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.

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Kenley, Dave

Kenley, Dave

December 01, 1954

Interview 14a : In this 1954 interview, Dave Kenley (1886-1975), longtime land surveyor and head of Southern Pine Lumber Company's Land & Timber Department, tells John Larson of the Forest History Foundation (later known as the Forest History Society) about early forest land and timber issues. He describes early forest management practices, including evolving logging methods, concerns with fire prevention, and land and timber purchasing and surveying, including a controversial title suit involving Trinity County lands in the early 1900's.  In September 1980, Marjorie Shephed was recorded reading the text of this interview for the Diboll Oral History Project, since the original audio was unavailable.

Kenley, Edd

Kenley, Edd

October 05, 2000

Interview 158a : Born in 1924, Edd Kenley tells of his life working for his father Dave Kenley in the cattle ranching business in Trinity, Houston, and Angelina counties, mostly on timberlands owned and managed by Southern Pine Lumber Company. He tells of Mexican workers hired to do fence work and chop hardwood brush, and also relates the brief use of goats to control the hardwood brush. He tells of the lumber company cattle rancher J. J. Ray and Rayville Ranch cowboys Dewey Tarwaters, John Silvers, Frank Rushing and others. Other persons mentioned are L. D. Gilbert, T. L. L. Temple, Henry Titus Mooney, Roy Smith, Walter James, and Grady Singletary.

Kenley, Sidney

Kenley, Sidney

January 01, 1984

Interview 39a&b : Born in Leesville, Texas, in 1884, Sidney Walters Kenley discusses life in Diboll from 1918 to the 1990's. She talks about the long hours the men worked, the Klu Klux Klan, and a whiskey still. A teacher by profession, she never worked in Diboll's schools, but stayed home to raise her children. Her family was one of the few who owned a telephone, because of her husband's job. Some people also mentioned are: Mrs. Estes, Clyde Thompson, Chester Willis, and Watson Walker.

Kennedy, Bettie

Kennedy, Bettie

September 12, 2001

Interview 170b : In this several day interview with R.L. Kuykendall, Rev. Bettie Kennedy reminisces about growing up as an African American girl in Lufkin, TX. She tells about her ancestor's former slaves who lived throughout East Texas and her father, Will Engram, a house builder and a leader in Lufkin's African American community. She talks about growing up in a diverse neighborhood, church, her memories of racism within the community, moving to California for a year, and the effect of World War II. Rev. Kennedy talks about segregation, education, racism, and the problems and challenges to the African American community in East Texas. She also recites some of her original poetry.

Kennedy, Bettie

Kennedy, Bettie

October 01, 2001

Interview 170c : In this interview with R. L. Kuykendall, Rev. Bettie Kennedy continues with her reminisces about growing up as an African American child in Lufkin. She highlights the African American community through the years, speaking of the doctors, dentists, businesses and neighborhoods that made up her community. She discusses racism, teaching African American History, the challenges within the community today, education, the Citizens Chamber of Commerce, and the community's changes. She also recites original poetry.

Kennedy, Bettie

Kennedy, Bettie

February 11, 2002

Interview 170d : The Rev. Bettie Kennedy speaks to the Angelina County Historical Commission meeting about Squire Long, a leader in Lufkin's African American Community in the years immediately following the Civil War. This was an informal speech, so there is some conversation between Reverend Kennedy and several unidentified members of the audience. She speaks about Squire Long's acquisition (or speculates about it) of land after the Civil War, his importance to the African American community, and the church, Long's Chapel CME, named in his honor. She also talks about some of the Long descendants, the Bradcliffs, the Lewis family, and the McKenzie family.

Kennedy, Bettie

Kennedy, Bettie

August 28, 2007

Interview 170a : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, Rev. Bettie Kennedy discusses her life and memories growing up in Lufkin as the adopted daughter of homebuilder Will Ingram and his wife, Evie. She speaks of her uniquely integrated neighborhood of whites, black, and Jews, attending the segregated Dunbar School in Lufkin, and her family dynamics. Rev. Kennedy gives her thoughts on integration, education, and Lufkin's historic neighborhoods.

King, Queen Esther Taylor

King, Queen Esther Taylor

August 11, 2010

Interview 208a : In this interview with Patsy Colbert, Queen Esther Taylor King reminisces about growing up in Diboll as an African American child and attending the segregated H.G. Temple School starting in the 9th grade. She graduated in 1944 and attended Prairie View A&M University. While in high school, Mrs. King was named the H.G. Temple Forest Festival Queen and rode on the H.G. Temple float in the parade. Her children were in elementary school and junior high during the integration of Diboll schools. She discusses race relations, desegregation, attending school, working at the Pine Bough restaurant, working at the Housing Authority, and working for several white families, including the Cooks and Sweenys.

Knutson, Spencer

Knutson, Spencer

September 14, 1999

Interview 153a : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, North Dakota native and long-time Temple logging supervisor Spencer Knutson reminisces about the changes in the logging industry as a whole and the Temple companies in particular, over his career from the 1950's to the 1990's. He started in the western forests and then moved to East Texas and adapted some of the western practices and equipment to the southern pine forests. His career spanned the era from animal-based logging with extensive rail networks to lead-based logging operations to the wide-spread use of skidders and chippers and large trucks. Mr. Knutson talks about the challenges of managing forests for varied types of fiber needs, the growing movement for sustainable forests, and Arthur Temple, Jr.'s vision of what his company could be and how the lumber industry should adapt to changing times and technology.

Kuykendall, R. L.

Kuykendall, R. L.

April 09, 2013

Interview 256a: In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, R.L. Kuykendall reminisces about his life.  He speaks about growing up as an African American child in Galveston, Texas in the 1930’s and 1940’s, attending segregated schools and joining the Navy.  He talks about his time in the Navy and then his time as a student at Texas Southern University in Houston.  Upon graduation, he started teaching in various small schools around southeast Texas, including Coldspring, where he met his wife, Viola Tims.  Mr. Kuykendall moved to Lufkin in 1969 and began teaching at Dunbar school, spent a few years as Principal of Crockett High School in Crockett, and then returned to Lufkin as Principal of Garrett Primary, from which he retired.  Mr. Kuykendall also discusses his time as a member of Lufkin’s City Council, the Lufkin Planning and Zoning Committee, and the Deep East Texas Council of Governments.  He also speaks about his project with Reverend Betty Kennedy to preserve African American history in Lufkin by interviewing African American citizens and recording their memories in oral history interviews.