John B. Nalty
It is a trite and hackneyed saying that environment has much to do with the character and success of an individual. Nevertheless, nature frequently fails to accustom a man to his environment, and the surroundings in which he finds himself in early life are detrimental to his self-improvement; but when nature sees fit to place him in an atmosphere which is not hostile to his character and endows him with ample potential and latent energy, he may be said to enjoy a capital of greater value than money, and he has only to make use of his opportunities and surmount obstacles, which, to an ordinary man would be fatal, to reach the goal of his ambition. Many of the prominent lumbermen of the United States have been sons of lumbermen, but still more have been reared in a lumber atmosphere. Of the latter class John B. Nalty, of Brookhaven, Mississippi, may be considered an example.
In the years before the Civil War, Patrick Nalty, a native of Ireland, came to the United States and settled in the South, be-coming the owner of a large plantation, which, like all others in the far South, was worked entirely by slaves. He met and married Bridget Hyland, who had also migrated from Ireland, and at their home in Copiah County, Mississippi, their son, John Bernard Nalty, was born May 23, 1857.
Giving up his plantation in 1864, Patrick Nalty moved to Brookhaven, Mississippi, where he engaged in mercantile business, becoming one of the first merchants in the town. As soon as the son, John Bernard, was old enough he was sent to a private school at Brookhaven where he received his general education, and, after finishing his course there, he entered the Soule Commercial College, in New Orleans. He graduated from that institution in 1878, and, returning to Brookhaven, made his first business venture the following year, operating a store which catered to the sawmill trade. Brookhaven was then an important lumber town and his constant association and contact with people engaged in the lumber business necessarily yielded him a generous fund of information regarding the industry. He continued in the mercantile business for ten years, but, tiring of the restrictions it imposed upon him, he abandoned it and bought the East Union Mills, a small sawmill located four miles east of Brookhaven. The plant at that time was sawing car sills and railroad timbers to the exclusion of everything else, and Mr. Nalty carried on the operation along the same lines for about seven years.
The timber available for the East Union Mills having been cut out, in 1895 Mr. Nalty moved to Hyde, Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, where he operated a sawmill until 1903, when his timber supply was again exhausted. In 1900 he had bought a planing mill in Brookhaven, which he operated in connection with the sawmill at Hyde, also buying stocks from other mills along the Illinois Central Railroad. At the time of purchase this planing mill had a capacity of 10,000 feet daily, but it since has been improved and modernized and its capacity increased to 75,000 feet a day, this having been accomplished by the installation of the most modern machinery and by systematizing its operation. In connection with this plant he inaugurated a city retail trade, which has grown to large proportions and has become a prominent factor in the lumber industry of Brookhaven.
Seeking another plant to take the place of the Hyde mill, in 1903 Mr. Nalty bought a controlling interest in the Hammond Lumber Company, Limited, located at Hammond, Louisiana. A new sawmill had just been constructed at that point, and, finding the plant to be all that he desired, the following year he purchased all of the remaining stock of the company. The Hammond plant, which has been in operation since that time, has a daily capacity of 6o,000 feet and the stock is shipped to the Brookhaven planing mill for dressing. Mr. Nalty exercises direct supervision over both the saw and planing mill plants and spends much of his time in the personal direction of these operations, over which he has placed the very best superintendents he has been able to employ. The total investment in the two plants is about $15o,000.
While much of his time has been occupied with his extensive operations at Brookhaven, Mississippi, and Hammond, Louisiana, Mr. Nalty has found time to interest himself in several other concerns. He is president of the Empire Lumber & Manufacturing Company, of Jackson, Mississippi, and of the Jackson Lumber Company, located in the same city, the latter being the largest retail yard in the State. He is president also of the Grenada Lumber Company, which operates a large retail yard at Grenada, Mississippi, and has several in-vestments in other industries in Brookhaven and throughout the State.
Mr. Nalty married Miss Mamie Halpin, of St. Louis, Missouri, in 1885, and the couple has reared five sons and one daughter. The sons are Louis D., Willie H., Eugene, Ray and J. B. Nalty, Junior, and the daughter is Naoma. Mr. Nalty and his family attend the Roman Catholic Church at Brookhaven. In politics he has no party affiliations and has no ambition to enter the political world. He is a member of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and of the Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo. In the latter order he was vicegerent for the State of Mississippi, in 1897. He is also a member of the Osirian Cloister. He was elected High Priest of Isis in 1904, and of Anubis in 1905.
Mr. Nalty has been highly honored by his fellow citizens of Brookhaven, who have shown their esteem for him by making him president of the school board of that city, which office he has held for the last five years. He belongs to no clubs and finds that his unoccupied time can most profitably be spent with his family. If he may be said to have any fads, his inclinations are for fishing and traveling, and he has, in a measure, gratified his desire for travel by visiting practically every part of the United States.
Desire for great wealth, or craving for an uneasy eminence in the world of affairs, finds little place in Mr. Nalty's temperamental makeup. Consequently, he is not and does not care to be one of the great lumber operators of the South; but he is content, and that is better. He wants enough work healthfully to engage his abilities, but he also wants that measure of leisure which will allow him to enjoy the company of his family and friends, and quietly to repossess himself. Busy he is, yet with time for other than business, and so, as a useful citizen and a good friend, he is living a sane and pleasant life.