"Tennessee Trails" through Bedford County

Bedford County TN Biographies

Abb Lowe Landis

Abb Lowe Landis was born in Bedford county, Tennessee, August 9, 1856, and traces the lines of his descent from the Landis family of North Carolina and from the Carter connection of Virginia. Next to the efficacy of good brains and blood in making up a man comes his environment—the circumstances surrounding the boy and the man- -the influences that impell ambitious and worthy endeavors. In these directions Mr. Landis was well favored. His father was Maj. A. L. Landis, whose name also has entered worthily into the history of Ten­nessee as a soldier and legislator, and his mother was Nancy (Carter) Landis, a most estimable lady and the daughter of Wiffiam and Keziah (Tannehill) Carter. The life and services of Major Landis are more specifically mentioned in his individual sketch appearing in this work.

The early years of Abb Lowe Landis leave no special mark for the note of the biographer. His first step in the march of life was into the University of Nashville, from which he was graduated in 1875. The following year he completed a post-graduate course at Vanderbilt University ~‘ Nashville, graduating in the spring of 1876, and he then entered upon the specific training for his profession by matriculating in the Cumberland University Law School, from which he was graduated in 1879. In the meantime, from 1876 to 1878, he was engaged in manu­facturing, and in 1876 he also took up journalism, continuing identified with that prqfession until 1888. A Democrat in political sentiment, he actively participated in the “sky blue” political compaign of 1882, and during 1884 and 1885 as owner of the Nashville Banner he waged editorial war on the convict-lease system of Tennessee, which was fol­lowed by a legislature investigation resulting in the final abandonment of the system by the state. During his anti-lease system campaign he wrote the editorial, “The Tennessee Tewksbury,” which was widely read, created intense interest in the subject of his contention, and which was an effective factor in bringing about. the results so much to Ten­nessee ‘s credit. This good work, however, was accomplished at a heavy cost to Mr. Landis in a financial way, for he thereby incurred the opposi­tion of large moneyed interests that hitherto had profited by this system of cheap labor and he was finally compelled to sell the Nashville Ban­mer, which he had taken when a losing property and had converted into a paying investment. From 1885 to 1889 he practiced law in Florida, and from 1889 to 1896 his attention was given to investments and insur­ance business. Since 1896 his whole activity has been in the direction of an actuary and counselor. As an actuary he has devoted his efforts to aiding provident societies of the United States and Canada to become established upon a sound financial basis. In this work he has served as actuary and counselor for more than one hundred of the largest and oldest beneficial orders in the United States and the Dominion of Can­ada and through public readjustment campaigns he has become well known to four miffions of their members. Mr. Landis is the author of several books and pamphlets on insurance principles and practices.

On August 18, 1880, Mr. Landis was happily married to Miss Mary Alma Word, (daughter of Cutbert Word) to whom were born Edwin Carter Landis (1884, died 1911) and Abbie Lucile Landis (1888).

Abb Landis was born in Bedford county, Tennessee, August 9, 1856, and his parents were Major A. L. and Nancy (Carter) Landis, the latter a representative of one of the most prominent families of Virginia. Major Landis was also a native of Bedford county and won his title by gallant service in defense of the Confederacy during the Civil war. He was an exceptionally capable business man and financier, while he also was an influential factor in legislative affairs, and his labors contributed materially to the upbuilding and development of Nashville and also of the state, which numbered him among its foremost citizens. Abb Landis was a diligent and earnest student and after finishing his public school training he entered the University of Nashville, completing his course in 1875, while in the following year he was graduated from Vanderbilt University. He then became a student in the law school of Cumberland University and won his degree in 1879. In the meantime he had become interested in manufacturing and journalism and during 1884 and 1885 owned and operated the Nashville Banner, at which time he waged a bitter warfare upon the convict-lease system. He won his cause but the victory was expensive, resulting in the loss of his paper. After selling the Banner he went to Florida, where he took up the practice of law, having charge of the legal business of a New England company which owned three hundred thousand acres of land in that state. Mr. Landis became recognized as an authority on land titles, building up a large clientele, and he was also called to public office, being elected city prosecutor upon a reform ticket, and he proceeded to clean up the town.

This was not his first connection with political affairs, however, for in 1876 he had been one of the democratic spellbinders for the Tilden-Hendricks ticket. Mr. Landis returned to the north and in 1888 he turned his attention to the purchase of municipal bonds and other securities. While engaged in that business he became deeply interested in life insurance and he devoted much study to that subject, specializing in its legal and actuarial phases. This led to his becoming interested in the fraternal societies of America and in 1892 he was called into consultation in the drafting of the first uniform bill by the National Fraternal Congress. He has aided in drafting legislation for the supervision and regulation of fraternal beneficiary societies, and bills with which he has been personally identified have been incorporated [p.284] into the laws of forty-four states. The field of his greatest activity has undoubtedly been in the rendering of direct service to individual fraternal beneficiary societies and he has been engaged in many readjustments for the largest and oldest organizations of this character in the United States and Canada, probably doing more work of this nature than all other actuaries combined. He has acted as counselor in many important readjustment cases and is now retained as consulting actuary by seventy-two fraternal beneficiary societies, while he has been employed as an actuary by two hundred and thirty-four American and Canadian associations. He has a highly specialized knowledge of the work in which he is engaged and his success in the actuarial and legal departments of insurance has been the most pronounced of any man of the present century. As counselor, amicus curiae, for the National Fraternal Congress, he recently won a notable case in the supreme court of Wisconsin. Mr. Landis has been a large contributor to fraternal society literature and from 1900 until 1904 edited the Criterion, an extremely able insurance journal.

In the latter year this publication was sold to the Fraternal Monitor, for which he was editorial writer until the increasingly large demands made upon his time by his other business interests obliged him to discontinue the work. The products of his pen have made him widely known and his books have had a large circulation. He is the author of the following publications: Friendly Societies and Fraternal Orders; Life Insurance Premiums; Analyses of Fraternal Beneficiary Societies; Life Insurance; National Fraternal Congress and Other Tables; “Fraternal Societies Defined; Digest of State Laws Regulating Fraternal Beneficiary Societies, which was published in 1922, in addition to many pamphlets and papers. His work is of the highest quality and he is regarded as an authority on matters pertaining to fraternal insurance. Mr. Landis has been admitted to practice in the United States supreme court and in the supreme courts of the District of Columbia, Florida, Tennessee, Wisconsin and other states. He has established offices in Nashville and in Washington and also maintains an office in Chicago. He is an indefatigable worker, frequently laboring until three or four o'clock in the morning, and in September, 1920, took his first vacation in forty years. He is fond of chess and checkers and his two favorite forms of diversion are games of skill and mechanical inventions. He has creative genius of a high order, is the inventor of the multiplying device in use on the Burroughs adding machine, and has recently perfected a combined nut and pipe wrench.

On the 18th of August, 1880, Mr. Landis was united in marriage to Miss Mary Alma Word, a daughter of Captain Cuthbert and Eliza A. (Phillips) Word, natives of Bedford county, Tennessee. Her father was a veteran of the Mexican war and in the Civil war he defended the Union cause, serving with the rank of captain in both conflicts. Mr. and Mrs. Landis have had two children but lost their son, Edwin Carter Landis, who was born in 1884 and died in 1911, when twenty-seven years of age. He married Ellen Glasgow and they had one child, Mary McPheeters. Abbie Lucile, the daughter, is now the wife of Henry A. Bradshaw, a prominent attorney of Florence, Alabama. Mr. Landis reserves the right of voting according to the dictates of his judgment. In religious faith he is a Presbyterian. He is identified with the Knights of Pythias, the Royal Arcanum, the National Union, the Knights of the Maccabees and several other fraternal organizations and is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society, of the Fraternal Actuarial Association and of the American Statistical Association. He is a member of the Southern Society, the Order of Washington and the Order of Lafayette, all of Washington, D. C., and also of the Order of Runnymede, the Noelton Country Club and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. He has taken cognizance of his opportunities, utilizing them to the best advantage, and has focused his energies in directions where fruition is certain. His is the record of an honorable, upright life–the record of a strong mentality, stable in purpose, quick in perception, energetic and determined in action.

Another Bio - Source: Tennessee the Volunteer State Vol 4

Actuary and counselor; born Bedford County, Tenn., August 9, 1856; son of Absalom L. and Nancy (Carter) Landis; descended from the Landis family of North Carolina and the Carters of Virginia; graduated University of Nashville 1875, Vanderbilt University 1876, Lebanon Law School 1879; he engaged in manufacturing from 1876 to 1878, law and journalism from 1879 to 1888, investments and insurance 1889 to 1896; actuary and counselor since 1896; actively participated in the Sky Blue political campaign of 1882; as owner of the Nashville Banner waged editorial war on the convict lease system 1884-85, which was followed by a legislative investigation, and which led to its final abandonment; author of the editorial “The Tennessee Tewksberry;” by his anti-lease system campaign he incurred the opposition of large moneyed interests and was compelled to sell the Banner, which he had taken when a losing property and turned to paying investment; practiced law in Florida in 1885-89; as an actuary he has devoted himself to the effort of placing the provident societies in the United States and Canada upon a sound financial basis; in this work he has been actuary and counselor for seventy of the largest and oldest beneficial societies in the United States and the Dominion of Canada, and through public readjustment campaigns he has become known to four million of their members; he is author of several books and numerous pamphlets; married Mary Alma Word August 18, 1880.
Source: Who’s Who in Tennessee, Memphis: Paul & Douglass Co., Publishers, 1911; transcribed by Kim Mohler

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