YATES, RICHARD, ex-Governor of Illinois, was born in Jacksonville, Ill., December 12, 1860, the son of Richard and Catherine (Geers) Yates, this event taking place between the date of the election and inauguration of his illustrious father to the position of Governor, which he filled with such ability and distinction during the dramatic war period in the history of the nation. The Yates family is of English origin, the great-grandfather of Richard Yates, Sr., having come from England before the Revolution, and, after settling in Virginia, married Martha Marshall, a sister of Chief Justice John Marshall. His son Abner, who had two children - Henry and Martha - removed in 1788 to Fayette County, Ky., where he died, his family later settling in Gallatin County, in that State. In 1809 the son Henry married Millicent Yates, a cousin, and they became the parents of eleven children, one of whom was the first Gov. Richard Yates. In 1831 the family removed to the western part of Sangamon County, Ill., and there the father located what is now the village of Berlin, and later laid out the town of New Berlin on the line of the Wabash Railway, where he died in 1865.
After receiving his elementary education in the public schools of his native city, Richard Yates, Jr., at thirteen years of age entered Whipple Academy, the preparatory department of Illinois College, and three years later (1876) was admitted to the college proper, from which he graduated as class orator in 1880. He then took a course in the law department of Michigan University, at Ann Arbor, Mich., graduated therefrom in 1884, and was immediately admitted to the bar in both Michigan and Illinois, and soon thereafter to practice in the Circuit and Supreme Courts of the United States. For some two years after graduating from Illinois College, he served as city editor of the "Jacksonville Daily Journal."
From an early age Mr. Yates has been a prominent and influential factor in the life of the community. At the age of thirteen years he became a member fo the Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1900 served as a delegate to the General Conference, and has been actively associated with auxiliary bodies, especially the Young Men's Christian Association, of which he was Vice-President in 1885, during the period when William Jennings Bryan was serving as President of the organization. He is also identified with the Masonic Order, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the United Workmen and Modern Woodmen Fraternities, and few men in the State have gained so wide a circle of intimate friends and associates.
Mr. Yates has been prominent as a public speaker since 1881, delivering his first Fourth of July speech during that year, and has taken part in all the political campaigns since 1880, besides being frequently called upon to address Grand Army Reunions and other patriotic assemblages. For four years (1885-89) he served as City Attorney of the City of Jacksonville; in 1892 was the nominee on the Republican ticket for congress for the State-at-large, but was defeated in the landslide of that year, though receiving a larger vote in the State than President Harrison; in 1894 was elected County Judge of Morgan County, but resigned in 1897 to accept the position of Collector of Internal Revenue for Springfield District by appointment of President McKinley, continuing in this position until after his nomination for Governor on the Republican ticket at Peoria on May 9, 1900, just forty years to a day after the same honor had been conferred upon his father at Decatur in May, 1860. During this campaign, as well as in 1892, he made an extensive canvass of the State, speaking in every county, the former resulting in his election by a vote of 580, 198 to 518, 966 for his Democratic opponent. Again in 1904 he was a candidate for renomination before the convention which met at Springfield in May of that year. After one of the most memorable contests in the history of Illinois politics, consuming nearly two weeks of balloting, failing to secure a majority vote, though for a time being the leading candidate, he withdrew in favor of Mr. Deneen, who was nominated and elected by an overwhelming majority of the popular vote.
On his retirement from the governorship in January, 1904, ex-Governor Yates took up his residence in the City of Springfield, where he has built himself a delightful home, and has given his attention to the practice of his profession, being retained in some important cases before the higher courts. At the present time (1906) he is a prominent candidate for the United States Senate to succeed Senator Shelby M. Cullom, and has made an active canvass of many of the counties of the State.
In 1888 Governor Yates was married to Helen Wadsworth, who was born in Jacksonville in 1865, the daughter of Archibald C. and Delia Ann (Wetherbee) Wadsworth - the father a former merchant and banker of Jacksonville. Mrs. Yates' parents are natives of Ohio, her grandfather, Capt. Edward Wadsworth, having been a soldier of the War of 1812, and her great-grandfather, Gen. Elijah Wadsworth, a soldier of the Revolution. Mr. and Mrs. Yates have two daughters, Catherine and Dorothy. Mr. Yates is filially and loyally devoted to his mother, Mrs. Catherine Yates, widow of the first Governor Yates, whom he frequently visits at her home in Jacksonville. Possessing a strong personality and entertaining aspirations of the highest order, he is destined to make his influence felt upon the State and the Nation.