Yankie Cousins.

[Written by Merle Ramsey, February 14, 1971]
"Time is a mystic lens which gradually diminishes mere incidents until they vanish; but it magnifies events, destined to survive, until they stand fourth in notable prominence, and form the subjects of history. Each generation makes its own history; the succeeding generations write it. The purpose of this chronicle is to perpetuate, in convenient form, such salient events in the past of Silver City, as have lived for more than a century, and are deemed worthy of chronicle."
"Reminissing of the old west, which today is becoming faded in the memories of many whom we believe should remember, yet, they are unable to relate the facts of the records that should be inscribed in printed word for posterity. One generation acted the part, but is forgotten."

After many years in California's dry desert land, but now a bustling group of cities, highrises and freeways, the writer has lived through the evolving periods, miraculously missing gunfire and other dangers. Has traveled over the dry mesas that are now subdivisions and freeways.

Reminissing many years of the west, the writer has vivid recollections of many events. Some experienced and some related in story by those concerned. One of many years standing-----the origin of the founding of Silver City, New Mexico ----- Joseph Yankey, of Peebles, Ohio.

Living in Peebles, Ohio before the birth of the writer, he (Yankey) was not able to withstand the urge of the goldrush of the west and headed that way with a partner named Bullard. The (following) story as told to my father approximately one hundred years ago.

In their searching they (Yankey and Bullard) became interested in silver that took them into New Mexico. The story as told to my father was unique and followed the true pattern of the wild and wooly west.  History reveals that those days were not always peaceful. The killing of a man drew but a few lines in the newspaper. A stroke of gold or silver was big news. Yankey and Bullard were in Indian country and accepted the days as they came. Mr. Yankey said they had developed a method of processing the silver upon a large rock, upon which they had a good view of any activities of the Indians. There was soon a hatred developed by the Indians. A Chief declared he would kill Joe Yankey. Both were prepared at all times. When they did meet --- Yankey shot first, killing the Chief. Taking the Chief's rifle, extracted the unshot shell, putting it in his pocket. For the remainder of his life Yankey carried this shell in his vest pocket and would exhibit it as the bullet was meant for him had the Chief shot first. When he visited the writer and father in California in 1915 he was still carrying the shell in his vest pocket.

This is the story he (Yankey) told of his activities while mining silver.

Soon after their arrival and mining, others arrived and soon there were enough of a settlement they decided it should have a name. Yankey said he decided it should be named "Silver City" and Bullard also be recognized by naming a street "Bullard Street". Others may have a different version as to the naming of the city, but knowing Joe Yankey, the writer has no doubt this was the true fact.

There is an episode that reflects back to Silver City that the writer has definite knowledge of. Before the beginning of the century there was a barbershop in Silver City operated by a J.B. Cox. Upon the arrival of the writer in 1902 in Santa Ana, California, this same J.B. Cox had arrived in the same city and operated a ten-cent barbershop. He cut the writer's hair many times for ten-cents.) About 1912 he was elected Justice of the Peace. He informed the people he did not know much about law, but would administer it as the book read. He did just that. Lawyer's arguments had little effect upon the old judge. If the law said ten days, and/or ten dollars, that's what they got. It was this Judge J.B. Cox that sent Miss Bebe Daniels to jail for ten days for driving fifteen miles in a ten mile zone. This became news over the entire nation. They both became famous over the event. Miss Daniel's cell was furnished by a local store fit for a queen. An orchestra played at her window each day, and Judge Cox brought her flowers each morning. Remember, Judge Cox originally came from Silver City, New Mexico.

Joseph Yankey did not lapse into oblivion after his return to his family in Ohio. This story, the writer believes can be told and cast no reflections upon any as most have passed on.

During the time of operations in the new Silver City, Yankey contracted the measles. An Indian woman served as a nurse to him. In her method of bringing out the measles she gave him 'sheep nanny'. Ask some Indian how it was made? the writer has his own ideas.

Not long after, Yankey had arrived home to his family in Ohio, he answered a knock on the door. There stood the Indian woman holding a baby in her arms. Handing the baby to him she said, 'This is your baby, you take it.' Turning, she walked away. She was never seen again. It was assumed she returned to New Mexico. It was reasonable to assume in this small town the mystery would soon be gossiped among the people. But life went on as usual. The family accepted the baby and was raised the same as those of the family of five children, she being the sixth. The writer knew them all. Although the people knew her background, she was accepted as one of the Yankey family and society. When the marriageable age, she married the son of the leading business man of the town. Their son and daughter today should be in their seventies.

So goes the story of the man who founded Silver City, New Mexico.

We never knew what became of Bullard, of whom the street was named."

Merle Ramsey

Letterhead: Merle Ramsey,
1461 Glenneyre (Art Center),
Laguna Beach, California
* Dated Feb. 14, 1971 *
Addressed to Mr. James W. Harrison, Silver City, New Mexico
* Dear Mr. Harrison: * In answer to your letter I have assembled my memories of what I have known for many * years of the history of your city. I have enclosed it in full form to eliminate any creases * by folding. *I have known of this naming of Silver City for many years, and believe I am the only * one living today that knows the true story. Perhaps I may be disputed. It was told to my * father about one hundred years ago by Joseph Yankey (Some say Yankie). I am 83,* and remember of my father telling the story when I was a boy. Also of hearing * Yankey tell it in later years. * Had my wife been in better health we would have made a trip to your city and deliver the * story personally. Perhaps we can make the trip later. * As for the truth of the story, my wife knows it the same as I do as she lived in the same * little town when Yankey lived there. Peebles is a small town of many years of about * 1000 people near the Ohio River in the tobacco region. Among the Appalachian* Mountains.
* Hoping my story will be of interest to your city.*
I remain, sincerely yours. *
Merle Ramsey *

Written and compiled by

Gerald W. Yankie
I suggest that you talk with Susan Berry, Silver City Museum Director, about Joseph Trimble Yankie (sometimes spelled Yankey, but never correctly spelled Yankee). Joseph Trimble Yankie was born in Adams County Ohio on July 24, 1844. My grandfather (Jay Trimble Yankie) was the son of his sister. Joseph was in the Union Army during the Civil War and shortly after the war was over he went to New Mexico with his cousin, John Swisshelm, and his brother, James Minor Yankie, to seek their fortune. The 1870s and 1880s were some wild times in Silver City and surrounding territory. Hillsboro, NM is said to have been named by Joseph Trimble Yankie, after the county seat near his home, Hillsboro, Ohio. The Swisshelm Mountains in eastern Arizona were named after his cousin, John Swisshelm. This group from Ohio were extremely successful in gold and silver prospecting as well as other businesses. I do not know the whole story but will eventually learn more about their activities in the region. Susan Berry has helped me with some newspaper stories during the life of Joseph Trimble Yankie in your town. With Billy the Kid roaming the country and Apaches trying to protect their land, it was a colorful and frightening time. What made Joseph Trimble and James Minor Yankie leave New Mexico we may never know but they both moved back home, with a lot of money, and married local Ohio women and raised families. Joseph Trimble married Margaret Vinton Patton on Nov. 11, 1884 and James Minor married Anna Copeland on Feb. 2nd, 1887 (on Groundhog Day). These records are in the family bible of their father and mother, Jonathan Yankie and Sarah Armstrong Yankie. Joseph Trimble Yankie died on June 12, 1926 and is buried in Ohio. His brother, James Minor Yankie died on Feb. 13, 1928 and buried in Los Angeles, CA. So, never allow the city road department to change the spelling of Yankie Street. I hope this history will add more meaning to the place that you have chosen for your business. Bullard and Yankie were business associates but I do not know the exact connection.

Written by Victoria West, Yankie Creek Gallery
Silver City was apparently built where it was built because of the high water table here. Yankie Street, in effect acts as an arroyo, drawing the excess water from streets higher up. Our sidewalks are very high...from 12" to almost 3 feet in some places because during our "monsoon season" the water rushes through town.

Yankie Street is interrupted by our "Big Ditch Park"...formerly Main Street...which was washed away in a series of floods. Where Yankie Street ends the water is channeled into Big Ditch where it joins what is known as the Santa Rita River, but was once an underground stream. At times the water gets high enough to even pick up cars and move them. There are pictures of the water on Yankie Street with vehicles floating from various time periods in history.

The summer before we opened the YANKIE CREEK GALLERY, one fellow kyaked down Yankie Street from the University end and through town.

In the early days, there were wooden footbridges that were swung into place so the ladies could shop in bad weather. Sometimes the water is high and rushing enough we see whitecaps where it swirls at our corner! That is why the gallery is named "Yankie Creek"! We will be having our 10th Anniversary in business this February. Our entire business history has been at the corner of Yankie and Bullard Street, first on the Northwest corner, and three summers ago we bought the building on the Southeast corner. Although we were one of the very first, Yankie Street is now "gallery row" and has a nice restaurant with outdoor dining located just off the main drag (Bullard Street).

It would be wonderful to add the history of its naming to our repertoire of "Old West" stories as Silver City has become a bit of a tourist attraction and people are always curious about it. Any information you can share would be most welcome! We knew it was named after someone, but didn't really know who. We have to make the road dept change the signs every time they misspell it as "Yankee", it would be easier to make them keep it right if we could verify the naming! I could probably arrange to send some pictures if you like, but it is worth a trip...we have a local museum with lots of pictures of Yankie Street and the businesses that were located there in the earlier days.

The town hasn't changed tremendously much...most of the original buildings are still in use. There is a little town near here that was the center of the silver mining activity in those days called Pinos Altos where the old school house serves as a mining days museum. There are cliff dwellings and the National Forest nearby also which are tourist attractions. The weather here is great pretty much year round and there are still lots of open spaces. If your great great uncle helped get this place started, it was a pretty good thing! There are probably records about him in the Silver City Museum and on deposit at the public library. – Victoria West, Yankie Creek Gallery