My husband’s second great-grandfather Thomas Hicks Young (1829-1887) was a Texas pioneer, arriving in Lamar County in 1859. Thomas’ younger brother John Wesley Young (1832-1915) went to California instead.
The brothers were born in Green County, Kentucky to William Young and Salina Baker Hicks. Salina’s maternal grandfather Francis Clark (1735-1799) was the first Methodist preacher in Kentucky. Like the outlaw John Wesley Hardin and many other American boys of the era, John was named after John Wesley (1703-1791), one of the founders of Methodism.
I found John in California while researching his step-sibling, William James Radford. The 1860 census shows a “J. W. Young” and “W. J. Radford,” both born in Kentucky, farming in Scott Valley Township, Siskiyou County. Siskiyou County lies in northernmost California adjacent to the Oregon border. On the same page is 11 year old Sarah Quigley, who will marry John 15 years later.
According to a descendant, John arrived in California in 1854 via Panama. (This descendant’s DNA matches my mother-in-law’s DNA at the 3rd-4th cousin level, confirming the relationship of the brothers.) He probably traveled from Christian County, Kentucky, where his family had moved, to the Mississippi River, then down the river to New Orleans. From New Orleans he would have sailed to Panama, crossed the isthmus on foot or horseback, then sailed to San Francisco from the Pacific shore. I don’t know if he set forth on this adventure with his step-brother Radford though it seems likely. I also don’t know what happened to Radford after 1868, when he last appears on the voting rolls.
John registered to vote 1 Oct 1866, and though he probably did not give up farming, the roll lists him as a miner in Oro Fino. Oro Fino or “Fine Gold” was the name given to both a mining town and the wider gold-mining district encompassing John’s home in Scott Valley, which was first worked during the Gold Rush (1848-1855). According to the California Division of Mines and Geology, the gold deposited in the creeks there is indeed fine as well as plentiful, though “rough and angular.” The 1870 census shows John living alone, mining, with $1500 in real estate, still near to his future bride’s family.
John and Sarah Quigley’s 1875 marriage was announced very succinctly in the Sacramento Daily Union: “Oro Fino, Siskiyou co., Jan. 13–J.W. Young to Sallie Quigley.” They had six children between 1875 and 1892, with four sons living to adulthood. By 1882 John was a Master Mason of the North Star Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons based in Fort Jones, Siskiyou County. By 1912 he was the president of the Scott Valley Bank, where his son William Thomas Young (1884-1966) would work until his retirement in 1952.
John Wesley Young died of heart disease in Fort Jones on 3 Dec 1914. His brother Thomas Hicks Young had died 27 years earlier in Red River County, Texas. Did the two men, who lived almost 2000 miles apart, ever see each other again after leaving Kentucky?