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Benjamin R. Justesen

editor, federal official, Republican activist, and state legislator, was born in Henderson, North Carolina, the son of a slave woman of whom nothing is known but that she was owned by Capt. D. E. Young, a wealthy farmer. His father, who was never named publicly, was described as a prominent white resident of Henderson who financed his son's education. Although little is known of his early life before 1865, James Young attended the common schools of Henderson after the war, and in 1874 he entered the private Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

In early 1877 Young left Shaw to accept a position as messenger in the office of Col. J. J. Young, the U.S. collector of internal revenue for the Raleigh district, and thus began a lengthy, intermittent career in federal service. In 1881 he married his first wife, Bettie Ellison ...