Profile of Jeanerette Lumber & Shingle Co. at Jeanerette, Louisiana, c. 1905
[American Lumberman magazine]
Source: American Lumberman. "A Journey through the Vast Downman Cypress Interests with Camera and Pen", American Lumberman, Aug 5, 1905 pp.43-82. Chicago: American Lumberman, 1905.

Jeanerette, La., is located in Iberia parish, 114 miles from New Orleans, on the Southern Pacific railway, and is the home of the Jeanerette Lumber & Shingle Company, Limited, which manufactures band sawed Louisiana red cypress lumber and shingles, doors, sash and blinds.

The plant of this company has a daily capacity of 75,000 feet from the saw mill, 200,000 shingles and 25,000 lath. The officers of the company are: R. H. Downman, president and general manager; Sam R. Ely, assistant general manager; H. B. Hewes, vice president and treasurer, and F. H. Lewis, secretary.

Jeanerette is reached by Western Union telegraph and Wells-Fargo express and has 3,500 inhabitants.

Early History.
The first mill was built here in 1883 by B. Milmo and J. W. Stokoe, under the firm name of Milmo & Stokoe. That was in the days when lumbermen depended entirely upon overflow for their cypress timber and also too when a float could be depended upon each year.

The first cypress lumber made by this concern was sold in Texas and it was begun by marketing the clears, which built up a good trade for shingles as well.

The partnership of Milmo & Stokoe continued until 1887, when the firm Milmo, Stokoe & Co. was formed and H. B. Hewes was taken into partnership. That partnership of Milmo, Stokoe & Co. flourished until the death of Mr. Milmo, April 1, 1891.

On September 14, 1894, the company was incorporated under its present style with J. W. Stokoe as president, H. B. Hewes as vice president, treasurer and general manager, and J. B. Milmo as secretary. It was then too that the company began the building of a band mill which was operated in March, 1895. This was a single band affair.

Some Fire Losses.
The lumber and planing mill was destroyed by fire on October 2, 1896, and the company sustained a loss of $90,000, with $40,000 insurance.

On May 1, 1898, the saw mill was destroyed by fire with $60,000 loss and $30,000 insurance and was rebuilt in the fall of 1898 and sawing began in the spring of 1899. It was then that the company put in its double cutting Allis- Chalmers bund mill, which is the first double cutting band mill ever built.

Double Cutter Increases Capacity.
Mr. Stokoe was a mechanical genius who had perfected many pieces of planing mill and saw mill specialties. He saw at once the great advantage to be gained by using a double cutting mill. It had to be worked out on proper lines and Mr. Stokoe was evidently equal to the matter. Mr. Hewes is authority for the statement that the double cutting mill has from the first increased capacity from 38 to 40 percent.

Had Bought Much Timber Early.
In 1888, 1889 and 1890 the company bought much timber from the state. This is today one of the most valuable assets of the company—one steadily increasing in value, as is the case with timber everywhere.
The company has a certain life ahead of it of at least a quarter of a century.
The first pullboat was built in 1888. It was a very crude affair as compared with the pullboat of today and would pull from 12,000 to 25,000 feet only when the boats of today will pull from 45,000 to 50,000 feet.

Modern Improvements and Changes In Personnel.
This company, as well as other companies in that section, worked by pullboats until 1899, and in that year the Jeanerette people put in their first skidder.

The Milmoes sold their interests in the company to William Cameron & Co. in September, 1899. In the years since 1888 the company has—while it has been cutting lumber all the time— been increasing its holdings until it today possesses 300,000,000 feet of standing cypress timber, located on 28,000 acres of land.

The Jeanerette Timber.
Camp Number One is in St. Martin’s parish on Belle river, by water twenty miles from Morgan City and seventy miles from Jeanerette. There the company has seven miles of railroad laid with 40-pound steel, one locomotive and one skidder. The crew is operating now about 3-1/2 miles from Belle river. To get to that camp from Jeanerette one goes down the Bayou Teche to the lower Atchafalaya, through Flat lake into Bayou Long, from Bayou Long into Belle river.

A Comfortable Camp.
The men have comfortable homes at this skidder camp, which includes a store, all located on high ground. The logs are boomed up and hauled to Jeanerette by the steamer Amy Hewes, which is a fine passenger boat and one of the finest towboats in these waters, being 112 feet long and of 25 feet beam. This boat cost to build $15,000 and is run with a crew of fourteen men. It handles 1,000,000 feet of logs in a tow.

The company owns another boat called the Whiz, built about 1894. This boat has been refitted recently with new boilers; it is 6-1/2 feet beam, 36 feet over all and has a speed record of sixteen miles an hour.

At Skidder Number Two.
On the east side of Lake Verret, about twenty-one miles from Morgan City, about seventy-one miles from Jeanerette and about twenty-eight miles from Belle river, is Skidder Camp Number Two.

Owned here by the company is 75,000,000 feet of timber which must be taken off in six years, according to contract, This timber is in township 14, Assumption parish, and is located on about 3,500 acres of land. The company will not have to build much more than five miles of railroad to got this timber, which runs very large. It is from this timber that the picture was selected to exemplify the Jeanerette Lumber & Shingle Company's interests in timber in this article. This timber —large as it is—is very free from defects and runs from 60 to 70 feet to the first limb.

The Pullboat Camp.
The pullboat camp of the company is on Bayou Cocodria, on the north side of Flat lake, by water from Morgan City about seven miles, and fifty-five miles from Jeanerette. This camp is about twenty-six miles as the crow flies from Jeanerette. The pullboat running at that point makes an average draw of from forty to fifty logs each day.

The Jeanerette Lumber & Shingle Company, Limited, owns not less than 28,000 acres of land, all told, in St. Martin and Assumption parishes.

The timber is boomed always and towed through the various rivers and lakes necessary to reach the Bayou Teche and boomed along the side of the Bayou near the saw mill at Jeanerette.

The Saw Mill at Jeanerette.
The saw mill at Jeanerette was built in 1899 and is a high class, successful Allis Chalmers double cutting band. The man who planned the mill was the well known George H. Kelly. The boilers from which the power is generated to run this mill are five in number and produce 600 horsepower. The pumps are two in number. The engine is a Corliss, 24x48 in size. The battery of boilers referred to runs the sash and door factory, lath and shingle mills and dry kilns.

On the Saw Floor.
On the saw floor besides the double cutting band referred to is a Prescott double edger and a 6-foot Allis trimmer. The feed is a shotgun 14x18 made by A. F. Bartlett, of Saginaw. The shingle mill was made by Perkins & Co., of Grand Rapids, Mich., and is a rotary. It was, however, designed by Mr. Stokoe after his own patterns and ideas. It is a 14-block mill.

Placing the daily capacity of this mill at 75,000 feet of lumber, 200,000 shingles and 25,000 lath is a very moderate and conservative estimate.

Stock and Shipping at Jeanerette.
The lumber is sorted in a device of the company’s which works by a system of live rolls, raising up at the pull of a lever and rolling the lumber off onto dollies, which dollies carry the lumber to the yard. These dollies are rolled by men. In the yard the lumber is piled down and up and is placed in the most favorable position for air drying, which is really the particular specialty of manufacture at Jeanerette. There is piling space near the mill and farther south for 16,000,000 feet. The company has two kilns, one for shingles and the other for siding strips, which are 18 by 120 feet in size and are created and operated on a scheme peculiarly local to the Jeanerette plant.

All of the product of this mill goes to the yard except the strips.

The Jeanerette people have a large railroad bill stuff trade and a trade in ties. This company also enjoys a very large siding trade.

Planing Mill and Door Factory.
The planing mill and sash and door factory is all in one building, which is 80 by 120 feet in area and is located just cast of the saw mill. The planing mill is on the lower floor and the sash and door factory is upstairs. The planing mill consists of eight machines and is run by an Allis-Chalmers Corliss high speed 16x30 engine which runs all the machinery, in fact, of both the mill and the sash and door factory.

In this mill, on the second floor, is a full complement of sash, door and blind machinery able to make anything used in the trade. There is a dressed lumber
shed 88 by 160 feet in size near the planing mill and sash and door factory, but very little lumber is kept on hand, being mostly dressed on orders. A great deal of lumber is shipped to points in the Teche country. As six acres of land was added recently the yard is ample.

Comfort of the People.
The Jeanerette Lumber & Shingle Company, Limited, practically pays off in cash once a week. This concern also has a local physician, maintained by the men on the assessment plan. An agreement with the men entitles them to half pay during periods of disability if injured while working for the company.

Electric Lights at Jeanerette.
The electric lighting system at Jeanerette has been changed and increased this summer. The company now has a 220-volt Eddy generator; has in use on the yard and in various parts of the plant eleven enclosed arc lights and 140 16-candlepower lamps. The dynamo is located in the engine room.

Fire Protection at Jeanerette.
The system of fire protection at Jeanerette is very complete. In use are nearly 3,000 feet of hose, a dozen or more hose pipes, over 200 barrels filled with water ready for use, over 200 buckets for immediate utilization, three elevated tanks, and besides this the plant is thoroughly sprinkled in every part, with nearly 800 sprinkler heads throughout all the various buildings.

There is exactly 4,411 feet of all kinds of water pipe on the property and the water is taken directly from Bayou Teche in great abundance, and besides all that is an 8-inch artesian well. It may be seen that the plant at Jeanerette can be very easily and completely protected. The artesian well spoken of is a flowing affair, yielding fine water. The main piping about the plant is 4 and 6 inch; the fire pump is a Smith- Vaile, with a capacity of 700 gallons a minute, and double hydrants are everywhere available throughout the premises.

The main tank is 70 feet high and holds 35,000 gallons of water. Besides that the pipes of the plant are connected with the city waterworks and there has just been completed a city waterworks tank of 100,000-gallon capacity located on an elevation of more than 140 feet, at a cost of $10,000, which when in full commission makes the fire protection system of Jeanerette well nigh perfect.


R. H. Downman.
Robert Henry Downman, president of the five companies and general manager of all the business of those companies, is one of the very few masters of detail that the writer has ever known who did not allow the minutiae of his work to weigh him down and put him in long straight furrows.

It is no exaggeration to say that Mr. Downman goes more explicitly into the innermost happenings of his business than does any other lumberman in the United States. He is a man of wonderful memory and seems to store away all the facts he gathers on his many trips through his possessions against the time when he might need them for reference. Ninety-five percent of the men and all of the foremen who work for the five companies know him personally. From stable boss to manager he knows each man, his value, his mental weight and the work that he essays to do.

Mr. Downman is a personal court of adjustment for claims and grievances inside and out of business; while most men with his responsibilities would act by proxy. He literally keeps open house—possibly an attribute of Virginia hospitality inherited from a long line of Virginia ancestors. He is as easy to see as the town pump in a country village. But by being swift in his conclusions and thus being able to say he will or he won’t on all propositions he does a personally conducted business—a rare accomplishment in these modern days.

Robert Henry Downman was born in Fauquier county, Virginia, February 27, 1860. The place of his birth was near Warrenton. About 1869 the family moved to Warrenton. Robert Henry attended school until he was nearly 15 years old.

Mr. Downman’s father was the county clerk of Fauquier county and Robert Henry was from 1874 to 1878 a clerk in his father’s office.

Mr. Downman was educated at the Agricultural and Mechanical college of Virginia, located at Blacksburg. After his school days he went back to Warrenton and was interested in the hardware, agricultural implement and lumber trades during 1879 and 1880.

Mr. Downman had an uncle at Bryan, Tex., who was in the retail drug business, and after his experience in Virginia he went to Texas and stayed with his uncle for about a year in the retail drug trade.

In 1881 R. H. Downman went to Waco, Tex., where he opened up a retail business in drugs. He sold that business in 1882 and went on a farm near Waco to do general work. He went with J. W. Castles & Co., of Waco, in the spring of 1883 as a clerk in the office, taking care of invoices and correspondence relative to orders. He stayed there until January 1, 1884. At that time J. W. Castles & Co. became Cameron, Castles & Story, wholesale groceries and drugs, and R. H. Downman was put in charge of the wholesale drug department. He stayed there until 1886, when the drug business was sold to Behrens & Castles, whereupon Mr. Downman went to represent Mr. Castles in that firm.

Mr. Downman married June 6, 1888, Miss Annie S. Cameron, daughter of the late William Cameron.

He stayed with Behrens & Castles until in February, 1889—at the solicitation of William Cameron—Mr. Downman went into the lumber firm of William Cameron & Co. as one of the working partners of that business, his part of the work being to look after the retail yards. Mr. Downman stayed there until the end of the term of that partnership, March 1, 1897. When that partnership was dissolved by mutual consent, in 1897, the firm continued under the name of William Cameron & Co., with William Cameron, R. H. Downman and W. W. Cameron the partners—the other junior partners retiring. This latter firm existed until the day of William Cameron’s death, February 6, 1899.

R. H. Downman was one of the executors of Mr. Cameron’s will together with his (William Cameron’s) wife and son, W. W. Cameron, and assisted in winding up the affairs of the estate. This resulted in a division of the estate under the terms of Mr. Cameron’s will. Mr. Downman in this division secured the Bowie Lumber Company, Limited, at Bowie; the stock that William Cameron owned in the Jeanerette Lumber & Shingle Company, Limited; stock in the Whitecastle Lumber & Shingle Company, and two retail lumber yards in San Antonio. This inheritance, however, brought only a modicum of what has since been added to the original in the six and a half years that have elapsed since the division.

Mr. Downman is today the owner of 90 percent of the stock of the Iberia Cypress Company, Limited, New Iberia, La.; the Bowie Lumber Company, Limited, Bowie, La.; the Des Allemands Lumber & Shingle Company, Limited, Allemands, La., and of 70 percent of the stock of the Whitecastle Lumber & Shingle Company, Limited, Whitecastle, La., and 60 percent of the stock of the Jeanerette Lumber & Shingle Company, Limited, at Jeanerette, La.

Mr. Downman’s properties in Texas and elsewhere are not made a part and parcel of the general estimate of his holdings in this article, but reference—in figures —is made only to his lumber possessions.

The William Cameron interests in cypress lumber began in the Whitecastle Lumber & Shingle Company, Limited, at Whitecastle, La., but their chief pride in the latter part of Mr. Cameron’s life was the building up of the plant at Bowie, of which Mr. Downman took active charge and which has prospered under his management in a wonderful way.

After getting Bowie in proper order Mr. Downman purchased the timber holdings of Francis Martin in La Fourche parish and acquired a mill at Allemands. This he bought November 5, 1900. The rebuilding of the plant of the Des Allemands Lumber & Shingle Company, Limited, was begun in June, 1901, and between that time and January 1, 1902, was rebuilt and put into shipshape order. December 26, 1900, Mr. Downman bought out the P. L. Renoudet Cypress Lumber Company, at New Iberia.

Mr. Downman moved to New Orleans October 1, 1900, and now occupies offices in rooms 1003-4-5-6 in the Hibernia Bank building, shown elsewhere.

Mr. Downman purchased the C. L. Hopkins tract of land of the Creole Cypress Company at Allemands, La., March 15, 1904. This plant has been abandoned.
Outside of his lumber business Mr. Downman owns large tracts of highly mineralized lands at Llano, Tex. It is considered a very valuable property, worth into the millions.

Besides his lumber stock and mining properties Mr. Downman owns stock in many other institutions which would not be of interest to lumber people to have mentioned.

H. B. Hewes.
Harry Bartram Hewes, vice president and treasurer of the Jeanerette Lumber & Shingle Company, Limited, at Jeanerette, La., is from old Pennsylvania Quaker stock. He is a direct descendant of the Joseph Hewes who signed, with other patriots, the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Hewes, father came from West Chester, Pa., to Texas in 1853. Harry Bartram Hewes was born at Houston, June 23, 1866.

Mr. Hewes was educated in the public schools of Houston and at Shenandoah, Iowa, at which educational center he took a degree in higher mathematics, and now in his middle life he is distinctively a mathematician; his exactness in business affairs would proclaim that fact; his methodical course in everyday life would strengthen that impression.

From a personal acquaintance with Mr. Hewes covering a decade the writer is of the impression that nothing with him "just happens." Everything he does seems to be carefully thought out and weighed well before being attempted. Ho is a conservative man. For instance, he did not just happen to fall into the lumber business, but wont into it deliberately. When ho came out of school he wont into the commission business, but he did not make a very long try at that before he saw there was no future to it and not a very great deal of present. He wished to do something substantial and, being well known in Houston as a bright young man of good family, he had no difficulty in approaching the late M. T. Jones on the subject of the lumber business.

He did not go to Mr. Jones for an opinion, really, but simply dropped in and announced that he was going into the lumber business and was looking for something to do, which Mr. Jones undoubtedly needed done and at which he desired a chance, He had come to the lumber determination by himself and simply asked Mr. Jones to stand and deliver to him an opportunity; Mr. Jones did so at once and without argument. Mr. Hewes paid no attention to the statements Mr. Jones had to make about the difficulties of the business, but went to work in the yards of the M. T. Jones Lumber Company, at Houston, worked up through all the lines of the trade, learned practical bookkeeping and in a short time became bookkeeper for the Jones people.

When Mr. Milmo, of Milmo, Stokoe & Co., of Jeanerette, La., was in Houston looking for a young man to come out to that thriving young town on the Southern Pacific railway in 1887 a friend of Harry Hewes told Mr. Stokoe that Hewes was the man that he (Stokoe) was looking for, and so young Hewes was engaged as bookkeeper for Milmo, Stokoe & Co. and has been domiciled in Jeanerette ever since in some capacity with that firm and its successors.

In November, 1887, Mr. Hewes was made a one-sixth partner in the business of Milmo & Stokoe and the concern's name was made Milmo, Stokoe & Co.

The Jeanerette Lumber & Shingle Company, Limited, was organized in September, 1894, and Mr. Hewes was made vice president and treasurer of that company, a position he still holds. Besides filling that position he is general manager of the business.

Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections and contributions of new material.