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William Pettus Hobby (March 26, 1878 – June 7, 1964) was known as the publisher/owner of the Beaumont Enterprise when he entered politics and the Democratic Party. Elected in 1914 as Lieutenant Governor of Texas, in 1917 he succeeded to become 27th Governor of the U.S. state of Texas, after James Edward "Pa" Ferguson was impeached and forced to resign. In 1918 Hobby won the office in his own right, serving a full term.

William P. Hobby
William Pettus Hobby in 1917.jpg
27th Governor of Texas
In office
August 25, 1917 – January 18, 1921
Willard Arnold Johnson
Preceded byJames E. Ferguson
Succeeded byPat Morris Neff
24th Lieutenant Governor of Texas
In office
January 19, 1915 – August 25, 1917
GovernorJames E. Ferguson
Preceded byWilliam Harding Mayes
Succeeded byWillard Arnold Johnson
Personal details
William Pettus Hobby

(1878-03-26)March 26, 1878
Moscow, Texas, U.S.
DiedJune 7, 1964(1964-06-07) (aged 86)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Willie Cooper Hobby (1915-1929) her death
Oveta Culp Hobby

In 1924 Hobby lost the Democratic primary to Miriam A. Ferguson, wife of "Pa" Ferguson and she was elected to the governorship. Hobby returned to publishing, and in 1924 was chosen as president of the Houston Post. He later served as chairman of the board of the Houston Post Company, which had also acquired radio and TV stations.


Born in 1878 in Moscow, Texas, Hobby attended local public schools.

He started working at the age of 17 as a circulation clerk for the Houston Post in 1895. Several years later, he was promoted to business writer in August 1901. In 1907 he left the Post to become manager and part owner of the Beaumont Enterprise, and he acquired the entire paper shortly thereafter.

Political careerEdit

Hobby decided to enter politics and joined the Democratic Party. In 1914 he ran for and was elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas. After Governor James Edward Ferguson, known as "Pa" Ferguson, was impeached and forced to resign from office in 1917, Hobby succeeded him. At age 39, he was the youngest governor in the history of the state up to that point.

Campaign card for William Pettus Hobby

Hobby soundly defeated Ferguson in the 1918 Democratic primary and won the general election and governorship in his own right, serving a full term to 1921. During his years of service, the southern border of Texas was a place of frequent conflict, as revolutionaries from the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) entered the United States to attack farms, irrigation systems and railroads. The Texas Rangers, militias and US troops patrolled the border, and atrocities were committed by both sides.

In early 1919, a Joint Committee of the Texas Senate and House conducted hearings to investigate actions by the Texas Rangers along the border. They conducted hearings for two weeks, and had 83 witnesses. Among the incidents recounted was the Porvenir Massacre of January 1918 in West Texas, where militia and Texas Rangers summarily killed 15 Mexican-American men and boys near their farming village. The legislature passed a bill to regulate the Rangers and professionalize the service. Their numbers were reduced. Historians estimate that the Rangers killed up to 5,000 people, mostly ethnic Mexicans, from 1914-1919.[1]

(Ferguson was impeached and convicted in a corruption case, and prohibited from serving in state electoral office again.)

As governor, Hobby appointed Joseph A. Kemp, the railroad and oil industrialist from Wichita Falls, to the University of Texas Board of Regents, a position which Kemp held from 1917 to 1921.[2]

Years as publisherEdit

After leaving the governorship, Hobby returned to the Beaumont Enterprise. In 1924 he was invited to become the president of the Houston Post. In August 1955, Hobby became chairman of the board of the Houston Post Company. By that time, the company also owned the radio station, KPRC, and the television station, KPRC-TV. His wife, Oveta Culp Hobby (see below), served as president and editor.

Personal and civic lifeEdit

In 1931, Hobby married Oveta Culp. She later was appointed as the first Secretary of the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare (its name was changed after a later reorganization).

Hobby served as a member on the Board of Directors of Texas Technological College.[3]


His son William P. Hobby Jr. also served as lieutenant governor of Texas from 1973 to 1991. His daughter, Jessica, was married to Henry E. Catto Jr., who became the Ambassador of the United States to the Court of St James's. His grandson, Paul Hobby, narrowly lost the election for comptroller of Texas in the 1998 general election. Republican Carole Keeton Strayhorn won that election.



  1. ^ ""The 1919 Ranger Investigation"". Texas State Library. 25 April 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Brian Hart, "Joseph Alexander Kemp"". Texas State Historical Association online. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
  3. ^ Andrews, Ruth Horn (1956). The First Thirty Years: a History of Texas Technological College. Lubbock, Texas: The Texas Tech Press. p. 353.
  4. ^ Leatherwood, Art. "William P. Hobby Airport". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved February 20, 2013.

Further readingEdit

  • James Anthony Clark and Weldon Hart, The Tactful Texan: A Biography of Governor Will Hobby (New York: Random House, 1958).
  • Lewis L. Gould, Progressives and Prohibitionists: Texas Democrats in the Wilson Era (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1973; rpt., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1992).

External linksEdit