Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


HENRY C. YOUNG. Henry C. Young, descended from a family of pioneers, was born near Louisville, Kentucky, in 1835, being brought to southwest Missouri as an infant in the early settlement of this country. His father, Gabriel Richardson Young, born a generation before in the same place, inherited a change of name from his father whose family, in Wales, had borne the name of Yong. The emigrant ancestor, cherishing the memory of wrongs resulting from the iniquity of the entail system, sought forgetfulness in the borderland, taking part with the followers of Daniel Boone in the conquest of "The Dark and Bloody Ground," since known as Kentucky. He married a Miss Stillwell. Their children went in different directions on leaving the Kentucky home. Gabriel Richardson Young, who had married Nancy McKenzie, of Charleston, South Carolina, followed the immigration of his kinsman, Alexander McKenzie, to this country. McKenzie sojourned two years on a place three and a half miles south of where the town of Springfield was afterward laid out, being one of the first settlers in this vicinity, removing, when neighbors became numerous, to the Spring river country, west of the present site of Mount Vernon. Mrs. Nancy McKenzie Young, who was the only daughter of her family, had ten brothers who came to southwest Missouri with the early settlers, all of them eventually moving on, with the continuous emigration of pioneers seeking larger freedom, to locations in Texas, where the McKenzies are well known. Gabriel Richardson Young was well along in years when he arrived in the Spring river country and began preparations for the establishment of his new home and he did not long survive the event, leaving his family to meet the difficulties which beset pioneers, in somewhat straitened circumstances. Henry C. was the oldest of three boys, his brothers being J. Mansil Bonaparte and Richardson. The sisters were, Gabrella, afterward Mrs. Bennett Wellman; Amanda, Mrs. Stone-Hardin; and Mary Ellen, Mrs, T. A. Sherwood. Two other sisters, Sarah and Pauline, died in their youth. Henry worked and studied by turns, as a farmer boy, and this he continued by turns while engaged in different occupations in which he contributed to the support of the family. He was about half grown when Mr. Wellman, who had opened a store at Cape Fair, in Stone county, took the boy in as a clerk, which was his initiation in commercial pursuits, which he followed successfully while completing his education.

He attended the Arkansas College at Fayetteville, making great progress in a short time and altogether utilizing his advantages in a manner which qualified him for important undertakings and won him favor with Robert Graham, president of the institution, and other men of note whom he met at that time. His energy and perseverance in the face of difficulties attracted general attention and he was known throughout his life for the pertinacity with which he adhered to his purposes and carried out his work. While in St. Louis on his first trip to the city he was introduced in the house of Hargadine & Company and was by them intrusted with some important collections. He attended to this business with such promptness and diligence that he became their permanent representative in this section.

He married, at Mount Vernon, in 1858, Isabella Robinson, daughter of William and Nancy (Kelsy) Robinson, related to the Robinson family of Troupe county, Georgia, and the Kelseys, of Napa, California. After living in Mount Vernon a short time the couple moved to St. Louis and made their home in Cote Brilliante, a suburb of that city. Four sons were born to them, namely: Charles Graham and Henry C. Jr., in Mount Vernon; Robert E. Lee and Gabriel Richardson, in Cote Brilliante.

In the meantime, Henry C. Young read law, and, after being admitted the bar, formed a partnership with T. A. Sherwood. Beginning practice at Mount Vernon, the firm of Sherwood & Young soon became widely known, afterward moving their office to Springfield. Mr. Young took a prominent part in what has been called "The Missouri Movement," one of the initial steps in the beginning of the reaction against the ascendancy of radicalism in the North which followed the close of the Civil war. B. Gratz Brown was elected governor, a new constitution was written for Missouri, the Democrats came into power in this state and soon afterward throughout the entire South. Judge Sherwood was elected as one of the justices of the Supreme Court. Mr. Young was named as one of the first board of railroad commissioners by Governor Charles H. Hardin, whose cause of reform he had championed early, but declined in favor of General Marmaduke, for whom he had solicited the position. President Peirce, of the Atlantic & Pacific railroad, then building into the Southwest under difficulties, had heard of the indefatigable Henry Young and he was employed at the munificent salary of three thousand dollars to do as much work as is now ordinarily allotted to several railroad attorneys. Among the concessions which he secured at that time was a grant of ten thousand acres for every mile of a branch line to be built from Red river through eastern Texas to Sabine Pass, a distance of four hundred miles, and another grant to a subsidiary company of the Atlantic & Pacific for a branch from Central Texas to Laredo on the Rio Grande. In the selection of these routes the building of important lines which have since materialized was anticipated, but the promoters of the pioneer projects were robbed of all benefits by the hard fate which precipitated the panic of Black Friday in 1873, just as their projects were getting under way, Mr. Young then being in New York on his way to London to negotiate the sale of the bonds. He was interested in a number of important enterprises in Springfield and the Southwest in those days. Later he formed a partnership with Col. C. W. Thrasher and the firm of Thrasher & Young held a leading place in the practice here for a number of years. Notable among the matters which they had in hand in the course of an extensive practice was the litigation in connection with the issuance of bonds in aid of the Hannibal & Saint Joe railroad in which they won for taxpayers contesting the legality of the bonds in a series of suits extending through about twenty years until a decision was finally rendered in a Federal court in favor of the bondholders as innocent purchasers.

Mr. Young was a member of the Christian church and a Master Mason. He died at his home here in 1886. Among those who hold him in kindly remembrance is Professor Jonathan Fairbanks, who says: "He was a gentleman in every sense of that word, urbane and full of cheerfulness, courteous to everyone, dignified and well poised, big hearted and generous, even to his enemies, of whom he had but few. He was a man of large caliber, capable of grasping any situation, making the most of every opportunity. As his opponents learned to know him they became his, friends. His personality won the hearts of all. It was my pleasure to know him intimately. If I needed a friend in any matter I knew that I could find one in him. He was a man to be remembered for his rare qualities, one of those whose life is a blessing to any community. I loved him as a brother."

[1794-1797]


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