Skip to content

Honorable Jacob Yost

HON. JACOB YOST. The Yost family has been one of the most prominent in the Valley of Virginia, and also in the State of West Virginia, from pioneer times. In the different generations there have been a number hearing the name accorded more than ordinary prominence in business, politics and civic affairs. One of the best known members of the family is Jacob Yost, of Staunton, one of the few republicans who have succeeded in representing Virginia in Congress. He is also a former mayor of Staunton, and leas had a varied career in business affairs there during most of his life.

The Yosts are of Dutch lineage and have been in America. since early Colonial times. From Pennsylvania they moved to the Valley of Virginia at a very early date. The name was originally spelled Joist.

Jacob Yost was born at Staunton, April 1, 1853, a son of Maj. Samuel M. and Henrietta (Cashing) Yost and a grandson of Isaac and Mary (Liggett) Yost. His grandfather, Isaac Yost, was a contractor and builder, and died while on a business trip to Cincinnati .

The late Maj. Samuel M. Yost had a notable career, was a man of great energy, of undoubted courage, and for many years teas a leading editor and publisher. He was born November 13, 1838. Prior to the war he was connected with the, Spectator, a local piper in Augusta County, and later was editor of a paper at Clarksburg, Virginia. During the war a time he was editor of the Expositor at Lexington, Missouri, where his wife died. He then accepted appointment as Indian agent at Santa Fe, New Mexico, receiving this appointment from President Buchanan. He returned to Virginia, and at the outbreak of the war was owner and editor of the Staunton Vindicator. Following his war service he moved to Harrisonburg, and became half owner of the Rockingham Register, and selling his interest there in 1867 was for two years again in Missouri, connected with the St. Louis Post. In 1870 he became owner of the Valley Virginian, and soon afterward espoused the cause of the republican party. In 1873 President Grant appointed him postmaster of Staunton, and he held that office until Mr. Cleveland became president. Later President McKinley, again appointed him to this post. After his retirement he resumed little connection with business affairs. He had been a democrat in all his earlier years, and was a delegate to the convention which nominated Douglas for president. It was during the Grant– Greeley contest in 1872 that he allied himself with the republican cause. He was a member of the Methodist Church.

Samuel M. Yost by his first marriage had three children, the only survivor being Hon. Jacob Yost of Staunton. For his second wife, he married Miss Katherine Winfield, of Rockingham County, and by that union there were eight children, five of whom are still living.

Jacob Yost during his boyhood lived with his father in the different localities above noted, but came to manhood at Staunton. He acquired a common school education, but the better part of his education was acquired in newspaper offices. He learned the trade of printer, for three years was with the Civil Engineering Corps of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and was also associated with his father as part owner of the Valley Virginian at Staunton. In politics his name appeared on the republican ticket as candidate for presidential elector in 1880. He was republican nominee for Congress in 1884, and in May, 1886, he defeated Armistead C. Gordon for mayor of Staunton by thirty-five votes. In the fall of the same year he was elected to Congress, defeating Capt. James Baumgardner, and he served in the Fiftieth Congress, from March 4, 1887, to March 3, 1889. In 1896 he was again elected to Congress, defeating Henry D. Flood, and was a member of Congress during the Spanish-American war period. In these political campaigns Mr. Yost was successful not only by reason of personal popularity, but through his stanch advocacy of a protective tariff and sound money. During the past thirty years Mr. Yost has given most of his attention to dealing in iron and coal lands. On January 13, 18;1, he married Mary S. Young, daughter of Frank M. Young, who was a merchant of Staunton. Mr. and Mrs. Yost have three children: Mary, Frank M. and Merrill. The son Frank is assistant superintendent of the American Can Company, with headquarters in New York City. The daughter, Miss Mary, has achieved distinction in the field of scholarship and education. She graduated Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from Vassar College, received her Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Michigan, and is now dean of women at Leland Stanford, Jr. University in California.