Harry Young was born in Cape Vincent, New York, in 1849. In 1863, he ran away from home and made his first stop to visit his brother Bill, who was working as a machinist in Fulton, New York. Bill loaned him the fare to travel to New York City. After working as a bellboy in the Weldon Hotel, he relocated to New Orleans, worked his passage to Memphis on the old steamer “Bismark” and from there made his way to Fort Smith, Arkansas. From Fort Smith, he traveled to Fort Gibson. While at a stage station in the vicinity of Fort Gibson, Young hired on with a surveying party, which was engaged in running a railroad survey from Fort Smith, Arkansas, to the mainline of the Atlantic & Pacific Railway at Antelope Hills, 300 miles south. While attempting to survey across some Indian land, their survey was halted at Prairie City, the current terminus of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad. The men were paid off and the survey party disbanded.
Young and a man named Frank Emmons walked from Fort Gibson to Chetopa, Kansas, and found employment with Bill Henderson, cutting and pitching hay. After difficulties with the boss, Young quit this job and returned to Chetopa where he hired on as a herder for an outfit owned by a man named Pancake. A month later, Young hired on with a man named Hamilton who had purchased 200 head of stock cattle out of the herd owned by Pancake. Together with a Mr. and Mrs. Sutherland, they drove the cattle to Hamilton’s ranch near Arkansas City. After being paid off, they went south into what is known as the “Cherokee Strip.” “The Strip” was a piece of land owned by the Cherokee Indians, and was about 100 miles square. It adjoined Howard County, Kansas, five miles south of the town of Elgin.
Young and Sutherland had heard that the U.S. Government intended to buy the Strip and allow 160 acres to each person having a homestead or squatter rights on the land. Young and the Sutherland family settled on adjoining pieces of land, but lived together. However, before the government could buy the Strip, some Osage Indians sold their lands in Kansas and bought the Strip from the Cherokee. When the Osage arrived to take possession, they found the land occupied by white settlers. The Osage promptly appealed to the government, who then notified the settlers to vacate. In the spring of 1867, the Osage Indians established its new agency 40 miles south of the Kansas line. Twenty white men were employed on the agency, of which Young was one. When he tired of agency life, Young headed for Wichita, Kansas. He remained there a short time and then went to Newton, the terminus of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad (AT&SF). From Newton, he followed the extension of the AT&SF railroad to the next terminus, Larned, Kansas, being employed by the railroad. After a short time, he relocated northward to Hayes City and arrived there in 1868. Young eventually left Hayes City and moved to Abilene.
One of the first stories regarding hunting that Harry Young wrote of was his first deer hunt in 1866, while living on his land in the Cherokee Strip:
“One bright morning… Sutherland and I went together on a deer hunt; he took his Spencer carbine, and I borrowed a heavy muzzle-loading rifle, equipped with a set trigger. I was now to have my first experience at deer hunting.
Sutherland proceeded with caution along the top of a ridge or hill, and I along the foot. I had not gone far when I saw three deer pawing in the snow, looking for acorns. They had not seen me, and I quickly decided that here was the chance to secure my first deer. Unfortunately, while in the act of taking aim, I unconsciously touched the set-trigger, resulting in the load going off in the ground about ten feet from me. Hearing the shot, Mr. Sutherland ran down and asked me if I had hit a deer. Not wanting him to know that my rifle had been discharged accidentally, I replied: “Yes, I hit him.” Whereupon he began to search, but no deer could be found. Mr. Sutherland scolded me severely for my poor marksmanship, and we returned home without any game.”
In the fall of 1870, Young had relocated to Ellsworth. He found work with the Toole brothers. These brothers had purchased 800 head of young stock cattle and planned to make a drive to Montana and establish a ranch. They intended to winter the cattle over on the Arkansas River, approximately 125 miles west of Fort Dodge.
During the drive from Ellsworth, they had much trouble with buffalo. The buffalo herds stampeded the cattle herd on several different occasions during their drive. Young estimated there were “hundreds of thousands” of buffalo in the country at that time.
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