Isaac C. Enochs
Every human organization must have its leaders. Some are eminent in peace, some in war; some lead in council and some in action. Among the admitted leaders in the councils of the great southern lumber manufacturing industry is the subject of this sketch, Isaac Columbus Enochs, of Jackson, Mississippi. There is nothing brilliant about his achievements or personality, but what he has done and is are the results of rare patience and persistence, guided by a mind of remarkably logical quality—a mind which is content with no half knowledge or half statement, but which insists upon knowledge as complete as can be secured as the basis from which a policy may develop with logical accuracy. These qualities have given Mr. Enochs much success in a business way and an influence among his fellows which is equaled by but few. He is not an orator, for his voice does not carry far and his speech is slow; but when he talks in public on any subject, no one in the whole South country is listened to with closer attention, for every word is chosen with thoughtful care and his counsel comes out of study and experience.
Among the first settlers of Mississippi appears the family name of Enochs. The paternal grandfather of the lumberman of the present moved from Tennessee to the Bayou State in the early '20's, and the maternal grandfather, also, was a pioneer planter. The ancestry of the family is Scotch-Irish and the strong traits of the race are apparent in this generation. Isaac Columbus was the firstborn of eleven children on the plantation of his father, near Crystalsprings, Copiah County, his natal day being March 7, 1852. It was at the opening of the dark days of the American Civil War that the boy of nine years found himself the guardian of five younger children and the only one upon whom his mother, Rebecca Black Enochs, could depend for assistance in looking after the plantation in the absence of the husband and father. It was his first taste of responsibility and it brought out all his latent manliness. Frequently did this lad marshal the other children on the plantation, when danger threatened in the shape of raiding troopers, and drive the cattle into the swamps, remaining on guard all night if occasion should require.
Little schooling was to be obtained in the days before and immediately following the close of the war. The country was impoverished as the result of the long conflict, and the schools were few and their training of an indefinite character. Young Enochs' ambition was to become a lawyer, but the opportunity to study was limited because of the necessity of working long hours to help support the family. In 1871 he left the plantation to keep books for his uncle in the latter's store at Bolton Depot, between Vicksburg and Jackson. He worked faithfully for a year and a half and then gave up the position to become station agent at Bolton for the Vicksburg & Meridian Railroad Company. He aspired to save enough money from his salary to pay for a law course in college. But he was doomed to disappointment, for a contingency arose that forced him into the lumber business. Mr. Enochs' father had indorsed paper for an owner of a portable mill, and, as the note could not be met, the property was surrendered. The young railroad agent agreed to operate the mill for the purpose of raising $1,000 for his long anticipated law tuition. So, on January 10, 1873, the young man became proprietor of the mill, which was situated about two and a half miles from Crystalsprings. The latter town was destroyed by fire that night and a decidedly heavy demand for lumber was created. Seemingly, it was to be a profitable investment, but a serious reverse was met with when a boiler explosion wrecked the plant. Bravely the owner set about to replace the mill, though the loss of $2,000 occasioned by the disaster was a hard blow. In March, 1874, the mill was running again with its capacity increased from 6,000 to 10,000 feet a day. A planing mill was added in another year, but the saws and planers could not be run at one time through a lack of boiler power.
A partnership was formed by Mr. Enochs with his brother, J.L. Enochs, in 1876, and, by dint of hard work, a profit of between $3,000 and $4,000 was made. Misfortune came in the following year, when fire swept the saw and planing mills and wiped out the capital of the two young men. J.L. Enochs went to farming, but Isaac, nothing daunted, contracted for 480 acres of timber land and built another mill two miles from the site of the original plant. Operations began in 1877, and the first shipments made were of car sills and decking to a point north of the Ohio River. With the new mill a success, he purchased in 1880 a tract of timber in Pike County and erected a second mill, the two cutting about 40,000 feet a day. His first logging road -- a tramway over which mules pulled trucks -- was built in 1881, though two years later this road was equipped with wooden rails and a locomotive.
Assistance in managing the expanding business was given Mr. Enochs by his brothers, and several portable mills were run in the yellow pine belt of Mississippi. Headquarters were established at Jackson, where, in 1884, a yard was opened and conducted by E.A. Enochs. The firm of Enochs Bros, was organized in 1887, and of this firm I.C., J.L. and P.H. Enochs still are members. The senior member of the firm was progressive and seized every opportunity to enlarge the business. In 1890 a sawmill and a sash, door and blind factory were erected at Jackson. The Enochs Manufacturing Company was incorporated a year later and Mr. Enochs was made the president, and today the company has one of the largest and best equipped plants in the South. Another of the Enochs interests is the sawmills located at Fernwood, eighty miles south of Jackson, where the band mills have a capacity of 25,000,000 feet a year, Enochs Bros. handling the output.
Besides these interests Mr. Enochs was until recently secretary of the Banner Lumber Company, which was incorporated in 1895 and operated mills, with an annual capacity of 15,000,000 feet, at Kentwood, Louisiana. This company went out of existence when it was succeeded some time ago by the Brooks-Scanlon Company. The firm of Enochs Bros., the Fernwood concern and the Banner Lumber Company owned about 100,000 acres of timber and probably as much more cutover land in Pike and Marion counties, Mississippi, and Tangipahoa and Washington parishes in Louisiana; and, when the Great Southern Lumber Company, at Bogalusa, Louisiana, was formed and secured the cooperation of I. C. Enochs in the development of its properties, the Enochs brothers sold some of their timber holdings to that company, in return for stock in the new enterprise. In the Great Southern company I. C. Enochs is a director. To it and to the Fernwood and Pearl River lumber companies he devotes the larger part of his activity. Mr. Enochs is a managing director in the Fernwood Lumber Company and is president of the Pearl River Lumber Company, the latter manufacturing from 80,000,000 to 85,000,000 feet annually.
Mr. Enochs has been prominently identified with the work of the Yellow Pine Manufacturers' Association. He became a director of the organization in 1893 ^^^ was elected president in 1898, being reelected in 1899. He has been conspicuous in agitations for reductions in railroad rates, has consistently labored for the yellow pine industry and has won the greatest respect and deepest confidence of the manufacturers of the South. An instance of his persistency in this line in late years was given when the railroad companies raised the rate two cents from all points based on the Ohio River crossings. With the assistance of other manufacturers he fought the advance and was rewarded by having the former rate restored.
Mr. Enochs wedded Miss Margaret Elizabeth Catchings, a native of Copiah County, Mississippi, whom he had known from childhood, June 26, 1879. Their family consists of five children -- Mary Capers, Martha Catchings, Edwina, Isaac J., Junior, and Lucy Enochs. Mr. Enochs is a member of the Capitol Street Methodist Episcopal Church, of Jackson.