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Local History

The first settlers in the Hobbs area arrived before 1907, but the city was named after the James Isaac Hobbs family, who arrived in March of that year. With the help of established homesteader W. D. Marshall, the Hobbs family constructed a dugout in the vicinity of what are now First and Texas Streets.

New settlers came in a flood of covered wagons and by 1909 the community consisted of about 50 families. Because of the rapid growth, a school was built on the Hobbs property, just east of what are now Marland and Dal Paso, which was named after Dallas and El Paso. The frame structure measured 16 by 20 feet, and 42 students were enrolled for the three-month term. During that time, the school doubled as a church.

In 1909 William A. Dunnam moved into the area, and by 1911 had purchased the land belonging to W. D. Marshall and that of Morgan Story. Dunnam's wife, May Pearl, died in April 1911 and was buried on the corner of the property. It was after others had been buried there that Dunnam had the plot chartered a public cemetery. In 1947, the city purchased and expanded the cemetery, and the cemetery board named it Prairie Haven.

James Berry Hobbs, son of James Isaac Hobbs, along with Johnny Jones built the first general store in the community in 1909. The first Post Office was housed there beginning in January 1910. The U.S. Post Office Department, and the name Hobbs was chosen, rejected, and suggestions that the community be named Taft or Prairie view. George W. Rogers was the first postmaster.

By 1927 exploration for oil had begun in Hobbs. The Midwest Refining Co., now Amoco, owned the discovery well, which stood in a pasture belonging to Will Terry. Today there is a marker commemorating the drill that struck oil near the intersection of Grimes Street and Stanolind Road. Oil was discovered on June 13, 1928 at 4,065 feet.

In 1928, the community was actually made up of two town sites, Hobbs and New Hobbs, and two settlements, All Hobbs and Borger. New Hobbs was the area bordered by Marland, Grimes, Dal Paso and Stanolind. Hobbs was located north of Marland between Dal Paso, Grimes and Sanger. All Hobbs was east of Dal Paso and north of Marland, and Borger was never developed.

A second oil boom occurred in January 1930 when Humble Oil Company's well located about three miles northwest of Hobbs began producing over 9,500 barrels of crude oil per day. It is estimated that in October between 12,000 and 15,000 people were living in this area. Postmaster Dale Roberts reported about 5,000 people each day asked for mail at the general delivery window.

By the middle of 1930, Hobbs had two movie theaters; a large brick hotel, the Harden; two Post Offices; several taverns, dance halls and roller rinks; 19 pool halls; 34 drug stores; 53 barbershops; and 50 oil field supply houses. Victims of smallpox and other communicable diseases were kept in a "pest house." According to the village minutes of June 11, 1930, J.L. Maddox was paid $70 to care for a smallpox patient.

In 1932, Hobbs and New Hobbs school boards agreed to consolidate the two educational systems, and that fall began a combined operation with over 600 students.

The first attempt to combine both town sites into one city was defeated in January 1932. It wasn't until five years later that Hobbs and New Hobbs renewed the effort to consolidate. The two boards met in April 1937 and elections were held on May 18. The two town sites became what is now Hobbs on May 30, 1937. On June 8, Governor Clyde Tingley granted city status to the municipality. Ross Walker was the first mayor.

By the end of 1939, Hobbs had a new City Hall, public library, Country Club and sewer plant. By the end of 1940, Hobbs completed 150 blocks of paving, with street drainage, sidewalks and curbs.

The first college in Hobbs was founded in 1956 by B. Clarence Evans and was named Hobbs Baptist College. In 1962 it became College of the Southwest.

In 1966, construction of New Mexico Junior College was begun. It opened that fall with an enrollment of 728 students. The population of Hobbs has continued to increase over the years. The following statistics come from official census reports:

1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 598 10,641 13,875 25,147 26,025 29,153

Today, in addition to health care facilities, recreation and an increasing number of businesses. Hobbs has 70 churches representing 26 denominations. Students attend 11 elementary schools, three junior high schools and one high school. There are numerous day-care centers, several church-supported schools and several special education centers as well.

In 1976, Gil Hinshaw wrote in his history Lea, New Mexico's Last Frontier: "In 48 years, Hobbs has moved from a rural community on the wilderness Llano to occupy the status of a fully modern American city. For the majority of cities of equal size this feat has been accomplished only after a century of more of existence…"

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