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DOUGHERTY, ROBERT FRANCIS

DOUGHERTY, ROBERT FRANCIS (1827–1881). Robert Dougherty, teacher and local official, son of John and Catherine (McMahon) Dougherty, was born at Derrylaghan, County Donegal, Ireland, in 1827. He immigrated to the United States in 1847 and lived in New York and Kentucky. He taught at St. Mary's College in Bardstown, Kentucky, and was later an editor and poet for the Louisville Courier-Journal. He subsequently became a peddler of fancy dry goods, a job that took him to Mexico City. In 1860 he moved to Texas. He may have joined Capt. V. S. Rabb's company in the Confederate Army. On a mission to the Rio Grande he met Rachel Ann Schamp Sullivan from San Patricio, and they were married on November 14, 1864.

After the war Dougherty opened a store in San Diego. He returned to teaching at Hidalgo Seminary in Corpus Christi and in 1867 became principal. While running the seminary he served two terms as a city alderman and ran for mayor but was defeated. Ill health caused him to return to San Patricio, where he built St. Paul's Academy on fifty acres of land beside Round Lake; he purchased the site from Patrick McGloin with the help of a $6,000 loan from Nicholas Bluntzer. The school, which opened in 1877, answered a long-standing need in the area and was immediately filled by students. The Doughertys lived on the first floor, and the upstairs was used as a dormitory for the boys and classrooms. The building still stood in 1990. Robert ran the school, and Rachel cooked and ran a boarding house.

Dougherty is credited with having influenced many French priests who came to the Corpus Christi area between 1860 and 1880. He was elected San Patricio county judge in 1876 and again in 1880. He died in 1881 in Corpus Christi and was buried in the Old Cemetery on the Hill in San Patricio. When he died S. G. Borden was appointed to fill the vacancy at the school. For a short time Mrs. Dougherty attempted to keep the school open but finally had to close it and devote her time to raising their three sons and four daughters.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 
Keith Guthrie, History of San Patricio County (Austin: Nortex, 1986). Rachel Bluntzer Hébert, The Forgotten Colony: San Patricio de Hibernia (Burnet, Texas: Eakin Press, 1981). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Keith Guthrie

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Handbook of Texas Online, Keith Guthrie, "Dougherty, Robert Francis," accessed May 28, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdo49.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.