Escanaba Daily Press 22 june 2001 paper version

Van Landschoot legacy spans 500 years and five decades of family research.

Reunions are special occasions for family members to get together, meet the new additions, and reflect on old times.

ESCANABA — Reunions are special occasions for family members to get together, meet the new additions, and reflect on old times. A recent reunion at the Golden Host Inn was more unique. The old times consisted of about 500 years of history. Members of the Van Landschoot family recently met with Hans VanLandschoot, a native of Belgium, who has developed the family’s line back to its origins in Krokke, Belgium in the 1500s.

Hans’ uncle Leon started the archiving project in 1950, and continued until his death in 1980. Using special cards and ledgers, Leon traced five distinct branches of the family and their spread from Belgiumto other countries. He also visited historical sites and looked through old town records to find evidence of the families background. In 1995, Hans decided to pick up from his research and find as many relatives he could. “My uncle is the reason that this could be done. He was the one who did so much of the hard work to make this possible,”Hans said.

Unfortunately, during the 15 years between Leon’s death and Hans’ decision to start researching again, some of Leon’s research was lost. To piece together his descendants history, Hans continued his uncle’s project through modern technology. He created a website on, and asked Van Landschoot descendants for their family information. The response was enormous. Donna Landschoot from Port Huron began exchanging information with him on American descendants.

Other family members from around the country started sending him information. Cousins Joanna Ferrett from Marion, Mich., and Judy LaCombe of Escanaba started emailing Hans about their grandmother, Joanna Van Landschoot. “It is a tremendous experience,” LaCombe said. “Being able to contact Hans through the Internet has been great. There is no way you could call Belgium and talk on the phone, but email made it possible to talk back and forth.”

FAMILY TIES — Hans Van Landschoot and his wife Renee, both seated, visit with some of the Michigan descendants of the Van Landschoot family. Leon Van Landschoot, pictured below, started researching his family tree in 1950. Hans Van Landschoot restarted that research in 1993, eventually visiting some of the relatives Leon researched throughout the U.S. (Daily Press photo by Pat Goddard)

Through the internet, he was able to add hundreds of American descendants to the family tree. “It is kind of like a webwork. You find information about a person, then about all of his relatives, and it branches out from there,” Hans said. “That’s how I learned about a lot of relatives in the U.S.” Hans, and his wife Renee, decided to meet some of his distant relatives in the United States. He spent three weeks visiting family members in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.

The group that met that the Golden Host Inn are descendants of Phillip, Joseph, or Joanna Van Landschoot. The three siblings emigrated to different areas in the Upper Peninsula in the late 1800s. While he was there, Hans got to meet some of his distant relatives for the first time. Tony III and Sandy Louis, the owners of the Golden Host Inn, were also related by Hans, so they made sure he had a place to stay. “It is great to meet people who you have talked to and know about from doing this project, I would like to meet all my relatives,” Hans said. On his website, Hans included pictures and historical data from the different branches. “Hans sent me an email with the photo of my grandmother’s house in Belgium. That was really something,” LaCombe said.

In all, Hans found over 14,000 Van Landschoot descendants. Some used different variations of the name, because formal spelling was not developed and widely used until the 1800s and 1900s, Hans said.

Hans uncovered some interesting family members during his research. Three people fought in the civil war. Others were extremely rich. One ancestor, Arnold, was almost the head of the Vatican Library, Hans explained. “There are no criminals in the family that I know of,” Hans added.