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John Russell Jobe worked as a newspaperman and then for state government, serving as Arkansas state auditor from 1909 to 1913.
John Russell (John R. or J. R.) Jobe was born on August 24, 1855, in Ringgold, Georgia, to David Jobe and Sarah J. Harden (or Hardin) Jobe. He had seven sisters, as well as a brother, Benjamin F. (B. F.) Jobe, who also later worked in media and government. The family moved to Arkansas in early 1858 and settled near Searcy (White County), though Jobe had at least one cousin living in Marion County. The family seems to have had strong ties to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church: two of Jobe’s sisters married Cumberland Presbyterian ministers, and his brother married a Cumberland Presbyterian minister’s daughter.
Jobe married Cora E. Harris on November 20, 1878. They had four children, including a son named E. Wilmett, a daughter named Edna, and a son named Burt, who died in 1906.
From 1884 to 1893, Jobe was editor and co-owner of the Searcy Beacon. He then sold his share to partner John H. (or John G.) Holland. During the thirteenth meeting of the Arkansas Press Association, held in Helena (Phillips County) on May 6, 1885, Jobe was elected as a new member. He served as president from 1908 to 1909. He was listed as an active Arkansas Press Association member in Little Rock (Pulaski County) as late as 1923. Fred Allsopp states in his 1922 book History of the Arkansas Press for a Hundred Years and More that Jobe served as corresponding secretary of the association from 1888 to 1908. He resigned “over the protest of every member,” and it was noted that “there never was a more popular or efficient officer.” Allsopp continued, “He could have had the office for life. During his long term of service as secretary of that organization, he worked untiringly to make the meetings and the excursions of the association pleasant and profitable to the members.”
In early 1894, Jobe moved to Russellville (Pope County) and became associated with his brother, B. F. Jobe, in the publication of the Russellville Democrat. In 1895, B. F. Jobe moved to McAlister, Oklahoma, leaving his brother as the editor and publisher. J. R. Jobe sold his share in the enterprise in 1897 and moved to Little Rock. His home was located at 115 Thayer Ave., between Markham and 2nd streets.
Jobe began working in the state auditor’s office in 1897 under C. B. Mills. He then worked under Clay Sloan. Jobe was state printing clerk from 1902 to 1904 under Captain T. C. Monroe but was also appointed as temporary deputy auditor at least twice after the deputy auditor at the time, Colonel J. W. Colquitt, became ill. Jobe served as deputy state auditor under state auditor Dr. Avery E. Moore from 1904 to 1908.
In 1907, Jobe announced his intention to run for state auditor in 1908. He was elected, and he began serving in 1909; he was reelected in 1910 for a second term as auditor after opposition candidate Frank Brame withdrew from the race for financial reasons.
The state auditor oversees payroll for state employees, teachers, insurance companies, and convicts. During his time as auditor, Jobe endeavored to prevent convicts from working under lease, supporting penal reform along with Governor George Washington Donaghey, but the two men were the minority on the penitentiary board of five. The other three members were worried about the penitentiary debt of $100,000 and wanted to lease convicts to reduce it.
At the close of his second term in 1913, he accepted a place in the state treasury under John W. Crockett and continued in that post under R. G. McDaniel and Joe Ferguson. He then served, according to his obituary, “as a member of the state Charities Board under appointment by Governor T. C. McRae, and at the time of his death, he was connected with the Arkansas Department of Transportation under Commissioner Dwight H. Blackwood.” He is listed as state insurance commissioner (1909); chairman of the penitentiary board (1909); on the board of commissioners (1913); deputy state treasurer (1916–1921); first vice president of the Arkan-Tex Oil Company (1921); and Board of Control secretary (1921).
Newspaper accounts described him as a man of patience and honesty who traveled often for pleasure and work.
Jobe died on November 12, 1927, in Little Rock. His funeral was a Methodist service, and he is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Searcy.
For additional information:Allsopp, Fred William. History of the Arkansas Press for a Hundred Years and More. Little Rock: Parke-Harper Publishing, 1922. Online at https://archive.org/stream/historyofarkansa00allsuoft/historyofarkansa00allsuoft_djvu.txt (accessed July 26, 2018).
“Ira C. Hopper to Retain Deputy Hoff.” Little Rock Daily News, January 12, 1921, p. 8.
“John R. Jobe for Auditor of State.” Daily Arkansas Gazette, September 22, 1907, p. 3.
“John R. Jobe Is Called by Death.” Arkansas Gazette, November 13, 1927, p. 14.
Ledbetter, Calvin R., Jr. “The Long Struggle to End Convict Leasing in Arkansas” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 52 (Spring 1993): 1–27.
“No Opposition for John R. Jobe.” Arkansas Democrat, August 9, 1907, p. 10.
“Latest Returns From Wednesday’s Primary.” Arkansas Democrat, March 29, 1908, p. 11.
J. Jobe Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Last Updated 7/26/2018
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