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Col. Young fundraiser ride planned

MAY’S LICK — A 50-mile bike ride is being planned by the Maysville descendants of Col. Charles Young to raise funds for a feasibility study of the property in May’s Lick where the Young birth cabin is located.

The cabin underwent an extensive restoration from 2013 to September 2014, when an official dedication of the cabin took place.

Denese Johnson is a descendant of Young on her mother’s (Ann) side of the family and is serving as the event coordinator for the bike ride that will take cyclists from the Young birth cabin on Kentucky 324 in May’s Lick to the John P. Parker House Museum in Ripley, Ohio.

Johnson said the event is a locally planned event, scheduled to coincide with the national observance of the 1896 Buffalo Soldiers 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps excursion from Fort Missoula, Mont. to Yellowstone National Park. The national observance of the excursion has been reserved for June 25-26 by the Buffalo Soldiers.

Young himself was a Buffalo Soldier having served with the Ninth and Tenth Cavalries upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1889.

The cabin is situated on 33 acres on Kentucky 324, which is owned by the Mason County Fiscal Court.

Since its restoration, efforts have been underway by the National Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations to bring national awareness to the cabin and its connection to America’s Buffalo Soldiers. The NCBVO is also behind a national movement to have Young promoted posthumously to Brigadier General because at the time of his death he was the highest-ranking black officer in the U.S. Army.

The 50-mile bike ride is being planned in conjunction with the Limestone Bicycle League, which is assisting with mapping out the route to and from Ripley.

“This is being planned as a fundraiser to sponsor a feasibility study on how to best utilize the land and property,” Johnson said.

As a volunteer with the North Florida Bikers Club in Jacksonville, Johnson said she thought staging a ride would be one way to raise funds for the study.

In addition to needing cyclists to ride the course, volunteers are being sought to help man stations along the route in both Ohio and Kentucky, as well as at the Young cabin, the beginning and ending point of the ride. Riders will be served lunch at the cabin when they make their return, Johnson said.

Members of the Mason County JROTC Col. Charles Young Battalion is sponsoring the volunteer registration on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 10 a.m. to noon.

“I’m working on the local level (to raise funds),” Johnson said. “It’s a beautiful location and a beautiful spot.”

Johnson said she was unaware of the historical significance of her ancestor while growing up and it wasn’t until she was an adult that she realized the extent of Young’s history serving his country.

She said she has located a photo of herself at the age of nine during a visit to Young’s home in Wilberforce, Ohio in her Mama Bessie’s family bible. She said upon a recent visit to Young’s Wilberforce home, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, she had a photo taken of her, standing in the same spot as when she was nine.

“It gave me chills,” she said. She also located a letter in the archives at Wilberforce written by Young to his mother, which was written on Mother’s Day.

“We’ve got to keep our history in the forefront of our youth in order for them to know where they are going, they need to know where they came from. It’s my duty to his descendants and the community to let people know how valuable he was to us,” Johnson said.

The Buffalo Soldiers Bike Ride Fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, June 25, with a start time of 8 a.m. Registration and details on the event and route can be found online at www.buffalosoldiersbikeride.org. The registration fee is $50 until May 25, 2016 and $60 up to the day of the event.

For persons interested in making a donation to the event, an option to do so can be found on the website.

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