Return to First Page ARKANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY, Volume 26(Spring 1967), p. 15
Yell took his seat as Bedford County representative when the Seventeenth Tennessee Legislature met on September 17, 1827 (13). He was appointed to the standing committee on the militia, and to special committees on internal improvements and Indian reservations (14). Yell played only a small part in the session, with his main efforts being in the areas of internal improvements and frugal government. He introduced a bill to regulate the navigation of the Duck River, and was successful in obtaining a measure to "more effectually prevent obstruction in the navigable streams" of the state (15). He also succeeded in having a bill passed to reduce constable fees, but he failed in an effort to have the per diem pay of the members of the general assembly reduced from four dollars to three dollars (16).
While serving in the Tennessee legislature, Yell became intensely interested in Tennessee and national politics. It was probably at this time that he formed a friendship with James K. Polk, then a Tennessee Representative in the United States Congress, which was to continue throughout Yell's lifetime. The two men corresponded often, and Yell's letters show a primary concern for the success of the Democratic party. Though not inhibited in expressing his ideas and opinions to Polk, he often admitted that perhaps his views did not always agree with those of other party leaders.
Sometime after his election to the legislature, Yell decided to remarry. His second wife was Ann Jordan Moore, known as Nancy to her friends. A native of Kentucky she lived in Danville, Tennessee, with her parents at the time of her marriage to Yell. The couple had four children, all born in Tennessee. Nancy and family accompanied him to Arkansas later when he served as a federal judge. When they became old enough, the three girls, Artemesia, Jane Rochester, and Elizabeth Lawson, spent much of their time in Tennessee with their mother's relatives. Artemesia died when she was only seventeen at the home of her mother's brother. Jane married Lieutenant George Vernon Hebb of Maryland and died in 1905. Elizabeth married a Tennessee man, Joel B. Smith, and lived until 1916. Yell's only son, Dewitt Clinton, followed his father in the profession f law and during the 1850's practiced law in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The young lawyer died there at the age of thirty-two on May 15, 1861 (17).
(13) Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Tennessee at the Seventeenth General Assembly (Nashville, 1827), 3-4.
(14) Ibid., 25-26, 87.
(15) Ibid., 141, 188.
(16) Ibid., 69, 661.
(17) East, "Three Wives," Gazette, March 18, 1943; Peggy Jacoway, First Ladies of Arkansas (Kingsport, Tennessee, 1941), 67-68.