From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 586-588
Prominent among the prosperous farmers and successful self-made men of Huntington county is Joseph C. Best, a native of Kentucky, where his birth occured January 31, 1831. His boyhood home was in the county of Bracken, and he is one of a family of fourteen children born to James C. and Jane E. (Doak) Best. Of this large family, six sons and eight daughters, all except two grew to maturity, eleven marrying and becoming well established in life. At the present time three of the number are living, Joseph C. being the only one residing in the county of Huntington.
In the spring of 1839 the elder Best made a tour of inspection throughout northern Indiana, on horseback, for the purpose of selecting a home, and, being pleased with the appearance of the country now forming Clear Creek township, purchased eighty acres of canal land, paying for the same the sum of eight hundred dollars. The only improvement on this land at the time was a small cabin, previously erected by a transient settler, and this served the family for a shelter when Mr. Best moved to the new home in the fall of 1839.
James C. Best was a man of considerable prominence in public affairs during the early history of the county. It was principally through his efforts that the present well-known highway known as the Columbia City gravel road was laid out and constructed through the county; he also served a number of years as a member of the county board of commissioners. In the growth and development of his township he always took the lead. The first school in Clear Creek was established through his efforts, and he donated the land upon which the building, a small log structure, was erected. He is remembered as a man of great physical strength, over six feet tall and correspondingly developed. He was a noted hunter in his day, very skillful with the rifle, and found his chief amusement in wandering the thick woods in quest of game, all kinds of which were at that time plentiful and easily obtained. In early life he was a Whig in politics, but later became a Republican, and as such was a potent factor in the party for a number of years, being its recognized leader in Clear Creek township. He was a devout member of the Presbyterian church and lived a life of faith until called from the church-militant to the church-triumphant on the 30th day of June, 1869. He left the impress of his strong personality upon the community he assisted in building up, and to his family the priceless heritage of a character against which no charge of anything unworthy was ever known to have been made.
The subject of this sketch was nine years old when the family moved to Huntington county, and since then his life, in the main, has been spent within the present boundaries of Clear Creek township. When of sufficient age and strength he was put to work on the farm, and he early became acquainted with the rugged, toilsome duties of life in a new and sparsely settled country. In the log school-house previously mentioned he obtained his first insight into the mysteries of learning, and considering his limited opportunities made substantial progress, becoming familiar with such branches as were then taught in the subscription schools. After remaining on the home farm until arriving at manhood's estate, Mr. Best started out for himself as a day laborer, and later was employed for some time by the month. He prosecuted his labors very industriously, and by close economy succeeded in laying by from his earnings money sufficient to purchase in 1861 the eighty acres of land in Clear Creek township where he now lives, paying for the same thirty-two hundred dollars. Within three years he had the greater part of the place under cultivation, besides clearing it of all financial incumbrances and having some money left. His success in meeting every obligation when it became due was an exhibition of thrift rarely to be met with among farmers with no greater amount of land from which to derive an income, and few have done as well on much larger and better developed places.
Mr. Best was married June 24, 1865, to Miss Elizabeth J. Stults, daughter of John and Mary (Becher) Stults, the issue of which union being two children, both dying in infancy. Mrs. Best is a native of Stark county, Ohio, and was born June 28, 1833.
From the beginning of his career as an independent agent, Mr. Best has prospered far beyond the average farmer and is now the fortunate possessor of three hundred acres of as fine land as lies within the bounds of Huntington county. To secure this he relied upon no help except that afforded by his good strong arms and indomitable will; and it may be truthfully asserted that he is indeed the architect of his own fortune. As a farmer he is thoroughly modern and up to date, and he combines, with tilling the soil, stock-raising, in which his success has also been most gratifying.
In politics he is a Republican, but has never been a seeker of office, although frequently importuned by his many friends to allow his name to go before conventions. He has never desired publicity of any kind, preferring to devote his entire time and attention to his farm. He is a remarkably well informed man upon all the great questions of the day, and occupies a conspicuous place among the most progressive citizens of Clear Creek. Few men possess as good a record and none stand higher in the estimation of the public.