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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
William Yerdon

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 384-387 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Portrait of William Yerdon

Portrait: William Yerdon

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In the death of the late William Yerdon of Fort Plain, this village lost one of its foremost citizens and prominent business men. All of his mature life was spent in this community, which profited greatly from his successful business enterprises and industrial establishment and he left as a monument to his industry and business enterprise a highly successful manufacturing concern that is today being profitably managed by his heirs. The original settler by the name of Yerdon in the Mohawk valley was John Casper Yerdon, who was living in Freysbush, Montgomery county, as early as 1780, on a farm that he owned and managed. His son, Andrew Yerdon, was born there September 13, 1797, and on the 14th of September, 1824, was united in marriage to Miss Maria Roof, likewise a native of that place, who was several years his junior, her birth having occurred on April 8, 1806. This couple spent their lives on the Yerdon farm, now known as the Phil Failing farm, and lived to a ripe old age, the father passing away in October of 1876, and the mother on February 29, 1880. Their son, William, the subject of this review, was born in Freysbush, town of Minden, on the 5th of March, 1848. As a boy he attended the country schools near his home and a little later rounded out his education by a course in the seminary at Fort Plain. When he had laid his textbooks aside the young man became a clerk in the store of Clark & Woods at Fort Plain, where he remained for a number of years.

Mr. Yerdon ventured into business for himself by buying a bus line in this village, which he operated successfully for a number of years. While he was thus engaged the bridge at Fort Plain was washed away during a severe flood and the young man saw in this disaster an opportunity to advance his own fortunes. That was the day of toll bridges, so by replacing the lost structure by one of his own building he was able to pay for the expense of erection and make a substantial profit by charging toll on the teams crossing the bridge. Between the management of the bridge and the bus line he was very busily engaged for some years. Meantime, however, he invented a hose band known as Yerdon's double improved hose band, which still finds an almost universal use in the world on many makes of motor cars. Mr. Yerdon built a factory for the manufacture of these bands and soon built up a flourishing business that occupied his chief attention the balance of his life. The plant is now conducted by the members of Mr. Yerdon's family, along the lines laid down by the founder of the establishment. They manufacture these bands in all sizes from those no larger than a man's finger to bands four feet in diameter. The output is placed on the market through the hands of jobbers and by direct sale to railroads and the large hose manufacturers.

Locally Mr. Yerdon was very prominent in political affairs as a republican and for a number of years was regarded as one of the most able of the leaders of his party in this section. During the Benjamin Harrison administration he was rewarded for his efforts in this direction by the appointment as postmaster at Fort Plain. He was identified with the Improved Order of Red Men and belonged to the Fort Plain Club. His religious faith is indicated by his membership in the Universalist church of this village, in which he long held the office of trustee. The death of this able man occurred on the 19th of March, 1911, and was mourned by the entire community as a loss that could not be easily replaced.

Mr. Yerdon is survived by his widow and two children, a son and a daughter: Marion Lucille, born in Fort Plain, September 20, 1884; and Leland Brintnall, born in this village, March 16, 1888. Mrs. Yerdon was Miss Sylvina Barker before her marriage to William Yerdon on the 21st of December, 1881. Born on a Canadian farm, March 26, 1852, she is the daughter of John and Mary (Brintnall) Barker. Her maternal grandmother, Mary Hinman before her marriage, came from the Hinman family of English origin, which traces its lineage back to Charles the First, of the Stuart line. Moses Hinman came to New York in 1799, shortly after the Revolutionary war, and located at Augusta, Oneida county, but subsequently moved to Canada with his wife and family of nine children. Since then the Hinmans have remained in the Dominion. John Barker, Mrs. Yerdon's father, was born in England, at Hutton Rudby, where he spent his boyhood and learned the weaver's trade. He was a mere lad when he crossed the Atlantic and located in Paterson, New Jersey, where he found ready employment in the manufacture of belts. Somewhat later he went north to Canada on a visit to relatives and was so favorably impressed with that country that he decided to remain there permanently. Accordingly, he took up a tract of wild land in the township of Cramahe, Ontario, which he improved and cultivated for the rest of his life. He continued to do a little custom weaving at his farm home as a side interest. His death took place in Canada in 1877. By his wife, Mary W. Brintnall, to whom he was married in 1835, he was the father of a family of twelve children. In 1871 Miss Sylvina Barker came to New York state to take up the study of telegraphy, and five years later she came to Fort Plain as the agent and operator for the New York Central at this place, a position that she continued to fill with marked ability until about a year after her marriage in 1881. During the many years that she has been a resident of this village Mrs. Yerdon has made a wide circle of friends and taken an active part in various of the church and social activities. Through her distinguished ancestry she has become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, in which she takes a deep interest.

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