Charles Marsh Young was born in Menard County, Illinois, on March 6, 1841. One of six children orphaned at an early age, he lived with his grandfather there, and at age 17 acquired his own farm.
In April of 1863, he headed for California, but after some time in Nevada, returned home the following spring. Almost immediately, he again headed for California with horse teams, and settled in Sonoma County.
He married 21-year-old Margaret Lutitia Berry of Sebastopol on November 20, 1866, and the following year the young couple moved to Coyote Valley, presumably locating in the little town of Guenoc.
In 1871, Young partnered with Oscar Armstrong in laying out the plats for the construction of Middletown and the Youngs were among the earliest residents of the new development. Quicksilver mining was just beginning to take hold in this south end of the county, so strong demand for housing and after-hours recreation was anticipated. An even more compelling impetus to Middletown's growth were plans then being debated in San Francisco for a reservoir that, had they been approved, would have inundated the tiny town of Guenoc.
Middletown was an apt site for development. A stage station had been maintained by George Farley at this oft-traveled junction of roads leading to Kelseyville via Cobb and to Lower Lake. Harbin Hot Springs Resort was already achieving wide-spread publicity and drawing scores of visitors. By 1874, Middletown's population of 207 included 79 females. Many had been residents of Guenoc, near Stone House.
Lutitia Young's eldest brother, John Henry Berry, built Middletown's first house, which he promptly turned into a hotel. The Berry family of eight had emigrated into California in 1856 from the same part of Illinois; John Henry’s birthplace is also listed as Menard County. Their father farmed and ran a livery business in Petaluma and also served on the Sonoma County board of supervisors and as a justice of the peace.
Young bought the hotel and acreage from John Berry, and had a plan drawn for a new town: Middletown. He may have also taken over an existing livery stable across Main Street, and started a general store. The Odd Fellows Hall was moved from Guenoc to sit cater-corner from the hotel. Oscar Armstrong retained his saloon on the southwest corner. Young razed the hotel and built a 14-room frame structure. Four years later he built a brick hotel known as Lake County House, still familiar to us in historical photos. He was operating the hotel when A History of Napa and Lake Counties was published in 1881. The building remains today, without the portico seen in this photo, probably taken in the 1920s or '30s.
Berry became the town's first postmaster when the Middleton (That is the correct spelling) post office was established April 5, 1871, serving in that post for the princely sum of $12 per year. The name was changed to Middletown in 1875 and its new postmaster, Elisha Whiting, a transplant from Guenoc, saw his compensation escalated to $246.14.
The Berry family-tree website* notes that Charles Young also served as a county supervisor and as county assessor.
South Lake County's first church was started in 1867 by Margaret Young and her sister Lamira Cannon, a Presbyterian congregation that met in the Stone House. Both families had settled near the shared border of the ranchos Calloyomi and Guenoc. The church was moved to Middletown in 1871, once a frame structure had been built there to house it.
Early records show Mrs. Young, referred to equally often as Margaret and as Lutitia, as well as her brother John Berry, quite active in the Middletown chapter of the Independent Order of Good Templars, a thriving temperance organization growing rapidly across the nation. John Berry was also active in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Free and Accepted Masons and served as Lower Lake Township Constable.
The youngest son, Charles W., and his bride, Velma Brooks, were married in the Stone House in 1906. Her wedding dress and his suit jacket, ostensibly worn on that occasion, are now among the displays in Stone House. Charles Young, Margaret Young, their eldest son Wirt, and a daughter Mary, who died before her third birthday, are buried in the Middletown cemetery. The Youngs had two other sons, Baxter and Charles W. Young.
A community working to
honor and preserve its