Biography of Hon. John A. Young
Washington County, IA Biographies





Hon. John Alexander Young, who since 1843 has resided in Washington county, has devoted his life to agricultural pursuits and banking, having for the past thirty years acted as cashier of the Washington National Bank. He has, moreover, been active in public affairs shaping the political history of the state, representing his district in the upper house of the general assembly. His salient characteristics are those of honorable manhood and progressive citizenship, combined with an unfaltering allegiance to the duties and obligations which each day brings. He was born in Rush county, Indiana, July 29, 1838.

His grandfather, Alexander Young, was a native of Pennsylvania and one of the early settlers of Flemingsburg, Kentucky, where he was married. Later he removed to Indiana and in 1848 came to Iowa, his last days being spent near Lexingeon, in Washington county, where he died when about seventy five years of age. On the day of his death he rode on horseback from his home to the polling place and voted for Abraham Lincoln, passing away on the succeeding evening. He had served his country as a soldier in the war of 5812 and was also a progressive citizen, giving practical aid in the work of general improvement and progress as this county was converted from a frontier district into one of the splendidly developed counties of the commonwealth. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Ricketts, gassed away when about eighty two years of age.

Their son, James N. Young, was born in Flemingsburg, Kentucky, and during boyhood accompanied his parents on their removal to Rush county, Indiana. In early manhood he engaged in clerking and in teaching in the public schools. The remainder of his life was devoted to farming. In Rush county, Indiana, he wedded Sallie Eyestone, a daughter of John Eyestone, who was a native of Ohio and removed to Indiana during the pioneer epoch in its history. In that state he followed merchandising for a number of years and eventually took up his abode in Washington county, Iowa, where he engaged in farming. Both he and his wife, Mrs. Alice (Armstrong) Eyestone, lived to an advanced age and reared a large family, including their daughter Sallie, who became the wife of James N. Young. She was a native of Ohio and went to Indiana in her girlhood with her parents and was there married. They became the parents of two children, the younger being James Harvey Young, who was killed. in. the battle of. Shiloh. The wife and mother died in October, 1840, when less than went yearns of age. She was a consistent member of the Methodist church and her. many excellent traits of heart and mind endeared her to all who knew her. Mr: Young also held membership in the Methodist church. Following the death of his first wife he wedded Martha J. Combs, and there were fifteen children born of that union, of whom nine are yet living: Elizabeth, the wife of B. H. Beaty of Elk county, Kansas; Samuel P., of Eureka, Kansas; Edward A., of Carthage, Missouri; Fletcher, of Elk county, Kansas; Jennie, the wife of William Burt, also of Elk county, Kansas; Riley and Robert, both of Elk county, Kansas; George, of Idaho; and Flournoy, residing in Elk county, Kansas. Ida, deceased, became the wife of a Mr. Haines. The others died in early life.

Following his second marriage James N. Young came with his family to Washington county, Iowa, casting in his lot among the pioneer settlers. He located in Cedar township and secured two hundred and sixty seven acres of government land, of which two hundred acres were prairie on which not a furrow had been turned not an improvement made. He built a hewed log house, in which the family were soon comfortably installed, although there were many hardships and privations incident to pioneer life to be met. Their home was the farthest out on the prairie from the timber. It was not deemed wise at that time to take up prairie land as the value of it was not known, but the years proved the wisdom of the settlers who did so, for in all the country there is no richer soil than the Iowa prairies and no state in a similar area produces as large crops of some of. our chief cereals. As time passed and Mr. Young prospered in his undertakings he erected new buildings, made substantial improvements upon his farm and developed one of the fine properties of the locality, making his home thereon for a little more than thirty years, or until 1873, when he lost heavily by going security for friends. He then removed to Elk county, Kansas, and started anew on the wild prairies, again meeting all of the conditions of pioneer life in the effort to retrieve his lost position. In this he was successful, accumulating a competency for old age, and his last years were spent in Howard, Kansas, where he reached the age of eighty two years, lacking one month. His second wife died a week later. Mr. Young is well remembered by many of the citizens of Washington county as a man who in all of life's relations enjoyed and merited the respect and good will of his fellow citizens. He held various township offices and in the winter of 1854-55 was representative from Washington and Louisa counties in the Iowa legislature, the capital being then at Iowa City. Washington county owes him much for his efforts in her behalf, which were always far reaching and beneficial.

John A. Young, whose name introduces this record, was reared on his father's farm in Washington county, arriving here in 1843 when a little lad of five years. His early education was obtained in the subscription and district schools, while later he enjoyed the benefit of three years' instruction in the Iowa Wesleyan University at Mount Pleasant. He made good use of his opportunities and when nineteen years of age began teaching school, which profession he followed for four years. He then married and located on a farm of one hundred and twenty acres in Cedar township, which he improved and made his home until the winter of 1871. As the years passed he brought his fields under a high state of cultivation, using the latest improved machinery to facilitate his work, and the value of his labor was manifest in the excellent crops which he produced.

Leaving the farm to take up other lines of business activity, Mr. Young removed to Washington on the 1st of December, 1871, having been elected county auditor, in which position he served for two years. On retiring from that office he became assistant cashier of the Washington National Bank on the 27th of January, 1874, and on the 1st of July, 1878, he became cashier, which position he has filled for more than thirty years. He stands as one of the foremost representatives of financial interests in this part of the state, thoroughly acquainted with banking in every particular, ever watchful of the interests of his patrons and at the same time winning Success for the institution through his capable management and keen business discernment. His life work has at all times been creditable and in no business transaction has he ever been known to take advantage of the necessities of his fellowmen. In fact, he sustains an unassailable reputation for business integrity and is honored and respected wherever known and most of all where best known.

That his fellow citizens have faith in him is indicated by the fact that he was elected to represent the tenth district in the state senate where he served through three sessions, giving to each question which came up for settlement thoughtful and earnest consideration. He was one of the active working members of the upper house and was actuated in all that he did by a sincere desire to promote the interests of the commonwealth. He was also the chairman of the Chattanooga-Iowa monument commission for seven years. Long before this Mr. Young had given substantial proof of his loyalty to his country, the only interruption to an active business career occurring in 1862 when, on the 19th of August, he responded to the country's call for military aid and enlisted as a private of Company A, Twenty fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry. With this command he served until honorably discharged on the 6th of June, 1865, the regiment disbanding on the 19th of the same month. On the organization of the company he was elected second lieutenant and in June, 1863, was promoted to first lieutenant, while a year later he was made captain of his company. He was slightly wounded at Arkansas Post in January, 1863, and again sustained slight injuries at Ringgold, Georgia, in the same year. At Resaca, on the 15th of May, 1864, he was seriously wounded in the head. During his connection with the army he participated in a number of hotly contested battles, including the engagement at Chickasaw Bayou, Arkansas Post, the entire siege of Vicksburg, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Ringgold and the engagements of the Atlanta campaign, followed by the celebrated march under Sherman to the sea and then northward from Savannah, Georgia, through the Carolinas. At Columbia in February, 1869, his company, under his orders, saved the hospital buildings (the Columbia College buildings which were then used for hospital buildings) from destruction by fire, while the city was burning. The buildings at the time contained about one hundred and eighty ill and wounded soldiers, most of whom were Confederates. His broad humanitarianism, however, prompted him to do this work, knowing that the inmates were unable to make their escape because of illness or wounds. Captain Young likewise participated in the battle of Bentonville in March, 1865, after which the Union troops followed Johnston's army to a point near Raleigh and there remained until peace was declared, word reaching them. at Goldsboro of Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Captain Young was also with the victorious army that marched through the streets of the capital city, cheered by countless thousands who thus welcomed the northern troops, while over Pennsylvania avenue was suspended a broad banner, bearing the words: "The only debt which the country owes that she cannot pay is the debt that she owes to her soldiers." When the war was over Captain Young resumed the duties of civil life, although he was not able to engage actively in the work of the farm for but a few years, owing to the serious consequences of his wounds.

At the close of hostilities he gladly returned to his family. He had been married on the 4th of October, 1860, to Miss Elizabeth A. Runyan, a daughter of Micajah D. and Elizabeth (Argo) Runyan, who were early settlers of Jefferson county, Ohio, where the birth of Mrs. Young occurred. By her marriage she became the mother of three children. Ella Annette became the wife of A. W. Hall, of Colfax, Iowa, and the mother of five children, Fred Y., James N., Harvey W., Dorothy E. and Marjorie. John Wilbur, the first born son, died in infancy. Harvey S., now cashier of the Winfield State Bank at Winfield, Iowa, married Louise E. Parmalee, and they have three children, Hoyt R., Helen and Ruth.

Captain and Mrs. Young hold membership in the Methodist Episcopal church and occupy a prominent position in social circles where intelligence and true worth are regarded as essential attributes to congeniality. Mr. Young belongs to I. G. White Post, No. 108, G. A. R., and thus maintains pleasant relations with his old army comrades. In his political views he has always been a republican since the organization of the party, never failing to support its candidates at the polls. He served as mayor of Washington in 1879 and 1880. In a review of his life it will be seen that his salient characteristics which have led him to prominence are such as any might cultivate, consisting of activity and reliability in business, loyalty in military and political service and the just recognition at all times of the rights of others. Such a man cannot fail to enjoy the confidence, good will and honor of his fellowmen.

From:
History of Washington County, Iowa
From the First White Settlement to 1908
Vol II
BY: Howard A. Burrell
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1909


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