Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Fort Davis Texas, z583-1960. By Barry Scobee. Fort Davis (Barry
Scobee), 1963. Pp. 220. Illustrations, notes, index. $6.oo.
When a thoughtful person reads a worthwhile book he may
wonder what the author's purpose was in writing it. This ques-
tion rises with Fort Davis Texas, a title without a comma, by
Barry Scobee, published in 1963.
One must conclude that the author's purpose was to present
the history of an area, of a town, and of a frontier fort for the
entertainment and instruction of present readers and for pos-
terity; to portray the motives and character of the people who
discovered the region, and those who came to stay and make the
land their own. Scobee has done this in the fast-moving, bright,
and easy-to-read style of a man who has been doing professional
writing for half a century.
The story begins with the passing through of the first Spanish
explorers in 1583 and comes down the ladder of years to the
present. Obviously, in 220o pages only the highlights are included,
but that is done with some talent in selectiveness of people and
events to give a picture of colors in courage, daring, adventure,
hopes, and humor along with basic facts substantiated by much
research not only through official records and old letters, but
also by interviews with old-timers or their descendants.
Barry Scobee saw Fort Davis first in 1917, soon enough to
meet the last of the early settlers. He assisted another historian
in gathering material for the first book to cover thoroughly the
whole area and thereby got an intimate look at the country he
was to love as time went by.
Fort Davis Texas takes in the first explorers, the first Anglo-
Americans in 1849 to see the site of future Fort Davis, the wagon
caravans California-bound, the soldiers, the Indians, the freighters,
the United States mails, the Confederate occupation of the fort,
the organizing of counties in the vast trans-Pecos area, the com-
ing of railroads, churches, schools, courthouses, down to the two
great astronomical observatories of the Davis Mountains and to
the old army post as a national historic site.
Scobee's book is a panorama of all this, interestingly told. He
has a knack of painting a word portrait of an individual in a
sentence or two, as when speaking of an early settler: "Though
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 68, July 1964 - April, 1965. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101198/. Accessed March 7, 2014.