The recent publication by Sam Houston State University's Texas Review Press concerns what author Donald Walker, a member of the history faculty of Texas Tech University, believes to be the oldest Texas business remaining under continuous ownership on its original site. That site is the northwest corner of the courthouse square in Huntsville.
"Through the years, the Gibbs family has maintained its private ownership of the company and has invested much of its profits in land in and around Walker Country," said Walker. "Today, the mercantile is no more and the company deals almost exclusively in land and other real estate investments."
A Frontier Texas Mercantile: The History of Gibbs Brothers and Company, Huntsville, 1841-1940, includes the following areas of interest:
The book contains more than 200 pages of printing and photos, including index, bibliography and detailed documentation on the points made in each chapter.
In addition to the book's publication through the Texas Review Press, Sam Houston State University provided funding including $5,000 from the Meredith G. and Miriam C. York Endowment for the Preservation and Study of Texas History and $2,500 from the Summerlee Foundation of Dallas.
A sidelight concerning the York donation: Mrs. York said that the Gibbs Company loaned her husband money when he was earning his degree in the 1930s. He later went on to become a well-known Central Texas teacher and public school administrator.
"The university's effort has been a 'thank-you' to the Gibbs family for its generous support over the years, including the very foundation of Sam Houston Normal Institute," said Paul Ruffin, director of the Texas Review Press.
Others instrumental in the project include Gary Bell, who previously taught history at SHSU and is now director of the honors program at Texas Tech, and Donald Coers, associate vice president for academic affairs at SHSU.
The book is available by mail from the Texas Review Press; English Department; Sam Houston State University; Huntsville, TX 77341. Order by e-mail or call (409) 294-1992 to order by telephone. Copies are $30 each, or $100 for numbered and signed presentation copies.