Monday, February 29, 2016

Buchel Beaumont Gibbs (1886-1961)

A 1933 campaign poster for B.B. Gibbs (author's collection).

   Seeing that February 29th is a day that only comes along once every four years, I figured that an especially interesting write-up was needed for today, and that is precisely what I aim to accomplish with the following article on one B.B. Gibbs of Arizona. 
   As a political memorabilia collector of many years standing, I'm always happening across interesting items to purchase both at antique shops and online, and in the case of today's "honoree", it was a chance peek at the online marketplace website Etsy that led to a very intriguing discovery! In December of last year I happened across the above-pictured poster while browsing political-related items for sale on Etsy, and, intrigued by the mysterious initials "B.B.", set to work finding out more on this bespectacled candidate for Arizona State Auditor. 
   After several false leads and dead ends, I was rewarded with an mention of a "Buchel Beaumont Gibbs" of Texas. A few searches later I happened across a small newspaper write-up on B.B. Gibbs' candidacy for auditor, including a mention of his being a native of Texas who relocated to Arizona in the early 20th century. After this discovery, I knew that the two men were one in the same person and just a short while later I became the proud owner of the poster shown above!
   Despite my owning an interesting piece of strange name political history, details on Gibbs' life remain difficult to come by. It is known that he was born in Eagle Pass, Texas on April 17, 1886, being the son of Jeptha Milton and Iraetta Camp Gibbs. He removed to Bisbee, Arizona in 1905 and is recorded by the Phoenix Arizona Republic as having "studied business methods and accounting practices" after his graduation from college. This same paper notes that Gibbs' skill as an accountant brought him notice from two "nationally known" accounting firms, both of which would later employ Gibbs to travel to South America "to handle the auditing of their operations there."
  During his Arizona residency Gibbs worked as a public accountant "licensed by the Arizona State Board" and in 1927 resettled in Phoenix. He had married sometime in the late 1910s to Ms. Constance Alt and had at least one son, Milton Churchill Gibbs (1921-1977). In 1934 B.B. Gibbs entered into Arizona political life when he announced his candidacy for state auditor in that year's Democratic primary. In the Arizona Republic newspaper article covering his candidacy, Gibbs announced that if elected he would:
"Conduct the office along strict economic lines consistent with my expert training. Co-operation with other state departments will be maintained at all times in an effort toward better accounting practices. Harmony will be prevail so long as a sincere desire is demonstrated to operate within the budget, and in accord with the statutes enacted governing expenditures of public funds."
    As one of two Democratic candidates vying to wrest the nomination from incumbent auditor Ana Frohmiller (1891-1971), Gibbs faced an uphill battle. One election day he placed third with 16,380 votes, polling behind George A. Fleming and Frohmiller, who would go on to win another term as auditor that November. All told  Ana Frohmiller served as Arizona state auditor for 24 years (1926-1950), the longest tenure of any holder of that office.
  Following his defeat for the state auditorship, B.B. Gibbs largely disappeared from public life. He removed to California some years later and died in Los Angeles on October 18, 1961 at age 75. 

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