Fallen Heroes: Officer Jeter Young

Nelson Zoch

June 19, 1921

On Sunday afternoon, June 19, 1921, Officers Jeter Young and Wilbur E. Scearce were assigned to run a “short call” out on Washington Avenue. After completing this assignment, they were en route back to the main police station on Caroline with Officer Scearce driving. As their car entered the intersection of Preston and Louisiana, it collided with a large Ford truck, a delivery vehicle of the Magnolia Dairy Products Company. The collision caused the police car to roll over three times.

Officer Jeter Young received massive head injuries. A Westheimer Company Ambulance rushed him to the St. Joseph’s Infirmary. He never regained consciousness and died three hours later. He was thirty-four years old.

His partner, Officer Scearce, was badly bruised and suffered a number of broken bones. The driver of the milk truck, P. J. Nicholson, received a bruised elbow and his passenger, J. C. Enright, suffered only slight injuries. Nicholson made a statement to officers in which he said he did not see the approaching police car until it was too late. Justice of the Peace J. M. Ray filed a charge of negligent homicide against him.

Officer Jeter Young was born in Grimes County, Texas, on March 14, 1887. His parents were William R. and Della Andrews Young. They were natives of Mississippi and Alabama, respectively. He was survived by his wife, Annie Lou Shaw Young, and three children, eleven-year-old daughter Inez and two sons, six-year-old Clarence Loland Young and three-year-old Cecil Young. Also mourning this tragic passing were his parents and five brothers.

Funeral services for Young were held at his residence at 509 Pinckney at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 21, 1921. The Reverend W. A. Main officiated and burial followed at the Hollywood Cemetery on North Main Street. Serving as pallbearers were his fellow Officers, C. W. Hight, J. T. Blackshear, Jerry Wilson, R. L. Honea, D. L. Gentry and B. O. Yates.

Police officials were unanimous in their praise of Officer Young and many others paid tributes to his work. In all of the records at police headquarters, there was not found a scratch against Officer Jeter Young’s name. He was known to the executive officers of the department as an efficient, zealous but courteous officer. Young had been a police officer previously, but had left the force briefly to work in the Southern Pacific Railway shops. Shortly after the appointment of Chief Gordon Murphy, he returned to the department and was assigned to patrol duty, being stationed at Main and Capital in downtown Houston.

He later became a “short call” officer. Due to the shortage of automobiles and gasoline in this assignment, officers like Young would remain in the police station area and venture out only when a call for their service was needed. Officers Scearce and Young were returning to their station when this tragic accident occurred.

A newspaper account reported that members of the Policeman’s Burial Fund Association drew resolutions and adopted them on the death of their brother officer. The resolutions spoke of the many virtues possessed by the deceased prior to his being called by death. The year 1921 marked the inauguration of the Burial Fund Association, with Officer Young being one of five deceased members that year whose families received a death benefit. Two other line-of-duty deaths occurred that year, those involving the deaths of Officers Johnnie Davidson and David Murdock. The death benefit was less than $1,000 at the time, an amount sufficient for a burial but not helping for the future needs of Annie Young and her three children.

Police Gordon Murphy further praised Officer Young, saying, “He was one of the most reliable and good-natured officers who was often called to do short-call work. He had no difficulty with anyone.” The chief went on to say, “I fully realize Ford cars used for short-call work are entirely too light and are too easily turned over. In the future, I will recommend heavier cars for this purpose.”

Officer Young’s gravesite was located in the Edgewood Section of Hollywood Cemetery. His grave marker reads as follows:

Jeter Young, Born March 14, 1888-Died June 19, 1921. Also-OUR DARLING ONE HATH GONE BEFORE-HUSBAND.

While his head marker indicated 1888 as the year of his birth, his birth certificate indicated that he was born in 1887 and was actually thirty-four years old at the time of his death.

In 2005, through the Internet and a volunteer genealogy researcher, we were successful in  locating a person believed to be the nearest living relative of Officer Young, a grandson.   Clarence Loland Young Jr., sixty-three, of Moscow, Texas, goes by “C. L.” and is partially disabled from an accident. He was most appreciative and very surprised to hear from anyone regarding the grandfather he never knew. With his support as well as that of the 100 Club and the HPOU, a LINE OF DUTY grave marker was placed in 2006 in Officer Jeter Young’s memory at Hollywood Cemetery.