About Nathaniel Pitt Langford
NATHANIEL PITT LANGFORD. Born in Oneida County, N.Y., Aug. 9, 1832; died in St. Paul, Minn., Oct. 18, 1909. A member of the 1870 Washburn party of Yellowstone explorers, author of a book on the expedition and one of the group that worked for establishment of Yellowstone National Park. As the 11th of 13 children born to George and Chloe (Sweeting) Langford, his formal education was limited to what was available at a rural district school, where the schooling was fitted into the slack season between fall harvesting and spring plowing. Though his youth included more farming than schooling, he developed into a well-informed young man?probably one of the advantages of having many older sisters. Langford remained at home until after the death of his father in 1853, when he removed to St. Paul, Minn., and entered the banking business (he already had 2 years experience as a clerk in the Oneida Bank of Utica). He stayed in St. Paul until 1862, and in June of that year he joined an expedition bound for the Idaho gold fields under the guidance of James L. Fisk. The overland trip, accomplished by following a route north of the Missouri River, required 3 months, during which the party had many adventures. Arriving first at Gold Creek in Deer Lodge County, they went next to Bannack after the discovery of gold there. In 1863, Langford moved to yet another strike?at Alder Gulch?and he was present when the first building was erected at Virginia City. He returned to the East that year and enroute his party had a narrow escape from the desperados of Plummer's gang. Two months after the establishment of the Territory of Montana, Langford was commissioned Collector of Internal Revenue on July 15, 1864. He held the position until 1868, when he was removed by President Andrew Johnson, but reinstated by the Senate. Almost before the tumult had died down, Langford resigned his position of collector on the understanding that Johnson would appoint him to the governorship of Montana. However, the Senate, having fought to secure one position for him, refused to confirm another, so Langford was out of a job. The year following his visit to the Yellowstone region Langford lectured in the East and worked for reservation of its wonders for the public benefit. After a national park was established, he became its first superintendent, holding that position from May 10, 1872, until Apr. 18, 1877, when he was replaced by Philetus W. Norris. The first superintendency was a sterile period during which the park was neither developed nor protected; indeed, one man, without appropriated funds and already fully employed as U.S. Bank Examiner for the Territories and Pacific Coast States, could hardly have been expected to do more than he did?make three brief visits to the area and prepare one report. Langford married Emma Wheaton, the daughter of a St. Paul physician, Nov. 1, 1876, but his bride died soon after. Eight years later, he married again to Clara Wheaton, sister of his first wife. After 1885, his life centered in St. Paul, where he engaged in the insurance business and, beginning in 1897, served as president of the Ramsey County Board of Control, handling city and county relief matters until his death from injuries received in a fall. Sources: Olin D. Wheeler, "Nathaniel Pitt Langford," in Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society 15 (1912), pp. 631-68; A. W. Orton, "Some Scattered Thoughts On The Early Life of N. P. Langford," an unpublished manuscript in the Yellowstone Park Reference Library (1966); and the Langford Papers in the manuscript collection of the Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.