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Introduction

 

 DUDLEY R. DOBIE, SR.
(1904-1982)

 

Dudley Richard Dobie, Sr., antiquarian bookseller, was born on August 6, 1904, at old Lagarto in southern Live Oak County, to William Neville and Mary E. (Mills) Dobie, prominent South Texas ranchers. Family pioneers had first settled in Harris County in 1828. Dudley's branch moved to Live Oak County in the late 1860s. Dudley's first cousin, J. Frank Dobie, grew up on a nearby ranch, but their sixteen-year age difference inhibited the development of close friendship until Dudley reached maturity. Dudley received his childhood education in the Lagarto school and graduated as valedictorian from Mathis High School in 1923. He entered Southwest Texas State Teachers College, and thereafter considered San Marcos his home. He received his degree in history in May 1927 and that fall was named principal of Westover School on the west side of San Marcos. Two months later he married Deborah Galbreath, who became the mother of his three children. He later looked back on the winter of 1927-28 as the time he began to get serious about book collecting. In the summer of 1928 he embarked upon a graduate degree in history at the University of Texas, where he returned each summer for the next four years. Walter Prescott Webb supervised his thesis, A History of Hays County, Texas. In 1933 Dudley left teaching to become an educational advisor for the Civilian Conservation Corps. He had already begun free-lancing newspaper articles about historic persons, places, and events for sundry Texas publications.

He became a bookseller in 1935, and throughout the 1930s he systemically expanded his knowledge of books and his acquaintance among book people. He attended annual meetings of the Texas State Historical Association, the Old Trail Drivers Association, and on occasion the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He also kept membership in the Texas Folklore Society, where his cousin J. Frank Dobie was the secretary-editor. During the winter of 1940-41 he helped the Texas State Historical Association organize its first book auction, now a traditional feature of its annual meeting. Following his debut as a bookseller, and while working for the Texas Centennial Commission, he continued his book business. He would periodically load his car with books and head for San Antonio, Austin, or elsewhere, and visit potential customers in their homes or businesses. In 1941 he began a ten-year career at Southwest Texas State Teachers College as a history instructor and museum director. His status was such that he was able to continue bookselling and, in 1947, issue his first printed catalogue, Spirited Southwest: Roundup No. 1. From 1949 to 1951 he served as a San Marcos city alderman.

Dobie's connection with the college ended in 1951. A year later he opened a bookstore in Austin on the site of what is now Dobie Center, near the University of Texas campus. In 1955 he unexpectedly received the opportunity to teach history and direct the Big Bend Memorial Museum (later the Museum of the Big Bend) at Sul Ross State Teachers College in Alpine. Except for the 1958-59 academic year, Dobie remained at Sul Ross until his retirement and returned to San Marcos in 1966. For most of that time, however, he was affiliated with the library. From 1966 until his death, he continued his bookselling and collecting activities. He served a term as county Democratic chairman and was for ten years a member of the county historical commission. Aside from various newspaper and magazine features, his publications include A History of San Marcos and Hays County (1948) and Adventures in the Canyons, Mountains and Desert Country of the Big Bend of Texas and Mexico (1952), both privately printed.


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