Hoberta Shelby, Hobart, O. T., age 9 months

First White Child Born In Kiowa County

I have had the pleasure of being in touch with Hoberta Shelby Frost, who was the first white child born in Kiowa County, named for Hobart. This year on September 11, 1999, Mrs. Frost will celebrate her 98th birthday.

The Shelbys came to the colonies from Wales in the 1600's. They settled in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. They severed in the Revolutionary War and knew George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and many of the notables of the day.

James M. Shelby was born in Ohio in 1864. His father made the "run" in the Cherokee Strip and got a farm near Bison, OK. When James was 26, he bought a relinquishment for a farm southeast of El Reno, OK. Along with farming, he was a carpenter and painter. While painting a barn east of El Reno for a well-to-do German farmer named Leibmann, he met his daughter Christina, or "Tena", and they were married. In 1896, son Paul was born, and two years later, daughter Ina came along.

Hearing that the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Reservation was to be opened to white settlement, James sold his farm and in 1901, he, Tena and their two small children, along with his father-in-law, J. G. Leibmann and family set out for the site of where Hobart would be, arriving July 4, 1901.

Their caravan included four covered wagons and teams, with a load of lumber. There was no water available except what was brought in by the Rock Island Railroad and sold for 50 cents a barrel. It was too expensive to buy water for so many horses, that they camped on Little Elk Creek, where water was plentiful. They were there when the U.S. Government proclaimed the sale of lots in auction and bought the 12th lot bought in Hobart, a business lot.

They lived in boxed up tents and it was while living in a tent that a daughter was born September 11, 1901, the first white child born in Hobart. She was given the name Hobarta (later changed to Hoberta).

Appearing in the September 13, 1901 issue of the Hobart Republican was the following account of the first baby born in Hobart:

"All day Wednesday, Dr. A. W. Holland, coroner of Kiowa County, wore a broad smile. He has the honor of reporting the first white baby born in the city of Hobart. Mr. And Mrs. James Shelby are the loving parents of the little one, and to say they are proud of their nine pound daughter is expressing it mildly."

"If it is not out of order, the Republican would suggest the name "Hobarta" for the young lady, and if our suggestion is adopted, the editor will deposit with the child's mother, Mrs. Shelby, to be held in trust until the young lady arrives at the age of eighteen, when the money will be turned over to her with accumulated interest."

"Mr. And Mrs. Shelby came here from El Reno and Mr. Shelby has a position with the Kiowa County Lumber Company of this city."

In July 1902, James and Tena sold their business lot to her father and in September, 1902 they purchased a residence lot in Block 3, Hill's Addition. They built a large, two story barn on the back of the lot, which was used to house the family until a home could be built. It was a complete as possible for that day and time, with glass windows and a stairway. While living there another daughter, Valeta, was born in 1903.

In 1904 James was given a position as manager of the Stephenson - Brown Lumber Company which he held until 1916. This same year he built a modest five room house on the front of the lot. They moved into it and left the barn for it's original intent. In 1905, another son, Everett, was born.

In 1909, James sold the house and it was removed to another location. He built a large two story house, which was one of the five largest homes in the city at the time. The house still stands at 101 North Randlett.

James was a member of the First Baptist Church in 1901 when they worshiped in a tent. He taught the Men's Bible class for years and in 1913 was one of the men who were instrumental in designing and building the modern brick church that still stands. He was a charter member of the Hobart Lodge 176, I.O.O.F when it began on January 6, 1902, and was a past Noble Grand. Tena worked in the Women's Missionary Society of the Baptist Church and was a member of the choir. She was a charter Member of the Social Embroidery Club, which was organized in 1912. In 1915, Hoberta joined the church

In 1916, James sold their home on Randlett Street to W. H. Carlton and moved to his farm northwest of Hobart.

All five of the Shelby children went to school in Hobart. Paul the eldest, attended the first school in 1902 and graduated in 1914. Hoberta graduated in 1919 in a class of 50, the largest class that had ever graduated in Hobart. She was one of the eight girls who enrolled in a two year course for an elementary teacher's certificate.

After graduation in May, 1919, she went to summer school at Norman and in September, taught fifth grade at Sulphur, OK. She intended to teach winters and attend school in the summers, but due to her mother's ill health, she gave up her teaching career and went to Ardmore to take care of her.

In 1920, the Shelbys moved to Ardmore, OK due to Tena's bad health. She died in 1921 and James in 1924. Both are buried in Ardmore.

After her mother's death, she took a business course and later accepted a position with an insurance firm. In 1923, she married earl (Jack) Frost and moved to Bridgeport, Texas. They had one daughter. In the 1960's Jack had a stroke that paralyzed his entire right side and was confined to a wheelchair. At the time, Hoberta was a clerk at the post office, but she resigned to stay home to care for him until his death.

Hoberta lived in Bridgeport, Texas for 72 years. This year she moved to Horseshoe Bay, near Marbel Falls, Texas to be near her daughter and family. She has 4 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren, 1 great, great grandchild with another due in August. She is well and her life is full and busy.

Hoberta recalls many memorable events of her early years, the first being when her father stood her on the banquet table, for all to see, in August 1903 at the second anniversary of the opening. She remembers going with her father to the Baptist Indian Mission at Elk Creek, of which Lone Wolf was a deacon; getting up at 4:00 on the morning to watch the circus unload; the tree at the church every Christmas Eve; the revivals with Billy Sunday; the annual all day Sunday School picnics at Elk Creek; Haley's Comet in 1910; the big electrical storm in 1912; the Chautauqua when the famed violinist Mischa Elman played and the silent movies with Mary Pickford, Charles Chapman, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and many others. But, most of all, she remembers the love and friendship in her home town.

This information is presented with the permission of Mrs. Hoberta Shelby Frost. She is a living pioneer of our county, so please, join me in wishing her the best birthday ever!
The following should be self explanatory :-) Thought perhaps Hobart would like to know what became of its first lady. I have known Hoberta for many years and she will be missed. I have also posted this on the Genealogy GENFORUM message boards for Kiowa Co, OK and the SHELBY surname board.


Hoberta Katherine (SHELBY) Frost, aged 101, born 9 Sept 1901, in Hobart, Kiowa Co, OK, passed away quietly in her sleep on 23 May 2003, in Burnet, Texas. Services were held at the First United Methodist Church in Bridgeport, Wise Co, TX, and she is buried next to her husband Earl E Frost, in the East Bridgeport Cemetery, near the church.

Hoberta, Johnnie M Johnson, and I have been chasing the SHELBYs since the mid 1970s-and what a fun chase it has been! We have spent all this time trying (so far, with no success) to locate the parents of Hoberta's great grandfather Thomas SHELBY b 1796 PA, married 1833 in Brown Co, OH to Nancy Gillespie. It seems like we have chased down just about every SHELBY on the face of the earth in the hope of finding Hoberta's Shelby Kin!

Hoberta and her husband moved to Bridgeport in 1927. She was born to James and Tina Shelby of Hobart, Oklahoma-the first white child to be born in that settlement-in a tent, no less. Hobart's newspaper, The Republican, suggested that the parents name their new daughter after the town, and the editor offered to deposit "a silver dollar with the child's mother, Mrs Shelby, to be held in trust until the young lady arrives at the age of 18 when the money will be turned over to her with accumulated interest."

Hoberta was named "Lady of the Year" in Bridgeport in 1988. She was honored with a 100th birthday party in Runaway Bay (near Bridgeport) on that fateful day of 11 Sept 2001.

Hoberta left a daughter Jackie, 4 grandchildren and a fairly sizeable group of great grandchildren. Also, her just turned 100 year old sister, Valeta (SHELBY) Jamison.

We always joked with Hoberta that when she catches up with Thomas that she drop us a note and let us know who the heck his parents were!

We love ya Hoberta-You were a very special lady and we are going to miss you like crazy, and we'll be waiting for that note!

[Her story has also been written up in the "Kiowa County Pioneer" books]

Judy Trolinger

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