John Young (pioneer)

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For other people with the same name, see John Young (disambiguation).

John Young (March 8, 1764 – 1825) was an American surveyor and pioneer. He is best known as the founder of Youngstown, Ohio, a village that eventually became one of the nation's largest steel producers.[1]

Early years[edit]

John Young was born in Peterborough, New Hampshire and moved to Whitestown, New York. Young married Mary Stone White, daughter of the founder of Whitestown Hugh White. Young, his wife Mary and son John Young Jr moved to Ohio as Young surveyed the area in 1796 and settled there soon after.[1] On February 9, 1797, he purchased the entire township of 15,560 acres (63 km²) from the Western Reserve Land Company for $16,085.[2] The 1797 establishment of the town was officially recorded on August 19, 1802.[3] Young lived in the area from 1799 to 1803.[1]

Pioneer in Ohio and return to New York State[edit]

The Youngs' had their son George during their time in Ohio, but they eventually returned to Whitestown due to Mary's health in 1803.

Death and legacy[edit]

Young died in Whitestown in 1825.[4]

The Youngs' had three sons, John Young Jr (1794-1875), who later became a Commodore in the United States Navy, William Clark Young (1799-1893), US Army Colonel and surveyor and George Young (1796-1828).[4]

Biography of William C. Young -- Oneida County, NY Biographies WILLIAM CLARK YOUNG. It seems rather strange to chronicle that another grandson of the pioneer White should have been as instrumental in the development of the railroads of the state of New York and adjoining states as Canvass White was instrumental in developing the canals of the state. In fact William C. Young, born November 25, 1800 [correction: born - November 25 1799], and a son of Mary Stone White, a daughter of Hugh White, the pioneer, and who married John Young, the founder of Youngstown, has been as instrumental as any man in the state in the practical development of railroading. He received his education in Whitestown, attaining some knowledge of Latin, geometry and surveying, aside from the ordinary schooling of the period. At sixteen years of age he was assistant surveyor of the islands of Lake Ontario for the state of New York; the next year a rod man locating the Erie canal and participating in the ceremony of "ground breaking" for the work at Rome, July 4, 1817; the next year he was a cadet at West Point in a class of one hundred and twenty five members, and graduated number twelve in his class in 1822. After four years given to army life he resigned June 30, 1826, and engaged in superintending the locating and constructing of railroads in New York state. In 1831 while making the survey of the Saratoga & Schenectady road, Mr. Young proposed and practically introduced the present system of supporting car rails on the road bed, and introduced the use of cross ties in lieu of the stone blocks and foundations which formerly sustained the strip of railroad iron in place; the advantages gained by this method, in expediting the work and lessening the cost of construction, were so obvious that its general adoption was immediate and constituted a marked advance in the history of railroad construction. He was subsequently appointed chief engineer of construction and superintendent of the Utica & Schenectady road, which he completed after sixteen years of unremitting toil. In 1849 he was made chief engineer of the Hudson River Railroad, which ran between Albany and New York city, and although the original surveys had been made by a man of no less prominence than J. B. Jervis, and on Mr. Jervis' retirement from the position of chief engineer, he had enjoined upon the management that under no circumstances should the line of road be altered, nevertheless the ability, energy and common sense of Mr. Young, together with the estimates showing a less cost, enabled Mr. Young to resurvey and relocate two thirds of the road. On the completion of the road in October, 1851, Mr. Young was elected president of the Hudson River Railroad Company. He resigned the position the following January, as his professional duties in outdoor work were more to his taste than the confinements of routine work in the office. He had already spent twenty one years of his life (from 1831 to 1852) in locating and constructing the three roads above mentioned, aggregating in length about two hundred and fifty miles. In 1852 he was called upon by the president of the Panama Railroad Company to complete that road across the Isthmus of Panama, which he undertook and while there he nearly died of the fever, so he had to withdraw from the isthmus. In 1855 Mr. Young had charge of the western branch of the New York & Western Railroad from Rochester to Buffalo, some two hundred miles of road, and a monthly disbursement of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, which he continued in charge of for about two years and then resigned. There were numerous other important railroad surveys with which William C. Young was connected, and it must be taken into consideration that in his connection with the building of the Hudson River Railroad from New York to Albany, it was looked upon in his day as the most foolish venture possible, as it was in direct competition with the Hudson river the entire distance, the theory being, that railroads might pay in countries where it was impossible to operate canals, but they never could pay in direct competition with waterways. Mr. Young, speaking of his cousin, Canvass White, said: "On his return from England he brought with him the instruments for laying out canals, the plans and the design for the canal boats and became the most practical man in canal making; and with Judge Wright cooperated in making much of the Erie canal." It is fairly evident from the work of these two men, that one was as instrumental in the developing of the waterways of the state as the other in developing the locomotive steam power of the state. Mr. Young died in December, 1894 [correction: died - December 22 1893], having been for four years prior to his death the oldest living graduate of West Point, and entitled by reason thereof to deliver the annual address. Source:

History of Oneida County, New York --  From 1700 to the present time of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham -- The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company -- Chicago 1912

DEATH OF COL. WILLIAM C. YOUNG.; He Was the Oldest Graduate of West Point and a Well-Known Railroad Man.

 Col. William C. Young died at his residence, 465 West Twenty-third Street, yesterday, after a short illness, in his ninety-eighth year. Funeral services will be held at 4 P.M. to-day, after which the body will be taken to Albany for burial.
 William C Young was born in Youngstown, Ohio.   He was the oldest living graduate of the Military Academy at West Point, his commission as Second Lieutenant, dated 1822, bearing the signatures of James Monroe and John C Calhoun.   Before entering the Army he had been employed upon the preliminary surveys of the Erie Canal.   After four years' service in the Third Regiment of Artillery, he resigned his commission and entered again upon the profession of Civil Engineering.
 Railroad construction was the work of which his life was devoted, until his retirement in 1857.   Since then he had applied himself to looking after his own personal interests.
 Mr Young was a pioneer in a new industry.   In 1831 railroad construction was in its experimental stage.   At that time he first introduced the use of cross-ties, in place of the stone and foundations which had before been used to anchor the rails on the roadbed.   This innovation was first made upon the road between Saratoga and Schenectady, which was built under his direction.   He then took charge of the projected road between Schenectady and the Utica - begun in 1833 and completed in 1849.   The Hudson River Railroad Company next secured his services to carry on the work began by Mr Jarvis.   This road was completed in 1851, and Mr Young for two years was its President.   He resigned for the more congenial pursuit of his profession, and was next engaged upon the Panama Railroad, and was President of that company.
 With health somewhat impaired by malarial fever, Mr Young accepted the Superintendency of the Western Division of the New York Central Railroad, with a residence in Buffalo.   This was his last public service.   In 1857 he withdrew to private life.   Mr Young's natural force, courage, and ability were great.   One had but to see this splendid old man, proud and erect under the weight of his ninety eight years, to realize that his life had been one of satisfactory accomplishment.   His sight, hearing and his intellectual faculties were almost entirely unimpaired.   He felt a natural pride in his position as veteran of the veterans.   This distinction will now belong to General George S Green, who is one year younger in date of graduation, and two years younger in age.

Source: New York Times -- 1893-12-23

West Point Website: William C. Young -- Class of 1822 Cullum No. 297 • Dec 22, 1893 • Died

William Clark Young The oldest graduate of West Point died of pneumonia at his home in New York a few days ago at age 95. He graduated from the Military Academy in 1822 and after serving 4 years in the 2nd Artillery he took up the occupation of Civil Engineer and then railroading.

  He introduced the first crossties ever used by an American railway.   He had charge of the railway building on the Isthmus of Panama and was made President of the company but was stricken with fever and was obliged to return.   He was Supt of the Western Division of the New York Central for a time.   When he retired from that position he gave up active pursuit of his profession and for many years had lived quietly in the old home where he died.   He leaves 4 children.  -- The man was the brother of Mrs CS Galusha of this city [Hudson, Michigan].

Source: Hudson Post Gazette -- 1893-12-29 - Pg 1


Colonel William Clark Young, the oldest graduate of West Point, died in New York Friday of pneumonia. He was born at Evanston, Illinois, in 1799. He gradutated in 1822 from West Point.

Source: Democratic Northwest Napoleon 1893-12-28


  1. ^ a b c "Builders of Youngstown: John Young". The Youngstown Daily Vindicator. October 13, 1924. 
  2. ^ Aley, Howard C. (1975). A Heritage to Share: The Bicentennial History of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. Youngstown, OH: The Bicentennial Commission of Youngstown and Mahoning County, Ohio. pp. 28–29. 
  3. ^ Blue, Frederick J.; et al. (1995). Mahoning Memories: A History of Youngstown and Mahoning County. Virginia Beach, VA: The Donning Company. pp. 15–16. ISBN 0-89865-944-2. 
  4. ^ a b "Re: Young founder of Youngstown, Ohio". Retrieved November 30, 2012. 

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