Charles E. Langford, President of the Langford and Hall Lumber Company, of Fulton, Ill., and the pioneer lumberman of this city, established himself 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 and 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 at 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 of the company stock, while the balance is divided between the heirs of Warren P. Hall and others.
Mr. Langford was born in Genesee County, New York, 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 County, Pa. At the age of 14 years Charles bought his time of his father, who was a carder and a 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 from 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 the 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 powered 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 a 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 married twice: 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 had one daughter.
Mr. Langford was a Whig early in life, and since the organization of the Republican Party, he has voted that ticket.
Article from the Fulton Newspaper
Tuesday, June 20, 1893
Death of a Former Citizen of Fulton
C. E. Langford died at his home in Pasadena, California, June 10, and the remains were interred in the cemetery at that city. Mr. Langford was one of the pioneer settlers in Clinton County, Iowa. In 1865 he built the first saw mill where the present saw mill now stands. The mill was but twenty-four by sixty feet with a capacity of from 700,00 to 1,000,000 feet of lumber a year. In 1866, Warren P. Hall became a partner of Mr. Langford and the capacity of the mill was increased to 3,000,000 feet of lumber annually. In 1876 the L. and H. Lumber Co. was incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000. In 1888, the saw mill had a capacity of about 12,000,000 feet of lumber a year and Mr. Langford sold his interest in it to David Joyce.
Mr. Langford was a remarkable man in many ways. His knowledge of books was limited, but his knowledge of men and of business principles was great. He was plain, honest, frank, more than frank, blunt. He never became discouraged. To illustrate his shrewdness one occurrence will be sufficient. He sold a bill of lumber which was used in constructing a two story building in this city. The first story was used as a store by the owner and the second story occupied as a residence by the owner. A third person held a mortgage on the property. After a few years the owner of the building leased the lower story, built and outside staircase to the second story in which he resided. Mr. Langford levied on all the building but the second story. It was sold at Sheriff’s sale and Mr. Langford secured what was due him. It was the first case on record where such a thing had been done.