“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend”.

In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a newspaper reporter is told the truth by a politician [this is how we recognize the work as one of fiction] and since the true account doesn’t tally with the “known” story the reporter burns his notes in order to allow the “known” story to be perpetuated. Margaret Edythe Young’s father was part Ransom Stoddard [the Jimmy Stewart character in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance], part Horatio Alger and had good measures of Mother Ireland and Tall Texan mixed in to create what was probably not an uncommon type of American immigrant who helped rebuild this country in the last quarter of the 19th century and turn it into the dynamo of the world during the first half of the 20th. Neither they, nor the country, would ever be quite the same again.

Beneath his portrait is the Galveston Daily News obituary from the 11th of November 1939. Not all of the facts are quite as presented but then again not all of the facts are presented and that is a shame. He was exponentially more interesting than the whited sepulchre offered for the readers but then again newspapers tend to be cautious in describing the lives of the prominent unless there is really juicy copy involved. In putting together our story of Margaret Edythe Young we have put together substantial portions of his story as well and will share these vignettes in the coming entries as part of our portrait of Edy and her world. For today – enjoy the legend.


Captain John Young when he married Mary Ann Adams the 23rd of February 1876

Capt. John Young, 86, pioneer Galveston stevedore, shell producer and towboat operator, was fatally stricken with a heart attack about 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon while out driving with his wife, Mrs. Nelle Claffey Young, near the new Galveston causeway and was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Mary’s Infirmary.

Relatives said Capt. Young was forced to forgo his business activities Thursday, Nov. 2 when the heart ailment first appeared. He had apparently recovered, they said and was believed in good health when he and Mrs. Young left their home for a short drive yesterday afternoon.

Funeral arrangements are being held up pending receipt of word from out-of-town relatives. Tentative plans however are that the funeral will be held tomorrow or Monday, from the residence, 3324 L. The procession will move to St. Patrick’s Church, where Rev. John S. Murphy, pastor, will officiate and thence to one of the local cemeteries [Calvary] for interment. Malloy and Son funeral home will be in charge of the arrangements.

Capt. Young, who held one of the longest records of service in Galveston shipping circles, was active in his various ventures here from 1871, when he first came here, until Nov. 2, when the heart ailment forced him to leave his office.

Born in Wexford, Ireland, Feb. 2, 1853, Capt. Young took to the sea at an early age. When Chile and Peru were at war in the 1860’s, England sold the famous man-of-war UNION to Chile. Capt. Young Joined the crew that was to take the vessel to a Chilean port, and after his service in that connection was finished, he came to Galveston.

He gained employment with C. C. Sweeney & Co., predecessor to the present John Young Co.. Capt Young was president of the latter from its organization in 1888 until his death. After serving his first employer as a cotton screwman, Capt. Young was made superintendent of the firm when Mr. Sweeney accepted the post of United States customs collector for this district.

About 1885 Mr. Sweeney died and his wife took over the ownership of the firm. Capt. Young purchased a half interest and for three years was in partnership with Mrs. Sweeney. In 1888 he bought out her share and founded the John Young Co. with himself as president.

Capt. Young became the first operator to haul the new profitable mud shell into Galveston. Originally he and his crew set out in the sloop ANNA to sail to the shell reefs along the gulf coast. They would wait for the tide to go out, leaving the reefs bare, and would shovel the shell into wheelbarrows by hand and dump that on board the vessel.

On return to Galveston harbor, the vessel would dock at pier 36, where the mud shell industry here centered for years. The shell would then be hauled off by drays drawn by mules.

Capt. Young was a charter member of the Elks Lodge, a pilot commissioner here for many years, a member of the Galveston Maritime Association, and a member of the Cotton Screwman’s Union for years.

In his towing activities Capt. Young was associated with the late Charles T. Suderman in the Suderman-Young Towing Co., and was associated with City Commissioner Adolph Suderman in that firm at the time of his death


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