B. F. Affleck
Benjamin Franklin "Ben" Affleck (March 1, 1869 – February 13, 1944) was an American cement businessman in the Chicago, Illinois area. He was noted by colleagues and area residents for his rise from humble beginnings as a machinist to the head of sales and later the presidency of the Universal Portland Cement Company.
Born in Belleville, Illinois, Affleck was educated in the public schools there. He did not have much formal higher educational background; one co-industrialist described him as having learned his trade in the "school of hard knocks". As a young man, he spent four years working for the Harrison Machine Works company in his home town, leaving afterwards to work for American Express. In 1890, at the age of 21, he joined the Alton Terre Haute Railroad where he worked until 1896, before taking a position at the Illinois Steel Company. He was hired initially as a machinist, but rose to the position of sales manager in the cement department with his knack for bringing in profits and business acumen. In 1906, the Illinois Steel Company spun off their cement department, incorporating it as the Universal Portland Cement Company; Affleck continued as sales manager of the new company until 1915, when he became its president.
On March 2, 1921, Affleck and thirty-nine other officers of cement corporations were indicted by a federal grand jury under the Sherman Antitrust Act for restraint of trade and attempts at monopoly. The companies involved were alleged to have tightly controlled the supply of cement, refusing to sell any builder more than the amount needed for a single job, and preventing them from using any unexpected surplus on other jobs; prices quoted on cement were invariably the same to the penny.
Affleck became president of the Universal Atlas Cement Company after its merger with the Universal Portland Cement Company in January 1930; however, he retired from the position just six years later, in 1936.
Affleck lived in Winnetka, a middle-class suburb, for some time; by the 1920s, he was well-off enough financially to move to Lake Forest. He had one daughter, Mildred, with his wife, Rene Mansfield of Oshkosh, Wisconsin; Mildred married Victor Spoehr of Winnetka in October 1923. Affleck served as trustee of a number of local institutions, including the Field Museum of Natural History, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Association of Commerce, while his wife was active in the Alliance française and the Chicago Woman's Musical Club. The Union League Club elected him their president in 1928. Around that time, he also founded the Chicago Benjamin Franklins, an association of people with the given name Benjamin Franklin; they often held events in honor of the most famous Ben Franklin. He also belonged to a number of industry associations, including the American Concrete Institute.
Affleck later moved back to Winnetka, where he would remain until his death. On February 13, 1944, he died while shoveling snow off the walk outside of his home. After his death, it came to light that, despite his illustrious career, his estate was worth much less than previously believed, possibly as little as $20,000. A steamer of the United States Steel Corporation was named in his honor. His grandson, Peter Adams Spoehr, went on to attend Hamilton College and married Sally Rambeau of Bronxville, New York on December 1, 1956 in her hometown; the elder Spoehr was already deceased by then.
- Greenwood, John Orville (1970), Namesakes of the Lakes, Freshwater Press, pp. 344–345
- "Benjamin F. Affleck", The New York Times, 14 February 1944: 17, retrieved 2008-03-27
- Hadley, Earl J. (1945), The Magic Powder: History of the Universal Atlas Cement Company and the Cement Industry, G. P. Putnam's Sons, p. 102. Also reviewed in Clough, Shepard B.; Hadley, Earl J. (January 1946), "Review: The Magic Powder", The American Historical Review 51 (2): 345–346, doi:10.2307/1839629, JSTOR 1839629
- Audrey, Theodore (27 April 1913), "He Made Himself a "Profit Bringer": How B. F. Affleck Rose from a Machinist to Sales Manager", Chicago Tribune: E3, retrieved 2008-03-27
- Lesley, Robert Whitman; Lober, John Baptiste; Bartlett, George S. (1924), History of the Portland Cement Industry in the United States, International Trade Press, Inc., pp. 228–9
- "Foreword", Journal of the American Concrete Institute, 1913: 8
- "Indict 40 Officers and 74 Companies in Cement 'Trust'", The New York Times, 2 March 1921: 1, retrieved 2008-03-27
- "Benjamin Franklin Affleck", Christian Science Monitor, 15 February 1944: 13, retrieved 2008-03-27
- Hadley (1945), The Magic Powder, p. 261
- "Millionairea", Time, 21 May 1928, retrieved 2008-03-27
- Chicago Social and Club Register, Crest Publishers, 1921, retrieved 2008-03-27
- "Weddings: Mildred Affleck and Victor Spoehr, Winnetka", Wilmette Life, 23 October 1923: 13, retrieved 2008-03-27
- "Victor Spoehr Gives His Bachelor Dinner Tomorrow Evening", Chicago Daily Tribune, 2 October 1923: 23, retrieved 2008-04-21
- "B. F. Affleck New Union League Club President", Chicago Tribune, 28 March 1928: 31, retrieved 2008-03-27
- Smith, Elsdon Coles (1950), The Story of our Names, Harper and Brothers, p. 237
- Hadley (1945), The Magic Powder, p. 153
- Proceedings of the Annual Convention of the American Concrete Institute, Chicago: American Concrete Institute, February 1914, p. 5
- "Hint Affleck Estate's Value is Only $20,000", Chicago Tribune, 29 February 1944: 10, retrieved 2008-03-27
- "Marriage Announcement", The New York Times, 9 September 1956, retrieved 2008-04-21
- Kellogg, Edwin (2 February 1956), "Sally Rambeau, P. A. Spoehr Wed; Nuptials Held in Bronxville — Bride Wears Gown of White Peau de Soie", The New York Times, retrieved 2008-04-21
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