John T. Fortson
Joe B. Fortson

This article about the brothers
John T. Fortson and Joe B. Fortson
was published in the
Rice Rustler,
Rice, Tex., on November 11, 1910.


Fortson Brothers

John T. Fortson and Joe B. Fortson, comprising the general merchandise firm of Fortson Brothers, are true sons of Imperial Texas, having been born in the old town of Chatfield, and were reared on a farm, growing up among rural surroundings both healthful and romantically invigorating, equipping them with physical manhood to endure and overcome the usual objects one meets in attaining prominence in commercial circles. They have struggled most energetically to make their way in the world, enduring the hardships common to a country life, studying at every opportunity and hesitating at no honorable labor which might enable them to advance toward the realization of their ambition. They attended the public schools of their neighborhood, learning readily and enjoying to their fullest capacity the pastime and sports in vogue during the period of their youthful days, and prepared to engage in any legitimate business enterprise that gave promise of adding to their material well-being. Their first business venture was a hay press, run by themselves, and by applying to it the careful attention which has characterized their much more extensive holdings of today, made a success of this small beginning, and laid the foundation for the grand achievement which has come to them during the intervening years. The hay pressing business is still continued and it is considered one of the good paying propositions among their many others. In 1895 they erected a cotton gin in Rice, which has had a successful run each year since that time; the plant has been improved as improved machinery has appeared and today it is recognized as one of the best, if not the best equipped gin in Navarro county. A year later Fortson Brothers reached the important decision of casting their future destiny with Rice, since which time they have been among the town's most forceful factors in edging it further up the hill of materialism. They then engaged in dealing in grain and began to further increase their holdings in other lines. In the year 1900 they purchased a half interest in the general mercantile house of Loop & Son, and the firm name was changed to Loop & Company, and to their determination and efficiency was credited a heavy increase in the annual volume of business transacted by the house. This partnership continued for five years when the Messrs. Fortson Bros. withdrew from the firm and established themselves in a general mercantile business on their own account under the firm name of Fortson Brothers, starting out under the most favorable auspices in the house where they now are in 1907, and which has been constantly enlarged from its very inception until today, when it is easily acknowledged to be the leading department store in this section--one where the goods are in stock--goods that in quality and quantity are strictly worth while from the cold, business proposition of dollars and cents. The Fortson Bros. store in Rice is a symphony, which sings the gladsome paean of high qualities and low prices, and the inroads they are making on the neighboring town's trade territory is a source of real concern to them, but which is of the greatest value to Rice and to the material advantage of the whole community. They are leaders, developers, inspirers--not alone by influence, but by actual work that stands forth as a star of splendor for others to emulate. Their business has grown to immense proportions because the methods they used were modern methods and based on the sound commercial proposition of giving a dollar's worth of goods for every one hundred cents expended with them; and today they are occupying two large buildings, so chock full of seasonable merchandise that one is most pleasurably surprised and delighted upon entering this really modern emporium of fashion's latest and most dependable creations. These gentlemen are also largely interested in real estate, owning valuable tracts of land in various sections of Old Navarro--and of which there is none better. They own a fine hay farm of 500 acres, the largest in this part of the State, and also control large holdings throughout the county for non-residents. The holdings of these enterprising gentlemen reach out in diverse directions: They are stock holders in the Rice Drug Co., The Rice Banking Co., and various other industries, all tending toward and having for an objective point an enlarged influence and greater glory for the home of their adoption, and everyone of which has responded so plentifully with good financial results that it seems little less than magical under their skillful touch. The Messrs. Fortson are both married and have happy families, who grace with rare charm splendid homes and tend those gracious touches of domestic serenity which go so far to make life worth the struggle and living. The Fortson Brothers have a pleasing magnetism in their personality, while their association is an inspiration to all with whom they come in contact with in either a business or social way; their geniality is a well known verity, and their courtesy a universal acknowledgment. Their progressiveness is proverbial, their liberality pronounced, and their influence for betterment is a community revelation. Their interests are centered in Rice and the Rice country, and anything promising an uplift for the town at once enlists their heartiest sympathy and encouragement. They are splendid citizens from every viewpoint, ever alert, ready and willing to do their full part--and are most generally found in the front rank leading the procession to a greater, more prominent and more permanent place in the niche of fame which a small city in Texas is making--and which of course, is none other than Rice, Gracious queen of Navarro.