Yates and his family moved to Houston in 1865. He later purchased an area in the Freedmen"s Town area of the Fourth Ward. Yates became the pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, in 1868.
The church was Houston"s first African-American Baptist church.
Yates established Houston Academy, a school for African-American children. He died on December 22, 1897.
Yates High School in Houston was named after Yates. The house Yates occupied in the Fourth Ward was later moved to Sam Houston Park in Downtown Houston, and it was opened to the public on Wednesday December 11, 1996.
According to the church, the original pews, made by hand, are still used.