KEY, HOBART, JR. (1913–1986). Hobart Key, Jr., businessman, author, and historical preservationist, was born on March 15, 1913, the son of Hobart and Dolly Bell (Rutherford) Key, in Marshall, Texas. A paternal ancestor had one of the state's first bookstores in the 1840s, and his maternal grandfather promoted adoption by the Apaches of their distinctive tribal plaid shirts. Key was educated at Marshall, the Severn School in Maryland, and the United States Naval Academy, where he took degrees in engineering and architecture. During World War II he was an outfitting and ordnance officer in the United States Navy. In civilian life he was an oil operator and manufacturer. Key helped preserve the Harrison County courthouse, was one of the founders of the Harrison County museum, and with his wife restored the Ginocchio, an elaborate Victorian hotel that had served Marshall as a mecca for early railroad travel. The Keys also restored other structures in Marshall and nearby Jefferson and underwrote archeological projects. They led in the discovery and preservation east of Marshall of a large 1840s stone monument marking the international boundary between the Republic of Texas and the United States. Key was also instrumental in the designation of a small park astride the Texas-Louisiana boundary at the site of the marker. His book The International Boundary Park (1976) describes the entire process. Key was for several years a director of the Texas Historical Foundation and belonged also to historical societies in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. A journalist during his academic days, he continued writing as an alumnus for the United States Naval Institute. He edited an anthology, Over the Waves, in the 1940s. In the period 1955–76 he wrote and published many historical articles and books, including Archeology of Blue Lake Indian Village (a pamphlet), By My Strong Hand (1965), and, with Max Lale, Civil War Letters of David Garrett (1963) and Of Money and Men (1965). He also edited a book of folklore, Stealing Stick, in 1969. Patriotic, endowed with many talents, Key was a spellbinding raconteur. In childhood he had sat at the feet of old men reliving frontier and Civil War days. He married Elizabeth Fisher Watkins; the couple had a son and a daughter. He was an Episcopalian and a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He died in Shreveport, Louisiana, on November 16, 1986, and was buried in Marshall.


Marshall News Messenger, November 18, 1986.

Deolece M. Parmelee



The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

William E. Bard, "ADAMS, WALTER R.," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed March 19, 2015. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.