Frank D. Lang
Frank D. Lang was one of those reliable and prominent engineers of the earlier days of lake steamboats, now highly spoken of by the younger generation. He was born in County Louth, North of Ireland, December 19, 1832, and is the son of William and Betsey (Kelley) Lang. He removed with his parents to America in 1833, landing at Quebec, Canada, going thence by way of Lake Champlain to Albany, N.Y., and later to Seneca Falls, finally locating in Toledo, Ohio, October, 1842, reaching the latter place as passenger on the old steamer Indiana, which was sailed by Capt. I.T. Pheatt. The Lang family were among the early pioneers of Lucas county, at the time when there was but one house on the east side of the Maumee river, and Toledo proper but sparsely settled. Frank D. Lang was able to tell many pleasant reminiscenses of sport on the Maumee river, when it was visited by myriads of wild ducks and inhabited by shoals of mullet head or cat fish.
In the spring of 1851, after serving an apprenticeship of three years at the machinist's trade in Toledo, and a short time in attendance at the public schools, he shipped as first assistant engineer on the old propeller Pauhassett, but closed the season as chief engineer of the steamer Telegraph, which was destroyed that fall by fire. The following season he was appointed first assistant engineer on the side-wheel passenger steamer Fashion, which plied between Toledo and Sandusky. His next berth was on the steamer Baltic, as first assistant, finishing the season of 1853 on the steamer Mississippi, then running in the passenger and freight trade between Buffalo and Sandusky. During the cholera year of 1854, Mr. Lang for a short time held the unenviable post of engineer on the steam ferry John Pomisey, running between the east and west side of the Maumee at Toledo, on which many victims of that dread disease were transported daily for burial in the grounds of the pest house.
In the spring of 1855, Mr. Lang assumed the management as chief engineer on a line of three harbor tugs, which he engineered with good profit until the fall of 1863, working in the machine shops during the winter months. The next season, he shipped on the steamer Kenosha, owned and sailed by his brother-in-law, Capt. Robert Montgomery.
The Kenosha was destroyed by fire at Point Edwards that fall, and Mr. Lang then went to Cincinnati, where he joined the United States Transport Steamer Rob Roy as chief engineer. This was a stern-wheeler, and was used principally on the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee rivers during the last year of the Civil war. The berth of engineer on those river steamers at that time was a dangerous one, and many narrow escapes are recorded. At the close of the war in 1865, Mr. Lang returned to Toledo and shipped as chief engineer on the steamer Sun, running between Sarnia and Chicago, Ill., which position he retained five years. During the seasons of 1870 and '71 he engineered the propeller Cuyahoga, between Chicago and Duluth. He then put the machinery in the steam- barge Tempest, and brought her out, running her until he accepted a position on the steamer Mary Jerecki, and in 1873 he closed his active life on the lakes as chief engineer of the propeller Nahant, at that time one of the largest steambarges on the lakes. In the fall of that year, Mr. Lang accepted a position as chief engineer in the sawmill of W.H.H. Smith & Co., which place he held twenty-three years. During this busy life Engineer Lang acquired some good fruit property, at Lang's Bend, near Toledo, upon which he lived, his son occupying during the summer one of the farms near him.
On April 2, 1854, Mr. Lang was united by marriage to Miss Mary A. Williams, of Bedford, Monroe Co., Mich. Four children were born to them, one son, Augustus H., surviving. He is now treasurer of the Shaw Kendall Engineering Company, and was wedded to Miss Sarah A. Bodley, of Angola, Steuben Co., Ind., December 9, 1882. The children born to this union are: Florence, Frank Greenwood, Robert, Delmer, Alfred and Warren, and they have a pleasant home both in the city and the country. After a brief illness, Engineer Frank D. Lang joined the silent majority December 21, 1897.
Return to Home Port
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.