The name of George A. Kelley is inseparably connected with the interests of Southeastern Texas, where he has until recent years been conspicuous and active as a sawmill man and industrial promoter and as a decided factor in financial activities. He is president of the Lufkin National Bank and of the Carter-Kelley Lumber Company of Angelina county and a leader in the organization of either important industries which contribute to the welfare of Lufkin.
Mr. Kelley came to Texas as a traveling salesman for the Allis-Chalmers Company, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He sold machinery of various kinds for them for a period of two years, and then received his introduction to the lumber and timber business as one of the organizers of the Lufkin Land and Lumber Company. In this he was associated with E. W. Frost, E. A. Frost, a. L. L. Temple and Crowell and Arthur, the company being capitalized for $200,000, and a modern two-band sawmill being built with all accessories and modern equipment available then and a plant that attracted wide attention among lumber men. This company built the Texas and Louisiana Railway from Lufkin to Monterey, Texas, for the accommodation of that plant, which road was a common carrier and was subsequently sold to the Cotton Belt Railroad. The sawmill was about the first of the kind in this section, and the efficient work and large capacity were the wonder of the lumber people here. It performed the feat of cutting 62,000,000 feet of lumber in a single year, which is claimed still as the record for a plant of the same capacity in that time. The mill and railroad opened up a large area of country in Angelina and San Augustine counties and led eventually to settlement and to the opening of farms on this section of "cut over" lands. Mr. Kelley was vice-president and general manager of the mill, and retired there from in 1905 when it went to the Long-Bell Lumber Company, which still controls it.
In 1906 Mr. Kelley organized the Carter-Kelley Lumber Company and built a second modern two-band sawmill. This is located at Manning, twenty-one miles southeast of Lufkin, and is served by a railroad built by this company between Prestridge, Texas, at the junction of the Cotton Belt and Texas & New Orleans Railways, and Manning, a distance of nine miles. Another new section was thus brought into communication with the rest of the world and the farmers and business men of that region are naturally benefited, while an area of cheap farm land is brought on the market. This company has a capital of $200,000, and the railroad is capitalized at one-half of that sum. Mr. Kelley is president, Mr. E. A. Carter is vice-president, and G. C. Gribble of Manning is secretary, and the company does some exporting as well as having a considerable coastwise trade.
In 1901 Mr. Kelley helped organize the Lufkin National Bank, with a capital of $25,000, which has since been increased to $75,000, with a surplus of $25,000. E. A. Frost of Texarkana, Texas, was the first president, R. D. Collins the second, and Mr. Kelley succeeded the latter. He is a director of the Frost-Johnson Lumber Company, of Shreveport, is a stockholder of the Lufkin Foundry, Lufkin Ice Company, and Lufkin Sewerage System, and in a building line has contributed one of the splendid residences of the city of Lufkin. His many business duties have precluded the idea of his venturing into the political domain.
Mr. Kelley was born at Huntington, Quebec, July 26, 1861. His father, James Kelley, was born in County Down. Ireland, of Protestant parents of the Methodist faith. He married Nancy Whiteside, and both died in Canada. Of their eleven children, George A. was a twin and the only one of the survivors to leave Canada. George A. Kelley was educated fairly and learned millwrighting in his youth, early proving himself an industrious and ambitious lad, determined to make his mark in the world. Before attaining the age of twenty-one years he left his Canadian home and came to the United States, making his way over the state of Minnesota and engaging extensively in building and designing grist and sawmills, his home during the greater part of this time being located in the city of Minneapolis. Becoming thus thoroughly familiar with all kinds of mill machinery, he was induced to accept a position with the Allis-Chalmers Company, and in 1899, in its employ, came to Texas, which has since been the scene of his labors and great successes as already noted.
On December 21, 1887, Mr. Kelley was united in marriage with Miss Gertrude Davy, of Minneapolis, a daughter of Wesley N. Davy, an early settler there from New York state. Mr., and Mrs. Kelley have two children: Ward, who is a student in Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri; and Gladys, who is now Mrs. C. L. DuPuy, of Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Kelley is a Scottish Rite Mason, and a Shriner of the Galveston Consistory.