From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901
With fond recollections do we look back to the past and read the tale of days agone--when the country was new. But few of the aged veterans of those times remain to weave the historic fabric of facts with the thread of personal incident. The silent dust of the sleeping pioneers whispers on the winds the story of their hardships and their trials, and as we list there come to us faint echoes from the forests of the long ago, Those who are spared, paint on the canvas of treacherous memories as best they can the pictures of their checkered lives as they toiled to lay the foundations upon which others have built. The aged hand trembles as it tries to depict the scenes when life was full of bounding blood and the future ripe with hopes of roseate hue. Amid the grateful shadows of the present he fondly looks over his cleared acres of fruitful land extending far and wide, and with pardonable pride says, "I was the first to make it thus." These words fall like the story of another age upon the ears of those who owe the pioneer their all in the life that now is and much for what they hope in that to come. Lines like the foregoing are suggested in reading the plain, simple story of the life of one of Huntington county's aged men, who, in his declining days, looks back through the gathering mist of years to his experience in the new country when the few scattered settlements were but niches in the surrounding forests.
Since 1840 Emanuel Yahne has been an honored resident of Huntington county, and an eye witness of the wonderful transformations which have since then taken place. He was born October 9, 1822, in Stark county, Ohio, the son of Frederick A. and Mary Yahne, the former being a native of New Jersey. His mother was a native of Pennsylvania, and was brought to Ohio by her parents in 1814, and there met Frederick A. Yahne and became his wife. Emanuel lived in the county of his nativity until eighteen years of age, spending his time, as did most country boys of those days, in hard work on the farm, varied in winter seasons by a few months' attendance each year at such indifferent schools at the county afforded. (sic) In the spring of 1840 he accompanied his parents to Huntington county, Indiana, and located on a quarter section in the township of Union, which the father purchased. He bore his full share in building the small two-roomed log cabin, and with strong arms and determined purpose attacked the huge forest monarchs, many of which during the first summer fell beneath the sturdy blows from his arm. After residing a few years on this place the father sold it and purchased a like number of acres in Jackson township, and a little later bought an eighty-acre tract within a short distance of the town of Roanoke. On this latter farm the sturdy pioneer passed the remainder of his days, dying in his eighty-third year.
Until his twenty-first year the subject of this sketch remained under the parental roof and then began life for himself by leasing eighty acres of land, upon which he built a little cabin of round logs and began clearing away the timber and cultivating the few acres that had previously been prepared for the plow. After living on this land three years he sold his improvements and entered into a contract to clear a certain amount of ground, for which he was to receive as compensation a forty-acre tract in Jackson township. After fulfilling the contract and receiving a title to his land he moved to the same, but did not remain there very long; disposing of it to good advantage, he invested the proceeds in eighty acres, which he still owns, paying for the same the sum of four hundred dollars. Here he erected a pioneer log cabin of the usual pattern, which served as a home for a period of twelve years, when it was torn down and replaced with a more comfortable and commodious dwelling.
Mr. Yahne made fine improvements on this place and greatly enlarged the area of tillable land until he had eighty-three acres prepared, meanwhile having added fifteen acres to the tract originally purchased. He labored and prospered, and in time became one of the leading farmers of Jackson. He brought to his life work a body thoroughly disciplined by healthful, vigorous exercise and a mind filled with a determination to push to successful issue whatever he saw fit to undertake. By long and arduous toil he had the satisfaction of seeing his efforts crowned with a large measure of success, and he continued to follow the pursuit of agriculture with gratifying results until 1875, when, having accumulated a competency, he retired from active life to the town of Roanoke, where he is now passing his remaining years in the enjoyment of that rest and quiet which a long and laborious life has enabled him to appreciate.
In 1843 Mr. Yahne was united in marriage to Miss Emily Gettys, a union terminated by the death of his faithful companion after a wedded life of fifty-three years' duration. Eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Yahne, of whom six are living at the present time. When Mr. Yahne first came to Huntington county there were no improvements in the present flourishing town of Roanoke beyond the canal lock and one lone cabin, while the city of Huntington consisted of a row of log shanties along the canal and one store kept in a double log building. The part now occupied by the business section and the main streets was covered with thick woods in which game of all kinds, deer, wild turkey, wolves and an occational bear roamed at will. He early became an expert with the rifle, and states that he killed many deer and other game in the vicinity of Roanoke. He was an active participant in the stirring scenes of the olden times and bore his share in transforming the wilderness into a veritable garden of beauty and bringing about the condition of affairs that to-day exists. He has seen his friends and companions of other days fall one by one along the wayside, and he remains alone to tell the story of the pioneers' struggles, their toils and their final victories over the adverse circumstances by which they were beset while carving out homes for themselves and their posterity.
In addition to his career as an early settler and as a progressive and prosperous farmer and successful business man, Mr. Yahne also has a military record of which he feels deservedly proud. He was one of that large but now rapidly diminishing army of patriots that responded to the country's call when the somber clouds of rebellion eclipsed for a time the sun of our national prosperity and treason threatened to disrupt the Union and put an end to the grand work of the fathers of the Republic. In 1863, December 29th, he enlisted in Company E, Forty-seventh Indiana Infantry, with which he shared the fortunes and vicissitudes of war until the autumn of 1865. During that time he saw much active service in various parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana and other states, taking part in the battles on the Mississippi below New Orleans and in the White river expedition and many other campaigns and engagements, the last being the fall of the city of Mobile, where he was in the thickest of the fight. His experience as a brave and gallant defender of the flag is replete with duty faithfully performed, and he now looks back to the long marches, the tented field, the fierce bombardment and the bloody charge with a thrill of pardonable pride such as animates every true patriot who participated in that great and notable struggle. He is a member of McGinnis Post, Grand Army of the Republic, which meets in Roanoke, and has been called to fill various official positions in the lodge since its organization.
In every walk of life Mr. Yahne has so conducted himself as to exemplify to the world that "An honest man is the noblest work of God." He is, and has been for many years, a consistent and active member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and all charitable enterprises and public improvements have found in him an earnest supporter and liberal contributor. He is companionable to a degree rarely found in one of his age, and the people of his town esteem it a great pleasure to be entertained by his interesting conversation as he narrates his experience as a pioneer or tells of the thrilling scenes through which he passed as a soldier in the Civil war. Although nearly seventy-nine, he is still quite vigorous for one of that advanced age, and it is the wish of his numerous friends that he may be spared to round out many more years before responding to the summons which sooner or later comes to all.