A recent reader inquiry prompted an interesting question: what's the oldest family-owned lumberyard in the U.S.? Family-owned aside, plenty of lumberyards go way, way back.
Smoot Lumber in Alexandria, Va., first opened in 1822. The WOLF Organization, a distributor in York, Pa., that used to own lumberyards, was founded in 1843. Up until recently, the family was still involved—Tom Wolf just left the company to become governor of Pennsylvania. Siewers Lumber in Richmond, Va., came to be in 1884, and it’s still family run.
Earlier this week, we asked you to provide some examples of family-owned lumberyards that span the ages, and the response was overwhelming. We discovered that plenty of owners can trace their family business back to the mid-to-late 19th century:
- Scholl Lumber started in 1845.
- Gilcrest Lumber Company was founded in 1856.
- Woodford Lumber began selling lumber in 1869.
- J. C. Snavely & Sons started doing business in 1878.
- Larsen Brothers Lumber dates back to 1882.
- Sanford & Hawley, Inc. goes back 130 years to 1884.
- Ganahl Lumber began business in 1884.
- Stenerson Lumber first opened its doors in 1889.
- Buettner Brothers Lumber began in 1892.
- Ruffin & Payne, Inc., also first sold building materials in 1892.
But two lumberyard owners say they can trace their family's ownership even farther back in time:
Cinda Jones, president of W.D. Cowls, in North Amherst, Mass., says her company was founded in 1741 as a lumber and timber business. In fact, the company is so old that it was featured in an episode of the History Channel's "Modern Marvels." Though the timber mill closed in 2010, the building supply arm of the company is alive and well and run by its 9th-generation owner, Evan Jones.
Tinsman Brothers., a lumberyard based in the oh-so-appropriate town of Lumberville, Pa., is still owned by two brothers of the Tinsman family, Tom and Bill, and traces its history back to a sawmill built in 1755. One reader even told us that, during the Revolutionary War, the business sat in the middle of Tory country.
Know another old-as-dirt lumber company still run by the family that founded it? Email assistant editor Tim Regan.