Joseph Isaac Landes

Joseph Isaac Landes was born on January 3, 1836, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to Isaac and Susannah Kelly Landes. His father was an upwardly-mobile merchant and banker who became “one of the leading business men” in the country. Isaac owned two slaves in 1840; twenty years later, he had at least twelve, as well as $7,000 in real estate. 

Joseph Landes received his early education in Hopkinsville and Hardinsburg and began reading law under local lawyer Hiram A. Phelps. He enrolled at UVA in 1857 to complete his legal training, but he left the university in March 1858 after a typhoid epidemic forced the Board of Visitors to suspend classes. Returning home to Kentucky, he received a license to practice law in April 1858.

Landes enlisted in the Union army in the summer of 1862, and on August 11 he received a commission as a first lieutenant in the 8th Kentucky Cavalry. He mustered into service in Louisville and spent the next four weeks skirmishing against Confederate guerillas in western Kentucky. He mustered out of service on September 8 and returned to practicing law. On April 27, 1865, he married Mary McDowell Carter in Columbus, Ohio. Her father, Francis Carter, was an Irish-born physician who helped established Starling Medical College and dreamed of transforming Columbus into the “medical center of the West.” Although Landes and his wife had no children of their own, they adopted Anna Margaret Kelly, the orphaned daughter of Mary’s sister. The couple doted on Anna, and Landes described her in his will as his “beloved adopted daughter.”

In addition to his legal practice, Landes established a vibrant career as a local politician. He joined the Democratic Party in the late 1850s and supported Stephen A. Douglas in the election of 1860. He was a staunch Unionist during the Civil War, however, and ultimately became a “consistent and active member of the Republican party.” He served as the county attorney for Christian County from 1862 to 1866 and as city judge of Hopkinsville from 1870 to 1874. In 1893, Kentucky’s Sixth District elected him to the state senate, where he served on the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Constitutional Amendments. He resigned in March 1896 to accept an appointment to the state Court of Appeals.

Landes also actively participated in Hopkinsville’s civic life. He was a long-time member of the local school board, sat on the Board of Trustees for the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky, and served as a United States commissioner for more than twenty years. He managed the Sunday School for the First Presbyterian Church, and in 1867 he became a ruling elder in the church. His long tenure in public life earned him respect and admiration throughout Christian County. One writer praised his “deep research, clear judgement, and acumen and experience” as a judge. Another remembered him as a “tender and devoted husband, an upright citizen and fearless and uncompromising friend of truth, morality, and religion.” He died at his home in Hopkinsville on December 1, 1907, after a long bout of illness.


Hopkinsville Lawyers Pay Tribute to Joseph I. Landes

Name:Landes, Joseph Isaac
Alternative names:
  • Soldier
  • UVA (Union)
8th Regiment Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry
Branch of service:Army
Muster In1862-08-11Louisville, KY
Muster Out1862-09-08Louisville, KYMustered Out
Residence at UVA:Hopkinsville, KY
UVA Begin Year:1857
UVA End Year:1858
Residence at enlistment:
Rank In:First Lieutenant
Rank Out:
Highest rank achieved:
Birth date:1836-01-03
Birth date certainty:certain
Birth place:Hopkinsville, KY
Death date:1907-12-01
Death place:Hopkinsville, KY
Causes of death:disease: general debility
Occupations:Attorney, Politician, Judge
Person 1Relation TypePerson 2
Landes, Joseph Isaacadoptive parent ofLandes, Anna Margaret
Landes, Marywife ofLandes, Joseph Isaac

H. Levin, Lawyers and Lawmakers of Kentucky (1897); United States Slave Schedules, 1850 and 1860, accessed through; The Bee, Nov 2, 1893, accessed through; Compiled Service Record for Joseph I. Landes, RG 94, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; Frederick A. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion (1909); “Joseph I. Landes and Mary McD Carter,” Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993, accessed through; United States Census, 1850, 1860, and 1870, accessed through; “Joseph I. Landes,” Kentucky, Wills and Probate Records, 1774-1989, accessed through; The Courier-Journal, Dec 2, 1907, accessed through; The Courier-Journal, Nov 21, 1895, accessed through; The Daily Kentuckian, May 13, 1898, accessed through; The Evening Bulletin, Jan 20, 1898, accessed through; The Public Ledger, Dec 3, 1907, accessed through; The Frankfort Roundabout, Dec 7, 1907, accessed through; Hopkinsville Kentuckian, Dec 12, 1907, accessed through; University of Virginia Board of Visitors Minutes, March 10, 1858, accessed through “Jefferson’s University: The Early Life” Project; The Louisville Daily Courier, February 19, 1859; Bob Hunter, A Historical Guidebook to Old Columbus: Finding the Past in the Present in Ohio’s Capital City (Columbus: Ohio University Press, 2012), 224); The Courier Journal (Louisville, KY), January 10, 1896.