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Lansing History: The Adduci house on Ridge and Lorenz once belonged to Henry Lansing

Additional research provided by Susan Bovino

Lansing’s oldest house still bears witness to the man our town was named after

LANSING, Ill. (September 14, 2023) – Not much is known of Henry Lansing, the man Lansing, Illinois, was named after. And no photos exist of the original Lansing family. But the house that still stands at the corner of Ridge Road and Lorenz Avenue was originally owned by Henry Lansing in 1850.

The Lansing family

The story begins in 1846 when three Lansing brothers — Henry, George, and John — left New York state. Another brother, Peter (1823-1896), who was also born in New York, joined his brothers much later, in 1865.

The four brothers were the sons of Peter Lansing (1778-1848) and Jane Burnside Lansing (1782-1830) who had at least seven more children.

Five members of the Lansing clan are buried in Thornton Township Cemetery in Homewood. They are George (1817-1856) and his daughter Hattie (1854-1856), John (1809-1865) and his wife Louisa (1815-1902), and Peter’s daughter Lucy Evelyn (1852-1870).

Thornton Township Cemetery
Five members of the Lansing family — but not Henry Lansing — are buried in Thornton Township Cemetery, which is located along Ridge Road, west of the Thornton Quarry. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

The George and John Lansing families

George and his wife Adah and their daughter Hatti, and John and his wife Louisa and their five-year-old son Edwin, all settled immediately in our little village in 1846. In New York, according to the 1840 census, 141 families carried the surname of Lansing, about 91 percent of all the Lansings in the United States. But in this region of Illinois, no one else carried the Lansing name. The village itself did not even have a name at that time.

We know very little about George Lansing. He died in 1856 at age 39. He had married Adah Angeline Cleveland Lansing in 1843. Their daughter Hatti died the same year as George — she in February, he in November. After their deaths Adah moved to Wisconsin and remarried.

It was John Lansing who platted the town in 1865, the year before his death.

John’s son Edwin Lansing worked on the family farm until he became of age. He then served in the army for a short time and later worked for the Eastern Illinois and Panhandle Railroads as a brakeman and later a conductor. In 1868 Edwin went to Colorado, where he worked in the mines and raised stock. He returned to Lansing in 1882 and bought a 200-acre farm near the village. Edwin Lansing served as the Justice of the Peace for several years.

Henry Lansing, from wanderer to postmaster to parts unknown

Henry Lansing seemed to have a bit of wanderlust and wasn’t ready to settle down when he arrived with his brothers in 1846. Instead he took a side trip to Galena and stayed a short time before rejoining George and John. He purchased property at the northwest corner of Ridge Road and Lorenz Avenue from the United States government. He sold the property to his brother John ten months later and hit the road again. Henry enlisted in the army at the time of the Mexican-American War and served under General Zackary Taylor in the 16th regiment. From Mexico, he went to Sacramento, California, and spent several years working the mines. He returned to Illinois in 1856 and stayed for three years before going back to California for two years. He then spent another two years traveling through Idaho and Washington.

Henry finally returned, again, and this time he settled down, for a while. In 1864 Henry Lansing opened the area’s first general store on the south side of Ridge Road.

Henry Lansing
Henry Lansing opened the first general store in 1864. (Photo provided by the Lansing Historical Society)

That store was located in what is now the parking lot of Gus Bock’s Hardware Store, and a historical marker reminds today’s pedestrians of the history of the spot.

Lansing General Store
A historical marker north of the Gus Bock’s Ace Hardware Store on Ridge Road lets passersby know that Henry Lansing’s General Store was located here. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

The historical marker reads, in part:

“Just south of this marker, in 1864, Henry Lansing built the first general store, which in the next year became the post office. Following the general custom of the day, the town was named Lansing after its first postmaster. Henry’s brother, John, platted the village in 1865, and in the same year, the developing Chicago & Great Eastern Railway (Panhandle) established the Lansing station just south of the new general store. The village was incorporated in 1893.”

The Lansing house

Adduci
The house at the corner of Ridge and Lorenz was once owned by Henry Lansing, the namesake of the Village of Lansing. Today it has an address of 3056 Ridge Road. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

John Lansing owned the property at Ridge and Lorenz for seven years. Then on September 15, 1858, he sold it to a Samuel W. Fraser. Fraser owned it only three months before he sold it on December 5, 1858, to Louisa Lansing, John’s wife. Five years later, on September 5, 1864, the title was transferred from Louisa back to her husband John and their son Edwin.

Henry Lansing
The title search results for the property show that Henry Lansing bought the property from the original owner (US government). Henry then sold it to his brother, John Lansing, in May of 1851. (Photo of document: Dan Bovino)

It is not known when the house was built or when any of the Lansing family members lived there. The house may have been on the property when they bought that land, or it’s possible they built the house in order to live there and farm the property, which they did for many years. A tour of the basement reveals that the main support beams were made of hand hewn oak, and the 170-year-old axe marks are still visible in the wood. Seeing that it was built of logs and chinked with mud confirms that the house was built in the mid to late 1800s. One real estate firm claims it was built in 1869.

Henry Lansing
Hand hewn oak beams, with the bark still on them, are evidence that this house was built in the 1800s. (Photo: Dan Bovino, 2016)

The earliest record of residency in the house is 1941, showing Elmer and Marcella Strand and their two daughters living there. When Elmer died in 1959, his obituary showed his residence as 3056 Ridge Road, the current address of the house at the corner of Ridge and Lorenz. And when Marcella died in 1985 it was reported she still lived in Lansing, presumably at that address.

In 1989 Attorney James Adduci purchased the property from the Strand estate. The following year he requested a variance to allow his law practice to be located in the residential district. The newspaper account read, “The law requires that there is a resident in the home. However, Adduci has a home in Lansing and wants this house strictly for his law office.” The variance was granted, and Adduci and his law office remain active at that address to this day.

Henry Lansing
Attorney James Adduci currently houses his law practice in the house formerly owned by the original Lansing family. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Adduci said, “The house is beautiful, but when a tall client comes in he has to duck under the doors. It tells me people were a lot smaller back then, less than six feet.” He said all the floors are hardwood and all the walls are plaster. “There is no drywall in here.”

A presidential connection

The thing that makes the biggest impression on Adduci is that the deed signed over to Henry Lansing is signed by President Zackary Taylor in June 1850.

President Taylor was a career officer in the United States Army when Henry Lansing enlisted and became a soldier under him. Taylor rose to the rank of major general and became a national hero for his victories in the Mexican–American War. As a result, he won election to the White House and served as the 12th president of the United States from 1849 until his death in 1850. He died July 9, 1850, just one month after signing that deed to Lansing. He was 16 months into his term when he died from a stomach disease.

Ordinary people

The house at Ridge and Lorenz looks like many other houses in Lansing, and it’s easy to walk or drive past it without realizing it has a part in the story of our town. Henry Lansing and his family were ordinary people, and that’s why so little is known about them now. Henry started a business and took on the role of postmaster, and then he seems to have disappeared from historical records. We don’t know if he stayed in Lansing. We don’t know what other jobs he had. We don’t know when he died or where he was buried. Additional research found a Henry Lansing buried in California, but it is unclear whether this is the same Henry for whom our village is named.

But the house Henry Lansing once owned still stands at the corner of Ridge and Lorenz. And the town that bears his name is now populated by other ordinary people who are starting businesses, raising families, and finding opportunities to make a difference in their community.


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Marlene Cook
Marlene Cook
Marlene Cook is a Lansing resident who loves learning and writing about local history. A member of the Illinois Women's Press Association since 1973, she has won multiple IWPA awards. Her 2020 awards in the Mate E. Palmer Communications Contest included first place for columns and second place for nonfiction book in the history category.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Fascinating story! For that period of time this a very impressive looking home. Is Henry Street named for him as well? Something else that stands out to me is that Henry was traveling all over the West and it has to make you wonder if was on horseback alone or with wagon trains. Again, thanks for a great read. 👏

  2. This site is wonderful. How lucky can I be to get to see the history of my home town. I love this.
    Lois RIDDER Rainwater my mom was an EENIGENBURG.

    • Thank you for catching that, Juanita. I reached out to Marlene, and she was able to supply the correct birth year for John. He was born in 1809. The story has been updated, and we appreciate your help!

Comments are closed.

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