The subject of this sketch is one of the prominent members of the Hancock county bar, ranking professionally with the ablest lawyers in this part of the state, not only on account of superior legal knowledge, but because of skill and tact in the management of cases committed to his care. While devoted to his profession, which he pursues with the enthusiasm of the ardent student, he is also identified with important business and industrial enterprises which have had and still have a decided influence upon the material advancement of Hancock county and other counties of central Indiana. He is one of the leading public-spirited men of Greenfield, standing deservedly high among his professional brethren and occupying a position second in importance to none other in all that pertains to the material growth and prosperity of Hancock count and its flourishing capital city.
Elmer J. Binford is one of Hancocks native sons, born in Blue River township on the 28th day of May, 1869. His father, Rev. Joseph O. Binford, a native of Indiana, was for a number of years a well-known minister of the Society of Friends and occupied important official stations in the church in this state. At this time he is superintendent of ministry for the Friends of Indiana, a position which brings him in contact with the leading men of the church, and in various other ways he is prominent in the councils of his people. For a period of four years he preached regularly for the local society at Knightstown, in addition to which service he also ministered to many other congregations in different parts of the state and earned the reputation of a learned and able divine. Joseph O. Binford is the father of seven children, namely: Horace L., a farmer of Center township.; Elmer J., subject of this review; Mary E., wife of Joseph Hay, a merchant and blacksmith, of Greensubrg, Indiana; Anna lives at home; Arthur O., a student at Earlham College; Ada C.., who is still under the parental roof, and Benjamin S., a dentist practicing his profession at Greenfield.
Elmer J. Binfords early educational advantages were such as the district schools near his childhoods home afforded. That his advancement in the rudimentary branches was rapid is attested by the fact of his having entered the Central Indiana Normal School at Danville when but fourteen years of age, and four years later he was engaged in teaching a term in the township of Blue River. His early tastes led him to study and earnestly and faithfully did he follow those inclinations. The better to enable him to do successful work in the school room, he again became a student of the Central Normal, which he attended one year and then supplemented the training received by a course in the State Normal School at Terre Haute. As a teacher he was capable and popular; his pupils admired him personally and loved him as their instructor and director, and he no doubt would have achieved distinction as an educator had he continued in the profession.
The prospects held out to ambitious young men by the educational field not being very promising, Mr. Binford decided to make the law his life work; accordingly he entered the law department of the State University at Bloomington, form which he was graduated in 1893, meanwhile teaching a portion of the time to defray the expenses of his legal education.
After his admission to the bar Mr. Binford entered into partnership with A. M. Hadley, under the firm name of Hadley & Binford, a relation which dissolved four months later by reason of the senior members ill health. During the two years following the subject practiced alone and then took in as a partner Newton R. Spencer, the firm of Spencer & Binford lasting two and a half years. After the dissolution of the above partnership, in 1898, Mr. Binford was alone in the practice until October, 1901, when he formed a partnership with Jonas P. Walker, under the firm name of Binford & Walker, and, as already stated, he now occupies a conspicuous position among the leading attorneys of the Greenfield bar. From 1895 to 1899 inclusive, he was city attorney, in addition to which he has also been legal counselor for several important corporations, having discharged his official duties in a manner highly satisfactory to all concerned.
While well versed in the general principles of jurisprudence and successful in all phases of the profession, Mr. Binford makes a specialty of law pertaining to corporations, a department requiring a profundity of legal knowledge and the tact to apply it not always demanded in the general practice. He is a close and critical student, careful and cautious, and compares favorably with the ablest of his peers in legal learning and acumen and rises superior to the majority in the branch to which his talents are especially devoted. His high intellectual faculties are supplemented by strong common sense and a resolute will and their effect is heightened by the charm of a pleasing personal presence and a dignified by courteous and genial manner which makes him popular with the court and his fellow practitioners.
Mr. Binford was largely interested in the Indianapolis & Greenfield Rapid Transit Company, the interurban road connecting Greenfield and Indianapolis, in the organization of which he took a leading part. To him and Francis G. Banker, Nathan C. Binford, Lorenzo E. McDonald and Christian M. Kirkpatrick, with whom he is closely associated in many business enterprises, the city of Greenfield is indebted for the organization and construction of this interurban road. The energy, money and nerve of these five men built the line, which was destined to be the basis of a large system of interurban roads. After this road had been in operation for about one and half years, Indianapolis capitalists became interested, the road having shown its earning capacity and these five men disposed of their holdings to four Indianapolis capitalists at a very large profit. Soon after this sale the Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company was organized by these five men, together with the Indianapolis capitalists who had purchased the holdings of the five men, which represented a controlling interest in the Indianapolis & Greenfield Rapid Transit Company. The Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company at once extended the road from Greenfield to Knightstown. In July, 1902, the two companies were consolidated under the name Indianapolis & Eastern Railway Company, which now owns an interurban line from Indianapolis to Dublin, Indiana, where connection is made with the Richmond interurban road. Branch lines are to be built to Newcastle from Dunreith and from Knightstown to Rushville. Eventually this company will own a continuous line from Indianapolis to Dayton, Ohio, with connections with Cincinnati and all leading cities in Ohio. Mr. Binford was the general attorney of the Indianapolis & Greenfield Rapid Transit Company and the Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Company, and is now the general attorney of the Indianapolis & Eastern Railway Company.
In addition to his connection with interurban lines, Mr. Binford owns a sixth interest in the Kirkpatrick Construction Company of Greenfield, which is capitalized at sixty thousand dollars. He is also a stockholder in the Acme Remedy Company, the Indiana Chemical Company, the Binford-Banker-McDonald Land Company, a corporation which owns several hundred acres of land and the Greenfield Ice Company, of which last company he is president. He is attorney for all of said companies, together with many other corporations.
Socially Mr. Binford is deservedly popular with a large circle of friends in Greenfield and throughout the county. He is one of the leading spirits in the Temple Club of Greenfield, belongs to the Columbia Club at Indianapolis, and is also identified with the Delta Tau Club, a Greek-letter fraternity. Fraternally he is a member of the Masonic brotherhood, belonging to Lodge No., 101 at Greenfield. By birthright Mr. Binford is a member of the Society of Friends and has ever remained loyal and true to the beautiful faith in which he was reared. As a citizen he stands above reproach, being noted for his honorable dealings and from the beginning of his career to the present time it has been his good fortune not only to occupy a prominent place in the public gaze, but to command the unqualified esteem of his many friends and neighbors.
On the 15th day of March, 1894, Mr. Binford was happily married to Miss Audrey B. Barnard, daughter of W. C. Barnard, ex-county treasurer, a union blessed with two children, Hugh, deceased, and Ralph.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 270-273.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI July 13, 2002.
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