Lucius Olen Crosby Sr. (1869–1948) began the first of the Crosby-related land and timber companies in the early 1900s with holdings in Southwest Mississippi and Canton. In 1916 he sold his Canton mill to Stewart Gammill Sr.; moved to Picayune after acquiring a large tract of timberland from John Blodgett of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and bought the Rosa sawmill.
Crosby and Lamont Rowlands then organized the Goodyear Yellow Pine Company, which managed the Rosa and Goodyear mills in Picayune plus several smaller mills in South Mississippi. The Pearl River Valley Railroad was organized to transport timber products to the Southern Railway in Nicholson. As midwestern industry and agriculture expanded rapidly after the conclusion of World War I, demand for timber products increased. Goodyear Yellow Pine acquired contracts related to Chicago’s International Harvester Company and expanded operations in Picayune, Cybur, Piave, Lumberton, and other Mississippi locations. It shipped millions of board feet to the Midwest for use in farm implements, homes, factories, and other industrial products.
Crosby helped organize the Mississippi Chamber of Commerce in 1923 and served as its president until 1930. In 1927 he helped Herbert Hoover manage relief operations when the Mississippi River overflowed from Memphis to the Gulf of Mexico.
L. O. Crosby’s three sons, Robert Howell (1897–1973), Hollis Hobson (1899–1971), and Lucius Osmond Jr. (1907–78), worked in their father’s business operations and in 1935 bought the Foster Creek Lumber Company in Stephenson. They established a large lumber operation there, renamed the town Crosby, and formed the Crosby Lumber and Manufacturing Company with Hollis Crosby as president. In 1937 Howell Crosby became president of Crosby Naval Stores, later renamed Crosby Chemical Company. It produced turpentine, rosins, and resins, largely from pine stumps salvaged from cutover timberlands. In 1941 L. O. Crosby Jr. moved from Crosby to Picayune to help his father in the Goodyear Yellow Pine Company (later renamed Crosby Forest Products). In the 1940s and 1950s the company acquired considerable land in Wilkinson, Amite, Jefferson, and Copiah Counties. During World War II Crosby Forest Products produced timber products for ammunition crates and wire-bound boxes from a veneer mill. The company twice received the Army-Navy “E” Award for excellence in manufacturing. Toward the end of the conflict German prisoners of war were used to construct creosote plants in Crosby and Picayune that produced treated telephone poles and piling used for construction in New Orleans and other expanding cities. The company became one of the state’s leaders in fire protection and reforestation.
After L. O. Crosby Sr.’s death his three sons continued operating plants in Mississippi and Louisiana. In 1960 L. O. Crosby Jr. and family leased timberlands to St. Regis Paper Company, and in 1965 Crosby Lumber and Manufacturing Company was sold to St. Regis, which then established a large paper mill in Monticello. Crosby descendants continue to operate family businesses in Mississippi and Louisiana.
- John M. Barry, Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America (1977)
- L. O. Crosby Jr., Crosby: A Story of Men and Trees (1960); Crosby Land and Resources website, www.crosbylandandresources.com
- James E. Fickle, Mississippi Forests and Forestry (2001)
- John Hawkins Napier III, Lower Pearl River’s Piney Woods: Its Land and People (1985)