Jesse Bowman Young was born in Berwick, Pennsylvania on July 5, 1844 to Jared and Sara Young. In August, 1861, just turned seventeen, he joined his uncle, Major Samuel Millard Bowman (1815-1883) in the Fourth Illinois Cavalry and saw action with the Western Army under Grant. When Major Bowman assumed command in 1862 of the 84th Pennsylvania Volunteers - drawn largely from Blair, Lycoming, Dauphin, and Westmoreland counties - he was commissioned in the 84th's Company B. The regiment then fought with distinction in many of the most significant encounters of the war, including Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. When his uncle assumed command of the brigade, Young served as his aide and then became a divisional staff officer, serving in that capacity with Sickles at Gettysburg in the Peach Orchard. Jesse Young left the Army at the end of his enlistment in 1864, having risen to the rank of Captain, but was offered a colonelcy as head of a regiment of African-American volunteers. While Young was waiting for his assignment in Washington D.C., the war ended.
In the autumn of 1866, Young entered Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. An active student, he joined Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and was selected as a member of the Belles Lettres Society. He also served as the inaugural president of the Science Society. He graduated with the class of 1868. He was granted a M.A. degree from the College in 1871, and later received an honorary D.D. from De Pauw University.
Following his education, he entered the Methodist calling and, after beginnings in Pennsylvania, ministered mostly in the Midwest. Between 1892 and 1900 he was the editor of the Central Christian Advocate, published in St. Louis, Missouri. Following this he was the long serving pastor of the Walnut Hills Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was an enthusiastic writer and lecturer on both religious and military subjects. He completed his What A Boy Saw in the Army: A Story of Sight-Seeing and Adventure in the War for the Union in 1894, and the very well received The Battle of Gettysburg; A Comprehensive Narrative in 1913. He also gave his lecture "Echoes from Round Top: The Story of a Great Battle" many times over the years to appreciative audiences. He also found time to serve as a trustee of his alma mater between 1882 and 1888.
He had married Lucy Spottswood in 1871 and the couple had a daughter named for her mother. Jesse Bowman Young died in 1914.