Sometimes It All Comes Together

It”s not often that hobbies overlap in such a way that you are consumed by an urge to research all aspects of the overlap for several months. But after numerous trips to the library and endless hours combing the internet, here is the story of what I’ve been doing since my last update to this site.

As you can tell from my previous posts, not only do I enjoy coin collecting but I also have quite a love of history. I’ve found genealogy can make that love of history come alive in a personal way and so it has been a pursuit of mine as well. But all of these interests crashed together one day while I was looking at a dealer website that specializes in obsolete currency.

Obsolete currency is a term used to describe paper money issued primarily by banks and local governments prior to 1866 when the U.S. government took over the job. Q. David Bowers wrote an excellent reference book, Obsolete Paper Money, that deals with the topic exhaustively. Being a fan of the author I decided to give the book a try even though it wasn’t really a collecting interest of mine. Having read many of  Bowers’ books before, I knew it would be entertaining nonetheless. Many fascinating hours later, I was hooked.

I began looking for sources online about the topic and ran across a couple of dealer sites. The two best I have found as far as price, variety, and quality of illustrations are donckelly.com and vernpotter.com. I couldn’t believe how reasonable the prices were on some of these notes! Like ancient coins, collectors of obsolete currency enjoy a hobby where the general collecting public isn’t well educated on the topic. How many of your friends are even aware that these bills exist, not to mention how affordable they are?

While looking through the inventory on these sites I noticed that banks of Easton, Pennsylvania were represented frequently. From my genealogy research I knew that my family, the Yohes, had settled in Northampton County shortly after arriving in America from Germany in the mid 1700’s. Off to the library.

After burying myself in the Pennsylvania Archives, Census’, and tax records I found Michael. Michael Yohe was born July 25, 1782 in Easton, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. It was his father, Johann Michael (Michael Sr.), who came to America in 1749 as a child. Around 1824 Michael Jr. moved his family to Stark County, Ohio. His father and mother came to Ohio shortly after but his uncle Adam apparently remained in Easton continuing to run the family business, shoemaking. I am descended from them in a direct line through my father.

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Knowing this I thought it might be fun to have a few notes from Easton just so I could imagine they may have passed through the hands of one of my ancestors. Then I made an amazing discovery. While shopping around I found a couple of notes printed by the American Bank Note Co. for the Borough of Easton. They were in the denominations of 10 cents and 15 cents issued Dec.1, 1862 to be receivable as payment for Borough taxes. Then I looked at the signatures, handwritten in ink. A man by the name of Sam Yohe had signed his name on the line reserved for the president of the issuing establishment! Could Sam be a descendant of Michael’s uncle Adam?

That’s where I am now. Back to the library!

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