Auctioneering has been a way of life for our Behm family, for three generations. It all began in the early 1900s, when CJ “Charlie” Behm (1900-1967) became the first auctioneer, getting his start selling boxed lunches to the highest bidder at box socials. By 1934, he had advanced to selling at farm and general merchandise sales in the local area.
Charles J. “Bud” Behm, Jr., the oldest of three sons, followed his daddy’s footsteps from childhood, traveling the county buying livestock and wool.
In fact, thanks to a schedule mishap, when Bud was just 16 years of age, he sold his first entire auction. Bud’s task was supposed to be that of selling stacks of hay and tools from the blacksmith shop until his father returned from a real estate sale. As it turned out, the elder Behm was detained and Bud sold the entire auction — personal property, equipment and livestock! Enjoying the rapid pace and the thrilling excitement of the auction business, Bud was hooked for life.
In 1950, Bud married Anna C. “Kitty” Frye, a registered nurse, and the two moved to the family farm that Bud’s grandfather and great uncle settled in the mid 1800s. For more than a half a century, Bud and Kitty have sold auctions in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and even Canada.
Auctions were so much of a way of life for Bud and Kitty that both of their two sons, Charles J. “Joe” Behm, III, and James A. “Jim” Behm, followed in the family’s auctioneering footsteps.
Joe was a mere 12 years old when he graduated from the Knotts School of Auctioneering at Wheeling College, and began selling tack at the livestock and horse sales. In 1970, he was recognized as the youngest licensed auctioneer in the United States, and appeared as a contestant on Gary Moore’s To Tell the Truth.
After graduating from Waynesburg College and the Missouri Auction School, Jim joined his family in the business in 1990, eventually serving as the youngest president of the West Virginia Auctioneers Association.
With two very capable sons, Bud and Kitty retired in 1990, leaving Joe and Jim at the helm of what had become Behm’s Auction Service. The boys worked side-by-side building upon the legacy of their father and grandfather until May 2012, when Joe died following a courageous battle with cancer.
Today, under the leadership of Jim Behm, Behms Auction & Real Estate Services has grown to be one of the most successful auction companies in the Tri-State region.
Still family-owned and family-operated, the “thrilling excitement” of the auction business is very much alive and well. In fact, even today, Bud and Kitty are often on hand at auctions, ready to lend a helping hand where needed.