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Caswell C. York
(1822 - 1914)

My great-great-great-grandfather, Caswell C. York, was born on 22 April 1822 in Grainger County (now part of Union County), Tennessee.  His parents were Enoch York and Nancy Hill.  They were originally from North Carolina, and as small children were part of the westward migration that took place across the Blue Ridge Mountains into what was then called the Southwest Territory.  In 1796 it became the state of Tennessee. 

Enoch and Nancy York were married in Grainger County on 18 December 1811.  Caswell was the sixth of their eleven children.  His siblings were:  Elizabeth York (b. 1812); James Madison York (1814 - 1854); Cyrena York (1815 - 1854); Jane York (1818 - 1914); John T. York (1820 - 1910); Sylvania York (1824 - after 1870); Nancy York (b. 1826); Lutitia “Letty” York (1828 - after 1870); Lily York (b. c. 1830); and William Enoch York (1821 - 1873). 

Enoch’s family eventually moved to DeKalb County, Alabama, sometime between 1831 and 1850.  I know nothing about Caswell from his birth date until 14 February 1850, when he married Mary Lowry in DeKalb County.  With Mary he had two sons:  Adam York (b. 1853), and John Enoch York (1854 - 1948).  Mary died in 1854, very possibly in childbirth.

With two very young sons, Caswell quickly remarried.  On 8 June 1854 he married Margaret Elizabeth Wallace (1825 - 1896), the daughter of William Wallace, Sr. and Cynthia Peacock.  With Elizabeth he had five children:  Nancy A. York (b. 1855), Matilda Jane York (b. 1858), Mary Elizabeth York (1860 - 1958), and twins Henry Clay York (1863 - 1950) and Daniel Webster York (1863 - 1948).  (See bottom of this page for further information on Caswell's children.)

Caswell and Elizabeth’s children were born during the years that led up to and included the Civil War.  As a Southerner in the Deep South, and at odds with the rest of his father’s family, he was a Union sympathizer.  He and his family went north to Indiana under federal escort.  On 7 January 1864 he registered with Company F, 44th Infantry Regiment, Indiana.

After the War was over he tried to return to Alabama.  Needless to say, he found his life in danger, and fled from Alabama.  The 1870 census shows him in Morgan Township, Dade County, Missouri.  The 1880 census shows him in Brookline, Greene County, Missouri.

Margaret Elizabeth (Wallace) & Caswell C. YorkOn 4 July 1883 Caswell set out with most of his family in a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail, heading for Washington Territory.  His son Adam was already established on a homestead near Rockford, Spokane County, Washington Territory.  The memoirs his daughter Mary wrote of that trip can be seen here.  They arrived at Adam’s homestead on 15 December 1883.  For those of us who know what Spokane winters are like, we can only shake our heads at this late arrival.  His wife’s health was compromised on that trip.

Caswell established a farm near Harrison, Kootenai County, Idaho.  His wife Elizabeth died in Harrison on 30 May 1896, and is buried in the cemetery there.

Throughout his final years, Caswell made a practice of traveling between the homes of family members to visit.  He had a pension from the Union Army.  My grandmother remembers him.  She was raised by her grandmother (Caswell's daughter), Mary Elizabeth (York) Behrens.  Grandma was six when he died, so her memories aren’t entirely clear, but she remembers him taking over a room in the house on his monthly visits, having money to spend, and how she and her younger sister had to empty his chamber pots every morning!

I have been in contact with descendants of his brother, John T. York, who settled in the Napa Valley of California.  Caswell is apparently a legend in their family.  One of them, Rodney McCormick, recorded in his recollections that Caswell came out from Missouri to visit his brother John.  Apparently their reunion went on very well for a week, until Caswell started to speak against the South.  At that point John threw his suitcase out of the house, Caswell followed, and that branch of the family never saw him again!

Caswell was hit over the head and robbed as he was getting off of a train in Portland, Oregon, to visit his daughter Jane in his early nineties.  He died in Harrison, Kootenai County, Idaho, on 10 September 1910.  He is also buried in the Harrison Cemetery.  His wife Elizabeth has a tombstone, but Caswell does not.  I assume he is buried near her grave.

Children of Caswell York and Mary Lowry:

Adam York was born 22 February 1853 in DeKalb County, Alabama.  He preceded the rest of the family to Washington Territory, and is shown on the 1880 census in Spangle, Spokane County, Washington Territory working as a carpenter.  His sister Mary reported him as homesteading near Rockford, Spokane County, Washington Territory in 1883.  He was married to Margaret Asbill, and supposedly died in Oregon.

John Enoch York was born 23 February 1854 in DeKalb County, Alabama.  He lived in Rockford, Spokane County, Washington.  He married Mary Catherine Livesey on 30 June 1893, with whom he had at least six children:  Mae, Grace, John, Ella, Ada, and Frances.  He died 23 August 1948.

Children of Caswell York and Margaret Elizabeth Wallace:

Nancy A. York was born 10 June 1855 in DeKalb County, Alabama.  She married George Crane, and had at least one daughter, Stella M. Crane, who married a Mr. Beazley.  Nancy is shown on the 1910 census, living with George in Kennewick, Benton County, Washington.  She is listed on the 1920 census, living as a widow with her daughter, Stella Beazley, in Anacortes, Skagit County, Washington.  The 1930 census shows her living in the Whatcom County Home in Ferndale Township, Whatcom County, Washington.  Her death date is unknown.

Matilda Jane York was born 28 February 1858 in Georgia.  She married a Mr. Jennings, and had at least one daughter, Mabel.  She is understood to have been living in Oregon in the early 1900s.  I have no more information on her.

Mary Elizabeth York - my great-great-grandmother

Henry Clay York (twin of Daniel) was born 6 November 1863 in DeKalb County, Alabama.  On 17 July 1894 he married Della Elizabeth Trevillon.  They had five known children:  Hazel (York) Pugh, Clara (York) Madsen, Grace M. (York) Williamson, Clyde Henry York, and Bernard York.  In the 1900 census Henry is listed with the occupation of laborer.  Della died in Harrison, Kootenai County, Idaho in 1919.   On 16 April 1924 Henry married Mary Jane Brigden in Harrison.  She died in 1936 in Harrison.  Sometime after 1936 he married a woman named Leota.  Henry died on 7 February 1950 in Lane County, Oregon, preceded in death by Leota, who died in Lane County on 13 July 1948.

Daniel Webster York (twin of Henry) was born 6 November 1863 in DeKalb County, Alabama.  He married Mary Jane Blue on 17 May 1891.  They farmed in Antelope, Wasco County, Oregon, where Mary Jane died on 8 December 1916.  They had four children:  Edna Ethel (York) Lordyce, Nettie Ellen (York) Wheeler, Arthur Harold York, and Phyllis Merle York.  The 1920 census shows him in Antelope, and the 1930 census shows him in Stanley Acres, Clatsop County, Oregon as a servant in the home of Ora Taylor.  He died 21 January 1950 in Eugene, Lane County, Oregon.

Look for more AnceStories of Diane (Ludke) Midkiff's ancestors, including the AnceStory of Caswell C. York's daughter, Mary Elizabeth York.

This AnceStory written by:
Diane (Ludke) Midkiff

created: 19 Jan 2004
updated: 3 Jun 2004

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