LINDSAY: James Edwin, logging king in Village of E. Davenport, m. Mary Helen PHELPS in Schroon River, Essex, NY
James Edwin LINDSAY DOD 1915 Oct 13 Davenport, Scott, IA, Chronic Myocarditis,
interred 1915 Oct 15, Sec 20, Lot 21, Inter # 8670
Prominent for many years among the mill operators of the Mississippi river were James E. LINDSAY and John B. PHELPS, who as LINDSAY & PHELPS were for nearly forty years connected with the manufacture of lumber at Davenport.
James Edwin LINDSAY, the subject of this sketch, was born at Schroon, Essex, New York, April 12, 1826. His ancestors came from Scotland in 1731 and settled at Argyle, New York. His great-great-grandfather was Donald LINDSAY, who was interested in the grant which was extended to Laughlin Campbell and was one of the hundred founders of that early Argyle community.
His training between 1826 and 1847 terminated with one year's schooling in civil engineering at Norwich, Vermont. His father was a hotel keeper, farmer and lumber manufacturer combined. Young LINDSAY worked at measuring and the hauling of logs at his father's mill, a water power affair propelled by the old-style "flutter wheel." This sawmill was facetiously called the "Thunder Shower Mill" on account of its utter inability to operate unless a frequent rain would kindly fill the small creek dam from which it drew its water power.
Young LINDSAY was in an atmosphere that was apt to make him a lumberman and included his neighbors Israel Johnson, the inventor of the much used "mulay" saw, and Philetas Sawyer, the long time prominent lumberman and for many years United States senator from Wisconsin.
Logs measured about two standards to the log, a standard, according to Dimmock's rule, being measured on the basis of thirteen-foot log, nineteen inches at the top end. They were made up of perhaps twenty-five per cent clear at fifty dollars a thousand; twenty-five per cent second clear at forty dollars; twenty-five per cent select at twenty dollars; and twenty-five per cent common, worth fourteen dollars. Before his twenty-first birthday, a young LINDSAY already had some experience in the logging business in partnership with his brother-in-law John Tompkins. The firm was named LINDSAY & TOMPKINS and existed for four years.
In the fall of 1856, the year he was thirty years old, he came west, and with his savings and what had been entrusted to him, secured about seven thousand dollars worth of lands through land warrants in the Black River Falls (Wisconsin) country.
In March, 1861, Mr. LINDSAY located permanently at Davenport, Iowa, and his Black River timber was logged and rafted to Davenport, where it was sawed into lumber by the thousand at the mills at that place. He had formed a partnership with E. HARRIS, of Queensberry, New York, the understanding being that Mr. LINDSAY was to come west and look about and take an interest in whatever looked most favorable. The absolute trust of his partner in Mr. Lindsay's judgment seems to have colored his subsequent career. He had not only his own interests to further but also had absolutely in his keeping the interests of another. This tended to make him conservative, and he has always been a conservative man. This conservatism, however, should not be misjudged, for he has ever had an aggressive and enthusiastic confidence in the future values of timber lands.
Later in 1861 Mr. LINDSAY secured a lease of the RENWICK mill in Davenport. Shortly afterward John B. PHELPS bought Mr. Harris' interest and the firm became LINDSAY & PHELPS, and it has so continued — barring its incorporation in 1890, for nearly fifty years. In 1866 LINDSAY & PHELPS built a mill at Davenport. It started with a circular saw; a gang saw was added in 1867, at that time the only gang mill in this section of the country; and in 1880, a band mill was added and other necessary machinery for a more modern plant.
The mill at Davenport continued in operation until the close of the season of 1919— a period of thirty-nine years. The corporation of LINDSAY & PHELPS Company is still being maintained, the present officers being J. E. LINDSAY, president; R. E. LINDSAY, vice president; Fred Wyman, secretary and treasurer; and George F. LINDSAY, assistant secretary and treasurer.
John Baker PHELPS, Mr. Lindsay's long time partner, died in July, 1900.
Mr. Lindsay's confidence in pine timber was of the broader kind, and as early as 1882, with his close friend and associate, C. R. Ainsworth, of Moline, Illinois, he personally located the first holdings of the LINDSAY Land & Lumber Company in Arkansas. Perhaps it may be due to Mr. LINDSAY and Mr. Ainsworth that they be called the pioneer northern lumbermen in Arkansas, and surely they were among the earliest to purchase timber lands in that section. The company's first officers were J. E. LINDSAY, president; C. R. Ainsworth, vice president; J. B. PHELPS, secretary; William Renwick, treasurer. The late Hon. D. N. Richardson, a newspaper man and close associate in those early days of investment in the south, asked Mr. LINDSAY in conversation one day,
"Is there a chance for an outsider to put some money in your southern timber company, Mr. LINDSAY?"
"Not for you, a newspaper man," was the reply, "for it takes long patience and years of constant outgo of money to work out a proposition of this kind, and you who are accustomed to annual dividends would lack the 'sand' to stay with such a proposition." Without hesitancy Mr. Richardson replied, "We have the sand and only ask you to make the opportunity."
Mr. RICHARDSON went in, and up to the time of his death, that quality of sand first shown was ever apparent.
Resulting from Mr. RICHARDSON's enthusiasm later came the RICHARDSON Land & Timber Company, with D. N. RICHARDSON as its first president. The present officers are J. J. RICHARDSON, president; Fred WYMANH, vice president; and M. N. Richardson, secretary and treasurer. The directors are J. E. LINDSAY, Rebecca RENWICK, J. J. RICHARDSON, Fred WYMAN and J. B, RICHARDSON. This company made purchases in Little River, Dallas, Sevier and Howard counties, Arkansas, and later extended its operations into Mississippi. At one time its holdings amounted to one hundred and fifty thousand acres in Arkansas. At this time it owns nearly fifty thousand acres in Mississippi.
In 1884 when RENWICK, SHAW and CROSSETT went north to Cloquet, Minnesota, and organized the Cloquet Lumber Company with George S. Shaw as its manager, Mr. LINDSAY and Mr. PHELPS became members of that company, Mr. LINDSAY now being a director.
The big trees of the Pacific coast next attracted LINDSAY & Phelps' attention and, associated with Weyerhaeuser & Denkmann and the Richardson interests, they organized the Sound Timber Company on December 23, 1899. The officers are J. E. LINDSAY, president; Fred C. DENKMANN, vice president; George F. LINDSAY, secretary and treasurer; and with F. WEYERHAUSER, Joe R. LANE and M. N. RICHARDSON form its board of directors. This company owns something over fifty thousand acres of fir, cedar and spruce in Skagit, Snohomish, Whatcom and King counties, Washington, and Lane county, Oregon.
Interest was again directed to the south in 1901, and Mr. LINDSAY, with Weyerhaeuser & Denkmann, the Laird, Norton Company, Dimmock, Gould & Company, and the Richardson interests, formed the Southland Lumber Company
on May 4 of that year, for the purchase of timber lands in Louisiana. Its officers are: F. E. WEYERHAUSER, president; F. C. DENKMANN, vice president; George F. LINDSAY, secretary and treasurer; Fred Wyman, assistant secretary and treasurer. The directors are F. WEYERHAUSER, E. P. DENKMANN, H. A. AINSWORTH, J. E. LINDSAY, F. S. BELL, F. H. THATCHER, Fred C. DENKMANN, Calvin AINSWORTH, Joe R. LANE, M. N. RICHARDSON and Fred WYMAN. The present holdings are in southwestern Louisiana and approximate one hundred and thirty thousand acres of longleaf yellow pine.
The Southern Lumber Company of Arkansas was organized January 28,1902, by WEYERHAUSER & DENKMANN, DIMMOCK, GOULD & Company, the RICHARDSON interests and J. E. LINDSAY, purchasing the holdings of the LINDSAY Land & Lumber Company, previously referred to, and has at the present time a sawmill in active operation at Warren, Arkansas, and seventy thousand acres of short-leaf yellow pine. The officers are F. E. WEYERHAUSER, president; E. P. DENKMANN, vice president; George F. LINDSAY, secretary; Fred WYMAN, treasurer; N. H. CLAPP, Jr., assistant secretary and treasurer and general manager. The directors are F. WEYERHAUSER, C. H. AINSWORTH, J. E. LINDSAY, F. E. WEYERHAUSER, E. P. DENKMANN, Calvin AINSWORTH, Joe R. LANE, Fred WYMAN and M. N. RICHARDSON.
Mr. LINDSAY is still active in business, keeping in touch with the affairs of the companies with which he is connected, and spending several hours daily at his office. Local enterprises have always received the strong support of LINDSAY & PHELPS, and Mr. PHELPS was before his death, and Mr. LINDSAY now is, identified with many local organizations.
Mr. LINDSAY married in 1858 Mary Helen PHELPS at Schroon River, Essex County, New York. Three children were born of this union; Ralph E. LINDSAY; Mrs. Fred WYMAN, who died in 1905; and George F. LINDSAY. Mr. and Mrs. LINDSAY have two grandchildren, Edith Helen WYMAN and Edwin Blair LINDSAY.
Mr. LINDSAY has always manifested a deep interests in the religious and charitable institutions of the community. He is identified with the Baptist church, having been one of its most loyal supporters for many years. His interest in young men was evidenced by his liberal contribution to the Young Men's Christian Association.
The results of environment are very apparent in a man of Mr. LINDSAY's character. Long years of association with kindly mother nature as exemplified in her vast forests have intensified in him those inherent qualities which are characteristic of the grandest forest growth. Their physical qualities find their counterpart in his mentality — strength of purpose, uprightness of character and those other admirable traits which are typified by the giants of the forest and the stalwarts among men. He has a minute knowledge of lumber and logs which always he is glad to share generously with his friends and of which they partake with the utmost confidence in his judgment, notably in his home city, the center of a great lumber interest, where and in the adjoining cities of Rock Island and Moline between the members of the LINDSAY & PHELPS Lumber Company and all competitive lumber and logging interests in the three cities Mr. Lindsay's thorough knowledge and sterling character are well known and highly honored.
While of a modest and retiring disposition, one's first impression of Mr. LINDSAY, unconsciously conveyed by him, is that of personal dignity; yet he is always approachable. He is never hasty in judgment and his decisions are always the result of intelligent deliberation. Perhaps the only voluntary exercise of his innate qualities that needs restraint is his ready generosity, his practical sympathy for misfortune. In the sense that makes the characteristic a strongly commendable one, he is one of the most conspicuous figures in the lumber industry of the middle west.