Captain John Horace Langley
Captain John Horace Langley, of St. Joseph, Mich., a worthy son of Capt. Samuel G. Langley, whose noble and brave life of public service as a sailor of the Great Lakes is portrayed elsewhere in this work, and to which the reader is referred for the family genealogy, was born at the Langley homestead at St. Joseph, Mich. March 16, 1844, amid a great storm, which may account for his placid and peaceful makeup, for even a short acquaintance shows him to be of mild disposition, modest, retiring and unostentatious. Like his ancestors, from whom he inherited a love for the water, he early began a seafaring life, and after receiving the rudiments of an education in the common schools of his native place and in Detroit, at the age of fourteen he sailed on the bark Sunshine, before the mast, the boat plying between Buffalo and Chicago. A year later he went as watchman on the propeller Illinois between Detroit and Buffalo. He then served successively on the May Flower and the Tonawanda as watchman and wheelsman, and was promoted to second mate of the last named, being then only about sixteen years of age. The following season he was made mate of the Tonawanda. For two years he sailed on the Dean Richmond, then the largest propeller on the lakes, carrying 1,400 tons. The Dean Richmond ran on the New York Central line, and connected with that line railroad trains from Buffalo to Chicago.
At about the age of twenty years our subject was made captain of the side-wheel steamer Philo Parsons, which ran from Grand Haven along the eastern shore of the lake to St. Joseph and across to Chicago. From the Parsons he sailed the St. Joseph, which was built in Buffalo by Captain Gibson, our subject holding an interest in her, and which was a passenger and freight boat, plying between St. Joseph and Chicago. He sailed her for several years, and then sailed the V. N. Raalte, Benton, Lake Breeze and the Messenger, respectively. The last named was the first boat owned by Graham & Morton. Later he sailed the Roanoke, Colorado, Comet, and about 1884 he quit sailing and became the agent at St. Joseph for the Dix, owned by Captain Cochran, who sailed her between St. Joseph and Chicago. The Dix was taken off the route and Captain Langley was instrumental in getting the Detroit on the same route, and for which he was the agent at St. Joseph. In about 1892, the Captain, in connection with John G. Williams, of Terre Haute, Ind., and F. W. Wheeler, of Bay City, Mich., formed the Lake Michigan Transportation Company, and put on four boats, namely the Soo City, Ossifrage, the Laura and Minnie M., two of which ran daily between Milwaukee and St. Joseph, and two twice daily between St. Joseph and Chicago. This was styled the Vandalia line, and of which our subject was manager. These boats were run a couple of years, and then Captain Langley withdrew and retired from the lake service. He is now residing on one of the many beautiful fruit farms about St. Joseph, where he grows all kinds of berries and small fruits, and, if one can judge from appearances, has one of the model fruit farms of Berrien county, and himself an expert grower. His forty-acre farm and homestead are on the Langley tract, and adjoin that of his mother.
Captain Langley through his long years on the lakes met with now serious accidents. Like his illustrious father, however, he has been instrumental in saving life. He possesses a handsome gold medal given him by the United States Government for bravery and heroism in rescuing four men from the several vessels lost off the shore between Grand Haven and St. Joseph; the men had been clinging to the topmast for twenty-four hours when rescued.
On New Year's Eve, 1865, Captain Langley was united in marriage to Marian A. Oviatt, daughter of O. W. Oviatt, now a successful business man of Chicago, and to their union have been born the following children: John H., Jr., on the City of St. Joseph, between St. Joseph and Chicago; Marian A., deceased; Marian Berenice, now teaching; Delia A., deceased; Margaret Ruth; and a son that died in infancy. The mother of these children is a woman of education and culture, born November 13, 1843, at Edenburg, Ohio. Her education was completed at the Convent of the Ladies of the Congregation, at Kingston, Canada, where the accomplishments of music and French were received. Mrs. Langley's mother, Delia Wadsworth, was a native of Ohio, a daughter of Jeremiah Wadsworth, of Hartford, Conn., who was one of the pioneers of the locality of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, where he settled on land obtained from the government. The great-grandfather on Mrs. Langley's father's side was a colonel under LaFayette in the Revolutionary war, and she is thus a Daughter of the Revolution.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.