Biography - WILLIAM A. YOUNG

William A. Young is a native son of Montgomery county, his birth having occurred in Grisham township, one mile west of Donnellson, on the 30th day of August, 1836. Within the borders of his native county he has lived and labored, being one of the representative farmers and leading horticulturists in this part of the state. His father, William Young, came to Montgomery county in 1830, having been born and reared in Maury county, Tennessee, near Columbia. The journey to Illinois was made on horseback, and after remaining a short time be purchased a claim on forty acres of land, which had a pioneer's log cabin built on it and a few acres under cultivation. On March 12, 1832, he was married to Jane C. Paisley, of Montgomery county, who was born and reared in Guilford county, North Carolina. Soon afterward William Young volunteered for service in the Black Hawk war in 1831 as a member of Captain Rountree's company, and when hostilities had ceased he returned and entered the forty acres on which he had previously purchased the little improvements with his savings while in the service. He bought a team of muley oxen and made for himself a wagon with wooden axle and wooden wheels, on which he did all of his hauling for a number of years. As the years passed he prospered, adding continually to his landed possessions as financial resources permitted until he was the owner of about fourteen hundred acres of farm land. He served twelve years as justice of the peace, and in 1854 he was elected as representative to the state legislature from the counties of Montgomery, Bond and Clinton. He strongly advocated the Democratic principles as set forth by Andrew Jackson, for whom he cast his first vote for president

There were born to William and Jane C. Young nine children, namely: James J., who was a practicing physician in Fremont county, Iowa, for twenty years and is now deceased; John W., who died near Donnellson, Illinois, in 1899 ; Harriett E., who became the wife of William J. McCulach and died May 22, 1904; Sarah J., who married H. M. Powell, of Taylorville, Illinois, and died in 1870; Samuel, who was cashier of the Haskell, Harris & Company Bank and died in 1881; and three who died in infancy.

William A. Young, whose name introduces this record is the only survivor of the nine children. In his boyhood days he worked on his father's farm in summer, and in the winter attended the subscription schools and afterward continued his education in the public schools, which had been organized in the meantime. When nineteen years of age he entered the Hillsboro Academy, in which he spent one year and afterward engaged in teaching for a year. In 1858 he entered McKendree College and remained for two years. In 1860 he read law one year in the office of the late James M. Davis, of Hillsboro. On the 7th of July, 1861, he enlisted for service in the Civil war, becoming quartermaster sergeant of Company E, First Regiment of Illinois Cavalry. He served in Fremont's campaign in Missouri until the surrender of Colonel Mulligan to General Price at Lexington, Missouri, September 30, 1861. In 1862 he resumed his studies at McKendree College and was graduated with the class of that year. In December, 1862, he was appointed deputy sheriff, which position he filled with entire satisfaction for two years, and in 1864 he received the nomination and was elected to the office of sheriff of Montgomery county by over six hundred majority.

After the expiration of his term of office as sheriff and ex-officio collector of Montgomery county, William A. Young was united in marriage, November 28, 1866, to Miss Mary E. Ware, daughter of Obadiah Ware. The following summer the young couple moved to the farm, where he at present resides. On January 1, 1870, the wife and mother was called from this life, leaving two sons: Anthony O., who was born December 25, 1868, and is now a leading physician in St. Louis; and William A., Jr., who was born November 9, 1869, and is practicing medicine with marked success in Springfield, Illinois. In 1871 our subject took as his second wife Miss Sarah Muenscher, of Mount Vernon, Ohio, who died in 1898, leaving four children, who are named as follows: Frederica, Cornelia, Charles and Eunice.

At a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture, in 1892, Mr. Young was elected vice president of that society for the seventeenth congressional district and served ten years, being re-elected four times to succeed himself. While a member of the Board of Agriculture he was appointed as superintendent of the Illinois exhibit in the national agricultural building at the Columbian Exposition at Chicago, in 1893. Later he served three years as superintendent of the swine department and six years as superintendent of the horticultural department of the State Fair at Springfield. It was through his vote and influence that the State Fair was permanently located at Springfield, and he was appointed on the committee to lay out the grounds and locate the buildings. For more than twenty years Mr. Young was associated with the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair Association, and served continuously as superintendent and director and three years as president of the society. He was one of the organizers of the County Farmers' Institute and was elected and served for three years as president of that organization. At this time he is an active member of the Illinois State Horticultural Society and Alton Horticultural Society, and is often called upon to give a talk and read a paper on horticultural topics before different county institutes.

His farm is located one mile north and one mile east of Butler, in Butler Grove township, and upon this he is engaged in breeding and raising fine stock, always procuring the best blood obtainable to raise from. He is, perhaps, better known as a horticulturist and fruit-raiser. From his boyhood he has loved trees, fruits, birds and flowers, and the study of nature is ever a fascinating and interesting pastime to him. About a quarter of a century ago he attended a meeting of the Horticultural Society at Alton, Illinois, and the beautiful apples and other fruit on display were a revelation to him and aroused his ambition, and he said to himself, Why can not I produce equally as fine fruit? Going home, he read and drank in everything he could obtain pertaining to the culture of fruit; bought textbooks; read papers; and secured official reports on the subject. This theory he put into practice, and by experimenting and using good judgment has succeeded in producing fruit that has not only carried off many prizes at the state fairs and horticultural meetings, but his fruit was also awarded eight gold and two silver medals at the great Paris Exposition in 1900. At the Pan-American Exposition, at Buffalo, in 1901, he was awarded a gold medal on apples and peaches. He prepared and shipped twelve barrels of apples to the Paris Exposition which were on exhibition from May until November, and because of the size, shape and color and fine flavor of the fruit it attracted wide attention and made Illinois apples famous over western Europe. It is largely due to the efforts of Mr. Young that the attention of fruit growers has been attracted to Montgomery county as an apple-producing region, and thousands of dollars have come to the county annually to pay for fruit through the advertising which he has given to them. In this work he has been eminently successful and has earned the respect and gratitude of all fruit growers in the county. Mr. Young is an enthusiast upon the subject of forestry and thinks that the growing of timber for fuel and lumber will be a profitable industry in this country in the future, and thinks it an excellent field for a young man to engage in. He has more than fifty varieties of native and foreign trees growing on his grounds.

On the 31st day of August, 1890, Mr. Young was married to Mrs. Emma J. Whiting, of Kansas City, Missouri, whose maiden name was Critchlow and who was born in McKeesport, Allegheny county, Pennsylvania. Her parents, Daniel G. and Emma J. Critchlow, emigrated to Illinois when she was two and a half years old and settled at Caseyville, Illinois. At the breaking out of the Civil war Mr. Critchlow enlisted in the service in Company E, Second Illinois Cavalry, and was at the siege of Vicksburg, where he died the day after the surrender, leaving a widow and four children. In 1867 Mrs. Critchlow, with her daughter, Emma J., moved to Kansas City, Missouri, the other three sisters being married and living at Summerfield, Illinois, afterward moving to Kansas City. Mrs. Young, who had resided in Kansas City for thirty-four years, had witnessed the phenomenal growth of that place from a small steamboat landing on the Missouri river to the great metropolitan city it is to-day. Mr. and Mrs. Young have a very pleasant, home and are always delighted to entertain their many friends and visitors. "The latch-string always hangs out."

Socially Mr. Young is a member of the order of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons and Royal Arch chapter of Hillsboro, and in politics is a strong adherent to the Democratic doctrines as taught by Thomas Jefferson. He is well known in Montgomery and adjoining counties as one of its most enterprising and progressive men, and he belongs to that class of typical American citizens who, while advancing their individual prosperity, also contribute to the general welfare of their fellow men.

Extracted 11 Apr 2020 by Norma Hass from 1904 Past and Present of Montgomery County, Illinois, by Jacob L. Traylor, pages 44-48.

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