Scope and Content
Title: Thomas E. Gibbon papers
Inclusive Dates: 1889-1971
Collection Number: mssGibbon
Gibbon, Thomas Edward
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Fax: (626) 449-5720
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.
Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information,
please go to following
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.
Thomas E. Gibbon papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
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
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
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.
• 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.
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
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.)
Harbors -- California -- Los Angeles
Newspaper publishing -- California -- Los Angeles
Petroleum industry and trade
Real property -- Mexico -- Foreign ownership
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)