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George T. Southwell Family



Foundry Owners Have Roots in Matagorda County


One thing leads to another. While searching in the Matagorda County Museum for pictures of the 1909 hurricane, a picture was found in the file of the east side of the courthouse square in 1908. The Matagorda Pharmacy building was on the corner, but the next two lots to the north were vacant. The next store front to the north had a large sign across the upstairs which read, Geo. T. Southwell Furniture and Undertaking. What? Another undertaker in Bay City? Subsequent internet searches and a few emails soon revealed an interesting story.


George Thomas Southwell was born June 23, 1870 in Victoria, Texas. His parents, were John T. and Sarah E. Phelps Southwell. His sister, Rose, was the wife of Goodwin Sterne who lived in Matagorda. George married Margaret "Maggie" Wilson on June 24, 1896 in Marshall, Texas. The family moved to Matagorda County by 1897 as their first child, George Thomas Southwell, Jr. was born in Bay City on August 1, 1897. Three other children, Wilson Pryor, Mable and Sudie "Sue" were also born while the family resided in Bay City.


As an early Matagorda County resident, George farmed rice and later opened his furniture store on the east side of the courthouse square where he also sold coffins and caskets and worked as an undertaker.


In the November 1, 1906, 12-page The Southwestern, Telegraph and Telephone Company Bay City directory included six ads for Southwell’s store.

Geo. T. Southwell, The Furniture Man, Can and will sell you Good Furniture for less money, S. R. & Co. and M. W. & Co., not excepted.

My prices on Furniture will readily convince those who know that no reputable dealer undersells me. Geo. T. Southwell.

Buy your Furniture, Mattings, Linoleum, Rugs and Art Squares from Geo. T. Southwell & Co. and be satisfied.

If you have not been in my store and inspected my line of Furniture I will appreciate your coming whether you buy or not. Geo. T. Southwell

Don’t forget that you can get better values in Furniture for less money at Geo. T. Southwell’s.

Don’t Forget That Southwell, the Furniture man, guarantees all good to be as represented.


The telephone number for the Southwell residence was 133 and the furniture store was 120.


An ad in the March 29, 1907 issue of the Matagorda County Tribune advertising the business stated At House Cleaning Time The Wise Housewife Takes her Furniture Troubles to SOUTHWELL, The Furniture Man. He advertised “Alaska” Refrigerators and claimed his prices were better than ordering from Sears, Roebuck & Co. He encouraged his customers to “trade at home.”


The family was living on Third Street when the 1910 census enumerator visited their home on April 19th. The property was purchased in 1904 and in 1908 a classical revival two-story frame house was built the same year. Before the houses were renumbered, the address was 720 Third Street.


Mr. Southwell was a visitor at the Hotel Collegeport on May 14th and 21st, 1910. He and other Bay City businessmen were enjoying the food in the hotel dining room.


By 1912, the family had moved to San Antonio where George purchased a company on Commerce Street which had been started after the War Between the States. The company first produced stencils for wool and cotton shippers and then expanded to rubber stamps.


George's San Antonio Rubber Stamp Company also manufactured seals for the businessmen of Texas.


Wilson Southwell, Sr. took over active management of the company upon the death of George T. Southwell on April 21, 1924. W. P. “Bill” Southwell, Jr. joined the company in 1948 after graduating from the University of Texas and serving in the United States Air Force during WWII. In 1977, the company continued as a family business when Billy Southwell became the fourth generation to work there. He is currently serving as President in 2011. Scott Southwell, also representing the fourth generation, joined the firm in 1989 and is currently serving as Vice-President.


The scope of the company evolved from stencils to rubber stamps and seals to being awarded the contract to produce all of the 1936 Texas Centennial bronze historical markers. It also manufactured all of the historical markers for the Bicentennial. Currently, the company produces many varieties of signage, but most important to Matagorda County is the cast aluminum historical markers for the Texas Historical Commission. The many black historical markers scattered across Matagorda County are made by the Southwell Company whose founder, George T. Southwell, was an early merchant with a store on the east side of Bay City's courthouse square.


 Mr. Southwell in his San Antonio office.


Matagorda County Tribune, March 29, 1907

Geo. T. Southwell Furniture and Undertaking at left and Matagorda Pharmacy on right.
Photo courtesy of Matagorda County Museum



Mrs. Lucy Southwell, wife of the late Mr. J. T. Southwell, died here Monday morning at 1 o'clock at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Goodwin Sterne. Mrs. Southwell has been in feeble health for sometime and her life was despaired of New Year's Day but she rallied and was seemingly improving when the end came. Mrs. Southwell was one of those estimable sweet gentle women that every one loved who knew her. It is with deep regret that we have to chronicle her death and the sincere sympathy of their Matagorda friends are with the bereft ones. The remains were taken to Victoria Tuesday, accompanied by Mrs. Sterne and Mr. George Southwell of San Antonio, and will be interred by her husband. Children surviving Mrs. Southwell are Mesdames Goodwin Sterne of Matagorda; Evans of Hugo, Oklahoma; Dimalin of San Antonio; Messrs. Geo. T. and Walter Southwell of San Antonio, and several grand-children.

Matagorda County Tribune, March 5, 1920


            Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth Southwell, widow of T. J. Southwell, born in Harrisburg, La., July 27, 1839, died March 1, 1920, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Goodwin Sterne, at Matagorda, Texas. She was the oldest child of Cornelia McNamce Phelps of Vincennes, Ind., and Judge Truman Phelps of Harrisonburg, La., who moved to Texas in 1851.

            Mrs. Southwell was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Victoria, Texas, by the side of her husband, surrounded by her devoted children and loving friends.

            She is survived by her children: Mrs. J. N. Votaw, Beaumont, Texas; Mrs. Goodwin Sterne, Matagorda, Texas; Mrs. H. G. Evans, Hugo, Okla.; Mrs. W. H. Dimaline, Kenedy, Texas; Mr. Geo. T. Southwell, San Antonio, Texas; Mr. Walter Truman Southwell, San Antonio, Texas; Mrs. Chas. R. Southwell, San Antonio, Texas.

            Fifteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, also two brothers, Truman Phelps of Karnes City, D. L. Phelps of Marianna, Texas, and one sister, Mrs. R. S. Carothers, Bering, Texas.

            To know her was to love her. A gentle, sweet, unselfish, n ?   , faithful and true in every walk of life. God has taken her to his tender care. May she rest in peace.

The Matagorda County Tribune
, March 12, 1920




George T. Southwell, 53, died at his residence, 226 Wilkens Street, late Monday afternoon. He was a native of Victoria County, and had been [a] resident of this city for the last 12 years.


Mr. Southwell had been proprietor of the San Antonio Rubber Stamp Company, of this city, for the past seven years. Before he entered business here he had been in business in several other Texas cities. He was a member of the Elks and Lions Clubs of this city.


He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Maggie Southwell of San Antonio; two sons, George T. Southwell Jr. of Port Neches and Wilson P. Southwell of San Antonio; two daughters, Mrs. W. N. Stagner and Miss Sue Southwell, both of San Antonio; three sisters, Mrs. J. N. Votaw of Beaumont, Mrs. Goodwin Sterne of Matagorda and Mrs. H. G. Evans of Hugo, Okla.; two brothers, Walter L. and Charles R. Southwell, both of San Antonio, and three grand children. The funeral services will be held Tuesday afternoon from the residence with Rev. L. E. Selfridge officiating.—San Antonio Express.


Mr. Southwell was well-known in Beeville, having owned a farm near Cadiz until recently. He made frequent trips to this city and formed many friendships. News of his death came unexpectedly, his friends here being unaware of his illness.—Beeville Bee.



Pheldro Southwell died in the Gulf Hospital Thursday evening at 2:30 o’clock as a result of a burst appendix.


Pheldro was 15 years of age and was the son of W. T. Southwell, San Antonio. He made his home with Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin Sterne, Matagorda, being their nephew. He was a communicant of Christ Episcopal Church and a most promising young man.


The funeral was conducted by Rev. W. W. Daup, rector of Christ Episcopal Church, at 4 o’clock today.


September 21, 1923

The picture of George T. Southwell and much of the family information for this article was provided by W. P. “Bill” Southwell, Jr.


Copyright 2011 - Present by the Southwell Family
All rights reserved

May 1, 2011
May 1, 2011