It is no mystery that modern stuff is all junk.
Got to understand the basics. Depending on the species how old is the tree the lumber comes from? Lots of it is really about like balsa wood, low weight, full of water, twists like crazy as you said. Hey, they love to put it into these modern palaces and then the fun begins. Junk produces more junk.
You have to start with the trees it comes from, their condition and age. Usually called old growth, some called it the primary forest. Lots of that was here when the original Indians were running around. Talking trees maybe 500, 600, 700 years old, big suckers. New England had houses with old growth trees, lots of what was known as hard pine, stuff was like some hardwoods today. If you can get that as salvage can be prime wood to build with. Not that much real primary forest left in most of the USA. Everything is secondary growth of some age.
Depending on your location you can get trees and have them sawn into lumber. Lots of that around me. They do mostly what is called selective cutting. Depending on the species but in general it has to be at least 18" in diameter, usually measured chest high minimum, you can sort of reach around it. Probably talking maybe at least 50-60 years old, but could be up toward 100 for the better stuff. Tougher to find really good pine. Lots of hardwoods. Can get all sorts of woods you can not find in normal outlets.
I've seen houses built out the local sawn stuff. Usually it must be air dried in a particular manner for a couple years but there are ways to solar dry it. The roughness varies according to the mill. If they use a band mill can be pretty smooth. Sure beats the junk in the stores. local Amish are into it big time, lot of them run mills, also build various things, sell lumber. Your typical board is a full inch thick or more. Same with the dimensional lumber, like the old dazes. Actually you probably can have it custom cut as desired in most cases. There are value added small companies that will cut and some of them have the ability to kiln dry, lot of them do very custom mill work to order. Don't know a ton of details about them yet. There are also portable mills that will come to you, saw it on site. One big thing they worry about is metal in the wood. Lots of the local wood was in farm land at one time, fence staples, nails from sign can be buried in the trees, does the job on the saw blades.
If you get the bigger stuff like 2 x 8" and up it tends to be better in the commercial outlets. I guess you could saw it down to 2 x 4 size but would really add to the expense. Most of that is lumber like from bigger older trees out west or the northwest.
Places like SE Ohio do have some very nice lumber but probably don't make a dent in the national supply chain, just not that type of volume. Lot of the logs go for export to places like China. Lot of it is contracted out and sawn local for furniture type makers all over. Down in WV you will find a lot of the same thing, western PA can be prime. Most of these areas the really primary forests were cut long ago. Today it is mostly selective cutting, hopefully with stuff old enough to give decent lumber. Your typical wood lot might be harvested for a percentage every 5 - 7 years.
I'm still trying to learn all the details. At some point I will either try to find land that has some good standing timber and have it cut or just buy some local. Did use the local stuff to expand a shed I moved. Nice stuff, very pleased with it. Very good prices. Apparently all types of deals are possible. If you can deliver trees, can be sawn, milled for shares or you can pay a fee. One of my neighbors has some nice walnut and a few maples, trying to talking him into us butchering them. Apparently some the lumber business has slumped a lot. Demand is way down, prices for trees are way down. Local areas don't seem that affected, they serve a different market. Doesn't seem to affect the junk on the main markets, isn't getting much better. I've heard the better stuff in the NW is not even being cut. Just letting it get better with time.
That stuff out of the tree farms like in the southern USA must be getting cut very, very young. Hey, they sell a lot before its time. I guess they claim it is going thru a kiln but somebody should turn the heat up a bit.
Goes into plastic high priced junk shacks and no shortage of buyers. Makes no difference, some slick ad, tell the necessary lies, who is ever going to know.
You want to look around for your area. See if there are any local sawmills. Want to avoid a lot of shipping costs if possible. Maybe look on line and see what is available. Lately I did see some being offered for sale at auction but I didn't get to go to that affair.