Biography of Francis E. Myers
North Central Ohio Biographies





Francis E. Myers, whose death occurred in Ashland, Dec. 2, 1923, was a man whose life justified itself in every relation. His splendid stewardship was shown not only in his service in the upbuilding of a great industrial enterprise, and in his great loyalty to his home city and county, where he was assured leadership in both civic and material progress, but also in the objective generosity, benevolence, and philanthropy that betokened the strong and noble nature and personality of the man. He and his brother, Philip A. Myers, were associated closely, and with remarkable coordination of thought and action, in the development of the largest and most important industrial enterprise of its kind in the world, and that this enterprise has meant much to the commercial prestige and social prosperity of the city of Ashland need scarcely be said. In this city is situated the great pump and hay tool manufacturing plant of F. E. Myers & Brother, and of the far reaching industrial enterprise thus represented, the subject of this sketch continued the executive head until the close of his long and useful life. As a captain of industry, financier, loyal and liberal citizen, and man of intrinsic nobility of character, Francis E. Myers had no minor distinction of greatness in thought, sentiment, service, and achievement, and this history of his native commonwealth properly accords to him a tribute of appreciation and honor.

Francis E. Myers was a native son of Ashland County and a representative of one of its sterling pioneer families. He was born on his father's farm in Perry Township, March 16, 1849, and was the eldest of a family of nine children, of whom six survive. He was a son of George and Elizabeth (Morr) Myers, and a grandson of Jacob and Mary (Stein) Myers.

Jacob Myers was born and reared in Muhlbach, Germany, and came to America in 1748. He purchased a large tract of land in what is now Center County, Pa., where he reared a family of nine children. He finally came with his family to Ohio and became a pioneer farmer in Ashland County, where he and his wife passed the remainder of their lives.

George Myers was reared in Ashland County and early engaged in farming. He also had exceptional mechanical ability, and found much requisition for his service as a carpenter and general worker in wood, while he also gave his attention to the management of his fine farm, which was located about six miles east of the city of Ashland. In this connection it is interesting to record that George Myers did the woodwork on the first wagon built by the Studebakers, who later located at South Bend, Ind. George Myers was one of the substantial, unassuming, and uniformly respected and honored citizen of Ashland County, and here he and his wife continued to maintain their home until their deaths.

Francis E. Myers passed his childhood and early youth on the home farm and in the meantime availed himself of such advantages as were afforded in the district school of the locality and period. Apropos of his early educational limitations are the following significant statements that appeared in the Ashland Times Gazette at the time of his death: "He stood as an excellent example of the American gentleman of rugged health, fine physique and strong mind, while his contact with the world brought him the polish which many acquired in schools of learning. He was charitable, kindly, and easily approached, and had the rare faculty of putting one immediately at ease in his presence. He had a handsome face because of its strong character, good features, and a humorous twinkle in his eyes. All Ashlanders and every one else who knew Mr. Myers honored him for the wonderful things he accomplished and admired and appreciated him for his genuine personal worth. He stood first in the hearts of the people in his home city. The life history of such a man is one that cannot fail to prove of interest, for the world pays its tribute of admiration and respect to him that accomplished large things without assistance and by honorable methods."

Mr. Myers found employment as a clerk in the dry goods store of M. B. Parmalee, Ashland, when 22 years of age, and the following year he became a salesman of farm machinery. In 1875 he established on a very modest scale an independent business as a dealer in agricultural implements, and in this connection he sold plows, manufactured by the Bucher & Gibbs Plow Company, of Canton, by whom he was finally called into service as a traveling salesman, a position in which he made a characteristically successful record. In 1879 his brother, Philip A., perfected his first important invention, a double acting force pump, and secured a patent on the same. Francis E. Myers had faith in the invention and the two became associated in the manufacturing of this new type of pump, which was assembled in the Myers implement establishment after the castings had been made in other cities. The skillful service of Philip A. Myers, the inventor, and the progressive executive ability of Francis E. Myers soon gained for the new pump a popular recognition that resulted in the continuous expansion of the business, so that in 1885 the firm of F. E. Myers & Brother erected the first unit of what has become the largest manufacturing plant of its kind in the world. Of direct interest in this connection are the following quotations: "There is probably no better example of two brothers who worked together during the development of a great industry than Philip A. and Francis E. Myers, the one a mechanical genius and the other endowed with great executive and administrative ability. They formed a partnership many years ago but it was not until July, 1921, that the gigantic industrial enterprise was incorporated as the F. E. Myers & Brothers Company. F. E. Myers did not owe his success to any esoteric methods, but to close application, unremitting energy and keen discrimination. He was at the head of the largest plant in the world manufacturing pumps and hay tools exclusively, a plant that turns out a complete implement every half minute during working hours. The Myers concern is one of the most remarkable developments of the age, a poor farm boy with little education, who with the help of a brother developed this mammoth plant and business."

The annual volume of business controlled by this great Ashland concern now runs into the millions, and approximately 30,000 dealers, all over the world, handle the products of the great Myers factory. Agencies are maintained in all the important European countries, in Central and South America, and in South Africa, India, Japan, and Australia.

Mr. Myers not only gained prestige as one of America's leading captains of industry, but also found time and opportunity to advance other business enterprises than the one of which he was the executive head, and to fulfill his stewardship by worthy and liberal support of agencies and measures making for communal prosperity and for national advancement. At the time of his death he was president of the Cleveland, Southwestern & Columbus Railroad, a director of the Nickel Plate Railroad, a director of the Union Trust Company and Guarantee Title & Trust Cornpany of Cleveland, president of the First National Bank of Ashland, a director of the Faultless Rubber Company, and associated with other important corporations. He was chairman of the Ohio Commission of the Panama Pacific Exposition, at which he served on the international jury awards. At the time of his death he was chairman of the board of trustees of Wittenberg College, Springfield, to the support and advancement of which he and his brother, Philip, made liberal contributions. He also made a large donation to Ashland College, and no worthy movement advanced for the general good of the community failed to receive his loyal and constructive support.

Mr. Myers never consented to become a candidate for political office of any kind, notwithstanding many opportunities made in this connection. In politics he was a Democrat. He was affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, including Ashland Lodge, No. 151, F. & A. M., and the Cornmandery of Knight Templar at Mansfleld, besides which he had membership in the Mystic Shrine. He was a valued member of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, the local Rotary and Colonial Clubs, and was affiliated with the Ashland Lodge of Elks. He and his wife were active members of the Lutheran Church. He had full appreciation of the responsibility which success imposes, and manifested this in his earnest support of charitable and philanthropic agencies and service, ever with characteristic modesty. The great Ashland industry which he and his brother founded has been in continuous operation more than 40 years, has never had a shut down on account of financial panic or labor troubles, and affords employment to fully 1,000 workers. Like most other men of great achievement, Mr. Myers had special power of selection and concentration, and justice characterized his every thought and action throughout the entire course of his long and admirable career.

On Jan. 18, 1871, Mr. Myers married Miss Alavesta Hohenshil. She died March 28, 1923. Mr. and Mrs. Myers are survived by three children: 1. Mary, married Frederick L. Parker of Westfield, Mass. 2. Helen A., married T. W. Miller, of Ashland. 3. John C., who has been closely associated with the great industrial enterprise founded by his father and uncle, and who has assumed much of the executive responsibility since the death of his father. There were three other children: 1. Charles, who died in infancy. 2. Katherine E., who died in Florence, Italy, in March, 1906, while on a European tour. 3. George Jay, who died in August, 1915.

Mrs. Myers earnestly seconded her husband in charitable and philanthropic service and to her Ashland is indebted for the Nurses Home of the Samaritan Hospital.

From:
History of North Central Ohio
Embracing Richland, Ashland, Wayne,
Medina, Lorin, Huron and Knox Counties
BY: William A. Duff
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1931


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