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Frank S. Lang

F. S. LANG is a Nome hardware merchant. In the language of the West, "he is a hustler," possessing both capacity and willingness to do the work of two men. He was born in Austria, October 4, 1855, and went to America when only thirteen years old. He is the second son of a family of twelve children. On his arrival in this country he started to learn the tin smith's trade in Mannetowock, Wisconsin. His salary at the beginning was two â– dollars a week, but by his aptitude and industry it was only a short time until he was earning journeyman's wages, two dollars the day.

He went to Chicago in 1870, arriving in that city one month before the devastating fire. After the fire the rebuilding of the city created a strong demand for the kind of labor he was able to furnish, and being an excellent and a rapid workman he made money fast. He left Chicago in 1876, going to the Lake Superior country, and thence to the Black Hills, arriving in Deadwood May 10, 1877. His experiences in the West were many and varied. He built the first road from Grayville to Spearfish, and did many other kinds of work by which honest money could be earned. From the Black Hills he drifted back to Iowa, and from Iowa he went to Nebraska, where he learned the farmer's art of husking corn. In the spring of 1880 he was back again in Montana. After an industrious career of several years and the saving of his earnings he engaged in the hardware business in Helena, and in 1893 had established a large and profitable business. The temptation to make money quickly in mining enterprises resulted in the serious impairment of his fortunes, and in the spring of 1900 he left his business in Montana and came to Nome, bringing with him the tools of his trade and the materials for the establishment of a tin shop in the new mining camp. He is one of Nome's successful business men, but in Nome as in Helena he was tempted to engage in mining ventures. The unexplained and unexplainable something that we call luck which pursues some men like a blood-hound in certain lines of work attended his Nome mining experiences, and he got nipped again; but not so seriously this time as on the previous occasion. Mr. Lang thinks that he has acquired wisdom by experience and that in the future "the shoemaker will stick to his last."

Mr. Lang has an active brain as well as an active body. He has an inventive mind, and several of his inventions are very useful commodities, possessing a commercial value. The Nome country is treeless. A stunted growth of willows is the only available fuel for the prospector and miner of the interior. Mr. Lang has invented a stove to burn this kind of fuel, and its popularity is attested by the tremendous demand for it. He has a sharp eye for business, and during his career in Nome has bought thirteen different stocks of goods, most of them from stores going out of business. He has established a branch store in Fairbanks, the new town in the promising mining region of the Tanana. Mr. Lang is the owner of the Federal Jail property in Nome.

It has been a long time since Mr. Lang left his native land, so long that he shows no trace of foreign birth or mannerism, but he has never forgotten "the old folks at home." Every years since he was fifteen years old he has sent them money, and this is a testimony of his filial devotion. June 4, 1884, Mr. Lang was married in Montana to Miss Julia Carter. Mrs. Lang still resides in Helena.  

Source: Nome and Seward Peninsula by R. S. Harrison. Seattle: The Metropolitan Press, 1905.




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