Landis Family2

THE BROTHERS LANDIS: Former Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis (L) is pictured with his four brothers in a book by his nephew, Lincoln Landis. (Angi Turnpaugh/Pharos-Tribune)

By DAVE KITCHELL

Pharos-Tribune staff writer

Lincoln Landis is a West Point grad who served his country in the Berlin Airlift, the Berlin Wall crisis and as a White House consultant.

But his proudest achievement may have come at age 83 as an author. Landis, a Logansport native, has written a book about his family, “From Pilgrimage to Promise: Civil War Heritage and the Landis Boys of Logansport, Indiana.”

“I’ve always hoped at some point in the future, I would be able to write a bit about my father and his writings and his life,” says Landis, whose father, Frederick, was a Republican candidate for Indiana governor in 1928.

“After I retired from the military in ‘91, I was able to start off in earnest to write about him and Kenesaw Mountain, my uncle. I wanted to combine the two as I could. Then I decided I really should write about all five brothers, so I expanded my horizon and what information I could receive from many relatives of the five boys.”

Walter was the oldest of the five Landis sons, and he never married. He was an early editor of the Logansport Journal in the 1870s. Charles, the next oldest brother, became an editor of the Pharos-Tribune. Charles served five terms in Congress from 1898 to 1908.

The third oldest son, John, became a doctor like his father, Abraham, and became Cincinnati health officer. In his tenure there, he required the city to have pasteurized milk at a time when sickness was traced to contaminated milk.

Kenesaw, who left Logansport High School but later enrolled in Union College and received a law degree, went on to be an anti-trust judge in Chicago before he was named the first commissioner of baseball. Lincoln remembers him as a steadying influence on his family when his own father died just days after being elected to Congress. Lincoln’s father, Fred, was the youngest of the five.

“He became extremely important in my life because I was 12 years old when my father died,” Landis said.

“His death was unexpected. Spirits were as high as anyone could be. He had been the only Republican in Indiana to win a seat for Congress in 1934.

“I was in deep, deep trouble for several years. Kenesaw was the only member of that family who was alive besides one sister, Frances. Kenesaw had a very generous feeling toward his brother’s family. He was very kind and generous with my mom. He visited us in Logansport on a number of occasions. He was my substitute for my dad in that sense. His homestead was Chicago, and Logansport was a place that he visited every year, but he did visit us on several occasions. We knew that he was there and he supported us on a number of occasions. He helped us financially with my brother Kenesaw II who had tuberculosis and went to California.”

The congressional ambitions did not end with that generation of the Landis family. Lincoln’s brother Fred, later ran for Congress, but lost to Charlie Halleck, then a prosecutor from Rensselaer and later a power broker in the House during the Eisenhower years.

Lincoln recalls that his family was part of the split in the GOP. The Landises were Teddy Roosevelt Republicans who became “Bull Moosers” when Roosevelt parted with the party and ran an independent presidential campaign. The Landises were on hand early in the last century when Roosevelt made a visit to Logansport, speaking at the corner of Seventh and Broadway.

“That was a big day for my dad and his uncle,” Lincoln says.

But no day was probably larger than when Lincoln’s grandfather returned from a trip to Logansport and other Midwest cities to alert his family that they were moving to Logansport from the Cincinnati area.

“He liked so much it was on the confluence of the Eel and the Wabash,” Lincoln says.

Logansport’s Juanita Hunter, who has researched the Landis family for years, says it may be the closest thing Indiana has to a Kennedy political clan. Hunter, a retired Logansport teacher, says the book is very detailed.

“My only regret is I would like to know more about his two aunts.”

Frances Landis was a charter member of the local Tourist Club, she said, but there is little information about Kate.

“I almost read through it like a novel. I didn’t want to put it down. All five of the men were just so prominent in what they chose to do with their lives in a different way. Charles and Frederick both became congressman.”

Copies

The book may be purchased at the Cass County Historical Society Museum or through Heritage Books at www.HeritageBooks.com

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