Isaac Yoakum (October 26, 1810 – September 22, 1877) was an early American settler of what is now the Lockwood-Tevis neighborhood. Yoakum had a large family which was part of a number of unusual events over the years. Yoakum also started one of the earliest schools in Alameda County, Lockwood School, in 1858. 5

Yoakum was born October 26, 1810, in Tennessee. He married Emily Bruce (Yoakum) (1811 - 1866) some time around 1830, and they had at least 11 children. The family moved to Missouri where some of the children were born, then in 1852, they came to California, either with an oxen team 4 or possibly a herd of cattle.

  • Mary C. Yoakum (McClellan) (? – before 1882)
  • Martha Ann Yoakum (Renwick) (1832 – 1915) 4
  • Elizabeth Jane Yoakum (Johnson) (1835 – ?)
  • William Jackson Yoakum (1836 – 1879)
  • Anne Eliza Yoakum (Hughes) (1841 – ?)
  • George Washington Yoakum (1843 – ?)
  • Jesse James Yoakum (1845 – ?) attended the College of California in 1864
  • Louisa Josephine Yoakum (Haralson) (1845 – ?)
  • Thomas Jefferson Yoakum (1847 – 1879)
  • Isaac Columbus Yoakum (1849 – 1893)
  • Sarah Rebecca Yoakum (1851 – ?)

The Moraga - Yoakum Feud

Besides significant land holdings in Oakland, Isaac Yoakum claimed some land in the Moraga valley, basing his title on a mortgage which had been foreclosed on (courtesy Horace Carpentier). However, some of the descendants of Joaquin Moraga had crops growing and refused to leave the land even though Yoakum had legal possession. The details are somewhat hazy; the San Francisco Examiner says:

"A clear idea of the dispute about the property which led to the killing cannot be learned yet, and the story of the killing is given with several different versions, so that it will be only by sheer luck if we happen to hit upon the correct account of the affair." 1

In June 1871, Yoakum and a party of men attempted to drive a herd of their animals onto the ranch, and an unknown assailant fired some 40 shots at them, killing Yoakum's horse. The next day, Yoakum took down part of a fence to drive some sheep onto the land. An employee of the Moragas, Silverio Monjas, attempted to replace the fencing, and an unknown assailant fired at him. He shot randomly in the direction where he thought the shots had come from. An employee of Yoakum's, James Steele, came from behind a bush and shot the Moraga's employee, killing him. 1

Yoakum had 5 of the "Moraga girls" arrested on a charge of riot in July 1871. But Yoakum was already up on charges filed by Gumecinda Moraga for assault with a deadly weapon. She said Yoakum had struck her with his fists and his gun while she and her sisters were helping their herder drive the sheep away. The charge was reduced to assault and battery, and Yoakum represented himself with the assistance of one of his daughters. He was found guilty, but Yoakum said he was going to appeal. 2

It's unknown if Yoakum appealed or not, but in 1873, Ms. Moraga filed suit for $10,000 in damages, saying she had suffered from her injuries for 6 months. 3

The Ambush at Long Tom

In 1878, two of Yoakum's sons, William and Thomas, were involved in mining at Long Tom, about 25 miles from Bakersfield. They had a long-standing dispute with Hamilton Tucker and Henry Burdett about a mining claim, which came to a head in April 1878. William Johnston, Tucker, Tucker's wife, Harriett Stokes (Tucker), and Tucker's sister, Sarah Tucker (Burdett) were riding in wagons near Long Tom, when two men stepped out and fire shots. Tucker was killed instantly; Johnston called out "I am shot." and died in a few moments. Harriett Tucker recognized William and Thomas, and on that evidence they were arrested for murder. 6

Tensions were high, so the authorities moved the brothers to the jail in Bakersfield. Despite the distance, the sheriff learned that a band of 125 men were planning to lynch the brothers on July 4th. The sheriff gathered men to guard the jail and sent word to the band that he knew of their plans, and they disbanded. 7

More than a year after the shooting, William had been tried and convicted of murder, but the California Supreme Court had ruled he should have a change of venue. Unhappy with the pace of justice, a band of 75 men forced their way into the jail, and lynched the brothers. William was chained to the floor, but they hung him anyways and shot his body repeatedly. Thomas received similar treatment. 8,9

Links and References

  1. Land Troubles in Moraga Valley San Francisco Examiner July 5, 1871
  2. The Moraga Valley Land Troubles San Francisco Examiner July 24, 1871
  3. Local Brevities San Francisco Examiner June 9, 1873
  4. Early Settler Is Dead In Alameda San Francisco Chronicle October 4, 1915
  5. Dedicated New School Oakland Tribune December 15, 1902
  6. Double Highway Murder Near Bakersfield Los Angeles Herald April 18, 1878
  7. Threatened Lynching of the Murderers at Bakersfield Oakland Tribune July 11, 1878
  8. Lynching at Bakersfield Napa Valley Register May 29, 1879
  9. Ambush at Long Tom Hale/Fawvor Family website