Biography of Benjamin Franklin Neff

Benjamin Franklin Neff, senior member of the firm of B. F Neff & Son, manufacturers of drain-tile and brick, at Bryan has been the dominating figure in developing one of the most important industrial enterprises of Williams County, and the high-grade products manufactured at the Neff plant find constant and cumulative demand m connection with material improvements in both town and farm properties in this section of the Buckeye State.

Mr. Neff was born in West Moreland County, Pennsylvania November 10, 1855, and is a son of John G. and Mary (Garver) Neff, who were born and reared in the old Keystone state and who there continued to reside until 1868, when they came to Williams County, Ohio, and established their home at Bryan. The father had not only proved successful as a farmer but also as a manufacturer of brick and tile, and he it was who founded the substantial industry of which his son Benjamin F. is now the executive head. After coming to Williams County John G. Neff first confined his attention to the manufacturing of brick, but later he amplified the enterprise to include the manufacturing of high-grade drain-tile. Eventually he admitted his son Benjamin F. to partnership in the business, and the son later assumed full control, his progressiveness and energy having come effectively into play in extending the scope of the industry and making it one of much importance in a practical way as well as a medium for the achieving of substantial success. The parents passed the remainder of their lives in Williams County, where they held high place in popular esteem, both having been zealous members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the father having been a democrat in his political faith.

Benjamin F. Neff acquired his rudimentary education in his native state and was a lad of about thirteen years at the time of the family removal to Williams County, where he continued to attend school for the next few years and where he finally became actively associated with his father’s manufacturing business, as previously noted. After he had attained to his legal majority he became associated with his father in establishing a brick yard at West Unity, this county, and of this he had the active management for ten years, within which he did a substantial business in the manufacturing of brick and tile. After selling the plant and business at West Unity he returned to Bryan and became a partner of his father in the brick and tile manufactory at this place. Here he has since continued the enterprise with success and upon admitting his son to partnership the present firm name was adopted. Mr. Neff also owns a farm of fifty acres, near Bryan, and he maintains a general supervision of the operations on this place, which is devoted to diversified agriculture and the raising of live stock on a somewhat limited scale.

Mr. Neff is found aligned staunchly in the ranks of the democratic party, but he has had no desire for public office, though he served four years as treasurer of Pulaski Township. He is past master of Bryan Lodge. No. 215, Free and Accepted Masons, and is affiliated also with the local chapter of Royal Arch Masons and the Council of Royal and Select Masters. He is a zealous member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Bryan, as was also his wife, and is serving as chairman of its board of trustees.

In 1881 Mr. Neff wedded Miss Laura Allison, of Stryker, this county, and their gracious companionship was severed when on January 7, 1919, Mrs. Neff passed to the life eternal, her memory being revered by all who came within the sphere of her kindly influence. Of the three children the eldest is Emery A., who was graduated in the Bryan High School and who is now the junior member of the firm of B. F. Neff & Son; Arthur G. was graduated in Oberlin College and later in historic old Harvard University, and he is now a successful contractor in the City of Detroit, Michigan, he having enlisted m the heavy field artillery when the nation became involved in the World war and having continued in camp service twenty-two months, his command having not been called to active service overseas; and Florence, whose higher education was received in the great University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, is now the wife of James Roe, editor of the Bryan Press, in her native city.

Source: Bowersox, Charles A. ed. A standard history of Williams County, Ohio: an authentic narrative of the past, with particular attention to the modern era in the commercial, industrial, educational, civic and social development , Vol. 2. Publisher Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co. 1920.

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