Biography of John Nathan Gilbert (from American Lumberman magazine)
John Nathan Gilbert
John Nathan Gilbert.
It is necessary to go somewhat into the history of yellow pine, particularly the longleaf variety, in order to show what lumber pioneers such as John Nathan Gilbert
, of Beaumont, Texas, had to overcome in order to achieve success.
Nearly every yellow pine manufacturer whether he
operates in the longleaf districts of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, or in the shortleaf regions of Arkansas, Missouri and the northern belt of that timber who reads this work knows that Mr. Gilbert's
struggles were largely a duplicate of his
The Texas-Louisiana lumber district contains huge saw mills at Lake Charles and Westlake, Louisiana, and Orange and Beaumont, Texas, and at other isolated points in that general district, and in this area longleaf yellow pine is found in its highest forestal development.
The valleys of the Calcasieu, the Sabine and the Neches rivers contain tracts of timber lands unequaled for stumpage results and unexcelled for timber of a superior quality; and it is these lands that Mr. Gilbert
and other pioneers have ransacked for the supply of the great mills in that country.
Among the Beaumont, Texas, mill men John Nathan Gilbert
is conspicuous as a lumberman.
father, a native of Connecticut, went to Texas, where his
son, John N. Gilbert
, was born in 1855 near Kosse, a small town, which, however, is one of the oldest in the state.
It is on what is now the Houston & Texas Central railroad, in Limestone county.
When John Gilbert
was six years of age his
father moved from that point, going to Sabine Pass, where he
engaged in general merchandising.
Beaumont, now a prosperous city of 15,000 people, then contained a population of only 300.
When young Gilbert was about seventeen years of age he went to work in Beaumont as a clerk in the store of Long & Son, which firm built the first saw mill there.
Having by nature a leaning toward the lumber industry, he
decided to learn this business from the foundation, and began in the mill commissary.
gradually but thoroughly learned the intricate details of manufacturing lumber.
Having been saving of his
invested it in the mill when it was rebuilt in 1877.
The plant was then cutting about 40,000 feet daily and was the largest mill in Beaumont.
Soon afterward Long & Son
went out of the saw mill business and started a shingle mill, the saw mill becoming the property of the Beaumont Lumber Company
, which was a co-partnership.
The firm became a corporation in 1882, and was operated under a charter with the following officers : F. L. Carroll, of Waco, Texas, president; George W. Carroll, of Beaumont, vice president; John N. Gilbert, secretary, treasurer and general manager, and L. B. Pipkin, assistant secretary and treasurer.
While, therefore, Mr. Gilbert's
lumber and timber interests are less than they were, he
is still at the date of this publication heavily interested in yellow pine and its products.
One of the most remarkable events in the commercial and industrial history of the country was the discovery of petroleum in enormous quantities at Beaumont, Texas, in 1900.
Many of the lumbermen of that city being land owners, participated in the profits that accrued from that ownership or from the operations of oil properties.
Among them was Mr. Gilbert
had inherited from his
father, in conjunction with other heirs, a large piece of landed property in the Sourlake district, which afterward developed into one of the most prolific oil fields in the United States and succeeded in the public attention the Beaumont field.
A considerable portion of the property falling to the estate was sold at that time at a large profit, although enough was retained to serve as the basis for successful operating companies.
In the various transactions resulting there from Mr. Gilbert
associates realized large sums of money.
Returning to Mr. Gilbert's
lumber career : When he
became associated with the Beaumont Lumber Company
its trade was confined to Texas.
Timber lands were then selling at fifty to seventy-five cents an acre, and Mr. Gilbert
and others were wise enough to anticipate the certain profit to be realized from investment at such prices.
As stated previously, Mr. Gilbert's
companies had acquired title to 200,000 acres of magnificent longleaf pine, and the combined capacity of the mills was about 230,000 feet a day.
There remains still the Nona Mills Company
, with a producing capacity of more than 100,000 feet a day, with a large timber acreage back of it.
has been living at Beaumont continuously for twenty-five years.
owns a beautiful home in that city, where he
is a respected and honored citizen.
family, consisting of three sons and a daughter, is his
married a Texas girl Miss Willbarger, of Bastrop.
Mr. Gilbert stands high in Masonic circles.
He is a stockholder and director in the First National Bank of Beaumont, and a director of the Texarkana & Fort Smith railroad.
brother manufacturers he
is greatly esteemed for his
business ability and for his