Thomas Goggan, sheet music publisher and founder of Thomas Goggan & Bros. music stores, was born in County Kerry, Ireland, in February 1843. He immigrated to the United States in 1860. Goggan went to school at St. Edward’s University in Austin and Springhill College in Mobile, Alabama. By 1866 he was living in Galveston, Texas, where he opened his first music store. Thomas had two brothers, John and Mike Goggan, who were also born in Ireland and eventually partnered with him in the business.
Within a few years after Goggan opened his first music store, his brother John joined him in the enterprise. By 1870 they had changed the company name to Thos. Goggan and Bro. The store, which by the late 1870s was a three-story brick building located on East Market Street and Twenty-second Street in Galveston, eventually became the company headquarters, with branch stores in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Waco, Houston, El Paso, and Amarillo. The Goggan brothers’ motto was “Everything in Music,” and they sold sheet music, pianos, phonographs, and a variety of other American and European-produced musical instruments. The company became the sole distributor of Steinway pianos in Texas. As the demand for other household items grew, the Goggan brothers also began to stock household appliances, including freezers, toasters, and sewing machines.
The 1880 census for Galveston listed Thomas as a thirty-seven-year-old music dealer living with his wife Annie, who was twenty-eight years old and a Texas native, and their two daughters and three sons. They later had two more daughters, however, one died at eleven months of age. By 1880 Thomas’s younger brother Mike worked as a clerk in the store. Mike opened a San Antonio branch, Goggan Palace of Music, in 1883, while Thomas and John Goggan remained in Galveston. The San Antonio store became one of the most popular piano retailers in the Alamo City.
Thomas Goggan was very active in the civic affairs of Galveston and served as a county commissioner in 1880. He was elected as a police and fire commissioner in 1897. He frequently contributed columns to the Galveston Daily News and commented on various political and social concerns of the city such as the establishment of night schools and the repair of the city sewer system. Annie Goggan died on February 15, 1884. Goggan apparently remarried, because the 1900 census in Galveston reported that he and his wife Margarita had been married for five years.
Thomas Goggan died on June 22, 1903, while visiting his home in Cork, Ireland. A notice published in the June 28, 1903, edition of the Dallas Morning News assured readers that the music business would continue. John Goggan drowned off the coast of Galveston in September 1908, and his brother Mike died in San Antonio on November 26, 1914. The Goggan brothers’ stores continued to conduct business into the mid-twentieth century, but in the 1930s the Galveston store stopped publishing music; a decade later, the Houston branch closed for good.