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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Samuel, Rueben “Jellie”

Samuel, Rueben “Jellie”

February 05, 2001

Interview 160a : In this interview with Patsy Colbert, Mr. Rueben Jellie Samuel reminisces about playing baseball for the Diboll Dragons and the Diboll Eagles, the black community baseball teams in the 1940's. He recalls their car trips to play other teams around the state of Texas and in Louisiana, his teammates, and the reason the Dragons split up and became the Eagles after a manager swindled them and took their money. Mr. Samuel also talks about his love of peanut patties.

Samuel, Rueben “Jellie”

Samuel, Rueben “Jellie”

February 14, 2005

Interview 160b : In this interview/speech at the February 2005 Angelina County Historical Commission Meeting, Rueben "Jellie" Samuel reminisces about his days as a member of the Diboll/Southern Pine Lumber Company African-American baseball team in the 1940's. Mr. Samuel played for both the Dragons and the Eagles. He recalls practicing on Sunday and traveling around the area playing other company teams. Mr. Samuel also tells how he became associated with peanut patties and how his team dealt with several different managers, one of whom stole their money. He recounts one of his favorite memories, the game between his team and the North Dakota All-Stars, where they packed the white stadium in Diboll. Jonathan Gerland, Johnny McClendon, Bettie Kennedy, and Carol Riggs also take part in the interview.

Scarborough, Jess

Scarborough, Jess

June 19, 2013

259a: In this interview with Patsy Colbert, Angelina County native Jess Scarborough reminisces about growing up in the Beulah community.  He talks about his father and grandfather, two of the county’s earliest settlers, farming, killing hogs, attending the small, rural Beulah school, working as a butcher in Lufkin, and working for a gas pipeline company.  Mr. Scarborough reminisces about the Grimes and Dubose stores, selling hogs to the Southern Pine Lumber Company commissary in Diboll, picking and selling cotton, and making ends meet during the Great Depression.  He also repeats tales from his father and grandfather about the Old Beef Trail that crossed southern Angelina County near Beulah.

Schinke, Julia Ashford

Schinke, Julia Ashford

August 01, 1980

Interview 21a : Julia Ashford Schinke, a daughter of one of Diboll's first residents, recalls growing up in Diboll at the beginning of the 20th century, going to school shopping in the commissary, and growing and preserving food. She attended college in Ft. Worth and later came to Diboll where she taught school for 24 years.

Scurlock, Lassie

January 31, 1987

Interview 243a : In this interview with her niece Valencia Kuykendall, Lassie Scurlock reminisces about growing up in Lufkin as an African American girl during the era of segregation. She discusses going to school at Dunbar School, her teachers, sports, and traveling to out of town games. She also talks about living in a segregated society, with separate public facilities and sitting on the back of the bus. Mrs. Scurlock concludes the interview with words of advice for her niece.

Sheffield, Jack

Sheffield, Jack

June 29, 2017

Interview 283a: In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, Angelina County native Jack Sheffield reminisces about growing up in logging camps in East Texas.   He talks about Fastrill,Redgate, and Tadmore in particular.  Mr. Sheffield tells about his father’s work logging and maintaining logging trucks for Southern Pine Lumber Company.  He also discusses Halloween and Christmas traditions, working in the woods, and the different types of houses in the logging camps.

Shepherd, Marjorie

Shepherd, Marjorie

October 22, 1993

Interview 144a : In this interview with An Sweeney, Marjorie Shepherd reminisces about her life before coming to Diboll in 1960 and after. Mrs. Shepherd, the wife of C.H. Shepherd, was born in Mississippi, but moved to New Jersey with her husband and worked in the fashion industry in New York and New Jersey. She traveled all over the world for her job at Lord and Taylor and later for a store in New Jersey. The Shepherds moved to Oregon and Michigan before moving to Diboll. After coming to Diboll, Mrs. Shepherd attended Stephen F. Austin State University and received a bachelor's and master's in Fine Arts. She taught art in Diboll and throughout Angelina County and continued to travel the world. Mrs. Shepherd was also the founder of the Diboll Garden Club.

Shepherd, Mark

Shepherd, Mark

October 28, 2010

Interview 212a : In this interview with Patsy Colbert, friends Mark Shepherd and Bruce Durham reminisce about their Diboll school days. As 5th graders, Shepherd and Durham experienced the racial integration of Diboll schools. They recall very few problems with integration, and as children, just accepted that it was happening. The sons of community leaders (Mark Shepherds parents were C.H. and Margorie Shepherd; Bruce's parents were Paul and Jimmie Beth Durham), they were expected to behave in school and treat all students and teachers with respect. Both men were involved in sports and played on integrated teams from Junior High through High School. They were especially complimentary of the African American teachers that came into their lives after integration, especially Coach Porter and Mr. Massey.

Shrader, Greg

Shrader, Greg

April 02, 2015

Interview 272a: In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, Lufkin Daily News Publisher Greg Shrader discusses his career in the newspaper business and the changes in newspapers, journalism, and information delivery.  He talks about his early life in Pasadena, college in Austin, and the beginning of his career in newspaper advertising at The Houston Chronicle.  Mr. Shrader discusses his moves to papers in Bryan, Texas and Abilene, Texas in the advertising and marketing departments and then his move to Galveston, Texas, Kerrville, Texas and Lufkin, Texas as Publisher.  He discusses the changes in how newspapers are printed, how information is delivered to customers, how newspapers are run and staffed, and how they are funded.  He also discusses things that have not changed for newspapers, mainly their importance for a community’s safety and identity, their place as a community supporting institution, and the newspaper staff’s (particularly the publisher’s) need to be involved in the community, to care about the community, and to build a relationship with community government, organizations, and citizens based on trust.

Silvers, Joe

Silvers, Joe

November 12, 2008

Interview 174a : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, Mr. Joe Silvers reminisces about his father and grandfather and their time spent at Rayville Ranch. He remembers the things they told him about the ranch, about J.J. Ray, about being a pasture rider, and the different groups of people who visited the ranch, including a group of Texas Rangers and Southern Pine Lumber Company officials. Mr. Silver also talks about poaching, gunfights, and the railroad in the area.

Simmons, James

Simmons, James

February 22, 2011

Interview 219a : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, former Diboll High School athletic director and football coach James (Jim) Simmons recalls his 2 years in Diboll. Coach Simmons directed the athletic department and coached the football team, girls volleyball team, and track team from 1965-1967 during the beginnings of racial integration in Diboll's schools. Coach Simmons remembers about his time in Diboll as enjoyable and talks about the issues involved in upgrading the athletic program, creating a winning football team, and overseeing racial integration. He doesn't recall any overtly racial problems among the football team and credits those students with the smooth transition and winning season. He particularly talks about players Johnny Jones, Louis Landers, and Mack Mitchell. School officials and community members mentioned are Willie Massey, Robert Ramsey, Billy Burt, Gemar Batiste, Jerry Gartman, Minnie Jones, and Arthur temple, Jr.

Simmons, Lela

June 02, 2000

Interview 235a : In this interview with R.L. Kuykendall, Lela Freeman Simmons reminisces about growing up in Lufkin as an African American girl during the middle of the 20th century. She recalls attending the segregated Carver Elementary and her teachers Mrs. Hackney, Mrs. Hill, Mrs. Collins, and Mrs. Bernice Harris, as well as attending Dunbar for High School. She remembers the relationship between teachers and students, the discipline and educational expectations and the challenges that faced African Americans during segregation. She discusses landmarks in Lufkin's African American community including Joe's Quarters and Lynn's Theater, as well as interactions with White citizens at places like Trevathan's drugstore. She also talks about a sit-in at the Dairy Queen during the Civil Rights movement, relations between the races in Lufkin, and the African American community's interactions with law enforcement and salesmen.

Simms, James

Simms, James

September 11, 2013

261a: In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, former Diboll Mayor and officer at First Bank and Trust reminisces about his years in Diboll.  He talks about his growing up years in Diboll and Hull-Daisetta, joining the military, and returning to Diboll to work and get an education.  Mr. Simms discusses his over 40 year tenure at the bank and his time on the Diboll City Council and as mayor.  Topics include water rights for the city, differences in the banking industry, city relationships with Temple-Inland, and changes in the town since the 1960’s.

Smart, Donna

Smart, Donna

February 22, 2008

Interview 172a : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, Pete and Donna Smart reminisce about their days working for Temple and living in the southeast and Diboll. Pete joined Temple as a salesman in 1965, working in Charlotte, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; and Kentucky selling Temple products, particularly plywood, fiberboard and studs. They moved to Diboll in 1973 and lived there until 2007. Donna worked for the company from 1990 until 2008. The Smarts talk about Diboll Day, selling Temple products in the southeast, promoting Temple products, the community spirit in Diboll, Arthur Temple's vision for his company and Diboll, and other company leaders. They mention Bob Weston, Bert Lindsey, Joe Sample, Joe Denman, Clifford Grum, and Jack Sweeny.

Smart, Pete

Smart, Pete

February 22, 2008

Interview 172a : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, Pete and Donna Smart reminisce about their days working for Temple and living in the southeast and Diboll. Pete joined Temple as a salesman in 1965, working in Charlotte, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; and Kentucky selling Temple products, particularly plywood, fiberboard and studs. They moved to Diboll in 1973 and lived there until 2007. Donna worked for the company from 1990 until 2008. The Smarts talk about Diboll Day, selling Temple products in the southeast, promoting Temple products, the community spirit in Diboll, Arthur Temple's vision for his company and Diboll, and other company leaders. They mention Bob Weston, Bert Lindsey, Joe Sample, Joe Denman, Clifford Grum, and Jack Sweeny.

Smart, Pete

Smart, Pete

January 25, 2011

Interview 172b : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland and Matt Gorzalski, Pete Smart reminisces about the beginnings of the Temple "T-Wheel" logo. There are conflicting stories as to its creation, but Mr. Smart tells the story he heard from Bill Hopson, from the Houston advertising firm Richie and Hopson, who designed the logo. Mr. Smart also talks about his first years as a salesman and his experiences selling Temple's southern yellow pine throughout the South. He also recalls Bob Weston and the first use of the magenta dye in the convoy of the Temple Studs, which set those studs apart from other yellow pine studs and led to higher sales and better recognition at lumber yards and construction sites.

Smith, Carey

Smith, Carey

September 28, 1982

Interview 22a : In an interview with Becky Bailey, Carey Smith reminisces about his life in Diboll from the 1920's through the 1980's. Mr. Smith was born in Huntington and moved to Diboll as a child. Except for one year spent in the Army during World War I, he lived in Diboll and worked for Southern Pine Lumber Company in the Planer. Mr. Smith recalls the hardships of the Depression, living conditions in Copestown, and life as an African American worker and preacher in the company town.

Smith, Carey

Smith, Carey

March 26, 1985

Interview 22b: In this interview with Becky Bailey, long-time Diboll resident Carey Smith speaks about his experiences with Diboll’s African American churches, particularly Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.  He talks about the church’s history, its pastors, prominent members and its relationship to the community. 

Smith, Carey

Smith, Carey

April 01, 1988

Interview 22c: In this interview with Jim Ligon, Carey Smith talks about life in Diboll as an African American.  He discusses race relations, crimes, religious activities, and people from Diboll. Mr. Smith was particularly active in the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. He also discusses the Temple School and several of Diboll’s African American teachers.

Smith, Gary Mike

Smith, Gary Mike

August 16, 2000

Interview 222a: In this informal interview with Jonathan Gerland, longtime Texas Southeastern Railroad employees and retirees Charles Foster, Gary Mike Smith, Don Harrison, George Honea, and Carroll Dover share memories of working for the shortline railroad in Diboll on the occasion of the railroad turning one hundred years old. Fond memories of working experiences and various personalities are recalled. Some of the people remembered are C.A. Jordan, R.A. “Boots” Jackson, W.J. “Professor” Jackson, Odair Womack, Willard Conner, and Jimmie Beth Durham.

Smith, Gary Mike

Smith, Gary Mike

October 13, 2010

Interview 211a : In this interview with Patsy Colbert, Diboll native Gary Mike Smith reminisces about growing up in Diboll. He was a 6th grader during the first year of total school racial integration and played Little League baseball when the program was racially integrated. Mr. Smith recalls his interactions with white and black students, teachers, and coaches, particularly Mrs. Odyssa Wallace, Coach James Porter, Mrs. Bea Burkhalter, Mrs. Beth Stubblfield. He recalls an incident of racial tension during his senior year of high school, in 1975, but doesn't remember very many of these types of problems. He also discusses Diboll Day, his involvement in the Little League program, and his work at the Texas Southeastern Railroad.

Smith, Joy Mae

Smith, Joy Mae

June 02, 2010

Interview 198a : In this interview with Patsy Colbert, Joy Mae Smith reminisces about growing up in Diboll and attending the segregated schools. A member of the graduating class of 1944, the first class to graduate from Diboll Colored School (later H.G. Temple High School), Mrs. Smith remembers Professor Hurdle and his wife, Professor Davis, and Mr. Bradley as teachers and leaders at the segregated school. She recalls the accreditation process and attending Dunbar in Lufkin for two months as a high schooler while the students of Diboll waited state accreditation. She also recalls attending the Sunday baseball games and visiting the Rodgers Café. Mrs. Smith sent her children to Diboll's schools during the racial integration process, and doesn't recall any racially charged incidents during that process.

Smith, L.D.

Smith, L.D.

February 13, 1986

Interview 92a : Diboll native L.D. Smith, in an interview with Marie Davis, reminisces about life in Diboll. He recalls going to school as a child and teenager, the games boys played to amuse themselves, working at the school during the Depression, and then working for Southern Pine Lumber Company after World War II. He had various jobs, but Mr. Smith spent most of his career as a truck driver, delivering Temple products all of the country. He reflects on changes in the Company and town, and tells about his new found hobby of genealogy.

Smith, L.D.

December 08, 1986

Interview 92b : In an interview with his great-nephew Joe Smith, L.D. Smith reminisces about cars and trucks and transportation. He remembers walking everywhere, riding the train to Lufkin and Houston, and the various cars his father owned. He also talks about life as a trucker hauling lumber and forest products all over the United States.

Smith, Lorine Rodgers

Smith, Lorine Rodgers

May 15, 2010

Interview 196a : In this interview with Patsy Colbert, Diboll native Minnie Jones and her friend Lorine Rodgers Smith reminisce about growing up in Diboll's African American community, the school integration process, and race relations. A high school basketball star before racial integration, Ms. Jones graduated from Diboll High School one year after the process was completed. She spent most of her school days at H.G. Temple High School, Diboll's African American school, representing the school as Diboll Day Queen Candidate and Rodeo Queen. Mrs. Smith graduated from H.G. Temple High School in 1960 and spent all of her school days in the segregated education system, but had children in elementary school for the first year of full integration. She also worked at the Pine Bough Restaurant as a dishwasher for Mrs. Byrd Davis. Both women remember Mr. Massey, Mrs. Wallace, and Mrs. Schinke, among other notable Diboll educators.

Stanley, Darryl

Stanley, Darryl

October 15, 2014

Interview 269a: In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, former Temple Inland wildlife manager Darryl Stanley reminisces about his career in parks and recreation and wildlife management, including time spent with the parks departments at the City of Houston (Houston Zoo and associated parks) and the City of Baytown and 29 years as a wildlife manager for Temple Eastex and Temple Inland.  After working for the two cities and receiving a degree in recreation and parks management, he moved to work for Temple managing the wildlife at Scrappin’ Valley and in other areas where the company managed the wildlife.  He managed deer and quail and monitored the hunting, logging, and planting programs, including management of endangered species like the red cockaded woodpecker.  He was a go-between when foresters wanted to cut trees in this area and had to determine if it was a risk to the managed wildlife populations.  He also talks about hunting parties at Scrappin’ Valley and Boggy Slough and Bruni, relations with environmental groups, balancing the needs of hunters, wildlife, and loggers, the changes in the industry’s relationships with environmentalists, and the changes in the company’s management of Scrappin’ Valley and Boggy Slough.

Stern, Walter

Stern, Walter

May 03, 2001

Interview 161a : In this 2001 interview with Jonathan Gerland, longtime Temple-Inland Inc. board member Walter Stern reflects on his relationship with Arthur Temple Jr. and Temple Industries, beginning in the early 1960s. He traces business dealings leading up to Time Inc.'s acquisition of Temple Industries in 1973 and the eventual spinoff of Temple-Inland Inc. in 1983. He also comments briefly on the corporate structure of Temple-Inland as it existed in 2001. Persons mentioned include Bob Weston, Mike Dingman, John and Edward Hinman, Leonard Dalsemer, Carl Bendetsen, Jim Beré, Jim Shepley, Clifford Grum and Mike Buckley. Other business names mentioned include Burnham and Company, International Paper, Louisiana Land, and Champion Paper.

Stovall, J.W.

Stovall, J.W.

May 08, 1985

Interview 58a : In this interview with Marie Davis, lifelong Angelina County resident J.W. Stovall recalls growing up on Stovall Creek near Diboll. The Stovalls were one of the earliest settlers in Angelina County and owned a large plantation on Stovall Creek and the Neches River. Mr. Stovall recalls farming, family history, recreation, and working in the Diboll mills.

Stringer, Mr. and Mrs. Fred

March 01, 1973

Interview 103b : In this interview with Jim Dunlap, Mr. and Mrs. Stringer recall living through the Great Depression, making ends meet, farming, raising cotton, making railroad ties, and killing armadillos.

Strong, Rev. Elizine

Strong, Rev. Elizine

May 05, 2009

Interview 179a : In this interview with Jonathan Gerland, Rev. Elizine Strong reminisces about his life growing up in East Texas, his calling as a minister in the Pentecostal Church, and his life in ministry, particularly in Diboll. Rev. Strong's niece, Debra Buster, is also present.

Stubblefield, Horace

Stubblefield, Horace

Interview 132a: In this interview with Carolyn Elmore, Horace Stubblefield reminisces about his life and career with the Temple companies, particularly Temple Associates and the box factory.  He also talks about his family, his life in Diboll, and the projects he worked on for Arthur Temple, Jr., particularly the public housing in Diboll, the nursing home and day care center, and the golf course and parks.  He also discusses his tenure with Sabine Investments and the development of residential subdivisions around Lake Sam Rayburn and in Lufkin at Crown Colony.

Sullivan, Ennis

September 06, 1997

Interview 249a : In this interview with R.L. Kuykendall as part of a program for the Black History Archives in Lufkin, Reverend Ennis I. Sullivan retells a sermon he gave to the Black Ministerial Alliance that urges all the members to work together for their community. He also gives some of his personal history and describes growing up in segregated Shreveport, Louisiana, attending and teaching at black schools before and during racial integration, and his call into the ministry.

Sweeny, Jack C.

Sweeny, Jack C.

April 24, 2012

Interview 248a : In this first of three interviews with Jonathan Gerland, Jack Cook Sweeny reminisces about his life as a Diboll native and the early years of his involvement with the Temple businesses. The son of Diboll native Lucille Cook Sweeny and Jack W. Sweeny and the great grandson of Dr. Cook, the town's first doctor and grandson of R.F. Cook, Mr. Sweeny's roots run deep in Diboll. He spent his early childhood in Diboll attending the schools and playing baseball and then his family moved to Pineland. He talks about the differences in the two towns and the difficulties of that move and remembers some of the issues surrounding Temple's takeover of Pineland's facilities. He reminisces about his school days in Pineland and his time at Tyler Junior College and Texas A&M and his early career working for Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation and then his new position as a salesman for Temple in Tyler and Dallas. Mr. Sweeny then talks about his career with Temple through the 1970's and discusses the changes that came with the acquisition by Time, Inc. and then the eventual spin-off. He mentions R.F. Cook, Dr. Cook, Eck Prud homme, Arthur Temple, Jr., Temple Webber, Harold Maxwell, Henry Holubec, Joe Denman, and Kenny Jastrow, among others. He also discusses Southern Pine Lumber Company, Texas Southeastern Railroad, Time, Inc., Temple-Eastex, Temple Industries, Temple-Inland, U.S. Plywood, and Champion.

Sweeny, Jack C.

Sweeny, Jack C.

May 01, 2012

Interview 248b : In this second in a series of three interviews, Jonathan Gerland interviews Jack Sweeny about his career with Temple-Inland. The majority of this interview covers the time period of the late 1970's to the 2000's, roughly from just before the spin-off from Time, Inc. to the sale of Temple-Inland's forestlands in 2007. Mr. Sweeny discusses changes in the forest products industry, the challenges of running a company made up of disparate entities (finance, building products, timber, paper), and the difficulties of the 1980's and 2000's recessions. He discusses management dynamics, differences in management styles through the years, and how major decisions were made and their affect on those who implemented them. Mr. Sweeny also gives an overview of the changes in the forest products industry as a whole and how Temple weathered those changes.

Sweeny, Jack C.

Sweeny, Jack C.

June 06, 2012

Interview 248c : In this third in a series of three interviews with Jonathan Gerland, Jack Sweeny talks about the changes in Temple-Inland from the late 1990's to 2012. He discusses the corporate office move to Austin in 2002, the unsuccessful foreign forest ventures, the board's dealings with Carl Icahn, the breakup of the company in 2007 and the sale of the forests, and the sale of Temple-Inland to International Paper in 2011-2012. Mr. Sweeny discusses the changes in forestry philosophy throughout his career and the balance between supply and responsible forest management practices. He also discusses Arthur Temple, Jr.'s management style, his experiences with the Diboll Housing Authority, and the unique institution that is Diboll Day.

Sweeny, Lucille Cook

July 24, 1993

Interview 139a : In this interview with local historian Franklin Weeks, Lucille Cook Sweeny recalls her memories of her grandfather, Dr. H.C. Cook. Dr. Cook was a Southern Pine Lumber Company lumber camp doctor who moved with the camps until the 1920's, when he moved into Diboll. Mrs. Sweeny remembers her grandfather's patients paid him in produce and syrup when they couldn't pay for his services with cash.

Swilley, Naomi Conner

Swilley, Naomi Conner

March 08, 1988

Interview 119a : In this interview with Marie Davis, Naomi Conner Swilley reminisces about growing up in Prairie Grove and living in Diboll in the first half of the 20th century. Mrs. Swilley mentions her first husband, Gib Conner, the Great Depression, their store and meat market, making lye soap, and going to the Baptist Church.