Samuel H. Fullerton
Every nationality has its own peculiar characteristics, which impress themselves upon the civilization of every country where its representatives are to be found. The Scotch, whose distinguishing characteristics are thrift, enterprise and persistency, have had a notable share in both the political and industrial development of the United States, the lumber industry of which country contains the names of many prominent men of Scotch descent. Among them, standing out conspicuously because of his abilities and achievements, is Samuel Holmes Fullerton, of St. Louis, Missouri.
He has the traits of his race in full measure, and the Scotch shrewdness and foresight displayed in the management of his commercial affairs, and the directness of his purpose, together with a certain moral rigidity, perhaps inherited from his Covenanter ancestors, have put him where he is today.
Although his ancestors came from Scotland, Mr. Fullerton was born near Belfast, Ireland, in 1852. His parents were Captain Samuel and Anna (Holmes) Fullerton. His youth was spent in the Emerald Isle and perhaps the first evidence of any qualities above the ordinary was in his determination, at the age of twenty years, to emigrate to the United States in search of broader opportunities than he found at home. In March, 1871, he reached Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and secured employment in the lumber business. This initial education was of great value to him in later years, for he acquainted himself thoroughly with methods of retailing lumber and welcomed every opportunity to study the business from the standpoint of the yardman, which later made him a capable salesman. The retail yard and its resources of supply were different propositions at that time from what they are today, and the young man evolved ideas of buying and selling, which formed themselves into a definite scheme and aroused an ambition to put them into practice.
The sought-for opening came rather unexpectedly to Mr. Fullerton after two years spent in Pittsburg. Through the influence of his brother Robert, who was associated with M.T. Greene, the founder of the Chicago Lumber Company, he was given charge of the company's yard at Tecumseh, Nebraska. Mr. Fullerton did not hesitate about accepting the position, although he realized that his career would probably hinge on the ability he could show. In 1873 the Greene company started a chain of retail yards throughout northeastern Kansas, and the Tecumseh yard was operated under the Fullerton name, the brothers having an interest in Mr. Greene's company. After two years in this location, Samuel H. Fullerton went to Kansas and took charge of another yard, giving this up to become a manager of the Chicago Lumber Company. In the next few years he had much to do with the development of the line yard idea to meet a large and urgent call for lumber. Settlers were rushing in and occupying the Mississippi and Missouri River valleys, creating an unprecedented demand for lumber. It was a period of activity and prosperity; but the pendulum of trade eventually swung back, following the crop failures of several seasons, and financial ruin faced many concerns. With a string of yards extending from Atchison to the Nebraska line in northeastern Kansas, the business managed by Mr. Fullerton did not meet disaster as did many other ventures, but actually prospered.
Early in the '8o's the Chicago Lumber Company was incorporated and Mr. Fullerton was made a director. The operations of the company did not extend to the western retail field. The Fullertons remained as managers and owners of the yard business until 1891. Then they bought the interest of Mr. Greene and conducted a line of about fifty yards under the title of the Chicago Lumber Company, a partnership.
For four years the retail business was successfully carried on, but changing conditions led to the organization of the Chicago Lumber & Coal Company for the purpose of entering into other lumber lines. The business of the old company was absorbed by the corporation and wholesaling and manufacturing engaged in. By this time yellow pine had gained a stronghold on the consumers of Kansas, where once white pine alone had been demanded, and this feature of the trade had extended into Nebraska and Iowa.
Among the first investments made by the corporation was one in a sawmill at Logansport, Louisiana, in 1894. This mill was situated in the shortleaf yellow pine belt and was equipped with circular and gang saws. Within a few years other mills had been acquired and an output of more than 500,000 feet a day of shortleaf and longleaf pine was controlled. Fully one-third of the total volume of yellow pine handled by the company is distributed through the large territory served by its yards, though millions of feet of white pine and Pacific Coast woods are disposed of. The wholesale business is extensive, covering nearly all the northern portion of the country from the Rockies to the Atlantic.
Mr. FuUerton has been president of the Chicago Lumber & Coal Company since its organization, and has as his executive assistants Robert Fullerton, his brother, as vice president; Clifford T. Millard, secretary, and Frank Goepel, treasurer.
But Mr. Fullerton is not president in title only; he is the active head of the enterprise, a worker who knows not fatigue, and one who imbues every man under him with the spirit of performing each duty willingly and conscientiously. There is not an employee of the company, from the humblest laborer up, who does not respect the president of the concern for his honesty and fair dealing. Personally, he is a friend to them all, and their suggestions pertaining to the conduct of the business are welcomed and appreciated. Mr. Fullerton has the faculty of choosing the proper man for the position -- one in whom can be placed the fullest confidence -- and the results attained by this policy are beneficial beyond calculation. His ability to hold close connection with men is shown by the fact that Mr. Goepel has been associated with him for more than thirty years, and Mr. Millard was interested with the Fullertons in the old Chicago Lumber Company.
Mr. Fullerton identified himself with the Southern Lumber Manufacturers' Association when he entered the wholesale and manufacturing field, and he has had a strong influence in upbuilding the reputation of yellow pine. Naturally, his wide acquaintance with trade matters in a large section of the country was a valuable adjunct to his labors for the association, which he served as president for two terms -- 1900 and 1901.
In 1904 he was chairman of a committee appointed to make an exhibit of southern pine at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis. He was largely responsible for the success of the exhibit, which received the grand prize, and he was awarded a special gold medal and a diploma as "collaborator."
Mr. Fullerton, besides being president of the Chicago Lumber & Coal Company, which is shipping about 25,000,000 feet of lumber a month, is president of the William Farrell Lumber Company, manufacturing yellow pine and oak lumber at Hensley, Arkansas, and vice president of the Lee Lumber Company, Limited, which operates a yellow pine and hardwood mill at Tioga, Louisiana. Both of these concerns are heavy timber owners.
Mr. Fullerton married Miss Lucy Cook, of Clay Center, Kansas. They had three children — Robert, Ruby, a graduate of the Ogontz School, Ogontz, Pennsylvania, and Samuel Baker Fullerton, a student at the Culver Military Academy. Robert is a graduate of Cornell. He is now in the office of the Chicago Lumber & Coal Company, learning the details of the various departments. He studied the Spanish language in Spain, and it is likely he will look after the export trade of the company to the Latin countries.
Mr. Fullerton is a member of the Mercantile Club, the St. Louis and Glen Echo Country clubs and the Business Men's League, all of St. Louis.