Newton C. Young
In August of 1898, Justice Guy Corliss of the North Dakota Supreme Court surprised nearly everyone when he resigned after nearly nine years on the bench. Having been elected as the youngest of the three original justices to the court, the young Corliss had just celebrated his fortieth birthday. When asked why he was resigning, he simply answered that he wished to start a North Dakota law school. The following year, with the help of UND president Webster Merrifield, Justice Corliss became the first dean of the UND School of Law in Grand Forks.
The departure of Corliss from the State’s high court left it to Governor Joseph Devine to fill the vacancy; Devine had only been governor for six days at the time, having taken over upon Governor Briggs’ death earlier that week. To fill the position, Devine chose fellow Republican and Masonite Newton C. Young. Although only thirty-six years old, Young had run a successful law practice in Bathgate for twelve years, and had served two terms as Pembina County Attorney. He had also served on a number of county and state committees, and was respected and well-liked in the community.
Born to a family of farmers in 1862, Young was raised near Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. His parents highly valued education, and hoped that Newton would excel academically. To this end, they sent him to the Iowa City Academy, and later to the University of Iowa, where he earned a law degree in 1887. Shortly after graduation, he married Ida Clarke, who he met while attending the university. The two relocated to Bathgate, in the far northeastern corner of Dakota Territory. He opened a law practice and the couple had three children there. Then, in 1898, Governor Devine asked him to accept the appointment to the State’s Supreme Court, which he enthusiastically did. The family moved to Fargo, and Young served nearly eight years on the bench before resigning to re-open his law practice. He worked out of his law offices in Fargo right up until his death at the age of 61; he passed away on this date in 1923.
Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job
Hennessy, W. B. 1910 History of North Dakota: Embracing a Relation of the History of the State from the Earliest Times Down to the Present Day : p. 212. The Bismarck Tribune: Bismarck.