L. W. Kemp

YOUNG, WILLIAM COCKE (1812–1862). William Cocke Young, early settler, soldier, jurist, and official, was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, on May 12, 1812. He moved to Texas in 1837 and settled at a place that became known as Sherry's Prairie, near Pecan Point in the area of Red River County. Young became the first sheriff of Red River County in 1837, and on February 5, 1844, he was appointed district attorney for the Seventh Judicial District of the Republic of Texas by Sam Houston. Young was a member of Edward H. Tarrant's company on an expedition against Indians, participated in the battle of Village Creek, and helped bury John B. Denton, who was killed in that engagement. Later Young was a delegate from Red River County to the Convention of 1845. On the outbreak of the Mexican War he and James Bourland raised a company of troops that they marched to San Antonio. In 1851 Young moved to Shawneetown, Grayson County, where he practiced law for six years and served a term as United States marshal. In 1854 he and Charles S. Taylor were appointed commissioners to investigate land titles in El Paso, Presidio, Kinney, Starr, Webb, Hidalgo, Cameron, and Nueces counties. Young, however, refused the appointment. At the outbreak of the Civil War Young was called to Montgomery, Alabama, to consult with Jefferson Davis. Upon his return to Texas he organized and commanded the Eleventh Texas Cavalry, which operated against the Indians in what is now Oklahoma. In May 1861 the Texans crossed Red River and captured forts Arbuckle, Wichita, and Cobb. At Fort Arbuckle the Cherokee Indians were divided, some of them entering the Confederate Army and others supporting the Union. Because his health was impaired, Young had to return to his home, then in Cooke County, Texas. There had gathered in the cane brakes along Red River north of his home a gang of bandits who owed allegiance to neither the Union nor the Confederate governments but preyed on either side without distinction, killing and robbing for loot. While Colonel Young was hunting for a friend who had been killed by this gang, he was himself murdered, on October 16, 1862. His son, James D. Young, following the trail of the assassins, located one of them in the Confederate Army. At the point of a pistol he forced this man to accompany him to the scene of the murder and had him hanged by his father's slaves. Young's first wife was Sophia Gleaves Thomas, with whom he had six children. After her death in 1849 he married Ann Hutchinson, and they had two children. With his third wife, Mrs. Margaret Ann Duty Black, he also had two children. Young County was named for William Cocke Young in 1856.

Sam Hanna Acheson and Julia Ann Hudson O'Connell, eds., George Washington Diamond's Account of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862 (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1963). Clement Anselm Evans, ed., Confederate Military History (Atlanta: Confederate Publishing, 1899; extended ed., Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot, 1987–89). Mattie D. Lucas and Mita H. Hall, A History of Grayson County (Sherman, Texas, 1936). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, L. W. Kemp, "YOUNG, WILLIAM COCKE," accessed May 19, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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