Editor’s note: This is adapted from a history provided for the Longview Morning Journal during the city’s centennial in 1970 by Mrs. John Harrison, who then lived in the historic Rembert family home and whose husband was the nephew of Mrs. Frank Taylor Rembert.Frank Taylor Rembert was born Nov. 9, 1853, in Wesson, Copiah County, Mississippi.
He came to Texas in 1872 and for several years was a railway agent in Crockett. Later, relatives influenced him to move to Scottsville, near Marshall, where he became a telegraph operator. It was then that he met the young lady who later became his wife, Kate Womack of Marshall. The two were married Nov. 5, 1878. The marriage produced two children, Annie Perry Rembert was born Sept. 7, 1880 and died Oct. 5, 1881. Mittie Sue Rembert was born Nov. 14, 1883 and died Jan. 20, 1885.
For a short while Mr. and Mrs. Rembert lived in a small cottage near 313 S. Fredonia St. The next year they moved across the street into the house at 316 S. Fredonia that Rembert had purchased from Mr. and Mrs. John Bateman on Aug. 15, 1879.
The house was ornately trimmed and had unusual decorations of racehorses on the cupolas at each end of the porch. In the niches under the eaves, there were also black wooden horses.
In 1879 Rembert entered the mercantile business with his brothers in law Dr. W.S. Mayfield and C.J. Luckett, comprising the firm of Mayfield, Rembert and Co. In 1883, the company became Rembert, Mayfield and Co. At the turn of the century it was known as F.T. Rembert Mercantile Co.
In the early 1900s, Rembert’s nephews Frank Rea and James M. Rea came from Mississippi to work for their uncle. Frank was manager of the Rembert Mercantile Co. and James was a clerk. At that time, another nephew, Ed Rembert, was bookkeeper for the firm. Later he resigned and became associated with the Santa Fe Railroad Co., and Frank Rea became bookkeeper for the company.
Rembert owned all the buildings on the west side of the 100 block of South Fredonia Street, which was known as the “Rembert Block.” He also owned the two-story building across the street from his store known as the Cephman Building.
Rembert was also a cotton buyer. After he purchased bales of cotton, they were placed in rows across the street from his store. From this custom, the name of Cotton Street originated. Its origin also is told in “Gregg County History,” which was printed in 1957.
“Cotton Street in Longview long ago actually became a street of cotton each year as F.T. Rembert bough the bales from farmers and lined them up the street. In a photograph made Dec. 7, 1906, there were 802 bales, which brought $42,287.92 at ten and three-fourths cents a pound. It was the largest cotton transaction ever made in Longview up to that date.”
John Rembert, a brother of F.T. Rembert, was a widower when he came from Mississippi to work for the Rembert Mercantile Co. During the cotton season he was a cotton weigher.
John Rembert’s sons, Edwin Brown Rembert and John Patrick Rembert, had preceded their father to Longview. Ed, who was married to the former Josie Taylor, worked for the Rembert Mercantile Co. and Pat, who was married to the former Robbie Bass, was employed by the Texas and Pacific Railroad Co.
The first automobile in Longview as owned by F.T. Rembert. In 1910, he purchased a Buick, which had a chain drive. Late he owned a Star, an electric vehicle. In the place of a steering wheel it had a tiller that controlled the direction. His third car is remembered for the crystal vases filled with flowers that hung from the sidewalls in the rear of the car.
He largely devoted his life to business, but indulged in recreation with friends in Longview.
In 1907, Mr. and Mrs. Rembert toured Europe. While in Scotland he was enchanted by beautiful Loch Lomond.
The next year, Rembert, R.F. Echols and Hugh Echols built a lake one mile west of Longview and named it Loch Lomond. In later years it has been known as Lake Lamond. Rembert financed this project and saw it turn into a gathering place for swimming, boating, hunting and fishing parties.
Rembert also owned several handsome horses. When he and Mrs. Rembert would go for a drive in their carriage drawn by two black horses, his two Dalmatian dogs would follow behind or trot alongside.
He owned Rembert Park and Race Track near the old fairgrounds and Lobo Stadium. Horse races were held there from 1905 to 1908. Judge Edwin Lacy, whose wife was Kate Womack Lacy, the niece of Mrs. Rembert, once remarked that Lacy often ran in the races but was never a winner.
In 1908, Rembert build the Palace Hotel, a modern hotel in its day. He built the picture theater known as the Rembert Theater, which was in a building adjoining the Palace. Many vaudeville and minstrel shows were held in the theater.
The old Rembert National Bank, predecessor to the Longview National Bank, was named after F.T. Rembert. The Guaranty State Bank, organized at Longview Junction in 1912, was bought by Rembert and his associates Jan. 1, 1918. Five years later it was nationalized and the name was changed to Rembert National Bank. The first location was in the Rembert Block, next to the Texas and Pacific tracks.
James Rea was promoted from the mercantile company to a position in the bank. In 1921, his brother Rembert Rea of Wesson, Mississippi came to Longview to join the organization.
The Rembert National Bank was later moved to the 200 block of North Fredonia Street. F.T. Rembert was vice president and chairman of the board. He also was a director of a Dallas bank, president of the Longview Cotton Oil Co., secretary-treasurer of the Texas and Gulf Railway, among other positions. He also served as Lord Mayor of Longview during the 1890s.
He died June 9, 1926.