The other 5 caches in this series with letters and numbers inside are: GC6YMYB, GC6YMYG, GC6YMYQ, GC6YMZ0, GC6YMZ5.
In 1888, the St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railroad opened its line from Commerce to Fort Worth, Texas through this community which was then named Gibbs. The stop on the line was called Gibbs Station.
Two years later, in 1890, the railroad built a depot there and named it after a wealthy banker from New York named George Coppell. Coppell was a bond holder in the railroad.
The St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railroad had started out originally as the Tyler Tap Railroad Company in 1871. However, it was not a financial success and in 1879 it was purchased by James W. Paramore, president of the St. Louis Cotton Compress Company, who believed its purchase would lower rates on cotton. The new railroad would stretch from St. Louis to Texarkana and connect with the Tyler Tap.
Twelve years later in 1891, it was sold under foreclosure and acquired by the St. Louis Southwestern Railway which was known as The Cotton Belt Route.
In 1892, the community officially changed its name from Gibbs to Coppell.
At that time, Coppell was farming community located on the Grapevine Prairie and its primary crop was cotton. The majority of farmers were tenant farmers called “share croppers” who paid the rent on their land with a portion of their crops. Coppell had two cotton gins that would remove seeds and debris from the cotton and then compress and bale it so that it could then be loaded on railroad cars. The first cotton gin was built around 1902 and was located on the southwest corner of what is now Freeport Parkway and Bethel Road (across from Hard Eight.) The second was built in 1930 on the east side of Coppell Road just south of where Kirkland House is located today.
Coppell’s old cotton gin.
George Coppell was born in 1838 in Liverpool, England. At the age of about 21, he immigrated to the United States. He arrived in New Orleans in about 1859. At that time, New Orleans was a critically important transporation hub and seaport because of the vast quantities of cotton that were being exported from the United States to textile factories in England. The South was exporting two-thirds of the world’s cotton supply, most of which went through New Orleans, and the factories in England employed more than 3.5 milllion people. The cotton industry represented a substantial portion of both the U.S. and British economies at the time.
In January of 1861, the Civil War began. After the South issued its own currency and it rapidly began to lose value, the South believed that they could win the war because “Cotton was King” and was a commodity that they could use to pay for arms.
In November of 1861, the British Consul left for England because of bad health. George Coppell, who had been working for the Consul, then assumed the role of acting-Consul. In 1862, he married Helen Hoffman Gillingham who was a prominent resident of New Orleans.
He continued in the role of British Consul until the war ended in 1865. Shortly thereafter, he and his wife moved to New Jersey. In 1880, he became associated with the banking firm Maitland, Phelps & Company. In 1883, he became a partner in the firm. On May 22nd, 1885, he relinquished his British citizenship and became a U.S. citizen. In 1886, he was made senior partner and the firm changed its name to Maitland, Coppell and Company. He became enormously wealthy investing in and restructuring railroads. As mentioned above, in 1888, he was a bond holder in the St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railroad, a depot was named after him on that line, and in 1892 the town of Gibbs changed its name to Coppell. It is not believed that he ever visited the town named after him.
The Coppell’s owned several large mansions in Tenafly, New Jersey. His two sons, Herbert and Gordon, would continue to run the firm after his death in 1901.
Herbert was a bond holder in the Lake Superior Corporation which built the Algoma Railway from Sault-St-Marie northward to Hearst, Ontario. The second to the last stop on that line was named after him and Coppell is the name of the small French speaking town there.
The firm eventually went out of business at around the time of the great depression.
For more information on the history of Coppell, and it's residents, these books are available on Amazon:
- 'Coppell, Texas: A History (Brief History)' written by Jean Murph and Lou Duggan
- 'Legendary Locals of Coppell' by Shaun M. Jex.
The Coppell Historical Society meets regularly at the Kirkland House and can be contacted by email at email@example.com. Their website can be found at www.coppellhistoricalsociety.org.
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