William Banfield

HANCOCK COUNTY WEST VIRGINIA – BIOS: BANFIELD, William
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Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
vfcrook@trellis.net
September 23, 1999
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The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 255-256
Hancock County

WILLIAM BANFIELD. Prominent among the men who have
contributed to the business development of Follansbee may
be mentioned William Banfield, general manager of the
Follansbee Brothers Company Steel plant, who has numerous
other important business connections. Mr. Banfield was
born in Monmouthshire, England, in 1854, and at the age
of eighteen years immigrated with his father to the United
States.

Upon their arrival in this country father and son secured
employment in the first tin plate mill erected in this country,
located at Leechburg, Pennsylvania, where William Banfield
was a heater and roller for seven years and was then made
manager, a position which he held for six years. In October,
1885, he removed to Irondale, Ohio, and with others estab-
lished the Irondale Boiling Mill Company, having purchased
the former plant of the Pioneer Iron Works. The above
company, under the name of Wallace, Banfield & Company,
Limited, made fine grades of black and galvanized iron
and soft sheet steel, and it became one of the leading in-
dustries of Jefferson County. In 1892 they converted part
of their plant into a tin mill, being the first to become
extensive manufacturers under the McKinley Tariff. In
1899 the American Tin Plate Company purchased and dis-
mantled the plant, and Mr. Banfleld, with others, erected
sheet mills at Chester, West Virginia, but these were also
acquired by the American Tin Plate Company at the time
of their completion. Mr. Banfleld was chosen and served
as district manager for this concern about five years, at
the end of which time he removed to Steubenville, in 1907,
subsequently becoming associated with the Follansbee
brothers in building the tin plate mills at Follansbee, of
which he has since been general manager.

The Follansbee Brothers Company, started to erect a mill
at Follansbee, West Virginia, in 1902, and the six tin plate
and two sheet mills were put into operation in 1904, with
600 employes. There were three buildings, about 200 x
40 feet, occupying approximately two acres of ground. In
1911 two sheet mills were added. In 1906 the company had
commenced the steel plant, having two twenty-five ton open
hearth furnaces, to which a third was added in 1911 and a
fourth in 1918. Three more sheet mills greatly increased
the company’s capacity in 1915, as well as a galvanizing
shop. There are about 1,200 men on the pay-roll, which in
1920 was over $2,000,000. The weekly output approximates
400 tons of tin plate and 1,000 tons of sheet steel. The
company has erected ninety houses, which it has sold to
its employes on reasonable terms, and the friendliest of
feelings exist between the corporation and its men. The
Follansbee brothers, of whom there were formerly four, but
now only three, were merchants of Pittsburgh prior to en-
tering their present line. They now have a similar mill at
Toronto, Ohio, with about the same capacity.

An auxiliary company of the Follansbee Brothers Com-
pany is the Sheet Metal Specialty Company, which was
established in 1906 on a small scale with about fifteen men
employed. In December, 1906, the plant was destroyed by
fire, but was rebuilt on a larger scale and since then has
been enlarged at different times, now having four two-story
buildings, 50 x 150 feet each, with from seventy to eighty
employes engaged in making sheet metal ovens and stovepipe
and elbows. In 1921 this company took over a two-story
building 180 x 130 feet, formerly operated by others for
several years in making metal specialties, and this is now
utilized for the manufacture of milk and garbage cans, with
some fifty employes. This latter acquisition added about an
additional half to the company’s output, sold to jobbers,
which is now about 350 cars. The buildings of this plant
have some 65,000 square feet of floor space, and the annual
pay-roll amounts to $105,000. The officers are: John Fol-
lansbee, president; L. A. Diller, secretary and manager; and
D. Reed, treasurer.

Mr. Banfield is also president of the East Ohio Sewer
Pipe Company at Irondale, Ohio, one of the important local
industries of that place, president of the Union Savings
Bank and Trust Company at Steubenville, and a director
of the Citizens Bank of that place. He likewise is an elder
of the Second Presbyterian Church at Follansbee, West
Virginia, and now makes his home at Follansbee.