Paris Gibson

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Paris Gibson
Paris Gibson.jpg
United States Senator
from Montana
In office
March 7, 1901 – March 4, 1905
Preceded by William A. Clark
Succeeded by Thomas Henry Carter
Personal details
Born (1830-07-01)July 1, 1830
Brownfield, Maine
Died December 16, 1920(1920-12-16) (aged 90)
Great Falls, Montana
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Bowdoin College
Occupation Entrepreneur, politician

Paris Gibson (July 1, 1830 – December 16, 1920) was an American entrepreneur and politician.

Gibson was born in Brownfield, Maine. An 1851 graduate of Bowdoin College, he served as a member of the Montana State Senate and as a Democratic member of the United States Senate between 1901 and 1905.


In 1853 he was elected to the Maine legislature.[1] After moving to Minnesota, where he built the North Star Woolen Mill at St. Anthony's Falls, he served on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents from 1871 through 1879, and was a founding Trustee for Lakewood Cemetery.[1] He abandoned his failed business interests in Minnesota to try his luck out West and, in 1880, paid a visit to the Great Falls of the Missouri River and quickly recognized their potential for producing hydroelectric power.

Gibson convinced his friend, railroad magnate James J. Hill, to invest in a townsite at the falls and urged that Hill extend his railroad through the new city. In 1883 the city of Great Falls, Montana had been founded.

By 1887 Hill rail lines linked Great Falls to Butte, Montana and Helena, Montana. However, the main line of Hill's Great Northern Railway bypassed Great Falls to the north. Despite this setback, Great Falls became a major center of trade for area farmers and ranchers, and its dams on the Missouri River contributed power for ore processing and grain milling industries.[2]

When William A. Clark resigned from the United States Senate, Gibson, a Democrat, was elected to fill the seat, and he served from March 7, 1901 until March 3, 1905.[3] He did not seek re-election. He died in Great Falls and is buried there in Highland Cemetery.

Personal life[edit]

Statue honoring Paris Gibson at Gibson Park, Great Falls, Montana

Paris was married to Valeria Goodnough Sweat (1838-1900). They had four children; two died at an early age at 1 and 2-years-old. They had two sons who lived to adulthood, Philip and Theodore.

In 1912, Philip was sent to Warm Springs, a state mental hospital in Warm Springs, Montana for "exhaustion of paresis", a mental disorder, where he died. Some time later, Theodore suffered a similar mental problem and was also sent to Warm Springs and he died there as well.

Gibson House Haunting[edit]

The Theo Gibson home in Great Falls was acquired in 2010 by Kelly Parks. She asserts the house, which was built in 1890, is haunted by Valeria Gibson's ghost.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b [1] Guide to the Paris Gibson Collection at the University of Montana
  2. ^ Tribune Staff. "125 Montana Newsmakers: Paris Gibson". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Gibson, Paris, (1830 - 1920)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved August 28, 2011. 
United States Senate
Preceded by
William A. Clark
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Montana
Served alongside: William A. Clark
Succeeded by
Thomas H. Carter