ABRAHAM B. LANDIS, one of the leading citizens of Waynesboro, Pa., an inventor of note, and superintendent of the Landis Tool Works, which he founded, was born April 11, 1854, on the farm on Antietam Creek, about two miles south from Waynesboro, where his father, Benjamin N. Landis, settled when he came from Lancaster county. Pennsylvania.
Our subject's father died when he was but one and a half years of age and he was taken by his mother back to her parents' home in Lancaster county, near Lititz. There he remained with his mother until he was ten years old, going then to an uncle, Jacob Haverstick, near Millersville, Lancaster county, where he spent two years, during which time he attended the Model School department of the State Normal School at Millersville. In the fall of 1866 he went to live with Christian Frantz, who resided on the New Holland pike, a few miles east from Lancaster City, and there he remained until the next spring, attending school that winter. His mother having removed to Lancaster City, Abraham B. joined her there in the spring of 1867, and there attended school until 1868, when he went to learn the machinist trade in the establishment of his brothers, Franklin F. and Ezra, who had as partner a cousin. Jacob Landis, the firm being known as Landis & Co. Our subject served a full apprenticeship of three years, and continued to work for the company, which sometime afterward became that of Landis, Frick & Co. This last firm sold out to John Best, and with him Mr. Landis continued until 1873.
About 1874 Franklin F. Landis started a small business for the manufacture of steam engines, of which Abraham B. Landis became a partner, the firm being styled F. F. & A. B. Landis. They manufactured in a small way portable steam engines until the fall of 1878, when they met with financial difficulties, and later sold their effects, good will, etc., to the Geiser Manufacturing Company, of Waynesboro, to which place the brothers removed.
In January, 1880, Mr. Landis entered the employ of the Geiser Company as foreman of the engine department of the machine shops. A year later when a tool department was established, he was placed in charge, continuing until January, 1890, during which time numerous improvements on tools in his charge brought out the Landis grinding machine and other tools, which he and his brother, F. F. Landis, began to manufacture under the former's patents, in January, 1890. The business started in a small way under the title of Landis Brothers. Passing through the financial crisis of 1893, want of capital made this enterprise an uphill business for a time, but they persevered and their machines grew into favor, the business increasing from year to year until it grew almost out of their financial capacity, until April 25, 1897. when a fire destroyed their entire plant.
Having previously had in view, owing to their limited capital, the incorporation of their business, following the fire they decided to put their plans to that effect into force, and meeting with an immediate response from the citizens of Waynesboro, the Landis Tool Company was formed in four days time, with an authorized capitalization of $100,000, half of the sum being paid up. They rebuilt on the old site, enlarging extensively. The business continued to grow, and in December, 1898, the capital stock was increased to $75,000, and in 1900, it was further increased to $100,000, and in 1901, to $150.OOO, and in 1902, to $250,000. The original officers of the company were as follows. President, A. H. Strickler: vice-president, Daniel Hoover; secretary. J. E. Frantz; general superintendent, A. B. Landis. Directors: A. H. Strickler, Daniel Hoover, F. Forthman, W. H. Snyder. Ezra Frick, Reuben Shover, T. B. Smith, W. T. Omwake, and S. B. Rhinehart. The official board of the present company are the same as the above with the exception of Mr. Shover, who is deceased, and was succeeded by Jay Shank, and the officers are the same as formerly.
The Landis Tool Co. manufactures grinding machines for finishing spindles and shafts of machinery, and does an annual amount of business of S250,000, the machines selling in the market of the United States, Europe, and all countries where manufacturing of machinery is carried on. The company employs over 300 workmen and has one of the best equipped plants in the world, the power being electricity.
Owing to the great demand for the grinding machines made by the Landis Tool Compan, another tool of Mr. Landis's inventions, namely a bolt threading machine, which was intended to have been made by the company, was given up to a new corporation formed for the purpose of its manufacture, in October, 1903, organized with an authorized capital of $50,000, $25,000 of which was immediately paid up, and in the fall of 1904 the full amount of $50,000 was paid up to meet the growing demand there was for this machine. This corporation was named the Landis Machine Company, as manufacturers of Bolt Threading and Nut Tapping Machinery, which are its special lines.