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Thomas E. Gibbon papers
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Thomas E. Gibbon papers
    Inclusive Dates: 1889-1971
    Collection Number: mssGibbon
    Collector: Gibbon, Thomas Edward
    Extent: 58 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
    Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Fax: (626) 449-5720
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: Thomas E. Gibbon was a lawyer, businessman, and active supporter of the Democratic Party. These papers primarily relate to Los Angeles, California in the early 20th century.
    Language of Material: The records are in English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following web site .

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    Thomas E. Gibbon papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Ellen Rose Gibbon Bergman, 1990.


    Thomas Edward Gibbon was born on May 28, 1860 near De Valls Bluff, Prairie County, Arkansas. His parents were William Richard and Mary Jane (Willie) Gibbon. Gibbon studied law in Little Rock, Arkansas and was admitted to the bar by the Supreme Court of Arkansas on May 20, 1883. In 1888, he moved to Los Angeles, California where he continued to practice, specializing in railroad and corporate law.
    From 1891 to 1900, Gibbon organized and was the first vice-president of the Los Angeles Terminal Railway Company. He led a successful campaign to locate the Los Angeles harbor in San Pedro as opposed to Santa Monica. He strongly believed that to reap the benefits of the Panama Canal, Los Angeles must construct a railway line from the harbor to its business center. In another transportation battle, Montana Senator William A. Clark from the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad Company contested Edward Henry Harriman of the Union Pacific Railroad for an extension line from the northeast to southwest. As a strategic move, Clark and his brother, J. Ross Clark, acquired the Los Angeles Terminal Railway. For LA&SL, Gibbon served as vice president and general counsel of the extension line northeast to Salt Lake, Utah, until 1905. In 1907, the port of Los Angeles was officially founded with the creation of the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners where Gibbon served in various capacities from 1908 through 1912.
    During the same year of the creation of the Board of Harbor Commissioners, Gibbon and his associates purchased the Los Angeles "Daily Herald," where he was president and managing editor of the publication. As a progressive Democrat, he established the Herald in the community as an "independent Democratic newspaper," (Box 4, Folder 4). Gibbon also had a personal and professional relationship with rival newspaper owner Harrison Gray Otis and Otis’ son-in-law, Harry Chandler. They had real estate investments, including large interest in the California-Mexico Land & Cattle Company in Baja California. During the Mexican Revolution, Gibbon was a strong proponent of American interest in Mexico and urged Washington to intervene. He spent much time in Mexico studying its people and government and wrote a book entitled, "Mexico Under Carranza," where he presents a case against the Carranza government.
    He was a member of the American Academy of Political and Social Science; the American Association for Labor Legislation; the National Child Labor Committee; the National Municipal League; Jonathan Club; Bolsa Chica Gun; Commonwealth Club of San Francisco; and many other organizations.
    He married Ellen Rose on December 9, 1891. The couple had two sons: William R. and Thomas E. Gibbon, Jr. He passed away in Los Angeles, California on June 22, 1921.

    Scope and Content

    Although the Thomas E. Gibbon papers consists of four series with subseries, the entire collection is essentially one series. Gibbon’s professional endeavors as a businessman, lawyer, and political activist are found throughout the entire collection. There is also material related to highways, power development, irrigation, real estate in Hollywood, California, mining and oil ventures in California, Arizona, and Nevada.
    Series 1: Alphabetical series. The alphabetical series consists of two subseries: general files and alphabetical files. The term "general files" was supplied by Thomas E. Gibbon and spans from 1903 through 1913. The second subseries is the alphabetical files. The letters in this series were also organized alphabetically by Gibbon and cover 1901 through 1921.
    Note: The cataloger provided a list of subjects under each folder title. The list is not meant be exahustive, there may be other subject matter.
    Series 2: The subject series consists of two subseries: numbered subject files and unnumbered subject files. The numbers (1-187) and some of the titles in the first subseries were provided by Thomas E. Gibbon. Some of the files appear to be missing because the numbers are not consecutive. The second subseries consists of additional subject files, but in this case, numbers were not provided. The bulk of the material in this subseries relates to the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1920 and the Los Angeles harbor. There are two letterpress copybooks concerning the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad Company from 1899 through 1901 in Box 45.
    Series 3: Legal series. There legal series consists of two subseries: legal files and Gibbon, Thomas & Halsted files. The general legal files may contain a file number assigned by Gibbon and a case number, if found. The files range from cases taken up by the Los Angeles Superior Court to agreements prepared by Gibbon at his private practice. The second subseries consists of a box related to early cases worked on by Gibbon at the firm Gibbon, Thomas & Halsted.
    Series 4: Thomas E. Gibbon and family series. The final series consists of two subseries: Thomas E. Gibbon files and family files. The first subseries contains miscellaneous financial records, insurance policies, ledgers, and photographs belonging to Gibbon. The second subseries relates to Thomas E. Gibbon’s estate after his death in 1921. There is also material related to William Rose Gibbon’s wife, Katherine Gibbon involvement with the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Debutante Register Association.
    Cataloger's notes:
    • The original order of the collection was retained as much as possible. Due to the arrangement of the collection, there will be overlapping content. The subject matter found in one series, will be found in the other series.
    • The best way to approach this collection is to perform a keyword search.


    There are four series in the Thomas E. Gibbon papers. Series 1: Alphabetical series; Series 2: Subject series; Series 3: Legal series; and Series 4: Thomas E. Gibbon and family.

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Chandler, Harry, 1864-1944
    Clark, J. Ross (James Ross), 1850-1927
    Clark, William Andrews, 1839-1925
    Gibbon, Thomas Edward
    Lane, Franklin K.
    Otis, Harrison Gray, 1837-1917

    Corporate Names

    California-Mexico Land & Cattle Company
    Consolidated Cross Tie Company
    Democratic Party (U.S.)
    Los Angeles (Calif.). Board of Harbor Commissioners
    Los Angeles Herald
    Los Angeles Terminal Railway Company
    Mascot Copper Company (Dos Cabezas, Ariz.)
    National Association for the Protection of American Rights in Mexico
    Pacific Cross Tie Company
    Railroad Commission of the State of California
    San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad Company
    Union Passenger Terminal (Los Angeles, Calif.)


    Express highways
    Harbors -- California -- Los Angeles
    Mineral industries
    Newspaper publishing -- California -- Los Angeles
    Petroleum industry and trade
    Real property
    Real property -- Mexico -- Foreign ownership

    Geographic Areas

    California--Politics and government
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Newspapers
    Mexico -- History -- Revolution, 1910-1920
    United States -- Politics and government


    Clippings (information artifacts)
    Letterpress copybooks
    Letters (correspondence)