Samuel F. Carter
Texas, while in point of white settlement one of the oldest states in the Union, has, nevertheless, been one of the latest in point of development. The French made a settlement at Matagorda Bay in 1686. In 1693 a Spanish mission was founded between the Neches and Trinity rivers, and in 1730 the first civil settlement was made at what is now San Antonio; but when, in 1845, after a long and checkered career, Texas was admitted to the Union its population was small and by the succeeding census, that of 1850, in spite of the influx of American settlers following annexation, was only 212,600. For several decades its progress was slow, in 1870 its population being only a little over 8 1 8, coo. Soon thereafter, however, it began to grow with rapidity and by the census of 1900 its population was 3,048,710. For about thirty years its growth in population and in wealth has been exceedingly rapid, and in this later] development the lumber industry has had a large share. A man whose life closely corresponds with the real development of the State, and whose business career covers the great expansion of the Texas lumber industry is Samuel Fain Carter, of Houston, Texas.
Mr. Carter was not a Texan by birth, but has spent nearly his entire life there. He was born near Huntsville, Alabama, September 14, 1857. His father was J. Q. A. Carter and his mother Mildred Ann (Richards) Carter. Twelve months after the birth of this son the parents moved to Texas, where the boy was destined to follow the career that was to bring him an enviable reputation and an honorable name. His boyhood days were spent in Sherman, where his father made his home and was engaged in business. Samuel F. is said to have shown little special promise while a pupil in the common schools at Sherman. It can not be said that he applied himself any more studiously than his companions, and he had but the rudiments of an education when he left school, in 1870, at the age of thirteen years and became a printer's devil in the office of The Courier, a weekly paper then published in Sherman. The fascination of the hurry of newspaper work appealed to him so that from a devil he became a compositor. At the end of six years he was a skillful typesetter, but, as the weekly newspaper did not offer him the opportunity he desired, he went to Galveston, where he set type for the Daily News for four years.
But pride and ambition had entered the young man's breast by this time and he sought to better his condition and prospects in life. The opportunity he was anxiously seeking came to him in 1881 when he secured a position as bookkeeper in the shingle mill of Long & Co., at Beaumont. This was his initial experience in the lumber business and at this operation he gained the groundwork of his knowledge of the lumber industry, which he has followed ever since. In 1883 he was sold a working interest, on credit, in the Texas Tram & Lumber Company's Village Mills, in Hardin County. He took up his residence at the mills, working there steadily for two and one-half years, in which time he studied carefully every phase of the manufacture of lumber. In June he was transferred by the Texas Tram & Lumber Company from Village Mills to Beaumont where he assumed the position of business manager and sales agent for the company. It was an opportunity for him to display his executive ability and under his careful guidance the business prospered more and more each succeeding year.
For seven years he remained in Beaumont, during which time he studied the possibilities of that rapidly growing section. In 1892 he moved to Houston where, in connection with the late M. T. Jones, he organized the Emporia Lumber Company. This concern has had a brilliant history. The organization had originally a capital of $50,000, contributed equally by Mr. Carter and Mr. Jones, while today its capital has increased to $500,000 with a good-sized surplus, and since its organization it has paid out in cash dividends more than $300,000. The plant of the company was operated jointly by Mr. Carter and Mr. Jones for four years, when the interest of the latter was bought by Mr. Carter. He then sold stock on credit to several of his most trusted and important employees, some of whom accumulated snug sums sufficient to enable them to engage in business for themselves. Three of his former employees are now running profitable businesses of their own, with money earned and experience gained with Mr. Carter and the Emporia Lumber Company. The mill is located at Emporia, Angelina County, and has enjoyed its share of the prosperity that has prevailed in the lumber industry in late years.
Mr. Carter, besides being president of the Emporia Lumber Company, holds the same office in the Sunset Lumber Company, of Doucette, Tyler County, Texas, of which he is principal owner. The company has a capital of $100,000 and is engaged in the manufacture of yellow pine. The two companies own 50,000 acres of virgin yellow pine timber in Tyler and Angelina counties. His extensive interests and financial resources led him to accept a seat (upon solicitation) in the directorate of the South Texas National Bank, Houston, which has a capital and surplus of $750,000.
He married Miss Carrie E. Banks, of Galveston, Texas, January 23, 1882. Four children have been born to the couple Mrs. J. Edward Ross, Florence Carter, Samuel Fain Carter, Junior, and Annie Vive Carter.
As a business man Mr. Carter has a reputation for integrity eclipsed by none. He has been liberal in giving his moral and financial support to every enterprise that would add to the stability and commercial success of Houston and the tributary section. He has been instrumental in forwarding the interests of Houston and southeast Texas in a large degree. He is a Methodist and has been liberal in contributing to the needs of the Church, his faith and charities showing his absolute sincerity. An example of Mr. Carter's generosity* is shown in his recent offer of material assistance in furthering the project of a new building for the Young Men's Christian Association. In politics he is a Democrat of the sound-money wing of the party, and, though he has been prominent as a counselor, he never has sought, nor would he accept, a public office. Redoes not belong to any fraternal organizations, but derives his greatest pleasure in spending his leisure moments at home with his family.
As a debater Mr. Carter is vigorous and forceful and has the courage to express his convictions on the floor of conventions as in private. He has given much of his time and attention to association effort on behalf of the lumber trade in general, no matter being too trifling or too great to receive his undivided consideration. He has been active in Texas lumber association work ever since he became identified with manufacturing, and has been a member and participant in the affairs of the Yellow Pine Manufacturers' Association and its predecessor, the Southern Lumber Manufacturers' Association, since its inception. He is a splendid committeeman, a useful worker on the floor of the meetings and everywhere is a practical and appreciated toiler along voluntary association lines.