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I found you, Hans Landis! I found you!

Chalk this one up to the wonderful combination of TypePad and Google.

As some of you will recall, my mother died about three months ago. Looking for a will, I found a typewritten sheet of paper, showing one root of her family tree going all the way back to the 1500s in Switzerland, which I copied into the on-line obituary I wrote. Her great9-grandfather, according to that paper, was "Rudolf Schiesz Landis (1547–?), Hetzel, Switzerland (brother of Hans, born 1553, beheaded 1614)." The family has since been intrigued: Who was Hans Landis? And what did he do to get beheaded? My wife, Suzanne, guessed that he must have professed the wrong religion in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It turns out that Suzanne's guess was on target. It seems old Hans was an Anabaptist—the last one executed in Zurich. Here is his story, as reported by John E. Sharp, Director of the Mennonite Church USA Historical Committee:

But there remains another visible expression for future generations: a simple granite tablet on a low wall on the west side of the Limmat River, which divides Zurich. Inscribed on this tablet is the Anabaptist story, no longer suppressed by the Reformed but claimed as part of their own revised history:

"From a fishing platform here in the middle of the Limmat, Felix Manz and five other Anabaptists were drowned between 1527 and 1532 during the Reformation. The last Anabaptist to be executed in Zurich was Hans Landis in 1614."

Hans Landis was the elderly farmer pastor of a congregation across Lake Zurich in Hirzel. When the authorities threatened to banish him and confiscate his property, Landis challenged their right to do either. After all, the "earth is the Lord's" he quoted stubbornly. After his arrest, the 70-year-old man was rowed ashore from the stone Wellenberg prison tower in the middle of the Limmat River. Like a lamb led to the slaughter, Landis was taken to the place of execution a few blocks down river and beheaded.

Now what do TypePad and Google have to do with this? A little while ago, I was scanning my TypePad stats to see where the hits are coming from. Someone's Google search hit my mom's obituary. So I checked it out, and it turned out to be someone's Google search for Hans Landis. So I poked around to see what else the searcher had found, and found the story of my great11-grand uncle, who (it turns out) is a somewhat famous 16th-century Anabaptist martyr. (It hadn't occurred to me to Google someone who's been dead for nearly four centuries.)

(Another famous ancestor is my maternal grandfather, Carney Landis, a psychologist, prolific writer, and sex researcher, whose collection is housed at the Kinsey Institute. Who knows what the 16th-century Reformed types in Switzerland would have thought of him?)

I guess all writing is self-discovery; it seems blogging can add another dimension to that self-discovery.



I've been doing a lot of family research beginning with the list that you gave me. It seems that every Landis in this country is the descendent of one of three brothers that immigrated here. So, pretty much, every Landis is related. Love you brother.


Wow, I am glad I googled "Hans Landis" as well....My grandmother was a LANDIS and her grandfather came from new Jersey and she told us we were "Pennsylvania Dutch". I did not know until much later what that meant. Now I know more about my ancestor thanks to you another Landis brother. Thank you very much for this information. I hope you are holding up well in NO.
God Bless

Rachelle Lantis

Hi! I was just doing some more research on Hans Landis (my relative as well!) and I found your blog. There aren't as many LanTis' compared to LaDis' in the states, and none in Switzerland, but we are still here! The spelling difference came about merely because many of the early immigrants were unschooled and/or didn't know how to translate their name from Swiss-German to English.

Anyway, just thought I'd say hi. I have no idea if you'll even check this since you wrote it nearly two years ago, but since I'm here I might as well let you know that I found you.
God Bless!

Dianne Rogers

Hi, Glad to come across this site. I'm a direct descendant of the martyr, Hans Landis. He was my great( x10 ) grandfather. His first wife Barbara is where my lineage comes thru with their daughter Margreth Landis. A very interesting family story.

Hi, I am another relative of the Landis descendents. My great great grandfather was Christian Landi

Joy Zimansky


My grandmother's grandmother was a Landis from Lancaster Co., PA. Actually, there is a town in Lancaster Co. called Landisville named after our ancestors.

I haven't been able to do much research on that yet.

Catherine Nicholson


I'm a direct descendant of the Hans. Thanks for showing me how he died. I haven't found much on them yet as I have only just found this line. Hans is my Great Grandfather 12 times over!

Good Luck everybody!

Randall King

Hans Landis the martyr is my 13th great-grandfather. My relationship is through the Isaacs of Kentucky. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon). It would seem that a penchant for facing into the winds of persecution remains strong with his descendants. Thankfully we are not beheaded for our beliefs in America. God bless the memory and courage of grandpa Hans.

Randall King

Perhaps I should add that my line comes through Verena Landis who married an Oswald Baumann. Their grandson Wendal Wyant Baumann emigrated to Pennsylvania with his wife Anna Herr before 1735. They had 14 children.

Randall King

Hans Landis is my 13th great grandfather. My relationship comes through the Isaacs of Kentucky.

Art St. John

Hi, Hans Landis is my 10th great grandfather, and I also just recently discovered him in doing family research. My maternal grandfather was a Binkley from Lancaster County, PA, and one of his ancestors, Johannes Binggeli married Anna Barbara Landis who was a great great grandaughter of Hans Landis the martyr. Note: The historic Landis (Landos) homestead, built in 1488, is still standing in Hirzel, Switzerland.

Natalie B.

I just found your blog; thank you so much for putting the information about Hans Landis up! I am a direct descendant of him (he's my x10 great-grandfather). It's fascinating that some of my ancestors were Mennonite/Pennsylvania Dutch!


I am also a realitive. I was looking on and so far I have gotten to Hans. So if anyone has any info I can use feel free to email me at

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