The Ingenious LANDIS BROTHERS


| September/October 1988



Franklin Landis

Franklin Landis

The brothers Franklin Frick Landis and Abraham B. Landis, natives of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, hold a distinguished place in the history of engines powered by steam.

Sons of a farm family, orphaned early in life, they exercised their mechanical genius in many enterprises, especially the production of the Geiser 'Peerless' and the Frick thresher.

Another man born in Lancaster County, George Frick, holds a key role in the Landis story. Peter Geiser, also a major figure, was born at Smithburg, Md. The stories of Frick and Geiser, and their work together, has frequently been related. We are presenting this story on the Landis family through the suggestion and cooperation of Charles M. Car Baugh, of Waynesboro, Pa., the city in whose industrial growth all these men took integral parts.

Franklin Landis became a master mechanic and tool maker as a young man. He then began a shop to make models of machines for persons who were seeking patents; a model was a required part of the patent application. He took a brother, Ezra, as partner. George Frick was a frequent visitor at the Landis home, traveling from Waynesboro.

Frank and Ezra sold their business in 1872 to John Best, a Lancaster traction engine manufacturer. Frank became manager for Best. In 1876 Frank and Abraham formed a partnership to make small portable farm steam engines and stationary steam engines. By 1879 they had sold out to Geiser Manufacturing Co. and moved to Waynesboro to start work with Geiser Jan. 1, 1880.

Frank was put in charge of design and manufacturing, for the production of the 'Peerless' portable engine. A year later he designed and built a traction engine within 11 weeks. So outstanding was this engine that it won first honors in economy and field tests at the Cincinnati Industrial Exposition. A prize of $500 in gold accompanied the honor.