Finding the Long Lost

The following is a excerpt from Gathering Leaves – 2nd Edition

While growing up I knew almost nothing about my maternal grandfather, James Monroe Dobbs, Jr. My grandparents divorced when my mother was about ten years old. I knew that my grandfather had been born in Dallas, Texas July 4, 1902; that he had an older stepsister; that his father was involved in some business that had to do with Mexico and South America; and that my grandfather attended college in Georgia.

My mother was born in Columbia, South Carolina while her mother was visiting her sister-in-law, Emita. Emita’s husband, W.H. Smith was a U.S. Army officer and was stationed at nearby Ft. Jackson. According to my grandmother, Emita and her husband had lived at one time in Presidio, Texas and that he had served under Gen. Pershing during the Pancho Villa Uprising (1916).

Neither my grandmother nor my mother mentioned having ever met Jimmy Dobbs’ father so I assumed he died before my grandparents were married. My mother remembered that her grandmother, Helen Spiegel, died either in 1949 or 1950. My mother was not sure if her grandmother was living in Ft. Worth or in Tampa at the time of her death.

My mother says that after she got out of high school (1947) she remembers her father’s second wife (Helen Mewhinney) wrote to her and asked her to come and live with them and go to college in Dallas. I know that my grandfather had political connections and that he helped my mother get a job as a secretary for the State Department in Washington, D.C. That is where my father and my mother met and married and hence my being born in Washington, D.C.

According to Jimmy Dobbs’ obituary, he was an “Administrative officer for the Soil Conservation service” in Temple, Texas and he was a graduate of the University of Georgia law school (1923). His half-sister, Emita Hahr Dobbs, was still alive at the time of his death and was living in Washington, D.C. My mother remembers having seen her there in the early 50’s.

I always knew that there must have been a Georgia-connection, because my grandfather went to school there and that he and my grandmother first met in Atlanta.

As for his father, James Monroe Dobbs, Sr., I knew only few things. According to my mother, he and Helen Spiegel met and married in Mexico City. Someone told me that Helen had been born in Berlin, Germany. They also told me that, James M. Dobbs, Sr. had been the American ambassador to Chile at one time.

As it turns out Helen Spiegel was not born in Germany and also I later learned that James M. Dobbs, Sr. was notthe ambassador to Chile, but rather was consul general to Valparaiso, Chile during the second Cleveland administration in the 1890’s.

That was about all I knew until 1999 when I answered an on-line forum query looking for the descendants of James Monroe Dobbs, Jr. The text of the query that mentioned my mother and aunt by name is shown on page 15. What I received after responding to that query was a history of my grandfather’s family going all the way back to the 1600’s. It was a windfall that some folks only dream of. This windfall included not only the history of my grandfather, James Monroe Dobbs, Jr., but also that of his paternal grandmother, Martha Josephine Prothro�and her forbearers.

Looking for the descendants of James Monroe DOBBS (1902-1956). Daughters by first wife were Jo CARLIN and Pat DEBACKER. James’ second wife was Helen MEWHINNEY, and they were married in Fort Worth in 1937. James Monroe DOBBS’ mother was Helen SPIEGEL. Would also like to know when and where she died. Any help appreciated. Thanks. Shelly

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