Early Families in Bridgeport, Texas
Henry G. Leonard and William O. Stevens

The story of Henry Leonard and William Stevens activities in the City of Bridgeport began with their uncle, J. R. (Bob) Stevens. Bob Stevens came from a large family in Mississippi .  He had two sisters in Texas , one who had settled in Montague County before the Civil War, and who had hosted many Stevens’s family members when they moved to Texas . After moving to Texas , Bob Stevens worked on his sister’s ranch. He left his sister’s ranch and moved to Gainesville , Texas . He entered the banking business in Gainesville and amassed holdings in several other banks around the area. The Gainesville City Directory in the early 1890’s shows Mr. Stevens to be a VP of the Gainesville National Bank.

 He acquired 465 acres of land around Old Bridgeport and was a part owner in the Wise County Coal Company. He bought property in Bridgeport after the city moved to its present location. Records show that he bought a lot, 1023 Halsell Street (Block 55 lot 13) for $2400 on 3 June 1893 and 35 more unimproved lots around town. Mr. Stevens owned a bank named “Coal City Bank”. This bank was probably on the property at 1023 Halsell Street . There are no records indicating the exact location.
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Mr. and Mrs. Stevens raised two of their orphaned relatives. William O. Stevens was orphaned in Mississippi and was moved to Texas to live with Mr. and Mrs. Stevens. Henry G. Leonard lived with his parents in Coffeeville , Texas and was orphaned at an early age. Henry moved in with Mr. and Mrs. Stevens. Mrs. Stevens was a Leonard. A photo of young William Stevens is shown on the left.

These two boys were moved to Bridgeport about 1892. The boys worked for the Wise County Coal Company as bookkeepers and probably in the Coal City Bank that was owned by their uncle. A photo of the two boys is shown on the left. The photo was probably made at a circus with their heads sticking through a painted canvas.

In 1897 Henry Leonard married Miss Natalie Edgar of Weatherford, the first music teacher in Bridgeport . William Stevens later married Miss Lillian Kirkpatrick, the daughter of W. H. Kirkpatrick (First Mayor) of Bridgeport . A photo of these two families is shown below.

W.O. Stevens and H. G. Leonard took over the business at 1023 Halsell and established The “Leonard and Stevens” dry good and grocery store. The boys also took over ownership of the bank as indicated by an existing bank stationary letterhead. A photo copy of the letterhead is shown on the left.

In December of 1903, W. O. Stevens bought H. G. Leonard’s half interest in Leonard and Stevens. On 21 April 1904 the business was sold to Harry Hardy.

 

W.O. Stevens and his family moved to Post City , Texas in 1908.  W. O’s half brother, Tom Stevens, got him a position with C. W. Post, as Cashier in First National Bank, Post City . When Mr. Post died W. O. bought and moved into the large home that Mr. Post had built for himself.  W. O. was a large stockholder in the bank until the Depression and Bank closings took their toll.  They moved to Lubbock in 1924, going into banking and opening a dry goods store there. Mr. and Mrs. W. O. Stevens are buried in Lubbock, Texas .

                                                                                                                                                                 

After the Leonard and Stevens business was closed Henry Leonard remained in Bridgeport . He organized the First National Bank of Bridgeport in 1907 and was connected with it for twenty years. During that time he trained two successful bankers, Frank Turner and D.A. Campbell. In 1927 Mr. and Mrs. Leonard and their three children moved to Vernon , Texas , where he established the H.G. Leonard Lumber Company. Mr. Leonard died in Vernon, September 15, 1955.  Mr. and Mrs. Henry G. Leonard are buried in Vernon, Texas .

NOTE: The information and photographs were furnished by Jerry Stevens of Lewisville, Texas. Jerry is the grandson of William and Lillian Stevens.
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