My Yoder Lineage: A Case of Entrenched Disinformation by Anita Nail

In 1999, while tracing my grandfather’s family, I learned that I descended from Ephraim A. Yother of Gilmer County, Georgia. (The German surnames, Joder, Yoder, Yeoder, Yother, etc., are used interchangeably, often in the same document. Names spelled as found in records.) While researching this family, I discovered at least two serious clerical errors or inaccuracies that have perplexed my cousins and me for many years and completely changed the trajectory of our Yoder lineage.

According to historian Fred Roy Yoder, Conrad and Catherine (Huffman) Yoder’s son Adami married Sally Davis, moved to Tennessee, and then all contact was lost with his branch of the Lincoln County, North Carolina family.ii  It was later assumed that the Yothers who appeared in north Georgia by 1836iii were Adam’s and Sally’s children, but the relationships were impossible to prove, since Adam Yoder/Yother died between 1826-1830, and Sally (Davis) Yoder never existed.

I was unsuccessful in obtaining copies of the original Lincoln County, NC Zion Lutheran Church Birth and Baptism Records, but in a widely distributed typed German-to-English transcription, I read that Adam’s wife was listed as “Sally.”iv However, in attempting to document this line, marriage records proved that Sarah “Sally” Davis had married Richard Johnson on 04 March 1800.v

At the same time, an 1807 marriage bond between Daniel Yoder and Elender Davis This conflicted with Lutheran Church records proving that Daniel had married Elizabeth [?Cline]. Even if the intended groom’s name had been correct, that marriage did not take place. (Eleanor (Davis) Yoder and Sarah “Sally” (Davis) Johnson were the eldest children of Allen and Susannah Davis of Lincoln County, NC. Allen Davis named Adam Yoder “friend” and co-executor in his willvii, viii

Newly discovered documents proved that Daniel’s brother Adam married “Elender” (Eleanor). While Conrad Yoder’s sons, John and David, remained in Lincoln County, and sons Jacob, Elias, and Daniel, migrated to Indiana before 1820, Conrad’s only remaining son Adam and wife Eleanor “Nelly” (Davis) Yoder moved to Haywood County, NC before August 1820. In 1828, Macon County was formed from the southern portion of Haywood County, and Eleanor Yoder and her children were enumerated there in 1830.ix, x, xi, xii, xiii, xiv, xv

I subsequently obtained three 1830 Macon County Apprentice Bonds proving that Ephraim A. Yother’s father was deceased, and his mother was known as the “Widow Eleanor Yeoder” aka “Elender Yoder.”xvi, xvii, xviii

In 1907, although his Eastern Cherokee Indian application was rejected for lack of proof of native descent, Benjamin Franklin “B.F.” Yother claimed his grandfather Adam Yother, Sr. was the father of at least five north Georgia Yother men: Adam, Jr., George, Ephraim, David, and Jefferson.xix

Armed with these conflicting documents, I searched in vain for the original church records for years. I recently learned they were on microfilm at the Crumley Archives in Columbia, SC. To my utter amazement, I immediately saw that Adam Joder’s wife was listed as “Nelly,” not Sallyxx. Her name was later verified by an independent expert in old German handwriting, Bruce Stahly.xxi (Nelly is a common nickname for Eleanor.)

 Now we know some of “the rest of the story” my fourth great grandparents were Adam and Eleanor “Nelly” (Davis) Yother.


Anita Newsom Nail
303 Crittenden Street
Greenville, MS 38701
(662) 332-3305

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