Roberts, Dora Nunn (1863–1953)

By: Delmar J. Hayter

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Dora Nunn Roberts, philanthropist, was born on April 23, 1863, in Randolph County, Alabama, the daughter of Elijah Hope and Elizabeth (Joyner) Nunn. The family moved in succession to Hope, Arkansas, Bowie, Texas, and Coleman, Texas. In Coleman Dora married Andrew Griffin, and they moved to southeastern Howard County in 1884; they settled south of Signal Mountain on four sections of land. Two daughters were born of their marriage. The family survived the great drought of 1886–87 by burning prickly pear, selling milk, butter, and eggs, and raising vegetables irrigated with water pumped by a windmill. Griffin was killed in a roundup accident, and his wife married a neighboring rancher, John Roberts, on October 21, 1896; Roberts himself was killed in 1909, and their son died in 1912. Dora Roberts continued to run and expand the ranch and ultimately owned twenty-nine sections. A succession of oil strikes beginning in 1927 produced large royalty checks that she used for investments and charities. She bought real estate, helped finance construction of the Big Spring Petroleum Building, and served as president and chairman of the board of the Big Spring First National Bank. She is best remembered for her many philanthropic donations, including large gifts to McMurry College, Texas Wesleyan University, and Southwestern University. She made significant contributions to the Methodist Hospital of Houston and the Health Rehabilitation Center and Vocational and Technical Training facilities in Big Spring, as well as to area churches. She was a member of the Forsan Methodist Church. Mrs. Roberts died on December 27, 1953, at the age of ninety.

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John R. Hutto, Howard County in the Making (Big Spring, Texas: Jordan's, 1938). Samuel D. Myres, The Permian Basin: Petroleum Empire of the Southwest (2 vols., El Paso: Permian, 1973, 1977). Joe Pickle, Gettin' Started: Howard County's First 25 Years (Big Spring, Texas: Heritage Museum, 1980). Texas Bankers Record, January 1954.
  • Women
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists

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

Delmar J. Hayter, “Roberts, Dora Nunn,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995

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