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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
William Edward Best

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 111-112 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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William Edward Best, works manager of the Remington Cash Register Company of Ilion, New York, comes from a long line of mechanically inclined ancestors. He was born on April 4, 1877, in Canton, Ohio, the son of Andrew Noble and Olie Priscilla (Lytle) Best. Andrew Noble Best was born at Wellsville, Ohio, on September 17, 1853, and now resides in Detroit, Michigan, aged seventy-one years. He is a retired toolmaker and followed engineering pursuits throughout his life. His parents were William Ramsey and Marjorie (Noble) Best. William Ramsey Best, a cabinetmaker by trade, was born in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, on June 9, 1824, and died on May 20, 1870, at Wellsville, Ohio. His wife was born on November 12, 1825, at Inverness, Scotland, and died at Canton, Ohio, on February 25, 1902. The parents of William Ramsey Best were Conrad Frederick and Mary (Heneberger) Best. Conrad F. Best, the son of J. Henry and Barbara Best, was born in Strausburg, Franklin county, Pennsylvania, on April 22, 1787, and died on September 21, 1862, at Carrollton, Ohio. Olie Priscilla (Lytle) Best, mother of William E. Best of this review, was born at Martin's Ferry, Ohio, on May 20, 1857, and is living in Detroit, Michigan, aged sixty-seven years. She is the daughter of James M. and Charlotte Lytle, both of whom were born and died in Martin's Ferry, Ohio. James M. Lytle was engaged in the awning and tent business and was a Civil war veteran.

William E. Best acquired his early education in the public school at Canton, Ohio, and later had special training in engineering through self-application and study. At the age of fifteen he became an apprentice machinist, working with his father, who was doing a jobbing business at that time in Canton, Ohio, and remained two years, after which he became associated with the Canton Pump Company of that city for two years. He then went with the Universal Machine Company of Canton for a short time, after which he went into the plating business and formed a partnership with Robert Ray, under the firm name of the Canton Plating Company, which later developed into the Canton Plating Machine Company. Three years afterward Mr. Best became associated with the Hampden Watch Company as toolmaker, and remained until 1902, when he went to Dayton, Ohio, to the National Cash Register Company to take charge of the planing department of their toolroom. Through the next ten years, having occupied executive positions in almost every department, he advanced to the position of general superintendent, which he held for the next five years. In 1917 he became general superintendent of the Remington Arms Company at their Bridgeport, Connecticut, plant, which was manufacturing arms for the World war. At the time he took charge the company was turning out Russian rifles, and bayonets for Great Britain. Later the entire plant was switched to United States government work, producing the Browning Machine guns of heavy type, Model 45, Colt Automatic, and Model 30 Pistol and the "Very" signal pistols and bayonets. The company also furnished a large portion of the turbine blades used by the government in the shipbuilding program. Mr. Best remained at that plant until 1920, when the company decided to begin the manufacture of cash registers at Ilion, New York. He then moved to Ilion and took charge of the register plant, which was housed in buildings built for war purposes and after about a year and a half spent in extensive work, cleaning the buildings and installing special machinery and the making of necessary tool equipment, the first production of cash registers was turned out in May, 1922.

On August 8, 1901, in Canton, Ohio, Mr. Best was united in marriage to Miss Olive Electa Mumaw, who was born on August 26, 1876, at Orrville, Ohio, her parents being Aaron and Margaret (Gerber) Mumaw. Aaron Mumaw and wife were both born near Mount Eaton, Ohio, and now reside in Canton, Ohio, where Mr. Mumaw is a retired merchant, realtor and farmer. Mr. and Mrs. Best are the parents of six children, all of whom were born in Dayton, Ohio: Margaret Anna Best, born on April 13, 1903, graduated from Cazenovia Seminary, New York, in 1921, and is now a senior at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York; William Andrew Best was born on August 16, 1904, graduated from Cazenovia Seminary in 1922 and is now attending Cincinnati University, studying medicine; Richard Aaron Best was born on January 4, 1906, and is a senior in Ilion high school; Ada Alice Best was born on January 14, 1910, and attends Ilion high school; John Allen Best was born on June 16, 1912; and Frederick Alison Best was born on May 14, 1914.

Mr. Best is a director of the Manufacturers Bank of Ilion; president of the Chamber of Commerce; member of the Little Falls Country Club, the Ilion Masonic Club, and the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. He is also a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; the Knights Templar and Antioch Temple of Dayton Ohio, and is a thirty-second degree Mason. His church associations are with the First Presbyterian church of Ilion, where he is chairman of the board of trustees and also a presiding elder. In politics he is a republican, and for diversion he enjoys all outdoor sports. Mr. Best has built up an organization second to none in the cash register business and one of which any manufacturing concern may well be proud.

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