Robert and I are 1st cousins, 4x removed. Our nearest common relatives are Nathan Augustus Hobbs Sr. and Mary Elizabeth Lankford, Robert’s paternal grandparents and my 4th great-grandparents.
On June 13, 1860, five-year-old Robert and his family lived in Griffin, Spalding County, Georgia. His father was a painter with real estate valued at $250 and a personal estate of $150. His mother was enumerated as Johamail E. V. Hobbs; his sister as Sarah C. Hobbs. Life for everyone changed in April 1861 with the start of the Civil War. By November 1864, Robert and his family most likely felt the effects of the war as Sherman’s troops went through Griffin as they moved towards Macon, Georgia on their march to the sea.
|1860 Spalding County, Georgia census|
|1870 Spalding County, Georgia census|
|1880 Spalding County, Georgia mortality schedule|
Just seven months after the death of young David, tragedy would again strike the Hobbs family. On Saturday, June 12, 1880, Robert attended a dance in Griffin and was shot by a man named Tom Sullivan. The shooting of Robert was big news in Griffin and was reported in the Weekly Constitution on June 22:
GRIFFIN, June 14.—One of the most desperate and exciting affrays that ever occurred in Spalding county took place about three miles from town last Saturday evening, just as nightfall, in which two men were shot, one of whom will probably die. The result of the other’s wound is unknown, as he was the aggressor, and has made his escape. There was a big dance out at Gray’s Pond, five miles from the city, on Saturday. Mr. Pall Morris had carried Bob Hobbs out to assist him at a lemonade stand. The day passed off without any trouble until late in the evening, just before the party broke up, when Tom Sullivan, a desperate young farmer, came up to the lemonade stand and bantered Hobbs for a fight, saying he could and wanted to whip him. Hobbs saw Sullivan was drinking, and told him to go away, as he wanted no difficulty. Sullivan then commenced to abuse Hobbs in ever conceivable branch of the cussing art, finally ending in that one word reflecting on Hobbs’s mother. Mr. Morris at this junction spoke up (he had all the time warned Hobbs to keep quiet, as he wanted no difficulty there), and in very emphatic terms ordered Sullivan away. Sullivan’s sisters in the meantime had come up and implored Morris not to hurt him, as he was drinking. After a moment’s hesitation Sullivan broke out in a threat and said he would go home and get his shot-gun and waylay Hobbs on his way home. He repeated his threat so often that in order to avoid any further trouble Mr. Morris took Hobbs in a buggy with himself and John Glass, thinking Sullivan would not dare attack him there. Hobbs was to have returned in the wagon with the lemonade stand. When they had reached Mr. Freeman’s house, about three miles from the city, it was nearly night; a crowd was standing near the big oak tree, right in front of the house. Morris and his party came traveling along in the buggy, little thinking of Sullivan and his threat. Suddenly, about thirty yards ahead, Sullivan hove in sight with a shot-gun in hand, which he leveled at once. By the time Morris could stop his horse, Sullivan was not more than twenty feet away. Glass jumped out of the buggy, but Morris and Hobbs could not so do, so quickly did Sullivan shoot. The gun was loaded with shot, and the entire load took effect in the rear of Hobbs’ thigh. It is supposed that he must have thrown up his legs when Sullivan fired. As soon as shot, Hobbs turned to Morris and said, “He has killed me;” then jerking out his own pistol, fired three shots at Sullivan, the latter moving slowly off at the time. Morris then handed Hobbs another pistol, and five bullets more went whistling after Sullivan. All this time Hobbs kept his seat in the buggy, and Morris had his arm around him as a support. When the eighth shot was fired, Hobbs turned again and said, “Boys he has killed me.” Some gentlemen standing near took him from the buggy then, and Morris hurried on after a physician. Dr. John L. Moore went out and dressed the wound, pronouncing it a most frightful and dangerous one. There was a hole large enough to cover the fingers of a hand. The excitement at the time was very startling, as a number of ladies were present. Their screams lent confusion and thrillingness to the scene. Sullivan moved across the railroad and has not been seen since. It is rumored that he was shot in the left side and that a doctor had extracted the bullet. Mr. Morris received a few stray shot, but was not hurt much. Had Sullivan been ten feet further, both Hobbs and Morris would probably have received the charge in their stomachs. It is a great mystery why some of the men standing at Freeman’s, and who knew of Sullivan’s threats, did not stop him when he came up with his shot-gun. If Hobbs should die, it will be a neck-stretching for Sullivan, as the appearances all indicate a most strocion // unreadable// attempt at murder. Two years ago, Hobbs was on the police force in the city as an extra, and arrested Sullivan for disorderly conduct. The latter said then he would make it warm for Hobbs if he ever came out his way. This, however, was forgotten, and Hobbs little feared a meeting or so dreadful a calamity when he went out. A week ago today Hobbs was severely cut about the throat and back in a street fight. Yesterday evening late he was resting quietly, but in an extremely critical condition. It is thought he cannot survive.Robert must have been brought home after being shot as the census enumerator found him living with his parents in Griffin on Monday, June 14, 1880, two days after being shot. At age 24, Robert was the only child left a home. His mother was enumerated as Jahamel E. V. Hobbs. Both Robert and his father were house painters although neither were working on June 14. The census enumerator noted that his father had been sick for six months that year so since it was June, he hadn’t worked during 1880. Robert was enumerated as sick with a “Gun shot wound” in the column marked “Is the person (on the day of the Enumerator’s visit) sick or temporarily disabled, so as to be unable to attend to ordinary business or duties? If so, what is the sickness or disability?”
|1880 Spalding County, Georgia census|
Griffin, June 17.—Robert Hobbs, Jr., who was shot last Saturday evening by Sullivan, died tonight at 7 o’clock. A reward has been offered for the capture of Sullivan.
|Atlanta Weekly Constitution, June 22, 1880|
The Weekly Constitution reported on June 22 that Robert was buried in Griffin on June 18:
Griffin, June 18.—The funeral of Robert Hobbs took place this morning. Griffin fire company No. 1, of which he was a member, attended in a body. The sheriff and his posse are out in search of Sullivan, and I am told this morning it is quite likely they have struck his trail. If he should be apprehended Spalding county will be the scene of a first-class hanging. Whisky was the cause of this murder-another ten-strike for the prohibitionists at the coming municipal election.On June 24, the North Georgia Citizen reported that the governor had offered a reward for Sullivan’s arrest, although he was listed as John, not Tom:
Governor Colquitt has offered a reward of one hundred and fifty dollars for the arrest of John Sullivan, the murderer of Robert Hobbs, in Spalding county, on the 12th inst.
|North Georgia Citizen, June 24, 1880|
All Around Us—It is stated this morning that Sullivan, Hobbs’s murderer, has been captured at Cedartown. Sheriff Bridges went there last night. It is to be hoped that the rumor is not unfounded, as this community feels very much outraged at the tragedy.I found no record to show that Robert ever married, nor of the location of his final resting place, other than Griffin. I have also been unable to find a record of what happened to Sullivan after he was captured.
By all accounts, Robert was an upstanding young man in his community—he worked with his father as a house painter, was an extra on the police force, and a member of the local fire company. At the age of 24, he was taken from his family far too young.