History of White Lumber Company

Marissa, IL

White Lumber Company was the first lumberyard in Marissa.  It was started by Francis White in 1869 and was known as Marissa Station.  The lumberyard was located across the railroad tracks, on the right, the site of the old Marissa Messenger Building.

In 1879, Francis White sold the business to his nephew, James Francis White, who shortly thereafter teamed up with William McKee Lyons, and the firm of Lyons & White was established in 1880.

Sometime later, the lumberyard was moved to its present site on 116 West Church Street, Marissa.  Business was conducted in an office behind the drug store, which was in the rear of the Hamilton House, located on the south part of the present Marissa Village Hall.  White and Lyons also owned the drug store.

The only telephone in town for calls outside Marissa was in the Lyons & White Drug Store and was operated by Miss Cora White.  When Miss White received the news of the assassination of President McKinley, before it was received by telegraph at the depot, the message was written on a card and placed in the window for people to read.

The building and stock were wiped out in the disastrous fire of 1902.  An article in the Searchlight Messenger states, “Mr. White’s characteristic energy and his courage were shown here.  Before daylight on the night of the fire, he had telegraphed lumber salesmen whom he knew to come on the earliest train, and on the day following, brought many carloads of lumber and building materials.  Their order, having been given precedence at the mills, the materials was on hand in a short time, and he was ready for business.

In 1910, Mr. White purchased Mr. Lyons’ interest in the partnership, and formed the Jas. F. White Lumber Co. with his son, Robert Hamilton White.  When Mr. White died in 1912, Robert became manager of the family business.  Robert’s sister Cora also worked in the company, until her marriage to L.E. McClintock.  Later, Robert Hamilton White’s sister Mary White became bookkeeper until two years before her death in 1957.

The Jas F. White Lumber Company, in 1911, purchased the Carl Jensen Lumber Company, which had been established in 1904.  In 1919, Jas. F. White Lumber Company bought the Tilden Lumber and Hardware Company.  In 1923, Robert H. White acquired the Sparta Lumber Company as the sole owner.  The untimely death of Robert Hamilton White in 1961 left the company under the management of his son, Gilbert Statler White, and his nephew, Dale Edward McClintock.  Dale died in 1978.  James White managed the Sparta Lumber Company.

In 1960, Gilbert Statler White had the White Lumber Company completely remodeled. In the early 1970’s, Gilbert purchased his cousin’s share of the business.   On March 26, 1979, disaster struck a second time when fire completely destroyed the office building and main warehouse.  Fortunately, the lumber sheds were spared, and the business again was conducted in the rear of the Schneidewind building just across the alley.  This arrangement lasted about a year until Gilbert’s son, Douglas Robert White, constructed a new office building.  Douglas has been working with the family business since 1980.

In 1981, Doug began a Hardwood business.  Doug worked hard between the Lumber Company and the Hardwood business to make both businesses grow and prosper. In 1986, Doug married Connie Powers-White.  She works in the family business with Doug.

Doug’s father, Gilbert Statler White, worked at White Lumber Company with Doug and Connie until the late 1990’s.  Gilbert died on March 14, 2004. Gilbert’s brother, James White managed the Sparta White Lumber until 1990, at which that time they closed that operation, and James and his wife Judy moved to Butte, Montana. James White died on March 2, 2013.  Gilbert’s wife, Rita White, resides in Marissa.

At present, Doug White Lumber, INC. and Doug White Hardwoods, INC. are still going strong.  Doug and Connie’s daughter, Chelsea White-Campbell works at the family business with them.  

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