Sanford H. Bolinger
Left to their own guidance young men, at the outset of their careers, rarely select that line of industry or that profession to which they are best adapted. Others fail after conscientious effort, because of insufficient understanding of their own limitations and the natural trend of their particular temperaments and abilities. But the wiser of them usually find their proper level, perhaps after many experiments and vicissitudes, and, once finding it, show in the particular plane in which they are settled the best that is in them. One who found his natural sphere after many efforts is Sanford Henry Bolinger, of Shreveport, Louisiana.
He was born at Mt. Carroll, Carroll County, Illinois, January 5, 1855. His father, John B. Bolinger, was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and his mother, Sophia Corbin, at Huntingdon, in the same State. They migrated to Carroll County in 1853, where the father followed the vocation of contractor and builder, which, perhaps, gave the son his first taste for the business which he now follows. One of six children, when only nine years old Sanford H. Bolinger realized something of the burden of the support of such a number on the little forty-acre farm which was the home of the family. During the troublous times of 1864 the family journeyed cautiously and circuitously through Iowa and Nebraska, avoiding the unrest in Missouri, and reached Kansas a week after the celebrated Price's raid. A wagon drawn by two yoke of oxen, a large lumber wagon and a one-horse wagon carried the family and all its possessions.
Young Bolinger had gone to school while in Illinois and in Kansas he had the same restricted educational advantages, attending a little school fourteen miles west of Fort Scott, the location of his father's farm, a tract which is still owned by Mr. Bolinger's mother. When eighteen years of age he taught school for a short period. ReaHzing his mental limitations, however, he went to Bloomington, Illinois, where he attended the normal school in 1874 and 1875. Following this course he taught school in Oakville, a small Scotch village near where he was born; but, being the oldest son, he returned to the farm in Kansas at his father's request. In 1877 he started to work the farm on shares, but quit after getting a crop started and began teaching at Godfrey, Kansas, a coal mining town five miles from Fort Scott. After teaching one term he represented a nursery company for a year, on a salary, in western Kansas. The succeeding year he carried on a nursery business for himself, but the third year a crop shortage left him practically without means and he returned to Bourbon County, Kansas, near his home, where he taught school to earn sufficient money to pay board bills he had contracted. At the end of a year he went to Nevada, Missouri, where he became proficient in penmanship, and, returning to Fort Scott, became assistant superintendent and teacher of drawing and penmanship in the public schools.
It was not until Mr. Bolinger was twenty-seven years old that he entered the lumber business. He began in the Fort Scott yard of S.A. Brown & Co., of which Thomas Brown was manager. He received a salary of $35 a month and continued at that wage for a period of four or five months. Then he went to Cherryvale and engaged with G.B. Shaw & Co., as assistant yardman. The company operated a large line of yards and grain elevators in Kansas, the head of the concern now being a successful Chicago banker, while M.R. Grant, the manager of the yard, is now a lumberman at Meridian, Mississippi. Two months after Mr. Bolinger had gone to Cherryvale he was given charge of the yard and the local office, handling both lumber and grain. At the expiration of a year he associated himself with John B. Carey in a concern known as the Wolf River Lumber Company, putting in a yard and running it for several years at Grenola, Kansas. This yard subsequently was bought by the Rock Island Lumber & Manufacturing Company, business having become dull and the two yards being merged under the ownership of the Rock Island concern.
At this juncture Mr. Bolinger joined E. H. Anawalt, who was manager of the Rock Island company's line of yards, in the buying of a yard at Fort Scott. This venture proved unremunerative in a short time and the business was sold to the other yards. In 1889 Mr. Bolinger opened an office at Fort Scott for the wholesaling of yellow pine lumber for the Southern Pine Lumber Company, at the head of which concern was T.L.L. Temple, now of Texarkana, Arkansas. Fort Scott did not prove to be the proper location for that enterprise, and Mr. Bolinger opened an office at Texarkana, Texas, under the style of S.H. Bolinger & Co., the other interest being that of the Southern Pine Lumber Company, composed of Benjamin Whitaker, T.L.L. Temple and C.M. Putman. He also held a working interest in the Southern Pine Lumber Company. Later, Mr. Bolinger bought out Messrs. Whitaker, Putman and Temple, and Max I. Mosher, his stenographer, was given a share in the business.
Prior to this Mr. Bolinger had backed a sawmill concern with some of his own capital, and upon the failure of this enterprise, he assumed possession of the plant and began its operation. The mill was located at a point then known as Martin's Switch, near Lewisville, Arkansas, on the Shreveport branch of the Cotton Belt Route. The mill business was organized under the name of the Martin Lumber Company, and Martin's Switch subsequently was given the name of Bolinger. While this plant was running the company leased a mill at Alden Bridge, Louisiana, and operated it in connection with the other plant. A tract of timber was secured near Plain Dealing, Louisiana, and the plant of the Bolinger (Arkansas) concern was moved to the new location, which was named Bolinger, Louisiana.
Adversity as well as prosperity has fallen to the lot of Mr. Bolinger, and during the commercial panic of 1893 he and his associates were financially embarrassed, though the plant was kept in operation until July, 1896. The trouble was due to the prevailing business depression and the expenditure of much money in the construction of a new mill and a railroad. The property again passed into the control of Mr. Bolinger who, with W. B. Boggs, formed S. H. Bolinger & Co., Limited. Timber tributary to the mill was bought at intervals and eighteen miles of logging railroad with spurs and a full equipment of motive power and cars is operated. The plant is a modern one and a planing mill, waterworks, electric light plant, machine shop and general store form part of the investment.
While Mr. Bolinger directs the operations of the Bolinger, Louisiana, plant, he is a stockholder and director in the E.W. Gates Lumber Company, of Yellowpine, Alabama; the principal owner in a lumber yard at Redfield, Kansas; a stockholder and director in the Continental Bank & Trust Company, of Shreveport, Louisiana, and owner of more than 40,000 acres of pine timbered lands in Alabama. He owns a farm and some property near Fort Scott and a beautiful home and other property at Shreveport. He is also a stockholder in and vice president of the Shreveport Creosoting Company, Limited, of Shreveport, Louisiana, organized in 1906 with a paid in capital of $150,000.
He stands high in the order of Odd Fellows, and was one of the earliest to join the order of Hoo-Hoo. He is a stockholder and a prominent member of the Athletic Club of Shreveport.
Mr. Bolinger married Miss Florence Green, a daughter of Rev. J.H. Green, of Redfield, Kansas, at Wyandotte, Kansas, June 9, 1883. Of this marriage have been born two sons and two daughters — Bannas Hudson, John Harvey, Minta Ursie and Isa Nancy Sophia Bolinger. Bannas Hudson, the eldest son, who recently has come of age, is a stockholder in the company and its assistant manager.