Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the origins and growth of the agriculture industry in Southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.
Dr. Charles H. Herty believed the newsprint industry in Georgia was more feasible than the textile industry. He believed the South was on the threshold of a new era here and hoped Georgia would make the most of it.
He explained that, as the textile industry had found it profitable to bring its looms to the cotton fields, so the paper mills will move south to where Southern pines, the future source of newsprint, were in abundance.
There already was power, transportation, water and year-round harvesting of the trees available. Herty worked with the Forest Service Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin to perfect his pine pulp processing plans.
For quite a few years, they conducted experiments in paper-making from Southern woods. In fact, Georgia Sen. William J. Harris had secured several years of appropriation funds to help pay for the research.
Harris displayed to the Senate Appropriations Committee a book of some 50 different grades of paper samples, which had been made from Southern woods.
These included: wrapping, bond, tissue, glassine, book, manila, envelope, writing, typewriting, lithograph, print, newsprint and greaseproof papers. The Congressmen were surprised at how good those papers were.
Harris declared that the nation’s paper-making companies would soon move their plants in the South, and paper-making plants were spending more than $100 million on Northern and Canadian pines.
Harris told them the spruce from which the Canadian and New England mills used to make their paper was slow-growing wood, whereas Southern slash and loblolly pine and black gum trees grow much faster.
Therefore, Harris told them, using proper reforestation, he says, the paper-making companies could ensure a constant supply of wood pulp much closer, and much cheaper, than the Canadian and New England trees were.
The Bulloch Times issue of Oct. 1, 1931 announced that “Dr. Charles Henry Herty, noted scientist, interested in perfecting plans for making white paper from pine pulp.”
Looking “at a site offered near Valdosta for an experimental plant, (he) has secured about $50,000 from private sources for the plant, and $20,000 has been added by the state for two years observations.”
In the same 1931 issue, it was revealed “Paper manufactured from Georgia slash pine will make its first semi-commercial appearance, about Nov. 1.”
The Bulloch Times issue of June 14, 1934 reported that “Dr. Charles Herty of Georgia received congratulations from President Roosevelt for his experiments in using Georgia slash pine.”
Much of this information came from issues of the “Georgia Forest Lookout,” the Georgia Forest Service’s newspaper. Several articles provided a lot of information as well.
The first was Jack Olsen’s article, “Charles Holmes Herty and the Birth of the Southern Newsprint Paper” in the Journal of Forest History issue of April 1977.
I also used S.E. Dick and M.D. Johnston’s article “The Smell of Money: the Pulp and Paper Making Industry in Savannah” in the Georgia Historical Quarterly issue of summer 2000.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at email@example.com.