Thursday, November 29, 2012

Memorial Poem about Lake Cassadaga Boating Accident

Painted Hills Genealogy Society
Chautauqua Co, Cassadaga Lake , boating tragedy 1852
Submitted by PHGS Member
Dee Davidson

This poem was written in 1852 about a boating accident on Cassadaga Lakes, in Chautauqua County NY in which several young people lost their lives. I thought it worth sharing. The names may be recognized by someone. It's quite long but I will not edit it. 
Hark, Hear the sound, the solemn sound, 
Salutes the ears of all around; 
We start and shudder at the news, 
And weep for these unhappy youths. 
The fair, the virtuous and the young 
Become the subject of our song, 
Of birth and education good, 
All in the heart of youthful blood. 
In the prime of life twenty six or more 
Assembled there upon the shore; 
To cross the lake they did design, 
And thus enjoy a friendly time. 
Methinks their enterprise looks dark, 
But, not withstanding, all embarked 
In two small scows, by far to small 
For to accommodate them all. 
They left the beach and pleasant shore, 
And sailed full forty rods or more, 
When suddenly an oar pin breaks, 
Which caused the boat a turn to make. 
As it turned the waves dashed in, 
Which caused the boat to soon careen, 
And fill with water and capsize, 
All those on board, with doleful sighs. 
As it sank it caused a sigh, 
Upon the other boat near by; 
And then in haste they now were seen 
to cause the boat to much careen. 
And then by rocking right and left; 
They were of all bereft; 
Into the lake they all did slide 
Which must have humbled all their pride. 
What human heart can help but melt, 
To think how those young people felt? 
Bound in their robes they strive to swim 
Struggling for life they sigh and scream. 
When this was seen upon the land, 
A number lent a helping hand 
To save the drowning from their fate--- 
But Oh, Alas ! they were to late. 
Fair Mary sank to rise no more, 
While many swam and got to shore; 
J. WILCOX labored hard to save, 
Til buried in his watery grave. 
Among the first were brought on shore 
Was Mary H. and Charlotte MOORE. 
Where numerous friends collected were 
To bring to life those ladies fair. 
No medic power or art of man 
Could e'er restore their lives again; 
They're gone Alas! Forever gone, 
And left their friends to sigh and mourn! 
Miss Mary STURGESS 'bout this time 
Was saved by help almost divine 
With kindness by her friends was saved, 
When almost gone to a watery grave. 
Who, filled with water, racked with pain, 
Was emptied and revived again 
And was again to health restored; 
O may she live to serve the Lord. 
And spend the remnant of her days 
In the redeemers worthy praise 
And never sink in shades of Woe 
But rise His Heavenly bliss to know 
And when those heavy tidings spread, 
That many in the lake were dead 
From North and South the people run 
From East and West in haste they come. 
They gathered around upon the beach 
With trembling limbs and faltering speech; 
They soon prepared and ventured on, 
To rake the deep and search the pond. 
Furnished with tools, they did it sound 
Til Lucy LAZELL thus was found 
Who had no parents near to mourn 
The loss of her who is now gone. 
The numerous souls resolved with care 
To seek until they found the fair 
And thus their object did obtain 
And two more bodies found again.

On the misfortunes and death of several respectable youths , who 
perished by drowning in the Cassadaga Lake, on the 3rd of September, 
1852, while attempting to cross to participate in a Pic Nic party. 
The following named were drowned. 
Miss Lucy Lazell, aged 23 
Miss Celia Lazell, aged 18 
Miss Alice J. Wilkins, aged 17 
Miss Augusta Harrison, aged 14, All of Stockton, NY 
[ In Chautauqua Co, neighboring Cassadaga] 
Miss Charlotte Moore, aged 18 
Miss Elizabeth Goodrich, aged 26 of Ithaca NY 
Miss Philena Sadler aged 17 of Randolph NY 
And Mr. Jarvis Wilcox, aged 55, the pilot of the larger boat. 
Those saved, Miss Martha Wilkins, Ellen Goodrich, Myra Grant, Louise Ely, Mary Sturgess, All of Stockton, Messrs. J.W. Warren, Delevan G Morgan, Flavius Ely, Mortimer Ely, Hiram D. Hart, Henry Grant, Philip Phillips, and William Shepard., George E.Harrison, , Henry Goodrich, and Misses Louisa Bump, and Phebe Hoag, and the pilot, W.Wilcox. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Langford Genealogy

First, I must credit for the work of George Langford who published an extensive genealogy of the Langford family in the 1930s. His work and the letters that Oscar Langford wrote to the Fredonia Censor in 1925 made it possible to dig into the family genealogy.
George Langford's grandson, also named George Langford, has posted his work on his website. He did not have a lot of information about Charles Langford noting only two facts. First, that he moved west and second that Judge William G. Langford of Washington state, was his descendant.
Oscar's letters made it clear that he came from a much larger family than we had ever thought. Also, they indicated that there were other related Langfords in various locations in New York state.
I found the sketch about Judge Langford that gave his parents names and a sketch about Charles Langford that matched those names. I also found a family tree that had Jane Langford, one of Oscar's sisters, in it with her parents of the same names Charles and Fannie. The very professional work that George Langford did in the 1930s for the family was only incomplete by the lack of knowledge of what happened to Charles. Oscar's letters have answered those questions.
Here then is the family tree:
Thomas Langford married Mary Cook
Their son Thomas Langford II (1670-1707) married Comfort Holderbee and had one son, Thomas Langford III before Comfort died in 1699. He married again and had children with Sarah, last name unknown.
Thomas Langford III (1695-1756) married Hannah Northrup and they had four sons: Holderbee, Joseph, Stephen and Thomas.
Up until this point in the tree, all families are found living in various Rhode Island cities of Portsmouth, Providence, Newport and Greenwich.
Holderbee Langford is the line from which spouse Nancy descends. He changed his name to his mother's maiden name of Northrup and, in 1935, George Langford did an amazing job of detective work to prove that Northrup and Holderbee were, in fact, the same person.
Holderbee Langford (1724-1780) married Mary (possibly Sanford) and they had six daughters, Mary, Hannah, Rachel, Chloe, Phebe, Jerusha, and two sons, George and John.
George Langford (1755-?) was a minute man in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and evidence exists of his presence at Bunker Hill and at Valley Forge. He is the one who moved the family to Oneida County, New York. He married Abigail Elliott(1756-1824) and they had one infant that died along with three sons (George II, James and Charles Elliott)and one daughter, Abigail.
George Langford, the genealogist, in 1935, provided the remainder of the family tree but this is where it ended for Charles Elliott Langford.
He married Fannie Mansfield and had ten children, we have names for most of them: James, Charles, William, Jane, Jeanette, Harriet, Mary and Oscar. I am researching an Ellen Collins who Charles is found living with in Iowa in the mid 19th century as another possible daughter.
George's 1930s work is available on the internet, maintained by his grandson. It can be found by clicking here. It includes much more information and family trees.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nathaniel Pitt Langford

Nathaniel Pitt Langford is indeed related to Oscar Langford. I had hoped to find evidence of this at the urging of my sister-in-law Patricia Langford Lukens, as many of us have visited Yellowstone Park and noticed the name in the various displays.

Nathanial Pitt Langford was the son of George Langford II who was a brother to Charles Langford, Oscar's dad. Nathaniel and Oscar are then first cousins.

Nathaniel Pitt Langford was many things during his lifetime but the over reaching achievement of his life was being a major part of the Washburn-Langford-Doane party that surveyed the National Park that is now Yellowstone in 1870. He went on to become the first superintendent of the Park as well. He got the nickname "National Park Langford" which he adapted to and even included in one of his books, image above. Mount Langford, 10,623 feet (3,238 m) in the Absorka Range, 7.5 miles east of Yellowstone Lake, was scaled by Langford and Doane during the expedition and named after him.

He had a large collection of documents that are available for viewing at the Minnesota Historical Society in Saint Paul. There is a description of the collection located here.

I could find a lot more to say about Nathaniel Pitt Langford but suggest that you the reader discover these things yourself. There has even been a book written about him.

Images courtesy of

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Information about Charles Langford Lumber Biz

The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 17, 2012

HISTORY: Sawmill industry flourishes in Fulton

By Barbara Mask
Special to the Herald
FULTON, Ill. — The second program in the Mississippi River as it Relates to Fulton’s History series will be a powerpoint presentation at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Fulton (Martin House) Museum. This has been a fascinating research project. Clinton played a significant role in the sawmill industry so it came as quite a surprise to learn that Fulton had several sawmills and two that were successful in unbelievable measures. Part one of the program will feature photos and information on the saw mills:  buildings, operations, productions and the owners and their homes.

A segment will also include information and photos on the rafts, many more than 1,000 feet in length, that provided the logs of white pine sawed into lumber at the mills.

Part two of the program will focus on the location/site of the biggest and most successful mill owned by Charles E. Langford and Warren P. Hall. Many intriguing succession of owners and businesses on the former site of the mill will be presented in photos and by way of description.

The old “Stone House,” once used by local pottery makers, remained in the midst of the L & H Lumber Company’s property. The structure survived, even following the purchase and dismantling of the L & H Company by the David Joyce Lumber Company, only to be destroyed later by fire.

One of the earlier steam sawmills was built by Charles Dement, the owner of the mammoth and lavish-decorated Dement Hotel (present site of the Fulton Post Office).

The exterior of the hotel was constructed of large blocks of lime stone quarried from the Considine Quarry, but Dement used his sawmill to manufacture the wood products, such as doors, sashes, flooring and window frames, for his new building. His sawmill was located on the far north end of Fulton and sold to William Culbertson and Dr. Leander Smith in 1861.

Their successful operation continued until 1878 when the mill was sold to Charles E. Langford who purchased the mill first and the next year the remaining property for a total of five acres. Langford relocated the chimney machinery to the site of his new sawmill at the east end of Eighth Avenue.

Culbertson, Smith & Company, while successful, faced difficulty in transporting their finished products out of the north end of the city even though there was an office and supply house, managed by John M. Fay, and located at the northeast corner of 10th Avenue and Second Street. By 1874, Culbertson, Smith & Company had a total cut of 4,000,000 feet of lumber. 

Two articles written by Gary Herrity in September 2011, detailed the sawmill industry in Clinton. There were 12 sawmills  and most of us have known about the beautiful mansions, such as the Curtis, Young and Joyce families owned, but Fulton had its own sawmill successes and large, beautiful homes, although on a lesser scale.

Charles E. Langford’s home, located at 817 11th Ave. and currently owned by Al Leemhuis, was designed in a “steamboat gothic” type of architecture and showcased the many features, made of wood, that were typical of the homes of the lumber barons all along the Mississippi River.  The double circular staircase in the vestibule and the veranda on three sides were stunning accents and added beauty to the home.

Mr. Warren P. Hall, the other partner in Langford & Hall Lumber Company, was building a mansion (using wood products) in 1881 when he was hit on the head by a hoisting pole and fatally injured. The home was completed later that year and his widow, Mrs. Katherine Hall, lived there until 1903 when she sold the property to Mrs. Lenora Nichols, mother of Dr. Hannah Schmaling, a Fulton physician and civic leader. The house, described in the Fulton Journal as a mansion, was relocated in 1904 for a very important reason.

It is currently situated on the southwest corner of 11th Avenue and Sixth Street. There is an interesting story about the family that accompanies the history of the house.

Langford & Hall

Lumber Company

Mr. Langford settled in Lyons when he first arrived in the area from New York.  He leased a mill from Cox & Company in 1861 and the next year leased the Dement Mill in Fulton (located at the Cattail Harbor — currently owned by Rick Brown). In 1863, Langford purchased land on the river bank between Eighth and Ninth avenues (currently a municipal parking lot and Brinkman Lumber Company supply building).

Within a year, the sawmill building, 24-by-60-feet with a single rotary saw, was is in operation.  He hired Warren P. Hall in 1865 who was an experienced sawyer as the mill manager.

The next year, Langford sold half of his interest to Hall. The partners erected a new two-story saw mill building, 80-by-100-feet, and a boiler house built of stone and fire-proofed in 1875-76. In 1888, the annual cut was 12,000,000 feet; the average each year at the peak of this sawmill in Fulton. Hall was killed on July 5, 1881.

Seven years later, Langford sold all of his holdings, which included a saw mill in Albany, Ill., his home and sawmill in Fulton, to David Joyce and moved to California. The Joyce Lumber Company made many improvements and continued the sawmill operation until 1904 when the dismantling of the buildings began. Joyce Lumber Company retained a presence at this site as a retail outlet and, later, it became the Fulton Lumber Company when George Wiebenga purchased it in 1963.

Currently, it is the Brinkman Building Center.

The Fulton Tourist Camp, located on part of the former site of the Langford & Hall Lumber Company property, became a popular attraction for travelers on the Lincoln Highway. This, along with other photos and information surrounding the area, will be included in the program.

Refreshments will be served. The Fulton Museum is handicap accessible and located at 707 10th Ave.

Barb Mask is the president of the Fulton Historical Society.



Portrait & Biographical Album of Whiteside Co. 1885
Fulton Business Interests 1885

Source: Portrait & Biographical Album of Whiteside County 1885
One of the important industries of Fulton is the Langford & Hall Lumber Company. This business was started in 1862, by C. E. Langford. The capacity per day - 10 hours - is 75,000 feet of lumber, 36,000 shingles, and 12,000 lath. They also manufacture moldings, and employ 130 men. The three lines of railroads have tracts through their yards. The mill is located on the bank of the river, and their logs came from Wisconsin and Minnesota and are rafted down the Mississippi.

Friday, November 23, 2012

William Langford Sketch

Below is a sketch or profile of William G. Langford, Oscar Langford's brother written in 1882, while he was still living.

Gilbert, Frank T.  "Historic Sketches of Walla Walla, Whitman, Columbia and
Garfield Counties, Washington Territory; and Umatilla County, Oregon." Portland,
OR: Print & Lithographing House of A.  G.  Walling, 1882.  p. a41.


    parents were Charles and Fannie (Mansfield) Langford.  He was born in 1831,
in the State of Ohio and when still an infant was taken by his parents to
Chatauqua Co., N.  Y., where his mother died when he was nine years of age.  The
family then went to Jackson Co.  Iowa.  At the age of nineteen he started across
the plains, and arrived in Oregon in August 1850.  He went to work for wages,
and attended school at Forest Grove from 1854 to 1856, teaching in the
neighborhood to defray his expenses.  He commenced the study of law under Judge
E.  D.  Shattuck, served four months as a volunteer in the Indian war then
raging, and then resumed his studies.  He afterwards went to Portland and
entered the office of Judge P. A. Markquam, with whom he formed a partnership
when admitted to the bar.  He later practiced in Vancouver until the spring of
1862.  He spent that summer practicing in Florence, Idaho, and in the spring of
1863 was appointed by the Governor of Washington Prosecuting Attorney for the
First Judicial District.  He attended court at Walla Walla, spent the summer at
Warren's mines, and then settled at Walla Walla, where he was successively a
partner of Judge J.  H.  Lasater and Judge J.  D.  Mix  In 1864 was elected a
member of the Territorial Council.  In 1868 he went to the Eastern States, and
practiced law in Washington City, Mississippi and Texas, and then a year in San
Francisco.  He then returned to Washington City where he married Mrs. Emma R. L.
Norris.  A year later he removed to Lewiston, Idaho, where he was elected to the
Territorial Council, and served in the session of 1877-78.  He then returned to
Walla Walla, where his wife died in 1879.   Mr. Langford has since his last
settlement in this city been engaged in the practice of his profession with good
success.  He has been City Attorney for the past two years.  Politically he has
always been a democrat of the kind known once as a war democrat, but has become
thoroughly disgusted with politics and professional politicians.  His religious
ideas are so extremely liberal that they can find no definite platform to stand
upon.  Twenty five years of practice in so many different localities have given
Mr. Langford a fund of legal knowledge and practical experience that is highly
valuable in his profession.

* * * *

Submitted to the WA.  Bios Project in February 2007 by Diana Smith.

Notice: These biographies were transcribed for the Washington Biographies
Project.  Unless otherwise stated, no further information is available on the
individual featured in the biographies.

Charles Langford Sketch

Below is a sketch or profile of Charles Langford who was Oscar Langford's brother.

Whiteside County IL Archives Biographies.....Langford, Charles E
Copyright.  All rights reserved.

File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:
Deb Haines January 31, 2008, 2:26 am

Author: Portrait/Bio Album, Whiteside County IL 1885

Charles E. Langford, President of the Langford & Hall Lumber Company, of Fulton, Ill., and the pioneer lumberman of this city, established himself in this business at Fulton in 1859. He began by running lumber across the river from Lyons. He next leased a saw-mill just above town, which he operated till 1862, when he built a small mill on the site of his present one. He operated the first mill till 1876, when he moved it off, and built the present extensive concern. The mill was begun in 1876 and completed in 1877. The Langford & Hall Lumber Company was incorporated Jan. 26, 1878, with a capital stock of $75,000, all of which is paid up. The mill has a cutting capacity of 75,000 feet per day, and, when running a full force, 130 men are employed ten hours a day. The company carries an average stock of 7,000,000 feet of lumber. It was inventoried Jan. 1, 1885, at a net value of $97,181. Mr. Langford was elected President and Treasurer at the organization of the company, and held the office for several years. Mr. George S. Sardam is the present efficient Secretary. Mr. Langford holds half the company stock, while the balance is divided between the heirs of Warren P. Hall and others. Mr. Langford was born in Genesee Co., N. Y., Dec. 14, 1816, and is the son of Charles and Fannie (Mansfield) Langford. His parents were natives of New York: his father was
born in Genesee, and his mother in Oneida County. When two years of age Charles removed with his parents to Upper Canada, to St. John's. Seven years later they went to Northern Ohio, where they resided till 1829, when they changed to Erie Co., Pa. At the age of 14 years Charles bought his time of his father, who was a carder and clothier, and began life for himself. He had learned the carding business, at which he worked till the fall of 1836, when he started out to seek his fortune. He traveled South as far as New Orleans, and the following June (1837) he came up the Mississippi River to Lyons, Iowa.
He made a claim on unsurveyed land between Lyons and Sabula before the Indians were removed. His experience while a squatter is well worth relating. He built a log shanty, and hired five acres broken, which he planted to sod corn. He soon after bought a pair of old oxen on time; then, having a chance to exchange one of his oxen for breaking, he did so, and added nine acres to his plowed land, and paid for the cattle with the proceeds of his sod corn. The following season he sowed a part of his land, with wheat and planted the balance with corn. He then rigged his odd ox with an old mule's harness, with ropes tied to his horns for lines, and with this novel outfit he cultivated his corn! His wheat yielded 30 bushels to the acre, which he hauled to Chicago, and sold for 90 cents a bushel.

He sold his claim for a small consideration the second year, and the following winter engaged in cutting cord-wood for the boats. He sold his wood the next spring, and with the proceeds purchased a carding-machine at St. Louis, which he set up the following July, on a little water power on Elk River, between Sabula and Lyons. He built a dam and a small mill and began business as a carder. As many of the old settlers kept a few sheep and used the old-fashioned spinning wheels, he found plenty to do. He continued that business about five or six years, when he sold out. He then purchased a tract of land in Clinton Co., Iowa, where he engaged in farming. In 1852 he leased a small water-power saw-mill, on Elk River, above Lyons, which he subsequently bought. He operated that mill only a short time, when he sold out and resumed farming. In 1856 he retired from the farm and located at Lyons. Soon after the financial storm of 1857 he leased what was known as the Stambaugh Saw-Mill at Lyons—since burned—which he operated till 1859, when he leased the mill on the Fulton side of the river, above town.

In 1862 he built the small steam mill on the site of his present mill, as before mentioned. He is still the owner of 500 acres of his old farm in Clinton Co., Iowa. Mr. Langford has, by the exercise of good judgment and untiring energy, developed an important and extensive business. He is a fair type of the self-made Western man, starting as he did at the age of 14 years, buying his time of his father, and going out into the battle of life with only his bare hands, shrewd judgment and indomitable will to back him. His marked success has been won after many a hard struggle against discouraging circumstances. Mr. Langford has been twice married: first in Pennsylvania, to Miss Hannah Shadduck, in 1836. His second wife was Miss Maria Sherman, to whom he was married in Fulton, Ill., June 18, 1874. He had seven children by his first marriage, three sons and four daughters; by his second marriage he has one daughter. Mr. Langford was a Whig in early life, and since the organization of the Republican party he has voted that ticket.

Additional Comments:
Portrait and Biographical Album of Whiteside County, Illinois, Containing Full-page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative
Citizens of the County. Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1885.

File at:

Oscar's Family Tree Filling Out

Black Friday 2012 was an amazing day for discoveries of the extended family of Oscar Langford. It took us from New York, to Canada, Ohio, back to New York, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Washington, Idaho and Illinois. It is the kind of day that keeps genealogy interesting and rewarding.

I have now tentatively identified the following as brothers and sisters of Oscar Langford:

Charles Langford, born 1816, traveled to Jackson County Iowa and established a lumber business in Whiteside County, Illinois, very near where we now live.

Jeanette Langford, married Peter Wise, a cabinet maker in Fredonia

Harriett Langford, married name McGinnis, lived in Iowa and Ohio

Mary Langford, married Merritt Allen, lived in NY and Wisconsin.

Jane Langford, also married Merritt Allen after sister Mary died in Wisconsin.

William G. Langford, born 1831, territorial judge in Washington Territory. Practiced law in Vancouver Washington, where our son Tim now lives. Was the last territorial judge in Washington Territory before statehood, having been appointed by President Grover Cleveland.

James Langford, 1825-1847, worked at the Fredonia Censor

Oscar included this brings the number of siblings to eight. Oscar cites their being ten Langford brothers and sisters.

Oscar's letters to the Fredonia Censor named Jeanette, Harriett, Mary (Maggie), Jane and James. He also mentioned having other relatives and their locations around the state of New York. Both Charles and William mention their parents as Charles Langford and Fannie Mansfield Langford. The Fredonia Censor has a death notice for Fannie Langford in 1840. This matches with a biographical sketch of William saying that his mother, Fannie, died in Chautauqua County New York when he was nine years old. It goes on to say that the family moved to Jackson County Iowa.

I will try to post a family tree to explain the descendancy and relationships that are becoming more clear with every search. My sources for this information were Oscar's letters and biographical sketches of prominent early settlers and leaders for Whiteside County, Illinois, and Walla Walla, Washington.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Oscar's Ancestors

Keep you fingers crossed.

I have yet to prove this so caution is recommended before getting too excited, but, I may have found Oscar's family tree, and an impressive one it is.

In his letters to the Censor, he mentions having visited Buffalo, Lock Port and Syracuse, New York, to visit aunts, uncles and cousins that he had never met. He seems to come from a large family. It is known from early New York census records that there were very few Langfords living in New York. This leads one to believe that it is very likely that Oscar was related to other Langfords in the state.

I first did a search on to find family trees that had been developed by others with Oscar or his brothers or sisters included. I was able to find only one tree that was promising. It had Oscar's parents as Charles and Fanny (maiden name unknown) Langford. In emailing the Fredonia Library, I had discovered that a Fanny Langford had died in 1840, when Oscar was three. This would explain why he saw himself as an orphan.

So then, I decided to search for early records of Charles Langford in New York. I estimated his birth year as 1795 based on the ages of his children and found only one Charles Langford that was close to this age. Charles Langford was listed as one of three sons who lived to adulthood of George Langford and Abigail Elliot. This Langford family moved to Oneida County New York from either Rhode Island or Massachusetts near the border with Rhode Island. 

I then realized if this was an important early family in New York, there may have already been a study of their family tree done. I searched the library in Fort Wayne, Indiana known for their collection of early genealogy studies. I searched the New England Genealogical and Historic Society in Boston. I found a promising book but nowhere online or close by. Another George Langford had written a study of his family in the 1930s but it was out of print. So, I searched ebay, amazon and other sources for old books, but found none.

Then I searched the internet seeing where else one might pop up. I found another George Langford descendant who had gone to the trouble of putting it on his Langford website. Click to go to his homepage then select on the right "George Langford, Sr.: Genealogy of LANGFORD and the Allied Families of SWEETING; ROBERTSON; BELL."

It suggests a complete line going back to very early American history which I believe is the tree of Oscar Langford, but will, without verification, just cross my fingers for the time being.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Time and Place Record of Oscar's Travels

After reading the series of nine letters that Oscar Langford wrote to the Fredonia Censor in 1925, I have reconstructed, and verified as much as possible about his wanderings.
Oscar was born in 1837. When he was about 15, in 1852, the Griswold family left him on his own. He stayed briefly with the Cushing family, and then lived on the streets for awhile until the Griswolds returned and took him in "for a season".
"Pa" Griswold gave him money for a train ride to Erie, Pennsylvania, to pursue barrel-making in 1853. While that particular career did not pan out, Oscar did find employment as an apprentice printer in Erie. He tells us that the printing firm in Erie had another publication in Lyons, Iowa, and that he was there in 1854.
Then his travels begin in earnest. He goes from Lyons, Iowa, to Davenport, Muscatine and Keokuk and in Iowa courtesy of his stern wheel steamboat adventure. Then he finds his way to into Missouri, stopping at Hannibal before ending up in St. Louis. From there, he heads back north, through Illinois, with stops at Alton and Carlinville. In Wisconsin, his last midwest state, he goes to Zanesville, Milwaukee, Manitowoc and Two Rivers.
From there he catches a boat across the Great Lakes to Buffalo, with a stop at Mackinac Island, Michigan. Once in Buffalo, he stops home in Fredonia, then goes back to Buffalo, visits Syracuse, Lockport and Seneca Falls.
These travels all occur between 1853 and 1861.
In Seneca Falls he joins the Union Army in the spring of 1861. His Seventh New York Regiment passed before the White House and President Lincoln on April 25, 1861. Lincoln had only been inaugurated six weeks earlier. According to historian Allan Nevins, "Under a bright sun, the trim ranks of the Seventh were soon marching up Pennsylvania Avenue, whose sidewalks filled magically. The men kept soldierly step under their unstained banners, and when their band struck up onlookers danced delight. On they came, past Willard's, past the Treasury, through the White House grounds, and under the very eaves of the mansion. Lincoln emerged to wave them a greeting, the happiest-looking man in town. As an Illinois man remarked, 'He smiled all over.'
He also heard political speeches from Henry Clay, Winfield Scott, Daniel Webster, William H. Seward and Stephen A. Douglas.
Another significant event he had a front row seat for, where the Civil War riots in Dayton, Ohio. These are also well documented events.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Discovering Oscar thru Twitter

I spend a fair amount of time on the computer every day. I am a member of the New England Historical Genealogical Society, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Clarence New York Historical Society. I also have memberships to, and other web sites. I have been to Ireland to search the national library and various other places along the way. Trying to find information on my wife Nancy's great grandfather, Oscar Langford, was the most puzzling thing I have had to do.
Oscar shows up in the 1850 census as a 13 year old living with a family named Griswold. By the next census he is in Seneca, New York and he is easy find after that in census records and city directories. But there is no record of who his parents are or if he had any brothers or sisters. I had tried any place that I could think of until I stumbled into a lot of information.
Being on the computer, I have a Twitter account and follow my favorite people some of whom are other genealogists, amateur and professional. One of them tweeted about a website that they thought was worth a try, So I gave it a try and entered the name Oscar Langford to search records. I was surprised when I had a match with a 1925 newspaper article from the Fredonia Censor. Oscar had written a letter to the editor of his boyhood home town newspaper in his old age reminiscing about his youth.
Knowing where he lived helped me locate the local Library in Fredonia New York and I emailed the library director. She forwarded my email to a genealogy volunteer who advised that Oscar had sent a series of letters to the Censor and would send me copies.
I could not wait, so I found the website where the Censor had been digitized in 2009 and looked through hundreds of pages of newsprint to find the complete series of letters he wrote. They are the postings that follow, Oscar's youth in his own words.

Oscar Langford contacts the Fredonia Censor in January 1925

The Fredonia Censor
Fredonia, New York
Wednesday, January 14, 1925

Page 9

Headline:    Who Knows This Old Fredonian?

Sub-headline: Resident at Printer’s Home Recalls Former Days In Letter

                                Colorado Springs, Colorado
                                    January 5, 1925

Fredonia Censor
Fredonia, N. Y.

To the Editor:
    If there are any of my old boyhood friends living today in Chautauqua County, I wish to extend to them a New Year Greeting. Next month, if alive, I will reach my 88th birthday. As a boy I was raised near Fredonia by Benjamin Griswold, and attended the old red school house at Laona in my younger days. One of my four brothers, James M. Langford, was a printer on the Censor in the old handset days, and died in Fredonia in 1847. I served apprenticeship in the “Art Preservative” in Erie, Pa. and Clinton, Iowa, and have since traveled extensively as a journeyman printer in both the East and the West. I heard Daniel Webster make a speech in Dunkirk (NY) at a celebration of the completion of the New York and Erie Railroad to Dunkirk in 1848. I also heard political speeches from Wm. H. Seward, Stephen A. Douglas and other notables before the Civil War of 1861-1865.

    I remember reading the old Fredonia Censor at the farm in boyhood days. W. McKinstry and brother were the editors then and its proprietorship has been under the succeeding generations of the McKinstry family.

    I have been a resident of the Union Printers’ Home since 1898, about 26 years, and expect to remain here until the end. If there are any of my old school mates yet living, I should be glad to hear from them.

Oscar Langford
(care of Union Printers’ Home)

Censor Letter to John Griswold

Taken from the Fredonia Censor
Fredonia, New York
Wednesday, March 11, 1925

In Days Of Old

    A letter written to the Censor by Oscar Langford, former Fredonian now living at the Printers’ Home at Colorado Springs, resulted in several replies. We print below a letter to John Griswold, which should be of interest to many of the older readers.


Union Printers’ Home
Colorado Springs, Colorado
January 27, 1925

John D. Griswold
Cassadaga, N. Y.

Dear Sir:
    Your letter was duly received yesterday and read with interest. I hardly think your grandfather, John Griswold, was related to Ben Griswold of Laona, but I often heard of John Griswold of Arkwright, when I was a boy. I think I met your grandfather once or twice. Ben Griswold’s wife was a sister to a Mr. Smith’s wife ( I think they called him “Squire Smith.”) He was one of the Arkwright farmers. I knew a plasterer named “Choke” Johnson, of Arkwright, who did some work for “Pa” Griswold. I remember working in your neighborhood for a man named Phelps. Some of his boys told me if I would go up on Mount Pisgah I would see Buffalo. I went up, but couldn’t see Buffalo, though the steamboats sailing on Lake Erie were visible on the blue waters.

    When I was a big boy a party of my schoolmates went out sailing on Cassadaga lake. The boat capsized and some of them were drowned. Levi C. Clough’s daughter, a schoolmate of mine, was with them, but was saved. Her name was Dorinda, her mother was Mrs. Ben Griswold’s sister.

    I used to go fishing on Cassadaga lake and caught many “Pumpkin Seeds.” Perhaps some of your old friends may remember that accident of the boat. A school master of the Laona School, named Putnam, saved several of the passengers, including Dorinda Clough.

    Ben Griswold, whom I called “Pa” ran a big dairy farm and cheese factory on the old Harrington farm near Laona and I was his “cowboy” and one of his milkers. The farm afterwards passed into the hands of Bill Moore. He was a great horse speculator, and was pretty deaf, but it was said he could hear any proposition about horses even in a whisper.Levi Harrison, a relative of Harrington, also lived on that farm. He also had a son, Levi, who was one of my schoolmates, also his brother George. The family afterwards moved to some farm in Arkwright, and they probably all died years ago.

    Ben Griswold afterwards moved to Batavia. His second wife was Emily Gardner, sister of Wilson Gardner, who once was leader of the Fredonia brass band. He also moved to Batavia.

    One of the old time merchants of Fredonia was Alvah H. Walker

        How dear to my heart are the scenes of my childhood,

        When fond recollections present them to view;

        The orchard, the meadow, the deep tangled wildwood,

        And every loved spot that mine infancy knew.

    If I lived until February 20, next, I will be 88 years old. Aside from defective eyesight, and partial deafness, I am yet in very fair condition. There is a man called Pat Murphy about a mile from the Printers’ Home, who is 103, and is yet quite active.

    I guess I have written enough to satisfy you. I love that old familiar name Griswold and that is one reason I wrote the letter. I also wrote one to the Fredonia Censor, which you probably read.

    Thanking you for your interesting letter, I remain,

                    Very truly yours,

                    OSCAR LANGFORD

P. S. --  Jason E. Haynes, crippled, in same room sends a picture card with a short sketch of himself and a poem of his own composition and writing on it.

Days of Adversity, First of Seven Letters to the Censor

Fredonia Censor
Fredonia, New York
Wednesday, April 1, 1925
Page Thirteen



Oscar Langford Reviews Early Days in Chautauqua County

Dear Censor:
    I have written about the pleasant experience of boyhood days in Chautauqua County and now I venture to say something about the unpleasant ones. Some time in the fifties, when about 15 years old, the Griswold family of Laona broke up housekeeping and I was left to take care of myself. It seems that orphans did not receive the kind attention then that they do now. If they did I was unusually unfortunate. Homeless and a sort of boy tramp I looked for any kind of work that might provide food and clothes, and finally found a home with the family of Jud Cushing, who lived in the eastern suburbs of Fredonia.

    While Mr. Cushing took a few days trip to Buffalo, Mrs. Cushing scolded me for some trivial offense, and I made some saucy reply, and angrily left the place. Then I was again homeless, but a neighbor named Cassell took me in for a couple of days. When Mr. Cushing returned he sent for me, and I had no sooner entered his house than he began to abuse me for insulting his wife, and proceeded to turn me out of doors. It was late in the fall and the weather was quite cold. Mr. Cushing had bought me a suit of clothes recently, as I merely worked for my board, but he turned me out in a ragged condition, and gave me nothing but the vest and one dollar in money.

    The Johnson House, a Fredonia Hotel, kindly gave me lodging and breakfast for fifty cents, and the stage driver gave me a ride to Jamestown for the rest of the money. I arrived there some time in the evening, homeless and penniless, went to a hotel and told the proprietor I was dead broke. He gave me lodging and breakfast, and in looking for work struck a job of moving from a druggist named Hazeltine, and he gave me 25 cents. I got along some way for a day or two, spending my time in a fruitless search for a home. At last a harness maker named Sherman, whose house I visited, employed me to take care of horse and cow for my board and clothes. The family was a very pious one, and treated me very nicely for a few days, when some of the school boys provoked me into a fist fight, and I left the school and the Sherman family and got a ride back to Fredonia with a farmer named Laribee.

    During my boyhood wanderings about the village, I stole into barns and covered stage coaches for shelter, and begged for what little food I got. Once I got so hungry that I went into a potato field, dug potatoes out of the hill and ate them raw. Afterwards the Griswold family returned from their trip, and I sung “Home, Sweet, Sweet Home” for a season. But circumstances were against me, and in a few years I became a homeless tramp once again, until I struck the printing firm of Durlin & Sloan in Erie, Pa., and served an apprenticeship at the printing trade. Mr. Durlin was a relative of the McKinstry family, publishers of the Fredonia Censor, and knew my brother James when he was a compositor on your paper.

    The hardships I endured as a “tramp printer” for years afterward would fill a volume but those of my early boyhood were the worst. But now, they are all seemingly ended, and the union printers home is a kindly and beautiful resort since I became an octogenarian. The world is surely growing better than it was in 1853. “God’s in his heaven” and everything is all right on earth.

Oscar Langford
Union Printers’ Home
Colorado Springs Colorado

Oscar also added this article about his room mate Jason E. Haynes

    A remarkable career has been that of Jason E. Haynes, 70 years of age, a resident here since 1918. Learning printing in northwestern Missouri, he was familiar with the Burlington (Iowa) Hawkeye in the days of Bob Burdette and Frank Hatton, and wrestled with the manuscript of Gen. J. S. (Ret) Clarkson on the Des Moines Register. At the age of 30 years he lost his right arm and was otherwise badly crippled in a railroad accident, but successfully followed the profession of an editor and printer until entering the home.

        Promising Year of 1925

        Did you turn a new leaf over,
            And start well in the new year?
        The future looks bright , as you will discover,
            It’s good to know that we live here.
        Life is short and time is fleeting
            As it can be truly said;
        So to you a good, bright greeting,
            Try to live long and work ahead.
        Think of something good tomorrow---
            Do your very best today;
        Think right and steer clear of sorrow-
            Smile, thus clearing the right of way.
        Life is now yours, and so brightly-
            You are here to live and thrive;
        Think intelligently and think rightly,
            And you may win in 1925.

        Union Printers Home--Jason E. Haynes

Days of Adversity, Second Letter to the Censor

The Fredonia Censor
Fredonia, New York
Wednesday, April 15, 1925       
Page eleven

Adversities of Life

No. 2

    I concluded my last letter under the above title with the return of the Griswold family from abroad and my return home again. Later Mr. Griswold purchased an interest in the Laona grist mill, and I became a boy helper in that institution, but made no particular headway in the business.
    I was advised by some of the old citizens of the town to learn a trade, but was undecided as to what trade to learn. Then came an old cooper from Edinboro, Pa., with a wagon load of flour barrels. His name was Turner. Yes, he wanted a boy to learn that trade soon, but was not quite ready.
    After Mr. Turner’s departure for home, I remained as a sort of helper in the mill, but finally decided to go to Edinboro, and learn to make barrels and tubs. “Pa” Griswold paid my railroad fare to Erie and bade me an affectionate good-by, giving me a small sum of money.
    Arriving in Erie, I found means to get to Mr. Turner’s house, about thirty miles away. He was glad to see me, but informed  me that he had already employed an apprentice and that I was a little too late. I remained with Mr. Turner a couple of days and then started to walk back to Erie. On my way I met a young man named Shattuck and told him that I was looking for work, but had little or no money. He said he knew of no employment for a youth of my years, but he opened his pocketbook and gave me $3.00 in cash, and wished me good luck.
    His wishes did not materialize, but in my wanderings about Erie, I entered a gunsmith shop conducted by a man named Drake. He said he wanted a boy to learn the trade, but was not yet quite ready, but took me to his home for a few days as a preliminary to learning apprenticeship. I did odd jobs for awhile, but he finally gave me a big job at sawing wood at his house. After sawing up several cords of wood, I concluded that, as “Pa” Griswold had already taught me that business, I did not need further apprenticeship, and I quit Mr. Drake’s and was on the street again without a home. After near midnight I went to Brown’s hotel and asked for a bed and something to eat, which was granted.
    Then a bookseller named Gunnison gave me a few books to peddle at a small percent profit, which netted me about 25c per day, but I managed to diet on that income by stealing a lodging in barns and outhouses until I applied for work on a newspaper called “The Observer” and started to learn the printing business under Durlin & Sloan, and worked as a “devil” there for about two years, and then quit and followed Horace Greeley’s advice and went west. Well, my orphan boy trials were over, but I became at times a sort of “tramp printer” and prosperity smiled again.
    My adventures were still full of hardships and adversities, but their relation will not interest Fredonia Censor readers.

Oscar Langford                        Colorado Springs, Colorado

Days of Adversity, Third Letter to the Censor

The Fredonia Censor
Fredonia, New York
Wednesday, April 22, 1925
Page Eleven

Adversities of Life

No. 3

    About the year 1854 I was working as a compositor at Lyons, Iowa, which is located on the Mississippi River almost directly west of Chicago. The newspaper was a weekly published by T. H. Holmes. A printer named Vanover, who worked with me, took a vacation to take a trip on the river to St. Louis, where he was formerly employed on the old “Missouri Democrat,” and wanted me to go along.
    With a small amount of cash in our pockets we embarked on a steamboat for Davenport, and when we arrived there I immediately secured employment on the “Democrat”, published by Richardson  & Son, but Vanover spent the rest of his cash by getting drunk. In a few days he persuaded me to throw up my job and start for Saint Louis. I waited for my companion until I had but one dollar left, which took me to Muscatine, leaving Mr. Vanover asleep in a hotel.
    On my way to Muscatine I became acquainted with a commercial traveler who was going to stop off in that city on business. He invited me to room with him at a hotel there. It was Saturday night when we arrived at Muscatine. We put up at a hotel at my new friend’s expense, but when Sunday came I found that could not obtain employment there, and had no money to pay my fare to go further. About three o’clock p. m. a sternwheel steamboat came to the landing and I seized my small grip and started for the boat. I hid in a vacant stateroom until the boat started away, and then went to the office and told the clerk that I was broke and wanted to go to St. Louis. He said I would have to work my passage, and set me to work as a cabin boy, washing dishes, making up berths, etc. It was late in the fall, and the weather was getting cold, and I was grateful for even a shelter, but did my work rather clumsily, as it was new to me.
    One cold morning I was ordered by the porter to go up in “texas” and make the officers’ beds. When I got there a man I didn’t know was the captain of the steamer, gave me a coal bucket and ordered me to go the hold and get some coal for the stove. It was then about dinner time, and as I passed through the Cabin I saw the other cabin boys eating their dinner.  I dropped the coal bucket and sat down at the table. When I had finished my meal I met the gentleman who had ordered the coal, when a conversation occurred something like the following:
    “Where in h--l is that coal I ordered you to get?”
    I replied that I stopped to eat dinner.
    “I am the captain of this boat, and do you know what we do to cabin boys who don’t obey orders?”
    “I didn’t know you were the captain”, I replied, “and didn’t want to lose my dinner.”
    “That’s no excuse,” he retorted, “and you’ll have to be punished for disobeying orders. The last boy who did this we left on a lone desert island on the river, and I guess he starved to death, as we never heard of him since.”
    The I flared up and told the captain that I was a printer and was working my way to Saint Louis, and that I din’t want to be a cabin boy. He relented at that statement, but told me I better get off the boat as soon as possible. The next landing stop was Keokuk, where I obtained temporary work at my trade, but it was my last attempt to work my passage on a steamboat.
    After leaving Keokuk, I next landed in St. Louis, which at that time had but 8,000 or 10,000 inhabitants. Employment for extra printers was scarce, but I managed to get along for a few weeks by subbing on the “Missouri Democrat” and other papers. The editor of the Democrat in 1853 was B. Gratz Brown, afterward Governor of Missouri and later candidate for Vice President of theUnited States on the ticket with Horace Greeley for President.
    My lodging room in the city was a cheap one near the river, and was infested with wharf rats, which sometimes held carnivals on my bed, and I occasionally had to kick them off the coverlid. But I managed to get away soon, and secured some work at Alton, Illinois, and Carlinville, a small village in Macoupin County.
    From there I went to Wisconsin and visited two sisters, whom I had never seen as they left Fredonia when I was a baby or before my birth. I finally landed in Zanesville, where I worked night and day on the “Free Press”, for small compensation, and then I struck Milwaukee.
    The slavery question was in full sway at that time and political excitement was great. An evening daily was edited by S. M. Booth who was a radical Abolitionist. He was a chief of the “underground railroad” who ran fugitive slaves from the south into Canada. Gerrit Smith, a philanthropist and politician of New York, occasionally visited Mr. Booth, and inspected the printing plant. The fugitive slave law was in force, and the border ruffians were invading Kansas.
    Editor Booth lived to a good old age, and saw negro slavery abolished by the edict of Abraham Lincoln and the result of the Civil War.
    I will here remark that “Mark Twain” (Samuel Clemens) worked as a printer in St’ Louis about the time that I did, but I have no recollection of meeting him, although I worked at the trade about a week at Hannibal, Mo., his native town.

Oscar Langford
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Days of Adversity, Fourth Letter to the Censor

The Fredonia Censor
Fredonia, New York
Wednesday, April 29, 1925
Page eleven

Adversities of Life


    Remaining in Milwaukee awhile, I took a steamer for Manitowoc, and Two Rivers, about 60 miles north on Lake Michigan. At the latter little village I called on another sister whom I had never seen before. She was the wife of Merrit Allen, formerly of Fredonia, and husband of sister Maggie, who had died several years prior to my visit. His second wife was sister Jane. I worked as a printer about two years in Manitowoc, about five miles south of Two Rivers, and then returned to Milwaukee, where I later embarked with two other typos on the propellor “Globe” for Buffalo, N. Y.

    The journey was a long and interesting one. We stopped for a couple hours at Mackinac Island, then sparsely inhabited by French and Indians, and found a printing plant in this almost barren island, conducted by a Frenchman. When we told him we were printers, he told us he would pay us big wages to set up a pamphlet of French in English letters. Of course, we had to refuse the job, as our transportation on the steamer had already been paid to Buffalo. Mackinac Island then contained a fort of Uncle Sam’s soldiers as it probably does today.

    Arriving at Buffalo, after some financial difficulty, I arrived at Fredonia. There I met some of my boyhood friends, among them Miss Emily H. Day, who was with me in the Griswold family at Laona. That the meeting was a great surprise and pleasure to us both goes without saying.

    I afterwards visited Laona, but found very few of my boyhood friends still living there. The old red school house was used as a barn, and was crumbling to decay, and a new white school house was built near by and attended by a later generation. I visited the farm of Benjamin Cornwell, and met there an old school mate, Emeline Cooper, who was the daughter of Wm. Cooper, the “hired man” on the farm of Ben Griswold my foster father. I also came across a carpenter named Tennant in Fredonia, who had married Serepta Judson, another school mate. Fredonia had grown but little in size and population in 1858, but the surrounding country was more thickly populated, and contained a new generation of residents and growing and prosperous farms and farm houses.

    I also visited Justus Harrington, one the owner of a large farm, but now old and bankrupt. He was living with his son, Joel, who was once one of my playmates.

    Soon I bade a final goodbye to old Chautauqua County; and visited Buffalo, Lockport and Syracuse, where I had uncles, aunts and cousins whom I never before met. I turned up in Seneca Falls in 1859, and worked for a couple of years on the “Courier” of that city. Henry Stanton (Either husband, brother or father) of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, women’s rights champion, was assistant editor of the Courier. I saw Mrs. Stanton quite often as a visitor to the office, and heard her lecture from the rostrum. She had a an impressive personality and a rather masculine voice.

    I listened to many political orators of the Republican and Democratic parties, among them Wm. H. Seward, Stephen A. Douglas and Horace Greeley. Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States and several of the southern states seceded from the Union. Lincoln arrived at Washington, after a secret and perilous journey through mobs at Baltimore and other cities and was inaugurated as James Buchanan retired from the presidential chair.

    The “Wide Awakes” were organizing at Seneca Falls and I joined them. The state militia was preparing to go to Washington to defend the capital from invasion, and I arrived there soon after Mr. Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops, and I was one of the regiment. Some 20,000 of us passed in review in front of the White House and before President Lincoln and his cabinet, including General Winfield Scott. Our battalion, after camping in Washington for awhile, marched through Virginia via Martinsburg, Charlestown and Harper’s Ferry. We saw the remains of the scaffold on which John Brown was executed at Charlestown, and the ruins of he engine house and bridge across the Potomac where he and a small group of followers fought the State troops to free the negro slaves of the south.

    We were encamped at Harper’s ferry when the first battle of Bull Run was fought, and the Union forces were defeated by the Confederates under Beaureguard and Johnston, but our regiment participated in no battles, though the war lasted about four years. History tells the rest of the story and I will not attempt to repeat it here.

Oscar Langford
Union Printers’ Home
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Days of Adversity, Fifth Letter to the Censor

Fredonia Censor
Fredonia, New York
Wednesday, May 6, 1925
Page thirteen

Adversities of Life
Langford’s Reminiscences
No. 5

    Early in 1862 I visited sister Harriet McGinnis in Dayton, Ohio. whom I became acquainted with at Lyons, Iowa, several years before. I had now come across six sisters and four brothers of the scattered Langford family., James of Fredonia, being the first brother, and Jeanette, of the same village, the first sister. Jeanette, as I have stated, married Peter Wise, a cabinet maker of Laona. Peter was quite a favorite with my Laona schoolmates, and they used to call at his shop frequently, especially the Boynton boys.

    When  I arrived there (Dayton) in 1862 there were few of our large family living, and Harriet was one of them. I found plenty of work at my trade in Dayton, but received very low wages and long hours on the Dayton Journal. The war excitement was at fever heat there, as it was the home of C. L. Vallendigham, leader of the “Copperheads” who were southern sympathizers. In May 1863, Gen. Burnside, whose headquarters were in Cincinnati, sent a company of Union soldiers to Dayton and arrested Vallendigham for treason. A mob of several hundred congregated in front of the Journal building the following day and drove the publisher, named Marat, and his assistants from the building. Six or seven compositors, including the writer, stole to the composition room early in the evening, with an assistant editor named Steep, and went to work getting the paper out. Then came bricks and stones thrown by the mob breaking the front windows, and the mob broke down the front door and set fire to the building. The printers jumped from the building through a second story window with little injury except bruises, and escaped through a hotel in the rear. The plant and all its type and presses was totally destroyed together with five adjoining buildings containing stores and merchandise.

    General Burnside’s soldiers arrived the next day and arrested about a hundred of the mob, including the editor of the Empire, a Democratic sheet edited by a Virginian named Logan. They were imprisoned in Cincinnati for about a week, took the oath of allegiance and were liberated. The Journal was tendered the use of the type and presses of the U. B. publishing house and continued for a while as an evening paper, when it passed into the hands of Major Wm. D. Bickham of Gen. Rosencrans staff, who edited the paper until well after the war was over.

    Vallendigham was sent south to his rebel friends but afterward got back to Ohio through Canada, and became a candidate for Governor against John Brough, union candidate, but was beaten by over 100,000 votes. But Vallendigham returned to Dayton and continued to make speeches against the prosecution of the war to preserve the Union, but finally shot himself with a pistol while defending an accused murderer in court after the war was over.

Oscar Langford
Colorado Springs, Colorado


Days of Adversity, Sixth Letter to the Censor

Fredonia Censor
Fredonia New York
Wednesday, May 13, 1925
Page Eleven

Adversities of Life


Langford Reminiscences

No. 6

    I will now go back to my school days at Laona and name some of the attendants at the “old red school house” some of whom may yet be living. First, I will mention the Boynton boys, consisting of Fred, Joseph, Philander and Albert. Fred was a musician and played the clarinet. Many years afterward he  became a leader of a military band in the Civil War. The last I heard from him he lived in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and probably died there. Joe and “Fanny” (nickname of Philander) became railroad workers and held positions on New York routes. I received letters from the latter about ten years ago from Allegheny, Pa. What became of the rest of the Boynton’s I don’t know, but they probably all passed to the “Great Beyond.”

    The Ramsdell brothers, Floyd and David, were also my playmates. Their uncle David was a shoemaker at Laona. Theron Winship was another boyhood friend. He became, I believe, an officer in the Federal Army during the Civil War, but I never heard from him personally after he had grown to manhood. Julius Miller, Pulaski and Watkins Bull, the Foster boys, Albert and Olive Smith, Frances Graham, who afterwards married a Fredonia postmaster. Antoinette Baldwin (who married a Laona man named Emery), John Richardson, Dorinda Clough (who married her school teacher, James Thompson, and died in California about 15 years ago), the Mixter sisters and many others too numerous to mention.

    I came across John Foster in Zanesville, Wisconsin, many years ago, who was an amateur reporter on the “free Press” while I was in that city in the 50’s. I forgot to mention Miss Avis Sage, daughter of Linus Sage, who afterwards became Mrs. Reed of Fredonia. I have mentioned some others in former letters to the Censor, but I cannot recall the names of all of them now. The last school teachers at the Laona school that I remember were Mr. and Mrs. Holt. I think the late Judge Holt, of Dunkirk, was our former schoolmaster, but am not certain.

    I recall the fact that Major Gorham, who owned the Laona Woolen Mills for many years, was prominent in military affairs in those days. He was an officer in Fredonia during general and company trainings, in which, as a boy, I was much interested. The Risleys, especially George, was a worker on the Griswold farm for years. I recall the name of Porter Sheldon, who was also a co-worker with Mr. Risley on the farm, and afterwards became a lawyer and a legislator at Albany I think. Jeremiah Carter was a noted clairvoyant at Laona and a spirit medium. His son Dexter, and daughter Helen attended school with me for many years. I met Helen at a Jamestown academy about 1859 when I visited Chautauqua county before the Civil War. She was a student there at that time.

    I write these facts with the hope of getting in communication with the few who may yet be living, who knew me in boyhood.

    Oscar Langford
    Colorado Springs, Colorado

Days of Adversity, Seventh Letter to the Censor

Fredonia Censor
Fredonia, New York
Wednesday, May 27, 1925
Page Twelve

Langford Reminiscences

No. 7

    And now I will conclude this series of letters by mentioning the names of a few old timers which have been inadvertently omitted in former lists. One of them was John Russell, who, when a boy was one of the brightest scholars in the “Old red school house” at Laona. He afterwards became a lawyer and astronomer in Fredonia. Another one was Ephraim Harrington, who lived near the old Harrington farm, and was a relative of Justus Harrington. He played the violin at parties for the entertainment of both young and old people in his younger days, and his little family entertained the writer on my return to Fredonia in 1858, and his daughter became a fine piano player and missionary.

    And I notice in some of the Chautauqua County letters the name of Putnam, which was the name of one of my Laona school teachers. I mentioned in a former letter a Mr. Putnam, who rescued several from drowning when an excursion boat capsized on Cassadaga Lake in 1855, and those mentioned in the Censor may be descendants of that family.

    I remember that when a boy I attended a barbecue in Fredonia given in honor of Henry Clay, the Whig candidate for president of the United States against James K. Polk, Democratic candidate for president. I also remember attending political meetings when Winfield Scott ran for President against Franklin Pierce. Both were very hot campaigns. At a Whig gathering at the old Baptist church at Laona a glee club sand a song to the tune of “Nellie Bly” which contained the lines:

        Pierce was found on the ground,
            Frightened half to death.
        For fear a ball might roll along
            And take away his breath.

But “Old Chippewa” (Scott) was beaten in the election, in spite of his brilliant career as a soldier and pioneer, for his opponent was supported by the solid South, which generally “ruled the roost” in those days.

    In this, my concluding letter to the Censor, I wish to return my sincere thanks to the editor for giving me so much space and kind attention. Being now entering my 89th year, it is a pleasure to know that I can recall events of Chautauqua life of over seventy years ago, and years later, which may be some interest to others as well as myself.

    Good-bye, old Chautauqua.

    Oscar Langford
    Colorado Springs, Colorado


    The April issue of The Typographical Journal, official paper of the International Typographical Union of North America, carried the following item in the Union Printers Home notes:
        Oscar Langford, the oldest resident of the Home, celebrated his eighty-eighth anniversary on February 20th. He is a charter member of Dayton (Ohio) Union, organized in 1862. He is a veteran of the Civil War, and recounts with pride passing in review before President Lincoln and his cabinet in 1861.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Mystery of Oscar Langford

As an amateur genealogist, I have done work on my family lines through both my mother and my father. My lovely spouse, Nancy, has waited patiently for me to finish these projects and supported the time, travels and expenses of my hobby. Of course, completing work on her family lines was also something I had been promising. And this blog will, finally, document this work on Oscar Langford, Nancy's great grandfather.

We have known very little about Oscar before a year or two ago. My membership in yielded a few clues. We knew about his adult life and children but little about his childhood or parents. I was able to find a picture of Oscar with his daughter, Jeanette, her daughter and grand daughter. I was able to locate him in the census records for 1910 and 1920 living in the Union Printers' Home in Colorado Springs. Nancy and I spent one evening going over city directories to find him year by year. What we found just made us more curious about him.

He moved his family to Saint Louis after the Civil War and worked there as a printer. His son William worked with him. Unfortunately William died very young. Shortly after that Oscar left his family and returned to Dayton alone. He worked at a variety of print shops in Dayton until about 1900 when he entered the Union Printers' Home.

In the summer of 2011, Nancy and I visited the Printers' Home but were unable to learn anything specific about Oscar. I had found his Civil War records and knew that he enlisted for a period of about three months in 1861. He is listed as a deserter on one record and as a discharge on another. The unit that he joined was appointed for a period of three months, in error. After the three months the men were given the option of staying for the correct deployment of one year or going. It appears this confusion is what Oscar was caught up in.

So this is post number one. Just this week we have made some significant discoveries about which I will blog here.