Biography of Hon. J. O. Langness

Hon. J. O. Langness is an enterprising citizen and public-spirited man of affairs. Born in Norway in 1839, he immigrated to America in 1866 and settled in Minnesota. Recognizing the potential for a Norwegian colony, he selected the county of Minnehaha in Dakota as the ideal location. Langness played a crucial role in the development of the region, establishing a thriving village called Baltic. He excelled as an agriculturist, expanding his farm to four hundred acres and deriving income from stock raising. Langness actively participated in public affairs, holding various positions and serving his community faithfully. Highly esteemed, he remains a loyal American citizen while cherishing his Norwegian heritage.

Hon. J. O. Langness.— This enterprising citizen and public-spirited man of affairs is an American by adoption, having been born near the city of Throndheim, Norway, on October 22, 1839. He was reared and educated in the romantic land of his nativity and grew to manhood’s estate as a tiller of the soil, which honorable calling he pursued at the place of his birth until 1866. His early home training, under the tutelage of industrious, pious parents, was such as to foster habits of industry and arouse a laudable ambition to be of some use in the world. Accordingly, while still young, he matured plans for his future course of action, and by following the same became in due time a symmetrically developed man of noble aims, generous impulses, and high ideals. On May 1, 1866, he was united in marriage with Miss Anna Kringen, a native of Norway, whose birth occurred May 16, 1842, and the same spring he started with his young wife for America, taking passage on a sailing vessel that was seven weeks at sea before reaching its destination. Immediately after landing, Mr. Langness proceeded directly to Minnesota, where he remained until 1868, in the spring of which year, in company with three others, he started out to select a favorable location for a colony of his countrymen desirous of settling in some part of the northwest. In the prosecution of his mission, he traveled over the northwestern part of Minnesota, covering about thirty counties, and from Minnesota came to the county of Minnehaha in Dakota as the section of the country best suited to meet the conditions required by the colony. Satisfied with the location, he at once took up a homestead in Section 5 of what is now Sverdrup Township, and in due time was joined by others who laid claims to adjacent lands, and it was not long until the township was settled by an intelligent, thrifty class of people who, more than any others, have contributed to the development and material prosperity of this part of the state. Mr. Langness began life in the new country in a modest way, but in the course of a few years, he was able to replace his pioneer dwelling with a larger and more comfortable modern structure and to add other improvements from time to time until he now has a beautiful farm of about four hundred acres, which is not only one of the most beautiful and attractive places in the township of Sverdrup but also one of the best cultivated and most valuable in the county. As an agriculturist, Mr. Langness is enterprising, progressive, and keeps fully abreast of the times, and in addition to tilling the soil, he derives no small income from stock raising, which industry he has pursued in recent years with a large measure of financial success.

Mr. Langness platted and laid out the town of Baltic, Minnehaha County, a thriving village and important commercial center of much promise, the growth of which is almost entirely attributable to the interest he has manifested in its behalf. Since coming to South Dakota, he has been active and influential in the public affairs of his township and county, having filled nearly every position within the gift of the former, besides holding two important offices in the latter. He served two terms as county surveyor, and in 1896 was elected treasurer of the county, the duties of which responsible trust he discharged in an able and satisfactory manner, proving a popular as well as a safe custodian of the public funds. In addition to the positions noted, he represented Minnehaha County one term in the state legislature, and as a member of that body, he served his constituents faithfully and well, never losing sight of their interests and at the same time using his best endeavors to further the welfare of the state. Mr. Langness easily ranks with the most energetic, public-spirited men of the county in which he resides and has done as much as any of his contemporaries to promote its development. His influence is always on the right side of every moral question, and he discharges the duties of citizenship with the objective of benefiting the body politic and advancing the varied interests of the commonwealth. Inheriting the sturdy character and sterling qualities of head and heart for which his nationality is noted, he has used the same to excellent advantage since becoming a citizen of the United States, and although retaining warm feelings and tender recollections of the land of his forefathers, he is now a true American citizen, loyal to the laws of his adopted country and earnest in his efforts to uphold and maintain its institutions. In politics, he affiliated with the Republican Party, and as such has become a leader of his party in Minnehaha County, being active and influential in its councils and a zealous worker for its success during the progress of campaigns. In 1892, he cast in his lot with the Populist Party and has held their views ever since, having taken the stump for General Weaver.

Personally, Mr. Langness is universally esteemed, as his friendships are strong and lasting, his relations with his fellow men honorable, his integrity above suspicion, and his private life and character such as to commend him to the confidence of all with whom he comes into contact. Religiously, he is a member of the Norwegian Lutheran Church, in which faith he was born and raised and to the teachings of which he has always remained loyal. Mrs. Langness is also a Lutheran and, along with her husband, is interested in all the religious and benevolent work of the local organization to which she belongs. To Mr. and Mrs. Langness have been born eight children, four of whom died young. The following are the names of the living members of the family: Erik L., Julia J., Maria J., and Oline J.


Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota: together with mention of Citizens of South Dakota, [Logansport? IN] : B. F. Bowen, 1904.

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