Biography of Zeph Lees of Edon Ohio

Zeph Lees, a revered figure in Edon, Ohio, embodied the quintessential self-made man, rising from the early hardships of farm life to become a significant contributor to the local economy as vice president of the Edon State Bank. Born to Irish immigrants in Florence Township, Williams County, his journey was marked by perseverance and a commitment to community values. Beyond his banking success, Lees’s entrepreneurial spirit was evident in his cattle business and his early years in hauling, showcasing a life dedicated to honest, hard work. With his wife Amanda McCrory, Lees was deeply involved in the Christian Church, serving as a trustee and participating in the Odd Fellows, reflecting his dedication not only to his business ventures but also to his community and faith.

Zeph Lees. — While capitalists are rare at Edon, Ohio, yet many business enterprises nourish here, this city is proud of the fact that it has not proved attractive to speculators, but that fortunes enjoyed here have in the main been earned by their owners through honest, persevering effort along legitimate lines. This fact speaks well for stable conditions here, indicating a class of careful, thrifty, prudent business men of superior judgment. Such a man was Zeph Lees, who was vice president of the Edon State Bank.

Zeph Lees was born April 20, 1848, on a farm in Florence Township, Williams County, Ohio, lying one mile south and a quarter mile east of Edon. His parents were Hugh and Catherine (Delargy) Lees, both of whom were born at Belfast, Ireland. They grew up there and were married in Ireland, after which they came to the United States, landed at old Castle Garden, New York City. Hugh Lees found employment in New York and they remained there for two years, then came to Ohio and finally settled on a rented farm in Florence Township, Williams County. The time came when Hugh Lees owned 200 acres of land but at first he had to invest carefully and labor hard, sometimes working for 25 cents a day. Without help he cleared and cultivated many acres and as soon as his sons grew old enough they gave him assistance, Zeph, the oldest, remaining with his father until he was twenty-four years old. He and his wife were members of the Presbyterian Church. Of their eleven children, there were the following living in 1920: Elizabeth, who is the widow of David Metzler, of Huntington, Indiana; Mary, who is the wife of Henry Stuller, of Edgerton; Murvin, who lives at Edon; Elmer, who lives at Edon; Willis, who lives at Elkhart, Indiana: and Edson, who lives in Florence Township.

Zeph Lees remembered the early days on his father’s farm and of the real hardships that settlers at that time had to endure. He was a good son and remained at home as long as his help was necessary, in the meanwhile obtaining a district school education. When he came to Edon he went into the hauling business and carted goods or commodities to and from Edon and Edgerton, keeping at that business for seven years. About that time he began to buy and ship cattle and so continued for thirty-five years. He was vice president of the Edon State Bank and a director, the other members of the directing board being: Charles A. Bowersox, E. F. Brandon, Charles Allumong, G. C. Mauerhan, Jr., Nicholas Hauser and Elias Estrich.

On May 26, 1873, Mr. Lees was married to Miss Amanda McCrory, who was born at Auburn, in Dekalb County, Indiana, April 14, 1849. She was young when she accompanied her parents to Williams County. No children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Lees. They have been very active members of the Christian Church and the Sunday school and he has long been a church trustee. For many years he was an Odd Fellow and was past noble grand of the lodge at Edon. During a long and active life he saw much of politics and was always interested as a good citizen. Very many years ago he united with the republican party and continued to adhere to that political organization.

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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