GEORGE W. YOUNG.
It is always most gratifying to the biographer and student of human nature to come in close touch with the history of a man who, in the face of almost insurmountable difficulties, has plodded persistently on and eventually, through his determination and energy, made of success not an accident but a logical result. Judge George W. Young, who maintains his home at Marion, Illinois, is strictly a self-made man and as such a perusal of his career offers both lesson and incentive. He has been eminently successful as an attorney of recognized ability, has held a multitude of important public positions, and has ever manifested a deep and sincere interest in the good of the Republican party, of whose principles he has long been a zealous and active exponent.
Judge George, W. Young was born in Williamson county, Illinois, December 1, 1844, and both of his parents died when he was a mere infant. After his parents' demise the subject of this review became a member of the family of George W. Binkley, who was engaged in farming on an estate four miles north of Marion. Mr. Binkley died when the Judge was fourteen years of age and he was then bound by indenture to the widow, Mrs. Maria Binkley. When fifteen years of age Judge Young left his home and went south, stopping for a time at Cairo, Illinois, where he enlisted as deck sweeper on a steamboat plying between St. Louis and New Orleans. Subsequently he became a cabin boy and Texas tender, occupying the latter positions until the winter of 1861, when he went ashore at Columbus, Kentucky, there hiring out to work on a farm at five dollars a month.
Prior to the death of Mr. Binkley, the young George had learned to read and write by attending the neighboring subscription schools. He was a resident of Kentucky at the time of the inception of the Civil war, and as the storm of secession and disunion swept over that state it became necessary for everyone to take sides. Judge Young cast his lot with the cause of the Union and was mustered into service in July, 1862, as a private in Company L, Eighth Kentucky Cavalry, under the coinmand of Colonel James M. Shackleford. Judge Young served, in the above regiment until September, 1863, when he was sent to western Kentucky, where he recruited a company of men in Graves, Ballard and Carlisle counties, himself becoming lieutenant of Company E, Thirtieth Kentucky Cavalry, Colonel F. N. Alexander commanding. At the battle of Saltville, Virginia, October 6, 1864, the captain of Company E was severely wounded and rendered unable for duty. This placed Lieutenant Young in command of the company and, the second lieutenant being absent on detached service, the Judge was the only commissioned officer
with the company, which he continued to command until the close of the war, in June, 1865. Judge Young was mustered out of service as captain of his company.
Judge Young returned to Williamson county, Illinois, in July, 1865, and immediately turned his attention to procuring a higher education. For eight months he was a pupil in the district school at Spillerton, kept by Matthew I. Wroton, and in 1866-7 he attended the City University at St. Louis, Missouri. In the winter of 1868-9 he attended the law department of the University of Chicago, and subsequently he was a student in the Benton Law Institute, conducted by the late Judge Andrew D. Duff. He received his license to practice law in Illinois March 3, 1869, but at that time was too poor to open a law office. He was deputy assessor of the county in 1869, taught school during the winter of 1869-70, and eventually opened a law office for general practice in the city of Marion, in July, 1870; his law partner at that time was Judge L. D. Hartwell.
Soon after the close of the Civil war Judge Young became interested in politics. Under the system of voting prior to 1865 it had been customary to place the names of all the candidates for office on one ballot and the voter was supposed to scratch off the names of the men he did not wish to vote for. The returned Union soldiers, under the direction of the late Jesse Bishop, stimulated by the influence of the late General John A. Logan, determined to put before the people a straight Republican ticket. Accordingly, on the 30th of September, 1865, a caucus of Republicans was called by Jesse Bishop to meet in the back room of the drug store of Isaac M. Lewis, the purpose being to nominate candidates for the various county offices, the same to be voted for at the coming November election. There were thirteen Republicans present at that caucus. Judge Young, although not twenty-one years old, was invited to attend and he acted as secretary. The caucus nominated a full county ticket and this was the first straight Republican ticket ever put before the people of Williamson county; at the November election every candidate was elected.
Judge Young has been active in Republican politics since the holding of that first memorable caucus until the present time. He is the only surviving member of that historical meeting. The Judge was candidate for the office of state's attorney in 1872, but was defeated along with the rest of the Republican ticket. He served as justice of the peace from 1873 until 1877 and in the latter year was elected county judge by a large majority. In 1884 he became state's attorney for Williamson county and in 1888 was elected circuit judge to fill a vacancy. For twelve years he was a member of the board of education for Marion district. He was a candidate for Congress before the Republican primary in 1898 but was defeated by a small majority. In 1879 he was appointed aide-de-camp on the military staff of Governor Cullom, with the rank of colonel, and subsequently he was reappointed to that position by Governor Hamilton.
Ever since the close of the war Judge Young has been an active factor in army circles. He organized three posts of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1866 and has been a continuous member of that splendid organization since that time. For the past twenty years he has been post commander of Marion Post, No. 319, and he is division commander of the Union Veterans' Union, Department of Illinois. In July, 1869, Judge Young became a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and he has been a member of the Grand Lodge of the state of that organization since 1873; he has held several important offices in the Grand Lodge, served on four of the important committees and is now, in 1912, a member of the committee on legislation. For the past ten years
Judge Young has devoted his attention to his extensive law practice looking after collections, sonie politics, and other business in general.
Judge Young was married to Miss Martha Spiller, daughter of the late Elijah N. Spiller, September 24, 1871. To this union three children were born, all girls, one of whom is deceased. Miss Eva, the youngest daughter, is official reporter for the Williamson county circuit court, having held that position for the past eight years, during which time she has gained the reputation of being the best stenographer in Southern Illinois.
Judge Young is a man of broad human sympathy and great benevolence. Charity in its widest and best sense is practiced by him, and his kindness has made smooth the rough way of many a weary traveler on life's journey. In his private life he is distinguished by all that marks the true gentleman. His is a noble character—one that subordinates personal ambition to public good and seeks rather the benefit of others than the aggrandizement of self.