goose
Return to Currituck Co.

Currituck County Photographs

James & Eliza (Murphy) Hobbs

James Riley Hobbs was born to Noah & Elizabeth "Betsy" (Lewark) Hobbs on August 9, 1828.  He died August 14, 1918 and is buried in the Masonic Home Cemetery in Greensboro, NC.  He married Eliza C. Murphy about 1855.  Eliza is buried in Austin Cemetery in Kitty Hawk with her tombstone inscription reading: "Eliza C. Hobbs; 13 Apr 1833 - 9 Dec 1909; Born in Liverpool, England; Wife of J.R. Hobbs".

A letter from Annie Lee Wightman states the following:
"I do not think that Eliza Murphy Hobbs is actually buried in the Austin Cemetery, although her tombstone is there, next to my great aunt Eliza "Lizer" C. Twiford Perry, wife of my Grandmother Beacham's brother "Uncle Tommy" [William Thomas Perry].  Aunt Lizer was named for Eliza C. Hobbs and was close to her.  The Twiford's were Methodists, although Uncle Tommy was from a Primitive Baptist background.  His family attended the Providence Primitive Baptist Church in Kitty Hawk, which was founded by Elder Hodges G. Gallop.  Eliza was buried next to the old wooden Kitty Hawk Methodist Episcopal Church building.  She, not a native of the United States, was the founder of the original church in Kitty Hawk.  When the old building was dismantled, her tombstone was moved to Austin Cemetery, but I do not believe they were able to move her body.  I do not know how  the old Methodist Road, referred to in early 1800s deeds in Kitty Hawk, got its name.   It may have been so named because of itinerant Methodist "circuit riders"; or perhaps there once was an actual church, long forgotten by descendants of  Kitty Hawk's early families."

Capt.  James Hobbs was a sailor before he became a member of the
Lifesaving Service and sailed to many foreign ports.  Capt. Hobbs was actually from Currituck mainland, the son of Noah Hobbs and Betsey Beacham Hobbs, widow of  Zebulon Beacham of Kitty Hawk (son of
Thomas Beacham of the 1792 will).  Zebulon purchased land on Dews
Quarter, Currituck mainland, in 1822, shortly before he died.   His
family settled there.  His Kitty Hawk land was near the original Primitive Baptist building which also housed a school.  For many years, the spot on Main Road, (unofficially called Woods Road for generations and now changed to Woods Road officially), was known as "Schoolhouse". And I remember an old wooden sign there with the name painted on.  The Hobbs house, which I remember,was on a high rise or dune, not far from the Kitty Hawk Lifesaving Station and at the entrance to the village.

B. D. Tillett who temporarily was keeper while Capt Hobbs was "arrested", was Benjamin Dough Tillett, who never actually became keeper, according to my Uncle Trux; but his son Avery Benjamin Love "B. Love" Tillett, did later become the keeper at that station.

James was listed in the 1880 census as a sailor, in the 1900 census as a farmer and in the 1910 census as "old & retired".  According to census records no children were born from this union.  According to Kitty Hawk Coast Guard records, James R. Hobbs shot and killed Theopolis Lee Daniels at the Coast Guard Station on July 7, 1884.  Apparently Daniels had complained to the Superintendent several times that Hobbs was using some of the surfmen to do private work on his farm and he also stated that Hobbs had taken paint from the Station and was using it to paint his large-sized boat. Here are excerpts from the Coast Guard record:

Telegram July 7, 1884 E.C. Chaytor, Asst. Inspector 6th Dist. to Kimball - Keeper Hobbs, Kitty Hawk Station shot and killed Daniels during investigation of charges made by him.  B.D. Tillett, No. 1 surfman, is placed in charge of station.

July 9, 1884 - E.C. Chaytor to Kimball, Nags Head, NC - Have gone to Kitty Hawk LSS to inquire into charges made by T.L. Daniels against Hobbs for using the station paint in painting a boat belonging to Hobbs.  On my arrival at the station Daniels in a very insolent manner asked me if I was going to put Keeper Hobbs out of the station on this charge or if it would only amount to the same as the other made by him for plundering the wrecked schooner "Murchinsons".  I replied to Daniels, it was the General Superintendent's right to deal with these matters as he saw fit and I did not come to the station to be bullied by anyone.  We then went into the house.  I requested Daniels to produce his witnesses.  Capt. Hobbs then came into the boat room where we were holding the investigation and as soon as Daniels saw Hobbs he commenced to use blasphemous language and squared off as if he was going to strike Hobbs.  [following this is a detailed description of what Chaytor witnessed the day of the shooting.  Chaytor states that it was a clear case of self-defense.]

July 20, 1884 - James Hobbs to Kimball - I am very sorry to inform you of my sudden misfortune, but I feel it my duty to do so.  On the 7th inst. when entering the station I was met by T.L. Daniels who commenced cursing me as usual.  I said to him, we are on government business and that I would not have any furse [sic] with him.  He made most blasphemous oaths and said I could not stop him.  I kept out of the room to prevent any trouble, did not go in the room only when called by the Lieutenant, and when entering the door I was met again by Daniels with the same blasphemous oaths and threatened to kill me if I defended myself with as small a thing as a penknife.  I said I didn't have a penknife about me but you have a revolver in your hip pocket.  He attempted to draw it out and at the same time I sprang one step backwards to the closet, opened the door with my left hand and snatched the gun from her resting place where she was always kept.  He threw his arm around the Lieutenant and said don't shoot.  When he said that I dropped the britch of the gun on the floor in my left hand, while he was still struggling to get his pistol from his pocket and as soon as he cleared her from his pocket I bounded forward and threw my gun on the Lieutenant's shoulder and fired, placing the load in his left shoulder which threw Daniels against the mortar cart.  He recovered from the shot and started towards me and the Lieutenant.  I shoved the Lieutenant out of the way with the gun and caught the gun in Daniels' left side to prevent him from fronting me, forced him into the closet from where I took the gun and as he turned to come out I fired the second charge in his left side which was fatal in an instant.  He died with his revolver cocked in his hand.  For the last nine or ten months there has been no slack to his threats.  I have been told by keeper W.H. O'Neal that he said to him that he should leave me so I would be of no use to the service or myself and he said to others if he did not get me out any other way, he would shoot me out.  I am prepared to prove all of these things.  I loudly appeal to my country for aid, as the lawyers will strip me of all I possess and leave me penniless in my old age.  I was sent up with a remit by a Justice of the Peace to the county jail without any warrant taken out against me or any judgment or any arrest, and on my arrival there I refused to go in jail and as the jailer was a lawyer, I stated the case to him.  And he sent me to his house until I could send to Elizabeth City for a counsel and at the same time my friends came and offered $50,000 bail for me.  The court sets the 1st September it being Monday.  [Hobbs was acquitted of murder.]

Photo submitted by Tammy Holton Jennings No part of this document may be used for any commercial purposes. However, please feel free to copy any of this material for your own personal use and family research.