THE WESTON-LANGLEY HERITAGE
A Puritan colonist, Edmund Weston, stepped off the "Elizabeth and Ann" when she docked at Boston in 1635. He had come from Yorkshire, England. Did he leave his home to escape the growing tension between Royalists and Puritans, or was he seeking opportunity in a new land? The scant family records do not tell.
This is the earliest known date on any side of the family history. The next year Weston settled in Duxbury, Massachusetts. He married into a Delano family, originally spelled De La Noye. Was this family one of the Huguenots, fleeing Catholic persecution in France? We do not know.
Their children were Elnathan, Mary, John and Edmund, Jr. The latter married twice. His first wife was Rebecca, daughter of John Soule and his second, Desire, granddaughter of Myles Standish. From this second marriage came a son, Zachariah, who married Mehitable Shaw.
A son, James Weston, was born to this couple October 31, 1723. He served as a sergeant and an ensign in the Revolutionary War. He had married Abigail Dunham in 1757. One son, Jonathan, was killed in the war. Their other children were Lucy, Joshua, Abner, Hulda and James, born in 1768. This young James became first a school teacher and then "a Methodist minister of Repute," according to old records. He left the coast and traveled to New York State, where in 1794 he married Eunice Rodgers.
About 1800, he traveled on foot to Waterford, Erie County, Pennsylvania, where he paid $100 for 400 acres of land in LeBouf township. He and Eunice set up a new home there and spent the remainder of their long and useful lives on the land. Their large family of 14 children grew up with the state. James contributed greatly to the orderly settlement of the area. He served as county commissioner, sheriff, justice of the peace, and was also a member of the state assembly for several years. He died in 1846 at the age of 78; Eunice died in 1839. They are buried in Mitchell cemetery near Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania.
Their ninth child was Jane Weston, born October 1, 1811.On October 5, 1830, when she had just had her 19th birthday, she married James Langley, born October 7, 1804. We have no definite record of this branch of the Langley family though it is believed they may have come from Virginia.
James Weston Langley
James Weston, born January 17, 1856, in Erie County, was their fourth child. Eight more were born, a total of three daughters and nine sons. Four died young and eight lived to maturity. They were a tough, virile, long-lived set of Americans who produced 38 children. At the time of this writing (1973) four are still alive: Kate Biggs, Washington, D.C. in her 90,s; Elizabeth May Arnett Morris (Mrs. William R.), Wichita, Kansas; Erma L. Langley Lehman (Mrs. W.W.), 85 and her sister, Florence Langley, 8l, both of Akron, Ohio.
Their descendants up to four generations are scattered through the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, North Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, Arkansas, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.
James spent the first fifteen years of his life, working on his father,s large farm and going to country school whenever possible. Later he had the opportunity to attend an academy at Waterford, Pennsylvania for almost two years. Then in 1854 the family, as their ancestors had done before, moved farther west and settled in Girard, Macoupin County, Illinois. The parents remained there until their deaths: Jane, Dec. 25,1878 and her husband, Nov. 9, 1881.
James, then 18 years old, taught school for three years, at the same time studying by himself. He determined to be a lawyer. In August 1857 he started to read law under the instruction of Hon. John M. Palmer, ex-governor of the state, and was admitted to the bar January 8, 1859.
In March of the same year he moved to Champaign, Illinois and began the practice of law. Since he was young, ambitious, energetic, possessed of a pleasing personality and appearance, he speedily made friends and built up a prosperous practice. During his travels about the state on the circuit, he made the acquaintance of a lawyer in Springfield who in a short time was to become his commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln. A little later Langley went into partnership with John S. Wolfe.
Marriage To Jeannette Young
On June 4, 1861, he was married to Jeannette Josephine Young, daughter of William Young, a well-to-do merchant. She had been born February 11, 1839 in Ohio. When she was still young, the family moved to the new town of Chicago where her father started a store.
In 1850 her father and his brother, Justice Osborne Young, were caught by the gold fever and journeyed overland to look for gold in California. They were fairly successful but when William became ill with inflammatory rheumatism, they were obliged to leave the creeks and mountains and returned east.
The family moved again, this time to Champaign where Jeannette,, a slight, vivacious brunette, met and married the young lawyer. A short time later her sister, Celestia, second woman graduate of Oberlin College, Ohio, married Langley,s partner, John Wolfe. Years later Jeannette told her grandchildren that her sister ran away from home and enrolled at Oberlin because her parents were about to put her in a young lady,s finishing school and she wanted a university education.
Mary Celeste, the Langley's only child, was born July 1, 1862. A month later her father left for the Civil War as captain of a company, raised from Champaign and vicinity. Langley and Oscar F. Harmon, another young lawyer, had helped to form and recruit this 125th regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry. By the time these volunteers were mustered into the Service on September 3, 1862, there were three companies from Champaign county and seven from Vermillion county; 900 men in all, who were to serve for three years or the duration of the war. They came, following the call for "three hundred thousand more" to assist in putting down what some called "A tempest in a tea pot."
The companies rendezvoused at Danvi1le, county seat of Vermillion County, and camped on the fair grounds. In those early days, volunteers elected their own officers. Harmon was chosen colonel by popular vote and Langley, lieutenant colonel.
These volunteers, according to a history of the regiment, written in 1882 by Robert M. Rogers, "were composed of men in the prime of life who had for the most part been engaged in farming and were used to out-door life; the best material to make soldiers that could be procured in any land." Pay for privates was $l3 a month.
March South To War
They were sent from Danville to LaFayette in open cattle cars; then marched across the Ohio River to Covington, Kentucky; later went down the river in boats to Louisville. They arrived there in time to meet the army of General Don Carlos Buell, fresh from the battle of Corinth. The new Illinois regiments joined the 85th and 86th Illinois and the 52nd Ohio under command of Colonel Dan McCook. This entire army started south September 30, General Buell commanding. The 125th regiment served eventually in the Third Brigade, Second Division, 14th Army Corps.
On October 8, the new soldiers who had experienced almost no drill or discipline, first heard the sound of shot and shell whistling through the trees when Buell,s army fought an indecisive battle at Perrysville, 40 miles southwest of Lexington. Opposing them were Confederate forces under Bragg, who were allowed to march away without pursuit.
"Why it was that we were not allowed to follow up our victory and capture or destroy the enemy was and always has been a mystery to us," angrily declares the historian of the 125th. "The turnpike at our rear was filled with troops, who were laying there with guns stacked and never during the day did they move from that position. Not only infantry but cavalry and artillery; yet we stood and saw the foe march away, leaving in our hands the field and their wounded and dead to care for."
Authorities in Washington, particularly President Lincoln, liked it as little. On October 30, Buell was relieved of command and Maj. General W. A. Rosecrans named to succeed him.
By way of Bowling Green and Edgefield the army traveled southwest and November 8 reached the latter town on the Cumberland river, directly opposite Nashville, at that time an important supply depot for the union army. The l25th went into camp behind fortifications of cotton bales on the high hills, west of Nashville. Its members were detailed for garrison duty, provost guard, train, picket and other guard duty.
At the end of this bloody and indecisive year, Rosecrans and Bragg fought a battle at Murfreesboro, also called the battle of Stone,s River, December 30, 1862 to January 2, 1863. Part of Cook,s, corps was engaged, but apparently the 125th was not called out of Nashville. The regiment heard the battle from a distance but was left in the city, ready to defend it if Bragg should break away. The Confederates finally retreated south but left Rosecrans, army in such shape that it was unable to fight again until spring.
While in camp at Nashville the president,s Emancipation Proclamation was received, read to the troops, and caused much comment. Many were opposed to it. In fact, it caused several officers to resign their commissions and go home.
In the spring of 1863, Langley served on a military commission, sitting in Nashville. When it seemed that his duties would extend over several weeks or even months, he obtained permission for his wife and child to visit him. Mrs. Langley, together with other wives, sailed down the Mississippi on a government gunboat.
Daughter Of The Regiment
The expected arrival of a small baby was greeted with much interest in camp, a reminder to all the men of the children they had left behind at home. Little Mary Celeste and her mother were received with great enthusiasm. She was adopted by the soldiers as the "Daughter of the Regiment," a title she really appreciated as she grew older.
When she was about twelve years old, the survivors of the regiment met and organized themselves into an association and provided for annual reunions. The name of their baby comrade was placed upon the rolls as the first honorary member. Until the family moved west, Mary Celeste considered it a high honor to attend the reunions with her parents and contribute to the entertainment by reciting patriotic selections.
The train journey north when finally Mrs. Langley and her daughter were obliged to leave turned into a most exciting trip. Long afterward in January 1899 Mrs. Langley wrote an account of her memories.
"Regretfully I bade goodbye to my husband," she said, "and looked for the last time upon the military surroundings with which I had become so familiar and, with a heavy heart and many misgivings as to the possible result of the campaign, I sped homeward by way of Louisville and Indiana.
"Before reaching Louisville we learned that John Morgan, the famous rebel raider, was in our front, had captured and robbed a provision train and left it in smoking ruins on the track. In those days the very name of Morgan and his Rough Riders produced an uneasiness in the breast of the bravest boy in blue"but with a trainload of women, it created a panic so terrible that it was not quieted until we were safely landed on the north bank of the Ohio river."
Mrs. Langley continued her journey, reaching Indianapolis safely. A few hours later pealing bells and screeching whistles gave an alarm that sent people rushing to the public square where they were told by others equally excited that the terrible John Morgan with something less than a million men had crossed the river and was already within a few miles of the city.
"Whole families left their homes as if fleeing from a pestilence," Mrs. Langley wrote. "In the midst of increasing terror, Governor Morton issued a bulletin, saying that Morgan was not near the city, had less than 4,000 men, and was in speedy retreat toward the Ohio River. Instantly the wails turned to shouts of joy; the foremost in flight returned to the city. I never heard one of them admit a thought of fear. Of course, I was not scared. The nearer danger 48 hours before had disciplined me."
The record shows that Morgan,s Men did carry out a great deal of successful raiding. His outfit included a Texas and a Tennessee regiment, and many others who liked easy discipline and gainful looting. After the battle of Shiloh, he rode into Tennessee to forage before General Henry Halleck,s approaching Union army. With only 325 men he burned Federal supplies, destroyed an engine and forty cars, stopped another train and took $8,000 in Federal money, probably intended for a Union Army paymaster. As part of this raid, he could well have chased the train on which Mrs. Langley and her daughter were riding north.
The regiment left Nashville June 1863 and marched to Murfreeboro. They stayed only a few days and then went to Chattanooga, a march of 65 to 70 miles over rough country with poor water and forage and only narrow trails through the mountains. It took four days, August 16 to 20, to cross the Cumberland Mountains. On September 8, the Union army took possession of Chattanooga on the south bank of the Tennessee River, the Confederates having evacuated it.
General Bragg had merely retired to Chickamauga Creek where he waited for Longstreet,s Corps from the Army of Northern Virginia, which was being rushed to his aid. These reinforcements arrived September 18. For the next two days, a bloody battle was fought over and around the sluggish stream. The Union forces were only saved from utter disaster by General Thomas and the men under him. Late the last afternoon other Union forces arrived to help.
Long after the war, Langley wrote a paper on General Thomas, which apparently he gave as a speech before a G.A.R. group. In this he said:
"Chickamauga is justly regarded as one of the great battles of the war. That it is not recorded as the most disastrous is entirely due to the inspiring presence of Thomas at the head of a fragment of Rosecrans, army. Perhaps some of you, my comrades, were on that bloody field of September 20, 1863. In memory I recall what I can never forget, the heroic form of Thomas, the master genius of a great occasion, exposed to all the hazards of our perilous situation, watching with eagle eye the eager advance of a strong, brave enemy as it repeatedly charged our decimated lines.
"All eyes turned to Thomas for direction. With 20,000 troops, he held in check for a day Bragg,s reinforced army and dispelled forever its hopes of victory. Had Rosecrans adhered to the counsels of Thomas the useless sacrifice of Chickamauga would never have occurred."
A few days after the battle President Lincoln wired General Steedman, one of the heroes of the fight, to report to him in person and asked him bluntly who should command the Army of the Cumberland. Steedman promptly said: "General George H. Thomas." Lincoln eagerly replied, "I am glad to hear you say so. That is my opinion. But Stanton is against him. Only yesterday a powerful delegation was here to prevent his appointment because he is from a rebel state and cannot be trusted."
Lincoln, rising above the bad counsels of his cabinet, sent a wire to the front: "By command of the President, Major General George H. Thomas is hereby assigned to the command of the Army of the Cumberland." At the same time, the wiry, hard hitting Major General W. T. Sherman assumed command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, including the Departments of Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee with General U.S. Grant as commander of the consolidated army.
Guarding The Cracker Line
Langley,s brigade was ordered to Caldwell's Ford on the Tennessee River, opposite the mouth of North Chickamauga Creek. Their task was to guard the ford. As rebel cavalry constantly cut the one railroad line to Bridgeport, all supplies had to be freighted around the mountains. The roads, rutted and humpbacked in good weather, were almost impassable in autumn rains. Food became very scarce and the troops irritable.
One twelve-mile stretch became known as the "Cracker Line." Langley remembered subsisting for nearly two months on quarter rations of salt mackerel and beans, supplemented with a little corn picked from the mud where officers, horses had been fed. "We knew what it meant," he commented in later life, "to a hungry army to have its cracker line well guarded."
General Sherman came north from Vicksburg with three divisions and by November 24, the stage was set for the struggle at Missionary Ridge in which the 125th Illinois, took part. During the next two days, the battle was fought under direction of General Grant. Sherman, charged with turning Bragg,s right, failed in his attempt. Hooker cleared Lookout but was detained at Lookout Creek. Late in the second day when neither flank of the Confederate Army had moved, Thomas moved against the center, broke it and with line after line giving way, a victory was assured. The sound of the last cannon had barely died away when Langley,s regiment was included in the men starting on a forced march of six days to Knoxville where General Burnside was surrounded by Longstreet,s forces.
After rescuing Burnside there is little information on the movements of the 125th for the remainder of the winter of 1863-64. Notes and records kept by Langley say simply: "Thomas devoted himself to watching the enemy to the east and south and storing supplies at Chattanooga for present and future use."
By April 1864, eastern Tennessee was crowded with Union soldiers, gathering to start the last great campaign of the war. One hundred thousand lean, tough veterans from the three Armies of Ohio, Tennessee and the Cumberland, carrying everything they needed on their backs, began the march south and east. General Grant had been called to Washington as Supreme Commander of Union forces. General Sherman was alone with his army of western men which, in his memoirs, he called "the most magnificent army in existence."
On May 7, Col. Langley and the Illinois regiment joined the trek to the sea and eventually to Washington.
The 125th Illinois volunteer infantry fought in the following battles (alphabetical not chronological order): Atlanta, Averysboro, Bentonville, Bowling Green, Buzzard,s Roost, Chattahoochie, Chicamauga, Crab Orchard, Edgefield, Goldsboro, Jonesboro, Kenesaw Mountain, Knoxville, Missionary Ridge, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Peach Tree Creek, Perrysville, Reed,s Bridge, Resaca, Rome and Savannah.
Of greatest interest to the descendants of James Weston Langley is the battle of Kenesaw Mountain, fought June 27. Early in the morning the Confederates, behind breastworks on the mountain, heard the union guns begin to roar. When they stopped, the rebel gunners trained their pieces on the Yankee trenches in the flatland at the foot of Kenesaw. Logan,s XV Corps ran for the mountain, followed by several divisions of the Army of the Cumberland. One of the regiments was the 125th Illinois, led by Col. Harmon.
Within two hours, the attack was over. The blue troopers staggered back to their trenches, dazed and battered, leaving behind them 2,500 men in the rocks and pines of Kenesaw. Among them was their commander, Col. Harmon, who was killed early in the action while leading the men in an assault on a steep slope.
Langley took over as commander of the regiment. Later he commanded a brigade for ten months. At the end of the war, he was offered, because of distinguished and honorable service, the brevet commission of a brigadier general. He declined it. He was wounded three times and, in the battle at Bentonville, North Carolina, was struck in the breast by a spent ball. He had two horses shot from under him.
After Kenesaw Mountain, the Illinois men followed Sherman to Savannah and north through the Carolinas. Colonel Langley, then serving as Brigadier, was in the group of officers who saw General Johnston surrender. He and his brigade marched with General Sherman and the thousands of western troops in the grand review on the streets of Washington, D.C. May 24,1865.
He was mustered out as a full Colonel June 9 in Washington, and received his final discharge in Chicago, July 11, 1865. He had never been voluntarily absent from his Command for a day during his three years of service. Two of his brothers also served in the Union forces, Russell and David Porter, the latter with the 32nd Illinois Infantry.
Langley came home with a great hatred of war. Though he helped to organize the Grand Army of the Republic, served it in many capacities, and enjoyed to the end of his life meeting old comrades, he never stopped regretting that his country had suffered a civil war. This dislike intensified as he grew older and caused him to give away the gold mounted sword presented by his regiment. He said he never wanted to touch sword or gun again. His grandchildren treasure a picture of him in full dress uniform, his red dress sash and leather sword belt, one spur, a gold-mounted cane given him by Col. Nordin Post, G.A.R., June 8, 1886, and a large flag with forty two stars. The latter was hand made for him by the Women,s Relief Corps of Champaign. His large collection of battlefield papers, orders and notes have been given to Kenesaw Mountain National Monument, with the family retaining copies.
After his discharge Langley resumed his law practice and entered local politics. In 1870, he was elected to the Illinois State Senate on the Republican ticket. In April 1872 Illinois Republicans nominated him to run for Congress in the 14th district. His opponent was Joe Cannon. The primary race resulted in a tie. Langley withdrew in favor of Cannon. In later years, he said with a smile that he had put Cannon in the House of Representatives forever.
He was elected judge of Champaign County in 1877 and reelected in 1882. He was also circuit judge of Vermillion, Champaign and Macon counties. He was a delegate to the first national Republican convention, held in Chicago in 1868, when General Grant was nominated for the presidency. He also served as Commander of the G.A.R. Post at Champaign.
Move To Puget Sound
In May 1890, Mr. and Mrs. Langley followed their daughter, Celeste, and son-in-law, Howard B. Slauson to Seattle. The Seattle City directory of 1893-94 gives the address of the Langley-Slauson law office as 61-62 Starr-Boyd Building and the Langley residence at 1004 Kenney. The family now is not certain just where this latter street was located.
The 1897 directory lists the office at 709-11 New York block, the Slauson residence at 613 30th Ave. South and the Langleys at 1104 12th. In 1903, the Langleys moved to 1100 19th Ave. All these addresses were in what was considered at that time to be fine residential property.
Soon after he arrived, Langley became interested in the future of the Pacific Northwest. He and his next youngest brother, Andrew, who had also come west (no date on this) thought they saw possibilities on Whidbey Island.
A letter written Feb. 21, 1930 to George Kellog of Seattle by Jacob Anthes gives the following information about the Langley Land and Improvement Company. Anthes says: "In the spring of 1890 I succeeded in interesting J.W. Langley of Seattle in forming the Langley Company. The incorporators were Langley, C.W.