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Robert Clarence Nolan

(Clarence Robert Nobles)

April 13, 1908 - June 17, 1980




Links to a Comprehensive Biography:

1908-1949 Early Life & Career

1949-1980 The Final Years

Bob Nolan's Family



A Brief Family History


        In 1783, after 140 years of farming in Long Island and Dutchess County, NY, Bob Nolan's forebears were forced to leave everything behind them and, as United Empire Loyalists, move to what is now New Brunswick, Canada, following the cessation of the American War of Independence. Arriving in November with no shelter awaiting them, the family settled near what is now Hatfield's Point, in the parish of Springfield, King's County. They suffered the harsh North Atlantic winter in tents. Eventually, their family (including a son-in-law) was granted 2000 acres of land in recognition of their loyal service to the Crown and the loss of everything they had owned. This land is still known as "Spragg's Grant" or simply "The Grant".

        One hundred years later, Ella Jane Spragg married Charles Knowles Nobles in Hatfield Point. They had 8 children, one of whom was Harry Bayard Nobles, Bob Nolan's father. 

        In 1906, Harry B. Nobles, then a young tailor, married an Irish girl three years his senior (Flora Elizabeth Hussey) in Winnipeg, the capitol city of Manitoba. During the six years they lived in Winnipeg, they had two boys - Clarence Robert and Michael Earle. Harry worked at his trade, becoming a partner in his own business, Conner & Nobles, by 1909. In 1912, the little family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where Harry worked again as a tailor in a dry-cleaning establishment.

        The marriage foundered and they all moved back to Winnipeg. Flora took a job as a Manitoba Government Telephone operator and Harry disappeared from view until 1917 when he joined the U. S. Army with a new name - Harry B. Nolan. In the summer of 1916, finding it impossible to support her children on her own earnings, Flora took them for a temporary stay to her husband's parents on the homestead in Hatfield Point, New Brunswick. They remained on the farm for 3 years. (Bob was 8 when they arrived and 11 when they left.) Before his mother could return for them, the little boys were moved to Boston and their surname was changed to Nolan. She was unable to find them again.

        After World War I ended, Harry moved his two boys temporarily into the custody of his sister Fannie Florence Nobles McCoy in Boston where they went to school for approximately a year.

        Because of his health, Harry made a home in Arizona and eventually sent for his boys, beginning with his eldest son, Clarence Robert, in 1921.  Flora Elizabeth Hussey Nolan Hayes died in Portland, Oregon, in 1938 and Harry B. Nolan died in California in 1948.

        Clarence changed the order of his names to Robert Clarence and became famous in the 1930s and 1940s as "Bob" Nolan, co-founder of the Sons of the Pioneers with Roy Rogers and Tim Spencer. He appeared as actor/singer/songwriter in nearly 100 films for Columbia, Republic, Paramount, Warner Brothers and Universal. He is remembered chiefly for his songs, "Cool Water" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds", the Sons of the Pioneers radio programs, his second lead roles in the Columbia / Charles Starrett films and the Republic / Roy Rogers films of the 1930s and 1940s.

        Bob Nolan married Tennie Pearl Fields in 1928 and they had one daughter, Roberta Irene. He married Clara (P-Nuts) Brown in 1942. Roberta had one son, Calin Ray Coburn (1953). Calin has one daughter, Cayleen and two sons, Miles Ray and Connor Nolan. Bob's brother, Earl Nolan, had one daughter and so the "Nolan" line, borrowed by Harry B. Nobles in 1917, has become extinct.



My dad was a very quiet man. He never volunteered any information but, if one asked, he would answer any question. I'm afraid I didn't have the foresight in my younger days to ask about his past. He would not only have answered but elaborated once the subject was broached. (Roberta Nolan Mileusnich)



The Nolan Family:

Bob Nolan

Harry Nolan (father)

Flora Nobles Hayes (mother)

Earl Nolan (brother)

Mike Nolan (half brother)

Mary Nolan Petty (half sister)

Roberta Nolan Mileusnich (daughter)

Calin Coburn (grandson)