John Henry Jenks, biography c. 1905
[American Lumberman magazine]
  Source: American Lumberman. The Personal History and Public and Business Achievements of One Hundred Eminent Lumbermen of the United States, First Series. Chicago: American Lumberman, 1905. pp. 131-133. Original courtesy University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Texas Transportation Archive
John H. Jenks

Beloved as a good fellow and admired as a businessman is John Henry Jenks, of Cleveland, Ohio, vice president of the Robert H. Jenks Lumber Company, of that city. Mr. Jenks was born at St. Clair, Michigan, December 4, 1866. His father, Robert H. Jenks, was an old time Saginaw valley lumber operator. Young Jenks received a common school education at the little village of his birth on the St. Clair river and entered the lumber business in 1885, when he went with Woods, Perry & Co., of Cleveland, of which firm his cousin, Robert H. Jenks, was then chief employee. Mr. Jenks, during 1887, acted as white pine buyer for Woods, Perry & Co. at Muskegon, Michigan. When the firm of Woods, Perry & Co. was changed to Woods, Jenks & Co., by the admission of Robert H. Jenks in 1886, John H. Jenks continued as an employee of the firm. He was a general utility man, acting as buyer, salesman, or in whatever capacity his time and talents could be used to the best advantage.

In 1895 the Robert H. Jenks Lumber Company was incorporated, John H. Jenks becoming vice president. The success of this great lumber company, now one of the foremost in the United States, has been commensurate with the ability of its projectors. For several years it has manufactured and bought and sold an average of more than 10,000,000 feet of lumber each month. Its handlings cover practically the entire range of American wood growth; it is regarded as an important factor in the distribution and sale of both Pennsylvania and Michigan hemlock; is well known in the white pine trade, and is even better known in the yellow pine industry.

In 1901 the company made an extensive yellow pine timber purchase in Louisiana and organized an allied institution known as the Tremont Lumber Company. A large mill, dry kilns and planing mills were built at Tremont and extensive logging operations installed. This company is a growing and successful one.

In connection with these two enterprises John H. Jenks still modestly continues in the position of general utility man. If an important purchase is contemplated, he is the one selected to make it. If a large sale is to be negotiated, he is the man who does it. He is an extremely busy man and his work involves a vast amount of travel. His friends meet him one day in New York, the next week in St. Louis; one week at Duluth, the next week at New Orleans. Notwithstanding the immense amount of work he does, there never is an occasion on which he has not time to greet a friend or acquaintance and say a kindly word to him.

Besides Mr. Jenks' connection with the Robert H. Jenks Lumber Company and the Tremont Lumber Company he is also largely interested in the Lake Erie Lumber Company, an important retail institution at Cleveland, of which he is a director. Another concern in which he holds the position of director is the Commercial & Savings Bank of St. Clair, Michigan, one of the foremost financial institutions of that section of the state.

Mr. Jenks married March 27, 1900, Miss Mary Davidson. Mr. and Mrs. Jenks occupy an enviable social position in Cleveland and their home is the center of a circle of Cleveland's best people.

Personally Mr. Jenks is a tall man with square shoulders and of robust build. He has a kindly eye and greets friends with a hearty grasp of the hand. He is thoroughly likable and probably has the largest array of warm personal friends of any man engaged in the lumber industry in the country. He is not only an ideal good fellow but an ideal businessman as well. Friend or stranger cannot receive the hearty grasp of the hand of John Jenks without feeling at once that here is a man of earnest life, warm heart and deep feeling, whose kindly nature has the simplicity of truth. Much of the prosperity of John Jenks is due to this very simplicity of purpose. In all of the conflicts with individuals and interests that the successful businessman must have, he has always been just, because he is big enough to see from the other man's point of view as well as from his own. He has nothing in common with those who look back with regret or try to pierce the future. He lives the present honestly, consistently; each day's battle is ended with that day. In this way John Jenks has been able to do more work that counted than the majority of men, and he has not only added to the sum of American wealth which is very different from American riches but he has also added to the total of American manhood.

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.