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Fayette County, Iowa  

 History Directory

Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910

Author: G. Blessin


B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana


Vol. I, Biographical Sketches



~Page 834~




Among the enterprising business men of West Union whose labors and influence have tended greatly to the city’s advancement and prosperity the name of Joseph Hobson Neff, of the firm of Neff Brothers, proprietors of the Electric Light and Power Plant, occupies a deservedly conspicuous place. A native of Fayette county and for many years identified with its interests, he has contributed materially to the building up of an enterprise of great value to the community and, as a man and citizen, recognized his obligations to the public and in a manner creditable to himself discharged the same to the satisfaction of all concerned.


Joseph Hobson Neff was born in Fayette county, Iowa, May 22, 1861, and spent his childhood and youth in his native town of Auburn where, at the proper age, he entered the public schools and in due time acquired a fair education. While still young he took up his study of telegraphy, at which he soon became quite proficient and in 1882 accepted a position as agent with the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad, which he held during the ten years following. While thus engaged he had charge of offices at Scotch Grove, Delhi and Waucoma and on severing his connection with the above line spent the ensuing ten years with the Chicago Great Western road, during which time he was stationed at Sumner, Iowa. On the death of his brother, H.M. Neff, the subject abandoned the railway service and returned to West Union, became a partner of his older brother, Charles G. Neff, in the City Electric Light and Power Plant, with which enterprise he has been connected since January, 1902. Since becoming a member of the firm of Neff Brothers he has labored diligently to familiarize himself with electric lighting and it is needless to state that the plant under the able and judicious management of the present proprietors has kept pace with the growth of the city and fully met the requirements of the public. (See sketch of C.G. Neff.)


Mr. Neff, on February 24, 1881, was happily married to Katie M. Davis, daughter of Daniel Davis, late banker and prominent business man of Fayette county. Mrs. Neff was born in Wisconsin, received her education at a ladies’ seminary in the state of Vermont, and has presented her husband with five children, Mabel, Frank A., Anna L., Joseph D. and Ruth N., all living and at home, Frank and Anna being twins.


For a number of years Mr. Neff has been prominent in Odd Fellowship, and at this time is one of the leading members of the order in the state. He has been very active in the lodge at West Union, besides holding various positions in the general work of the order, serving for five years as a member of the board of instruction, one year as chairman of the committee on mileage and per diem and one year as chairman of the committee on transportation, all being grand lodge appointments. He has passed all the chairs in the subordinate lodge, encampment and Patriarchs Militant, has been active and influential in the Daughters of Rebekah lodge and was the first past grand to serve on the board of instruction, higher official attainments having been required for the position previous to his appointment. During the year 1899 he was a special officer, appointed by the grand master to institute new lodges and while thus engaged was instrumental in arousing a deep and widespread interest in Odd Fellowship throughout the state and reviving the work in a number of places where it had formerly flourished, but afterwards gradually subsided and at several points ceased altogether. He has long been a leading spirit in the grand lodge, where his abilities are recognized and appreciated, and in the deliberations of that exalted body his voice and influence have had much to do in formulating policies and directing the general work of the order. He was district deputy grand master two terms and in that capacity traveled quite extensively visiting lodges and promoting an interest in the fraternity in various other ways.


Mr. Neff votes the Republican ticket, but can hardly be called a politician as he has never been an aspirant for office nor has he entertained any ambition for leadership. In all that concerns the material welfare of the community or the general good of the populace he has manifested a deep and abiding interest and, as an intelligent, broad-minded, progressive American of the present day, he is easily the peer of any of his fellow citizens. Mrs. Neff is a Presbyterian in her religious faith and an active member of the church at West Union, being president of the Ladies’ Aid Society and otherwise interested in religious and philanthropic work.



~transcribed for the Fayette Co IAGenWeb Project by Doris A. Smith


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