Isaac Yerks was born circa 1823 to John Van Tassel and Fanny Yerks in New Castle, New York. He was the first of nine children born to them.
Somewhere in the mid-1850s, Isaac married a woman by the name of Elizabeth and began their family, living in the town of Mount Pleasant near other Yerks relatives.
Ezra Yerks, Isaacs younger brother was born circa 1830 and does not appear to have ever married.
On July 4, 1856 Isaac and Elizabeth gave birth to their first child, Charles W. Yerks.
In April of 1869, Issac and Elizabeth Yerks moved to the Tarrytown area of Mount Pleasant and set up residence in Isaac Van Wart Buckhout’s house. A move that he would undoubtably regret. Issac worked on Buckhouts farm for shares. According to the 1870 United States Census record, Ezra Yerks was also living with them in Mount Pleasant. Isaac Van Wert Buckhout was a wealthy man, an accomplished violinist, and a reportedly a misogynist who brooded over the perversity of women. He lived in his Sleepy Hollow Road home with his wife Louisa Ann, who owned the house in which they resided.
On New Years day, the normally quit and reserve Tarrytown village was rocked with the news that two of its citizens had been brutally murdered. Louisa Ann and Alfred Rendall, a wholesale liquor dealer from New York City, were found dead in the Buckhout home. Alfred was fatally shot in the head. Luisa and was killed with blunt force trauma to the face using the same rifle that was used to kill Alfred Rendall. Rendall’s son Charles, was also seriously injured with a bullet wound to the eye.
According to reports, the husband was jealous, maybe even “insane”, and assumed his wife was orchestrating an affair with the Randall son.
Issac Yerks and his wife Elizabeth soon found themselves in the middle of a murder investigation. When called to testify, the pressure was too much for Elizabeth and she fainted.
Elizabeth Yerks — “I am the wife of Isaac Yerks, who is a farmer to Buckhout. I live in one part of the Buckhout’s house. I have lived there nearly one year.” [The witness then fainted and had to be carried out]
Isaac testified that he worked on the farm for shares and as to his strange and changed manner just before the murder. His testimony was published in several larger newspapers including the New York Daily Tribune and The Statesman.
Isaac Yerks — “I live in sleepy Hollow. I have lived in the house since April 1869, working for shares. I saw him New Year’s morning. I helped him put four barrels of apples into a wagon about 9 o’clock. I heard the report of a gun in the morning while I was working. The report was in the direction of his house. I heard two reports. He told me while putting in the apples, that he had shot at a hawk and missed it. I left home a little after nine. He’s been downhearted by spells all through the fall. He is never told me the reason of his depression.”
Cross-examination — “I never noticed during the fall that he was addicted to liquor. The night before New Year’s I saw him by the store and spoke to him. He seemed depressed. I thought he acted irrationally.”
Redirect — “his gun was usually in the sitting room and sometimes in the kitchen. I never saw it in the bedroom. He was often in the barn and around the wagon house.”
Isaac Buckhout was eventually hanged and laid to rest in Chappaqua.
In or around 1879, Isaac and Elizabeth gave birth to their second child, Hattie Yerks. Hattie died in 1892 at the age of 13 from unknown causes. She is buried at the Fair Ridge Cemetery.
Sometime shortly after 1870, Ezra moved to Chappaqua and began managing Winthrop Cowdins farm near the old Readers Digest property.
On October 25, 1881, Isaac Yerks purchased a large 34 acre parcel on Chappaqua Street (now known as Quaker Road) from Abraham and Anna Underhill (Liber 1001, Page 201) and moved back to his birthplace. The property was bound in the south by the Friends Meeting House & Burial ground. On the same day, Isaac bought the 8 acre “enclosed property of the Fair Ridge Cemetery” (Liber 1001, page 187).
The home, that today has an address of 428 Quaker Road, was built in 1700’s by Thomas Dodge. Thomas Dodge was the caretaker of the nearby Quaker Cemetery and a coffin maker. He and his descendants kept a “Book of Deaths” that listed coffin commissions by date of burial for close to 2,300 individuals. The home, commonly referred to at the “Thomas Dodge House” is one of Chappaqua’s most prized historical properties.
All seemed better for Isaac Yerks and his family for almost two decades. They had moved their family to the hamlet of Chappaqua and were farming the land they had bought.
But then in 1887, Charles W Yerks, age 21 was found drowned in the pond across the road from their house. The circumstances are unknown. But apparently his death took a heavy toll on his mother, Elizabeth.
Then just a few years later on April 7, 1890 , Ezra, brother to Isaac passed away at the age of 60. The following obituary was posted in the Mount Kisco recorder on April 11, 1890.
Mr. Ezra Yerks, who for the past 20 years has had charge of the Winthrop Cowdin Farm, died at the residence of Mr. Cowdin, on Monday night, April 7, at about 9 o’clock, of apoplexy, aged 62 years, after an illness of about two weeks.
Mr. Yerks Had been a member of the Pleasantville M. E. Church for 16 years at the time of his death, and had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. And he was generally well-liked by all who knew him. He was a steady, faithful servant, which was attested by his long residence with Mr. Calvin, and will no doubt be much missed about the place.
The funeral services were held at the old Baptist Church at Chappaqua, and Wednesday last, at 2 PM. Sermon by the Baptist Minister of Chappaqua. Interment in the old cemetery at Pleasantville.
On April 25, 1890, the following newspaper snippet appears in the Mount Kisco Record indicating that brother Isaac would be one of the Executors of Ezra’s will. And it looks like Ezra has been hiding his fortunes.
Isaac Yerks and George Hunt have been appointed administrators of the estate of Ezra Yerks. Ezra left property to the value of $7000. There was found in a box under his bed $2947 in all kinds of money, gold, silver, copper and paper, which by it looks an date had been accumulated for 35 years at least.
In todays money, that equates to more than $180,000. In addition to the money found under his bed, Ezra’s Estate included his home on Chappaqua Street. According to a snippet in the Mount Kisco Recorder on April 23, 1891, The home was eventually sold to Charles Cornell of New York City.
Mr. Charles Cornell and family returned to their City Hall last week for the winter. Mr. and Mrs. Cornell like chap was so well, that they purchased the Ezra Yerks Estate on Chappaqua Street, where they intend building next summer for a permanent home.
In 1906, Isaac divided his 34 acre plot into one smaller plot (less than an acred) with the house on it and a roughly 34 acre plot that was bound by the smaller sub-division and the Fair Ridge Cemetery. The smaller lot was sold on May 4, 1906 to David W Cornell (Liber 1754, page 109). The relationship between Charles Cornell, who bought Ezra’s estate and David Cornell is unknown. The larger 34 acre lot was sold on the same date to Albert Turner. Then, in a strange twist, on the same date, David W Cornell transferred ownership of the the small lot to Howard Washburn (Liber 1754, page 183). The reason for the double transfer is unclear.
On May 15 1906 the following story was published in The Evening Telegram.
Found at prayer at sons grave
Aged Mrs. Yerks, about to leave old homestead, slips away to cemetery
Hidden in a clump of evergreen trees near the grave of her son, and the old Quaker cemetery, at Chappaqua, and insight of the pond in which he was drowned more than 20 years ago, Mrs. Isaac Yerks, 83 years old, was found by friends and relatives after an anxious search of five hours. Today she is in a critical condition.
Mrs. Yerks never recovered from the shock caused by the death of her son. Her mind has been more or less feeble and she has been regarded as irresponsible. Her son was the only child and every day since his death her husband has taken her to visit the grave.
Mr. Yerks sold his old farm and Homestead several months ago for $1900. The new owner served him with notice two weeks ago that he had rented the house to another and desired him to vacate.
With a heavy heart, Mr. Yerks bade adieu to the old Homestead and was about to be helped into a carriage when he asked where his wife was. When search was made for her she could not be found. She had slipped away. A large volunteer corps of neighbors was soon hunting for her. For five hours they scoured every note in corner of the country for several miles around. Some feared misses your works had thrown herself into the pond in which her son had met death or into some adjacent stream.
Finally, someone suggested a search of the Quaker cemetery, and in a corner of the burying ground she was discovered at prayer.
It is not known where Isaac and his wife moved to after selling the farm, but they are both buried at the Fair Ridge Cemetery in Chappaqua with their children.