Yokum's Station

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Southwest Virginia Project
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This article is one of a series on the forts of southwest Virginia during the period of Indian Hostilities, (1774-1794). The accompanying map shows the location of the forts in the Powell, Clinch, and Lower Holston watersheds. An index to these forts is found at List of Forts of Southwest Virginia. The location of many of these forts is known only approximately, and different sources sometimes suggest different locations. Much of the information in these articles is based on Emory Hamilton's article "Frontier Forts".




Located in Powell Valley on the banks of Powell River, between Dryden and Woodway, near where the highway crosses the bridge at the Wygal place. Yokum’s Station seems to have been a neighborhood fort for the scattered settlers of Turkey Cove.


Some time after 1780, supposedly at the home of George Yokum.

The George Yoakum listed in the article is actually the uncle of George Yoakum from the Powell River area. George was a grandson of Matthias Yoakum.

George Yoakum / Yokum came to the Powell River area in 1786 with his wife, Martha "Patty/Patsy" VanBebber. They were accompanied with her brothers: Peter, James and John VanBebber / VanBibber and one sister, Nancy VanBebber that married Robert Howard. They were in Greenbrier / Botetourt County Virginia before this date, and arrive here just in time for the formation of Russell County. John Vanbebber was made Lieutenant of the Russell County Militia at the first court of that county in May 1786. George was the son of Valentine "Felty" Yoakum and Margaret See. His father was killed in the "Muddy Creek" Massacre of July 1763 in Greenbrier County, along with his uncle, Frederick See, and many other men of that community. George and his mother and sisters were taken hostage by the Indians for nearly two years, and released through negotiations of Colonel Henry Bouquet.

George married Martha VanBebber about 1777 and their oldest child, Isaac Yoakum, was born in February 1778. The VanBebber siblings were orphaned in 1774, when their father, Isaac VanBibber, was killed at the battle of Point Pleasant on Oct 10. George Yoakum was also in that battle, referred to as Lord Dunmore's war. The VanBebber's and Yoakum's stayed at this Fort Yoakum until about 1795, when they moved further down the Powell Valley to the area now known as Speedwell, Claiborne, Tennessee. They built another fort there, also known as Fort Yoakum, in the VanBebber Spring's area. They had acquired thousands of acres of land in the Henderson Grant. George Yoakum died there in a bear hunt in the Cumberland Mountains on October 28, 1800. At that time it was Grainger County, Tennessee. His oldest son, Isaac Yoakum, and wife, Martha Yokum, were named as administrators of his estate. He was the grandson of Matthias Yoakum and his first wife, Maria Barbara Ungefehr, and they were all from Germany. Maria died on the voyage to America and Matthias then married Eleanor, last name unknown, said to be an Irish woman. He had a large second family with Eleanor, and many lived in Kentucky where Matthias built a Fort Yoakum there in the 1780's when Kentucky was being colonized by the Boones. Here are dates for Matthias and Valentine Yoakum, from Germany.

Johann Matthias Joachim married to Maria Barbara Ungefehr daughter of Friedrich. Married 18 Feb 1721 in Edigheim

Children: 1. Valentine Jochim born/christened 08 Sep 1722 in Edigheim 2. Philipp Paul Jochim born/christened 01 Nov 1723

Yoakum appears to be the name of the spelling from most of the descendants of George Yoakum/Yokum. The name can be found spelled many different ways, even several spellings may be found in the same document. George and Martha had eleven or twelve children. After the death of George, Martha left Tennessee and ended up in Edwardsville, Illinois in 1810 and can be found in Illinois in the 1817 census of Bond County. Later the family moved to Montgomery County and finally Sangamon and Menard County. She died there sometime after 1819. Several of her sons were with her in Sangamon County, including: William, James, Peter, Valentine, and the youngest Matthias. Possibly a daughter, Nancy Yoakum, was there. Valentine and Peter later came back to Tennessee.

The children of Matthias and Eleanor in Kentucky mostly spell their name as Yocum, an anglocized version probably from Eleanor. This information was researched by Steve Smith.


The station was perhaps the home of one George Yokum and anything of his personal life is unknown to this writer. It appears that the station was built some time after 1780, since this is about the time that Turkey Cove began to be settled, with Vincent Hobbs and some others settling there in this year. No description has been found for this fort and none of the military correspondence or pension claims make mention of it. This leads to the assumption that it may have been only a neighborhood fort manned by the settlers. The only intimation that militia troops might have been stationed there comes from the assignment order for militia troops in 1792, which shows a Captain, Sergeant, Corporal and 24 Privates stationed in the Turkey Cove, but does not show at what particular places, if any, they were stationed.

In a letter written from Morristown, TN, September 9, 1925, by Mr. William A. Orr, who grew up in the neighborhood of the fort, to Dr. David F. Orr, he says:

"When the fort was built there was only a trail from it up and down the river, up Turkey Cove and on over Lovelady Gap and across Natural Tunnel in Scott County. It was then part of Washington County. Do you remember a large pile of rocks at the Comfrey Patch? That is where the fort stood. It was from there that Captain Hobbs went when he shot Benge."

It is true that it was from this fort that Captain Vincent Hobbs led his small band of settlers that killed the half-breed Indian Chief Benge in present Wise Co., VA, forever freeing the frontier from the Indian scourge. All of Hobb’s men lived in and around Turkey Cove and most of them were members of the militia in Capt. Andrew Lewis' (Jr.) Command, which again might suggest that some militia was stationed at this fort.


Hamilton, 1968
Source:Redd, 1899-1900. Reminiscences of Western Virginia, 1770-1790. Virginia Magazine of History and Biography Vol 6:338-340, vol 7:248. See Google Snippets. Need to see original. This work seems to have been published over at least two years, and appears in both volume 6 and 7. Portions may also have been published prior to 1899.