History

   Lumber Truck & Office in 1950's

 

The Almond family and sawmills date all the way back to the time of the American Civil War. Green Almond is earliest ancestor we can trace in the sawmill industry. He was the first man to volunteer for the Confederate Army from Stanly County, North Carolina and lost his right arm at Chancellorsville on the same day that Stonewall Jackson lost his arm. When he was discharged due to medical disability, Green returned home to his farm near Albemarle, North Carolina. Unable to plow because the loss of his arm, he decided to give the sawmill business a try. The first Almond sawmill was on a mountainside near the Pee Dee River in North Carolina.

    The next generation of Almond lumber men was Green's son, Richard Thomas Jackson Almond (named for Stonewall Jackson). He learned the business from Green and followed the South Carolina gold rush to Jefferson, South Carolina before the turn of the century.  There, his sawmill supplied lumber to the miners. In 1896, his son, Reno Almond, was born.

    In 1909, leaving on a train from McBee, S.C., Richard moved his family to Coushatta, Louisiana and bought several thousand acres of the land. Both he and Reno established separate sawmills.  Unfortunately, both mills were lost during the Great Depression.

    During World War II, Laurie Almond, one of Reno's five sons, was able to buy back the 92 acre "home place" and return it to his parents. While serving in the army and air corps, Reno Jr., W. T. Sr., and Cecil Sr. (Tonnie), saved money that would later be used to start the 4th generation's business.

    After the brothers returned from the war, Reno Jr., Tonnie, and Laurie decided to try the lumber industry one more time. They bought a log truck and began producing piling. In 1947, Reno Sr. was instrumental in making a deal on a used portable sawmill. In 1948, they were able to put in a permanent mill. In the early 1950's, W.T. Sr. joined his brothers and Reno Jr. left to operate his own retail lumber yard in Natchitoches. In 1956, the youngest of the 4th generation, Maxie, joined the business after finishing college.

    Just as the business was getting off the ground in 1957, a devastating fire destroyed the planner mill and almost all of the finished lumber. Suffering through a great deal of hardship, they rebuilt and overcame adversity.

 

     Logging in the 1950's

 

 

    In the early 1970's, the 5th generation of Almonds began permanent duty with the company after working summers from junior high through college. Laurie's sons, Ardis and William, W.T.'s son, Tremmel, and Tonnie's son, Cecil Jr. make up the 5th generation.

    In 1980, Cecil Sr. passed away. Laurie and W.T. Sr. retired in 1982. The company was reorganized in 1983 and Maxie left the company to pursue other interests. Laurie passed away in 1989. W.T. Sr. is still occasionally called on for advice and help.

    In the middle to late 1980's, the company went through a lot of changes toward modernization. Band saws replaced circle saws and gang saws and a modern log merchandising system was built. In 1990, the decision was made to concentrate on the export lumber market in Europe and the Caribbean. In the early 1990's, further modernization took place as a dry line sorter system was installed as well as a sorter system at the sawmill. In 1994 and 1995, the new office building was built and the ready mix concrete plant was re-located and modernized.

    The 6th generation started working full-time with the company in 1996. Winn and Will, Tremmell's sons began work on a permanent basis and William's son, Steven, began college and working part-time. In 1997 and 1998, more modernization was done in the form of scanning systems for the carriage and an optimizer system for the edger. In August 1998, Ardis's son, Vince started full-time with the company. Cecil Jr. took medical disability and retired in late August 1998.  In 2000, Cecil Jr. passed away.

Now in the 21st century and over 125 years in the lumber industry, the Almonds always look toward the future but never forget the past. We are proud of our ancestors and the dedication they had to their family and to themselves to provide a way of life for so many generations. As the future unfolds, we will continue to find new ways to preserve the tradition of good family and good business and keep the Almond name in the lumber industry for generations to come.