In 1882, the town of Laurel, Mississippi, was founded when John Kamper built a mill in order to provide timber for the completion of the Northeastern and New Orleans Railroad. The work force in the mill was primarily black. In 1891, Kamper sold the mill to then-Iowa based Eastman-Gardiner Company. Brothers George and Silas Gardiner, brother-in-law Lauren Eastman, and brother-in-law Wallace Rogers moved to Laurel to run the enterprise. As an escape from the oppression of sharecropping, blacks moved to Laurel because the lumber mills paid well.


Payne, Cleveland. Laurel: A History of the Black Community, 1882-1962.