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L.N. Dantzler Lumber Company Collection

 Unprocessed Collection
Identifier: AM18-46

Form of Material

L.N. Dantzler Lumber Company records.

Dates

  • circa 1840-1965

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; available for research.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical / Historical

Lorenzo Nollie Dantzler was born on December 31, 1833, near the present town of McLain, Mississippi, in Greene County. He was the son of John Lewis Dantzler and Elizabeth Dantzler, both of whom came to Mississippi from the Orangeburg area in South Carolina. L. N. Dantzler attended Centenary College, in Shreveport, La. In 1855, after graduating college, Dantzler purchased a two story brick building on Royal Street in Mobile, Alabama, and entered the cotton business with his uncle, Gabriel Bruner Dantzler. On November 18, 1857, L. N. Dantzler married Sarah Eran Griffin, daughter of Moss Point lumberman William Griffin. After serving in the Confederate army, Dantzler moved to Moss Point, and joined his father-in-law in the sawmill business.

After the dissolution of William Griffin and Company in 1877, L. N. Dantzler rented a sawmill from William Griffin, and bought timber rafted down the Pascagoula River, much of it from William Calvin Griffin, Dantzler’s brother-in-law. The late 1870's was a period of prosperity for the sawmills in Mississippi. Prices for finished lumber ranged from $10 to $15 per thousand board feet. During this period timber could be purchased from loggers for $3 to $5 per thousand board feet. Dantzler’s lumber business prospered and he was soon able to purchase the sawmill from Griffin and small tracts of timber. Most of the logs to supply the mill, however, were still purchased directly from the loggers, many of whom owned their own timberland.

In 1883, L. N. Dantzler decided to build a much larger mill at Moss Point. The site chosen for the new mill was on the north bank of the Escatawpa River immediately north of the old mill and office, on the site of the Griffin mill that burned in 1879. Work on the new sawmill, known as the “LND Mill,” took over a year to complete. The mill was being built by the Filer and Stowell Co., of Milwaukee, Wisc., and was placed in operation by March 27, 1885. At that time, it was one of the largest mills in the South. The mill, which had a circular saw and a gang saw, had an average capacity of 65,000 to 70,000 board feet per day. By 1901, this mill capacity was increased to 125,000 feet per day.

After the mill was placed in operation, the company became increasingly profitable. Lumber prices continued to rise. As the Dantzler business continued to grow, two of L.N. Dantzler’s sons joined their father in the family business. As the business continued to expand, the Dantzlers decided to incorporate the business. The L.N. Dantzler Lumber Company was incorporated on March 1st, 1888, thus becoming the first private corporation in the State of Mississippi.

For 20 years, the company relied on contract loggers to supply their sawmills, but in the 1890s, the company began buying large tracts of land to insure a more reliable source of timber. By the early 1900s, the company had acquired about 400,000 acres of timberland in the six southernmost counties of Mississippi.

On a trip to England in the early 1900s, J.L. Dantzler consulted with paper industry experts about using the sulfate process for manufacturing kraft paper from southern pines. In 1911, the Dantzler's began construction of a paper mill in Moss Point to utilize waste slabs from their sawmills. The mill began operation in 1913 as Southern Paper Company. International Paper Company purchased the mill in 1928 and operated it through the end of the 20th century. The paper mill closed in 2001.

As the supply of virgin timber declined in the 1920s, the Dantzler Lumber Company gradually ended its use of railroad logging and began implementing reforestation on its cutover lands. By the early 1940s, the company had begun selectively cutting their timber to extend their reserve of larger trees.

The company closed its Moss Point sawmill in 1942, and moved the company office to Ten Mile, near Perkinston, Mississippi, where they opened a new sawmill. During World War II, Dantzler Lumber Company entered into a contract with the War Department to use labor from the prisoner-of-war camp in Saucier, Mississippi for stacking, loading, and handling lumber at their Ten Mile sawmill.

In 1949, Dantzler Lumber Company ended all company-owned logging and mill operations and entered the business of tree farming and selling their timber on a selective basis so as to yield a variety of wood products—poles, pilings, sawlogs, and pulpwood. By mid-20th century, the company had reduced its timberland holdings from nearly half a million acres to about 115,000 acres. In 1966, the L.N. Dantzler Lumber Company was sold to International Paper Company.

The sawmill's Moss Point location was well situated for receiving logs that were rafted down the Pascagoula and Escatawpa Rivers and their tributaries. But in order to access their inland timber-holdings, the company built a railroad from Vancleave, Mississippi, northwest into what would become Stone County. Processed lumber from their sawmills was loaded onto company ships for export through the Gulf of Mexico to Europe, South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean Islands. By 1913, the company was the largest exporter of lumber in Mississippi, but with the advent of World War I, demand for lumber from overseas countries declined.

Profits from the Moss Point sawmill were used to expand the company by purchasing existing sawmills and constructing new mills throughout south Mississippi. Their holdings once included the Bond Lumber Company (1915 to 1919), Cedar Lake Mill Company (1919 to 1927), Handsboro Lumber Company (1906 to 1914), Native Lumber Company (1899 to 1931), Ten Mile Lumber Company (1910 to 1922), and Vancleave Lumber Company (1903 to 1931).

In addition to sawmills, the Dantzler family owned naval store operations, a marine towing business, a ship building and dry docks company, a foundry and machine works company, a brick kiln, a mill for producing shingles, and a factory for making window sashes and blinds.

Extent

81 Cubic Feet : 302A.A8.E1-H6

Language of Materials

English

Arrangement

Records consist of a dozen file cabinets that were moved an unknown number of times. The bracketed number refers to the file cabinets placement (left to right) when the records were removed from storage by Historical Manuscripts. The bracketed letter refers to which drawer (top to bottom) the items were removed from.

Related Materials

M654 Crosby Family Letters and Miscellaneous Ledgers
Title
L.N. Dantzler Lumber Company Collection
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository

Contact:
118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001
601.266.4345