GEORGE H. YOAKUM. - George H. Yoakum, who is now living a retired life on section 30, Salisbury township, was for over fifty years one of the active and enterprising agriculturists of Sangamon county. He is now a venerable and revered citizen who has passed the seventy-fifth milestone on life's journey. His has been an upright life and therefore his example is one well worthy of emulation. He was born in this county, June 27, 1829, a son of William and Sarah (Simmons) Yoakum. The father was born in Greenbrier county, Virginia, in 1789, and was a son of George Yoakum, who was of German parentage. The latter removed with his family to Tennessee when William was a child and in that state resided until his death. His wife survived him and reared her family, caring for them as best she could and making for them the sacrifices that only a mother can. In 1810 she removed to Illinois, locating in Madison county. Subsequently, however, she removed to Montgomery county and in 1819 she came to what is now Salisbury township, Sangamon county. This was a frontier region situated on the very border of civilization, and the work of improvement and progress seemed scarcely begun. For many miles stretched the unbroken prairies and only here and there was the home of the pioneer settler. William Yoakum accompanied his mother on her various removals and with her came to Sangamon county. Here he was married in 1821 to Sarah Simmons, who was born and reared in Kentucky. He entered land from the government, performed the arduous task of developing a new farm and thereon he reared his family and made his home until his life's labors were ended in death. He passed away in 1880 at the advanced age of ninety-one years and his wife died on the 5th of December, 1865. In their family were ten children who reached years of maturity and six of the number are now living. The eldest, Polly Ann, is the wife of William Paney of Menard county, and George H., of this review, is the second living. Martha is the wife of Francis Duncan, of Sangamon county, James C. is a farmer of Salisbury township. Milton B. is also living in Salisbury township. Riley makes his home in DeWitt county, Illinois.
No event of special importance occurred to vary the routine of farm life for George H. Yoakum in his youth. He was reared amid the wild scenes of the frontier and assisted in the work of field and meadow. He knew all of the experiences that were common in the pioneer cabins and while there were many hardships and difficulties to be borne there were also many pleasures enjoyed. Hospitality at that time reigned supreme in all of the homes and there were many pleasant gatherings of friends. It is true that the farm implements were crude and the labor much more arduous than it is at the present time with all of the later improved machinery, but Mr. Yoakum worked untiringly and after his father's death he purchased the interest of the other heirs in the old homestead and succeeded to its ownership. He was at one time the owner of one hundred and twenty acres of rich and valuable land of Sangamon county and was very successfully engaged in general farming, but in more recent years he has sold ninety acres of his place, retaining only thirty acres, for he desires to live a retired life and does not wish to be burdened with the care of a larger property.
Politically Mr. Yoakum is a stanch Republican. He cast his first ballot for Abraham Lincoln in 1864 and at each election since that time with one exception he has supported the men and measures of the party. He has never been an aspirant for office, but did serve as commissioner of highways. his entire life, up to the time of his retirement, was devoted to agricultural pursuits and yet he has never been negligent in the discharge of his duties of citizenship or in meeting any obligation of the business world. He has been connected with the Old Settlers' Society of Sangamon county for a number of years and is now its vice-president. He relates many interesting experiences of the early days when this was a frontier region, when the homes of the settlers were log cabins or small frame houses, when much of the prairie was still in its primitive condition and when wild game was plentiful, furnishing many a meal to the early residents of this portion of the state.