Biography - James Young

JAMES YOUNG. What honesty, hard work and steadfast determination will accomplish in America cannot be better illustrated than by giving a brief sketch of the life of James Young, now one of the wealthiest citizens of Montgomery County, Ill. He was born in County Tyrone, Ireland, May 3, 1828, the second of a family of six children born to Anthony and Jane (McCoy) Young, the former of whom was a son of Thomas Young, a Scotchman, who left that country for the North of Ireland during the religious trouble in his native land, or about the year 1780. He was a high-minded, cultured gentleman, possessed of an ample fortune; in fact, it has been ascertained that he was at one time one of the largest and wealthiest land-owners in the northern part of the Isle of Erin, owning nearly, if not quite, a township of land. It was on this vast estate that Anthony Young, the father of James Young, was born in 1801. Upon the death of his father, Thomas, he came into possession of his share of his father's fortune, there being several other heirs. The other children of his father, five in number, were also born on the home place.
Anthony Young was one of those warm-hearted, whole-souled gentlemen who could never say no to a friend, but he was not as good a financier as could be desired,, and while on a visit to a brother, James Young, who was an officer in the British army, he was taken sick and suddenly died, after which a crisis in the financial affairs of the young family came, for it was found that the father had befriended so many with money or the use of his name that the entire estate was swept away, and his widow with six children was left penniless. Of this family Thomas was the eldest, and at the age of eighteen years he entered the British army and soon became a member of the Queen's Bodyguard, but died at the age of twenty-one years. James was the next eldest and it devolved upon him to look after the welfare of his widowed mother and younger children, and he at once put his shoulder to the wheel in the determined way for which he has always been noted. It did not take him long to make up his mind that America should be his future home, and in 1851 he, having provided sufficiently for the family to keep them until he could reach the United States and earn money to send them, set sail for this country, and so closely had he figured that when he reached Canada he had but three cents in his pocket. However, he was a strong, healthy young man and was not long in obtaining employment, and after remaining in Lower Canada for about a year he came to the States and soon after became the owner of some of the fertile acres of Illinois, in Madison County.
So successful was he in all his operations that in 1853 he sent for his mother and the other four children, three boys and one girl; but here the sister, Ann, died, on the 3d of November, 1860. William is a successful and well-known farmer of Madison County. The other two brothers, Robert and Anthony, did valiant service in the Civil War. Anthony became a private in Company K, Twenty-second Illinois infantry, and during his service of more than three years he participated in twenty-two general engagements. He was promoted to be Orderly-Sergeant and at the battle of Belmont, when his Colonel and Captain fell wounded and the Lieutenants had deserted their post of duty, he commanded his company and for bravery and meritorious conduct was given a Lieutenant's commission. Later, he was presented by Gen. Phil Sheridan with a gold watch and chain. At the battle of Stone River he was taken prisoner and for three months thereafter fought starvation in Libby Prison, during which time he sold the gold watch and chain that had been presented to him by Sheridan and distributed the proceeds among his unfortunate fellow-prisoners. A braver or more daring soldier than Mr. Young never trod the crimson turf of a battlefield, and upon his return home he bore with him the heart-felt gratitude of his country. For some time after the war he was extensively engaged in mining in Deadwood and later in New Mexico, making and losing two or three fortunes, and finally died in St. Louis in 1889.
The subject of this sketch has been wonderfully successful in everything that he has undertaken since he reached the free soil of America, and his farming enterprises in Madison County, together with the advance of property, made him a snug fortune. In 1867 he was attracted to the then almost unimproved prairies of Montgomery County, and the same year he purchased the farm where he now lives and has since added to it until he is now the owner of over one thousand acres of the finest land in the county. Aside from this he owns a. large amount of property in the city of Nokomis, for he, in company with D. H. Zepp and Henry A. Best, bought up all the vacant lots and some two hundred acres of land adjoining the town in 1879, which alone made him a fortune. His accumulation of wealth did not have the effect of changing to any appreciable extent either his manner or his customs in dealing with those who were brought into contact with him. He has always been thoroughly democratic, is as genial and kindly as he was in the days of his early struggles, and has ever been the same industrious, upright, honest Christian gentleman. He was married in 1858 to Miss Lucy A. Alvis, a native of the State of Illinois, by whom he has six children: Jennie, wife of A. L. Gulp, of Nokomis, is an artist of no small ability and repute; Annie M. also paints well and is now at home, having completed her education; Helen L. is pursuing her studies at Alton College; William is attending school at Nokomis; Clara Belle and Lucy May are attending the public schools. The mother of Mr. Young died March 31, 1873, at the age of seventy-four years, having always made her home with him after coming to America.
In politics Mr. Young is the strongest kind of a Republican. He is a prominent member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he has been a member of the Grand Lodge, and also belongs to the. Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons. He is also an exemplary member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1878, he made an extended trip through Europe, traveling through England, France, Scotland and Ireland, but came to the conclusion that America was a good enough country for him. Mr. Young's career might be copied by indigent young men of the present generation, for it points its own moral. Much more might be said of the early members of his family, for Robert Young, a cousin of his father, was a man of letters, an author and poet who was well and favorably known in his native country; in fact, his writings were known and read in two continents.

Extracted 12 Jan 2017 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 500-501.

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