Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Louise Agnes Merkle Langan, 1870-1950
By Mona Reno, Nevada Women's History Project
Vice-President and President of the Storey County branch of the Nevada Equal Franchise Society, Vice-President of the Nevada Equal Franchise Society
Louise Agnes Merkle was born May 4, 1870, in Virginia City, Storey County, Nevada, to Thomas and Mary Merkle. Thomas Merkle, of German heritage by way of Ohio, worked as a butcher, and Mary Merkle was from Ireland. Louise Merkle married a young lawyer named Francis “Frank” Patrick Langan, who was also from Virginia City. He became a prominent judge, and they were active in their community and supported equal suffrage. Louise and Frank Langan had six children.
In April 1912, the Storey County branch of the Nevada Equal Franchise Society was formed. At that meeting, Louise Langan was elected vice president, and Judge Langan presided and gave an address. By 1914, Louise Langan was serving as the president of the county branch. In the same year at the second annual convention of the Nevada Equal Franchise Society in Reno, Langan was elected sixth vice president, representing Storey. Also that year, she was elected vice president of the Relief Corps in Virginia City.
In August 1914, Sara Bard Field discussed the Nevada suffrage movement in Out West magazine. In the article titled “Clash in Nevada,” Field noted the influence of Louise Langan and the “excellent suffrage sentiment” in Storey County. Field went on to discuss the “blowing of whistles” to commemorate Woman's Independence Day on May 2. In Field's eyes, Langan was a key suffragist in this part of Nevada.
From 1920 to 1930, Storey County experienced a crash in mining, and the population dropped from 1,469 to 667. The Langan family was part of that decrease; after fifty years in Storey, they moved to California. Frank Langan died in San Francisco in 1929. Louise Langan continued to live in the Bay Area, and in in the 1930 US census, she was working as an assembler in an auto body factory.
Louise Langan died at age 89 in Oakland on January 2, 1950. She is buried with her husband at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, CA.
CAPTION: Louise Langan (Mrs. F.P.), ca.1914.
CREDIT: Sara Bard Field, “Clash in Nevada: A History of Woman's Fight for Enfranchisement, the Nevada Suffrage Fight,” Out West: A Magazine of the Old Pacific and the New, August 1914, p.60. HathiTrust.
Field, Sara Bard. “Clash in Nevada: A History of Woman's Fight for Enfranchisement, the Nevada Suffrage Fight.” Out West: A Magazine of the Old Pacific and the New. August 1914, pp. 51-66. HathiTrust.
“Former Nevadan Taken by Death.” Nevada State Journal (Reno, NV). January 3, 1950, p.2. Newspapers.com.
Francis P. Langan, in the California, Death Index, 1905-1939, via Ancestry.com.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. “Nevada.” Chapter XXVII in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, 394-409. [LINK]
Hutcheson, Austin E., ed. “The Story of the Nevada Equal Suffrage Campaign: Memoirs of Anne Martin.” University of Nevada Bulletin 42, no. 7 (August 1948). Accessed March 19, 2019. https://suffrage100nv.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/The-Story-of-the-Nevada-Equal-Suffrage-Campaign.pdf.
“Miss Martin Remains as Suffrage Leader.” Nevada State Journal (Reno, NV). February 25, 1914, p.8. Newspapers.com.
Nevada Equal Suffrage Society, ed.“Woman Suffrage Department.” Reno Gazette-Journal (Reno, NV). April 30, 1912, p.10. Newspapers.com.
Nevada, Marriage Index, 1860-1987, via Ancestry.com.
United States Census 1870, 1880, s.v “Louise Merkle, Storey County, NV.” HeritageQuest.
United States Census 1900, 1910, 1920, s.v “Louise Langan, Storey County, NV.” HeritageQuest.
United States Census 1930, s.v “Louise Langan, Oakland, CA.” HeritageQuest.