Edward E. Moberly
With the growth and expansion of the cypress industry in comparatively recent years, many have been drawn into its manufacture who had previously gained success in other lines of the lumber business. One of the men to enter the industry recently and almost immediately to become an important factor in the production of this wood is E. E. Moberly, of Chicago, Illinois. He did not begin the manufacture of cypress as a novice, for in his long experience as a lumberman in the metropolitan field he became thoroughly conversant with southern lumber of every description, and with southern life and methods as well. For years he was heavily interested in the production and sale of yellow pine lumber before he turned his attention to its companion wood—cypress.
Edward Everett Moberly was born at Duquoin, Perry County, Illinois, October 20, 1859. His father was John H. Moberly and his mother Hester J. Moberly. He was educated in the public school at Duquoin and later took up a course at Shurtleff College, at Upper Alton, Illinois. Immediately upon leaving college in 188o he began his business career by going to Chicago, where he secured a position in the office of the wholesale and retail lumber firm of Street, Chatfield & Keep, predecessors of the present firm of Street, Chatfield & Co. His first work was as a bookkeeper, though it was not long before he was given more important responsibilities, and during the ten years he was with the firm he acquired a valuable practical experience in the details of handling and shipping lumber in the Chicago market. He developed a liking for the lumber business, and applied him-self assiduously to the duties incumbent upon him in order that he might qualify to conduct a business of his own, to which laudable ambition he aspired. At the time that Street, Chatfield & Keep closed out their Twenty-second Street yard Mr. Moberly opened a lumber commission office on his own account, embarking in the trade of white pine, in 189o, with his father-in-law, C. H. Blair, under the firm name of C. H. Blair & Co.
The jobber of lumber, at the time Mr. Moberly opened his office, was considered an unimportant factor in the trade of Chicago, where business was largely done direct from extensive and well-stocked yards, then regarded as a necessary adjunct to the proper transaction of a lumber business. Mr. Moberly was convinced that it would be possible to do a profitable trade in direct shipments from the mills, a proposition which he proceeded to demonstrate; and, as a result of that demonstration, he became one of the pioneers of the now influential colony of office lumbermen in the downtown district of Chicago. The limited competition and the opportunities for profit in this line were greater in those days than they now are, and the business of C. H. Blair & Co. grew and prospered under the capable management of the young lumberman. Mr. Moberly continued actively in the wholesale lumber business from 1890 until 1903, meanwhile, in 1893, changing the name of the firm to E. E. Moberly & Co.
While carrying on a wholesale business the decreasing supply of white pine gradually diverted Mr. Moberly's attention to the yellow pine field, and in the later years of his activity in Chicago he directed his efforts chiefly to southern products. While thus engaged he organized and financed the H. M. Nixon Lumber Company for the purpose of operating in hardwoods. Closing out all his other wholesale interests in 1903, Mr. Moberly aided in the organization of the Anguera Lumber Company, which conducts a wholesale yellow pine and hardwood business, with offices in the Monadnock Building, Chicago, and of which concern he became vice president and the principal stockholder.
While operating in yellow pine lumber Mr. Moberly studied the field closely and recognized the possibilities of manufacturing in that line, and in 1898 he bought a one-half interest in the Amos Kent Lumber & Brick Company, Limited, of Kentwood, Louisiana. This company at that time was a comparatively small institution, operating a mill of limited capacity and backed by meager timber holdings. The manufacturing facilities and timber resources of the company were largely expanded, and when the company disposed of its holdings in March, 1906, it had accumulated stumpage to the extent of 250,000,000 feet, and timber lands comprising an area of 23,000 acres, besides a modern mill plant.
Late in 1905 Mr. Moberly, in company with J. N. Cummings, formerly secretary of the Louisiana Cypress Company, Limited, of Harvey, Louisiana, and an old time Chicago lumberman, organized the Cummings & Moberly Cypress Company, with a paid in capital of $125,000. Mr. Moberly is president of the company and Mr. Cummings secretary-treasurer and general manager. The company owns an extensive tract of cypress land in St. Charles Parish, in the south-eastern part of Louisiana. At Taft, a new settlement located on the Texas & Pacific Railway, over which the product of the mill finds an outlet, has been built a modern sawmill plant, planing mill, dry kilns and all accessories of a well organized and efficient manufacturing plant for catering to northern markets, and a logging road furnishes the supply of logs for the mill. The mill is of a band type with a capacity of 60,000 feet a day. Neither pains nor expense was spared by Mr. Moberly or his associates in making the Cummings & Moberly Cypress Company one of the most effective manufacturing institutions in the cypress belt, special attention having been paid to the utilization of methods that have proved, by long practical experience, to be conducive to economy of manufacture and excellence of production. The plant is supplemented with some of the most improved labor saving mechanical devices that the inventive genius of the day has as yet been able to produce. The logs are loaded on cars in the woods by steam skidders and delivered directly into the log pond at the mill, and mechanical contrivances of the latest pattern handle them and their product through each stage of the operation up to the putting in pile of lumber, lath and shingles in the mill yard.
Mr. Moberly is still, a young man, energetic, strong of purpose and resourceful in methods. He has earned the confidence of those with whom he has had business dealings, and has commanded the respect of his confreres. But, best of all, there are no rankling resentments, due to unfair methods, to be overcome, no hostile sentiments to be placated. He is plain speaking, fair minded and honorable with all with whom he comes in contact. To no man in the lumber trade is tendered a greater measure of unselfish good wishes by his fellows for his continued prosperity; and this fact tells more forcibly than could any words of the character of his dealings with others.
Mr. Moberly married Miss Jennie Blair, a daughter of Charles H. Blair, of Chicago, who later became his partner, April 28, 1886. Mr., and Mrs. Moberly reside during the greater part of the year in a beautiful home in Chicago and spend the summer months on the New England Coast. They have four children—a son and three daughters.