Research

The online home of our growing oral history interview collection.

Oral History

Our online award-winning oral history collection consists of more than 350 interviews. They are arranged alphabetically by last name under individual Alpha headings below: A, B, C, etc.  The interviews feature photographs of most interviewees, an interview description, downloadable interview transcripts, and audio files that can be streamed or downloaded. In 2007 we received the Texas Oral History Association's Mary Faye Barnes Award for Excellence in Community History Projects.

B

Baker, Bobby R.

Baker, Bobby R.

January 31, 2007

Interview 168a : A 1965 graduate of Diboll High School, Bobby Baker tells interviewer Becky Donahoe of his career in public education as part of Donahoe's project of interviewing superintendents of Diboll Independent School District. Baker discusses his experiences as a life-long educator, including teaching, coaching, and administrating in East Texas public schools, including Lufkin, Diboll, Central, and Hemphill. Focusing on his Diboll years, Baker discusses a number of education subjects including student population growth as well as decline, capital improvements, campus relocation, working with school boards, evolving student population ethnicities, financial management, and standardized testing. Baker also shares biographical insight, including his Christian faith.

Baker, Marvin

Baker, Marvin

July 11, 1985

Interview 66a : In this interview with Sandra Ingram, Marvin Baker reminisces about the Baker and Fairchild family histories, attending school in Burke, helping his mother after the death of his father, and farming. He also discusses his time reforesting areas of East Texas with the C.C.C. during the Great Depression.

Ballenger, Dewey

Ballenger, Dewey

June 20, 1984

Interview 32a : Dewey Ballenger reminisces about life in Burke and Diboll from the beginning of the 20th century. He remembers Diboll's saloons, his mother's boarding house, riding the train, Emporia, Ryan's Chapel, the Calaboose, the Jail, and Jay Boren. He worked for Southern Pine Lumber Company for his entire career and watched as Diboll and the company changed. He also recalls the Methodist and Baptist churches, Clyde Thompson, and Mr. H.G. Temple.

Ballenger, Dewey

Ballenger, Dewey

July 06, 1984

Interview 32b : In this interview Dewey Ballenger reminisces about his years working for Southern Pine Lumber Company, especially Mills One, Two, and Three. He remembers the company's executives and their leadership styles: T.L.L. Temple, Arthur Temple, Jr., Watson Walker, H.G. Temple, and Clyde Thompson. He also recalls his mother's boarding house, The Beanery, living through the Depression, the Baptist Church, and the Methodist Church.

Beale, Arthur C. “Pat”

February 17, 1985

Interview 52a : In this interview with Sheila Billingsley, former firebrick salesman Arthur C. Beale remembers his time as a salesman calling on the forest products industry in East Texas. Mr. Beale sold firebricks, primarily for kilns, to Kurth mills and to the Temple mills in Diboll. He explains the use of firebricks and kilns and details the process of manufacturing lumber, from raw tree to finished product.

Beck, Gene

258a: In this interview with Carolyn Elmore, longtime Temple employees Dorothy Birdwell, J.D. Johnson, Yvonne Lewis, and Gene Beck reminisce about their career with Temple and the companies that preceded it.  They talk particularly about the offices that were moved to Diboll after the merger with Time, Inc., including tax offices and land and timber offices in Hemphill and Jasper, former offices of Southwestern Settlement and Development and Houston Oil Company.

Beidleman, Beula

Beidleman, Beula

November 09, 1982

Interview 3a : Diboll Assistant Librarian Beulah Beidleman tells interviewer Becky Bailey about life during the Depression in Crowell, Texas and New London, Texas. She recalls the hard times, the way her family made ends meet, and the relief when she and her husband found steady jobs. The New London oil fields provided both hard times and work and she remembers the New London School explosion as well. She and her husband did not receive any poor relief during the Depression, but they did benefit from a small business loan.

Birdwell, Dorothy

258a: In this interview with Carolyn Elmore, longtime Temple employees Dorothy Birdwell, J.D. Johnson, Yvonne Lewis, and Gene Beck reminisce about their career with Temple and the companies that preceded it.  They talk particularly about the offices that were moved to Diboll after the merger with Time, Inc., including tax offices and land and timber offices in Hemphill and Jasper, former offices of Southwestern Settlement and Development and Houston Oil Company.

Boatwright, Celia Ann Sippio

June 02, 2000

Interview 237a : In this interview with R.L. Kuykendall and Rev. Bettie Kennedy, Celia Ann Sippio Boatwright reminisces about growing up as an African American girl in segregated Lufkin and Trinity County. She talks about her work in the church and the girls she mentored there. She also discusses the differences in child raising styles in the past and present days and her opinions on the children of the present day and their discipline problems.

Booker, John

Booker, John

Interview 175a: In this short interview with Carolyn Elmore, John Booker discusses the layout of the Scrappin’ Valley clubhouse and the types of parties that were held there.  He talks about hunting starting in the 1970’s and how company officials would entertain local officials and customers.

Booker, John O. Jr.

Booker, John O. Jr.

June 20, 2011

Interview 224a : In this extensive interview with Jonathan Gerland, East Texas native John O. Booker, Jr. reminisces about his life in East Texas and his time as a Prisoner of War in World War II. Mr. Booker speaks about growing up in Lufkin, his family's experiences in Diboll and Lufkin, and going to Lufkin schools. He also recalls his time at Texas A&M University, which led him to the Army Air Corps, where he became a pilot. He tells about flight training and the treacherous journey across the Atlantic, as well as about his missions over Germany. Shot down over Holland near the end of his tour, Mr. Booker was rescued by Dutch civilians, but was betrayed by his guide that was supposed to take him to Belgium and then France. The Germans took him to Amsterdam for interrogation and then he became a POW at Stalag Luft 1 near the Baltic Sea in Germany, from the Fall of 1943 until the Russians drove out the Germans in Spring 1945. After the war, Mr. Booker returned to East Texas, where he became an engineer for Southern Pine Lumber Company in Diboll. He worked on infrastructure projects in Diboll for several years and then moved to Pineland. He worked on infrastructure projects in Pineland at the mills and in the city and eventually became mayor, a post he held for 21 years.

Booker, John O. Jr.

Booker, John O. Jr.

September 23, 2014

Interview 224b:  In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, John Booker, Jr. reminisces about his time building roads and bridges at Boggy Slough and tells stories about his family’s interactions with those who lived and worked there.  Looking at 1926 and 1951 maps of the area, Mr. Booker talks about the landscape, the bodies of water and how they were dammed, and discusses the process for building roads through the forests.  He mentions Charlie Harber, Arthur Temple, Jr., J.J. Ray, the Silvers Family, and Don Kenley.  Mr. Gerland asks him about Black Cat Lake, cattle ranching, pasture riders, and the cowboys who once lived there.

Breazeale, Nannie

Breazeale, Nannie

July 23, 1999

Interview 150a : In this interview with Clara Breazeale, Nanny Breazeale reminisces about life in Alcedo, a Southern Pine Lumber Company logging camp. She remembers the boxcar houses, the outhouses, church, school, commissary, Dr. Evans, and Mrs. Bonner's boarding house.

Breazeale, Nannie

Breazeale, Nannie

March 23, 2000

Interview 150b : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, Nannie Breazeale reminisces about Mrs. Fannie Farrington, the Diboll commissary, living at the Alcedo logging camp, swimming in the Neches River, picking cotton in West Texas, and working at the Diboll box factory. Mrs. Breazeale remembers the 1946 box factory fire and the speculation that it was related to union activities.

Brown, Reggie

October 09, 2006

Interview 250a : In this panel interview at a meeting of the Angelina County Historical Commission, Reverend Bettie Kennedy interviews alumni of Dunbar, Lufkin's African American high school. The panel included Willie Mae Burley, Lacy Chimney, Dr. Odis Rhodes, I.D. Henderson, Ellis Carrington, Sr., Charles Carrington, Ellis Carrington, Jr., and Reggie Brown. They discuss attending school and teaching school during segregation in Lufkin, the challenges and rewards of the segregated schools, and the differences once racial integration started. Mr. R.L. Kuykendall also speaks about the Dunbar trophies. Mr. Reggie Brown of Baytown then speaks about his position as a member of the Baytown Historical Association and his work with the T.J. Ford Foundation and their efforts to get Texas U.I.L to recognize the accomplishments of the segregation black schools. He talks about their efforts to recognize alumni all over the state, including East Texas.

Bullock, Margaret Rogers

August 19, 1985

Interview 77a : Dana Copes Rogers and her daughter Margaret Rogers Bullock, descendants of the Copes family that owned the land that would later become Diboll, tell their memories of Copes family history and life in Diboll at the beginning of the 20th Century. Mrs. Rogers recalls her parents, attending church and school, Mable and Asenath Phelps, Copestown, and working for Franklin Farrington at the Diboll Post Office. Her husband worked in several drug stores in Diboll and Pineland before opening his own stores in Hemphill and Lufkin.

Burke, Ward

Burke, Ward

October 23, 1985

Interview 82a : Ward Burke reminisces about his personal history and his dealings with the Temple Foundation. He recalls assisting, as a lawyer, Arthur Temple and Temple Webber through all of the legalities of building up the Southern Pine Lumber Company. He also talks about mergers, liquor sale restrictions, and the effects of the Great Depression. Also mentioned are: Arthur Temple, Jr., Temple Webber, Arthur Lee Burke, Phillip M. Leach, and Georgie Temple Munz.

Burkhalter, Beatrice

Burkhalter, Beatrice

May 25, 1982

Interview 4a : Mrs. Beatrice Burkhalter reminisces about life in Diboll in the 1920s through the 1940s in this interview with Rebecca Bailey. A longtime educator, Mrs. Burkhalter talks about being a widow and single mother in the 1930s, attending college and working while mothering her son in an effort to earn a teaching certificate. She came to Diboll as a teacher in 1937 and eventually finished her bachelors degree in 1939. In addition to her teaching memories, Mrs. Burkhalter recalls the Depression, the beginnings of Social Security and the Teacher Retirement System, entertainment as a teenager, and Weeks family genealogy.

Burkhalter, Beatrice

Burkhalter, Beatrice

February 04, 1984

Interview 18b : In this group interview, Becky Bailey interviews Neil Pickett about his time as the Federal Housing Administration Director in Houston and his efforts to bring affordable public housing to Diboll, particularly the Walter Allen addition. He discusses the procedures for getting FHA loans and Mr. Arthur Temple's involvement in the large projects in Diboll, now owned by the Diboll Housing Authority. Beatrice Burkhalter, Fenner Roth, and Herbert Weeks also contributed to the interview

Burkhalter, Beatrice

Burkhalter, Beatrice

December 10, 1986

Interview 4b : Long-time Diboll resident and educator Beatrice Burkhalter reminisces for Sherri Sheridan about her school days in early Diboll. She recalls the separation of boys and girls, the 2 person desks, and that many of the wealthier families sent their children away for the last several years of their education. Mrs. Burkhalter recalled some of the pranks boys would play on the teachers and the long school days with long recesses. She was in the Diboll High School graduating class of 1922, the first class to graduate from Diboll.

Burkhalter, Beatrice

Burkhalter, Beatrice

December 01, 1987

Interview 4c : Long-time Diboll resident and educator Beatrice Burkhalter answers questions about Coan and Weeks family history and genealogy and remembers her early life. Her family moved around Texas and Louisiana before settling in Diboll, where her father worked in the sawmill and then for the Texas Southeastern Railroad. She recalls details about children lives in the early 20th century their chores and games in particular. She also talks about home remedies that families relied on in the absence of reliable medical care, such as asafetida, sulfa and grease, and castor oil.

Burkhalter, Vernon

Burkhalter, Vernon

December 31, 1985

Interview 85a : Longtime Temple employee Vernon Burkhalter reminisces about life in Diboll through the years. After growing up in Diboll as the son of a local teacher, Mr. Burkhalter worked his way up through the Company ranks as Personnel Director. He talks about growing up and starting work and then recalls all of the changes that have occurred in the company and the lumber industry. He is very complimentary of Arthur Temple, Jr. and Joe Denman and other company executives and credits the company's culture and management for balancing the respect for longtime employees and their knowledge with the need to mechanize and change processes and mentalities with the times.

Burkhalter, Vernon

Burkhalter, Vernon

November 12, 1987

Interview 85b : In an interview with Todd Kellam, Vernon Burkhalter reminisces about growing up in Diboll, going to school, hunting, fishing, and harvesting mayhaws. He also remembers working for Southern Pine Lumber Company during the summers while in high school, cleaning out ditches, cutting weeds, and painting fences. He compares the lives of teenagers today with life when he was in high school and notes positive and negative changes.

Burley, Willie Mae

Burley, Willie Mae

October 09, 2006

Interview 250a : In this panel interview at a meeting of the Angelina County Historical Commission, Reverend Bettie Kennedy interviews alumni of Dunbar, Lufkin's African American high school. The panel included Willie Mae Burley, Lacy Chimney, Dr. Odis Rhodes, I.D. Henderson, Ellis Carrington, Sr., Charles Carrington, Ellis Carrington, Jr., and Reggie Brown. They discuss attending school and teaching school during segregation in Lufkin, the challenges and rewards of the segregated schools, and the differences once racial integration started. Mr. R.L. Kuykendall also speaks about the Dunbar trophies. Mr. Reggie Brown of Baytown then speaks about his position as a member of the Baytown Historical Association and his work with the T.J. Ford Foundation and their efforts to get Texas U.I.L to recognize the accomplishments of the segregation black schools. He talks about their efforts to recognize alumni all over the state, including East Texas.

Bush, E. H. Jr. “Buddy”

January 11, 2000

Interview 155a : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, E.H. "Buddy" Bush, Jr. reminisces about growing up in Diboll and Newton and Lufkin and working for Temple-White, TexLam, and Deep East Texas Council of Governments. He talks about the Believe It Or Not Cafe, working for Paul Durham as photographer and film developer at The Free Press, and running Buddy's Cash Only store.

Bush, E.H. Sr.

July 05, 1984

Interview 035a: In this interview, former Diboll schoolteacher and Superintendent E. H. Bush, Sr. and former teacher Fenner Roth reminisce about teaching school in Diboll during the 1930’s.  They talk about discipline problems, dealing with the Great Depression, teacher and superintendent’s pay, and the heavy workload.  Mr. Bush tells stories about disciplining students, coaching the basketball and baseball teams, and trying to keep the hogs away from the children as they ate lunch.

Byrd, Margie Lee Lacy

Byrd, Margie Lee Lacy

September 27, 2005

Interview 241a : In this short self-interview, Margie Lee Lacy Byrd reminisces about taking the train from Lufkin, stopping in the Lacy settlement, which was named for her great-grandfather, Elmer Lacy. She also describes the process to flag down the train so it would stop in Lacy for passengers. Her grandfather, Elmer Lacy, Jr. and her father, Raymond Lacy, both worked for the railroad.