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Famous from Bluffton -

Samuel Yoder - first in a series


Samuel S. Yoder’s name does not register in the minds of many, if any, Bluffton residents today.

Click here to read the second feature in this series, focusing on Dr. Robert Drake Murray, yellow fever expert.


However, this one-time Bluffton mayor, former business owner and Civil War veteran, once served Ohio’s 4th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives.

He also served as the sergeant of arms in the House. He died in May 1921 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


Yoder’s Bluffton ties may be forgotten, but during his professional career he was Bluffton’s most recognized citizen.


Here’s his story:

Yoder was born to an Amish family on Aug. 16, 1841, in Berlin, Ohio. On April 19, 1862, he joined the Union army in the Civil War.


Enlisting in the 128th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment he rose to the rank of lieutenant. He served until the war ended.


Following the war he enrolled at the College of Wooster. He later transferred to and graduated from the University of Michigan.


In 1868 Yoder moved his family to Bluffton, where he opened a medical practice.


In 1870, he married Minerva Maxwell and the couple had five children, only three of whom survived infancy.


Besides his practice of medicine, which included work as a dentist and druggist, Yoder also served as a Bluffton councilman and, in 1874, was elected mayor.


He was Bluffton’s mayor for 10 years and in 1878 moved his family to Lima to study law, where he was admitted to the bar in 1880, when he was close to 40 years old.


Yoder was a member of Bluffton Masonic Lodge, No. 432, of which he was the first elected master, and was master for nine years.


After moving to Lima, he won election as a judge on the Allen County Probate Court. He was a judge from Feb. 1882 to October 1886. From 1883 to 1885 he was a member of the Democratic State executive committee.


In 1886, he ran for a congressional seat as a Democrat and won. He served from 1887 to 1891, winning reelection in 1888. ­­He served in the 50th and 51st Congress, covering the period of March 4, 1887 to March 3, 1891.


He was not a candidate for renomination in 1890.


In 1891, he became sergeant of Arms of the United States House of Representatives, serving from December 8, 1891, to August 7, 1893.


Yoder residence on Riley Street - this house is the second from the corner near Main St.


He remained in this post for two years and then retired from public service, returning to his law practice, and also engaged in the real estate business, which was located in Washington, D.C., until his death in May, 1921.


On Oct. 25, 1891, the (Lima) Times-Democrat reported, “Judge Yoder, to whom the people of this city are indebted for the public building, has no opposition for the position of Sergeant-at-Arms of the House. Everybody rejoices in all his good luck, and wish that more may come to him.”


Yoder also maintained his affiliation with a variety of voluntary organizations. He served as commander in chief of the Union Veterans Union from 1891 to 1893 and was a longtime member of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans.




The following is from History of Allen County, Ohio - Publ. Chicago: Warner i.e. Warner, Beers & Co., 1885 - Page 733


Samuel Yoder son of Yost and Nancy (Hostetter) Yoder, and grandson of Abraham Yoder, natives of Lancaster County, Penn., and who came to Ohio in 1816.


Mr. and Mrs. Yost Yoder were married in Ohio, and had a family whose names appear below.


The father died in 1849, near Winesburg, Holmes County, Ohio, and his widow (who is now deceased) then married Tobias Miller having one son by her second husband, who is also deceased.


The children raised by Mr. and Mrs. Yost Yoder were Moses F., Jacob t., Joslyn Z., Noah W., Samuel S., Aaron Y. Miller, Rachael, Tina, Mary, Elizabeth, Catherine and Anna (two last named deceased).


Noah W. was a soldier in the war of the Rebellion. He assisted in organizing Company G, Fifty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and bad command at the battle of Stone River, where he received seven wounds, losing a leg. He afterward became a member of the veteran Reserve Corps, and served as such until the close of the war, but while on his way to visit a patient (he being a physician) was accidentally drowned.


Moses F. was also a soldier during the Rebellion, having enlisted in Company G, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, organized by his brother Noah W., and was mortally wounded at Kennesaw Mountain.


Jacob T. was a member of the Second Ohio Light Artillery, in Gen. Banks' Red River expedition, and died at Milliken's Bend, La.


Our subject was also a soldier in Company G, Hoffman's Independent Battalion, which afterward became a part of the One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and was afterward commissioned second lieutenant. At close of the war he returned to Holmes County, Ohio, and there finished the study of medicine, which he had begun before the war, took a course of lectures at the Kentucky institute of Medicine before the war, and after at Ann Arbor University, Michigan.


Mr. Yoder was married Oct. 6, 1870, to Minerva E., daughter of Abner Maxwell, of Berlin, Holmes County, Ohio, and to this union were born four children: an infant (deceased), Leon (deceased in infancy), Early D. and Elfie A.


Our subject was member of the council and mayor, and practiced medicine at Bluffton, this county, to which place he came in 1877, and there continued until he was elected to fill the office of probate judge in 1881.


Judge Yoder is a member of Bluffton Masonic Lodge, No. 432, of which he was the first elected master, and was master for nine years. He is now a member of Ottawa Chapter, Lima Council, Shawnee Commandery, No. 14, K. T., Lima, Ohio, and a member of Mi-a-Mi Grand Lodge of Perfection, Northern Light Council, P._ of J_, Fort Industry Chapter Rose-Croix, Valley of Toledo, also Ohio Consistory of S_ P_ R_ S_ 32°, Cincinnati, Ohio, a member of all the degrees in the I. O. O. F., and of Mart Armstrong Post, G. A. R.


Other Sources:

The following link is to a story published Nov. 29, 2016, in the Lima News by Greg Hoersten. The feature is a cooperative effort between the newspaper and the Allen County Museum and Historical Society.


Here are other links providing additional information on Samuel S. Yoder

















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