Gibbs Brothers and Company

Gibbs Brothers and Company is reputedly the oldest continuously operating family business in Texas that still resides on its original site. The business was established by Thomas Gibbs and Gardner Coffin in 1841 on the Huntsville town square. The pair purchased the lot on which they built their store from Huntsville's first resident Pleasant Gray.

After Coffin died in 1844, Thomas convinced his brother Sandford St. John Gibbs, who had left Texas after their father's death, to return to Huntsville and go into business with him. In 1847, Sandford paid $500 for a half interest in the company, which he and Thomas named T. & S. Gibbs. The brothers replaced the original log cabin that had served as a mercantile store with a new two-story, wood-frame building.

In the 1870s, Thomas moved away from Huntsville for health reasons, and Sandford bought his brother's interest in the business, renaming it the S. Gibbs Company. In the back of the store, Sandford kept a large, iron safe, and local businessmen and planters began to deposit their money there for safekeeping. Sensing an opportunity to develop a financial enterprise, Sandford soon opened a bank in the rear of the store.

After Sandford's death in 1886, his widow Sallie took over the business. A native of North Carolina and graduate of the Greensboro College for Young Ladies, Sallie had the old wood-frame business razed and replaced with a new brick structure.

With her son's assistance, Sallie is credited with developing the Gibbs business from a minor mercantile operation to a leading financial, real estate, and timber enterprise. In 1890, she worked with her eldest son and several influential Huntsville business leaders to organize Gibbs National Bank, which became First National Bank in Huntsville in 1922. Sallie retired from the business in 1917 and died a year later.

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History of Gibbs Brothers and Company
Cheryl Spencer of Sam Houston State University's Newton Gresham Library relates the history of the Gibbs Brothers business. ~ Creator: Courtesy Sam Houston State University Newton Gresham Library
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