Edward H. Harrell
The world has assumed that wisdom comes with gray hairs, and that while the young may be ambitious, progressive and forceful, the old are to be looked to for counsel. While in the main this has been true, in all ages there have been young men who have added to the attributes of youth the wisdom of old age. But this early morning of the Twentieth Century is preeminently the young men's era. Today they occupy positions of trust and responsibility in every phase of life, political and commercial. The lumber industry, especially, has been productive of a notable percentage of bright young men who have added sound judgment to enterprise. Of this type may be mentioned Edward H. Harrell, of Houston, Texas, who, by dint of energy and determination, coupled with conservative common sense, has worked his way up from the bottom until, while only well into the thirties, he is one of the leading business men of the Lone Star State.
Edward Hogan Harrell is a son of the South, having been born in Selma, Alabama, January 3, 1868. His father, Oscar F. Harrell, was, at the time of the boy's birth, a grocery merchant and cotton factor of the little city of Selma, besides owning several plantations in that vicinity. His mother, Marie Antionette Mobley, was the daughter of a prominent plantation owner in Alabama. In 1879 the family moved to Pensacola, Florida, where the father engaged very successfully in the grocery and grain business. In 1881 yellow fever became prevalent in Florida and, as the elder Harrell's health was failing, the family moved to Bladen Springs, Alabama, hoping that the waters of that place would prove beneficial. Later, Healing Springs and Mobile, in turn, became the family residence, the death of the father occurring in the latter place in 1884.
The elder Mr. Harrell left very little of this world's goods, his fortune having been expended in the fruitless search for health. So Edward found himself, at the age of sixteen years, facing the world without money and with a mother and four sisters more or less dependent upon him. But he was equal to the emergency; he went to Birmingham, Alabama, remaining in that place until the latter part of 1886, or early in 1887, occupying several subordinate positions. Not being satisfied with the outlook there and believing that with an opportunity he could make something of himself, he began to cast about for a better location.
More than one boy has been fired by the advice of Horace Greeley: "Go West, young man, and grow up with the country." It was this admonition which was the immediate cause of young HarrelPs leaving Birmingham. He had heard and read much of Texas and had become convinced that in the Lone Star State a fortune was awaiting him if he had the nerve to go out and seek it. So, in the early part of 1887, he set his face toward the West, with Texas as his objective point. When he undertook the journey his funds were small and as he proceeded they shrank rapidly. The result was that when he reached Shreveport, Louisiana, he had fifty cents in his pocket, and he knew not a soul in the town. He still held firmly to his creed that determination and energy would win in the end and decided that, while he would yet go to Texas, he must have work in Shreveport for a time. Accordingly, he secured a position with the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific Railway, checking baggage. Never having had any experience in railroad work, but believing that he could do anything that anybody else could, he set about his task with energy.
Young HarrelPs vim evidently attracted the attention of the business men who chanced to observe him about his daily duties, for after sixty days he was offered a position by John R. Jones, a large mill owner and lumber dealer of that time. Notwithstanding the fact that his other positions had required all his time during the hours of day, Mr. Harrell had learned shorthand and typewriting at night without the aid of an instructor, his sole guide being a textbook on shorthand. His duties with Mr. Jones were those of stenographer and invoice clerk. With the lumberman he did well and was able to hold the position without difficulty, despite the fact that it was his first attempt at shorthand work.
After about a year, however, the old desire to go to Texas began to assert itself once more, and he left Mr. Jones and started for the great State of the Southwest, believing that by putting forth the proper effort a young man could succeed in so great a commonwealth. San Antonio was his first stop, but the search for a position there proved fruitless and after a few days he decided to try elsewhere. Fort Worth was then visited and on the day after reaching that city a position as stenographer and court reporter was secured with Meade & Bomar, attorneys at law. In this work Mr. Harrell succeeded, as he did in everything he attempted, but he had already become fascinated with the lumber business and decided to get back into it.
One day, while reading the daily paper, an advertisement of the Texas Tram & Lumber Company, of Beaumont, Texas, caught his eye. A good stenographer was wanted, and he put in his application. In a few days a letter came advising that the position had been awarded to him and he immediately went to Beaumont. For six months- from January to June, 1889 -Mr. Harrell remained with the company, but the location being unfavorable to his health, he resigned at the end of that time to fill a similar position with the M.T. Jones Lumber Company, of Houston.
After serving the M. T. Jones company one year as stenographer and general office man Mr. Harrell was given the position of traveling salesman, his territory being Texas, Indian Territory, Kansas and Nebraska. He proved efficient in the new capacity and rose rapidly in the estimation of his employers. He remained with the company until the latter part of 1896, or nearly seven years. At that time he resigned to embark in the lumber commission business with L. B. Menefee, of Fort Worth. In January, 1897, ^^^ Houston office and yard were opened under the firm name of L.B. Menefee & Co. This partnership continued until April, 1902, when Mr. Harrell withdrew and established what is now known as the Ed H. Harrell Company.
The company of which Mr. Harrell is president is incorporated with a capital of $200,000 and operates one of the largest sash, blind and door factories in the Southwest, built in 1902, and a large box factory, built in 1904. Mr. Harrell, as president of the concern, devotes his personal attention to the management of all of its affairs. The company operates extensively and the output of both plants finds great demand. The amount of money constantly involved is more than $250,000. To keep everything intact and running smoothly requires much executive ability. When the Ed H. Harrell Company was launched a large retail lumber yard was run in connection with the sash and door business, but as the latter grew, even beyond the fondest hopes of its promoters, it was found expedient to dispose of the lumber yard and devote all energies to manufacturing. The output of the plant consists of doors, blinds, sash and mouldings, of cypress and pine, the native woods of Texas.
Mr. Harrell is president of the Harrell-Votaw Lumber Company, which was organized in 1905 with a capital of $100,000. The company built a band sawmill at Bruce, Orange County, Texas, and began operations January 1, 1906.
Mr. Harrell stands high in business and financial circles and enjoys the esteem of all who are acquainted with him. He is a director in several institutions of Houston, among others the Planters & Mechanics' National Bank. He takes an interest in all enterprises looking to the betterment of the business conditions and the welfare of Houston and Texas, and is president of the Manufacturers' Association of Houston.