SAMUEL FAIN CARTER was for years one of the most notable figures in the modern lumber industry of Texas. Thirty years ago he was a compositor on the Galveston News. Ambition rather than chance or circumstance led him into the lumber business, where he began as a bookkeeper. The success of his subsequent career is easily indicated by his present prominence in business affairs. He was one of the organizers and is president of the Lumbermen’s National Bank of Houston. Perhaps his most conspicuous undertaking, by which his name will always be linked with the upbuilding of Houston, was the erection of the first sixteen-story office building in this city, a structure that illustrates the business development of Houston and enables the city to maintain its rank as a modern business metropolis. This building, covering a ground space of 102 by 103 feet, and 200 feet from street to roof, is easily the most conspicuous structure in the state, an engraving of which appears on another page. Mr. Carter is identified with all the progressive movements of Houston and vicinity, and as the result of a career of strong purpose and untiring energy has attained a position among the foremost business organizers and executives of the Southwest.
He was born near Huntsville, Alabama, September 14, 1857. His parents were J. Q. A. and Mildred Ann (Richards) Carter, and twelve months after the birth of their son they moved to Texas. His boyhood days were spent at Sherman, where he had only the rudiments of an education and got a more practical training in his experience as printer. Leaving school at the age of thirteen, in 1870, he became a printer’s devil in the office of the Sherman Courier. The variety, the hurry and the discipline of a newspaper printing office proved fascinating to him as to thousands of other boys, and he was soon one of the compositors, and a skilled typesetter at the end of his six years’ experience with that paper. The work of a country weekly had its limitations, and to get the opportunities he desired he went to Galveston and engaged with the News. During the four years he was with that paper he took a broader view of his opportunities and abilities, and in 1881 laid down the printer’s stick and began anew as bookkeeper in the shingle mill of Long & Company, at Beaumont.
While there he laid the foundation of his success in the lumber industry. In 1883 he was sold a working interest, on credit, in the Village Mills of the Texas Tram & Lumber Company, in Hardin county.
Taking up his residence at the mills, during the following two and a half years he studied every phase of the manufacture of lumber. At the end of that time he was transferred to Beaumont as business manager and sales agent for the company, and in the following seven years gave final proof of his executive ability for the successful management of a large industry.
In 1892, when he took up his permanent residence in Houston, he and the late M.T. Jones organized the Emporia Lumber Company. This was one of the most successful lumber concerns in Texas. It was organized with a capital of fifty thousand dollars, contributed equally by Mr. Jones and Mr. Carter. Later the capital was increased to half a million dollars. Cash dividends were paid to the stockholders to the amount of more than three hundred thousand dollars. After four years Mr. Carter bought the Jones interests and then sold stock on credit to several of his trusted and efficient employes. The Emporia Lumber Company was the training school of more than one successful lumberman now prominent in the business. From the money and experience acquired while in the employ of this company, three men are now proprietors of successful lumber businesses of their own. The Emporia Company’s mills were located at Emporia, in Angelina county. In 1906 he disposed of all of his lumber interests for more than $1,000,000, and has since devoted his energies to the upbuilding of the Lumberman’s National Bank, which is one of the strong financial institutions of Houston and Texas. He is a man of ‘convictions and sound judgment, and his power in managing affairs is reinforced by his influence among men, both in business and other circles.
Mr. Carter has given both time and means to those affairs of community interest which help promote the social welfare and morals. He has been a promoter and contributor to the Y. M. C. A. movement in Houston, and has aided many charities. He is a member of the Methodist church.
He married, January 23, 1882, Miss Carrie E. Banks. of Galveston. They have four children: Mrs. J. E. Roos, Mrs. Guy M. Bryan. Samuel Fain Carter, Jr., and Annie Vive Carter.