Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Paul F. Paskoff


Lumber boomed in the Reconstructed South, an industrial binge that, by 1920, changed the landscape, first removing the forest then replacing its subsistence economy with consumerism. Men with money made fortunes in lumber. West of the Mississippi and south of the Missouri, it became a bonanza by 1880. Within these boundaries, black and white farmers and field hands sought "public work" in sawmills and log fronts. Most were unskilled. Steam power changed their lives, although all did not respond alike. They kept their folk ways, consistent with the new industry, despite their bondage to machines. Although most workers voluntarily entered the proletariat, perceptions of capitalist injustice led many "flatheads" to try radical remedies, notably industrial unionism. Others turned to radical vigilantism, creating citizens' committees to fight the union. Company managers hired gunmen to support the Southern Lumber Operators' Association black list of "undesirable" workers, "infected" with unionism. The Brotherhood of Timber Workers did not expand from a base in West Louisiana. Lumbermen congratulated themselves on their costly victory, even as it became painfully apparent that it was hollow. Legislators quickly enacted virtually every union demand. Then war in Europe forced wages, and prices, to exorbitant levels. Although the union soon faded from memory, the lumbermen, nearly as quickly, vanished with the wild timber. They left on the next society marks that can only be described as modern.