Memorial record of Alabama

Biography of Josiah H. Marbury

Josiah H Marbury
Josiah H Marbury

Josiah H. Marbury, the head of the Marbury Lumber company at Bozeman, Alabama, was born in Shelbyville, Tennessee, in 1841. His parents, L. W. and Mary (Kidd) Marbury, were also natives of Tennessee, where they passed their entire existence, the former expiring in 1863 and the latter about 1875. L. W. Marbury was a Primitive Baptist minister and merchant, was a soldier in the Mexican war, and at one time was a member of the Tennessee legislature. He was a self-made man, possessed of great industry and renowned for his uprightness in all the walks of life. His father was a native of North Carolina, but bade farewell to earth in Tennessee.

Josiah H. Marbury was born the eleventh in a family of three sons and nine daughters. One of the sons, M. P. Marbury, served as a lieutenant in the First Tennessee infantry all through the Civil war, endured all the hardships of the Tennessee army in the Atlanta campaign, and died after the war was over while doing business as a merchant at Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Josiah H. Marbury was reared principally at Tullahoma, with limited opportunities for an education, but he possessed what may be well styled something better than an education, and that is, good sound sense, combined with an intellectual brain. In July, 1861, he joined the First Tennessee artillery, and entered into his first fight at Wildcat, east of Tennessee, and then took part at Fisher’s creek, Shiloh two days, Saltville, W. Va., and at Morristown, Tenn. He was captured in October, 1864, and imprisoned at Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois., until the spring of 1865, when he was taken to Point Lookout, Maryland, and held until the close of hostilities. At Shiloh his company was torn all to pieces, a small remnant only being left, which, however, was reorganized for the purpose of continuing the ineffectual effort to save what to them was a sacred cause.

Mr. Marbury came out of the war with no money, no clothes, but he managed to make an overcoat out of his blanket. His father had died while Josiah H. was in the army, and to the latter was left the care of a mother and two sisters for some years, and here is where his superior pluck, energy, industry and intelligence came into play. He went to work as a carpenter and cabinet maker at Blue Springs, Tennessee, economized his earnings, and in 1872 had acquired sufficient means to start in co-partnership with a Mr. Taft, in a sawmill at Jamison, Alabama, which they conducted until 1876, when they removed to Bozeman, where they were joined by Mr. W. T. Smith, and the firm became Smith Taft & Marbury, under which style the present plant was started and operated until December 1, 1887, when the style was changed to Marbury & Jones, under which title the mill was operated until January 1, 1892, when it assumed its present name of the Marbury Lumber company. It is now one of the most complete lumber plants in the south, and is valued at about $225,000, including about 35,000 acres of fine timber land — all in Autauga county — into which they have laid ten miles of steel railroad track and four miles of iron track, equipped with two Mogul engines and fourteen flat cars. Connected with the plant are eight large drying-kilns. The company are also owners of the W. T. Smith lumber-stacker patent, five planers, etc., and they also conduct a general store. The capacity of the mill reaches about 80,000 feet per day, the employees number from 100 to 150 men, and the payroll averages $5,600 per month. The product is shipped nearly all over the Mississippi valley and the eastern states, but no local trade is carried on. Mr. Marbury began his business life at the lowermost rung of the ladder that leads to success, but his untiring energy has led him to the uppermost, and he now rests in complacency at the top.

The marriage of Mr. Marbury was solemnized March 1. 1865, in Tennessee, with Miss Mary Allen, a native of Louisiana and a member of the Missionary Baptist church. She has passed to a better land, however, leaving behind eight children, viz.: Lizzie, who was educated at Hudson institute, and at Boston, Massachusetts, and is now the wife of C. W. Wilkinson, of Birmingham, Alabama; David H., educated at Howard college, at Marion Military institute, and at Poughkeepsie, New York, and now in business with his father; Mary A., Neva W. and Nellie T., graduates of Judson Female institute; Earnest L., Clara V. and Josiah H., Jr. Mr. Marbury ’s next marriage was to Mrs. Nancy E. Taft, widow of his former partner. She was born in Pennsylvania, a daughter of William Robinson and wife, who were natives of England, but who came to the United States when young and here married. Mrs. Robinson died in Tennessee and Mr. Robinson in Alabama. Mr. Marbury has never taken any part in politics further than exercising his franchise in favor of men who were most suitable to fill the various offices contended for. He was made a Mason at Tullahoma, Tennessee, and assisted in organizing the lodge at Jamison, Alabama, but has affiliated with no lodge since his residence at Bozeman. He is a member of the Missionary Baptist church, while his wife is a Methodist, and his walk through life has demonstrated his sincerity in the faith he professes.


Memorial record of Alabama : a concise account of the state’s political, military, professional and industrial progress, together with the personal memoirs of many of its people.. Madison, Wis.: Brant & Fuller, 1893.

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