Joseph J. Yates *


The story of the Albany operative we reference as Joseph J. Yates likely begins with the christening of the eldest son of Albany residents Joseph and Hendrickie Hooghkerk at the Albany Dutch church in March 1720. At this point, it appears that only that reference can connect this name (Joseph J. Yates) with qualitative, community-based materials from the 1760s, 70s, and 80s. This sketch organizes biographical information naming "Joseph J. Yates" (sometimes primitively printed as Joseph I. Yates) of Albany.

Thus, his father generally was known as "Joseph Yates Jr. although the son may have been "Jr." as well. Several same or similarly named contemporaries were living in the region. Additionally, one of six sons of an Albany smith, these Yateses were prominent on the southside of Albany during the middle decades of the eighteenth century.

Without obvious (and more comforting) marriage and family information, we believe that we still must continue to pursue the Joseph J. Yates who was "overseer" of the Albany Night Watch during the 1760s and afterward. We recognize that insufficient demographic information on a potential mainline Albany subject calls all subsequent information for that name into question.

In July 1765, the city Council empowered "Capt. Joseph I. Yates" to keep collected fines until they are "asked for."

In 1766 and 67, the first ward holdings of "Joseph J. Yates" were assessed modestly. However, his name does not appear on the constitution signed by the Albany Sons of Liberty in 1766.

In April 1769, the city council received word from "Mr. Joseph Yates overseer of the City night watch" that he lacked sufficient manpower to guard the city which caused him to be discharged from that duty. On April 15, he was pa for his services from May 1766 to April 1769. In January 1770, he was appointed as "overseer of the Albany night watch" and was paid for services for a number of months. After that, the topic dropped from the city records.

In his fifties during War for Independence, we would expect to find his name somewhere in the wartime record. However, except for a notation that he had subscribed for the relief of the northern regions in May 1776, his name is absent from those documents.

In March 1779, an assessment list for the third ward valued the personal property belonging to one "Joseph Yeates" probably under the landmark residence of kinsman and community leader Abraham Yates, Jr. At that time, two lots belonging to "John Stofel and Joseph Yeates" were valued on the assessment roll also in the third ward.

After that, the verifiable trail for this individual becomes less distinct. In 1788, a "Joseph Yates' was identified as the owner of real and personal property (probably around Market Street). The citywide census of 1790 named no Joseph Yates - but perhaps he was accounted for in the first ward household of his younger brother Abraham J. Yates. At the same time, the countywide tally did enumerate three "Joseph Yates" households beyond Albany.

The Joseph J. Yates born in 1720 would have been eighty in 1800 and probably was not the JJY commissioned in the New York militia in that year.

In August 1803, the will of Joseph Yates passed probate in Albany County.

With so much vital information (demographic and activity) still absent from this story, we move on for now from the Albany life of Joseph J. Yates one-time "overseer of the night watch."

biography in-progress - 2017


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Joseph J. Yates is CAP biography number 4484. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

End of Winter 2019: As I have done for almost 20 years, I set out to develop this profile/sketch of a visible member of the community with the resources we have compiled and utilized since 1981. Despite substantial useful material, the red flags of no marriage or economic information have deterred our ability to definitively place him on the community landscape. Perhaps his will from 1803 is noted above - and should expand our grasp of his life. For the past two weeks, I have pursued him online. Internet-based resources represent much of the our "new" (supplemental) learning on the people of colonial Albany and their world. I hope to be able to revisit this character and further articulate his story . . .

first posted 2/20/19; updated 3/21/19