He came from nothing, no money, no education, and worst of all no credit, and built a big wholesale lumber business. He later became a successful banker. To quote Grandmother, “What F.F. did was a tee-total miracle.”

Photo taken at a sawmill in Missouri around 1905. The barefoot child wearing what appears to be a straw hat is my grandfather.

RIGHT: Granddaddy and Dad (F.F. and Freeman Mobley) in the woods at the Departee Creek property, around 1959.

Granddaddy, Grandmother in front of a train at Williford, Arkansas, about 1925

From here we have an interesting tale, from which some morals could probably be drawn. Dad was in the Army during the occupation of Germany after World War II. The Company had been pretty successful during the war because of wartime demand but suffered from lack of machinery and labor. (At one time, they even considered putting on women as sawmill hands, a notion considerably more peculiar then than now.)

Dad came back at the time when wartime production was being converted to civilian use, and there was a tremendous pent-up demand for capital goods. One little known veterans’ benefit was that former service people could go to the front of the line when buying those goods. Granddaddy used Dad’s veteran’s preference to buy a lumber planer that spat out 25,000 board feet of lumber a day. Because of pent up demand, post war consumers bought every board of it. The Company made money hand over fist.

And now the moral: the planer was so fast that it sucked up every bit of pine timber within hauling distance. In 1960, the mill was forced out of business for lack of raw material. I guess you can draw your own conclusion from this.

The Mobley Lumber Company in an aerial photo taken in 1957. The long white-roofed building housed the planer mentioned below. The square stone building to the right of that building is the lumber dry kiln, the current location of Z. F. Mobley, Architecture & Design.

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The vocatIon of my ancestors on my my father’s side was sawmilling and timber. Most were subsistence laborers until my grandfather came along.