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Plumas County







            George Laws, president and manager of the Feather River Lumber Company, is a man of unusual business judgment and executive ability and has the splendid record of having maintained the regular working schedule of his big plant at Delleker throughout the severe depression period of 1930.  The immediate result has been that this community has not felt the hard times as have nearly all other communities in the country.  The gigantic plant, with its sawmills, planing-mills, box factory, railroad and logging equipment, is running steadily day and night.  About three hundred and sixty men are employed and the mill has a capacity of one hundred thousand board feet of lumber every ten hours.  Thus this enterprise has had an influence on general business affairs in the eastern part of Plumas County greater than any other industry.  This great plant had its inception in 1904, when Mr. Laws, with his many years of business experience in lumber manufacturing, and with ample capital and financial backing, bought thousands of acres of timberland, well studded with yellow pine and other valuable timber, on the upper reaches of the north fork of the Feather River.  That was several years before the Western Pacific Railroad had constructed its line through this valley.  He had bought the sawmill at Clio, Plumas County, which he operated successfully for a number of years.  His mill at Delleker, which is now his principal plant, was ready for operation by the middle of 1905.  This has since grown to be the leading timber mill of eastern Plumas County, although he still owns valuable timberland and sawmills at Clio and Willow Creek and one on Gridley Creek, near Loyalton, Sierra County.  In addition to the thousands of acres of timberland which he owns, he also buys stumpage from the Plumas National Forest, which is situated in the northeastern extremity of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and contains over a million acres.  This forest reserve is located in Plumas, Lassen, Butte, Sierra and Yuba counties.

            The Feather River Lumber Company is a corporation duly organized under the laws of the state of Colorado, and has a capital of six hundred thousand dollars, Mr. Laws being the principal stockholder.  He is the president and manager of the company and S. G. Pierson, of Denver, Colorado, is the secretary and treasurer.  The head offices of the company are located in the Chamber of Commerce Building, Denver, while its main mills and operating plant are located at Delleker, two and a half miles southwest of Portola, Plumas County, on the main line of the Western Pacific Railroad.  Delleker presents the appearance of a good-sized town, with its mills, shops, smokestacks, railroad tracks, store, hotels, hospital and extensive lumberyards, besides its residence district.  The town is orderly and is a veritable beehive of activity.  The Feather River Inn is an up-to-date hotel and rooming-house, and is under the efficient management of Mrs. Anna E. Bittner, while the dining-room, which is spacious and inviting, is ably supervised by the stewardess, Miss Emma Narthen.  The store, which is well managed by Adolph Rakitta, carries a large and well selected stock of general merchandise.  Fred English is the efficient office manager of the company’s local office.  The postmaster is Mr. Burns; the mill foreman, Mr. Perry; the box factory foreman, Herbert E. Stevens; the yard foreman, Heine Hertager, and the logging superintendent, Mr. Dunderro.  The entire plant is well planned and constructed, so that the work of every department is conducted in the most orderly and systematic manner.  The Feather River Hospital is owned by the Feather River Lumber Company, but is leased and operated by Dr. John Decker.  Two trained nurses are in constant attendance, and Mrs. Rose A. Emerson is the superintendent and head hospital nurse.  The presiding genius at Delleker is George Laws, who, though now well advanced in years, has complete control and management of his great plant and operates it with a maximum of results and a minimum of effort.

            The Feather River Lumber Company owns and operates fourteen miles of railroad, being its main line running into the timber.  With its lateral lines, the entire trackage of logging railroad amounts to about thirty miles.  The railroad equipment includes three locomotives and fifty cars, while there are also eight caterpillar tractors, three sets of hydraulic wheels and three sets of Asa wheels, the company thus employing the best and most approved machinery in its logging, transporting and milling operations.  The Western Pacific Railroad carries the lumber east and west to the country’s leading lumber markets.  In addition to a regular run of lumber, the mill does a large business in box shooks for fruit shippers, having in 1930, up to August 6th, shipped out one hundred and fourteen carloads of box shooks.

            Mr. Laws was born in Cambridgeshire, England, on the 14th of August, 1860, being the second in order of birth of the seven children of George and Jane (Sutton) Laws, farming people, who are deceased.  The father attained the age of seventy-eight years, while the mother lived to the age of sixty years.  George Laws was reared in his native land and attended the schools of his home neighborhood.  When a youth of eighteen years he immigrated to the United States and settled in Pennsylvania.  There he began his connection with the lumber industry, which has engaged his attention continuously since.  He has worked in every position connected with logging and lumbering, so that he is intimately acquainted with its every detail.

            From Pennsylvania, Mr. Laws went to West Virginia, where he was engaged in lumbering for some time, after which he made his way to Denver, Colorado.  He built his first sawmill in Colorado, on the line of the Midland Railroad in the Rocky Mountains.  He found new locations and built two other mills when his older timberlands were cut over.  Following these operations, Mr. Laws took a large logging contract and built a sawmill at Catskill, on the “Mexican grant,” in New Mexico, after which, in 1905, he began operations in California.  He is widely known as one of Plumas county’s most active and successful lumbermen.

            On June 3, 1893, in Denver, Colorado, Mr. Laws was united in marriage to Miss Mary Murphy, who was born in Maine, but was reared in Colorado.  To them have been born four children.  Irene is the wife of Glenn F. Lewis, connected with the Phoenix Insurance Company in Hartford, Connecticut, and is the mother of three children. Harold is associated with the Yosemite Lumber Company at Merced Falls, California.  Bernice Josephine, who graduated from Wolf Hall, Denver, Colorado, is at home with her mother in Denver, where Mr. Laws also owns a residence and spends most of his winters, his summers being passed in his comfortable country home at Delleker, where he has all modern conveniences and the beautiful scenery of a California mountain home.  A daughter who died in Los Angeles, in April, 1928, was the wife of Alex Elmer.  All of Mr. Laws’ children are college graduates.

            Mr. Laws is widely recognized as a keen and sagacious businessman.  Like Henry Ford, he believes in mass production, paying his employees good wages and keeping his mills running steadily.  He has led an active and useful life and has been engaged in the lumber business steadily since eighteen years of age.  He has been distinctively successful, and, in addition to his lumber interests, he owns four well improved farms, including an entire section, six hundred and forty acres, near Greeley, Weld County, Colorado.  He is an extremely busy man, but derives enjoyment from being busy.  His chief diversion from business is traveling and motoring with his wife and daughter, and during the winter season he frequently visits Florida and other southern localities.  In his political views he is a staunch Republican and is genuinely interested in public affairs, though he has never sought office of any nature.  He is cordial and sincere in manner and everywhere commands the highest respect.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: Wooldridge, J.W.Major History of Sacramento Valley California, Vol. 3 Pages 395-398. Pioneer Historical Publishing Co. Chicago 1931.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.



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