Heritage, 2008, Volume 2 Page: 20
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Left, an African-American logger stands in an East Texas
forest. From the Forest History Collection at Stephen
F. Austin State University. Above, signed document by
A.B. Alexander, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old 300 settlers,
May 6, 1842. From the Old 300 Collection at Sam
Houston State University in Huntsville.
Without this priceless collection of primary Paul, Minnesota, designated Stephen E Aus
documents, the efforts of these early colonizers
could very easily have been lost forever.
Recording the State's Forest and
East Texas is thick with trees and lush
vegetation, so it's not surprising to find the
Forest History Collection of documents and
images relating to the lumber industry located
at Stephen F Austin State University in
Nacogdoches. The school has a large College
of Forestry and Agriculture that attracts students
from around the world.
In 1953, Dr. Robert Maxwell, a history
professor at SFASU for more than 30 years,
created the Bureau of East Texas Research.
Maxwell was very interested in the lumber
industry in East Texas and understood the
importance of collecting and preserving historic
The Bureau's charge was to locate, acquire,
and preserve materials that emphasized the
agricultural, business, and industrial development
of the East Texas region. Six years
later, the Forest History Foundation in St.
tin State University as an approved repository
for North American Forest History.
According to Linda Reynolds, director of
the East Texas Research Center at SFASU,
the Forest History Collection includes the
business records of East Texas lumber companies,
the Texas Society of American Foresters
and the Texas Forestry Association, plus the
papers of Texans who were prominent in the
field of forestry.
For anyone with an interest in East Texas
or the lumber industry, a stop at the Forest
History Collection, housed at the Robert
W. Steen Library on the SFASU campus, is
imperative. Those who take the time to visit
the archive will find a large collection of photographs
from Thompson Brothers Lumber
Company, Southland Paper Mills, and the
images from Robert S. Maxwell and Robert
D. Baker's Sawdust Empire, The Texas Lumber
The Southland Paper Mills photographs
were a gift to the archive from longtime SPM
employee, Elizabeth Jenkins of Lufkin. This
collection consists of photographs ranging
from formal studio portraits to snapshots
(in black and white and color) of the plant,
employees, and others associated with the
life of Southland from the 1940s to the early
"Another interesting part of the collection
is the store records for W.T. Carter Lumber
Company," said Reynolds. W.T. Carter, she
explained, was one of the pioneers of the
lumber industry in East Texas, starting with
a small sawmill in Cherokee County in the
1860s. After a series of not completely successful
attempts to establish mills at various
East Texas sites, a permanent mill was located
at Camden in Polk County, but not
until 1898. The company built and operated
its own narrow gauge rail line, the Moscow,
Camden and San Augustine Railroad, and
had its own company town. In 1968 the
company was sold to Plywood-Champion
Paper Corporation. Today one of the engines
from the WT. Carter Lumber Company resides
on SFA's campus.
To see images from the Forest History Collection
online, visit http://tides.sfasu.edu:2006/
cdm4/browse.php and type in the word lumber
in the search box.
Eric L. Moreno is a freelance writer and
life-long resident of San Antonio.
HERITA GE i Volume 2 2008
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2008, Volume 2, periodical, 2008; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45358/m1/20/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.