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Richard L. Gregg

DOBIE, WILLIAM (ca. 1777–1835). William Dobie [pseud. Dr. William Dobie Dunlap], early Texas colonist, was born in Sussex County, Virginia, about 1777, the son of Nathaniel Dobie. On April 21, 1803, he married Polly Chappel, with whom he had a son. He married Dolly Neblett on July 17, 1805, and they had seven children. By the early 1820s Dobie had acquired over 1,000 acres of land and nineteen slaves. He served as deputy surveyor of Sussex County from 1820 to 1826. But he then encountered financial difficulties, and in 1827 he disappeared. His eldest son was appointed to manage the family's affairs.

Texas Gazette
Texas Gazette, 1832. Courtesy of the University of North Texas. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

In 1828 Dobie, using the alias William Dunlap, was admitted to Austin's colony in Texas and employed as a clerk by John R. Harris in Harrisburg. At various times over the next two years, he served as Harrisburg agent for the Texas Gazette, as Harrisburg customs officer, and in several positions for the ayuntamiento of San Felipe. By 1831 he had become a merchant in Anahuac. That year he served briefly as customs officer in Brazoria. In 1832 he was granted a quarter league plus a labor of land on Middle Bayou in what is now southeastern Harris County; the certificate for this land is the only Texas record in which his name is given as Dobie rather than Dunlap. In July or August 1835 William Dobie died in Sussex County, Virginia, supposedly while in the process of moving his family to Texas.

Three of his sons, Nathaniel, Sterling, and Robert, immigrated to Harris County, Texas. Nathaniel set up a mercantile store in Harrisburg in 1834; he moved it to Houston in 1837. He served in several governmental positions. Along with his kinsman (probably uncle) Sterling Neblett, he played a part in the founding of Galveston. Nathaniel Dobie died in 1838. Sterling Neblett Dobie arrived in Texas in 1835 and Robert Neville Dobie by 1838; by the mid-1840s they were ranching on the William Dobie grant. Robert Dobie drowned in Middle Bayou in 1857. Soon afterwards, Sterling and his family moved to Live Oak County, Texas, where Robert's widow, Amanda, and children joined them in 1875. It was there that a grandson of Robert and Amanda, J. Frank Dobie, was born.


Richard L. Gregg, "The William Dobie Survey," Houston Archeological Society Newsletter, March, August 1980, May, August, December 1981.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Richard L. Gregg, "DOBIE, WILLIAM," accessed April 05, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdo38.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on February 1, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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