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From Indiana County to Capitol Hill: The Congressional Representatives Who Called Our Community Home

Throughout Indiana County’s history, we have been represented by some notable figures in Washington D.C.  Augustus Drum and Alexander Wilson Taylor were the first two Indiana County residents to represent the county in the U.S. Congress, from 1853-55 and 1872-74, respectively. 

Others followed in their footsteps: Harry White (1877-80), John Denniston Patton (1883-85), Summers M. Jack (1898-1902), and Jonathan Nicholas Langham (1911-16). 

Harry White

Harry White served in the 45th and 46th Congresses.  He was a colorful, somewhat controversial figure, who loomed large on the Indiana County pollical scene.  When he tried for a third term, he was defeated by James Mosgrove of Armstrong County. 

John Denniston Patton

The next to follow was John Denniston Patton, who was born in Indiana on November 28, 1829.  He was the son of John and Charlotte Denniston Patton.  Charlotte’s father was John Denniston, who had one of the first stores in Indiana and was the first postmaster; when John died, John Patton took over the store and continued until his death in 1838. 

John D. Patton worked in a tannery for several years before moving to Illinois and Kansas, where he lived from 1856-62.  When he returned to Indiana in 1867, he established a dry-goods store.  In 1876, he was appointed to serve on the Indiana Centennial Committee. 

In 1882, he was nominated for Congress on both the Democratic and Greenback tickets; although he lost Indiana County, he won the congressional district and served one term in the 48th Congress.  Apparently politics was not for Patton, as he declined renomination.  Patton died on February 22, 1904. 

Summers M. Jack

Summers M. Jack, was born in Summerville, Jefferson County on July 18, 1852, a son of Lowry and Cornelia Baldwin Jack.  He was named Summers after a great-uncle, Summers Baldwin, for whom Summerville was named. 

Jack attended the public schools of Jefferson County and then the Indiana Normal School.  He taught school for six years and was vice principal of Indiana High School. 

He studied law in the law office of Silas M. Clark and was admitted to the Indiana County Bar in 1879; after which he opened a law office with D.B. Taylor as Jack and Taylor. 

Jack was nominated for Congress at the Republican District Nominating Conference after 33 protracted ballots over a five-day session and was elected to the 56th Congress in 1898; he was re-elected in 1900. 

During his term, he was named to a commission of members of the Senate and House that went to the Philippine Islands in 1901 to inquire into the advisability of establishing a civil government.  Afterward, the commission made a voyage around the globe.

After his retirement, Jack and his wife, with a party of friends, visited the West Indies and Mexico.  Once he returned to Indiana, he resumed the practice of law and later took into partnership his son, James L. Jack, and grandson, James L. Jack Jr.  In 1902, he became a vice president and director of the Savings & Trust Co. of Indiana.  He was a member of the First United Presbyterian Church (Graystone) of Indiana, the Indiana Country Club and Elks Lodge 931 of Indiana. 

Jack died on September 16, 1945. 

Jonathan Nicholas Langham

The final person from Indiana County to represent the county in Washington, D.C. that we will discuss is Jonathan Nicholas Langham.  He was born in Grant Township on August 4, 1861 to Jonathan and Eliza Jane Barr Langham.  He grew up during the boom in rafting and logging of timber.  When he was only 10, he had a leg smashed between two sticks of timber near Cherry Tree. 

Langham attended the Purchase Line Academy and later the Indiana Normal School, graduating in 1882.  After teaching school a few years, he began the study of law with John N. Banks and was admitted to the Indiana County Bar in 1888.  He served a term as Republican chairman of Indiana County. 

On March 19, 1891, he was seriously burned when he attempted to relight a natural gas jet in the hallway of his office. 

He served as postmaster of Indiana from 1892-96, was assistance U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania for six years and was a special examiner for the U.S. Department of Justice. 

In June 1910, he defeated Harry White in the Republican primary election to receive his party’s nomination for Congress and was selected in November.  Langham served in the 61st, 62nd, and 63rd Congresses. 

By this time, he was the senior member of the law firm Langham, Elkin, and Creps.   

Langham was heavily involved in the community as well.  In 1906, he subscribed $500 to the stock of the Indiana County Railways co., which built the streetcar system. 

In 1915, Langham was elected judge of Indiana County in 1915 and re-elected in 1925.  He supported John S. Fisher for governor in 1926, participated in the dedication of the Benjamin Franklin (Route 422) in 1929 and greeted Admiral Richard E. Byrd when he visited Indiana that year. 

He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Indiana, a 33rd Degree Mason and past master of Indiana lodge 313, past noble grand of the Odd Fellows Indiana Lodge, and charter member of the Indiana Elks. 

Langham died on May 21, 1945.  If you are familiar with Indiana, Langham’s home still stands on the northwest corner of Ninth and Chestnut streets. 

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