The Story of Cosmer A. Young and Young Bros. CO.
From an article in the Windham County Transcript, July 15, 1937, by Len Warner
White-haired Cosmer A.Young, a country boy who started his business life as a schoolmaster at the age of 18, became Danielson's oldest business man in years of service this month as he entered his 51st year as active head of Young Bros. Co. Inc., lumber firm.
For 18 years a teacher in Connecticut and nearby Rhode Island schools, Mr. Young stopped teaching in 1887 and on July 1 of that same year went into business in a small office on Mechanic Street--a building that was to serve as headquarters many years later for three lumber, coal, and grain yards.
Hale and hearty at 85, Mr. Young reads without eyeglasses, drives his own automobile and until the post office was moved to the lower part of the business section last year, walked downtown daily to get his mail.
Times have changed since he made his way on foot to school in Danielson from his father's farm, four miles away in the Coomer Hill section of Killingly. Children travel to school in well-ventilated busses and autos in this, another age. The school buildings are different also.
Mr. Young first went to school on Oak Street in the Spiritualist Hall; later in the basement of St. Alban's Episcopal Church and finally to high school in the present grammar school building on High Street. Sidney P. Frost, almost a legendary figure to children and grandchildren of persons who studied under him, was the schoolmaster at Killingly High School when Mr. Young attended one of his first classes.
The well-versed old man of business tells with a discernible twinkle in his eye, how fellow pupils joshed him when he first appeared on the school grounds in home spun clothes and swinging his lunch in a carpet bag. "They threw the bag in the Center Street Brook," he said, then added, "once."
One week after his 18th birthday, Mr. Young was offered the schoolmastership at Snagwood, RI, near Foster. He accepted. Contrary to present day teachings, school pupils were rough in those days, very rough! Town school committees recognized that fact by engaging men teachers for the winter season, when the bigger boys were released from the farm and allowing women to teach in the spring after farmers had recalled their gangling sons to the hoe and plow.
A man-sized job for a youth of 18--to teach boys often older and stronger than he--but he did it. With apparent success too, for subsequently he was invited to teach at Dark Lantern, South Killingly, Valley School, Dayville, Brooklyn and Central Village. He remained in Dayville and Brooklyn for five years each, four years in Central Village and one year in the other schools.
Teaching jobs paid something in those days, but not much. The lowest salary was $5 a week and the highest not much more than $15. Mr. Young worked as a farmer when not engaged in teaching.
He was joined in the coal and lumber business not long after he started in 1887 by a brother, William J. Young. The firm name was then changed from C. A. Young to the present Young Bros. Co. When he first started in business, he would solicit orders for coal in the morning, return to the small office at noontime, eat his lunch and deliver the coal with his one horse and wagon in the afternoon.
As his business prospered he reinvested his earnings and enlarged the concern by building the first coal and grain elevator in the vicinity.
Later three sons, Harry A., Louis E., and Ralph C. became partners with their father in the business.
Ralph C., the first Motor Vehicle Inspector in eastern Connecticut, was killed in the discharge of his duties in 1920.
Louis E. Young remained active in the business until his death in 1959.
Harry A. Young was the head of the company until his death in 1960. He was succeeded by his son, Milton, who now runs the business with the help of his two sons, Milton Jr. and Gardner.
September 29, 1943, Young Bros. Co. suffered one of the worst fires seen in the community. Five structures were totally destroyed with a loss of $30,000 to $50,000. The small office building in which Cosmer had started was destroyed. The office and other buildings were rebuilt and the Young Bros. Co. is still doing business with the same name and at the same place [at this writing-1937].
Cosmer A. Young was born October 27, 1851, the son of Erastus and Dorcas Mariah (Potter) Young who died in 1904. He served one year, 1918, in the Connecticut legislature and for five years, about 1900, was borough warden.