James Marion West, biography c. 1909
[from Southern Lumberman magazine]
  Source: "J. M. West", Southern Lumberman, July 17, 1909, p. 30.
  James M. West of Houston Texas  

HOUSTON, TEXAS, July 14.— Measure of the business statue of J. M. West of Houston, has not yet been taken, for Mr. West is still at work, and is marking out for himself a truly remarkable career. The Southern Lumberman of the issue of June 26 contained a full story of his recent deal for the property of the Wm. Carlisle Co. of Onalaska, Texas. Mr. West is still a young man. He started in handling lumber and pushing trucks around a planing mill, and now he is the head of an organization that is said to represent $9,000,000.

In physical stature Mr. West is large, being considerably over six feet in height, with wide shoulders, deep chest and with head and figure in proportion. In manner he is quiet, really reserved, and carries with ease the big financial burdens he has assumed in recent years. He carried them through the panic, and came out of the past troublesome eighteen months with larger holding than he started in with.

The history of "Jim" West, as he is familiarly known in Texas, is an interesting one. He worked at first in a planing mill at Groveton, Texas, until he became foreman of the plant, and a little later the manager of a plant near the scene of his first occupation, and this town is now called "Westville" after himself. Mr. West saved his money. Timber in those days was cheap. He bought timber land and started a small mill for himself, and made money from the start. Everything he made was turned into timber, and he is still adding to his holdings around Westville. About five years ago he bought two mills located at Benford and Potomac, Texas. These he operated about two years, and sold them, together with their timber, to the Davidson-Ingram Timber Company, of Houston. This gave him his first real start, for he owned the timber during the years of 1905-1906, and sold when the price of lumber was on the crest. The property had doubled in value while in his possession. Mr. West then organized a bank in Houston, and made this city his home; this was about three years ago. His bank was the City National Bank. In March, 1908, he bought from Jessie H. Jones, of Houston, the Orange Lumber Company, with all its splendid property. He exchanged his bank interests for the lumber property, and the.deal was said to involve about one and one-quarter million dollars. Early in the summer of 1908 he purchased the plant and property of the Hawthorne Lumber Company, a short distance from Beaumont, and in the latter part of the summer took over the plant and timber of the C. L. Smith Lumber Company, of Merryville, La. This deal included about 150,000,000 feet of Calcasieu long-leaf pine and a saw mill plant of a daily capacity of about 85,000 feet.

Mr. West now owns mills at Orange, Westville, Merryville and part owner of the W. West Lumber Company at Lovelady, Texas, and in addition the property acquired in the recent trade with Mr. Carlisle. All of these properties are said to represent a total capitalization of about $9,000,000, and it is also said that Mr. West is not through yet, for he has other plans. Just what these plans are none of the Texas lumbermen seem to know, for throughout his entire advancement Mr. West has with signal effect kept his own counsel. He is a trained saw mill operator, a lumberman to the trade born, and recently he has shown himself to be one of the big financiers of the new Southwest.

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.