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Benjamin F. Pew
Besides being one of the oldest businessmen of Niles, Benjamin
Franklin Pew has been one of the most constructive factors in
the development of the city.
Mr. Pew was born April 10, 1850, at Lordstown,
about four miles from the present city of Niles, a son of Horace
and Nancy Ann (Osborne) Pew. His grandfather, Thomas Pew, was
a prominent pioneer character in Trumbull County, establishing
his home in Warren Township, 2-1/2 miles from Warren.
Horace Pew, who was born and reared on his father’s
farm there, continued to be identified with agriculture until
1865, when he and John Ohl became partners in a general mercantile
business at Niles under the name of Pew, Ohl & Company. After
1873 he removed to Cleveland, where he spent his last days.
Benjamin had three brothers, C.S. Pew, Horace
C. Pew, Marlan Pew and two sisters, Mrs. Gertrude Pew Robinson
and Miss Mildred Pew. He lived at 627 North Main Street. He originally
resided at the old Pew home 234-236 West Park Avenue now occupied
by the Harry D. Evans and John B. Evans families.
Benjamin F. Pew was reared in the home farm owned
by his father, now included in the corporation limits of Niles.
He had a public school education, and when only 15 years of age
was made the responsible manager of the store in which his father
was a partner, operating the second general store in Niles in
the building on State Street now occupied by the McDowell drug
This business transacted sales to the value of
between $75,000 and $100,000 a year. It and many other concerns
went down in the Panic of 1873, and Benjamin F. Pew was compelled
to begin all over again.
The home of B. F. Pew and later
of his daughter, Mrs. Edna Caldwell. PO2.342
Seen in the picture are, Mr. B.
F. Pew, his wife Sarah and their daughter, Edna Pew Caldwell.
The house stood at the corner of
North Main and Madison and was built as a three family dwelling,
with two apartments on the second floor.
As noted in the 1919 directory,
living in the house at 629 North Main, were: B.F. Pew and wife,
Sarah (Harris) Pew, Frank W. and Edna (Pew) Caldwell, daughter
of B.F. and Sarah Pew, and Hannah Harris, widowed mother of Sarah
Apparently each family had their
own living quarters at 627 North Main Street. Mrs. Caldwell lived
there all her adult life and one of the apartments upstairs may
have been for her and her husband.
Hannah Harris was the wife of James
Harris, pioneer iron manufacture with Harris-Blackford Company.
They raised their 7 children in Niles, living at the old Harris
house on the southwest comer of West Park and South Main.
That building later became the location
of Niles Trust Company and the first mini-skyscraper in Niles.
It should also be noted that two of Mrs. Pew's brothers, Charles
and Alfred Harris, invented the first commercial offset press
Mrs. Caldwell lived all her life
in the house and upon her death bequeathed the house to the Methodist
Church who sold it to developers, who put in a strip plaza (now
the next ten years he was in the livery business and in 1884,
thirty-six years ago, engaged in the retail grocery business,
which he has continued to the present time. Mr. Pew was a grocer
in Niles for 62 years.
The store was in the building which housed the
Bahm Brothers clothing store on East State Street. Mr. Pew retired
from the grocery business before his death in October 1924.
Location of B.F. Pew grocery store
at 41 Furnace (East State) Street.
It later became Baum's Shoe Center on State Street. PO1.126
Red arrow indicates location of
the Pew grocery
store on East State Street. PO7.98
Red area indicates the B.F. Pew
The Jennings house on the corner was one of the
first three houses built in 1894-1895. PO1.492
August 15, 1916 advertisement for
lots in the Pew Addition. The office location is on State Street.
the time of the purchase, the entire section of Niles, north of
Federal Street, was pasture land. It included Franklin, East Madison
and Charles, now East Woodland. (Benjamin Pew’s middle name
Since he was a young man, he has
been interested in the real estate business. Mr. Pew bought 50
acres of land from the Eaton estate and laid it out as the Pew
At the time he made the purchase,
the entire north section was mere pastureland. Mr. Pew plotted
the land and set out the trees. A saw mill was built, and the
lumber was seasoned for three houses. From then on houses began
to be built in the Pew addition.
Union Cemetery Bill of Sale with
B.F. Pew's signature.
and R.G. Sykes were the chief organizers and assumed most of the
responsibilities in connection with the first Board of Trade at
Niles. This organization, with Mr. Pew as leader, had much to
do with attracting some of the early industries to the city, and
it also planned and carried out the campaign resulting in a waterworks
and lighting system.
These undertakings were carried out against the
general apathy or active opposition of many local citizens. While
the first Board of Trade practically revolved around the energies
of these two men, the subsequent Boards of Trade and the present
Chamber of Commerce were born out of the ashes of the Pew-Sykes
In all of the later business organizations, Mr.
Pew has been an indefatigable worker, and his willingness to aid
has been counted as one of the chief instruments in making Niles
a prosperous manufacturing and commercial center. He served as
president and secretary of the second Board of Trade, and as an
active member of the present Niles Chamber of Commerce.
Benjamin J. Pew was also active in the landscaping
of Union Cemetery and was a member of the Cemetery Board of Trustees.
The deed below shows his signature as a Trustee of the cemetery.
Residence of Dr. J. R. Hoffman,
brother of Homer Hoffman who owned Hoffman's Dept. Store. The
barn and windmill were actually part of the B.F. Pew property.
Mr. Pew raised racehorses as a hobby. This house at 619 North
Main is still standing. PO1.429
The tower home at 619 North Main
Street as it appeared in 2013.
Demise of Another Landmark.
Residence of Dr. Henry Hoffman, dentist in Niles
during the early 1900's, brother of Homer Hoffman who owned
Hoffman’s Department Store. The barn and windmill were
actually part of the B.F. Pew property. This house at 619 North
Main is still standing.
The photograph above shows the condition of
the tower home at 619 North Main Street in June 2022.
There are plans to demolish this once stately
residence due to
its decrepit condition and prime location on North Main Street.