Tobacco story continues

Published 4:13 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2006

By Staff
This is the second in a series that was written for The Brewton Standard in 1956 by Mr. Emmett Brooks.
He had a very good account of the tobacco industry's beginning and end in Brewton.
The Company in Business
With the stock sold and the company ready for business, the following board of directors was named: E.M. Lovelace, president; H.H. Foshee, first vice-president; O.M. Gordon, second vice president; Dr. J. T. Boyd, secretary; M. F. Brooks, treasurer; J.W. Adkisson; J.E. Finlay, O.F. Luttrell and A.C. Smith. Only one of that board now survives-J.W. Adkisson, who is as he was then, president of Luttrell Hardware Company.
To further identify the others for the benefit of the younger generation, E. M. Lovelace was president of Lovelace Lumber Company and father of Ed Mac and Flournoy Lovelace of this city. S.S. Foshee was a wealthy lumber operator and landowner who built the home at the corner of Belleville Avenue and McLellan Street which is now occupied by Seaman Hudson and his family.
Mr. Gordon was of the naval stores business, coming here from South Carolina, and later became president of the Bank of Brewton. His son, Oscar, now lives in the home on Sowell Road which was erected by his father.
Dr. J.T Boyd was for many years a beloved dentist on Brewton, as his father before him.
He and Mrs. Boyd lived on Greenville Avenue in what is now the Baptist Church Annex. After the death of S.S. Foshee, they purchased the home (above) where they resided for the remainder of their lives. They had two daughters, Mrs. Peter Hamilton of Montgomery and Mrs. Albert Bel of Lake Charles, La.
M.F. Brooks was Judge of Probate of this county and had previously served as Circuit Clerk, and died in office after having served for more than 30 years in the courthouse. He was the father of the writer, my brother, Leon, and sister, Mrs. D.B. Hayes of Blountstown, Fla.
J.E. Finlay was a prominent merchant of Brewton for 50 years. For many years, and until his death, he was president of Robbins and McGowin Company and connected with other local business.
His two sons, John David and Bob are now operating the company Bob (whose correct name is Norville Leigh Finlay) and his family now live in his father's home, which was originally built by S.J. Foshee who was the father of S.S. Foshee.
O.F. Luttrell was vice president and cashier of the Bank of Brewton almost from the beginning of that institution. He left here for a few years to engage in business in Sylacauga, but returned to resume his connection with the bank, which he continued until his death. His first home (since remodeled) is now occupied by Mrs. J.A. Hainje, which his later one is used as a church by the Latter Day Saints. One of his three sons, Frank Alex, still lives here, while the other surviving son, J. Oden, resides in Montgomery.
Albert C. Smith, the ninth member of the board, was another Brewton merchant for many years. He was one of the owners of the Brewton Bargain House, which was quartered in the building now occupied by Everage's.
Like most businesses of that day, it was a general merchandise establishment where you could purchase anything from a paper of pins to a carload of fertilizer.
Later he was one of the owners of a men's furnishing store, Smith-Colley Mercantile Company, and shortly before his death served a few years as postmaster of Brewton.
His only son, Albert J., was president of a bank at Monroeville.
Then came the harvest and the disillusionment. The beautiful leaves were gathered and hung neatly and gracefully in the drying barns. Nothing remained except to let them reach the proper stage for the market and the money would begin rolling in.
But somewhere along the line, those who had so carefully laid the plans for making Brewton a community of untold wealth overlooked one important matter.
The men who were guiding the company's affairs and who had been most successful in their respective fields of endeavor failed to realize that they had no control over the price of tobacco. They were shocked to discover that there was in existence such a thing as a tobacco trust and that a small group of men sitting in an office in New York told the grower what they would pay for his product.
Just at that time those who controlled the destinies of the producers of tobacco decided that the price was too high. Sumatra Wrapper, that a few months before had brought $2 a pound and a neat profit was quoted at 50 cents. Obviously, with a dollar per pound production costs, instead of an expected gain, Escambia Tobacco Company faced a loss of all its investment plus a few thousand dollars in addition.
Next week I will continue and maybe get finished with the tobacco story.