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Landis Ancestors in Switzerland, Germany, and America

Eichenberg/Eichenburg Eikenberry/Eikenbary Albaugh/Albach Groff
Naas Landis/Landes

Landis Ancestry of the George Monroe Eikenberry

Our ancestor Peter Eichenberg had three sons: John Ikenberry of Virginia, and Henrich Eichenberg and Peter Eikenberry, Jr. who settled in Preble County, Ohio. George Monroe’s great grandfather was Henrich Eichenberg. Henrich Eichenberg married Mary Landis and Peter Eikenberry, Jr., married her sister, Elizabeth Landis. Therefore two of the three Eikenberry lines are also Landis descendants. This connection is briefly described in a single page in the History and Genealogy of the Peter Eichenberg Family. Much new information has been uncovered since the publication of the Eichenberg history. A great deal has been written about our Landis ancestors and we will try to summarize it as briefly as possible. We will list our major sources at the bottom of the page for anyone wishing to pursue further information. Also both Jill Martin and Nadine Holder, authors of this history, have extensive files that can be shared.

For many years, in the early half of the twentieth century (1911-1957), Landis family reunions were held and various branches of the family were chronicled in the reunion reports. The Report of the Thirty-first Reunion, which was held in 1950, included a brief history of Henry Landis, the parent of Mary and Elizabeth Landis. This report connected Henry all the way back to Hans Landis born 1521 in Switzerland. The Report of the Twenty-fifth Reunion, which was held in 1936, states that "the name Landis is not a common one and is first mentioned at a place called Pfaffiken on Lake Zurich in 1420." According to the Dictionary of Surnames, the name simply mans "one of the land" or "one who lives in the country." Its likely origin was, for example, Hans de la Lande, or Hans from the country. The ancestral Landis home near Zurich is a national landmark and is still lived in by Landis descendants.

Michael Wilcox, writing in Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, January 1995, outlined the descendants of Caspar, Hans, Melchior, Balthasar and Peter Landis, likely all related since Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar are the names of the Three Wise Men. Hans, our ancestor in this group, married Katharina Schinz. Hans and Katharina’s eldest son, Hans, was the last Anabaptist martyr in Switzerland and was beheaded in 1614. He was imprisoned three times, once as a potential galley slave, and twice escaped to return to his congregation. In his third imprisonment he was questioned on the rack and sentenced to death, the sentence being carried out on September 13, 1614. He had a stately figure, a long black beard mixed with gray and a manly voice. The executioner asked his pardon for what he was about to do, which Landis immediately gave. He asked his wife and children to leave him so that he might have heart to face his death. His wife was imprisoned immediately after his death. A song of 46 stanzas was written commemorating the death of the martyr Hans Landis. We located the song, had it translated (by Helen Bethel) and it has been published (See Masthof Press and search for Landis German Song.) Hans was the brother of our ancestor, Rudolf Landis, also son of Hans and Katharina Schinz Landis.

The Anabaptists were followers of Menno Simon and are commonly called Mennonites. Their tenets include the eschewing of infant baptism, refusal to take oaths, bear arms, or to fill civil offices, and the practice of humility. This constituted a challenge to the thinking of church-dominated governments and naturally called for suppression, in the exercise of which thousands lost their lives and liberty.

The third son of Hans and Katharina Schinz Landis, and brother to the martyr Hans Landis, was Rudolf Landis, also an Anabaptist. He was the great great grandfather of Hans Heinrich Landis who was born in 1683 in Richterswil, Switzerland, and who was our immigrant ancestor. The line of descent is: Hans and Katharina Schinz Landis; Rudolf and Anna Bruggbacher Landis; Hans and Elsbeth Schneveli Landis; Rudolf and Barbara Ritter Landis; Hans Heinrich and Angelika Trumpler Landis; Hans Heinrich and Elizabeth Hirt Landis (our immigrant ancestors.) The names of course are repeated again and again and without the wonderful reports of the Landis Family Reunion groups as well as many individual Landis researchers we would not have a prayer of figuring out our ancestry.

The farmers on the isolated hillsides along the western shore of Lake Zurich, including our Landis ancestors, were long a thorn in the side of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. They resisted the Reformed Church, the state Church of Switzerland. Finally when the residents refused to honor a property tax increase to pay for strengthening military forces in the canton, a massive military sweep was conducted in the mid 1640’s. Residents were fined and imprisoned. The state also confiscated many of the farms. The revenue from these farms was held in trust to pay costs of imprisonment. Any residue was to be given back to heirs if they agreed to join the state church. By mid-century most of the resources of the Anabaptists had been seized. Their leaders were either dead or imprisoned and emigration seemed the only recourse. It soon began on a massive scale and it is estimated that nearly 1700 Anabaptists fled Zurich after 1649. Most of the descendants of Hans Landis, the martyr, died in prison or from harrassment by the authorities. Several of his grandchildren managed to immigrate from Switzerland and went to Alsace, paralleling the Rhine River, and at that time a part of Germany. Today Alsace is a part of France and that is why you sometimes see their heritage given erroneously as French. Attached is a collage of photos of Alsace today taken by your Web Master in the 1980's - it is still a quite rural area.

Landis Families in Germany

Much has been written of a Hans Heinrich Landis in Alsace but he is a descendant of Hans the Martyr and not our Hans Heinrich. It is known that our Hans Heinrich and his father also immigrated to Alsace, as there is a brief record in 1709 in Markirch listing Hans Landis as widower from Richterswil with son Heinrich, both stated to be weapons-smiths, and likely Anabaptists. Hans Heinrich Landis married Elizabeth Hirt in that year at Markirch, Alsace. Markirch was also the settling place of many of Hans the Martyrs grandchildren.

Hans Heinrich and Elizabeth Hirt Landis had four known children, the first three known to be born in Markirch, Alsace. These children were Elizabeth, Barbara, Heinrich Hirt (our ancestor) and Dorothea Landis.

Immigration to America

Church records show that by 1723, Heinrich and Elizabeth Hirt Landis and their children had immigrated to Pennsylvania. Their names have not been located on any passenger list to date, but we do know they were in the first group of persons baptized into the German Baptist Church of the Brethren in America. They settled in North Coventry Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, across from Pottstown.

Baptism and life as Brethren

In 1719 there had come to Germantown, Pennsylvania, from Crefelt in the Rhineland, a small group led by Peter Becker, a weaver, who were members of the sect formed in 1708 and calling themselves German Baptist Brethren. They too were Anabaptists, like the followers of Menno Simon, with some difference in the form of service, the chief one being an insistence on baptism by immersion, thence the popular designation "Dunker" (see attached brief history of German Baptists). The congregation at Crefelt had been under the leadership of Elder Johannes Naas, also one of our ancestors (link at top of page). Christian Libe was assistant to John Nass, and a rumor spread among the Pennsylvania Germans in 1723 that he was on his way to America. Large numbers flocked to Germantown to hear him preach. Among the visitors to Germantown were Johannes Heinrich Landis and wife Elizabeth, Martin Urner and wife Catherine, John Mayle and Frederick Lang, all from Coventry. The rumor of Libe’s presence proved false, but the trip led to the Coventry people becoming acquainted with Peter Becker and his followers. This was late in December and, enthusiasm being kindled for it, a congregation of the Brethren was organized, the first in America, on Christmas Day with Becker chosen as the acting elder. The six from Coventry signified their willingness to be taken in as new members. Late in the afternoon they all went to Wissahickon Creek, where the six candidates for baptism were led one by one into the freezing water and baptized by Elder Becker by the rite of trine immersion (baptism three times in the names of the Trinity). The locale of this ceremony is near the crossing of Carpenter Street where the stream takes a sharp turn, coming closest to Germantown. Durnbaugh in The Brethren in Colonial America shows a survey of the location.

Nearly nine months later, on September 7, 1724, Peter Becker instituted in the Coventry area a second congregation of the Brethren with Martin Urner as the elder in charge. The Landises were faithful members of it. On Easter Sunday 1726 a love feast was held in Earl Township nearby with the Brethern there. Among them was Conrad Beissel (more below). A controversy was started upon original sin and purgatory. The Dunkers held marriage holy and children pure and without sin. Beissel told them that children are evil by nature and die in sin and must first be purged of their inherited sin. Only adults are saved. This controversy started great trouble among the Brethren, and it is said that Heinrich Landis was so affected by it that he soon died of a broken heart. He did die in 1727 at an early age of 46. His widow, Elizabeth, married Henry Endt, and the Landis children went to live with him in Cocalico Township.

Much of the above history is included in a letter written by Elizabeth Hirt Landis in 1756 to her friends and relatives in Switzerland as follows:
"I, Elizabetha, the widow of Heinrich Landes, a brother to your father, Caspar Landes, a barber in Richterswil, but again married to Henry End, desire to inform you as follows:

"When my former husband, Henrich Landes, left Switzerland for the first time with his father, he entrusted to his brother Casper a certain sum of money without taking from him anything in writing because he had absolute confidence in his brother’s honesty; and had not the least doubt at all, that everything would be right. Twice he had received some of the amount, so that now there is a balance of about 300 Rix Dollars (about $210) remaining unpaid; as my dear husband Henrich Landes, so often informed and assured me. Since then, my husband, Henrich Landes, entered orderly and publicly into the bonds of matrimony with me, Elizabeth Hirt, born Mark-Kirch, in Elsass, the daughter of Jacob Hirt, of the same place. This was in 1709. After having resided for ten years in different places in Germany, we finally, twenty-two years ago, came to Pennsylvania, fully intending again to sometime visit you, as he had promised his brother Caspar he would, and then bringing the balance of his money home with him. From this he was hwoever prevented by my frequent solicitation and entreaty not to go until the year 1727 when he died leaving me a widow with four children, namely one son and three daughters." Signed Aunt Elizabetha Landes, Germantown, Pennsylvania, 20th November 1746. Addressed to be delivered to the surviving children of Caspar Landes (barber) at Richterswil, three hours from Zurich.

In 1724, two months after the Coventry Congregation of the Brethren was started, a third branch was formed by Peter Becker among the people living along Conestoga Creek. He placed Johann Conrad Beissel, a former apprentice of his, in charte. Beissel was somewhat of a mystic and tried to introduce new ideas. He leaned towards celibacy, but his chief wish was to persuade the church to observe Saturday as the Sabbath. By 1728 he was so at odds with his fellows (over the same argument started with Henry Landis, among others), that he withdrew from the Conestoga congregation. Four years later those that followed him established the Seventh Day Baptist Society at Ephrata in Cocalico Township. The colony was run on a communistic basis. Elizabeth Hirt Landis and her second husband, Henry Endt, joined the Society, bringing along the Landis children, a curious move considering the enmity existing between Henry Landis and Conrad Beissel. By 1747 the Endts seem to have reunited with the Brethren and were members in Conestoga. Barbara Landis, Heinrich’s sister, unmarried, had many wilderness adventures as an Ephrata missionary and died at Ephrata in 1776. It has been said that Heinrich Hirt Landis, age 11, did not go with his parents to Ephrata, but was instead apprenticed to Theobold Endt, a saddler, and likely a brother of Henry Endt. While being apprenticed, he was taken a couple of times to Amwell Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, to obtain saddle trees.

The Move to New Jersey and Marriage to Elizabeth Naas

In New Jersey, Henry met his first wife, Elizabeth Naas, daughter of John Naas (link at the top of the page), famous Elder of the Church of the Brethren in Germany and America. They were married in 1737 and settled in Amwell Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Eventually Henry owned 300 acres for farming as well as being established in the business of saddle making and employing several hands. He had customers coming from as far away as New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. It is curious that two hundred years later, his descendant, Neal Blair, grandson of Fred Welch Eikenberry, and great grandson of George Monroe, would be a saddler in South Dakota, with customers coming from as far away as Hollywood, California.

In 1750, Henry built on his farm a stone house which stands today on the east side of the road (Route 202 near Ringoes, New Jersey). (Photos by Roberta Miller-Herbert). It is said that Sunday meetings of the Brethren were held in this house. The house also has a famous Revolutionary War history as quoted below from the Mennonite Encyclopedia (article written by Roberta Miller-Herbert):
"The Landis House: The story-and-a-half stone house with a gambrel roof built by Heinrich Landis at Ringoes, NJ, about 1750 has become a registered national historic landmark. It is said to have been used by George Washington as a temporary headquarters following the battle of Monmouth (1778). The French military figure Marquis de Lafayette was also a visitor. He once fell ill and spent several days in the house recuperating… The house was also used as a prison for English soldiers. The original hasps and locks are still to be seen in the basement stonework.

"According to a local historian, Landes was much respected by his neighbors. ‘Though religiously opposed to wars and fightings, and consequently taking no part in the Revolution, he was a favorite of Washington, who, when in the neighborhood, would stop at his house and ….would walk up to him and pat him familiarly on the back, and call him a good fellow….’. J. W. Lequear, Traditions of Hunterdon (NJ),, 1957."

Because of his patriotic service during the Revolutionary War, Henry Landis is listed in the DAR Patriot Index, 1979, and any of his descendants may be eligible to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. There is a note on his DAR file “Future applicants must prove correct service.” The previously submitted information references the History of Hunterdon County, New Jersey. We are working on looking for proof. There are several references that lead back only to the Hunterdon County, New Jersey, information.

By his wife, Elizabeth Naas, Henry Landis had ten children, including our ancester Henry Landis, father of Mary Landis Eichenberg and Elizabeth Landis Eikenberry. Elizabeth Naas Landis died in the fall of 1753 at the age of 37 (more on the children below).

Marriage to Catharine Groff

On March 6, 1754, about three months after the death of Elizabeth Naas, Henry married a friend’s daughter who was 18 years younger than he, Catherine Groff, daughter of Henry and Anne Harley Groff. (There is likely some connection between Catherine and Fronica Groff, wife of Elder Peter Eichenberg, but as yet no such connection has been proven. It is known that Henry Groff was born in Neuweid on the Rhine in 1699, also the birth place of the Eychenberg ancestor.). Henry and Catherine had 14 children (more below.)

As a citizen, Henry Landis was exemplary, a pillar in society and a molder of the rising generation. In religion he was a Dunkard, zealous and strong in the faith. He would not swear. When in court as a witness once, he refused to take an oath or affirm, as was the Dunkard custom. The judge asked him what he would do. Landis replied, “I will give you the word of an honest man.” This information was written down by C. W. Larison, M. D., physician to Catherine Landis, daughter of Henry and Catherine Groff Landis. Catherine came to the old stone house in May of 1864 at the age of 95. She narrated many stories of the Landis farm which were taken down by Dr. Larison before Catherine died.

Henry Landis was of excellent health. At the age of 93 he came in one day from working in the fields and died sitting in his chair waiting for his supper. He and Catherine are buried in the Harley Burying Ground across the road from the Landis stone house. The many children of Henry Landis carried the German Baptist beliefs to many locations across America.

Children of Henry and Elizabeth Naas Landis

There is a great deal of sometimes conflicting information on the many children of Henry Landis. Our principal interest is in the third child and second son of Henry and Elizabeth: Henry Landis, born November 25, 1740, in Amwell, New Jersey, and spent most of his later childhood in the stone house. We will continue his descendancy below and have chosen to list the children of Henry, Sr., from an article Coventry Henry Landis of Schuylkill and Coventry, by Dr. Emmert F. Bittinger and published in July 1993 in “Mennonite Family History.” Roberta Miller-Herbert who has done much Landis research, generally agrees with this list. We are not asserting that the list is right or wrong, but that it was generated from the research of a single person and thus is consistent within itself. The list follows:

Margaret Landis (March 19, 1738-November 22, 1741)

John Landis (May 19, 1739-1802), married a Servis and moved to Juniata, Pa.

Henry Landis (Nov 25, 1740-1825) Our ancestor and continued in detail below.

Margaret Landis, born October 24, 1742, married John Harley, of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

Elizabeth Landis, born March 14, 1744, married John Stoner of Maryland.

Daniel Landis, born March 4, 1746, married Barbara Slifer and moved to York County, Pennsylvania.

Jacob Landis, born April 1748, married Mary Harley, sister of John who married Margaret above.

Joseph Landis, born March 20, 1750, married Sarah Colvin and died ca 1837.

Susanna Landis, born July 1753, married Andrew Trimmer, Jr. and moved to York County, Pa.

Children of Henry and Catharine Groff Landis

Samuel Landis, born Dec 3, 1754, married Hannah Helfery (Hefly?)

David Landis, born Feb 29, 1756, married Mary Paxson

Rebecca Landis, born Dec 16, 1757, perhaps died young.

Benjamin Landis, born in 1760.

Rebecca Landis, born May 6, 1762, married (1) John Runyan and (2)John Runkle

Isaac Landis, born Feb 9, 1763, went to Cincinnati and died single.

Mary Landis, born July 23, 1765, married John Hixon and moved to Union Co., Pa.

Sarah Landis (Apr 23, 1767-Feb 22, 1791) married Samuel Sauer, son of the printer Christopher Sauer. Samuel became a printer and moved to Baltimore Maryland and became a Dunker minister in the Baltimore Church. He had two other wives.

Catherine Landis, born March 25, 1769, died young?

Solomon Landis (Oct 5, 1770-Mar 21, 1847) married Elizebeth Reeder.

Hannah Landis, born Sept 3, 1772, died unmarried.

Catherine Landis, born June 29, 1774, died at the age of 90, married Elnathan Price.

Anna Landis, born Sept 22, 1776, died an infant.

Anna Landis (May 5, 1780-Mar 4, 1791)

Son Henry Landis and wife Mary Garber/Carver

Son Henry Landis was married about 1762 to Mary Garber (or Carver). This marriage may have taken place in Frederick County, Maryland, for it is here that the Garber families are found. Henry Landis, Henry and Mary’s first child, was born in Frederick County in 1763. In the Frederick County Deed Book M-692-693 there is entered: December 11, 1769, Henry Landes, Saddler of Frederick County, Maryland, buys tract of land called Personal Valley bordering Ivy Church tract of Martin Garber, for 100 pounds (Mary was not a daughter of Martin Garber, but there were several other Garber families in the area.)

The Landis family was believed to be members of the Beaver Dam Church of the Brethren located north of Johnsville in Frederick County. In 1770 there were 40 Brethren families in the church with 82 members. The Albaugh family (link at the top of the page) were also likely members of this congregation. Mary Albaugh would later marry Samuel Eikenberry, son of Mary Landis and Heinrich Eichenberg (Mary was daughter of Henry and Mary Garber Landis).

There is controversy over whether Henry had two or three wives. He was married to an Elizabeth (Fishbourne) at the time he made his will and some sources indicate that between Mary Garber and Elizabeth Fishbourne he was married to Elizabeth Moss. It seems quite clear that Mary Garber was the mother of both Mary Landis Eichenberg, born November 11, 1772, and Elizabeth Landis Eikenberry (married Heinrich’s brother Peter), born March 1765, both in Frederick County, Maryland. On April 19, 1788, Henry Landis sold his “Personal Valley” land. At that time his wife, Mary, was examined privately to make certain she relinquished her right of dower in the land, so it is clear she was still alive at that time, and since their last child was born about 1783, she was no doubt the mother of all of Henry's children.

The Move to Virginia

Henry Landis and family moved to Franklin County, Virginia, where on May 13, 1788, he purchased 200 acres on both sides of Little Creek for 155 pounds from Charles Reston. They were soon participating in German Baptist meetings and here met the Eichenberg family when they arrived in 1790.

The Move to Ohio

Henry and Mary Garber Landis’ son, Henry, was the first to go to Preble County, in 1804, and it is likely his report that led the Eichenbergs to move to Preble County. Henry Landis, Sr, also went to Preble County. He was past 70 years of age and took out only 47 acres of land. His stepdaughter, Susannah, daughter of Elizabeth Fishbourn, also moved to Preble County, Ohio, sometime before 1818, when she married there. So it seems likely that Henry Sr was married to Elizabeth Fishbourn when the move to Preble County was made. The story of the location of Henry, Sr.’s grave in Preble County is a romantic one. For many years it was not known how the Preble County Landis family was connected to the eastern Landis families.

Stella Eikenberry Risinger of Eaton, Ohio, a descendant of Mary Landis Eikenberry, wrote in the Report of the Thirty-First Reunion:
“There was a burial lot on the land that was once a part of Henry Landis, Jr.’s U. S. grant of 1811. The writer almost gave up hope of finding the grave of Henry Landis, Sr., on learning that this small burial plot had been farmed over. However, after locating the 47 acres that Henry, Sr. bought in 1811, and finding that his last wife was in possession of that when she died, in 1843, it was reasonable to guess that Henry Landis and wife might have been buried on that farm. This proved to be the case. On November 10, 1951, the writer climbed the iron fence that enclosed the small burial place, and after long searching, turning over several small stones that were worn smooth, and about ready to give up the hunt, became suddenly aware of standing on some kind of slab. This stone had fallen and was covered with leaves, earth and mold. It was a great thrill to read, as the stone was gradually cleared off, the name HENRY LANDIS in letters about three inches high, and to discover that his birth date corresponds with the birth date of Henry Landis, b. 1740, son of Henry Landis (1716-1809) of Amwell, N. J., - the recorded birth date being Nov. 25, 1740.

“Thus the Henry Landis, buried in the quiet, beautiful spot on the slope overlooking Twin Creek in Preble County, Ohio, who came to Preble County from the Blackwater region of Virginia, is surely the same Henry Landis, who m. a Mary Carver, traveled to the frontier, locating in Blackwater River Valley, lost a young wife, m. Elizabeth Moss, and later emigrated to Preble Co., Ohio. Henry Landis mrd. 3rd Mrs. Elizabeth Fishbourn.” It is interesting to note that the Landis Family Reunion Report of 1950 (31st) is quoted by another individual but leaves out the reference to Elizabeth Moss and only attributes two wives to Henry. We have been unable to determine which report might be correct.

Children of Henry and Mary Garber/Carver Landis

Regardless of whether Henry had two wives or three, his children were all of Mary Garber/Carver. They were: Henry (1763-1846) married Susanna?; John (1764-1849) married Hannah Stover; Elizabeth (1765-1824) married Peter Eichenberg; David (1767-1814) married Elizabeth Pickleshimer; Daniel (1767-1826) married Catherine Coffman; Samuel (1770-1838) married Aseneth Garber; Mary (1772-1858) married Henry Eichenberg; Isaac (1783-1840) married Hannah Stoner.

Henry’s daughter Mary Landis met and married Heinrich Eichenberg in Franklin County, Virginia, where six of their eight children were born. They followed Mary’s brother and father to Preble County in 1807. Their history is continued in the Eichenberg History linked at the top of the page.

This page was created July 2007.

References: A History and Genealogy of Peter Eichenberg Family in the U.S.A., compiled by Charles S. Ikenberry and W. Lewis Eikenberry, published by Charles S. and Margaret Ikenberry, Church Center Press, Myerstown, Pa., 1955

The Brethren in Colonial America, edited by Donald F. Durnbaugh, Elgin, Il, The Brethren Press, 1967

The Brethren Encyclopedia 3 Vols, Philadelphia and Oak Brook, Illinois, 1983.

DAR Patriot Index, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Diamond Jubilee Administration, Washington 1966 & 1979

Dictionary of Surnames, Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, 1988

European Origins of the Brethren, A Source Book on the Beginnings of the Church of the Brethren in the Early Eighteenth Century, compiled and translated by Donald F. Durnbaugh, The Brethren Press, Elgin, Illinois, Fourth Printing 1986

The Mennonite Encyclopedia, Volume 3, 5 volumes, Hillsboro, Ks, Brethren Publishing House, 1955

Mennonite Family History, July 1993

Pennsylania Mennonite Heritage, "The Exodus of Anabaptists from Canton Zurich to Alsace: A Case Study of the Landis Family", Roland M. Wagner, April 1995, and "Landis Families of Canton Zurich, Switzerland", by S. Michael Wilcox, January 1995

"Report of the Thirty-first Reunion of the Landis/Landes Families, of August 19, 1950" edited by Dorothy K. Landis.


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