Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Almost Ghost Town of Young America Indiana

This map shows the incorporated and unincorpor...
This map shows the incorporated and unincorporated areas in Cass County, Indiana, highlighting Logansport in red. It was created with a custom script with US Census Bureau data and modified with Inkscape. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Young America is a small village in Deer Creek Township in Cass County near the Howard county border. It is just about 10 miles south of Logansport . Young America is a very good example of many of the almost ghost towns in rural Indiana.

Young America was founded in 1855 when Thomas Henry cleared the dense forest to build a saw mill. Thomas Henry used log wagons and with neighbor's ox team he hauled an engine and boiler over the muddy winding roads to to the recently cleared land. Thomas Henry then became proprietor of the first steam saw mill in Deer Creek.
Mayors Mansion Young America
Now there are two versions how Young America got its name. One story is that some of the equipment hauled to the mill was made by a company called "Young America", Mr.. Henry was asked what he was going to call his mill he looked down at the label and said, "Young America " having no other name in mind. The other version of this story is that the steam engine was such a novel thing to see in what was the middle of no where that someone wrote in chalk "Young America" on the boiler as a joke and the name stuck.
The town was plated in 1863 by Laban Thomas and several other additions were platted up until the 1890's. The first real house was built on Main Street in by one James Ginn about 1863. These were followed by a number of small houses .The biggest house being one built by a J.H Whiteside in 1868. Soon Young America was a sort of thriving place and in 1870 Hiram Pickett built a substantial brick hotel. These were followed by two commercial brick buildings built on opposite corners of Main and Roush streets.
Like most rural Indiana towns at the time Young America was a pretty self contained place. There were two general stores run by Addis Wirick and David Staley, a harness shop, and a drug store . Following a small increase in the population the town got its first post office. Soon there was a second hotel, hardware store, flour mill and restaurant. The town also boasted two barber shops and three local physicians.
In 1957 Joe Young wrote an article on how Young Americ
Young America High School 1907
  had just decided to overlook its centennial celebration. The population of Young America was just 300 people but it was still very much a thriving place. The town had never grown large enough to have good mail delivery. The article stated," Mail was first brought to Young America three times a week by "hack" a type of horse drawn buggy." When the post office was finally established the post master had to go to Poplar Grove to pick it up.
The article states that the town never grew much past the population of three hundred because the railroad and interurban never reached there. Still in 1957 the town had its own school system serving grades 1-12.They also had a very active Lions club that had brought the town it's own fire truck and three well attended churches.
Other businesses in town included two food stores, two restaurants, three filling stations and two garages. Just as Young America had started as a mill, the largest source of commerce was a feed mill in 1957.
The high school served 110 students from local farms and towns. It was a sleepy place then as it took almost a hundred years for the population to peak at 300 at the time of the 2000 census Young America had a population of 115.
There are no commercial businesses showing a Young America address but there is still a grain elevator in the town. Young America like so many small places that people lived their lives and raised their children is fading going the way of the passenger trains and close knit communities. It lived up to its name providing the kind of place that Americans lived and worked when America was still truly young.
Sources
http://incass-inmiami.org/cass/news/yamerica.html


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