About Us

January 21, 1892, in Gurdon, Arkansas, was much like any other Arkansas winter day - cool and brisk. The citizens of Gurdon went about their daily activities. The merchants conducted business, the children laughed and played in the streets, and the horses tied to the hitching posts stepped lightly in a circle to keep warm. The whine of the nearby sawmills was overcome only by the piercing scream of the train whistles and the shrill screech of the locomotives trying desperately to gain momentum from a dead stop. Travelers awaiting a coming train gathered around the potbellied stove in the depot and made small talk while frequently checking their pocket watch for the correct time.
Other visitors in Gurdon on this day gathered in the lobby of the Hotel Hall just across Front Street from the railroad track. Among the visitors of this particular day were five men who had traveled to Gurdon to catch a train to their next destination. The group had attended a meeting of the Arkansas Yellow Pine Manufacturer's Association in Camden some 50 miles south of Gurdon, and, being business travelers of the well-seasoned sort, their itineraries required they board a train in Gurdon bound for yet another convention in yet another city. The men had boarded a ``bus`` in Camden at 9 o'clock on that day each bearing his luggage and a cup of black coffee. Somewhere along the way the entourage encountered a spread rail or some other obstacle which demanded the attention of someone experienced at remedying such road problems. While the problem was being corrected the travelers enjoyed a breakfast of fried chicken and pones cooked by an old lady near the site of their delay. Shortly, the bus again departed for Gurdon, arriving at about 11 a.m.
Upon their arrival they discovered that the through train had been delayed and would not arrive until about 6 p.m. So, with seven hours to kill, the men set about to make themselves comfortable until their departure. Now these men were obviously the founders of our revered Order, and we can only suggest that perhaps the delays came about at the hand of Divine instigation. For if the train had not been delayed, then two of these men, namely Bolling Arthur Johnson and George K. Smith, would not have sat upon a lumber pile and discussed the hardships of travelling, nor perhaps might one man have shared his thoughts of a unified lumber fraternity, called the Ancient Order of Camp Followers, whereby all lumbermen and trade associations would join together and hold their various meetings and conventions in one place at one given time in one great ``carnival`` of activity, rather than holding them at different times in different cities. Now Johnson, age 30, was a journalist for the TIMBERMAN trade newspaper of Chicago, and Smith, age 40, was the secretary of the Southern Lumber Manufacturers Association of St. Louis, and together atop that lumber pile did they combine their intellect and imagination in one impromptu brainstorming session in which the most basic foundation of a new Order took shape.

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