Eugene Yoakem

 

EUGENE YOAKEM was the last man out of Courtland. He left via ambulance in 1974, at the age of 98. I've heard different accounts of his cause of death. The one I've heard most frequently is that he was attacked and beaten by a subhuman group of humans.

 

In talking to locals in the area who remembered Eugene Yoakem, some described him as "An old grouch who, in his later years, ran everyone out of Courtland with a string of profanity and a shotgun." Others who really got to know him said he was a nice guy, but didn't tolerate any BS from anyone. Usually, a pecan pie brought up by folks from the valley helped break the tension.

 

Eugene Yoakem came to Courtland in his early 20's, before Courtland existed. The best I can figure out, he came to the Courtland area in the late 1800s, Back then, it was known as Leadville.

 

His main occupation was butcher, but Eugene Yoakem wore many hats...mule trainer, teamster, night watchman at the various mines, deputy sheriff, messenger, and rancher, to name a few.

 

In his later years, Eugene Yoakem gave up his homestead ranch north of Courtland, and moved into the southernmost store of what was known as the "Brick Block" in north Courtland. He had a small "necessities" store in the front, and lived in the back. After a while, he had a sign at the edge of  town which proclaimed: "This is not Snoopers City. Snoopers and crooks and thieves are not welcome. This road does not belong to the county or the state. By E. Y."

 

Another sign warned "No pictures allowed taken by the public," and a third sign, smack-dab in front of his place, that said, "Snoopers and thieves keep out!"

 

The reason behind this is, folks--usually with out of state license plates on their vehicles--would stop, Look through the little store he had, want a photo of him, and then leave without buying anything. As he put it, "Got tired of feeling like a circus side show."

 

Any questions asked of him by folks he didn't know, usually brought a shrill, "None of your *&^%*@ business!" for an answer.

 

I really don't think Eugene Yoakem was the "old grouch" that folks said he was. Courtland was probably the only real home he ever had. He was merely protecting that home.

 

I wish I could have met him....

 

Eugene Yoakem is buried in the Gleeson Cemetery.

 

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