Robert W. Hinton
In comparison with the industrial growth of other southern states Mississippi was slow to respond to the call of progress, but within the last two decades that Commonwealth has largely augmented its activity in manufacturing and mechanical fields. Contributive in the greatest degree to this progress have been the exploitation of the immense forest wealth of the State and the continued railroad construction, which has afforded the necessary arteries to commerce. An early invader of the Mississippi lumber industry was Robert Wood Hinton, of Lumberton, a figure prominent in the trade for many years.
He is not a Mississippian by birth, having been reared in Georgia, but he has so long followed his fortunes there that no son could be more loyal to her. In 1886, when Mr. Hinton first became identified with the lumber business at Lumberton and engaged with others in the manufacture of yellow pine, the product of the mills of the section had a restricted sale. The North, the East and the West were markets yet to be developed. In subsequent years Mr. Hinton has been not only a witness but a participant as well in the opening of profitable fields for yellow pine, and today he has interests of an extensive character.
Robert W. Hinton comes of an old southern family on the paternal side, the early members having been colonists in Virginia. On his maternal side is a strain of Irish ancestry, the original member of that family who came to America having built and operated the initial cotton mill in Georgia, in 1827. Mr. Hinton bears as part of his Christian name that of his paternal grandfather. Wood Hinton, a Virginian who settled in the northern portion of Georgia and one of whose sons was Mansfield Hinton. The latter in early life married Elizabeth White, and of this union was born Robert Wood Hinton, December 28, 1854. The scene of his birth was on the plantation owned by his father at Winder, Jackson County, Georgia, and it was there he spent his boyhood days.
Mansfield Hinton, father of R. W. Hinton, was a prosperous planter when the people of the North and the people of the South were arrayed against each other. Mr. Hinton was old enough to realize the horrors of war when the conflict between the sections opened in 1861. Almost from the first year of that memorable struggle the plantation declined, through the negroes taking flight and the able bodied men of the community bearing arms. Upon the plantation was camped at one time a northern regiment which formed part of the Federal army under General Sherman. Even during the war days young Hinton was sent to the district school near his home and he picked up a fair education, though he was deprived of a college education because of the depressed conditions which existed for many years after the cessation of hostilities and which necessitated his assuming much of the responsibility of conducting the plantation. The work of conserving the estate was a hard task, but the young man was equal to it and he remained on the plantation until long after he had reached his majority. The plantation, consisting of 260 acres of fertile farming land and forty acres of virgin timber, remains in the possession of Mr. Hinton and his brother, J.H. Hinton. They prize the property far beyond its intrinsic value and it is doubtful if it would be sold at any price if by such a transfer it would pass out of the hands of the family.
It was not until 1886 that Mr. Hinton became interested in lumbering, though he was familiar with its details through the operations carried on in the section of Georgia where he lived. Several years prior to that period his brother had gone to Mississippi and invested in timber lands owned by the Government, from whom title was obtained. Mr. Hinton, when it was decided to develop these lands, went to Lumberton, Mississippi, where he joined his brother, H. A. Camp and H.P. Hinton in forming the firm of Camp & Hinton Bros. A mill of small capacity was set up on a tract of timber owned by the firm near Lumberton and active operations were started. It was an auspicious time for the inauguration of such an enterprise, with the result that the business grew and prospered. The individual members of the firm were alive to the situation, and as a demand was created for lumber they increased the milling facilities and invested in more timber.
In 1890 Mr. Hinton disposed of his interest in the firm of Camp & Hinton Bros, to carry on a commission business for himself. He succeeded well in this venture and gradually built up a good business, though in doing so he became involved in the handling of turpentine and in that way againbecame interested in sawmilling. In 1899 Mr. Hinton formed the R. W. Hinton Company for the purpose of carrying on a general merchandise business and the manufacture of naval stores. Lumberton is well located for the conduct of such an enterprise, being in Lamar County, almost on the dividing line of that county and Pearl River County, and at the junction of the New Orleans & North-eastern Railroad, a part of the Queen & Crescent Route, and the Gulf & Ship Island Railroad. The large amount of territory tributary to Lumberton permitted of an excellent business being built up, and it now forms Mr. Hinton's chief interest and occupies most of his attention and time. The officers of the R. W. Hinton Company are R. W. Hinton, president; A. S. Hinton, vice president, and H. C. Yawn, secretary and treasurer.
The sawmill department of the R. W. Hinton Company grew at an astounding pace, and it became expedient to separate this interest from that of general merchandising. This was accomplished in 1903, when Mr. Hinton organized the Hinton Bros. Lumber Company. The concern operates a modern sawmill plant at Lumberton with an output of about 16,000,000 feet of yellow pine lumber a year. Mr. Hinton had early provided a supply of timber which has been increased instead of diminished in recent years. The holdings of the company are estimated at approximately 135,000,000 feet of yellow pine stumpage. Mr. Hinton is president of the company; A. S. Hinton, vice president; H. C. Yawn, secretary and treasurer, and W. P. Haynes, manager.
Other lumber manufacturing concerns in which Mr. Hinton is interested are the Camp & Hinton Company, of Lumberton, and the W.B. Leeke Company, of Baxterville, Marion County, Mississippi. He is vice president of the Lumberton Drug Company and a director and member of the finance committee of the First National Bank of Lumberton.
Mr. Hinton has an interesting family of six children. Mrs. Hinton was Miss Mary Etta Haynes before her marriage to Mr. Hinton at Newton, North Carolina, May 31, 1880. The children are Robert Wood, Junior, Dayle, Ruth, Jerrine, Daniel Pitts and Sarah Elizabeth Hinton. The eldest son inherited many of the sterling qualities of his father and he undoubtedly will prove a worthy successor to his father when the latter shall choose to lay down his burdens. The members of the family attend the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Mr. Hinton is a Scottish Rite and a York Rite Mason, and a member of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He is a Republican in politics and though active he never has sought office. He is fond of driving and he gets more real pleasure in handling the reins over a blooded animal than in any other form of recreation.