John H. Yates was the original owner of the property that currently houses Present Tense. He was born November 21, 1837 and died September 5, 1900. He spent his life in Batavia, NY, working a number of jobs including shoe salesman, newspaper editor for The Progressive Batavian, and hardware store manager. He became a Methodist minister in 1886 and later, pastor of the West Bethany Free Will Baptist Church. His works include Ballads and Poems (1897) and hymns such as Faith is the Victory and The Harbor Bell.

Present Tense recently hosted a discussion about Rev. Yates that included historian Patrick Weissend, Director of the Holland Land Office Museum, speaking about Yates' life, as well as local writer Bill Kauffman reading selections of Yates' work. Here is the audio clip of this discussion.

collage of historical images

Poems and Ballads

Rev. Yates' love for this house is evident in this excerpt from his poem Home, which appears in his Ballads and Poems, published in 1897:

  • Like a beautiful isle, that doth peacefully smile,
  • Undisturbed 'mid the wild billows' foam.
  • In the ocean of life, 'mid its care and its strife,
  • Is the dear little haven of home.