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Friday, April 1, 2016

Rogers & Gibbs homes in Huntsville, TX.

My great great grandparents were Lucinda Gibbs Rogers (1818-1884) and George Washington Rogers (1820-1864), who lived for a time in Huntsville, Texas.  I wish I had visited Huntsville, because I am trying to put together the lives of families who lived at the time Sam Houston and other rebels were establishing this territory as first an independent republic from Mexico, then as a state in the US.  Incidentally, most of the people I'll talk about today are all buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville, TX...including Sam Houston.

Geroge W. Rogers & Lucinda Gibbs Rogers home, built @ 1845.
"This is the north portico of the house George Washington Rogers and Lucinda Benson Gibbs built in abt. 1845 on 240 acres of land he purchased from Pleasant Gray out of his headright. Mr. and Mrs. G.W. Rogers were said to be the wealthiest family in town and this Greek-Revival style home on University Avenue was the finest in its heyday. The aristocracy from East Texas were entertained there. (G.W. Rogers was Huntsville`s first Treasurer.) One feature was a huge ballroom that occupied the southeast wing. In later years, the house served as the president`s mansion for the third president of Austin College - Rufus Bailey. The house also became the home of H.H. Smith, the second president of Sam Houston Normal Institute. Other owners made changes in the house, but it has been restored and is still standing today.

Lucinda Gibbs Rogers (1818-1884) moved with her family from South Carolina to the new territory of Texas, and she married George W. Rogers (1820-1864) in Bienville Parish, Louisiana in 1848.

"G.W. Rogers served in the War in Mexico - under Captain Gillespie; Col. John C. 
Hays: 1st Regiment Texas Rangers, Gen. Zachary Taylor. He was wounded on 
assault on Bishop's Palace, Monterrey, Mexico. His name is on the Gillespie 
Monument in Huntsville, Texas. After the battle (from war department 1846) Col.
George Washington Rogers lay wounded on battle field all night, during icy 
storm. He contracted tuberculosis. After recuperating, he returned to his home
in Gibbsland, LA. Later he married Lucinda Benson Gibbs.

George Washington Rogers and his wife, Lucinda Benson Gibbs purchased 600 acres
of land in Walker county in 1844 from Pleasant Gray and his wife, Hannah.

The Gibbs family had also settled for a while in Louisiana, and a town eventually was named Gibbsland after one of that family.  But George and Lucinda and quite a few of their family members had moved on to Texas.  The George Rogers family had come from Sevierville, TN originally.

Thomas Gibbs, (1812-1972) Lucinda's brother, married her husband's sister, Nancy Teresa Rogers Gibbs (1826-1856) in the same year my great great grandparents married.  The Rogers family bible has these entries in it.

Thomas Gibbs began a mercantile business, with a large safe in the back room which he shared with others. His brother Sandford St. Johns Gibbs later became his partner in the business.  In 1847 they replaced the original wood building from 1841 with a 2 story brick building, which is still standing,  In 1890 it became known as the Gibbs Bank.  

The Gibbs Bank building, 1908.  North side of main square in Huntsville, TX.
Gibbs bank building 2013, from Google Maps

Thomas Gibbs, (1812-1972)



Thomas Gibbs home, built around 1862. Now the Historic Society of Walker County, TX
Since this is now a museum, called the Gibbs-Powell house, there are tours available to see the restored home which Thomas Gibbs built.
Side view of Thomas Gibbs home, showing additions


Rear view of Gibbs-Powell House
Sandford St. John Gibbs and Sarah Elizabeth (Sallie) Smith Gibbs
Order from right to left: Back Row: Alice Lena Gibbs, Wilbourn Smith Gibbs, Mary Alla Gibbs Front Row (L to R): Sarah Sandford Gibbs, Capt. Sandford St. John Gibbs, Luteola Gibbs, Sarah Elizabeth Smith Gibbs, Thomas Clifton Gibbs, and James Phillip Gibbs. Probably taken in 1880.

By the time Sandford Gibbs died in 1886, his brother Thomas having died in 1872, widow Sallie Gibbs (1844-1918) began running the business, which became the Gibbs Bank in 1890.

The historical marker where Sallie Gibbs home used to be says:
"Successful businesswoman Sallie E. Gibbs was born Sarah Elizabeth Smith in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on October 18, 1844 to Mary Washington (Ledbetter) and Thomas Jefferson Smith. Her parents operated a large plantation, and she received tutoring from age four until she went to the Greensboro College for Young Ladies at the age of fifteen. There, she received a general liberal arts education and a strong Methodist Episcopal spiritual foundation. In 1859, Sallie’s parents moved their household goods and slaves to Texas. She accompanied them on the journey before returning to Greensboro to complete her studies. She graduated in 1863 as valedictorian of her class and moved to Texas after the Civil War in 1865. By that time, her parents operated a prosperous plantation near Plantersville, Montgomery County. Shortly after her return to Texas, Sallie met Sandford St. John Gibbs, a widower and successful Huntsville merchant, and the two wed in January 1866. During the next twelve years, Sallie gave birth to six children: three sons and three daughters. After Sandford’s death in 1886, Sallie assumed control of his assets and over the next 32 years transformed S. Gibbs & Co. (later Gibbs Bros. & Co.) from a mercantile business into one of East Texas’ leading financial, land and timber enterprises. With son Wilbourn and businessman Adair Wynne, Sallie established Gibbs National Bank in 1890. Until retiring in 1917, she played an active role on the bank’s board of directors. Sallied died on May 27, 1918 and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. During her life, she was active in the Methodist church and in area educational institutions. Her success in business was for many years reflected in the large Queen Anne-style home she and son Wilbourn built on this site in 1895. (2006)  Source:  http://www.walkercountyhistory.org/markers/gibbs-sallie.php

Ancestry has some folks' trees with mistakes which just keep getting repeated by others copying them.  Many trees say Sallie Gibbs died in 1913, but her grave marker as well as this history show she died in 1918.
I'm not sure how the photo has 7 children above, while the historic marker says she had 6.  Possibly there is a child which Sandford had by his first marriage who is included in the picture...I haven't been able to find any information on her yet.
I found the address of Sallie Gibbs and Wilbourn Gibbs (her son) home, but it doesn't seem to have a home there any more (1220 12th St. Huntsville, TX)

Their home looked like this:


Interior of Gibbs mansion

Sallie and Sandford Gibbs markers
My Uncle Jimmy visited the Gibbs mansion to see Aunt Sallie when he was a little boy.  Here is his report from that visit as my cousin records on Ancestry.
James W. Rogers, remembers visiting Aunt Sallie Gibbs as a small child in her imposing mansion with a wrought iron fence and gate in Huntsville, Texas. "I ... did meet Aunt Sallie once when I was about 7 years old. We were on a trip to Galveston from Ft. Worth, and stopped off in Huntsville. I have a memory of her house set well back on a large, well landscaped lot behind wrought iron fence, with a driveway leading to a portico on the side of this (to my eyes) mansion - about 3 stories tall. I recall Aunt Sallie receiving us in the "sun room," sitting in a tall-backed chair, dressed in black, and seeming to be so old as to be ancient. I made my bow, mumbled my "how-de-do," and stepped back out of the way and kept my mouth shut, as I had been trained. The conversation was between Aunt Sallie and my mother. We didn't stay long since, my mother said, Aunt Sallie tired easily. Everything about Aunt Sallie, the house, etc. said "money" and lots of it. The Gibbs family was important to my father, primarily for the help he and his mother received. My father's father died before my dad was barely two years old. They lived in Willis, Texas - a small farm south of Huntsville. My dad said once that they probably would not have made it had it not been for the help they got from the Gibbs. Even so, they had a rough time, my grandmother and her two small children." James W. Rogers April 22, 1986

I believe that the Aunt Sallie who was visited by my Uncle Jimmy Rogers was not Sarah E. Smith Gibbs, who died in 1918.  She may have been her daughter Sarah Gibbs Norsworthy (1873-1933).     Sarah Gibbs Norsworthy outlived her brother Wilbourn (1866-1921) who helped his mother build the St. Anne mansion in which they lived.

My Uncle Jimmy wasn't born until 1922.

This is just conjecture, because cousin Wilbourn Gibbs had actually married Ann Nugent (1871-1933), and had a son, and his wife outlived him.   Were they also still living in the Wilbourn Gibbs mansion when Uncle Jimmy visited Aunt Sally? I hope some more research into censuses will yield some information on this.  But you've probably had enough of us for now!

I'm submitting all these houses, and family notes, to Sepia Saturday this week.  It shows but a small road and a building, with the promise of many adventures just around the corner.

15 comments:

  1. That’s a very in-depth piece of family history with some very fine houses.

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  2. You have a large amount of family history here. The photos are so great to see. I enjoyed the post.

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  3. Wow - that Victorian house is really big! But I suppose you'd need a good-sized house with 6 or 7 children!

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  4. Thank you for such an interesting and detailed accounting! Their house in Huntsville, maybe not so much as is, but oh my it must have been quite the dream place when it was lived in. The front entrance doors are so nice! Sure in need of TLC but you can tell the charm it once had.

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  5. I lost the entire posting last week, after 6 hours or so gathering the pictures and stories from Ancestry. So I slept on it and decided to rewrite it. I could easily have been 3 separate stories, I now realize.

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  6. Great write up on your history! My favorite things about genealogy... The Photos, and seeing where my ancestors lived. Your family is fortunate to have you gathering and documenting these things.
    Best Wishes!

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  7. I like the two photos of the Gibbs Bank building. It is nice to see the differences.

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  8. The family owned some wonderful mansions. Great history, and I hope you inherited some of their wealth!

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  9. Very interesting history and photos. The Gibbs mansion is a fantastic example of American carpentry skill. What is the book that Sara Gibbs displays in the family photo? The design doesn't look like a bible.

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    1. I couldn't tell with enlarging and sharpening...it looks like a "T" on it.

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  10. Well doggone there are some fancy houses! I'm betting there were some rootin' tootin' times to be had in that ballroom.

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  11. Ms. Rogers, your post about your family is fantastic! I now live in Huntsville and we purchased a home across the street from Oakwood Cemetery. Your photo showing the Gibbs graves would be facing in our direction. Our home was built, some say 1880's, others say 1890. We got as far back as 1913 in the records room at the courthouse. If you have any information about the family of Fannie Overton Bush Leigh, I would appreciate it. They are the family connected to this house. I love these old houses. Sadly, so many of them have been rented out to the point of no return. Ours was a rental and then was empty for 3 1/2 years. Our entire neighborhood was pretty run down when we bought this house. Fortunately, it is looking better. If you ever need eyes on the ground to get a photo or check an address, I would be happy to help you out. Thanks for the great information! I am interested in all history concerning Huntsville. When you walk through the cemetery, you realize what hardy souls they had to be to survive. Rose Stuber

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    1. Hi Rose...that's a great offer. I have a cousin (Pat Rogers Seliger) who does more with our ancestors, and I will let her know also about your offer. At this point I don't know of any of the family who were connected to your house. I'm so glad to hear that you are interested in its history. The Walker Historic Society has done some good work.

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  12. Hi there distant cousin! (I'm the great-granddaughter of Luteola Gibbs - seated in the middle of that family photo) I just came across your post - which is fascinating! I wanted to write to let you know that the family photo with 7 children DOES include a child from Sandford's previous marriage. Alice Lena Gibbs was the only surviving daughter of Mary Wilmuth Gary and Sandford Gibbs. Alice died at age 23 without ever marrying. Hope this helps!

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    1. Hi Sabra...so glad you made a comment here! I hope you get this reply also. I don't have email addresses for people who comment, so the only way I can talk back is to hit "reply" here in comments. Thanks for your information about the Gibbs children! That's so helpful to know. I'll share it with my cousin, Pat Rogers Seliger also.

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