doctor but it is not clear why he lived in Germany for nearly ten years. Germany at that time was not particularly noted for medicine or for the training of doctors.

James” was a common Yonge name, “Frederick” was probably chosen after his uncle of that name.. “Moore” could well have come from one of the witnesses to his birth registration, Friedrich Mohr, Doctor der Philosophie, 36 Jahre alt, und Heinrich Knauss Instrumentenmacher, 39 Jahre alt. Frederick Mohr was a near neighbour. Mohr was born in 1806 into the family of a prosperous druggist in Koblenz. The young Mohr received much of his early education at home, a great part of it in his father's laboratory. Although a very young boy when he left Koblenz, perhaps James acquired an interest there which later led to a career in pharmacy.

His baptism is recorded in Geburstsakt 1842/159, Koblenz where he is identified as Jacob Friedrich Yonge [note however the “Moore” was not used]. He is recorded as a Protestant, and it is noted that he was baptized in the English Church. For Anglicans the first public service took place on 17 November 1839 in the chapel of the Koblenzer Residenzschloss – the palace in Koblenz. The Yonge family lived on a major street which ran along the back of the Palace, at 31 Jahre alt, Koblenz.

It appears that James normally put down on official forms his own birthplace as England, quite possibly to avoid the necessity of explaining why an Englishman was born in Germany. The only exception to this seems to be the 1900 census.

On the length of stay and activities of James father in Koblenz, The Koblenz Archives Services advised that there are are no other references for Yonge in Koblenz other than an address book of the city of Koblenz in 1844 as a doctor, residing at Schlossstr. 7. They went on that it is known that the English population of Koblenz in 1839 was only about 100 people. The family also stayed in Manheim for a time.

It seems that the Yonge's returned to Plymouth in 1849. William Crawley Yonge, the father of the novelist Charlotte Mary Yonge, wrote in March 1849 to the Reverend John Yonge of the family's return to Plymouth.


If he [James father] persists in the Change,[adopting the Roman Catholic faith] what a horrid thing his coming to live in Plymouth will be. How much better that he should have remained where he was. Poor fellow, it is not so much a matter of Surprise as of regret, seeing how very little opportunity he has had of seeing and being engaged in the practice of the Church of England. Looking back to his coming home on Saturdays from Macaulay’s, when Sunday was more in the way of relaxation from School, than a Holy Day, then with Williams the Surgeon where I suppose no great good was to be learnt, then at Edinburgh and since in a Roman Catholic country. I very much wish we could get him to come here. I think the best chance for him would be to let him open his Mind to Mr Keble [Keble a high church Anglican would have seemed like an antidote to Roman Catholicism]


In a Letter dated 24 June 1850 Charlotte Yonge states that nobody she knew well had converted, the nearest being, James father, John Francis Yonge (1814-1879), one of the Antony cousins, whom she had not seen since childhood. When John Francis remarried in 1864, it was in the Catholic Cathedral. John Francis Duke is buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery at Looe in Cornwall. The trigger for this conversion is not known. In any event his conversion (according to Charlotte Yonge James mother did not convert to Rome) caused quite an upset in the Yonge family, bearing in mind the strong Anglican tradition of the Yonge’s generally.

The family moved into a family-owned building The Crescent near the civic centre of Plymouth, Devonshire, England. This had been a speculative development of some twenty three story dwellings, by several members of the Yonge family. The original building was very badly damaged during the Blitz of World War II, but it has been rebuilt and once again is an upscale residential and profession complex in the centre of Plymouth.


In the years that the boy James lived there, other family members lived in the Crescent. A Dr. John Yonge lived in number 1. Elizabeth (nee Roberts), widow of James’ uncle John Duke Yonge, also lived at TheCrescent with her sons Duke, Arthur and Walter. James and his brothers, Francis and Stephen, were very close to James and their cousins.


As a boy in Plymouth, James sang as a soloist in a church choir This was probably in the Anglican parish church of St Andrews, where members of his family had worshipped for generations and where some of his ancestors are buried for although by this time his father at least, had converted to Rome. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Plymouth was formed in 1850, but the Catholic Cathedral of St Mary and St Boniface was not built until 1858, after James would probably have been sent away to boarding school. However from 1787, by which date Catholic places of worship had been permitted again, Mass had been celebrated in a stable loft in Devonport. and in 1838 this Chapel became Plymouth's first Cathedral, so he may sung here.

James and his brothers were sent to France for a time to be educated, presumably to a Catholic school. Though full Catholic emancipation occurred in 1829 there was still a lot of suspicion of Catholics and few Catholic churches or schools in England This is a family tradition repeated by James children and grandchildren, which is supported by a letter written by James father in July 1856 telling his brother Fred in New Zealand of the death of their mother. He notes that his boys “will return from France next month”,

His presumed fluency in German and French gained from his years on the Continent would prove useful to James in later life.

In the 1861 census he is shown living with his parents at Oak Cottage, a rented property at Plymstock near Plymouth. His occupation is shown as “supernumerary clerk Post Office”. The British Post Office Appointment Books do not show any James Yonge or similar but they probably would not for a supernumerary.


James left England about 1863, presumably after his mothers death on the 8th of February in that year. The register of passport applications shows one in July 1862 for a James Yonge [probably but not necessarily our James] and one in September 1862 for his brother [Stephen] Duke Yonge so it looks as if they were planning on travelling before their mother died but they did not in the event travel together.

James went first to visit his older brother, Francis, who was with the British Army in Mauritius. This was prior to the opening of the Suez Canal, so the trip entailed a long ocean voyage around the Cape of Good Hope. Aboard ship, according to family legend, he made friends with some of the crew, and from them learned Morse code and the new science of telegraphy. This must have helped to pass the time on a long ocean voyage.

From Mauritius James went to Australia, thinking he might settle there with his cousins from The Crescent, Arthur and Walter. A Probate Notice of 1864 states that James and his brother Stephen Duke were both living in Melbourne. Family legend is that they then spent five years working on thefamily sheep station, where he may well have practised his newly learned telegraphy skills. He left, said his son Duke, when “he could no longer stand the bleating of the bloody sheep”. It seems that James was not the pioneer type

This however does not quite tie up with Australian records. From 1869-1877 James cousins Arthur and Walter leased a sheep and cattle station at Tarawainaba, Goondiwindim which is situate on the borders of Queensland and New South Wales but there is no indication that they ran their own station before then but it is always possible or perhaps the cousins all worked together as station hands.

When James left Australia, he was intending to return to England via the United States. A family story relates that he arrived in San Francisco just prior to a major earthquake, on 21 October 1868. Only some 35 people were in fact killed and only five of these in the City. James was also to experience the 1906 quake. San Francisco being a young and rapidly expanding city with a large migrant population, there could not have been many people who experienced both the 1868 quake and the 1906 quake.

In any event James appears in Langley’s San Francisco City Directory just for 1870, indicating that he was living in the city by 1869. He is also enumerated in the 1870 U.S. Census living at 23 Geary Street, San Francisco. This was an area occupied by skilled working class and lower middle class individuals. His occupation is given as “Apothecary's clerk”. This is the first reference we have to an interest in pharmacy.

A long-held family tradition says that James Yonge met the American painter Thomas Hill in San Francisco in 1871. Both men came from England and both apparently socialised in San Francisco’s art community, and both were members of the fledgling Bohemian Club of San Francisco. Founded in 1872 from a regular meeting of journalists, artists, and musicians, the Club soon began to accept businessmen and entrepreneurs as permanent members,James, like many others in his family, was an accomplished water colourist, though he had always wanted to paint in oil.

The story from his granddaughter Helen Lind goes on to say that Hill was planning a trip “to Yosemite” and needed someone to “drive the chuck wagon and cook” on the trail. James, agreed to provide these services in exchange for lessons in oil painting.

It is a fact that Thomas Hill was in San Francisco early in 1871 and spent the summer sketching in the Sierras in the company of William Marple and Hiram Bloomer. However since there was no wagon road into Yosemite until 1July 1874., James could not “have driven the chuck wagon”, as his granddaughter described. When confronted with this anomaly, Helen Lind, James granddaughter, responded , “Well, my father really said he [James] cooked and took care of the animals. But it must have been a true story because Nellie [Madeline] told it, too.” Nellie had been married to Stephen, James brother. Her independent re-telling of the story implies that the Yosemite trip did happen, even if the details have become garbled.


We do not know what he was doing in the next few years though prior to his marriage he was living in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island , British Columbia but on 3 April 1875 he married Hellena Frances Brittain at Lakeport, Lake Co., California. She was only 15 when they first met in 1872/3. Her mother, was still smarting from the attempted elopement and subsequent marriage at 16 of her oldest daughter, She made James (who was less than 10 years younger than his future mother-in-law) and Hellena promise that they would not marry until Hellena's 18th birthday, the 14th of February 1875. Indeed according to the account written by his mother in law that indeed was the date they were married. However the marriage register is quite clear that it was the 3rd of April.

Both Madge and Duke, the couple’s older children, said of their parents’ marriage – that James moved to Nanaimo (we do not know what he did there) while waiting for the very day that Helene turned 18, and that he returned to California just in time for the wedding. So close was his timing, said the story-tellers that his stagecoach careened to a halt in a cloud of dust and the horses stood panting and pawing outside the church during the ceremony. However according to his mother in law James had arrived in town two days before the wedding and that it was not on her birthday. Immediately after the early morning service, the couple climbed into the stagecoach and continued south the hundred plus miles to San Francisco.

It would seem that the story of the actual marriage was “romanced” by the families

Later for that year, 1875 his mother in law wrote “They have rented a cottage near me for the winter and he will have charge of Mr. McHall’s drug store”. This location is not known.

Hellena was the daughter of David Lorenzo Brittain of Lakeport, California, and Eleanor née Thomas. Hellena was born 14 February 1857 in Missouri, as were her parents. Although baptised Hellena, James was to call her Helene (possibly reflecting his French education) and that was the spelling she adopted in adult life.

In the year of her birth the family travelled by wagon from Tuscumba, Missouri via the Kansas plains, across the Missouri River, along the Platt River to the Utah Territory, then across the desert to Carson Valley, Nevada, and over the Sierras to Sacramento, California.

According to his mother in law, James and his wife then returned for a time to Nanaimo British Columbia, which is the main town and port on Vancouver Island. There they were later joined by his sister in law Merrit to keep James wife company while he was at the store all day

They were to have four children:

Madeline Helene (Madge) born 1876

In December 1877 his father wrote to his brother Frederick in New Zealand

James as you know married and in Lakeport, Lake County, California. His wife was called Britton, an American damsel. Helene is her name and have a little daughter Madeline Helene.

John Duke born 1877,

Arthur David (known as Rex in adult life) born 1883,

Eleanor Cecilia Regina born 1899,

Shortly after his marriage James became an American citizen during this period. The Arizona Great Register of 1890 lists him as a registered voter and gives a naturalisation date of 6 October 1876 in the San Francisco, California District Court.

The Yonge’s in time returned to Lake Co. and Bartlett Springs, a remote health resort with a small resident population in the hills, some 15 miles from Lakeport where James wife lived before her marriage. The mineral health complex spanned about half a century, with the peak years of popularity running from the 1870s up through World War I. With many “invalid visitors, a post office and pharmacy would probably have done a good trade

In the Alta California Almanac of 1879, James is listed as the postmaster at Bartlett Springs. This would appear to give credence to the family legend that he was a telegraphist there. In the 1880 census at James’ occupation is listed as “clerk in store”. Was this a pharmacy? Was it Mc Hall's drug store?

The Tombstone Years

Helene’s younger sister, Merritt, was still living with the James and his wife at Bartlett Springs at the 1880 census. In August 1880 Merritt married Davis Robert Poland[ a successful miner from Arizona – he was quite a bit older than her which seemed to be the pattern wit James sisters in law. James and Helene must have heard many glowing stories of the opportunities in the silver mines along the Arizona-Mexico border, for less than a year later, the family had moved from Bartlett Springs to Tombstone, Arizona Territory - it was not to become a state until 1912. Whether James or Helene was the prime mover is unclear but Helene seems to have had more of the pioneer spirit.

Family letters from James cousin Arthur Duke Yonge in England to his brother Frederick Duke Yonge in New Zealand confirms the Yonge’s 1881 arrival in Tombstone:

Sept 1881 - I hear from Jemm, [James] poor Francis’ second son occasionally. He sends me “The Tombstone Epitaph”, a paper published in that dry, metalliferous and rowdy territory of Arizona.

Nov 1882 - …I have had a good deal of bother in getting money for Jemm, Francis’ son now in Tombstone, Arizona. He was in danger of losing his house if he could not stump up. So he wrote to me to get what I could for his reversionary interest in what would come to him atMary’s death.[“Mary” is probably James step mother]

They made the trip by train, quite possibly the entire distance from Bartlett Springs to the nearest station at Benson, some twenty five miles from Tombstone. They lived in Tombstone during the rip-roaring heyday of the town, notorious for its lawlessness, rowdiness, violence, and whore houses.

In the 1883 Business Directory James is listed probably as a partner with T. F. Hudson in a pharmacy on Allen Street, while living on 3rd Street between Safford and Bruce. Later he opened Yonge’s Druggist and Pharmacist (the terms were fairly interchangeable), on south west corner of Allen Street and 4th Street, opposite the Occidental Saloon/hotel.

It does not seem that James lack of academic qualifications or training in pharmacy or medicine inhibited James practices as a pharmacist. In fact formal qualifications were unnecessary At the Second International Congress of Pharmacy in Paris, in 24, 1867, . William Procter, Jr., leading the delegates of The American Pharmaceutical Association, stated that “Public opinion is in America a forceful agent of reform,” and that, in his country, “there is not the slightest obstacle toward a multiplication of drug stores save that a lack of success.”

Generally speaking, there were few laws and regulations governing the practice of pharmacy before the late nineteenth century so the market was wide open for enterprising newcomers with no trades description legislation to worry about!. For much of the 1800s, most pharmacists learned the trade as an apprentice or by self study, and there were few restrictions on who could own, operate. or work in a pharmacy. Arizona did not pass a pharmacy registration/licensing law until 1903.

Many pharmacists also sold tobacco products and candy and the public soon came to see pharmacists more as sellers of chocolate sodas than health care professionals. There is no evidence that James sold these items but a series of small ads in the “Tombstone Daily Prospector” showed that he made up prescriptions, sold salt having “the curative powers of the ocean” trusses, nasal injectors, salves and cures for catarrh, coughs, consumption, whooping cough, indigestion, constipation, liver complaints, diphtheria, rheumatic syrup, “fancy thermometers, manicure sets and plasters as well as perfumes and ”holiday goods,” dressing cases, work boxes, and music rolls. Also he advertised that he supplied the county hospital with drugs.

There is a family legend that he also operated “the first” telegraph system in Tombstone, running a line between his pharmacy and the doctor’s office. It is true that telegraphy was just coming into the south east corner of Arizona about the time that the Yonge’s moved to Tombstone so it indeed possible that James connected his pharmacy with one of the several doctor’s offices to try to corner part of the prescription market. It may even be that he ran the first privately owned telegraph system in Tombstone. Tombstone had in fact been connected to the outside world by telegraph in February 1881 so he could not have been responsible for that in any way but he may have connected with it.

Originally telegraph operators had to be highly skilled, they not only had to be familiar with Morse but they had to be fast and accurate. However by this time automatic machines using pre punched tape had becoming increasingly common. This meant the operators did not need to know Morse and the job became increasingly less skilled. James in any event would only have been part time operator and the full time professionals felt nothing but contempt for their slower part time small town operators who were known as “plugs” or “hams”.

Tombstone had gained a reputation for lawlessness. Feuds were common, the most notable being the gun battle at the O.K. Corral, on Allen Street, in October 1881, shortly after James and his wife arrived in the town, between the Earp and Clanton families but there was another respectable side to Tombstone and the stories told byMadge and Duke of their Tombstone years reflect a busy and happy family. Music was a frequent family entertainment. The children learned to sing all roles in the popular Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, with “H.M.S. Pinafore” being a favourite. Helene contributed songs from her American Appalachian heritage. Some of those have been passed down to the third and fourth generations of his descendants. In addition to being a trained singer, James was an accomplished violinist. He reputedly organized a chamber orchestra that practised regularly in the Yonge home. He taught Helene to paint, and she filled his drug store with her work until James was selling more of her art than he was pharmacopoeia. Because he was multi-lingual, Tombstone residents who received letters in German or French brought them to Yonge’s Pharmacy. James would translate for them, and then write their responses in the appropriate language. He was a volunteer fire fighter, and according to a display add in The Tombstone Epitaph on July 3, 1889 was one of the organizers of the 4th of July Fireman’s Ball.

To further supplement the family income Helen converted a room in the house into a dress making establishment where she made gowns for what James described as “bawdy ladies” or in other words prostitutes. Dresses then would have required numerous consultations and fittings and the question arises, did the clients come to the family home where they might meet the children or did Helen visit he clients in the brothel? Either way it is an interesting example where persons from the two sides of the Town's life met.

According to their daughter Eleanor, her father had been reared as an English Country Gentleman and was not able to survive in an American frontier town whereas her mother was a typical pioneer woman, so one might wonder who was the prime mover in moving to Tombstone?

There was an Anglican/Episcopal church in from about the time the Yonge family arrived. Predating it by a few months was the Roman Catholic Church. It is not clear which church the family went to. James was not married in a Catholic church but he was buried in a Catholic cemetery. The Anglican (Episcopal) Church was about half a block away from James house and the Catholic Church three blocks so if they were not committed Catholic’s by then, it is possible the family worshipped in the Anglican Church. Having said that their son Arthur was baptised in the Catholic Church.

Though apparently well established in the Town, 1890 was to be their last full year there. James appears in the Arizona Great Register of 1890 and was registered to vote in Arizona in 1890. Also the two older children, Madge and Duke, are readily identifiable in a photograph of schoolchildren in the class of 1890. The family do not appear in the 1890 census however.

In January early 1891, James was sued by a San Francisco firm of Langley and Michells, who had been supplying him for seven years. They had supplied him goods on credit to the tune of $1329. Yonge had not repaid any of the principal, and had only made one monthly interest payment. As soon as the suit was filed, he admitted the debt, saying that heavy expenses taxes, rents and that generally that business conditions were bad, were the cause. His business and inventory were seized and the sheriff put a keeper in charge. The January newspaper report said that James hoped to resume trade and work his way out of his difficulties. It was not to be. Subsequently according to the Tombstone Weekly Epitaph of February 8th 1891 his stock assets and books debts were then purchased by a Mrs Peto who it was said was going to put a reputable druggist in charge. He quickly put his house up for sale, and within what appears to be a month or so had departed for California.

Even if James had been a successful business man and the evidence does not suggest this, by then the boom days of the Town were over. In 1881 there were well over 7000 inhabitants but problems in the mining industry (flooding and fires) which was the lifeblood of the town, meant there were only 1900 inhabitants by 1890.

California again and the final Years

While there was no regulation of pharmacists in Arizona, regulation came in in California within a year of James return to that State

 It was not until ca. 1860, which saw the first of two European, immigrant, career pharmacists apothecaries (both of German descent) who arrived in the newly founded American frontier town of Los Angeles, As a classical illustration ofthe scientific and social standard of German pharmacy at the beginning of the 19th century one of the greatest Germans, the poet and statesman Goethe, may be quoted. In 1822 he stated that “in Germany the apothecary enjoys a highly esteemed position within society . . . The German apothecaries cultivate science. They are aware of its importance and endeavour to utilise it in practical pharmacy”In 1871 the Pharmaceutical Society of California, which had been established in 1868 with the aim of the advancement of pharmaceutical knowledge and the elevation of the professional character of apothecaries throughout the State, drafted a bill “to regulate the practice of pharmacy in the City and County of San Francisco” which passed the legislature in 1872. Minutes of the first annual meeting recorded 99 members and stated that “only three or four of the apothecaries of San Francisco have chosen to keep beyond the pale of our regulations.” James almost certainly was not an original signatory as he is not down in the 1875 list of members of the Society.: The aim was to improve the science and art of pharmacy by diffusing knowledge among Apothecaries and druggists, fostering pharmaceutical literature, developing talent, stimulating discovery and invention… establish[ing] the relations between druggists, Pharmaceutists, Physicians and the people at large, upon just principles, which shall promote the public welfare and tend to mutual advantage.” The California State Board of Pharmacy was set up in 1891 to administer the new law.

The records of the Board for the period 1891 to the turn of the century show that James registered as an assistant pharmacist. They do show when he was registered as an assistant but as his number was 850 and total registrations for assistants went up to 909, quite late in the day but then first of all from 1892 to 1896 he tried his hand at farming. The records starting 1900 show that on the 13th of January in that year he was admitted as a licentiate (holding a certificate of competence) with the number 2497. That register goes up to 1917 with with registration numbers reaching into the 7000's. The records of the California State Board of Pharmacy show that he took out registration every year from 19900 up to including 1909 It seems individuals could either be examination or by being given a credit. James was presumably in the latter category.

As to farming, the next record we have of James and his family is that the voter registration rolls for the years 1892-96 show him living at Alma, California, occupation farmer. James and his younger brother, Stephen, had purchased a prune ranch (plum orchard) in the Santa Cruz Mountains, between Alma and Holy City, which is now beneath the waters of Lexington Reservoir near the city of Los Gatos, Santa Clara Co. James apparently had visions of being a gentleman farmer like his cousins at Puslinch, the family seat near Plymouth, England. But raising prunes in California did not offer the same lifestyle as raising apples in Devonshire. By 1896/7 James and his family were back in San Francisco although his brother Steven remained in Santa Clara Co. and in the 1900 census, is still shown as a fruit grower.

The 1897 and 1898 San Francisco trade directory describes him as a druggist in partnership with a Mr McLaughlin at 1122B Turk Street.

According the 1900 census, James and his family were then living at 1032-D Turk Street San Francisco. In this listing his birthplace is unusually but correctly given as Germany, but his age is incorrect. His children John D. , Arthur and Eleanor were shown as living at home. His daughter Madge was listed separately.

From 1900 to 1908 voting lists and trade directories show his residence and pharmacy business at 820 Railroad Avenue. One directory describes him as the manager of the South San Francisco Pharmacy. Voting lists show that he was a registered Republican.


San Francisco in 1906 although it had a surface veneer of civility was in reality much the same as the City first visited and stayed in by James in the 1868 although now with over 400,000 inhabitants. Many of the streets were filthy, from the thousands of horses using the streets. There were no sewerage treatment plants and raw sewerage went straight into he bay.Though there some fine buildings principally in the city centre most homes and smaller buildings were gimcrack and ugly, made of unreinforced brick and lathe and timber, all hurriedly put up.


On April 18, 1906, shortly after 5:00 a.m., a great earthquake struck San Francisco and area. Figures are difficult to come by for locals tied to downgrade the effect of the quake so as not to destroy confidence in the future of the city while insurance companies blamed the quake and not the subsequent fires for the damage, which meant they would not have to pay out but it seems possible only about 10% of the damage in the city was caused directly by the quake.


The Yonge’s were living in San Francisco, at Railroad Avenue. As they were living there before and after the quake, presumably the home was not destroyed.

Helene, went out into the community to nurse the injured and ill. James, still a working pharmacist, would have been more effective at his post in the pharmacy than working on the streets. However it seems she contracted the plague while working in the rubble of the city, and died on the 21st of September 1907. The document recording her burial arrangements, for cause of death, reads “plague suspect – myocarditis [heat condition]. The suggestion that she had committed suicide' is likely based on a report on the San Francisco Call of the 29th July 1908 when Eleanor tries to commit suicide “Her mother who committed suicide about a year ago by taking chloroform was also said to be demented”. The source of this information is not stated. Neither Madeline or Eleanor would have been reliable.

The fact that on Helene's death the “San Francisco Call” reported that there was to be a requiem mass and that she was to be buried in a Catholic cemetery and the accompanying burial record, would appear to confirm beyond any reasonable doubt that her death was not due to suicide.

The ruinous condition of the city after the earthquake and fire, with many people living packed together in tented accommodation with waste disposal services inadequate facilities and with waste collection services not functioning properly, set the stage for a widespread outbreak that began in May of 1907 and peaked in September. Infected rats, fleas and lice flourished in the post quake city. Of the 160 cases, 77 of whom died, were all “white persons, many of them of a good condition in life .. and dwelling in houses and conditions that would commonly be called 'sanitary'” Helen's was one of these.

By the time of the 1910 census James was living with his son Arthur and his wife Louisa in rented accommodation on Jackson Street in San Francisco. He is described as a “retired Druggist”

James died on 19th November 1910, aged just 68 and is buried at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Cemetery, Colma, San Mateo Co., near San Francisco. Though Helene does not appear in the online cemetery records, there exists a copy of her funeral/burial arrangements which confirms Holy Cross as also her place of burial.

Children Lives

Of the four children, only John Duke has continuing descendants, all on the female line. Of his daughters, James took legal proceedings against both on the grounds of insanity

Madeline (Madge) Helene Yonge:

Born 24 February 1876 in Lakeport, California. For a time she was a novice nun in the San Francisco convent of the Sacred Heart in Oakland, California. In 1904 she was committed by James father, who stated that she was suicidal and homicidal to the Western Washington Hospital for the Insane (23 April 1910). She departed for Hawaii during WW I but by 1917 she was a patient within the Hawaii psychiatric system. She married (25 December 1921, in the Roman Catholic Church, Honolulu, Hawaii Edgar Helmuth Wilkins, who is variously described in the local press as as working in a school as a manual or vocational trainer. Seems to have been his second marriage. Edgar was born 28 November 1872 in Tennessee. The local press in the 1920's reports her as attending a number of all female social events but according to the 1930 Federal Census, she was back by then in a hospital for the insane and appears to have been in an institution of some kind for the rest of her life with little or no connection with her family. She died 1974 in Honolulu.

John Duke Yonge, also known as "John D" and "Duke".

Born 13 December 1877, probably at Bartlett Springs, Lake County, California. His early years were spent in Tombstone, Arizona. He graduated (1895) from a business school run by his mother's sister Olive and her husband at San Jose, California, while his parents were living at Holy City, Santa Clara. He was in San Francisco during 1906 earthquake. Following the death of his mother, he moved to Hawaii and first worked as a shoe salesman (from April 1908). He worked as stationmaster at Waipahu Station, Oahu Railway and Land Co. (1917). Collector for Hawaiian Telephone Company (1922). He married (20 September 1911, at St Andrews Cathedral, Honolulu) Heleualani, "Lena" Eva Cathcart, daughter of Robert William Cathcart and Kina "Jane" née Kaho'oilimoku of Honolulu, They had three children. He died 28 May 1950 in Waipahu, Oahu, Hawaii.

Arthur David ("Rex") Yonge:

Born 3 September 1883 in Tombstone, Arizona, and baptised in the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart. He was in San Francisco during the earthquake of 1906. Arthur, was (according to his older siblings) was fascinated by cars He was already working as a chauffeur, so Arthur was recruited immediately after the earthquake by the Army to be a civilian driver to transport senior Army officials around the city to view the destruction and make command decisions. He married (about 1907) Louise La Forre from Oregon. In a 1908 newspaper report and the 1910 census he is described as a chauffeur. From 1915 to 1918 he worked in Mexico as a driver and mechanic for a mining company. He married again (16 October 1921) Emma Mildred Corbin. In 1944 he was self employed. He died 30 May 1944 in Los Angeles, California.

Eleanor ("Ellen") Cecilia Regina Yonge:

Born 7 July 1889 in Tombstone, Arizona. She was a talented musician and artist so took after both parents. She married (1908) Edward T. Davey, a disgraced policeman of San Francisco. She had become infatuated with him and when he broke off the relationship she tried to commit suicide by poison on a San Francisco street car. The report in the San Francisco Call of the 29th July 1908 read in part “Eleanor Yonge's attempt to commit suicide Monday evening by taking bichloride of mercury, which had been given to her by her father, a druggist, as a face wash”. It went on “The mother seems to have been the only one in the family who took much interest in Eleanor” James then tried to have her committed for insanity. After a breach of promise case in the courts Edward married her and they went to Hawaii where he then tried to have her arrested for adultery. They then went to Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada and she died there on 6 March 1909 in St Joseph's Hospital - with "a spirit crushed and a broken heart", according to The San Francisco Call newspaper. The family account is that she fled to Hawaii and then Vancouver to seek sanctuary with family members but that Davey kept following; and that she, being pregnant and suffering heavily from seasickness and morning sickness, died within days of reaching Vancouver.


The late Bonnie Stevens https://ilind.net/ancestry/jfdyDesc/p1.htm

Ian Lind

Landesarchiv Nordrhein-Westfalen (Koblenz Archives)

On the Wrong side of Allen Street: The Businesswomen of Tombstone, 1878–1884 Heidi Osselaer - The Journal of Arizona History

Ancestry. Com for genealogical data, voter and census information and the records of the California State Board of Pharmacy

Tombstone Weekly Epitaph

Tombstone Daily Prospector


Correspondence Frederick Duke Yonge from Arthur Duke Yonge in possession fr the writer

Memoirs of Eleanor Howard (Thomas ) Brittain Knowlton 1834-1908 with genealogical analysis and commentary by Helen Lind and Bonnie (Lind) Stevens

The Letters of Charlotte Mary Yonge https://c21ch.newcastle.edu.au/yonge




Latest comments

27.10 | 10:41

Hi Ian....Has taken me a while but finally found your website. Brilliant. Will be in touch. Julian Hastings

20.06 | 13:06


Thanks. Praise always appreciated! I presume you are a descendant of Peter Herbert. You can email me on iyonge@legalisp.net for fuller reply


19.06 | 23:35

I am the Great-Great Grandson of Walter Francis Duke Young. This is such a great website and so interesting to read about the Yonge family history!!

27.05 | 17:13

Thank you for this account of Charlotte M Yonge. I wouldn't say she was a recluse, however, judging by her letters. https://c21ch.newcastle.edu.au/yonge/