Dear Yankie/Yankey Family Members January 17, 2007
Subject: The Yankey “Fortune” Letters by Barbara Halladay Mahoney, July 2006
This paper is being published on the www.yankie.net website as written by Barbara H. Mahoney. The document has been the in the research stage for many years with contributions from numerous family members but we must offer a very special thank you to two people for making this information available, Ruth Gregory (RBG, deceased 1993) and Barbara Mahoney (BHM). Many hours of work, gathering information, crosschecking of records, writing and editing, were required to complete this publication. Other Yankey descendants provided actual copies of the Fortune Letters, not limited to but including Richard Miller, Gene Rae Shores, Martha Lankford and Mona Aldrich. The initials after these names will appear in the text of the publication, indicating that the contributing source of that text. Both Barbara Mahoney and Ruth Gregory trace their family roots to Michael Yankey, born 1775 in Virginia.
Barbara H. Mahoney and Ruth Gregory added extensive family history and genealogy to accompany the Fortune Letters, without their explanations and family research these letters, by themselves, would be much more difficult to comprehend. The letters contain much speculation, assumptions and personal opinions that required validation by Barbara and Ruth. Many Family History errors are contained in these letters. The authors of the Fortune Letters were doing the best they could with the information available to them, errors resulted and inaccurate statements were written. Cross-references by Ruth and Barbara have corrected many of those errors but this does not mean the entire publication is error free. Use the information carefully. We expect you, the readers, to provide added information about the people mentioned in these letters. Do not hesitate to provide us with additions and/or corrections to the Fortune Letters or the related genealogy, please send only validated information with source references.
Barbara H. Mahoney does not have email access but will provide commentary to questions if supplied with a self addressed and posted return envelope.
Many initials were used in the letters to identify family members, this being the writer’s attempt to shorten the writing labor but for today’s readers this technique can be troublesome. W.H.Y is William Henry Yankie, J.M.Y is James Minor Yankie, J.S.Y. is Joseph Samuel Yankey, W.R.Y. is William Riley Yankey, N.A.Y. is Noah Alpheus Yankey, Dr. J.W.Yankey of Sylvia, Kansas (first and middle name unknown). F.A.Y may be Felix A. Yankey.
Regards, Gerald W. Yankie
Barbara H. Mahoney
The entire story of the "fortune" is not known. However, through a collection of old letters (copies) generously provided by various YANKEY - YANKEE - YANKIE descendants, it is possible to recreate some of it. It is likely there was much more correspondence, as well as "visiting", by various YANKEY - YANKEE - YANKIES as the "search" went on.
The Basis of the "Fortune"
It seems WILLIAM H. YANKEE (who changed the spelling to YANKIE) saw, or heard of, a newspaper advertisement which states those with the surname "YANKIE' possibly had a "fortune waiting in Germany". [It must be noted, the wording of said advertisement is not known to me -BHM]. The quoted material came from old letters, along with the possibility of as much as millions of dollars "waiting in Germany".
Was this true? It is, of course, possible. Americans do inherit "legacies" from other countries. However, the longer the family "roots" are in America, the less likely American family members would inherit property in the "home" land. By circa 1900, the YANKEY - YANKEE - YANKIE family was in America for at least 125 years, possibly longer.
Was the "fortune" fraudulent, a "scam"? Many of the "fortunes" in other lands, or even in other states were strictly schemes to separate the credulous from their money. Mrs. MARY HARTER, an eminent genealogist in the Virginia - West Virginia area of Rockingham and Pendleton counties, answered my questions about the "scams" by stating they were known to have begun as early as the 1880s, perhaps before. I have read of the "scams" in several general history books. One stated such advertisements appeared in German language newspapers in St. Louis, MO. At times letters were sent to people of the selected surnames. A "fortune" from Germany is mentioned in a SITES genealogy publication. In 1885, a GEORGE NAZELROD of Louisburg, MO, was mentioned in The Buffalo Reflex [a MO newspaper, 7 May 1885 ed.] as having been "...in receipt of a letter from Germany, in which the pleasing intelligence is conveyed that he is one among a number of heirs of a legacy of $12,885,000." Both the SITES and NAZELRODS families were allied with the YANKEYS in Virginia. As Mrs. Harter stated in correspondence: "At least [the scams] got the family members writing and talking to each other". Others visited known relatives, sometimes over long distances.
KATE FRALEY FITTER recalls her grandmother, ELIZABETH ANN YANKEY WELCH, had a visit from "her uncles or brothers" when the family lived in Mitchell Co. TX (ca. 1909-12). "Grandmother was supposed to get some money. I don't think she ever got it." ROSE VONTANNA YANKEY, daughter of JOSEPH SAMUEL YANKEY, wrote in a letter to LEWIS YANKEY, in the 1970s, "a woman named CONRAD and her daughter came to visit us while they were all looking for the fortune from Germany." It is interesting to note some came forward with information on the "fortune" in their correspondence, others never mentioned why they wanted genealogical data.
Genealogical Materials in the Fortune Letters
The various letters hold valid genealogical information. However, the old letters also contain erroneous data with confused generations, names and places. Unfortunately, some of the letters have been used as the basis of genealogical research, without checking against census reports or county records. Some who used the old letters as the basis of their research compounded the confusion by not identifying their sources. Others used only one census report, that of 1810 Pendleton County, Virginia (now West Virginia). This census contains an age error for both MICHAEL YANKEY and his wife MAGDALENE HOTTINGER. [Census read on microfilm-BHM]
Beginning in the early 1960s, researchers who relied primarily on the old letters for their data began depositing the YANKEY-YANKEE-YANKIE material in various genealogical and historical archives, including the Latter Day Saints Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Such material (sources unnamed) also circulated to various researchers, and has appeared in a number of genealogical publications and on the internet. This is a typical problem when family information is published without adequate research.
The Surname Spelling
Some, including WILIAM H. YANKIE, did change the surname spelling because of the "fortune". Perhaps believing they had a better "claim" on the said "fortune" with the spelling thought to be the "German" spelling. Others changed the spelling earlier, as with the Ohio line of JONATHAN YANKEY-YANKIE. His family bible shows an earlier spelling of YANKIE. It is said, and possible, some of the YANKEES changed the spelling to YANKEY because of the Civil War. However, YANKEY, YANKIE and YANKEE are found on many records, this is likely related to how the clerk or recorder spelled the name.
As for the "German" spelling, it is known the surname began with “J” in German. As proof, MICHAEL YANKEY spelled his name in German script on documents recorded in Rockingham Co. VA. Although the spelling of the name cannot be certain, his signature clearly begins with a “J” in German script. In Germanic languages “J” is pronounced much as “Y” is in English.
The Legend Of The "Three Michaels"
There were too many MICHAELs in the Virginia stories. Sometimes numbered as MICHAEL I, II, or III, this thinking has been passed around by many people, likely emanating from the "fortune" letters. The error was compounded when the term “17th century” was used to mean the 1700s, rather than the correct 18th century. Others, reading the 17th century comment correctly as the 1600s, assumed the "first Michael" was in America by the late 1600s. Others thought "MICHAEL I" never left Germany". This document correctly identifies MICHAEL YANKEY b. ca 1775 in Virginia as the son of JOHN YANKEY. Alternately, as seen in some letters, descendants of JACOB YANKEY, b. ca 1773 in Virginia, have erroneously stated that JACOB’s father was also named JACOB instead of correctly identifying his father as JOHN YANKEY.
"Slabtown" or "Sealtown" Virginia
It has been widely circulated that a MICHAEL YANKEY "landed at" or" lived and died at" Slabtown, VA. Some of the material states "he moved" to Rockingham Co. VA, while other data states MICHAEL II or even III, moved on to Rockingham Co., VA.
LEWIS YANKEY wrote in his large notebook, in reference to "Slabtown or Sealtown", that he obtained this information from RICHARD MILLER ca 1972. [MILLER also sent me this information ca 1980- BHM] GENA RAE SHORES, also sent me the "Slabtown" data, stating that the town was hard to find, and located in Lancaster Co., VA. I searched a Colonial America area atlas, and did not find Slabtown. However, Mrs. LUCILLE WILLIAMS, of the Mary Ball Memorial Museum and Library, Lancaster, VA, kindly sent me the following information. "Slabtown is inland about five miles from the landing at Mulenbeck, on the Carrotomay River, which runs into the Rappahannock, and then into Chesapeake Bay." Mrs. Williams reported no JAENCKE-YANKEY records found in this area, and so concluded, as I had, that it was an unlikely place for a German-speaking immigrant to arrive in America.
The Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Historical Society staff did not know the name "Slabtown". A Virginia genealogist stated Harrisonburg was once "nicknamed" " Rock Town". "Graveltown" or "Gravestown" in Shenandoah Co. VA is named in some of the letters. [I did find a reference to Graveltown Cemetery in a VA cemetery book-BHM]
"The Three Brothers"
This is a very common genealogical family "legend" found in many lines. It is often stated in this way: "Three brothers got off the ship and went three different ways". The "three brothers" reference appears in some of the letters. It is probable that three YANKEY brothers were born in the 1770s in Virginia, but unlikely they “got off a ship”.
Proven YANKEY-YANKEE-YANKIE Ancestry
JOHN YANKEY, deceased, was named as father of JACOB age 10, and MICHAEL, age 8, in Shenandoah Co., VA court records, dated 25 December 1783. In the same record is ANDREW YANKEY, age 8. Not named as a son of JOHN in the court record, likely an omission, either by court recorder or by the genealogist employed by RUTH GREGORY to read the records. The three boys were being assigned guardians, “bound out”, a term meaning placed with a foster family. JOHN YANKEY's date of death is not yet known. However, this court record clearly identifies JOHN YANKEY as the father of the two (or three) boys.
The YANKEY family was in the southern Shenandoah Co. or northern Rockingham Co., Virginia area by August 1775. JACOB YANKEY and ANDREW YANKEY were baptized that month in Rader's Church, Timberville, Rockingham Co., VA. [Timberville is close to the Rockingham and Shenandoah Co. line-BHM]. MICHAEL YANKEY was not recorded as baptized on this date. [There is a possibility of an error in church records or inaccurately read in published compilations, not original records-BHM]. Some researchers thought JACOB and ANDREW were twins, but this was proved incorrect by the 1783 court records. MICHAEL and ANDREW were both listed age 8, Dec.1783. That does not mean they were twins. No other records have been found on ANDREW YANKEY, and his name is not well known to YANKEY descendants, however, we see the name ANDREW given to descendents of both JACOB and MICHAEL YANKEY. [RBG and I speculated that ANDREW YANKEY died in childhood - BHM].
We are also aware of an ANDREAS (ANDREW) JAENCKE who arrived in the Port of New York on the Moravian Church ship “Irene” on June 22, 1750 with the Henry Jorde Colony destined for the Moravian Colony near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The ship “Irene” carried colonists from Zeyst, Netherlands with a stop at Dover, England, departing for New York on May 11, 1750. Research is ongoing to investigate a connection between ANDREW JAENCKE and JOHN YANKEY.
JACOB YANKEY (son of JOHN), b. ca 1773 (court recorded age 10 in 1783), the proven son of JOHN YANKEY, owned land in Rockingham Co., VA, and married MARY SHRUM [Schram in German] in the same county. She is the daughter of DAVID SHRUM. [JACOB may have had an earlier marriage. Some state he was married to CHRISTINE NEEDMORE, or NEDMORE. However, a CHRISTIAN NEDMORE signed as bondsman for JACOB YANKEY in Rockingham Co., and some may have misread the marriage bond-BMH]. JACOB did have a daughter, BARBARA, born before his marriage to MARY SHRUM. BARBARA is identified as "daughir" in JACOB'S bible, but year of her birth unreadable on torn section. [Census reports b. ca 1794-BHM]
Some of JACOB'S children were born in VA. About 1803, he moved his family to KENTUCKY, and there built a stone house on Wilson's Creek. During the Civil War (after JACOB'S death) part of the battle of Perryville, KY took place on some of the old YANKEY property. Stones from the old JACOB YANKEY house were used in the foundation of the Perryville Battlefield Museum. [From MARTHA LANKFORD, a descendant-BHM]
JACOB YANKEY has many descendants who stayed in Kentucky, some moving on to other states. Two of JACOB and MARY'S sons, JACOB Jr. and SAMUEL, both married in KY, moved on to Missouri.
JACOB Jr. lived in Pettis Co. MO, had a large family, and was a Union supporter during the Civil War. WILLIAM HENRY YANKIE, who started the "Fortune" search was a descendant of this family.
SAMUEL YANKEY lived in Jackson Co., MO. He was a farmer and wagon maker near Lone Jack. He owned one or two slaves prior to the Civil War. As far as is known, his family supported the Confederacy during the Civil War. Part of the family was removed from this area with other Confederate sympathizers because of the dissent and raids in the area. Most of SAMUEL'S descendants lived in Missouri, some in Kansas.
MICHAEL YANKEY (son of JOHN) b. ca 1775, VA, died before Feb. 1835 in Pendleton Co. (W) VA. The proven son of JOHN YANKEY, he married MAGDALENE HOTTINGER, daughter of CONRAD HOTTINGER in Rockingham Co. VA in 1792. They owned property in Rockingham Co. until about 1808-1810, when they moved to Pendleton Co. (now WVA), living on top of the Shenandoah Mt. in the northeastern part of the county.
MICHAEL and Magdalene had four sons, (named in letters of JAMES MINOR YANKIE). These sons are:
JACOB (MICHAEL, JOHN) b. 1794, VA, married JUDITH RIGGLEMAN and lived in Rockingham Co. VA. JACOB and JUDITH had numerous children. Four of their sons moved on: JONATHAN WESLEY, OH, MO, IL; JAMES MICHAEL, TN; JOSEPH SAMUEL, OH, IN, TX; and NOAH ALPHEUS YANKEY, MO, IA. JOSEPH SAMUEL was a correspondent of JAMES MINOR YANKIE, as were two of JONATHAN WESLEY'S sons, JOSEPH SAMUEL of Rockwood, IL, and WILLIAM RILEY of Haines, OR.
MICHAEL Jr. (MICHAEL, JOHN) b. 1796, VA, married REBECCA FEEZLE-FREASLE in Pendleton Co (W) VA, and moved to Adams Co., OH, died March 12, 1879, buried Locust Grove, OH. Two sons, ANTHONY WARREN YANKEY and ANDREW JACKSON YANKEY.
WILLIAM (MICHAEL, JOHN) b. ca 1800, VA, moved on briefly [family story] to Ohio, then to Mississippi ca 1840, where he twice married, and had many descendants, some of them moving on to Texas and other places. [There is a circulated erroneous report that this WILLIAM died in the Revolutionary War. The war ended a generation before WILLIAM was born-BHM]
JONATHAN (MICHAEL, JOHN) b. 1806, VA, moved to Adams Co., OH. Married in Ohio in 1832 to SARAH ARMSTRONG, and in 1856 married ELIZABETH LAWRENCE. JONATHAN had children with both wives. JONATHAN died April 1896 and is buried in Darlington, MO. Children: WILLIAM JEFFERSON YANKEY, JOHN MILTON YANKEY, MAHALA JANE YANKEY, MILTON NELSON YANKEY, JOSEPH TRIMBLE YANKEY, SARAH ANGELINA YANKEY, JAMES MINOR YANKEY, NELSON FERDINAND YANKIE.
There are some differences in the "letters" on the names of the daughters of MICHAEL YANKEY and MAGDALENE HOTTINGER, which accounted for some researchers listing more "daughters" than existed. The facts are that LYDIA married  FREDERICK NESSLERODT, JR [various spellings]; CATHERINE, married WILLIAM CARRIER; MARY (Polly) married JOHN WRATCHFORD; PHOEBE, married AARON HALTERMAN; MALINDA, married WILLIAM RADCLIFF [also RATLIFF]; CENIA [ASENITH], married JOHN HARTER, and 'BETSEY ANN" [ELIZABETH], married GEORGE HARRIS. [See 1912 letter]. In another letter , there are changes, "BETSY ANN" HARRIS, omitted, LYDIA miss-named as DOVE, MALINDA'S surname as SMITH, and JENNIE HOTTINGER added.
There is some proof of all of the above being daughters of MICHAEL, b 1775, with the exception of JENNIE HOTTINGER. [Note: RBG and I both believe JENNIE HOTTINGER was a confusion, perhaps a "courtesy" title "aunt" to some YANKEYS-BHM]. LEWIS YANKEY stated a JUDAH was a daughter of MICHAEL YANKEY. However, no one of that name has been found in that generation, and the name does not appear in J.M.Y.'S letters.
The Confused Generations
In various letters it is obvious that JACOB YANKEY, b. 1773, and moved to Kentucky, has been confused with JACOB YANKEY, b. 1794, who was the son of MICHAEL YANKEY, b. ca 1775. Plus, thinking the lines were headed by "MICHAELS I, II, III, a generation was erroneously added, listing sons named MICHAEL, JACOB, WILLIAM, "died in the Revolutionary War", and Jonas, "went to Indiana" or "went to Indiana and was never heard from again."
In the opinion of RUTH GREGORY and myself [BHM], the four names reflected the four sons of MICHAEL YANKEY, b. ca 1775, VA, those being JACOB, MICHAEL, WILLIAM, and JONATHAN...with JACOB remaining in VA, MICHAEL and JONATHAN moving to Adams Co., OH and WILIAM to Yazoo Co., MS.
The Yankey Who "died in the Revolutionary War"
Said to be WILLIAM, of the generation that includes "JONAS", some have confused with WILLIAM, b. ca 1800, son of MICHAEL, b. ca 1775, and who moved to MS. It is possible that JOHN YANKEY, deceased by 1783 may have died in the Revolutionary War. However, no proof has been found of a YANKEY-JAENCKE, (other spellings) who served in that war. [I hired a genealogist to search Rev. War records in the National Archives under various spellings. None was found, however, it is known Rev. War records are incomplete - BHM]
"Jonas" who "went to Indiana"
With the confused generation, "Jonas" is probably JONATHAN, who moved to Adams Co. Ohio. [RBG agreed with me on this assessment - BHM]
The few "fortune" letters in my possession [copies] are dated from 1911 to 1924, with most written by JAMES MINOR YANKIE, of Ohio and Los Angeles, CA. Some are copies of original letters, others copied by unknown persons, all typed. The first letter (below) seems to sum up the "search". Of the few letters I have, this is the latest date, Nov. 2, 1924. -BHM
Copy of the letter from JAMES M. YANKIE to ASHTON SWISSHELM, Cairo, Illinois, dated 2 Nov 1924, Los Angeles, California [provided by MARTHA LANKFORD, KY]:
My Dear Nephew,
In my opinion this was typed from a copy of his original letter - BHM]
Copy of letter from JAMES M. YANKIE to Mr. J. S. Yankey, Rickford, [sic], Ill. [JOSEPH SAMUEL YANKEY, Jonathan Wesley, Jacob, b. ca 1794, Michael, John] dated Nov. 3, 1911. On letterhead, Cloverdale Land and Farming Company, Suite 225 Merchants Trust Bldg., Los Angeles, California. James M. Yankie, Secretary andTreasurer. [Copy provided by Mona Aldrich]:
NOTE: Dr. J.W. YANKEY, KS, son of JAMES M. YANKEY, TN (Jacob b. 1794, Michael, b 1775, John). JOSEPH SAMUEL YANKEY, IL, son of JONATHAN WESLEY YANKEY, (Jacob b. 1794, Michael, John). The J.S. or "Virginia Joe" mentioned in letter above was JOSEPH SAMUEL, (Jacob b 1794, Michael, John), uncle to the J.S. YANKEY of Rockford, IL. There is confusion on the JACOBS in this letter. The list of names not included here, as there are many errors in line. (file copy)
Copy (same letterhead as above) Jan 3, 1912, to J.S.YANKEY, Rockwood, IL.:
My Dear Cousin,
My Dear Cousin,
NOTE: In reference to F.A. Yankey of VA, the son of Amelia YANKEY, he was born before her marriage. (Amelia, Jacob b. 1794, Michael, John) Also note, in his letter J.M.Y. believes there were 5 sons of MICHAEL YANKEY, he has included JONAS in this generation, as well as his own father, JONATHAN. However, he did name MICHAEL as his grandfather and correctly living in Rockingham Co. The daughters are correctly named with the exception that LYDIA, named here as "Liddie" married Frederick NESSELRODT.
The JACOBS are still confused. J.M.Y. has the grandfather of J.S. YANKEY of Rockwood, IL correct in this letter, however, still confuses the JACOB, who married MARY SCHRUM in VA, moved to KY. The CHRISTINE NEDMORE who signed JACOB and MARY'S marriage bond in Rockingham Co. VA. The WILLIAM CARRIER referred to is Wm. CARRIER Jr., who was the son of WM. CARRIER and CATHERINE YANKEY. Wm. CARRIER Jr. married his first cousin, SARAH YANKEY, daughter of JACOB, b. 1794. By the time this was letter written in 1912, this CARRIER family had left Indiana, moved on to Missouri.
Copy [from Mona Aldrich] letter to J.S. YANKIE [sic], Rockwood, IL. (letterhead as above) from JAMES MINOR YANKIE, dated Jan 30, 1912.
My Dear Cousin,
NOTE: LIB HARTER, a descendant of ASENITH/CENIA YANKEY and her husband, JOHN HARTER, who moved from VA to OH, and lived in Adams or Highland Co. SAUL CARRIER not placed, possibly SOLOMON. There were several related CARRIER lines that moved on to OH from VA-BHM
Copy [from M.A.] letter dated Mar 28, 1912, same letterhead, to J.S. YANKIE, Rockwood, IL from JAMES MINOR YANKIE.
My Dear Cousin,
NOTE: With the probable exception of NORMAN YANKIE, the names listed above were not found to be descendants of JOHN YANKEY deceased by 1783) by either RUTH GREGORY or myself. There are other YANKEY lines in various states. -[BHM].
Copy, [from M.A.], handwritten letter, printed letterhead, D&Y Land Co., W.H. Yankie, Manager, P.O. Box 290, Joplin, Mo. Dated Feb 29, 1912
J.S. YANKIE, Rockwood, Ill:
NOTE: WILLIAM H. YANKIE was the son of JACOB YANKEE, Jr. (Jacob b ca 1773, John). It is likely JACOB, b. 1773, was born in VA, not Germany. The YANKEYs were in VA by August 1775. JOSEPH SAMUEL YANKEY (Jonathan W., Michael, John) of Rockwood, IL died in a railroad accident. JAMES M. YANKIE, is now in correspondence with J.S.Y's brother, WILLIAM RILEY YANKEY of Haines, OR. Since MONA ALDRICH, a descendant of W.R.Y., had letters written to J.S.Y., it is likely W.R.Y. took over the correspondence regarding the "fortune" for that branch of the family. -BHM.
Copy (from Mona Aldrich) letter, on letterhead, JAMES M. YANKIE, Real Estate, AgriculturalLands, Coachella and Imperial Valleys A Specialty. 622-623 GrosseBuilding, Los Angeles, [lists phone Home F 5389] dated Jan 8th 1914, to Mr. W.R. Yankey, Haines, OR:
Note: Reading the above letter, I have made the assumption that W.R. Yankie had heard of the "fortune" from his brother, J.S. Yankey, deceased by date of the above letter, or has letters to J.S.Y from J.M.Y. in his possession. The above letter seems to be first contact from J.M.Y. in answer to correspondence from W.R.Y. The "land deal" mentioned was probably mentioned in letters to J.S.Y.
There is an additional copy of the letter from J.M.Y to W.R.Y dated Feb21, 1914 which contains no family data, but espouses the opportunities of buying California real estate. (in files).
[The J.M. Y. letter to his nephew, ASHTON SWISSHELM, dated 1924, the first included above, sums up his "findings"-BHM]
Letter from W.H. YANKIE, headed D. &Y. Land Co., Joplin, MO, dated 26 Jan 1914 to W.R. YANKEY, Haines, OR, hand-written, on letterhead stationery. [Copy from Mona Aldrich]
There is a post script added by the letterhead, "I am 73 years old & and want the address of the ?????? [Un-readable because written on edge of copy-BHM] & families. Please help J.M. & I, write soon and give all the names of the Y family you can & oblige. Y.”
NOTE: As previously mentioned W.H. Yankey/Yankie is the one who was said to have seen (or heard of) the advertisement. In the letter above he has YANKEYs in VA later than they were. By the three brothers, he probably knew of JACOB, who was his grandfather and moved to KY; MICHAEL, who stayed in VA, and likely ANDREW...of whom we have no record after childhood. However, they were not the immigrants-BHM.
There is one more letter widely circulated by various YYY researchers. It was included in the undocumented "Yankee Genealogy" manuscript. Martha Lankford of KY also sent me a copy.
The letter repeats nearly all the genealogical errors that have been included so often in YYY material. I have abstracted from this lengthy letter but have left in much of the descriptive material on W.H.YANKIE, as well as all mention of the "fortune". I have also inserted my notes [BHM] where there are very obvious errors. Also, note the address, "Huston", Texas, I do not know if this is a town, or a typographic error of "Houston".
Printed Heading: Yankie Lumber Company Manufacturers, Phone 740, P.O. Box 392, Harriman, Tennessee. Addressed to Mr. BOB YANKEE, Huston, Texas from JAMES LAVERNE YANKIE, dated Dec. 4, 1961:
[NOTE: JONATHAN YANKEY/YANKIE (Michael, John), b VA, lived OH, used the spelling YANKIE in family bible much earlier than 1910. Uncle Will mentioned was WILLIAM H. YANKIE, (Jacob, Jr. Jacob, John), of MO and CO. There is also some genealogical material included in this section on the KY YANKEES. Some of it confused. BHM]
I think that Uncle Will died in 1917 and at that time he knew where almost every legal heir of the first Michael Yankee was living. Uncle Will had actually arranged for his passage to Germany when the war broke out in 1914 [WWI before U.S. involvement-BHM]. He believed firmly that he had everything all set and would soon have something over 100 million dollars back over here to get to legal heirs. He was advised before we entered the war  that the German Government had confiscated all the estate and think this brought on his death ahead of time. He had been extremely wealthy at 2 or 3 different times in his life but was in poor circumstances at the time of his death. [There is a considerable amount of biographical data on WILLIAM H. YANKIE here, with confusing dates and places, This letter contains undocumented genealogical data, on some of the Kentucky and Missouri YANKEY/YANKEE/YANKIES-BHM]
In Conclusion: It is likely there were other "fortune" letters. We would like to add to the file of these letters and would appreciate receiving any such letters. Some data has been passed around that the YANKEYs owned a bank in Berlin, other data that they were from Heidelberg. No supporting documentation has ever been included. Copies of the above letters are in files.
Edited for Publication by: