He rode as one of the famous Buffalo Soldiers, the all-black military units created after the Civil War.
He rose through the early 1900s to become the highest-ranking African-American commanding officer in the U.S. Army. He oversaw the early development of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks in California.
Earlier this month, Col. Charles Young's former home in Wilberforce, Ohio, was dedicated as the Buffalo Soldiers National Monument.
And he just happens to have a loose connection to Fort Wayne.
Young is the first cousin of the late Robert R. Green, who lived in Fort Wayne and whose granddaughter, Judith Green, still lives here.
Judith Green said she attended the national monument dedication ceremony April 2 in Wilberforce, which is just east of Dayton. The gathering included a few other family members from Michigan and Ohio.
Green remembers hearing about Young from her family. She tried to do a college research paper on him about four years ago, but she couldn't find much information.
When she heard President Obama had issued a proclamation March 25 declaring Young's former home a national monument, she couldn't believe it. She got on the Internet to see what she could find out.
“That day, I was on the computer five hours because there was so much information,” she said.
At the dedication ceremony, she saw the national monument had a lot of information and displays about Young's military career. They didn't have much background on his family, which is why they were very interested in what Green calls “the book” — a family history compiled by her grandfather's sister, Pearl Williams, before her death in October 1976 in Fort Wayne.
Green said “the book” traces the family back to Charles Young's grandfather, Elisha Young, who escaped from slavery on a plantation near Maysville, Ky. Elisha Young eventually made his way to Canada, where he changed his name to John Green.
Judith Green said her grandfather Robert — who was a grandson of Elisha Young — grew up in Ohio and moved to Fort Wayne around 1922. He became a chauffeur for a wealthy local family.
“He would drive them from here to California,” she said.
He later worked as an elevator operator, first for many years at the Federal Building and for many more years — into his 80s — at the old Peoples Bank and Trust building in downtown Fort Wayne, she said.
He also planted the roots that sprouted her family.
She hopes to keep the family's history alive.
“I am just trying to pass the story along and educate others about Col. Charles Young and the Buffalo Soldiers.”