Joseph Yates Obit
From the July 30, 1904 Courier-News:
“Sudden Death of Joseph W. Yates”
Contracting a Cold on His Outing with His Family, He passed Away at Minnewaska
Prominent in Plainfield
As an Orphan Boy He Took to the Sea and Finally Founded a Large Exporting Firm
Joseph W. Yates, one of Plainfield's oldest and best known citizens, died suddenly last night at Lake Minnewaska, New York, where he, with his family, had gone for the summer, as had been his custom for many years. His wife and daughter Margaret were with him at the last.
He went to Lake Minnewaska a month ago, and suffered from a severe cold, which was not thought serious until it developed with fatal results.
Mr. Yates was born in Bristol, Maine, January 30, 1826. He received such an education as could be obtained in the public and private schools in that vicinity. When he reached the age of ten years, he lost his mother, and four years later his father. Soon thereafter he commenced to earn his own livelihood by following the sea, and developing considerable ability in this direction, he was early placed in command of a vessel, which position he continued to fill until about 1854. During his life at sea, he improved his spare time by reading and study, thereby adding to his knowledge and education.
In 1854 he settled in New York city and formed a partnership with Robert Porterfield, a firm which, until within a few years, carried on an exporting and importing business with the West Coast of Africa and a general freighting business to most parts of the world. The founders of the house retired in 1884.
In 1855, Mr. Yates married Susan Gray Jackson, a daughter of Samuel R. Jackson of Providence, R.I., and in 1865 moved to Plainfield, where he continued to reside for the remainder of his life.
He took an active part in public affairs, serving the city as a councilman and the State as legislator. He was among the first to organize the city government and secured for it much favorable legislation. He was one of the original trustees of the Plainfield Public Library and continued to act in that capacity up to the time of his death.
For many years he was a trustee in the New York State Colonization Society, and was one of the oldest members of the Chamber of Commerce, with which he became identified in the early part of his business career. In 1875 Governor McClellan appointed him a visitor of the State Agricultural College of New Jersey, and for many years he had been Consul in this country for the Republic of Liberia.
Mr. Yates always took an active part in the politics of his city, State and county, and was conservative in the expression of his views and consistent in his adherence to his principles and to what he believed for the best interest of the people. Although urged by his friends several times to accept the nomination for Mayor of this city, for Congressman from this district and for other offices in the state, he never felt that the time had come when he would be able; if elected, to do full justice to the public and at the same time to those dependent upon him in private life. He was up to the time of his death, a close student, keeping fully abreast of the age and was considered one of conservative, deep-thinking, well-read men of the present time, notwithstanding his advanced years, and his loss will be deeply felt.
He leaves a wife, three daughters, Mrs. C. Dudley Holman, of Pittsfield, Mass., Mrs. Harry V. Borden and Miss Margaret G. Yates, of Plainfield, and two sons, Sam J. Yates of San Francisco, Cal., and Frederick W. Yates, of Plainfield.