Capt. Joseph Young Bates
of Navarro County, Texas


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Captain J. Y. Bates Celebrated 84th Birthday Tuesday

Many Pleasant Features, Including Birthday Cake And Flowers

Tuesday, November 9th, Capt. J. Y. Bates, 408 North Eleventh street, observed his eighty-fourth birthday. His daughter, Miss Lillian, and other relatives and friends made it an especially pleasant day for him—a day that gave him great joy and gladdened the hearts of his relatives. Congratulations began coming in by telephone and from others who called in person. There also came the proverbial birthday cake and there were flowers to shed their fragrance and attest the love and esteem of the donors.

In the afternoon a party of Masonic brothers consisting of Chris L. Knox, Ben Hartzell, Fred White, Ed. R. Glover and A. A. Wortham called in a body. This was a decided surprise to Mr. Bates and of course he was especially pleased to meet his Masonic brethren, most of whom had sat and worked with him in the Lodge when Mr. Bates was himself an active member. Many memories of those days were recalled, in the recital of which Mr. Bates took a lively interest and revealed a clear and correct memory of them. He is a Mason of long and honorable standing. In the sixties he said, he was made a Mason in Camden, Ark. He came to Texas on crutches, he said, having been shot down as a Confederate soldier on one of the historic battlefields of the four turbulent years of that terrible struggle. He stopped at Eureka for a time and later came to Corsicana. He was present at the opening of the lodge after the war in Corsicana and for a number of years was active in all the work of the lodge. Four of these years he was clerk of the three Masonic bodies. He became a member of the Commandery after coming to Corsicana. These and other interesting facts were brought out in a brief talk made by Mr. Knox in presenting a very handsome bouquet to Mr. Bates on behalf of the Masonic Lodge.

In his talk, which was quiet but eloquent and replete with interesting facts reciting the exemplary life Mr. Bates had lived, Mr. Knox went over the years in which he had known him. At one point, Mr. Knox said to him, “Mr. Bates, you are practically my father in Masonry.” Then he recited how, as a young man twenty years ago he had been asked by Mr. Bates to look after the duties of clerk of the Lodge when he, Mr. Bates was absent. “It was about that time.” said Mr. Knox, “that the weight of accumulating years had first begun to be felt upon your shoulder. It was in keeping with your rule through life to let no work of yours suffer from neglect. You were ever watchful and diligent and saw to it that nothing was left undone.” Continuing Mr. Knox said, “Your life here had been one of usefulness as it has been exemplary and a credit to you and your family. You had contributed honors to the Masonic order and you have had an active and effectual part in the upbuilding of this, the community in which you have lived for so many years. You have lived an active, noble, Christian life. You have done much to build this community to its present high state.” Closing, Mr. Knox said, “We bring this bouquet, the fragrance and beauty of which is emblematic of the life you have lived in the sixty years you have toiled and labored among us. You do not realize the extent to which you have built. Your deeds and work will live after you have passed from the stage of action.”

Mr. Bates was deeply affected, yet his calm, quiet demeanor and Southern dignity did not desert him, even though tears glistened in his eyes from time to time. He accepted the handsome bouquet as it was handed to him by the speaker, and while his voice was a little choked in the beginning of his reply he recovered and in earnest words told his callers how pleasant the day had been, how much he appreciated their call and the token of love from the Lodge and yet how he regretted that he could not speak all that was in his heart.

“My appreciation,” he said, “for these flowers I cannot express. I can enjoy them now. If they had been withheld to be bestowed after the summons had come I would not have felt the stimulus of your thoughtfulness and esteem. I have made it a rule that when I had a friend to tell him in his life when he could hear my words and look into my face that I was his friend. I can’t tell you how much real pleasure I am getting out of these flowers, how much I appreciate your presence and how much I value your words of praise.” Then Mr. Bates went interestingly into incidents of the past. He told of his coming to Texas in 1864, of aiding in holding an election a short time after his arrival at Eureka, while still on crutches. He referred to being present at the re-opening of the Masonic Lodge here after the close of the war. “It was called the Institute Lodge then and was held in a house on West Third avenue and the meeting nights were announced by the ring of the triangle. He believed, with the exception of Mr. Max London that he is the oldest Mason in the county. “Mr. London,” he said, antedates me as a Mason by a few months and is two years older than I. We were both members of the Camden, Ark., lodge and we sat in the lodge together, but didn’t know it until a few years ago.”

In his talk Mr. Knox had referred to Mr. Bates having left Corsicana on one occasion to try his fortune in Northwest Texas. With a twinkle in his eyes Mr. Bates touched on that incident in his life and said fortune failed to smile on him. On the other hand he came back to Corsicana without money. He had a team of horses and a wagon and “I realized that the old man,” he said, “must take off his coat and go to work.” He hitched his horses to the wagon and went to the timber, “cut his own wood and hauled it here and sold it.” He related with a display of pride that while he was doing this practically every merchant—“men like Capt. Garitty and Capt. Allen,” he said, “came to me and told me that if I wanted anything in their possession to call, ‘and it don’t make any difference if you never pay for it,’ they told me.”

The group of Masons plied Mr. Bates with questions, all of which he answered pleasantly and it was a delightful hour for host and guest.

Answering a question, Mr. Bates said “It was some time before I could become affiliated with the Lodge here. During the war, after Federal troops had taken possession of Camden the Lodge records were destroyed and this made it difficult for me to prove my membership.” He became a member of the Commandery in 1900, the year that he was elected district clerk here.

The hour was brought to a close when Miss Lillian Bates, assisted by Miss Lula Williams, served ice cream and a generous portion of delightful birthday cake to the visitors.


  • Submitted by Dana Stubbs

  • Corsicana Daily Sun, Saturday, October 13, 1923

  • Joseph Y. Bates served in Co B, 34 AR Inf.
    The unit was formed in 1862 and was assigned to Fagan’s, A. T. Hawthorne’s and Roane’s Brig. in the Trans-Mississippi Dept. It partook in the struggles at Helena and Jenkin’s Ferry. And saw action with skirmishes in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Oakwood Cemetery, Corsicana, Navarro Co., TX
Marker Photo by Dana Stubbs



Funeral Services For Capt. J. Y. Bates This Afternoon
Passing of Good Citizen Mourned By All Of Corsicana
Funeral services for the late Capt. J. Y. Bates, who passed away Thursday afternoon at his home on North Eleventh Street, were held this afternoon at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Rev. W. T. Ingram conducting the services after which the Masons took charge and with the impressive ceremonies of that noble order the last mortal remains of this aged and much loved pioneer citizen of Corsicana were laid to rest in Oakwood cemetery there to await the Resurrection morn. There were many beautiful and magnificent floral offerings which covered the last resting place of this good man and attested in some degree the love and esteem in which he was held by those who knew him best. Beautiful music was rendered by a quartet composed of Mesdames Harry Williams, and Harry Elliott and Lloyd G. Kerr and Sidney K. Brietz.
After the services at the church the Masons, of which Capt. Bates had so long been a faithful and honored member, took charge and there was an escort of the Commandery for the body to the grave, the escort being in full uniform of the Knight Templar as were the pall bearers, consisting of C. L. Knox, Dr. T. W. Watson, R. F. Briggs, E. R. Glover, R. L. Calkins, and P. F. Walker. At the grave the Masonic burial ritual was impressively said and all that was mortal of an honored citizen was consigned to the grave.
With the passing of Capt. J. Y. Bates another early settler and an old time Southern gentleman has put down the tasks of life and stepped out from the scene of earthly action. He was not only a pioneer of Corsicana and Navarro County, but, a man of absolute honesty and sterling character, a man who cared more for the well being of his fellow man than he did for the accumulation of dollars and cents. Capt. Bates came to Corsicana 60 years ago and had seen the city grow from a few straggling houses scattered about the prairie to the magnificent city that now adorns the spot.
The deceased held various offices in the early days and in the decline of his life was again honored by his neighbors and friends by election to the office of District Clerk, which he held the allotted two terms of a Democratic precedent or a custom which has grown up in recent years. During all the years of his residence in Corsicana there has been nothing but words of praise and commendation for the manner in which he has performed his public duties as well as his daily walk among his fellow man.
Capt. Bates was an interesting character a living type of the old South. Modest, retiring, courteous but a man of character and always fearless in his determination to do the right. He came to Corsicana from Washington County, Arkansas, in 1864, and was thoroughly conversant with Corsicana’s history dating from that time.
He enlisted in the Confederate army in his native county in 1861, and after being shot down on the battlefield came here with the family of the man who soon after his arrival became his father-in-law. Soon after his marriage he returned to his company but camping and sleeping in the open made it necessary for him to be sent to the hospital and then home on crutches. Provisions and equipment were so scarce at that time, the disabled men were not wanted, hence his return.
He was reported to be the oldest living officer in the county. In 1869 or 1870 he was deputy sheriff under Sheriff Jim Nelms and while in that capacity was called to serve warrants upon some of the most notorious characters that infested the rather wild frontier sections of those days. Capt. Bates fulfilled his duties in such a fearless yet tactful manner that there was never any trouble when he went after his man.
Capt. Bates was also county treasurer and also deputy postmaster for a shot time at two different periods in the early days of Corsicana.
A man had been appointed county treasurer under the Edmond J. Davis regime. He lived in the county and one day came to Capt. Bates telling him he wanted him to act as his deputy. He went to Capt. Winkler and other prominent citizens of that day, who told him to accept the office by all means.
There was only one brick building on the square and in that building was the postoffice. When mail came it was put in a box in the rear of the store and everybody helped themselves. People began to complain of losing their letters. A boy seventeen years of age was induced to apply for the office. Capt. Bates refused it because he would not take the oath of allegiance. The boy lived in the country and was appointed. He made Capt. Bates his deputy and thereafter the postoffice was railed off and people got their mail.
Capt. Bates was a member of the Masonic lodge for many years and during the last few years of his life when the infirmities of age or any illness kept him at home on his birthday a delegation of Masons visited him and felicitated him on attaining the ripe old age to which he had advanced.
He was a Mason of long and honorable standing. In the sixties he was made a Mason in Camden, Arkansas. He came to Texas on crutches, having been shot down as a Confederate soldier on one of the historic battlefields of the four turbulent years of that terrible struggle. He was present at the opening of the lodge after the war in Corsicana and for a number of years was active in all the work of the lodge. Four of these years he was clerk of the three Masonic bodies. He became a member of the Commandery after coming to Corsicana.


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Edward L. Williams