From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Young, Charles D.

(born: March 12, 1864  -  died: January 8, 1922) 

Born in Mayslick, KY, Charles Young was the third African American graduate of West Point, the first African American military attaché to a foreign state, and the highest ranking African American officer at the beginning of World War I.

He was a child when his parents Gabriel and Arminta Young, formerly enslaved, moved the family to Huntington Township, OH [source: 1870 U.S. Federal Census]. All family members had been born in Kentucky. By 1880, the family lived in Ripley, OH.

Both Gabriel and Charles Young were employed as draymen [source: 1880 U.S. Federal Census]. Charles graduated from a white high school and taught at a colored school in Ripley [source: Arlington National Cemetery website]. He entered the military academy in 1883; after his graduation in 1889, he served in the Army for 28 years. He is listed as a soldier in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census when they lived in Xenia, OH; his mother is listed as a widow.

Charles Young died on detail in Liberia, Africa and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, where he was eulogized by W.E.B. DuBois. He was the husband of Ada R. Mills Young with whom he had a son and daughter; the family lived at Fort D. A. Russell in Laramie, WY in 1910 [source: U.S. Federal Census].

Additional information concerning West Point:
Charles D. Young was the first African American from Kentucky to attend West Point Military Academy and the first African American from Kentucky to graduate from the school. He earned his way into West Point by successfully completing the cadetship examination in 1883; at that time he was living in Ripley. The questions on the exam covered orthography, reading, geography, arithmetic, grammar, and U.S. history. There was also a physical exam of the 26 applicants conducted by Dr. W. W. Shepherd. Young was one of two African Americans taking the exam; the other was Eugene Reynolds from Anderson (Ross County), OH. Young made the 2nd highest score on the exam behind 18-year-old W. A. Stamats from Lynchburg, OH. Source: "The West Point Cadetship Examination," The Highland Weekly News, 5/2/1883, p. 5.

Lewis C. Olive, Jr. from Louisville, KY was appointed to West Point in 1951 by New York Congressman Adam Clayton Powell. Olive graduated in 1955. James Phillip Holland from Bowling Green, KY declined his 1954 appointment to West Point. Julius E. Price, Sr. was appointed to West Point in 1955 by Kentucky Congressman Earle C. Clements.

For more on Charles D. Young, see The Early Life of Colonel Charles Young: 1864-1889, by R. E. Greene; Charles D. Young in the Kentucky Encyclopedia 2000; and "Charles D. Young," Lexington Herald-Leader, November 14, 2010, pp. B1 & B3.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Mason County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Mayslick, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Young, Charles D.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 23, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-06-11 13:47:19