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Gibson family papers

Gibson family papers

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Finding aid for the Gibson family papers


Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
100 Rock Street
Little Rock, Arkansas, 72201
(501) 320-5700

February 15, 1999

Repository: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Creator:Gibson family
Title: Gibson family papers
Dates: 1804-1987
Quantity: 10.0 Linear feet
Abstract:This collection includes personal letters, financial records, business and legal documents, photographs and artifacts. The Gibson Family Papers spans from the early 1800s to the late 1980s. This collection covers such subjects as politics, early reminiscences, land surveying, real estate developments, financial and banking interests, religion the Civil War, and other military affairs.
Identification: BC.MSS.97.56
Language: English


The collection refers to virtually every Gibson family member if only briefly. There are 16 series and they are as follows: Series I - Gibson Family Biographical Information; Series II- Lorenzo and Caroline (Thomas) Gibson; Series III- William Rowe Gibson Jr.; Series IV- Lorenzo and William R. Gibson Business Papers; Series V - James Edwin Gibson; Series VI - James E. Gibson and John J. McAlmont Business Papers; Series VII- Frank Trapnall and Mary (Thibault) Gibson; Series VIII- Lorenzo James Gibson; Series IX - Maria and Mary Gibson; Series X - Charles and Arbadoo (Gibson) Farrelly and Family; Series XI - Lorenzo Prentice and Mary (Jordan) Gibson; Series XII - Gibson Relatives and Documents; Series XIII- Business Associates and Unknown Associations; Series XIV - Printed Materials; Series XV - Photographs; Series XVI - Artifacts

Scope and Contents

In each of the series pertaining to a Gibson family member, the files are arranged in the following order: Letters, receipts/statements of account, tax receipts, business and legal documentation, and miscellaneous materials. The bulk of the collection deals with Dr. Lorenzo Gibson, his sons James and Frank, and Frank's children. There are small amounts of materials pertaining to other Gibson family members or relatives. This material is located in a Series identified as Gibson Relatives and Documents. In addition, there are several file folders of information about persons who were business associates or the Gibson family or their associations have not yet been identified (Business Associates and Unknown Associations). There are items of Arkansas interests located in the Printed Materials. Last, there are photographs of the Gibson family (most unidentified) and artifacts purportedly belonging to Dr. Lorenzo Gibson.

Frank Gibson's papers principally cover his business concerns and career (Little Rock Postmaster among others) in addition to legal matters relating to his wife's family, the Keatts and Thibaults. These issues involve the allegiance of James B. Keatts, Henry Keatts, and Mrs. Marie Thibault to the United States, during and after the Civil War. The legal battle lasted into the early 1900s over the "taking of property" during the Civil War and the charges that they were "ardent" rebels. Another portion of Frank Gibson's papers concern James Keatts's estate of which Gibson was executor (he was also the executor for other estates). Another large part of the Gibson Family Papers deals with Frank's daughters Mary and Maria and his son Dr. Lorenzo James Gibson.

Lorenzo James Gibson was a successful businessman who eventually became an officer for the Union National Bank (formerly the Union Trust Company) of Little Rock. Mary and Maria Gibson never married and lived together most of their lives. Their materials mainly consist of letters written to them by their father while he was living in Smithton and working for the South West Arkansas and Indian Territory Railroad. Other portions of the Gibson Papers concern Arbadoo Gibson (and her husband Charles Farrelly) and Lorenzo Prentice Gibson and his wife Mary Jordan. Small selections of information deal with the many other Gibson family members as well as business associates. In addition to photographic and printed materials, there are artifacts including Dr. Lorenzo Gibson's surveying equipment, sealing wax kit, and eyeglasses. The collection dates from 1804-1987.

Biographical Information

The Gibson Family Papers consist of the personal and business records of the children and descendants of William Rowe Gibson Sr. and Frances G. "Fanny" Hampton Burrus, including the well known Lorenzo Gibson of Little Rock. The Papers include personal letters, financial records, business and legal documents, photographs and artifacts. The dates of the collection span from the early 1800s to the late 1980s. This collection covers such subjects as politics, early reminiscences, land surveying, real estate developments, financial and banking interests, religion the Civil War, and other military affairs.

A rich variety of information and documentation exists on both the Bank of the State of Arkansas and the Real Estate Bank of Arkansas, the Little Rock Arsenal, horse racing, travel and description, slaves, economic conditions, land development and disputes, Civil War activities, and political aspirations. In this collection, letters exist from or about Albert Pike, C. F. M. Noland, Gov. John S. Roane, Ambrose H. Sevier, and many early pioneer residents and businessmen of Little Rock.

According to family biographical information located in these Papers, the known children of William and Fanny Gibson included Lorenzo, Philander, Mary H., William Jr., Edwin, Jane Roe, Alexander, Francis H. "Fanny", John H., and Thomas J. W. Gibson. By the 1830s, several Gibson family members had moved to Arkansas and become influential business and professional contributors. The one who established himself as a leader during Arkansas's early history was Lorenzo Gibson. Gibson (1804-1866) was raised in Clarksville, Tennessee and came to Arkansas by 1834. He married Caroline Louisa Thomas (1812-1878) of Nashville and they had ten children. They were Mary Robena, Arbadoo Lenore, James Edwin, William Rowe (III), Mary Elizabeth, Frank Trapnall, Laurie (two sons with the same name who died in their childhood), Corine Laurie, and Lorenzo Prentice. Gibson believed in education for both his sons and daughters as several letters mention the schooling of his children, especially in the Nashville, Tennessee area.

Gibson's papers deal primarily with his business and financial dealings, residential affairs in Little Rock and Rockport (near modern Malvern, Ark.) and his interest in both the Bank of the State of Arkansas and the Real Estate Bank of Arkansas. There are also his legal matters including documentation of his conviction of assault and battery. Slave ownership and information on horse racing, a popular activity in early Little Rock, are referred to in these papers as well.

Written accounts state that Lorenzo Gibson read law in Clarksville and entered the legal profession at an early age. With his arrival in Arkansas, he either joined or was accompanied by several of his siblings, including William R. Gibson Jr. Together they established a mercantile and drug business in Little Rock and Pine Bluff, and possibly one in Rockport. Lorenzo Gibson, in his chosen position as a Doctor of medicine, eventually attained several positions of public trust.

With concurrent residences in Little Rock and Rockport during the 1840s and early 1850s, Dr. Gibson served as postmaster for Rockport and was elected to the Arkansas legislature three separate times. He represented Pulaski County on two separate occasions and once for Hot Springs County. A loyal Whig, Lorenzo Gibson was appointed Surveyor General of Arkansas (1850-1853) in 1849, by President Taylor. Dr. Lorenzo Gibson died in Little Rock on September 28, 1866.

Another part of the collection covers Lorenzo and William's business and financial affairs. As stated earlier, Lorenzo Gibson and his brother William were business partners. In addition, William R. Gibson Jr., residing in Pine Bluff, was involved in the building of the Little Rock Arsenal in the late 1830s. Along with Stephen Cotter, they were to be responsible for the delivery of lumber to Little Rock for the Arsenal's construction.

The Gibson Family Papers also contain information pertaining to many of Lorenzo's children and siblings, and many letters are the personal correspondence between them. Other Gibson family members heavily represented in these Papers are Dr. Lorenzo Gibson's children including two of his sons, James Edwin and Frank Trapnall. The records of James Gibson deal with his early adulthood, his career as a druggist, and his business association with Dr. John J. McAlmont. In addition , there are general records pertaining to his personal and professional business affairs.

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Agriculture -- Arkansas
Architecture -- Arkansas
Arkansas -- Bibliography
Arkansas -- History
Arkansas -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
Arkansas -- Politics and government
Arkansas Air Museum (Fayetteville, Ark.) -- History
Arkansas County (Ark.)
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. (Little Rock, Ark.)
Arkansas Rifle Association.
Augusta (Ark.)
Banks and banking -- Arkansas
Beef cattle -- Arkansas -- History
Bigelow (Ark.)
Coal mines and mining -- Arkansas
College of Physicians and Surgeons. (Little Rock, Ark.)
Daughters of the American Revolution.
Dixon, Charles W.
Dyess (Ark.)
East End Social Hour Club.
Elections -- Arkansas
Electric utilities -- Arkansas -- History
Enola (Ark.)
Evening Shade (Ark.)
Forests and forestry -- Arkansas
Fort Smith (Ark.)
Historic buildings -- Arkansas
Lawyers -- Arkansas
Leslie (Ark.)
Libraries -- Arkansas
Little Rock Railway and Electric Company. (Little Rock, Ark.)
Lonoke County (Ark.)
Louisiana -- History -- To 1803
Meteorology -- Arkansas
Natchez Indians
Ozark National Forest (Ark.)
Perry County (Ark.)
Petit Jean (Ark.)
Pleasant Grove MIssionary Baptist Church. (Pleasant Grove, Ark.)
Poetry -- Arkansas
Poverty -- Arkansas
Prairie County (Ark.)
Quapaw Indians -- History
Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877) Arkansas
Saline County (Ark.)
Sandberg, Maxine
Scott (Ark.)
Searcy County (Ark.)
Slavery -- Arkansas
Southland College. (Helena, Ark.)
St. Francis National Forest (Ark.)
St. Vincent Hospital. (Little Rock, Ark.)
Summit Mall. (Little Rock, Ark.)
Taxation -- Arkansas -- Arkansas County -- Lists
Tourist's Club.
Trinity Hospital. (Little Rock, Ark.)
Van Frank family
Washington (Ark.)
Women -- Arkansas
Women -- Suffrage -- Arkansas
Women's Club of DeValls Bluff. (Arkansas)
Women's Cooperative Association.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Arkansas
World War, 1939-1945 -- Concentration camps -- United States


Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Restrictions on Use

Non-circulating; in-house use only.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Gibson family papers, MSS.97.56, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Arkansas Studies Institute

Acquisition Information

Donated by Mrs. George Toney, July 1997

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