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.

C

Cade, Harold

June 25, 2010

Interview 202a : In this telephone interview with Patsy Colbert, Harold Cade reminisces about growing up in Diboll during segregation and attending Diboll's segregated black school. A 1944 graduate of H.G. Temple School, Mr. Cade joined the military and studied at Prairie View A&M University before becoming a life-long educator in other areas of Texas, particularly in cities along the south Texas Coast.

Callager, Emma Jones

Callager, Emma Jones

June 01, 2002

Interview 234a : In this interview in front of an audience at the Pinewood Park Apartments with Dickie Dixon and Reverend Bettie Kennedy, Emma Jones Callager talks about her childhood going to school in Lufkin, her experiences with her Ingram family relatives, and her work at her church, Long Chapel CME Church in Lufkin. She also discusses the Black church choirs, the years she spent teaching, her daycare center, Manning and Ewing schools, and her travels. She particularly mentions Will Ingram and several houses he built, the Hackneys, and other African American community leaders during segregation.

Campbell, Gary

Campbell, Gary

July 25, 1984

Interview 146a : In this interview with Becky Bailey, Diboll Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Gary Campbell talks about his teaching career in various East Texas and Houston area schools and then his progression to the position of Superintendent of Diboll. He talks about the need to work with the teachers, principals, and school board to raise the district's test scores, to update the curriculum and facilities, and utilize the district's money in a way that will benefit the students and teachers. He is especially excited about technology and computer upgrades for the classrooms.

Capps, Billie Jean

Capps, Billie Jean

May 10, 2010

Interview 193a : In this interview with Patsy Colbert, long-time Diboll teacher Billie Jean Capps reminisces about her 38 years in local education. The interview focuses on the integration of Diboll's schools, and Mrs. Capps discusses her experiences as an elementary teacher during that process. Mrs. Capps talks about Mr. Pate and the other administrator, the details involved with combining classes and teachers, and the attitudes of fellow teachers and parents. She mentions Odyessa Wallace and the Masseys, Valerie Anderson, and Odyessa Bray. Mrs. Capps grew up in the area and graduated from Diboll High School, and offers the perspective of someone who as observed the local schools as a student, teacher, and parent.

Capps, Jewel

Capps, Jewel

July 11, 1985

Interview 65a : In this interview with her granddaughter-in-law Billie Jean Capps, Mrs. Jewel Capps recalls life in Angelina County from the beginning of the 20th Century. She reminisces about taking care of her siblings, washing clothes outside by the creek, killing and preserving hogs, recreation, school, and discipline.

Capps, Marshall

Capps, Marshall

February 03, 2010

Interview 189a : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, long-time Diboll Independent School District board member Marshall Capps reminisces about his 12-year tenure on the board, including the years of integration. Mr. Capps began his school board position when the Beulah Common School District consolidated with Diboll in 1962. Shortly thereafter, the Diboll board began the integration process with a Freedom of Choice plan. Mr. Capps remembers it to be a relatively painless process in which the board recognized that desegregation would happen and wanted to control the process in their town.

Capps, Shannon

Interview 129a: The following text is not an interview, but commentary accompanying a slide presentation given by Shannon Capps.  She describes historical photos of Diboll and then introduces Diboll citizens who tell their memories on various subjects such as housing conditions, schools, recreation, buildings, and the changes in the town over the years.  Those giving their memories include Clyde Thompson, Dixie Cook, Willie Massey, O.W. Harrison, Geneva Sides Ard, Dewey Wolf, Jack Webb, Dale Grantham, Ruth Poland, and Opal Franks.

Carr, Earl

Carr, Earl

December 12, 1986

Interview 106a : In this interview with student Billy Kujala, Earl Carr recalls going to school in Diboll in the 1940s and 1950s. He talks about his teachers Mrs. Dixie Cook and Mrs. Beatrice Burkhalter, walking to and from school, his favorite subjects, and what he remembers of World War II and the Korean War as a child. He also touches on the differences between schools in the 1940s and the 1980s.

Carrington, Charles

Carrington, Charles

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.

Carrington, Ellis Sr.

Carrington, Ellis Sr.

July 15, 2002

Interview 244a : In this interview with R.L. Kuykendall, Ellis Carrington, Sr., reminisces about his life as an African American man in Lufkin, Texas from 1922 to 2002. Mr. Carrington recalls going to school at Dunbar High School, quitting school and getting married, working for Lufkin Foundry and the railroad, surviving the Depression, and raising his family. Mr. Carrington talks about racial discrimination, segregated schools, life in Lufkin's African American Community throughout the 20th century, celebrations, businesses, and community leaders.

Carrington, Ellis Sr.

Carrington, Ellis Sr.

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.

Carswell, Martha

Carswell, Martha

January 10, 2011

Interview 216a : In this interview with Patsy Colbert, long-time Diboll teacher Martha Carswell reminisces about her years teaching in Diboll, particularly during the racial integration of the schools. Mrs. Carswell taught for 44 years, starting in Lufkin and then moving to Diboll as a 5th and 6th grade teacher. She started in Diboll during Freedom of Choice and then stayed through full integration, with a few years off when her children were young. Mrs. Carswell remembers fellow teachers Mrs. Sibley, Mrs. Stubblefield, Mrs. Pate, and Mrs. Poland. She also remembers her principals Mr. Gartman and Mr. Porter.

Caton, W.T. Carter

August 30, 1976

Interview 5a : In this interview with Marge Shepherd, W.T. Carter Caton reminisces about growing up in Camden and working for the Carter Lumber Company until 1970 (with a short stint in Oregon during the late 1920s). He remembers helping the logging railroad convert from narrow gauge to standard gauge and refinishing some furniture for one of the Carter daughters.

Chandler, Annie

Chandler, Annie

September 10, 1984

Interview 104a : In a short 1954 interview with Clyde Thompson, Annie Chandler reminisces about her early life in Diboll. Her father was involved in Southern Pine Lumber Company's Diboll mill starting in 1895 and Mrs. Chandler spent the rest of her life in Diboll. She married and raised her children there. She remembers getting off the train in Diboll before there was a town. Mrs. Chandler's son, O'Hara was a longtime company executive, and two of her daughters, Rhoda Faye and Finney, worked in the office.

Chandler, O’Hara

Chandler, O’Hara

September 08, 1984

Interview 44a : Early Dibollians Fenner Roth, Herbert Weeks, and O'Hara Chandler, each born in or about 1908, tell of life in Diboll during the 1910s and 1920s during a 1984 interview by leaders of the Diboll Historical Society. The men recall railroad travel, eateries, childhood entertainments, early automobiles, alligators in the mill pond, school teachers, yard work, bitter weeds, and the communities of Emporia and Copestown. Persons discussed include Frank Farrington, Watson Walker, George Johnson, and John Oliver.

Chandler, O’Hara

Chandler, O’Hara

June 18, 1999

Interview 148a : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, longtime educator O'Hara Chandler reminisces about growing up in and around Diboll, working at the sawmill, going to school, and teaching school all over the state. He recalls swimming in the Emporia millpond, Dred Devereaux and his bridges, and his family's time spent working for Southern Pine Lumber Company.

Chandler, O’Hara

Chandler, O’Hara

August 17, 1999

Interview 148b : In August, 1999, Howard Daniel asked O'Hara Chandler to speak to a meeting of the Diboll Rotary Club about his memories of growing up in Diboll. He talks about going to school in Diboll and leaving town for college, using checks at the company store, attending and participating in a traveling circus that stopped in town each year, and a traveling stack cleaner.

Chandler, Rhoda Faye

Chandler, Rhoda Faye

September 07, 1982

Interview 6a : Diboll native Rhoda Faye Chandler tells interviewer Becky Bailey about growing up in Diboll and working for Southern Pine Lumber Company as a young woman. Miss Chandler started working in the accounting office during the Depression for $35/week but was laid off after three months. She was rehired to work by the day (at $3.50/day) and ended up making more money that way than when she was on salary. She recalls the early days of electric service in Diboll, recreation for young people, going to Lufkin for the movies, Depression-era programs like the CCC and the WPA, and the SPLCo. payroll system.

Chandler, Rhoda Faye

Chandler, Rhoda Faye

August 08, 1985

Interview 6b : In this interview with Becky Bailey, Rhoda Faye Chandler, and her brother O'Hara Chandler recall life during the Depression and how Southern Pine Lumber Company took care of its employees and their families when times were hard. Miss Chandler describes going to the homes of Diboll residents in need to asses their situations so that the company could help them out after an accident or death, or when hard times made feeding and clothing a family difficult. She describes the care the company took to ensure that everyone had a home and enough food to eat, and how they worked with local churches and other citizens to care for each other.

Chapman, June Taylor

Chapman, June Taylor

February 18, 2014

265a: In this interview with Patsy Colbert, June Taylor Chapman reminisces about life as a junior high and high school student during racial integration at Diboll schools.  As the first African American cheerleader, she was part of the integration of sports and extracurricular activities and has a unique the perspective of belonging to two worlds during that time.  She recalls life at H.G. Temple before integration, attending the white school for the first time, being accepted by the other cheerleaders and their families, instances of racial discrimination and conflict at school, and how the races interacted in town. She speaks about Mr. and Mrs. Massey, Coach Porter, Mr. Ramsey, Arthur Temple, Jr., and Byrd Davis, in particular.

Chimney, Lacy

Chimney, Lacy

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.

Christian, Mary Jane

Christian, Mary Jane

September 29, 1985

Interview 67a : In this interview with Diboll teacher Gayle Beene, Diboll native and life-long teacher Mary Jane Christian reminisces about growing up in Diboll, going to college at Stephen F. Austin State University, and teaching for 42 years. Mrs. Christian recalls her teachers and the school buildings, she remembers living through the depression and World War II, and she details how the teaching profession has changed throughout her 4-decade long career.

Christian, Mary Jane

Christian, Mary Jane

September 29, 1987

Interview 67b : In this interview with student Elvia Esteves, Mary Jane Christian recalls racial relations in the Diboll schools throughout her life. She grew up in Diboll when the schools were segregated and also began teaching before integration. Mrs. Christian remembers integration from the perspective of a teacher in the elementary school grades.

Clement, Dr. J.C.

Clement, Dr. J.C.

June 12, 1985

Interview 062a: In this interview with Becky Bailey, former Diboll town doctor J.C. Clement reminisces about his days as Diboll’s physician, moving to Lufkin, and the changes in the medical industry throughout his career.  He recounts his early schooling and his introduction to Diboll and mentions many names of prominent citizens.  He describes medical care facilities and practices and laments the changes since his career began.  He also describes the town of Diboll, its people and buildings, and the changes it has seen over the years.

Coleman, Howard

September 19, 1999

Interview 240a: In this interview with community leader R.L. Kuykendall, Howard Coleman reminisces about his life in Lufkin.  He speaks about the Great Depression, Civilian Conservation Corps, race relations and discrimination, and some of the major families in Lufkin’s African American Community.

Coleman, Sam Sr.

Coleman, Sam Sr.

August 09, 2010

Interview 206a : In this interview with Patsy Colbert, Mr. Sam Coleman, Sr. reminisces about his life in Diboll. Mr. Coleman came to Diboll in 1966 and immediately became active in the community. In 1975 he was elected as the first African American member of the Diboll City Council. Throughout his tenure in Diboll, Mr. Coleman worked at the Fiberboard Plant and as a driver for the Temple family and was a manager at Boggy Slough. He volunteered for many community organizations, including Diboll Day, the Boy Scouts, Little League Baseball and the Boys and Girls Club. Mr. Coleman witnessed many changes in Diboll and his leadership helped smooth the integration process in various parts of the community.

Cook, Dixie

Cook, Dixie

March 31, 2011

Interview 220a : In this interview with Patsy Colbert, long-time teacher and Nacogdoches County native Dixie Cook reminisces about her life in the classroom in Diboll and Pasadena. She began teaching in Diboll at the request of Mr. Pate in 1943 before finishing her degree at Stephen F. Austin and continued to teach for 40 years, eventually finishing her bachelor's degree and earning a master's degree. Mrs. Cook talks about teaching in Diboll before racial integration and after integration, but during the process since she lived and taught in Pasadena at the time. She mentions Robert Cook, Lucille Cook, Jack Cook Sweeny, discipline in the classroom, Mr. Ramsey, O'Hara Chandler, Mr. Pate, Joe Paul Stovall, and her work with the American Diabetes Association.

Cooke, Stacy

Cooke, Stacy

February 01, 2010

Interview 188a : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, Stacy Cooke reminisces about the 14 years he spent as a member of the Diboll Independent School District School Board. The interview focuses on the years 1966-1970, during the integration of Diboll's schools. He credits the board, the school administration, the teachers, the students, the local community, and Arthur Temple, Jr. for ensuring that Diboll experienced desegregation without many problems.

Corder, Rose Frazier

Corder, Rose Frazier

November 30, 2010

Interview 215a : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland and Richard Donovan, sisters Rose Frazier Corder, Wilhelmenia Frazier Hardy, and Arverta Frazier Mosely reminisce about their lives growing up in the southern Angelina County African American settlement of Boykin Settlement in the middle of the 20th century. They all attended the Vernon County Line School (near the Blue Hole) and then went on to have professions and higher education. Mrs. Mosely attended Prairie View College and became a teacher at Camp Nancy and then spent the rest of her career as a County Home Demonstration Agent or County Extension Agent. At first the office was segregated and she only worked with African American women, but in the 1960's and 1970's the offices were racially integrated and she taught all women to can and freeze food and other domestic skills. Mrs. Hardy moved to Houston and then Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her husband, where she attended cosmetology school and real estate school. She talks about the differences in culture and race relations in Milwaukee than in Houston and Boykin Settlement. Mrs. Corder moved to Milwaukee as a teenager to live with her sister Wilhelmenia, where she adapted to life in a school of 3000 students. She continued her education and became a nurse in Milwaukee and California, before returning to Lufkin. The Frazier sisters grew up in this African American community in a family of 13 children that all survived to adulthood. Their ancestors, the Runnels, were former slaves who settled in the area.

Cornick, Ilene

Cornick, Ilene

May 15, 2009

Interview 181a : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, Ilene Cornick reminisces about her life as a World War II widow, member of the Red Cross, teacher, and member of the United States Army Special Services Branch. Mrs. Cornick's husband, Ray, died when his P-42 crashed in the North Sea in 1944. She joined the Red Cross the following year and traveled to Europe to run service clubs for American soldiers in Luxembourg and Germany. She taught school in San Augustine, Diboll, and Houston, and ran the YMCA in El Paso. Mrs. Cornick also traveled to Korea with the U.S. Army, where she taught at an international school and worked for the Special Services in the service clubs. While in Korea, Mrs. Cornick was acquainted with Syngman Rhee, the eventual President of Korea. She also worked for the Special Services in Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Germany.

Courtney, Ollie Mae

February 13, 2003

Interview 245a : In this interview with R.L. Kuykendall and an unknown co-interviewer, Ollie Mae Courtney reminisces about growing up in Angelina County during the first half of the 20th Century. She talks about her family, attending Lufkin High School, farming in Lufkin, World War I, the Depression, World War II, and rationing. She also recalls her first ever car ride, and her father's businesses.

Craft, Oleta

Craft, Oleta

January 01, 1987

Interview 124a : Oleta Craft, owner of the Dress Craft clothing store, recalls working at the Mize Factory in Nacogdoches and opening her store in Diboll. She remembers how she built up her stock and gained loyal customers, dealt with salesmen, kept the store going when times were tough. She also recalls her encounter with a cross dresser who came to buy women's clothing at her store.

Crager, Harold

Crager, Harold

November 30, 1987

Interview 117a : Harold Crager recalls his entrance into the Air Force in 1948. He remembers signing up and shipping out to San Antonio, enduring basic training, and the skills he gained in those 13 weeks.

Cryer, George

Cryer, George

February 18, 2014

Interview 266a: In this interview with Jonathan Gerland and Richard Donovan, Zavalla, Angelina County native George Cryer reminisces about growing up in southern Angelina County.  He talks about his father’s peckerwood sawmill, making crossties, working in the woods cutting timber, and the changes in the lumber industry for small producers in the middle of the 20th century.  He talks about growing up in the Zavalla area, working for his father, hunting and fishing, the coming of the dams, the switch to chain saws, and working construction in the Beaumont area.

Currie, Ruth

Currie, Ruth

November 30, 1987

Interview 95a : Mrs. Ruth Currie reminisces about her life as a railroader's wife in White City, Fastrill, and Diboll. A native of Louisiana, Mrs. Currie followed her husband from one Southern Pine Lumber Company operation to another. In White City she lived in a boxcar house. When the White City camp closed, her family moved to Fastrill, where they lived until 1939. She fondly remembers her time in Fastrill and the closeness of the families that lived there. She also recalls the Depression and how if affected Fastrill.