Robert L. Hobdy, of Union Springs, is one of the most successful of Bullock county’s planters. He was born in Pike county, Ala., in 1840, a son of Hon. Harrell and Jane (McNeill) Hobdy, who were natives of North Carolina, but who came, when children, to Alabama and were here married. Harrell Hobdy was reared on the home plantation and to habits of industry, but school facilities were not to be had in Pike county in those days, and it was not until he had reached man’s estate that his literary education was begun. Feeling the absolute need of knowledge, he began to apply himself to books, reading and studying at night and all spare moments, being assisted, after his marriage, by his wife, who was a highly educated and accomplished lady. In due time he became noted for his erudition, and his progress in his vocation of planting was characterized by the same methods that marked his educational progress – indomitable perseverance, energy, and industry. At his marriage he was without a dollar, but he had set before his mental vision a goal that he determined to reach in the struggle for wealth, and by doing farm work in the daytime, assisted by his faithful wife, and by splitting rails at night, he reached the point which had been his aim and became one of the wealthiest planters of Pike county. He has always taken an active part in politics and public affairs, and fully qualified himself for any position within the power of his fellow-citizens to give him, or which he might be called upon to fill. He was one of the first sheriffs of Pike county, and in 1844 and 1845 represented his district in the state legislature, and from 1853 to 1857 served in the state senate with ability and to the full satisfaction of his constituents. He assisted in the removal of the Indians from the state and was wounded at Hobdy’s bridge, from the effects of which wound he died a premature death in the spring of 1862, and was followed to the grave by his amiable widow a few months later.
The father of Harrell Hobdy was Edmund Hobdy, a native of North Carolina, of Scotch-Irish descent. He was the father of eight sons and several daughters by his wife, Nancy Harrell, and was a pioneer of Pike (now Bullock) county, where he died about the year 1848, having been preceded to the grave by his wife. The father of Mrs. Jane (McNeill) Hobdy died in North Carolina, and some time after that event his widow and her family moved to southeast Alabama, where she ended her days.
Robert L. Hobdy is one of a family of twelve children and was reared on the home plantation. He attended, first, the schools of his neighborhood and then entered Auburn college, where he was engaged in his studies when the Civil war broke out. In April, 1861, he entered the Seventh Alabama infantry as sergeant, having enlisted for one year. The first six months were passed at Pensacola, Fla., and his first engagement was at Fort Pickens. The remainder of the year Mr. Hobdy was with Gen. A. S. Johnston in the army of the Tennessee, and took part in the battle of Shiloh. At the expiration of his term of enlistment Mr. Hobdy returned. to his home, but in a short time thereafter entered the Thirty-ninth Alabama infantry as lieutenant, and participated, in all the marches and engagements of his regiment, including Missionary Ridge, Murfreesboro, through Kentucky with Bragg, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain and the Georgia and Atlanta campaign, and while at Atlanta was severely wounded in his right arm and disabled for a few months, which he passed at home. Recovering from his wound, he rejoined his command at Corinth, Miss., but was soon transferred to Johnston’s army in North Carolina, and with it took part at Bentonville, the last of that army’s battles. The war over, Mr. Hobdy returned to Pike county and engaged in planting until 1869, when he went to Mason county, where he followed the same vocation until 1880, and then removed to Union Springs, where he has since lived, and where he is looked upon as being one of the most successful and prosperous planters of Bullock county-his farm of several hundred acres being adjacent to the city. Mr. Hobdy has never permitted politics to interfere with his business, nor has he ever aspired to office; he is strictly a temperate man, a thorough gentleman, is a member of the Louisville lodge, F. & A. M., and, with his wife, a member of the Episcopal church.
In 1867 Mr. Hobdy was happily married to Miss Mary Buford, who was born in Barbour county, Ala., and educated at Eufaula Female college. Her father, the late distinguished Major Jefferson Buford, was born in Union district, S. C., but in an early day came to Alabama and settled in Barbour county, where he was widely known as a well-to-do planter and an able lawyer. He represented his district three terms-1840-41-42-in the state senate, where he distinguished himself as an orator and for his readiness in debate, his erudition, aptness and acumen, as well as his chivalrous bearing-as nothing could check him from asserting his rights, which he was always fully equipped to defend. In 1855 Major Buford organized a body of citizens and proceeded to the territory of Kansas to assist in forming the state of Kansas, and for a years was quite prominent in politics, but he returned somewhat depressed and disappointed. In 1861 he was a delegate to the Montgomery convention, to fill the seat of General Alpheus Baker, who had resigned to enter the Confederate army. His military title was gained in the Indian war of 1836, in which he bore a gallant part, and in his death, about the close of the late war, the state lost one of its most distinguished citizens.