The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 498
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
had too much resin and pitch to furnish good commercial paper--everyone,
that is, except Charles Holmes Herty, an academician whose focus was chem-
istry. From Georgia, Herty became the spiritual grandfather of Southland Mills.
He performed laboratory and field tests until he could produce pine sulfate
pulp and groundwood pulp that was suitable for commercial paper. He learned
that young pine thinnings were ideal for a new paper industry for the South.
Well known when he was working with pine, Herty attended many meetings
and conventions where he tried to sell and to popularize the view that Southern
pine forests, scientifically managed, would give Southern farmers a permanent
industry that with good husbandry would be self-perpetuating. Herty got his best
response in Texas and Oklahoma, where newspaper publishers pledged to buy
the great majority of the 6o,ooo tons of newsprint paper needed annually to
profitably sustain a mill.
Ernest Lynn Kurth, who became Southland's first president, was one of the
Texas businessmen who gave Herty unqualified support. Kurth lobbied the na-
tional government's Reconstruction Finance Corporation for a loan of about
$3.5 million, an amount that roughly matched the money that Kurth was able
Although he knew that no mill would be built in his congressional district,
young Hill Country congressman Lyndon B. Johnson assisted Kurth in securing
the loan after Johnson got the backing of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a
number of congressional New Dealers. As a "deal" was close to being finalized,
E. K. Gaylord (Oklahoma City Tzmes), Ted Dealey (Dallas Morning News), and
James G. Stahlman (Nashvzlle Banner) promised to take all the newsprint that
Kurth could produce in the first five years.
Herty made the decision to build the mill near Lufkin. He thought the area
ideal, and he knew it was close to Kurth's hometown (Keltys, Texas). Begin-
ning production in December 1939, the mill proved to be most successful. For
a time, sales soared to new highs almost every year. East Texas tree farmers
had a new profitable industry, publishers all over the South benefited, and
Lufkin gained a mill that eventually employed 1,1 oo people and that pumped
millions of dollars annually into the area's economy. Although corporate own-
ership of the mill changed hands several times, Southland Mills survived into
the modern era.
Author Bowman has done an excellent job in presenting his story, one that
needed to be told, given the mill's importance to the South's economy. I only
have one quibble: Despite being a one-time undergraduate lab instructor of col-
lege science courses, sometimes the complex discussion of the scientific meth-
ods by which newsprint paper was made left me wondering how I ever taught all
those lab classes. Then, I remembered that I did have a number of explosions
That is only a quibble. Bowman's effort should be examined by anyone inter-
ested in the history of Texas and the larger South.
Oklahoma State University
JAMES M. SMALLWOOD
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/566/: accessed September 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.