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Isaiah and Martha Lang papers


Isaiah and Martha Lang papers
Lang, Isaiah S. and Martha
Collection number:
0.5 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
State of Maryland and Historical Collections
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

This collection consists of the correspondence and business records of Isaiah S. and Martha Lang, New Hampshire farmers. It includes significant groupings of letters from Lang's uncle, David M. Sanborn, a Baltimore physician, and from relatives farming on the Minnesota frontier. The letters from Sanborn are especially interesting in light of their particular references to economic and social conditions in a "border state" immediately before and during the Civil War.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Isaiah and Martha Lang papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Alternate formats:

Digital copies of the letters in this collection are available at in the University of Maryland's Digital Collections.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Isaiah Sanborn Lang, a farmer, was born in 1823 and lived in Candia Village, New Hampshire. Lang married Martha Ladd in 1848, and they had several children. During the 1860s, he farmed the old family homestead with its "stony" ground, while many of his relatives moved to the Minnesota frontier, where one wrote that the "soil is deep and rich - there are no stones and the land don't need manureing." Lang's farming activities included raising sheep and making maple syrup. He was also involved in selling real estate and preparing tax returns.

Lang corresponded with many of his relatives, particularly cousins and his maternal uncle, David Marston Sanborn of Baltimore, Maryland. Sanborn was born in New Hampshire in 1801 and became a physician after graduating from Bowdoin College. His first wife, Esther, died in the late 1850s. They had one daughter, Martha Sanborn Hood. In 1863, Sanborn married a twenty-year old woman, Amanda Jester, forty years his junior. After several years, they drifted apart, and Amanda spent prolonged periods of time with her family in Delaware. Sanborn was a landowner in Baltimore City and Howard County, owning at one time five houses in the city and two farms in Howard County. He died after a prolonged illness on July 24, 1873 and was interred at Elkridge Landing.

Before David M. Sanborn's death, he turned over the deeds and title to everything he owned to Isaiah S. Lang, and named him executor of his estate. When Isaiah arrived in Baltimore, Sanborn's widow and daughter thought that he had come to help them with the affairs of the estate. They were surprised to learn that Isaiah intended to assert his claim and dispose of the property. Amanda and Martha hired an attorney who brought suit against Lang on behalf of Amanda and Martha asking that the deeds be declared invalid and that the doctor's property be restored to his widow and daughter. In February 1874, the Circuit Court of Baltimore City handed down a decree denying the claims of Amanda and Martha Hood upon the estate of Dr. David Sanborn. Justice Pinckney expressed his condemnation of Dr. Sanborn's acts but went on to say that the deeds were bona fide and within the law and were therefore valid. This decision was appealed to the Maryland Court of Appeals. On July 1, 1874, the Court of Appeals of the State of Maryland, after having read the proceedings of the Circuit Court of Baltimore City and hearing the arguments of both attorneys, overturned the decision of the lower court (Court of Appeals of Maryland 41 Md. 107; 1874). They found that a husband could strip himself and his wife of all his possessions at will but he could not do so with the sole and fraudulent intent to deprive her of the property and to keep her from his estate.

Isaiah Lang died in 1904.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The papers of Isaiah S. and Martha Lang span the period 1858 to 1928 and consist of correspondence to Lang and his wife from various relatives and a small amount of business records. Approximately one-half of the correspondence is from Lang's maternal uncle, David M. Sanborn. All the Sanborn correspondence was written from Maryland locations, including Baltimore City, Marriottsville (Howard County), and Hanover (Howard County). In his letters, Sanborn calls himself an abolitionist, although he mentions his slave, Elize, several times. He also discusses economic and social conditions in Baltimore during the Civil War.

Additional correspondents of the Isaiah and Martha Lang include relatives who moved to the frontier area of Minnesota: Ann Jane Campbell, A. E. Clay, Elizabeth Clay, James P. Clay and Ursula Stone. These letters contain economic and domestic information about frontier farming in Minnesota. A teacher friend, W. A. Worthen, of Laurel, Maryland also wrote several letters to Isaiah Lang describing his new life in the "South" and providing information about Lang's uncle, David M. Sanborn.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland College Park Libraries purchased the papers of Isaiah S. and Martha Lang from Carmen D. Valentino in 1989.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Jonathan Jeffrey, November 1989. Revised by Jennie A. Levine, January 2003.

Processing note:

Two series have been created from the papers. All envelopes have been discarded. Paper clips have been removed and replaced with plastic clips. The materials have been put into acid-free folders in an acid-free box.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup created by Henry Allen, June 2004.

Arrangement of Collection

The collection is organized as two series.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Correspondence, 1858-1874 (0.5 linear feet)

This series consists of correspondence from family, friends, and acquaintances to Isaiah S. and Martha Lang of Candia Village, New Hampshire. Arrangement is alphabetical by correspondent.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Jona[than] Brown (Online), 1862 and undated series 1box 1folder 1
Ann Jane Campbell (Online), 1866-1869 series 1box 1folder 2
Calvin Clark (Online), 1858 series 1box 1folder 3
A. E. Clay (Online), 1868 series 1box 1folder 4
Elizabeth Clay (Online), 1870 series 1box 1folder 5
George H. Clay (Online), 1869 series 1box 1folder 6
James P. Clay (Online), 1864-1870 series 1box 1folder 7
Henry W. Clemons (Online), 1860 series 1box 1folder 8
Sarah E. Coswell (Online), undated series 1box 1folder 9
James W. Denny (Online), 1874 series 1box 1folder 10
Mary N. Gates (Online), 1866 series 1box 1folder 11
Hannah Goodnow (Online), 1865 series 1box 1folder 12
H. R. Gregg (Online), 1873-1874 series 1box 1folder 13
Martha Hood (Online), 1867-1878 series 1box 1folder 14
Daniel B. Ladd (Online), 1868 series 1box 1folder 15
F. P. Lang (Online), 1866 series 1box 1folder 16
Ira M. Lang (Online), 1873 series 1box 1folder 17
J. Lang (Online), 1874 series 1box 1folder 18
B. L. Morrison (Online), 1873 series 1box 1folder 19
J. S. Robinson (Online), 1862-1864 series 1box 1folder 20
Lissie Robinson (Online), 1868 series 1box 1folder 21
Amanda J. Sanborn (Online), 1873 series 1box 1folder 22
David M. Sanborn (Online), 1859-1863 series 1box 1folder 23
David M. Sanborn (Online), 1864-1869 series 1box 1folder 24
David M. Sanborn (Online), 1870-1873 and undated series 1box 1folder 25
H. H. Simmons (Online), 1861 series 1box 1folder 26
Ursula S. Stone (Online), 1864-1867 and undated series 1box 1folder 27
Mahala Ann Sweeten (Online), 1866-1867 series 1box 1folder 28
J. A. Tappan (Online), 1870 series 1box 1folder 29
James T. Tarrell (Online), 1861 series 1box 1folder 30
Sarah A. Woodbury (Online), 1863-1867 series 1box 1folder 31
W. A. Worthen (Online), 1858-1861 series 1box 1folder 32

Series 2: Business Records, 1860-1928 (0.5 linear inches)

This series consists of one file of sundry business correspondence addressed by Isaiah Lang. Arrangement is Chronological.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Business Records (Online), 1860-1928 and undated series 2box 1folder 33

Related Material

Information about the court case between Amanda J. Sanborn and Isaiah S. Lang may be found in Maryland. Court of Appeals, Reports of cases argued and determined in the Court of Appeals of Maryland. Baltimore, Md.: John Murphy, 1869-1950. Citation: 41 Md. 107; 1874.

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.


Names (Added Entries)