Saturday, December 17, 2011

Barry Scobee (1885-1977)

Journalist, Editor, Author, Printer, Publisher, and Local Historian
Born May 2, 1885, Pollock, Missouri
Died March 1977, Texas

Barry Scobee is probably the only pulp fiction writer to have a mountain named in his honor. The mountain, called Barry Scobee Mountain, is located about a mile north of Fort Davis in Jeff Davis County, Texas. At 5,420 feet, it forms part of the Davis Mountains, the highest mountain range located entirely within the Lone Star State. If you're looking for a concise biography of Barry Scobee, you need look no farther than the roadside historical marker honoring him. It's located on Texas State Highway 17 about a mile north of Fort Davis. The marker reads:

Camp grounds and lookout post (1850s-1880s) for military, mail coaches, freighters, travelers, emigrants. Site of area's last Indian raid, 1881. Part of John G. Prude Ranch. 

Named by Gov. John Connally Dec. 21, 1964, to honor Barry Scobee whose efforts were largely responsible for the preservation of old Fort Davis.

He was born, 1885, in Missouri. Served in U.S. Army in Philippines and later on merchant ship in World War II. Was editor, reporter, printer, publisher. Came to Fort Davis in 1917 and became an authority and writer on Trans-Pecos history.

In case you're counting, the forty-seventh anniversary of the naming of the mountain is next week.

Albert Barry Scobee was born on May 2, 1885, in Pollock, Missouri, a small town one county away from Iowa. Scobee left his hometown at an unknown date. In doing so, he left relatives behind, for there is still a Scobee Cemetery located just west of town. Military service may have been the thing that set him on his way. As his historical marker indicates, Scobee served in the U.S. Army in the Philippines. Too young to serve in the Spanish-American War (1898), he may have served during the Philippine Insurrection or during the ensuing hostilities (1899-1913). In any case, Scobee arrived in Fort Davis in 1917. He would spend the next six decades in Texas, working as a newspaper reporter, editor, publisher, and printer.

Early in his career, Scobee served on the staff of the San Antonio Light, perhaps as a local correspondent. He also wrote scores of short stories for Adventure, Action Stories, Boys' Life, The Masked Rider Western MagazineShort Stories, Thrilling Western, and other titles. His lone work for Weird Tales was the story "The Idol-Chaser" from August 1929. Called "The Bard of the Big Bend," Scobee also wrote about local history. His book Old Fort Davis was published in hardback in 1947. Some of his work saw print in the Sul Ross Quarterly. Scobee was of course instrumental in preserving old Fort Davis and lived long enough to see a mountain named after him for his efforts.

During World War II, Scobee served on a merchant ship, despite being in his fifties. After retiring, Scobee became part of the law west of the Pecos, serving as justice of the peace and county coroner. Dallas Time Herald journalist and novelist Bryan Woolley described him as the happiest man he had ever known. "He didn't have much money, Woolley says, but he told Woolley 'I never saw a coffin with saddlebags'." (Quoted in "The Rambling Boy" by Lonn Taylor, Marfa Big Bend Sentinel, Feb. 17, 2011.) Barry Scobee died in Texas in March 1977 at age ninety-one.

Barry Scobee's Story in Weird Tales
"The Idol-Chaser" (Aug. 1929)

Further Reading
You can read about Barry Scobee's efforts to preserve Fort Davis history in the online book A Special Place, A Sacred Trust: Preserving the Fort Davis Story, Administrative History Fort Davis National Historic Site by Michael Welsh (1996). You can also read about Scobee's pulp fiction in a fanzine called Purple Prose, issue number 10.

A historical marker honoring the writer Barry Scobee, located at Barry Scobee Mountain north of Fort Davis, Texas.
National Park Service employee Michael Becker and the author Barry Scobee look over a map at Fort Davis, 1963. Photo by NPS.
Barry Scobee wrote scores of short stories, mostly westerns. Here's a cover for Thrilling Ranch Stories (May 1947) with Scobee's byline on the cover. The artist was Sam Cherry.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley


  1. I've posted some more biographical information about Barry Scobee on my blog:

    Check out the comments to the post as well where I have a link to a long newspaper article about Barry.

  2. Dear Sai S,

    Thanks for writing and for providing a great article on your blog.