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Biography of Robert Alexander Long

Robert Alexander Long. It is perhaps not generally known that the humble beginnings of the great Long-Bell Lumber Company was made in Kansas. The home of the corporation for a number of years has been in Kansas City, Missouri, where the splendid R. A. Long office building, one of the finest and most modern structures of its kind in the Middle West, furnishes the headquarters for the business whose operations are widespread all over the Southwest. But for forty years the retail business of the concern has been largely in Kansas and Kansas may properly claim Robert A. Long as one of its greatest business executives. On April 30, 1875, a carload of lumber was unloaded at the little town of Columbus, in Cherokee County, Kansas. It was consigned to the firm of R. A. Long & Company. This firm consisted of Robert A. Long, Victor B. Bell and Robert White. The senior member of the firm was twenty-four years of age and his partners had not yet reached their majority. The members of the firm had neither surplus capital nor bank accounts. However, Mr. Bell’s father was president of the Kansas City Savings Bank and Mr. White’s father its cashier. The bank thus gave them the best of recommendations and when cash was required loaned it to them on open account. In the original yard at Columbus, R. A. Long served as yard manager, bookkeeper and general utility man. He had only the most casual acquaintance with the lumber business. The story is told that when the first invoice was checked, the items “dimensions” and “S. S. &...

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