Lang, John J. (1838–1891)

By: David Minor

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: March 1, 1995

John J. Lang, rancher, soldier, and financier, was born on July 20, 1838, on his father's farm in Pickens County, Alabama. He moved with his family to Carroll County, Mississippi, where his father established a successful plantation that Lang helped manage until the outbreak of the Civil War. Although he argued that Mississippi should remain in the Union, once the state voted in favor of secession, he volunteered for the Confederate Army. He served with the Eleventh Mississippi Regiment under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. At the battle of Seven Pines in the spring of 1862 he was shot in the face and subsequently lost an eye. He returned to Carroll County to recuperate and assist his father. In February 1863 he married Phronia Pittman of Carroll, Mississippi. The couple had two daughters. From 1862 until 1868 Lang worked on the plantation. Along with other Confederates, he followed his father to Brazil in 1868. There he and his nephew W. E. Cobb purchased land and slaves and built a successful farming and stock-raising operation. In 1874, after his father died, he sold his land in Brazil and left for Florida. He again turned to farming, this time introducing South American fruits to American soil. Dissatisfied with the venture, he moved to Decatur, Texas, in the mid-1870s. With Cobb as his partner Lang purchased a considerable amount of rangeland in Wise and Clay counties. In 1879 he sold his interest in his various ranching operations and concentrated his efforts on real estate. Within a decade he became one of the largest real estate holders in the area. Using the money collected in this business, he organized the First National Bank of Decatur. In addition to serving four consecutive terms as alderman and contributing money to the building of the Decatur Baptist Church, he was a Royal Arch Mason, an Odd Fellow, a Knight of Pythias, and a Woodman of the World. He died of pneumonia on December 20, 1891.

James Cox, Historical and Biographical Record of the Cattle Industry (2 vols., St. Louis: Woodward and Tiernan Printing, 1894, 1895; rpt., with an introduction by J. Frank Dobie, New York: Antiquarian, 1959).
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen
Time Periods:
  • Reconstruction

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

David Minor, “Lang, John J.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995