Gideon -Anderson Lumber & Mercantile Company.
This is an addition to the business records of the Gideon -Anderson Lumber & Mercantile Company which operated at Gideon in New Madrid County, Missouri. Most of the papers concern operations in 1901 -1919, but there are also papers of a subsidiary operation, the Gideon and North Island Railroad Company, 1903 -1932, and historical materials on the firm to 1985.
William P. Anderson and his brother -in -law, Frank E. Gideon, operated a sawmill at Wren, Ohio, in the late 1890s. When the timber began to be depleted in that area, they went to southeastern Missouri to investigate the possibilities for lumbering in the unimproved swamp lands of the Bootheel. They were impressed with the potential of the region, especially the area of New Madrid County west of Sikeston and east of Malden. In 1899, Gideon and Anderson purchased a tract of timber from Frank Noiseworthy, which was the first parcel to be harvested by Gideon Anderson in southeastern Missouri. The partners also interested Anderson's brother, M. S. Anderson, and M. V. Mumma in the venture. Operations began in Missouri by 1901. Malden and Clarkton were investigated and rejected as bases of operation, and the first mill was located at what ultimately became the site of the town of Gideon.
By 1930, Gideon -Anderson controlled was in red oak and cypress, although quantities of ash, maple, gum, and other timber, also were utilized. Cutting was carried on in three main areas, one north of Gideon, another to the east, and the most extensive along the Mississippi River north of New Madrid. At its peak in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the company produced 30,000,000 board feet of finished lumber annually. Production at the mill in Gideon ceased in 1933 when the distance from forest to mill raised the cost of finished lumber at a time when the market was depressed.
Two important adjunct operations of the company were the Gideon and North Island Rail road Company and the barrel stave mill at Gideon. The railroad was put into operation in 1903 to carry logs from the forest to the mill and to take the finished product to a connection with the Frisco railway at Malden, Missouri. At the time of its sale to the St. Louis Southwestern Railway in 1929, the Gideon and North Island Railroad operated twenty -nine miles of standard gauge track, six locomotives, one hundred fifty cars, and service facilities. The barrel stave mill, built by independent parties and later taken over by Gideon -Anderson, utilized timber which would have been otherwise unsuitable for lumber. During the 1920s, stave mills were also operated at Gillette and Leachville, Arkansas. The production of staves for the cooperage industry was a profitable enterprise for the company until the mid -1930s, when cheaper forms of packaging replaced wooden barrels. The lack of demand for staves was offset in 1933 by the repeal of prohibition and the resulting demand for wooden beer cases. This was followed by an increasing market for wooden beverage cases of all kinds which lasted until aluminum cans replaced glass bottles as beverage containers. Replica antique wooden cases and specialty boxes of all kinds became the mainstay of Gideon -Anderson after the mid -1970s.
The Gideon -Anderson company and its officers also became involved in a number of municipal and commercial enterprises as the community of Gideon grew, and as cut -over lands were developed for agriculture. The water and power systems of the city of Gideon were derived from those developed for the company's mills at Gideon, and much of the road network in New Madrid and Pemiscot counties followed former logging trails and the roadbed of the Gideon and North Island Railroad. Retail operations, developed to serve the growing community, included hardware, department and furniture stores, a cotton gin and elevator, and a service station and bulk plant. Real estate and rental properties on the remainder of the company's once vast holdings are the basis of the present Anderson Farms of Gideon.
The papers in this collection are an addition to those microfilmed in 1987 as WHMC R290. The two separate collections were part of the company's records which were given by the firm to Charles E. Cluck, a former employee and stamp collector at Gideon. Cluck retained the envelopes and stamps and dispersed the papers to various repositories. Both microfilm collections should be consulted to obtain the full series of papers for any given period. Registers of the correspondence, filmed with each collection, will ease the task of researchers.
The records on this film have been assembled from papers at the Rhodes Memorial Library in Gideon, and those in the holdings of the University of Missouri Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Rolla. With some exceptions, the materials in folders 1 -10 are those from the Rhodes Library, and those in folders 11 -21 are from WHMC -Rolla. The papers have been arranged in two series, general business correspondence, 1901 -1919, and miscellaneous business files, 1902 -1985. Most of the materials fall within the period 1903 -1919. There are only a few items after that period, most of which are advertising and historical materials relating to the company's operations, ca. 1950 -1970.
Most of the correspondence is addressed to Gideon -Anderson although there are a sizable number of carbon copies of William P. Anderson's replies. There are also a number of letters to Anderson from Frank E. Gideon, who left Missouri for McGill, Ohio, in 1906, but remained a financial partner of the firm. Other correspondents included timber dealers, loggers, lumbermen, and merchants throughout southeastern Missouri. Among the more prominent correspondents are the Bimel -Ashcroft Manufacturing Company, the Campbell Lumber Company, the Himmelberger -Harrison Lumber Company, Louis Houck, Otto Kochtitsky, the Missouri Anti -Saloon League, the T. J. Moss Tie Company, and various railroad companies. The correspondence concerns most facets of the timber business including the buying and selling of timber and timber lands, operations of the mill and the railroad, sales of lumber, and the general state of the lumber industry in southeastern Missouri.
The miscellaneous business files, 1902 -1985, contain correspondence and other papers pertaining to various other aspects of the company's operations. There are two folders of material on the Gideon and North Island Railroad, one dealing with operation of the line, and the other consisting of solicitations and advertisements from dealers of locomotives, rolling stock, and other railway equipment. There is also a folder containing brochures and advertising for woodworking and sawmill equipment, and another consisting of various matters concerning the company's personnel. Other folders in the miscellaneous business file include materials on the city of Gideon's water system, originally built by the lumber company, a map and annual report of the Little River Drainage District, of which William P. Anderson was an officer, and the Peach Orchard Road, which was built by subscription and later taken over as part of the Pemiscot County road system. The final folder in the collection contains miscellaneous advertising and historical materials which deal with the company to 1985. Especially useful in this folder is a reprint from a 1928 issue of Barrel and Box, a trade publication, which describes the operations and physical plant of the company at the apex of the lumber trade. Also useful are the historical notes of then -president James C. Anderson, written in 1966 in response to questions posed by Leon Ogilvie of Kansas City, who was writing a dissertation on economic development in southeastern Missouri.
The records of the Gideon -Anderson Lumber & Mercantile Company are a significant source for research on the lumber industry in southeastern Missouri and the subsequent development of the region. There is also information on locomotives and rolling stock used on logging railroads, the market for used railway equipment, and on sawmill and woodworking machinery in use during the first two decades of the twentieth century.
The information contained in these pages are not to be used for personal gains. Violators may be prosecuted.
Gideon Class of 1959 has gathered this information from Rhodes Library.