James Isaac Hobbs was born January 2, 1852 in Tishomingo, Mississippi. By the time he was 19, he was working as a laborer on a farm in Prentiss, Mississippi. Eight years later in 1878, he married the former Frances Paralee “Fannie” Mooring in Point, Rains County, Texas, born in Tennessee on March 27, 1857. By 1880, the couple had been blessed with two children, a girl named Ada and a boy named John, and were still living in Rains County, Texas. James Isaac was working as a farmer. By 1900, the couple was living in Brown County, Texas. James Isaac was still working as a farmer and the last of their seven children, twins Winnie and Minnie, were born in 1896. By 1910, they had settled in what was then Eddy County and were residing in a community called Roberts, believed to be the future location of Hobbs.
A daughter, Minnie, tells the tale of how they came to settle in southeastern New Mexico. They were originally headed to the Davis Mountains in Texas, but on the way, they met a person returning from that area who was very negative about it and the Hobbs’ prospects, should they elect to continue. As a result, they headed in a northwesterly direction and came instead to southeastern New Mexico, still then a territory. As time passed, they were joined by other settlers and the town grew up. When they applied for a post office, Minnie says that they pencilled in the name “Taft” but when the name was approved, someone had changed it to “Hobbs” instead. (1) By 1920, the couple was living in the community of Nadine. Lea County had been created out of portions of Chaves and Eddy counties. James Isaac passed away three years later. Fannie survived him another nineteen years.
At least three of the children of James Isaac and Fannie remained in the area. James Berry, called the founder of Hobbs, Winnie who married Sam Dalmont and Minnie who married Ernest Herman “Dad” Byers.
(1) Lea County Genealogical Society, Then and Now, Lea County Families, Volume 1, Walsworth Publishing Company, 1979.