LANG, WILLIS L. (1830-1862). Willis L. Lang, planter, Texas Ranger, and Confederate Army officer, the youngest of five children of William A. and Temperance (Thurman) Lang, was born on November 29, 1830, in Wayne County, Mississippi. He and his brother William W. Lang were educated in their family's plantation school and subsequently attended Oakland College in Claiborne County. The two brothers divided the honor of graduating first in their class of 1848. Willis read law in the office of his brother-in-law, Thomas P. Faulkner, in Alabama, but upon the death of his father in 1849 he returned to Mississippi to administer the plantation. Two years of failed crops, however, induced him to move to Texas. Lang settled twelve miles from the Falls County community of Marlin by February 20, 1856. In April 1860, he enlisted as what he called a "high private" in Capt. J. M. Smith's company of "Waco Rangers"; he served until the following September on a campaign against marauding Kickapoos and Comanches. As Lang had expected, the company did not get into an Indian fight but enjoyed "a grand buffalo hunt." Lawrence Sullivan Ross became the company's captain in an election held on May 20, and Lang was elected lieutenant.
At the time of secession from the Union, Lang raised a company of lancers for Confederate service. This unit was mustered into the Army at Camp Sibley near San Antonio on September 2, 1861, as Company B of Gen. Thomas Green's Fifth Texas Mounted Volunteers. At the battle of Valverde, Lang suffered a severe wound and was left behind at the Socorro Hospital when Gen. Henry H. Sibley's army retreated toward Fort Bliss. Suffering intense pain and conscious of the fact that recovery was impossible, Lang ordered his body servant to bring him his revolver, with which he committed suicide on March 2, 1862. A typescript of his diary is located in the Barker Texas History Center, at the University of Texas at Austin.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Thomas W. Cutrer, ed., "`My Wild Hunt After Indians': The Journal of Willis L. Lang, 23 April-7 September 1860," Military History of the Southwest 21 (Spring 1991). Martin Hardwick Hall, The Confederate Army of New Mexico (Austin: Presidial Press, 1978). A Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell, and Coryell Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893; rpt., St. Louis: Ingmire, 1984).
Thomas W. Cutrer
Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/LL/fla30.html (accessed January 4, 2009).
"My father, James Bolivar Billingsley, was a son of Hezekiah Billingsley, and was born in Hinds County, Mississippi, March 27th,1828. My grandfather, Hezekiah Billingsley, was a descendent of Scotch ancestry, who emigrated to Union County, North Carolina in the year 1755. My grandmother, Jerush Lang, was the daughter of William Lang, of Chesterfield district, South Carolina, who was one of the bold riders in Captain Francis Marions' famous cavalry command in the Revolutionary War.
"Grandmother was the sister of Willis, Stephen and William A. Lang of Wayne County, Mississippi, and lived for several years with the family of General William A. Lang, finally settling in the city of Jackson, Hinds County, where grandfather Billingsley died in 1842. He left two children, a daughter, Caroline, who was married to Samuel Cole and who moved to Cass County, Texas, and a son James Boliver, my father, who was thirteen years of age at the time of grandfathers death.
"Soon after the death of grandfather Billingsley, my uncle General William A. Lang moved my mother and my father to his house in Wayne County, where they became members of the family. My father was treated as a son and my uncle William gave him the same consideration as his own children. To my uncle and his wife my father and my grandmother was indebted for a home and all the care and kindness that could be showered upon them. My grandmother Billingsley died in 1847. "My father was sent to the common schools of the county and then placed in Montrose Academy, under the Rev. John N. Waddle, where he remained until the death of his mother. At that time there were private finishing schools in the state, it was the custom for young men and women to attend these schools. His preference was for the industrial pursuits.
"In 1849, General Lang died but father still remained in the family, and in 1850, his uncle John Bolls Billingsley died, leaving him an estate of about 5,000. With this sum and such contributions as were made to him by his cousins, the Langs, he commenced business as a farmer. In November, of 1850, he was united in marriage to Miss Virginia C. Shaw, daughter of Judge [?]. [?]. Shaw and his wife [maryllis?] Shaw, of [eyne?] County, Mississippi. To them were born six children, I was the only one who lived to mature years.
"At the battle of Val Verde during the War between the states, father's cousin, Captain Willis Lang, who had raised a company at Marlin, and was mortally wounded at this battle, left the Brazos bottom plantation to my father, in a will he made before he left to enter the Confederate service. And in November of 1865 my father moved from Mississippi to Falls County Taxes where he took possession of this estate. His success as a farmer was complete. At one time it was said of him that he was the largest tax-payer in Falls County. The tribute paid by his friends was all any one could desire. After his death my mother moved to Waco where we lived for a few years and later moved to Marlin and lived until her death in 1922. She was buried in the family cemetery near the town of Perry, where my father and the children lie.
"Captain Willis Lang who bequeathed his estate to my father, who was his cousin and whose relationship were as brothers, was born November 29th, in 1839. He was the son of General William Lang, who was a native of South Carolina. They were parents of five children, Clement D. Albine, who was married to Willis L. Horne, in 1847; Jerusha E., who was married to Thomas [?]. Falconer; William and Willis.
"The family moved from South Carolina in 1817, locating near Winchester in Wayne County, Mississippi. On their way to Mississippi they passed through the Creek Indian nation who were in hostility to the whites at that time. After many narrow escapes they reached their destination and settled on a plantation as farmers. Captain Willis was reared at home, receiving his preliminary education at the plantation school. When he reached sufficient age he was sent to Oxford, where he was graduated with honors. He lived about home for a time, then entered the law office of his brother-in-law, Mr. Falconer, of Alabama and began reading law until he left for war.