Biography of Samuel J. Langdon

Samuel J. Langdon, one of the highly esteemed pioneer farmers of Latah County, is a native of Ohio, having been born at Granville, Licking County, May 4, 1829. He is of Scotch-Irish lineage, and his ancestors were early settlers of Connecticut and participants in the Revolutionary war and in the events which go to form the colonial history of the country. The family is noted for a patriotic spirit, and one of the Langdons served as commander of the colonial forces at the battle of Ticonderoga. Jesse Langdon, the grandfather of our subject, was born and reared in Connecticut and there married Miss Jewett, with whom he later removed to Berkshire, Massachusetts, where he followed the occupation of farming. They were members of the Congregational church, and both attained to a ripe old age.

In their family were seven children: Hiram, Anson, Richardson, James J., Albert, Betsy and Eunice H. James J. Langdon, the father of our subject, was born on the old family homestead in Massachusetts, in 1795, and when a young man removed to Licking county, Ohio, where he was married to Miss Mary White, a daughter of Captain Samuel White, who was a prominent citizen of Licking county, and who won his title by commanding a company of the state militia. The maternal great-grandfather of our subject, Thomas Philipps, was a native of Wales, and leaving that little rock-ribbed country, in 1787, he crossed the water to Philadelphia. His son, John H. Philipps, was a member of the staff of General Anthony Wayne during the Indian wars, and after the establishment of the republic he removed to Licking County, Ohio, where he owned a large tract of land at Granville. Samuel White married Martha Philipps, the daughter of Thomas Philipps, and in 1810 went from Pennsylvania to Granville, Ohio, casting in his lot with the pioneers of that section of the state. Their daughter Mary became the wife of James J. Langdon, and the mother of him whose name heads this sketch. After their marriage Mr. Langdon carried on a coopering establishment in Ohio until 1840, when he removed with his family to southeastern Missouri. Five years later he returned to Newark, Ohio, and from there emigrated to McLean County, Illinois, where his death occurred in the sixty-fifth year of his age. His wife survived him ten years and died in her seventieth year. They had a family of six children: Martha, Mary, Samuel J., Albert E., Elizabeth D., and Ellen E. Martha, Mary and Elizabeth have passed away. Albert E. is now a resident of Illinois, and Ellen is now Mrs. Calkins, a widow, residing with her brother, the subject of this review.

Samuel J. Langdon was educated in Newark, Ohio, and began life on his own account as a farmer. He was married on the 26th of July 1853, to Miss Martha Virginia Willson, a daughter of Ison Willson, a pioneer of the Buckeye state. In August 1862, in answer to President Lincoln’s call for volunteers, Mr. Langdon offered his services to the government and was assigned to duty with Company G, Ninety-fourth Illinois Infantry. He served in southwestern Missouri, Arkansas and at Vicksburg, and participated in nine battles and sieges, together with many skirmishes, the principal engagements in which he participated being at Prairie Grove, Vicksburg, Fort Morgan and Spanish Fort. He was very fortunate in that he was never wounded by an enemy’s ball, and after loyally and faithfully serving the Union until the cessation of hostilities he returned home with a most creditable military record. He entered the service as a private, but after six months was made corporal and when a year had passed was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

Returning to his home in Illinois, Mr. Langdon there carried on agricultural pursuits until 1866, when he removed to Crawford County, Kansas. In 1874 he crossed the plains with a team of horses and a team of cows. Mrs. Langdon and one of their daughters had died in Kansas, in 1872, which was a most severe blow to the husband and father. On starting westward he left his other children in Kansas and came to the Pacific slope in search of a better location. It was his first intention to go to New Mexico, but the Indians were so hostile that he stopped at Salt Lake and spent the winter in Grass valley, there remaining for a year and a half, engaged in stock-raising. From that point he wrote to his children to join him, and when they were reunited they continued their travels to the northwest. They spent a winter in the Walla Walla country, and in 1877 came to their present location, Mr. Langdon taking up a claim of one hundred and sixty acres. Here he with partners engaged in the sawmill business and manufactured most of the lumber used in the early building of Moscow. He continued milling and lumbering until 1888, and during a part of that time resided in Moscow, where he served as deputy assessor of the county and later was elected assessor. He also filled the office of deputy sheriff for two terms, and that of sheriff for one term, and was a member of the territorial legislature in 1880, having also served four terms in the legislature of Kansas. In the meantime he gave the land on which he first settled to his daughter, while his present home place, comprising three hundred and twenty acres, is pleasantly located eight miles south of Moscow on the Potlatch creek.

There he is passing the evening of a well spent life, superintending his farm and raising large quantities of wheat and other cereals, also fine fruits, unsurpassed for excellence in any fruit district of the Union. His business affairs have been capably managed, and his diligence and enterprise have brought to him a handsome competence.

When the Republican party was formed Mr. Langdon became one of its stanch supporters and continued to affiliate therewith until President Grant’s second administration, when, becoming dissatisfied with the policy of the party, he joined the Democracy. He followed its banner until President Cleveland’s second administration, and then became a Populist, but is now independent, supporting the men and measures that he believes best fitted to promote the general good. Socially he is a representative of the Ancient Order of Pyramids, the Knights of Pythias and the Grand Army of the Republic, and has served on the staff of two of the national commanders of the last named organization. He has ever been as loyal and true to his country as when he followed the starry banner in the south.


Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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