William Henry Yearnd (1883-1948)

William was my grandfather. I originally posted this short biography on my old website, more than ten years ago. I am finally getting around to adding it here.

William H. Yearnd. Michigansian, U of M yearbook, 1905

Birth and parents

William Henry Yearnd was born ca 1883 in Howell Michigan. I have found no birth or baptism record. His birth and parentage is supported by other several records.

The first, his marriage record, # 54 of the year 1908 in Wexford County, Michigan recorded 9 April 1908, and stating he married Winnie Kaiser, daughter Wm Kaiser and Jane Johnston on 8 April 1908, and listing his parents as Chas Yearnd and Lena Detman.

Upon the death of Charles Yearnd (sometimes Yournd) of Howell, MI on 20 July 1911, there was no will, however William Yearnd appears on the determination of heirs for the estate. The heirs are listed as: Lena Yearnd, widow; Fred Yearnd, son; Augusta Yearnd; daughter, Frank Yearnd, son; William Yearnd, son. William Yearnd was the attorney who filed the case in probate court.

A clipping of an obituary for William, which is not identified as to date or paper it is from, states he was born in Howell, Michigan on 28 June 1883, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Yearnd.

William, of Cadillac is listed as a survivor in the obituary of Charles Yournd.

Several biographies and articles were printed in newspapers between 1908 and 1948 which note that William Yearnd was born in Howell, MI. William’s wife, Winnie, kept a scrapbook which preserved many articles, but does not always identify the paper or the date. The public cannot access the archives of the local paper in Cadillac, and there is no microfilm.

Early life

Howell, Michigan is located in Southeastern Lower Michigan, northwest of Detroit. It was a small town, typical of many in the Midwest. There was, for a time a condensed milk factory, which provided employment. The majority of the residents were farm families or laborers.

William Yearnd attended the University of Michigan. On particular article stated that he shoveled coal to put himself through school. According to the University, they maintain some files of graduates in the Bentley Library, and William Yearnd is among those with a file. I will post what I find when I am able to look at the file. William received an LLB in 1905, and upon the recommendation, and with references from of a school counselor joined a law firm in Cadillac, MI.

William Yearnd, probably during his time as prosecuting attorney, Cadillac, Michigan

Adult life

On 8 April, 1908, as previously noted, he married Winnie Alice Kaiser, a local girl who was employed as a clerk in the Wexford County Court House. It is natural that they should meet, since a local lawyer would frequent that place.

In the minutes of the Clam Lake Township board of November 30, 1910 it is noted that Fred Wetmore and William Yearnd were appointed to defend the Township in a recently filed lawsuit.

There were 5 children in the Yearnd Family, Margaret Jane born in 1910, Marion Augusta born in 1912, Helen Elizabeth, born in 1914, William Henry born in 1917, and James Austin, born in 1927.

Although no one knows, it appears that the children were named for relatives. Margaret and Jane were Winnie’s Aunt and Mother respectively, Augusta was the name of William Yearnd’s sister, Elizabeth was the name of Winnie’s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Long Kaiser, William Henry was obviously named for his father. My father, James Austin, was likely was named for two uncles of Winnie, James Johnston her Mother’s brother; and Austin Kaiser, her Father’s brother.

The family home was at 703 E. Division Street in Cadillac. The house is a short 2 block walk to the courthouse and William walked to work there often, according to local accounts.

The Yearnd Family were members of the First Congregational Church in Cadillac. That church is an active congregation today.

In August 1918 William Yearnd was appointed the City Attorney of Cadillac. He resigned that position in 1939, stating a need to spend more time on his law practice. He was also Wexford County Prosecutor for twenty years.

William Yearnd was appointed Probate Judge for Wexford County, taking office January 1, 1923.

William Yearnd is listed under the heading “Lawyers” in the 1930 Polk City Directory of Cadillac, Michigan.

William was elected circuit judge in 1947, the campaign brochure which I found in my grandmother’s scrapbook speaks volumes about the difference in politics then and now. You can read the brochure front and back, and the brochure inside.

William Yearnd was a golfer, he had 3 holes in one to his credit. A undated clipping shows describes his accomplishments. He played golf at the Cadillac County Club.

William Henry Yearnd died on 10 September 1948 of a heart attack, and the age of 65 years, and is buried on the family lot in Maple Hill Cemetery, Cadillac, Michigan


  1. Pam, you are a great storyteller! I have never seen a page like this, being somewhat new to online genealogy – or perhaps yours is just a cut above the rest. Your family is lucky to have your perseverance and talents applied to “The Incredible Shrinking Task”. I’m starting my own blog http://www.perfectmemoirs.com/point-of-view-blogpage/ but yours is inspirational. Thanks.

  2. Thanks, Deborah. I am actually pretty average or below average. But I keep trying and I do appreciate the complement.

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