Guide to the Bemis Lumber Company Records, 1927-1941


Bemis was originally incorporated in the State of Delaware on April 16, 1926 and succeeded by the Bemis Hardwood Lumber Company, a North Carolina Corporation, incorporated January 1, 1937. Collection houses correspondence and financial records of the Bemis Lumber Company.

Collection Details

Collection Number
Bemis Lumber Company records
Bemis Lumber Company
27.5 Linear Feet, 1500 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Material in English

Collection Overview

The Bemis Lumber Company Records span the dates 1927-1941, and document through correspondence files and other records the early decades of this large company's activities. Through these records, aspects of lumber milling, indutrial railroads and shipping, and the lumber trade in Graham County, western North Carolina, and the effects of the Depression on workers and their local communities, including Robbinsville, are recorded in varying degrees of detail. Topics covered in the correspondence, chiefly sent to officials of the company from other companies, organizations, and company workers, include but are not limited to: insurance coverage, tax issues, worker safety and accidents, unemployment, parts and equipment, and government regulations, particularly for shipping and railroad operations. There are a significant number of letters from unemployed laborers looking for positions. There are references to logging in other states as well. Other company records come in the form of financial ledgers, banking records, personnel records, coupon books for employees (perhaps to purchase goods at the company store), accident reports, inspection reports, insurance policies, receipts, real estate and earnings reports, railroad records for the shortline owned by Bemis, and bills of lading.

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How to Cite

[Identification of item], Bemis Lumber Company Records, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Contents of the Collection

1919, June 2-1925, Mar. 31
Box 1
1925, Apr. 1-1926, Jan. 28
Box 2
1926, Jan. 29-1926, June 16
Box 3
1926, June 17-1926, Oct. 5
Box 4
1926, Oct. 6-1927, Feb. 12
Box 5
1927, Feb. 14-1927, Apr. 23
Box 6
1927-1929, 1938-1941, and two folders of undated correspondence
Box 7
Box 8-11
Box 11
Box 12-14
Box 15-17
Box 18
Box 19
Box 20
Box 21
Box 22
Box 23
Box 24-25
Box 26
Box 27
Box 28-31
Box 32
Box 33
Box 34
Box 35
Box 36
Box 37
Box 38
Box 39
Box 40
Company records, 1920s

Tax and banking records, receipts, real estate and railroad earnings reports, sales prospectuses, parts and equipment information, bills of lading, inspection and accident reports.

Box 41-42
Ledgers and checks

Ledgers seem to represent income from sales of lumber, and in a few cases, items to repair or refurbish company houses for workers.

Box 43
Coupons, receipts, and insurance policies, 1920s-1930s

Several dozen individual policies held by Bemis Lumber and Graham RR Company for fire, house, and other insurance. Also many coupon booklets, quite a few with employee names, possibly used to redeem for goods at company store.

Box 44
Logging operations workers' time books (1940-1941), railroad contracts, Red Cross report for 1929
Box 45

Historical Note

Bemis was originally incorporated in the State of Delaware on April 16, 1926 and succeeded by the Bemis Hardwood Lumber Company, a North Carolina Corporation, incorporated January 1, 1937. In 1924 H. C. Bemis purchased the lands owned in Graham County by the Buffalo Realty Company, Carolina Railway and Lumber Company, and George R. Cottrelle, Trustee. In the same year the Champion Paper and Fiber Company, the Gennett Lumber Company, and H. C. Bemis purchased the lands of the Whiting Manufacturing Company. The Gennett Lumber Company took the Santeetlah Watershed and then sold it to the U.S. Forest Service in 1935. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest was a part of this land. Champion Paper purchased the West Buffalo watershed in fee and H. C. Bemis bought the Big Snowbird area. Then Champion and Bemis traded so that Champion owned all the hemlock and Bemis all the hardwoods on both Big Snowbird and West Buffalo Watersheds. In 1926 Bemis started construction of a band mill in Robbinsville, and the first log was sawn in August 1927. A large part of the machinery and equipment for the mill were shipped from the band mill that Bemis had been operating since 1905 at Bemis, West Virginia. The first officers of the Bemis Lumber Company operating this modern steam band mill were: H. C. Bemis, President; L. C. Bemis, Vice President and General Manager; L. A. Dindinger, Secretary and Treasurer; L. W. Wilson, Assistant Secretary and Treasurer; E. R. Frederick, Mill Superintendent; R. H. Montony, Woods Superintendent; R. J. Humes, Yard Superintendent; and Alfred V. Anderson, Superintendent of Woods Railroad Construction. On the death of H. C. Bemis and L. C. Bemis in 1935, John Bemis Veach Sr. was elected President and L. W. Wilson, Vice President and General Manager. Wilson served in that position for thirty years. During the last several years of his administration he served as president of the company. In March of 1967 the original band mill was completely destroyed by fire and was replaced by a modern band mill, all-electric except for the steam shot-gun feed. This new mill started in operation January 1968 and because of its many modern and efficient features and machines, hardwood lumbermen from all over the East visited it continuously. The company also operated a rail line for shipping its products, and one of its Shay locomotives is still preserved at the N.C. Museum of Tranportation.

(Taken from Graham County history website, written by John B. Veach, Jr.)

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The Bemis Lumber Company Records were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift from Mrs. Veach in March 1959.

Processing Information

Processed by Rubenstein Library Staff, January 1960

Encoded by Robert Carlson, April 2009

Accession 60-10 is described in this finding aid.