I grew up in Franklin, WV in the 1950's and 1960's and was the youngest of eight children. Franklin is the county seat of Pendleton County and in 1960 was listed as having a population of 758 people. My parents were both born and raised in Riverton, WV, also in Pendleton County, and moved to Franklin in 1946. We would regularly visit my grandparents in Riverton, a drive of about 15 miles across the North Fork Mountain, where from the top you can see one of the most beautiful vistas in the eastern part of the United States -- Germany Valley.
Since we were always so close as a family, which included not only our large immediate family, but along with grandparents, nieces, nephews, and cousins, totaled about 40 people. My grandfather, Charles Jasper Landes, was a photographer, wagonmaker, and ran a blacksmith shop in Riverton, WV, but he died when I was only two years old so I don't remember him. I heard lots of stories from both my parents about him and his father (my great-grandfather), Daniel A. Landes, who was a farmer, and surveyor. However, there were never any stories further back than D. A. and as I got older I became convinced that my own father did not know anything at all about his great-grandfather. The only thing he could remember was that he thought we had relatives near Brushy Run and down Jake Hill Road, but nothing more than that.
As a college professor with a DMA degree (Doctor of Musical Arts), I have several research interests and have had a few articles published in journals and dictionaries through the years. One of my interests is the Ruebush-Kieffer Publishing Company of Dayton, VA. Dayton is located about 40 miles east of Franklin, WV and consequently it was easy for me to spend time researching Ruebush-Kieffer when I visited my family during the summers. This research eventually led me to the Eastern Mennonite University library in Harrisonburg, VA where I got to know the director of the Menno Simmons Historical Library. She would often inquire of my Landes ancestry because she had Landes relatives throughout the Shenandoah Valley. Eventually she showed me several resources in the library about the Landes family, and this is what started my interest in researching my own Landes family history.
As with most family histories -- it's complicated. What at first seemed simple and straight forward soon turned into a quagmire of dead ends and misinformation. From my own research background I know from personal experience that you never take someone's written account at face value. As my father used to say, "the page does not refuse the ink." And this is especially true for any genealogy information you may find on the Internet.
There were several Landes histories that proved to be good starting points, the most comprehensive of which is by Joann Landis Pedersen of Elgin, IL, compiled in 1984. Unfortunately Ms. Pedersen is no longer living so it has not been possible for me to get any additional information regarding her research other than the printed document she complied. This document is available in several libraries in Pendleton, Grant, and Hardy counties in West Virginia, and at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA. You can view a PDF of the document here.
Ancestry.com has been invaluable and definitely IS worth the yearly fee for getting access to records, or learning where records may be found.
The County Clerk's offices of Pendleton, Grant, and Hardy Counties in West Virginia are treasure troves of primary sources for researchers. Many internet pages reference these records, especially the marriage, death, and property records in the Hardy County Clerk's office in Moorefield, WV.
Census records are invaluable and all of the libraries listed above have compiled volumes of census records. One of the most practical sets was compiled and is available from Wes Cochran of Parkersburg, West Virginia. I eventually purchased his complete records of Pendleton, Grant, and Hardy Counties, WV from 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1900. He has not compiled the records for 1880, and there are no records for 1890 because evidently there was a fire at the Commerce Department in Washington, DC in 1921 which destroyed those records.
Raw census records on microfilm are available and the Eastern Mennonite University Library in Harrisonburg has these available. Researching microfilm is very tedious, but the dedicated researcher may be rewarded with exactly the information they are hunting. Some raw census records are also available on-line through the National Archives website.
Of particular interest are several histories of Landes families, or books with chapters including information about Landes families. A comprehensive history of The Landis Family of Lancaster County PA by David Bachman Landis was published in 1888 and this would be helpful to anyone interested in the ancestry of Jesse Landes with the intention of tracing his ancestry back to Pennsylvania and eventually to Switzerland, Germany, or other European countries.
Works by Emmert Bittinger, and especially Allegheny Passage, have been invaluable in unlocking some of the intricacies of the Landeses in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia from about 1780-1820 (see pp. 108-109; 143-144). Dr. Bittinger is Professor Emeritus at Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, VA and is the preeminent scholar and authority on the history of the Church of the Brethren in the United States. He has written numerous historical works and has contributed articles summarizing his research on the Landeses in the journal, Mennonite Family History.
Histories of the Breneman (Brenneman) family have been helpful, especially in the difficult quest of trying to discover the true parents of Jesse Landes -- there are two theories and these will be explored elsewhere on this site. See A History of the Descendants of Abraham Breneman by Charles D. Breneman (ca. 1939).
At another location on this site I plan to have a listing of important cemeteries where various members of the Landes family are buried. Dedicated researchers of the Pendleton County Historical Society have compiled a remarkable directory of Cemetery Records of Pendleton County, West Virginia, and I would highly recommend that anyone interested in genealogy research for Pendleton County WV purchase a copy. In addition to the
Cemetery Records, the Historical Society has a variety of other resouces available for purchase on their website. Copies can also be purchased directly from local establishments such as the Pendleton County Public Library. To my knowledge there is no equivalent publication to the Cemetery Records of Pendleton County West Virginia for Grant or Hardy counties, but a good alternative website resource for searching cemeteries is Find A Grave. Unfortunately, this website has many errors and inaccuracies, especially the spelling of names. So it is advised that any information gleaned from this site be carefully double-checked. Even so, it is still a good starting point. Ultimately it is my goal to list all the cemeteries in West Virginia where Landes ancestors are buried, especially in Pendleton, Grant, and Hardy counties.
Important publiations by Pendleton County natives include:
A History of Pendleton County, West Virginia, Oren Morton, published by the Author, Franklin, WV, 1910.
The Hammers and Allied Families of Pendlton County, West Virginia, Elsie Byrd Boggs: Josephy K. Ruebush, C., Harrisonburg, VA, 1950.
A History of Franklin, Elsie Byrd Boggs: McClure Printing Co., Staunton, VA, 1960.
'Twixt North and South, H. M. Calhoun, McCoy Publishing Co., Franklin, WV, 1974.
Moments in Time: A Pictorial History of Pendleton County West Virginia, Walsworth Publishing Co., 1988.
Pendleton County West Virginia Past and Present, Pendleton County History Book Committee, Franklin, WV, 1991.
Cemetery Records of Pendleton County, West Virginia, Pendleton County Historical Society, 2014. Available directly on their website.
Invaluable online databases include:
Online Catalog Library of Virginia
West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History
West Virginia Marriage Records
Other valuable resources:
Transforming the Appalachian Countryside: Railroads, Deforestation, and Social Change in West Virginia. Ronald L. Lewis. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.
I will continue to update this site as time permits, so please check back often.
-- Daniel Landes, December 18, 2019