Biographical or Historical Information
H. C. (Hugh Clete) and R. L. (Robert Lee) Edwards ran sawmills in Marion and Arcadia, Louisiana, before they moved to Bastrop, Texas in 1928. In July, 1936 they organized the Edwards Brothers Lumber Company, purchased the land of the defunct New Birmingham Development Company near Rusk, Texas, and moved their sawmill operations there, soon becoming Cherokee County's largest lumber manufacturing company. R. L.'s son, Billie (Robert Lavalle), and the bookkeeper, C. F. Mehner, were active in the company as were Ada Jane Pace (Mrs. R. L.) Edwards who ran the commissary, her assistants (first, Rosalie Byrum Kitchens; then Kitchens' sister, Eula May Byrum Daniels), and J. C. Banks (assistant bookkeeper). Soon after the move to Rusk, R. L.'s older son, Arthur Nathan, returned to Bastrop where he ran a retail lumber store. R. L.'s daughter, Hazel Lee (Mrs. Henry Pinkney) Townsend of Bastrop, then Austin, Texas was never active in the company.
In addition to the sawmill, the company operated a commissary (which sold groceries, dry goods, work clothes, and gasoline), a school bus, and rental houses for the workers. Since it ran a store and a sawmill, the company bought goods from a wide variety of vendors. It sold its goods directly, through lumber agents, and through other companies, especially the W. H. Norris Lumber Company, with which it had a special relationship. The partners, especially R. L., held oil and gas leases in Louisiana, but these and other investments seemed to be individual ventures.
R. L.'s death in 1951 and H. C.'s serious illness from about then until his death in 1953 caused the company to close in 1952. In addition to several jobs, including running a service station and managing the E & E Ranch, Billie sold off the company's assets and kept its name active through the late 1950s.
Perhaps because the company was a small business operated by brothers, there are no records to indicate its internal organization and operation, except that R. L. seems to have been more active in its purely business activities. The records, however, do document the company's relations with employees, customers, suppliers, governmental bodies, and trade associations. The estate settlements and other records after 1953 show the dissolution of a partnership and the liquidation of a company's assets after the partners' deaths.