Marshall County SDGenWeb: N. P. "Tan" Langford Biography

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N. P. "Tan" Langford Biography
Submitted by Tom Langford, July 9, 1999

We had our re-union and it was wonderful to get the family together in a place that meant so much to so many of us and yet we had never been to the place...only heard of the history and what N. P.Langford had to do with what was the western reaches of our land.

I can give you a thumbnail sketch of the fellow here and there is more in the books about the discovery of Yellowstone. N. P. (also known as Tan) was involved in the planning of the Washburn Langford expedition to survey what was known as the Lewis and Clark discovery of the Northern territories. None believed the tales brought back by the "mountain men" regarding the incredible natural beauty of the area and the awesome sights that abounding throughtout Yellowstone.

Tan was involved as a "tax collector" for the revenue service of the Federal Gov't and a U. S. Marshall in the Dakota Territory and found some of the tales to be somewhat credible because he couldn't believe that such incredible stories could be completely "made up". He asked that the Feds provide a protective militia to lead an expedition to survey this area and became one of the leading proponents in the effort to save the land for the enjoyment of the general public and insure that it never be developed as commercial property for individual gain.

He was a signatory of the National Park Act under President Grant and was to be the first secretary of the (newly formed) National Park Service. when President Johnson had his impeachment problems and that never happened sadly to say. Old N. P. returned to St. Paul (through your area) and became a respected social and business leader in the Insurance business. He was also an activist in social causes and well on in life had a disagreement with another gentleman on the steps of City hall in St. Paul, took a swing, and slipped on the ice and fell and died hours later.

He is still remembered as one of the "Discoverers of the Yellowstone" as a part of the Washburn Langford expedition. He is buried in Oakland Cemetary in St Paul close to J. J. Hill (who some suggest he collaborated with to develop the plains area, although it has not been shown to be true).





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