Biographical or Historical Information
One of the earliest lumber manufacturers in Texas was the Thompson family. Beginning in 1852 Benjamin F. Thompson and his sons built a small sash sawmill in Northern Rusk County, which supplied local needs and also sold lumber as far west as Dallas and Ft. Worth. His son, John Martin Thompson, expanded and enlarged the mill buying new and improved machinery as it became available. In 1882 the family moved its operations to Trinity County where they built a large mill at Willard, on the Trinity and Sabine Railroad. In turn his sons developed several new mills and related companies, either in partnerships with members of the family or with other lumbermen. The Thompson family had mills at Willard, Douchette, Grayburg, New Willard, and Trinity, with headquarters at Houston. J. Lewis Thompson was a leading conservationist and an early supporter of the Texas Forestry Association and the Texas Forest Service. The widow of his brother, Mrs. Hoxie H. Thompson deposited some Thompson Papers, a history of the family lumbering business, and a great number of photographs with the Forest History Archives of the Stephen F. Austin State University Library. The pictures, especially, are most useful in recreating the history of the Texas lumber industry during the bonanza era.