Thursday, June 21, 2012

Benjamin F. Lee, Civil War Veteran and Inventor

Benjamin F. Lee was born in 1835 in the state of New York. Mr. Lee graduated from Hobart College with the class of 1859. During the Civil War he rose to the rank of Captain with the 126th New York Infantry. Civil War records accessed at Ancestry Library Edition indicate that Benjamin F. Lee was wounded during the war at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Capt. Lee left military service in August, 1864. On January 12, 1869, a U.S. patent was issued to Benjamin F. Lee for "Improvement in the Manufacture of Yeast Cakes."

By 1871 Benjamin F. Lee and Augustus C. Means ran the Buckeye Yeast Company on the north side of Water Street, west of Wayne Street. The hop yeast made by Lee and Means was supposed to be “good at all times, quick, sure” and it was said that it was imperishable and never got wormy. The following advertisement appeared in Bailey’s Northern Ohio Gazetteer and Directory, 1871-1872.

In the mid-1880s, Benjamin F. Lee, with his brother Henry A. Lee, ran a flavoring extract business on Water Street near Jackson Street, and from 1872 to 1876, he served as Erie County Prosecutor. He was also one of the lawyers involved in the litigation that took place between Rush Sloane and the Cincinnati, Sandusky, and Cleveland Railroad in 1873-1874. Eventually  Lee left the field of law and moved to Portage County, where he was a leader in the Lake Brady Spiritualists’ Association. On April 21, 1898, Benjamin F. Lee died in a fire in a cabin at Brady Lake. Some thought that Lee had been murdered, though a perpetrator was never named. His remains were brought back to Sandusky for burial at Oakland Cemetery.