The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: Weston Lumber Company Photographs
Collection Number: M293
Dates: ca. 1920-1924
Volume: 2 Photographs
Provenance: Donated September 27, 1984, by D. O. Sigworth, director of the physical plant and security at the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Park campus, these two oversized photographs were found in the old Logtown, Mississippi Post Office when it was closed in the early 1960s.
The H. Weston Lumber Company, located in Logtown (Hancock County) Mississippi, was founded in 1889 by Henry Weston. Weston, a Skowhegan, Maine native, was born January 9, 1823. His father, John Whitney Weston, owned a sawmill in Maine, and Henry Weston grew up working in almost every aspect of lumbering. In 1844 Weston moved to Wisconsin with his brother in an attempt to better his prospects. In Milwaukee, he was hired as superintendent of a mill site on the Eau Claire River. However, the harsh Wisconsin winters nearly killed him, so a physician recommended he move to the South -- either Louisiana or the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
In 1846, Weston arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, looking for work. He found employment in the lumber business as a sawyer for J. W. Poitevent in Gainesville, Mississippi, making $45 a month. Weston built a good reputation as a lumberman in the area and by 1848 was hired by Judge David R. Wingate to work at a sawmill in Logtown.
By 1856, Weston had formed a partnership with Henry and W. W. Carre to purchase Wingate's Pearl River mill at Logtown. Two years later the mill burned down, but the partnership re-built it and installed the best equipment available from the North. Unfortunately, the lumber business was disrupted by the Civil War after New Orleans fell to Union troops, and the partnership shut down the mill at Logtown.
After the war, the partnership re-opened the Logtown mill and started producing lumber again. By 1870 the sawmill churned out 5,110,000 feet of lumber per year. Four years later, Weston bought out his partners and purchased surrounding timberlands. He visited other mills to observe their operations, then began improvements in his own business. One of those improvements was the installation of the first planing mill on the Pearl River.
In 1889, Weston joined with two new partners, J. S. Otis and H. U. Beech, and re-organized the corporation as the H. Weston Lumber Company. During the following years Weston and his partners made millions of dollars, expanded their operations to a yard and office located in New Orleans, and built railroad lines to join with major railroads, such as the New Orleans and Northeastern. As a result of their operation, Logtown grew to a population of 3,000 people and changed its name to Westonia.
Henry Weston died October 29, 1912, but his sons took over the business, which continued to thrive until 1925 when the mill ceased sawing operations. Then in 1930, the mill shut down completely.
H. Weston Lumber Company was not the first located in Logtown. In 1845 the first sawmill was constructed by slave labor. Several years later, E. G. Goddard Lumber Company also built a sawmill in Logtown. Yet, it was Weston that made Logtown one of the most famous lumber producing sites in the United States.
This collection consists of two oversized, panoramic views of the H. Weston Lumber Company in Logtown, Mississippi, which show the mill in full operation. The photographs were taken sometime between 1920 and 1924, and are on a plastic-like translucent surface, possibly celluloid. The first photograph portrays the business along the river as tugboats chugged up and down the Pearl River and pulled beside the site. The foreground is dominated by a long sluice, but a couple of rail lines are visible as well. Railroad lines constructed by the Weston company criss-crossed the sawmill location, bringing raw materials in from surrounding timberlands, and transporting the finished products to New Orleans, Louisiana for export to South America. The second photograph shows huge stacks of lumber and a network of ramps in the foreground, with the river on the left. Buildings in the background are neat in appearance, indicating that the Weston Company took pride in its surroundings.
This collection should be of interest to researchers of the lumber industry in Mississippi or general industrial development in the state, particularly the Gulf Coast area.