Final Whistle Blows for Jasper Peavy
A.J. ("Jasper") Peavy died at his home in Shreveport, La., Monday, November 16 and was buried at his boyhood home in Lufkin, Texas, the next day.
Jasper Peavy made a great success of the business of manufacturing Southern Pine into lumber and selling it at a profit. He was in some ways an absolute pioneer in Southern Pine producing, as will be explained a bit later in this story. Twenty years ago the writer of this piece wrote about Jasper Peavy as follows:
"His entire list of assets when he started business consisted of two strong hands, a clear head, and a powerful determination to work hard and get somewhere." Jasper worked hard, thought clearly, lived honestly and achieved honor and renown in his chosen life work. He won much honor from the lumber industry,and for many years played a prominent part in the civic life of Shreveport, where he had made his home since 1909.
He was born on a farm in Butler County, Alabama, August 8, 1866, and moved to Angelina County, Texas, when he was a small boy, where he also lived on a farm. His first job was teaching a country school in that county, after which he worked in a store in Lufkin for W.H. Bonner, of the famous Bonner lumber clan. But Jasper was an ambitious youth, ready and willing to work to get somewhere, and the next we hear of him he has joined Mr. Bonner in organizing a logging company. This was in 1893. He proved to be one of the most successful loggers in East Texas history, and soon he left Mr. Bonner and organized a logging concern of his own. He logged on contract for some of the famous old sawmilling concerns of that day, among them the Angelina County Lumber Company at Keltys, and S.F. Carter's Emporia Lumber Company.
Accumulating some money he branched out and entered the sawmilling game, organizing the Henderson Land and Lumber Company, with a sawmill at Clawson, Texas which he operated until 1905 with much success. During this same period he was secretary and treasurer of the Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company for a time. In 1905 he moved to Louisiana, becoming manager and a stockholder in one of the new E.A. Frost milling projects, the DeSoto Land and Lumber Company at Mansfield, La., which became a subsidiary of the Frost-Johnson Lumber Company a few years later. In 1909 he sold his interest in this concern, and stepped out for himself in a big way. Up to this time he had been swimming in comparatively shallow water financially, but it wasn't because he was scared; it was just that he was not ready. All of his business efforts and attempts up tho this time had been successful.
One day this big, smiling, self-reliant young man dropped into Lake Charles, Louisiana, and called on the members of the Krause and Managan Lumber Company. This concern owned a splendid tract of virgin Long Leaf Yellow Pine timber about thirty miles north of Lake Charles and Mr. Peavy made them a proposition. He suggested that he would buy the timber from that land, pay for it as he cut it, build a fine sawmill in the timber to manufacture it, and work cooperatively with the timber owners in the entire transaction. It is said to be the first contract of its kind in the lumber industry, and Krause and Managan accepted it. So Mr. Peavy organized the Peavy-Byrnes Lumber Company, with headquarters at Shreveport, associating himself with George H. Byrnes in this enterprise. They built a big mill at Kinder, La., starting operations at that plant in 1910. Mr. Byrnes did not remain long in the company. When Mr. Peavy was at Mansfield, La., he had a man assisting him named A.J. Wilson. When he built the mill at Kinder, he took Mr. Wilson along and made him general manager of that operation. It was an association that was to last until the death of Mr. Wilson in 1932.
In 1916 he organized the Peavy-Wilson Lumber Company, with R.J. Wilson as his associate, and they bought a big stand of Long Leaf timber in Western Louisiana at a spot they named Peason, the name being made up of the first three letters in Peavy and the last three letters in Wilson. They started the construction of a very large sawmill at Peason, but the war slowed construction, and it was not until 1918 that they got it finished and running. Mr. Wilson was made manager of both the Kinder and Peason plants.
Going back to 1910 we pick up a name that was to play a large and continuous part in the Peavy lumber operations. Mr. Peavy hired John S. Welsh when he started the Kinder mill, and made him secretary and treasurer of the first milling company, with headquarters in Shreveport, where the general offices of all Peavy interests have been since that time. Mr. Welsh still holds the office of secretary and treasurer of the remaining Peavy interests, after 32 years of faithful service.
In 1919 Mr. Peavy organized his third big sawmilling enterprise, the Peavy-Moore Lumber Company, associating himself with a Shreveport capitalist, R.T. Moore. Mr. Moore has been associated with Mr. Peavy and the Peavy lumber interests in a financial way ever since, and is an officer in all Peavy concerns. This new company bought a big sawmill plant at Deweyville, Texas, from the Sabine Tram Company, of Beaumont. They rebuilt and enlarged it, and have been operating it ever since.
In 1922 Mr. Peavy bought from the receivers of the Miller-Link Lumber Company of Orange, Texas, three sawmills located at Orange, Lemonville and Texla. He dismantled and liquidated the mills at Orange and Lemonville, and operated the Texla mill for about six years until the timber there was exhausted.
In 1929 the Peavy-Wilson Lumber Company bought a big tract of pine timber in Florida, which they held until the Peason plant cut its last timber in 1934, and they then built a new mill in the Florida timber at the town of Holopaw, and started operating it. D.L. Handley, who had been manager at Peason, was sent to Holopaw as manager, and has been in charge there ever since. That mill is still operating, and Mr. Handley is president of the company, having been so elected within the past year.
Sixteen years ago Jasper Peavy's nephew, young W.A. (Bill) Peavy, fresh from college, went to work in the Peavy offices in Shreveport, learning the business from the stump up. He became sales manager any years ago, and during the last few years when the health of Jasper Peavy had been failing, the younger Peavy gradually stepped into his shoes. So, when death came to Jasper the other day, Bill Peavy took over the reins of management in his place. Still young, he is a seasoned veteran in the business, knows all its ramifications, and is a very highly respected and well-qualified business man, an excellent second edition of the good man who has just passed on.
The Peavy lumber interests today consist of the Peavy-Wilson Lumber Company, the Peavy-Moore Lumber Company, operating mills at Holopaw, Florida and Deweyville, Texas, with the general and sales offices in Shreveport. Bill Peavy is president of the Peavy-Moore Lumber Company and Jasper Peavy at the time of his death was chairman of the board of the Peavy interests.
Many honors came to Jasper Peavy during his lifetime, including the presidency of the Southern Pine Association during 1926 and 1927.
A strictly self-made man, he remained through his life a modest, kindly fellow whom success never ruffled and money never spoiled. His wife survives him.