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The Historic Doublin Inn

By Frank Chamberlain

The old Doublin Inn is the oldest building in the town of Dublin. Alex Dobkins, who is credited with founding the community of Dublin, moved into the area in the pre-Civil War years along with his family and members of the Holland family. The dates concerning the development of this building are maddeningly confused in the available sources. The best guess is that the Holland family acquired the land in the region that would later become Dublin in 1846, but neither family moved there immediately. The Dobkins and members of the Holland family made their way to Texas in 1854, at which time it seems reasonable to assume that Dobkins built his dwelling in the area to serve as the residence for his family. They probably did not occupy this house long due to the threat of Indians and other insecurities inherent to life in a previously unsettled region. However, it is unclear how long they remained here before moving to the less vulnerable town of Fort Gates (now Gatesville), leaving behind this cabin. The structure was then occupied and used as a fort by other settlers who moved to the area in the meantime. At this point, the practice of “doubling up” for protection against Indian raids probably began, providing the inspiration for the new name of the town. They returned a few years later, in the early 1860s*. In the post-Civil War years, the Indian threat began to diminish, and the original cabin was converted into a motel and rest stop along the Ft. Worth to Yuma stagecoach line in 1873. It served this purpose until 1882 when the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad was built through the area, eliminating the need for stagecoaches [Dublin Citizen 1/4/89; Dublin Historical Society newsletter July/August 1971; Dublin Progress 4/6/1978; Texas State Historical Marker erected 1971; Westphal 3].

There are conflicting explanations for the origin of the name of the town, but the most credible relates to the activities that centered on this building during Indian raids. The townsfolk yelled “Double In!” as a call to gather into bunches to protect themselves and to herd together the livestock for safekeeping whenever the Indians were spotted. For this reason, it was sometimes referred to as the “doubling place”, which was soon adapted to form the name “Dublin”. Another version of the story states that the name of the town was copied directly from the physical arrangement of the guest rooms in this motel. The rooms of the motel were located on either side of a hall that ran through the center of the building. The motel was named the “Double Inn” because of this arrangement of living quarters. It is easy to see that when a few letters are dropped, that the name “Dublin” is formed. However, the name on the historical marker and most other sources refer to the historic establishment by the slightly different name of the “Doublin Inn” So, like most of the other details about this period of Dublin history, the facts are rather convoluted [Dublin Historical Society newsletter Oct./Nov./Dec 1970; Dublin Progress 4/6/1978; Lattimore 12; Westphal 1].

The building was designated as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1971. The ceremony featured speeches by Senator J.P. Word, Representative Tom Homes, as well as descendents of J.R. Holland and Alexander Dobkins. This was the first of seventeen historical markers to eventually be placed in the Dublin vicinity [Dublin Historical Society Newsletter July/Aug./Sept. 1971].

*The year in which the Dobkins and Holland families left and then returned to the Dublin area is even more uncertain. A rather straight-forward and seemingly authoritative entry in a local family history book states that the family arrived in the Dublin area at Christmas 1854, spent a year there before moving to Gatesville for five years, and then returning to Dublin in 1860. At that time, Alexander Dobkins built the old “Double Inn”. It goes on to say that Dobkins was one of the few men left in Dublin during the Civil War.

However, this anonymous source is contradicted other narratives. An undated Dublin Progress cited in the Westphal book states that the families returned after spending three years in Gatesville, while a Dublin Historical Society newsletter from Fall 1970 says that the Dobkins family came to Dublin in 1863. A newsletter from Summer 1971 states that an Alexander Dublin built the double log cabin in 1863. (This is undoubtedly a mistake in which the author was referring to Alexander Dobkins.) Still another article from the 4/16/1978 Dublin Progress says that the Dobkins family returned after the Civil War (which is in the same general time frame as the other two sources) but that the house they lived in was not built until 1870.

To attempt to summarize these divergent accounts, it seems clear that 1854 is probably the year in which the Holland and Dobkins families first arrived in the Dublin area. It also is apparent from these slightly contradictory sources that the families had returned to the Dublin area by at least the end of the war in 1865. At some point after their return, it is most likely that Dobkins modified and enlarged the cabin that he had built and abandoned years earlier, turning it into the now-historic inn. It is difficult to speak in anything other than generalities concerning these events due to the contradictory nature of many of the facts that have been recounted.

“Ceremonies At Old Doublin Inn”, Dublin Historical Society newsletter, July/Aug./Sept. 1971.

“Decendent of pioneer family dies” The Dublin Citizen, January 4, 1989.

“Doublin Inn” Texas State Historical Marker, erected 1971.

Lattimore, Sarah Catherine. Incidents in the History of Dublin: Gathered from Participants and Eye-Witnesses , Dublin, Texas: Press of the Dublin Progess, 1987 (original date of publication, 1913).

“Life In Dublin During The 1800’s Revealed”, The Dublin Progress, April 6, 1978.

“Old Dublin Residence Still Famous Landmark In Dublin”, Dublin Historical Society Newsletter, Oct./Nov./Dec. 1970.

Undated and untitled Holland family history, pp 71-72.

Westphal, Dorothy V. Dunn. Covered Wagons Keep On Rollin’/ hand printed & compiled from the pen of Dorothy V. Dunn Westphal; the history of Dublin, Texas, 1995.