The Wooley family migrated from Kentucky to Indiana around 1850. John H. Wooley served as a sergeant for the Union Army during the Civil War. He and his father operated sawmills in Johnson County in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Eventually, this led John H. and his son, Otis, to build a large band sawmill in Franklin, Indiana. In 1925, John M. joined the business with his father and grandfather.
Three generations of Wooleys attended Franklin College: Otis, John M., and John P., while residing in Franklin, Indiana. Otis also taught at the college and served as mayor of Franklin from 1926-1930.
Like many other businesses during the Great Depression of 1929, the company failed to survive. Otis and John M. worked for other lumber companies through the 1930s. Then, in 1938, John M. started his own company. He bought lumber from sawmills throughout Indiana and sold to manufacturer around the state. During this era, Indiana was one of the principle producers of hardwoods and finished products in the United States.
In 1945, John M. entered into a joint venture with C.E. Lawrence and his son, Lawson, buying a sawmill located in Mooresville, Indiana. Around 1950, John M. purchased the Lawrence’s interests in the company. John P. began working for the company in 1948, becoming partners with his father, John M., in 1951. In the 1930’s John M. had worked for a lumber company named Eaglesfield & Shepard, located in Indianapolis. Eaglesfield & Shepard bought lumber from independent sawmills and then sold it to regional manufacturers. John M. was given the opportunity to buy out the owners in 1952. He expanded the sales potential by adding dry kilns and storage facilities at the Indianapolis location.
Otis, who was 77 years old, commuted from Franklin daily via bus to help John M. get the new business on its feet. John P. was given the responsibility of operating the sawmillin Mooresville, which provided a continuous flow of quality lumber to the dry kilns in Indianapolis.
John S. joined his father and grandfather in the business in 1970, followed by Dan in 1974 and Jeff in 1981. John M. worked daily until he passed away in 1984 at 78 years of age.
After the company became incorporated in 1979, John P. and his three sons split the daily duties of operating the business. The business continued to grow during this era, building additional dry kilns and continuously updating the sawmill. In December 1999, John P. decided to retire and leave the company in the hands of his three sons.
The fifth generation of lumbermen have continued on with the lumber business, with Steve retiring in 2011. Today, Dan and Jeff sustain the family tradition of manufacturing the highest quality hardwoods in the world.
John M. Wooley Lumber Company, Inc.
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