John Batiste Lang, Sr.

John Batiste Lang, Sr.

1802 – 1879

John Batiste Lang, Sr. was a free French Creole from Louisiana who was married to Louisa, a slave belonging to the wife of James Shannon. He moved to Columbia in 1850 when Shannon became the president of the University of Missouri.

Lang opened a successful butcher shop at the corner of Fourth and Cherry streets in 1851. Some claim it was only meat market in Columbia at the time. Because of his connection to Shannon, he received a contract to provide Christian (now Columbia) College with meat. He also secured a contract in the last year of the Civil War to provide Columbia’s home guard troops, known as tigers, with meat.

After the war, Lang opened what may have been Columbia’s first grocery store on Broadway, where he sold meat, vegetables and no perishable goods. He also owned a dairy on the south side of Broadway, across from what is now Stephens Lake Park.

Lang helped organize Columbia’s first school for African American children. The Cummings Academy met his home during its first year. Second Baptist Church also met in his home until 1870, when they built their own facility.