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The Landis Brothers

The Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum is a 100-acre living history museum located on the site of a former rural crossroads village in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Founded by brothers Henry K. Landis and George Landis in 1925 and incorporated in 1941, it is now operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.[3] Its staff and volunteers collect, conserve, exhibit, and interpret Pennsylvania German material, culture, history and heritage from 1740 through 1940.

the landis brothers


Planning for the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum was undertaken during the early 1920s by brothers Henry K. Landis and George Landis, who had grown up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania during the 1870s and 1880s. With a shared interest in Pennsylvania history, and more specifically in Pennsylvania German history, they became active collectors of a range of historic artifacts, including antique furniture, arrowheads and other Native American relics, bullets, buttons, coins, Conestoga Wagons, dishes and glassware, farm equipment and tools, fossils, Fraktur, guns, pottery, and quilts. Following their retirement in 1924 from their respective careers as a mining and construction/sanitary engineer, the Landis brothers combined their respective collections at the Landis family's farm in Lancaster and, in 1925, officially opened many of their collected items to public viewing. As their holdings continued to grow and their educational attraction increased in popularity, they sought funding from the Carl Shurz Foundation to turn their buildings and collections into an official museum. The cultural attraction was then formally incorporated as the Landis Valley Museum in 1941, and a professional curator was hired to catalogue and display the brothers' collection. The foundation also facilitated the construction of a farm implement barn, gunsmith's shop, tavern, and wagon shed.[3][4]

In 1953, the aging Landis brothers deeded the museum and property to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which transformed the operation into a living history museum by reconstructing historic structures on adjacent properties purchased by the state in order to develop educational programs that would show groups of teachers and school children, families, tour groups, and other visitors, firsthand, how Pennsylvania Germans lived, farmed and operated their manufacturing businesses during the 18th century. Guides who were specially trained in the performance of period tasks and making of period crafts, and then dressed in period costumes, were also then added as curators and staff continued to refine the museum's educational offerings.[3]

A visit to Landis Valley Museum, actually a complex of more than two dozen buildings and structures, offers a glimpse into the lives of those who settled in Lancaster County, beginning in the early eighteenth century. An assemblage of workplaces of early craftspeople (such as the tin shop and the seamstress house), tidy farmhouses, a stone tavern, wagon sheds, and rustic barns, Landis Valley Museum seems as if it has always existed in this locale in Manheim Township, where early roadways converged just north of the city of Lancaster. Using this site as a museum was first conceived by two unusual individuals, brothers George D. and Henry K. Landis.

The ambitious and visionary brothers had many ideas for their museum but, unfortunately, they lacked the finances to implement them. Their goal to create a more formally organized museum was supported in 1940 with funds from the Oberlaender Trust of the Carl Shurz Foundation. Things began to fall into place, as the Tavern, Gun Shop, Wagon Shed, and Implement Shed were built. The museum was formally incorporated in 1941, and Henry and George were appointed curators.

In about 1874 brothers Franklin F. Landis and Abraham F. Landis started a small business, F. F. & A. B. Landis., for the manufacture of steam engines. They got into financial difficulty and in 1878 sold out to their large and successful neighbor, agricultural equipment maker Geiser Manufacturing Co. The brothers worked for Geiser, with Abraham as foreman of the engineering department of the machine shops, and subsequently in charge of their new tool department.

While working for Geiser, Abraham developed and patented a universal grinder. In January 1890 the two brothers amicably left Geiser and opened their own shop to manufacture the grinder, operating as Landis Brothers. This new business was modestly successful, albeit constrained by lack of capital. Then in 1897 they suffered a fire that destroyed their factory. With investments from other Wayneboro citizens, the Landis Tool Company was formed, with capitalization quickly increasing to $250,000 by 1902.

Our subject's father died when he was but one and a half years of age and he was taken by his mother back to her parents' home in Lancaster county, near Lititz. There he remained with his mother until he was ten years old, going then to an uncle, Jacob Haverstick, near Millersville, Lancaster county, where he spent two years, during which time he attended the Model School department of the State Normal School at Millersville. In the fall of 1866 he went to live with Christian Frantz, who resided on the New Holland pike, a few miles east from Lancaster City, and there he remained until the next spring, attending school that winter. His mother having removed to Lancaster City, Abraham B. joined her there in the spring of 1867, and there attended school until 1868, when he went to learn the machinist trade in the establishment of his brothers, Franklin F. and Ezra, who had as partner a cousin. Jacob Landis, the firm being known as Landis & Co. Our subject served a full apprenticeship of three years, and continued to work for the company, which sometime afterward became that of Landis, Frick & Co. This last firm sold out to John Best, and with him Mr. Landis continued until 1873.

About 1874 Franklin F. Landis started a small business for the manufacture of steam engines, of which Abraham B. Landis became a partner, the firm being styled F. F. & A. B. Landis. They manufactured in a small way portable steam engines until the fall of 1878, when they met with financial difficulties, and later sold their effects, good will, etc., to the Geiser Manufacturing Company, of Waynesboro, to which place the brothers removed.

Joyce was preceded in death by the love of her life, her husband of 44 years, William D. Fetherling, formerly of Mt Erie, Illinois; her parents Carroll and Viola Landis; a brother, Gene Landis; brothers-in-law Tony Fetherling and Bruce Fetherling; sister-in-law Pat Fetherling.

Joyce is survived by her daughters Pamela Eakin (Steve) and Peggy Sweeney (Charles); a grandson, Tyler Eakin (Amanda); 3 granddaughters, Courtney Eakin Kirby (Jake), Kayla Rosnau (Ian), Mackenzie Clark (Ryan); 3 great-granddaughters Taylor Eakin, Chloe Kirby, and Jolene Buentllo; a sister, Margaret Clodfelter (Don), 2 brothers-in-law, Dean Fetherling and Roger Fetherling (LaJean); sister-in-law Paula Fetherling and numerous nieces and nephews whom she loved dearly. In addition, Joyce is survived by lifelong friends Phyllis Bishop, Ruth Yonaka, Clara King and Juanita Judge. She also will be missed by her many friends she made while working at Meis Department Store and Union Hospital as well as her many friendships formed at Heritage Towne Lake, Foundry UMC Moving On, and Heritage Presbyterian Church.

Landis Valley Museum was begun in the late 19th century when Pennsylvania German brothers George and Henry Landis realized that the industrial revolution signaled an end to rural folk life. They dedicated their lives to collecting items to preserve the Pennsylvania German culture and, in the 1920s, opened a roadside museum in their barn.

Today, this living history museum is operated by the state in the original, preserved crossroads village where the brothers lived in a Victorian-style home with their parents, Emma and Henry H., and sister Nettie Mae.

The Landis brothers wanted people to learn about, appreciate and remember the unique heritage of the Pennsylvania Germans. More than 20 buildings are open to the public and seasonal events celebrate Pennsylvania German contributions, such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, apple pie and log cabins, to the fabric of American culture.

Hershberger Absalom P., son of Paul P.and Marthy (Kuhns) Hershberger, was born April 1, 1863in Holmes Co., Ohio; died Nov. 16, 1940, at his home in Milford,Nebr.; Aged 77 y. 7 m. 15 d. In 1867 he moved with his parents to Johnson Co., Iowa.In 1877 they moved to Milford, Nebr., and lived there the restof his time. His father was the first minister of the East FairviewChurch, the first Mennonite Church in Nebraska. In June, 1884,he was united in marriage to Sarah Stutzman. To this unionwere born 13 children; 2 died in infancy. His wife died in June1908. On Feb. 23, 1914, he was again married to Mary Ulrich.He leaves his faithful companion, 7 sons and 4 daughters (Amonof Milford, John of Kalona, Iowa; Allen, Mrs. Lavina Rediger,Dave, Mrs. Iva Hauder of Milford; Mrs Lucinda Earnest of Kalona,Iowa; Edward of Amenia, N. Dak.; Paul of Wellman, Iowa; Mrs. AliceYeackley of Milford and Ezra of Darjeeling, India); also 64grandchildren,28 great-grandchildren, 2 brothers (John and Joe of Milford),and 2 sisters (Mrs. Amanda Beckler of Milford and Mrs. LevinaJantzi of Grand Island, Nebr.). His parents, 1 brother and 2 sisterspreceded him in death. He united with the Mennonite Church inhis youth and was a faithful member to the end. He served in theoffice of trustee a number of years, was a kind father, alwaysready to advise in the ways of the Lord. His was a home wheremany sacred songs were sung. He will be greatly missed in thehome, the Church, and community. His death was caused by a heartattack and he passed away very quickly without warning to anyone. Funeral services were conducted by Bro. Maurice Yoder. Text,Rev.22:5.


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