Major Lumber History
Mr. and Mrs. Reuben J. Major, founder of Major Lumber Co.
Major Lumber Company was established in 1896 by Reuben H. Major. Originally the business was located on the south bank of the Little Platte River near the old Patterson Mill. It was one of the two lumber yards owned by Reuben Major and his brother, Weeden Major. The other was located in Kearney, MO. Originally much of the lumber came from Arkansas lumber mills owned by the Major family who had moved to this area from Arkansas.
Another brother, John Sleet Major, was one of the founders of William Jewell College and was one of the original organizers of the First National Bank of Liberty.
By 1928 the lumber yard, now located in its current location, was owned and operated by Charles Oran and Yates Major, sons of Reuben Major. In this new location it was nearer to the railroad and also on higher ground. The flood of 1965 proved that the location was not high enough. Everything was destroyed as water surged through downtown Smithville. The only surviving building contained cement and was too heavy to float. As the water receded, one day after the floor Major Lumber resumed servicing its customers with what lumber it could scrape together.
Much of the lumber was salvaged from many downstream location where it had floated. Over the next 25 years the yard was slowly rebuilt and expanded.
In 1975, upon the death of Oran Major, his son Ron Major took over the lumber yard and has operated it until the present time. The yard servers consumers and contractors in the Clay-Platte area. Major Lumber is the oldest business in Smithville. In the metro Kansas City area it is the second oldest family owned lumber company. Their motto is "We make the Major Difference."