John Lange, Jr.
1840 – 1916
The son of Louisa Lang, a slave, and John Lang, Sr., Lange was born in Kentucky on October 4, 1840. He moved to Missouri with his family in 1850 when the husband of the woman who owned his mother, James Shannon, became the president of the University of Missouri.
Lange worked in his father’s butcher shop and helped to build the first permanent black school in Columbia. He later became a public works contractor and supervised the construction of roads. In 1880, he met the young piano prodigy John William Boone. Lange was so impressed with the fifteen-year-old, that he made an arrangement with the boy’s mother, Rachel Boone Hendricks. He agreed to manage Boone’s education, musical training and professional career. In return, Mrs. Hendricks would receive a portion of the proceeds from Boone’s performances and at age 21, Boone would become a partner in the touring company. For the next 36 years, Lange managed Boone’s successful career and the Blind Boone Company. Because he had never received a formal education, Lange learning how to read and write so he could better manage the Boone Company records.
Late in life, Lange moved to Kansas City, where he died of a heart attack he suffered after a car accident in 1916.