Dobie, Bertha McKee (1890–1974)

By: Eldon Stephen Branda

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: December 1, 1994

Bertha McKee Dobie, writer, daughter of Richard Alexander and Ray (Park) McKee, was born on July 8, 1890, on a farm in Susquehanna County (near Nicholson), Pennsylvania; at that time her parents had already established residence in Texas, but her mother had returned to Pennsylvania to have her first child. The family lived for short periods in the small Texas towns of Italy, Forreston, Coldspring, Waelder, and Aransas Pass before settling in Velasco when Bertha was seven years old. After graduation from high school she received a B.A. degree from Southwestern University in Georgetown (where she met her future husband) in 1910; she took a master's degree in English from the University of Texas in 1918. She taught English and mathematics in Dalhart, Galveston, and Alexander Collegiate Institute (now Lon Morris College) in Jacksonville.

Bertha McKee was married to J. Frank Dobie on September 20, 1916, and in later years she was credited by her husband as being his best literary critic and editor. She became a writer and contributed a series of articles on gardening to Texas newspapers; she also wrote for numerous periodicals, including Nature Magazine, New York Herald Tribune Magazine, Garden Digest, Holland's Magazine, Publications of the Texas Folklore Society, and Southwest Review. She was assistant editor of the Texas Folklore Society Publications from 1923 to 1935. Occasionally she conducted classes at the University of Texas for her husband while he was away collecting materials for his books. She was well known for the flower garden at her home in Austin and was a guest lecturer on gardening at meetings throughout the state. Bertha Dobie was a member of the Audubon Society and helped formulate plans for Paisano Ranch, a Hill Country retreat for Texas writers and artists. Upon the death of her husband, she edited his posthumous publications. She was named a distinguished alumna of Southwestern University on January 26, 1973. She died on December 18, 1974, and was buried alongside her husband in the State Cemetery in Austin.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Eldon Stephen Branda, “Dobie, Bertha McKee,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 17, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994

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