William A. Young (1836 – )

“YOUNG, William A., one of the leading men of Montgomery County, and well known throughout the state, is living in Butler Grove Township.  He was born in Grisham Township, August 20, 1836; a son of William and Jane C. (Paisley) Young, he born in Maury County Tenn.,  and she in Guilford County, N.C.

In 1830 William Young came to Montgomery County, making the trip on horseback, and bought forty acres of land on which there was a log cabin.  On March 12, 1832, he was married.  During the Black Hawk War he served under Captain Rountree, and it is interesting to note that the man sent by the Federal government to swear the recruits was Jefferson Davis, who later became president of the Confederacy.  It may surprise some to know that Abraham Lincoln was sworn into the service for the Black Hawk War by the man who was later to set up a rival government and be abased by total defeat.  William Young became a large landowner, having 1,400 acres at one time.  He served for twelve years as a justice of the peace, and as a member of the Illinois Assembly from the counties of Bond, Montgomery and Clinton.  He cast his first presidential vote for Andrew Jackson, as he was a Democrat.  His death occurred May 6, 1900, when he was ninety years old as he was born in 1810.  His wife died in 1861.

When he was nineteen years old, William A. Young entered the Hillsboro Academy, and after a year’s course there, taught school for a year.  In 1858 he entered McKendree College and took a two years’ course.  In 1860 he began reading law at Hillsboro with James M. Darts.  With the outbreak of the Civil War, however, his plans were interrupted, and on July 7, 1861, he enlisted for service in Company E, First Illinois Cavalry, and was quartermaster-sergeant.  The regiment was sent to Missouri and was in the Fremont campaign until the surrender of Colonel Mulligan to General Price at Lexington, Mo., September 20, 1862, when his enlistment expired.  In 1862, he resumed his studies at McKendree College and was graduated in June of that year, and was then appointed deputy sheriff which office he held for two years.  In 11864 he was elected Sheriff of Montgomery County, and while in office planted the trees which now afford so grateful a shade of Courthouse Square.

On November 28, 1866, Mr. Young was married to Mary E. Ware, born in Montgomery County, Ill., a daughter of Obediah and Electra Ware.  In 1869 Mr. and Mrs. Young moved to their present farm, where she died January 1, 1870, leaving two sons, namely: Anthony O., who was born December 25, 1868, a physician of St. Louis,  Mo.; and William A. Jr., who was born November 9, 1869, who is a physician of Springfield, Ill.  In 1871 Mr. Young was married (second) to Sarah Meunchner, born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, and she died in 1898, leaving four children, namely: Frederick, Cornelia, Charles and Eunice.

In 1892 Mr. Young was elected vice president of the State Board of Agriculture for the Seventeenth Congregational District, and served for ten years, being re-elected four times to succeed himself.  While a member of the board he was appointed superintendent of the Illinois exhibit of the Board of Agriculture at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.  For three years he was superintendent of the swine department and for six years served as superintendent of the horticultural department of the Illinois State Fair.  Through his vote the Illinois State Fair was located permanently at Springfield, and he was appointed as a member of the committee to lay out the grounds and locate the buildings.  He was one of the organizers of the Montgomery County Farmers Institute and served as its president for many years, and he has been an active member of the State Horticultural Association, which he has served as secretary and also of the Alton Horticultural Association.  He is recognized as one of the leading authorities on horticulture.  His fine farm is devoted to the raising of blooded stock and fruit.

Mr. Young was married (third) to Mrs. E. J. Whiting of Kansas City, Mo., in 1899.  She was born in Mckeesport, Allegheny County, Pa., a daughter of Daniel G. and Emma J. Critchlow, natives of Pennsylvania.  Mr. Young is a Royal Arch Mason, a strong Democrat and a consistent member of the Lutheran Church.

During all his life Mr. Young has evinced a great interest in horticulture, and the fruit produced on his farm won for him eight gold and two silver medals at the Paris, France Exposition in 1900.  The size, quality, and beautiful coloring of his apples attracted a great deal of attention and advertised this county widely as an apple growing center.  It may not be generally known that within four miles of Hillsboro, Ill., are raised some of the finest and best apples in the United States and in the World.  Mr. Young has been awarded many first prizes and medals which he prizes highly, from State fairs and World Expositions held in the United States.  In June 1913, Mr. and Mrs. Young made the trip to Europe and visited many places of interest, and after touring Scotland, England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland and Italy returned home via Gibraltar, the Azores and Boston, much pleased with their experience.  From notes taken on the Journey in a little book has been written entitled ‘My Trip Abroad.’ ”

Source:  Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, Vol. 2, by Bateman, Selby and Strange, Munsell Publishing Co., Chicago, 1918, pages 1193-94

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