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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



It has been the privilege of Mr. Yell to acquire a thorough knowledge concerning certain parts of Northern California through residence therein and the practical, personal information thus gained has proved of the highest value to him, enabling him to understand the merits of each section and to rightly estimate its possibilities for future development. Included among the localities of his former association are Sonoma county, where his sojourn was of brief duration ; Mendocino county, where he held official positions ; Kings county, where he built up an important clientele during his residence ; and the cities of San Francisco and Sacramento, with the latter of which he has been identified for a period sufficiently long to enable him to rightly value its advantages and conservatively estimate its prospects for large prosperity.

Of southern family and colonial lineage, Mr. Yell was born at Fayetteville, Ark., in May of 1859 and is a son of DeWitt Clinton and Katharine (Smith) Yell, and the grandson of Col. Archibald Yell, who was Governor of Arkansas and afterward Colonel in the Mexican war, being killed in the battle of Buena Vista. For some time Mr. Yell was a pupil in a private school of Nashville, Tenn., but at the age of thirteen he completed the studies of that institution, after which he took the regular course of study in the University of Nashville and was admitted to the bar of the district court in 1877. In that same year, having decided to locate in the west, he came at once to San Francisco, and from there proceeded to Sonoma county, where for one year he studied law under Judge Thomas. At the expiration of his period of study he engaged in practice in the justice and county courts of Mendocino county, where after two years of general practice he was elected district attorney. During his service of three years he returned to Tennessee and was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of that state. On his return to Mendocino county he resumed service as district attorney, to which office be was elected for the second time in 1883, remaining in the position until 1887,when he was honored by election as state senator from Mendocino and Lake counties. Four years were devoted to official duties and afterward he practiced law in San Francisco for three years, next opening an office at Hanford, Kings county, where he remained for four years.

As attorney in Sacramento, whither he came in the year 1898, Mr. Yell engaged in practice with Mr. Aram for twelve months and later practiced alone until 1900, when he received an appointment as deputy district attorney. Two years were spent in that position when he was appointed warden of the state prison at Folsom, serving four years and three months, after which he again resumed his practice in Sacramento, forming a partnership with A. M. Seymour, thus entering upon a congenial and profitable relation that has continued up to the present time. While making his headquarters in Mendocino county he formed the acquaintance of Miss Lucile Estes and after their marriage in November of 1883 they established a home in the county where she had been reared and educated. In the various places of his residence he has been connected prominently with the Masonic Order, being a Mason of the Knight Templar degree ; he has also held active relations with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. He is a member of the State Bar Association and is chairman of the grievance committee. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011