Alexander County

Biography - Peter T. Langan

PETER T. LANGAN. A man whose perseverance, industry and business sagacity has been largely instrumental in the establishment of one of Cairo's greatest industries is Peter T. Langan, a man in whom those potential elements that are essential in every successful career seem to center. He has been a citizen of Cairo since 1872. His advent hither marked the entry of an orphan boy without influential friends to equip him for life's battles or to make an opening for a successful career, and while he has won the fight and placed himself upon a footing with the strong men of commercial and financial power in this city, his achievement has only come after many sacrifices, numerous disappointments and embarrassing situations, to detail which it is not the province of this sketch to do.

Peter T. Langan was born near Louisville, Kentucky, June 16, 1859. He was the only child of his parents, and his mother died in 1861, soon after which date his father seemed to have abandoned him and left him to the care and keeping of his grandmother. When she died in 1872 his anchor to a home was cut off, and he came to a relative in Cairo. He saw so little of a schoolroom that he can hardly be said to have acquired any education as a lad, and the necessity of the situation placed him in the employ of a mill owner and for two years he took his first lessons about a sawmill, which service proved to be the entering wedge to his greatest achievement. Mr. Langan next learned the machinists trade in the shop of J. B. Reed, of Cairo, a business that is yet a part of modern Cairo, but when he had completed his service he resumed work in a sawmill with T. W. Leahigh, and remained with him eight years. He then became yard foreman for the Cairo Box Factory with DeMoncourt & Halliday, and acquired additional education in the lumber business there. Having accumulated some little capital, he purchased a sawmill and went into the forest region of southeastern Missouri, where he was engaged for five years in cutting lumber, during which time he laid the real foundation for a business career. Having acquired capital, Mr. Langan now returned to Cairo and purchased the old J. V. Allen lumber yard, founded by Samuel Walters, and the main retail yard of the city, and from 1892 to the present his time has been devoted to the expansion of his business to cover all departments relating to house-building and to the development of a planing mill business with a capacity requisite to the demands of an area embracing portions of five states and ranking as a first-class builders' supply factory. His mill and yards cover more than three blocks in the business section of the city and his various industries give employment to a small army of men. He does both a wholesale and a are doors, sash, blinds, mouldings, stairs, balusters, newels, stair-retail business and his billhead shows that his chief articles of stock railings, mantels, frames, dressed and rough lumber, lath, shingles, store counters, shelving, scroll sawing and turning, brackets, flooring, ceiling, weather-boarding, builders' hardware and paints. The management of his varied and complex enterprise requires all the time that a busy man ought to devote to each working day, and it is this continuous application for the past twenty years which has built up his inter-state reputation and brought him from the area of rough waters to a smooth sea and a safe harbor.

Mr. Langan is a director in the Cairo National Bank and of the Central Building and Loan Association. He is a member of the Board of Trade, of the Commercial Club and of the Retail Merchants' Association. His attitude toward his city has earned him recognition among those who are counted upon to do responsible service for the municipality, and he has frequently been selected by the Mayor, as well as by the Governor of Illinois, to act as delegate to conventions which meet to discuss deep waterways and other subjects pertaining to improved facilities for domestic transportation. He has acquired other property interests in Cairo beside his immense mill and business property. He is an Elk and a Knight of Columbus, and his religious affiliation is with the Catholic church.

Mr. Langan was first married in October, 1883, and to this union there were born the following children: William, who is associated with his father in business; Edwin, who is married and in business at Mounds, Illinois; and Mabel and Edith. His second marriage was with Miss Minnie Rennie, and by this union there are Mary, Jamie, Peter T., Jr., Frances Cecile and George Parsons, the latter named in honor of the distinguished mayor of Cairo. In conclusion it may be said of Mr. Langan that he has been one of those who have believed in the future of his city and by his active and progressive spirit has done much to promote its industrial growth. He has never been actuated by any narrow, selfish motives, but, prospering himself, he has enjoyed the prosperity of others, knowing that the welfare of one individual alone never furthers but only retards the growth of a community. He has been upright and honorable in all his dealings with his fellowmen and has merited the respect and esteem in which he is universally held.

Extracted from 1912 History of Southern Illinois, Volume 2, pages 644-646.


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