Postcard of Main Street in Bryan, Ohio

Biography of Eliel T. Binns of Bryan, Ohio

Eliel T. Binns, who is now living virtually retired at Bryan, the judicial center of Williams County, was for forty years a representative merchant of this village, even as he has been loyal and progressive as a citizen. He was born at Leroy, Medina County, Ohio, September 16, 1850, and is a son of Samuel and Ellen (Taylor) Binns, both of whom were born in England, and in the same year, 1817. The parents were reared and educated in their native land, where their marriage was solemnized, and whence, in 1837, they immigrated to the United States and first established their residence in New York City, where the father found employment in the work of his profession, that of taxidermist, in which he was especially skillful and as a representative of which he was employed for a time by Phineas T. Barnum, the great circus man. He remained in the national metropolis three years and then, in 1841, came to Ohio and established his home in Medina County. In England he had gained also a practical training in the tailor’s trade, and at Leroy, Medina County, he opened a tailor shop, which he conducted until 1855. He was a man of marked intellectualism and studious habits, and his deep Christian faith finally led to his being ordained a clergyman of the Universalist Church, in the active service of which he continued during the remainder of his life. He held various pastoral charges, and his last ministerial incumbency was at Lyons, Fulton County, whence he removed to Fayette, that county, where he died in the year 1889, revered by all who had come within the compass of his kindly and benignant influence. He was a republican in politics and was affiliated with the Masonic fraternity. His wife survived him by several years and of their five children three are living — John W., a prosperous farmer near Fayette, Fulton County; Sarah, the wife of Otis Ford, of Fayette; and Eliel Taylor Binns, the immediate subject of this sketch.

Eliel T. Binns had the advantages of a home of distinctive culture and refinement and his early education was obtained in the public schools of his native state, including those of Fayette, Fulton County, and the Fayette Academy, he having been seventeen years of age at the time of the family removal to that county. In 1871, about the time of attaining his legal majority, he came to Bryan, where he found employment in a dry goods store, at very modest wages. He continued his clerical service about seven years and then, in 1878, here opened a modest dry goods establishment and engaged in business in an independent way. Effective service to patrons gained to him in the passing years a substantial and profitable trade, and he was one of the leading merchants of the city at the time of his retirement, in 1908. He has not been content, however, to become inactive, after so many years of earnest and productive enterprise, and he gives his attention at the present time to the general insurance business and the extending of financial loans on approved security. He and his wife are zealous and influential members of the Universalist Church at Bryan, and he is a member of its board of trustees. He is affiliated with the Bryan lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, and at Defiance, judicial center of the county of the same name, he holds membership in Defiance Commandery, No. 30, Knights Templar, besides which he is affiliated with Zenobia Temple of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, in the City of Toledo. He is a staunch supporter of the principles of the republican party, and though he has ever been liberal and progressive as a citizen he has had no desire for the honors or emoluments of political office. He is today one of the most respected and influential men of Williams County and has done much to advance the civic and material prosperity of Bryan. He has been for years the president of the Bryan Business Men’s Association, is the owner of six rooms utilized by representative mercantile concerns of the city, and has erected and sold forty-five houses in Bryan. No one citizen has done more for the up building of the town than has he, as he has been liberal in supporting the various manufacturing enterprises and other industries and active in securing new enterprises of this order for his home town. He was chairman of the county temperance committee which played a most important part in obliterating the liquor traffic in Williams County and was also influential in the furtherance of prohibition in the state. He was assistant chairman of the county committee which had charge of exploiting the first Liberty loan in Williams County incidental to the late World war, and was chairman of the committee which had charge of the promotion of the second and third Governmental loans in the county, his resignation from this position having occurred at the time when the fifth loan was projected, as he felt physically unable to carry forward this final campaign.

In 1882 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Binns to Miss Rhoda E. Lane, daughter of the late John Lane, who was a representative farmer in Defiance County. Mr. and Mrs. Binns have one daughter, Laura, a graduate of Vassar College, is now the wife of Leigh B. Lynch, of Pontiac, Michigan. Mr. and Mrs. Binns take much pride in the fact that they have three grandsons and one granddaughter. Mrs. Binns has been a leader in church and social activities in her home community.

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 , 2 vols. Publisher Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co. 1920.

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