JAMES FLORENCE GIBSON. It has been nearly a score of years since the subject of this review came into Montague county, lame in purse but with ambitious nature, and dropped into the settlement at Denver, on Denton creek, where the few years required to get a fair hold on matters, and the first anchor in his subsequent career firmly grounded were passed. The few years of his independent career which had elapsed had not been years of bountiful harvest with him, and he had done nothing more than drift along with the current and keep his death just above waves. En route westward from his native state he spent four years in Crawford county, Missouri, on track work for the Frisco railroad, and next sampled Arkansas, but he was soon convinced that that was not the place to find prosperity and to bring up a family as it should be.
Two months after his stop in Franklin county, Arkansas, Mr. Gibson appeared in Montague county, Texas, with a wife and three children, fourteen chickens and a twenty-dollar bill. The few household goods he possessed, added to this, constituted his earthly property, and in cropped on the shares while fortune was casting her first smiles toward him. In the vicinity of Denver, he tarried two years and then started north, locating at different places along the way and buying and selling little tracts as he climbed the ladder, until he finally reached a point of five miles south of the county seat where he purchased, largely on time, two hundred and seventy-three acres in the post oaks, with scant improvements and but little under plow. Good substantial buildings took the place of the primitive ones, and the farm was fenced and cleared. Cotton and corn have yielded him his best returns and, after nearly twenty years, his management and the family industry placed him among the leading upland farmers of his county.
James F. Gibson was born in Pickens county, South Carolina, November 15, 1859. John B. Gibson, his father, was born in the same county July 4, 1841, a son of John Gibson, who settled in the Palmetto state at a date when hickory-bark trace chains were in use, and when the power of the aristocracy in the old state was in its prime. Grandfather Gibson was a Virginian, served in the Mexican war, passing his industrial life as a planter, reared a family of three sons and five daughters and died about 1876 at seventy-four years of age.
John B. Gibson, who resides on a farm near Bowie, came to manhood on his father’s plantation and his majority found him in the ranks of the Confederate army, a member of the Thirty-eighth Georgia Regiment. He had married very young and moved into Georgia, but when the war ended he moved back to South Carolina, and left there again only when he came to Texas in 1887. While he was a man of industry, he was by nature a rambler in his earlier life, and consequently the fruits of the best years of his life were not harvested until near his decline. His first wife was Jane Boyd, a daughter of Robert Boyd. Mrs. Gibson died in 1891, being the mother of James F., our subject; Martha; Henry L.; Nancy; Georgia; Warren R.; Samantha; and Jacob C. For his second marriage John B. Gibson married Mrs. Nannie Rinkle.
From the foregoing record it will be inferred that the life of James F. Gibson was a rural one in childhood and that education was not a factor in his preparation for life’s duties. When he came to Texas he could neither read nor write. This condition so thoroughly aroused him and awoke him to the necessity of some learning for the safer conduct of the family affairs, that he “burned midnight oil” in becoming master of reading and writing and placing himself beyond danger in competition with his fellow man.
February 26, 1880, Mr. Gibson married Nancy E. Porter, a daughter of John M. Porter, who was killed in the Confederate army. The latter married Mary Lewis and left children as follows: Eva, wife of Lewis Honey, of Crawford county, Missouri; Mrs. Gibson, born December 26, 1861; Josie, wife of M. A. Pitts, of Texas county, Missouri. Mr. and Mrs. Gibson’s children are: Ed. H., who married Mary Dickson, resides in Polk county, Arkansas; Lizzie; Lillie; Katie; Filmore; Annie; Hill; Bowie; Tillman; and Texas are all adjuncts of the family home. Nothing but the accomplishment of results occupied Mr. Gibson in Montague county. Having discovered the adaptability of the soil and climate of his locality to fruit, he planted a large acreage to orchard, where in time, the peach and the berry will take the place of so much cotton and corn. He is a Democrat, but has no hankering for politics. He is an Odd Fellow, and himself, wife and older daughters are members of the Christian church.
Since the first writing of this article Mr. Gibson has moved a hundred and forty miles west to Hardeman county, and now resides two and one-half miles southeast of Quanah, where he is in the stock and small grain business.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 473-474.