Stephen F. Austin State University

Local Writers' Columns

The Center for Regional Heritage Research is now hosting several local writers' columns in an effort to preserve our East Texas history. Having this history told to us through local voices broadens our collective understanding of our shared past. Check back each month for new articles from each of the counties the Center for Regional Heritage Research represents.

Elaine Bay's Old News

Elaine Bay
Elaine Bay
The CRHR is excited to welcome Ms. Elaine Bay's monthly column, "Old News". Elaine Bay is representing Rains County with her articles to inform and entertain readers. With the help of the Rains Historical Commission, Bay recently put together a new book on Rains County called Images of America-Rains County.

Wanda Bobinger's From The Archives

Wanda Bobinger
The Heritage Center is excited to showcase Ms. Wanda Bobinger's new column "From the Archives", representing Polk County. Bobinger is the curator at the Polk County Memorial Museum. The museum, located in Livingston, Texas, is the responsibility of the Polk County Historical Commission. The Commission's purpose is to locate, mark, restore, preserve and interpret such sites, items, and information which will help future generations to better understand and appreciate their heritage.

Deborah L. Burkett's Images and Stories from Cherokee County, Texas

Deborah L. Burkett
Deborah L. Burkett
Deborah L. Burkett, member of the Cherokee County Historical Commission and Committee Chair of Historic Photos and Archives, has always had an abiding interest in history and photography. A founding member of the Troup Genealogic/Historical Society, Inc and a member of working committees who published two books-- Troup Goes to WW II (1999) and A Century of the History of Troup, Texas 1850s - 1950s (2009). Deborah is currently in the last stages of an all color book about quilts, genealogy and family history.

Jeff Campbell's Red River Rambler

Jeff Campbell
Jeff Campbell
Jeff Campbell is the Co Director of the Plano, Texas Conservancy for Historic Preservation . Jeff is a graduate from the Northwestern State University Heritage Resources program in Natchitoches and the former Tourism Director for Jefferson, Texas.

Van Craddock's Gregg County Tales

Van Craddock
Van Craddock
Van Craddock, a 1970 SFA graduate, has written a column for the Longview News-Journal since 1978. He has published two collections of his News-Journal columns, most recently a book titled "East Texas Tales: A Celebration of Pineywoods People, Places, Facts and Fables." The U.S. Army Vietnam veteran serves on the Gregg County Historical Commission. Van and wife Bettye (a former SFA Pine Log editor) live in Longview.

Emily Hyatt's Stories from Angelina

Emily Hyatt
Emily Hyatt has been an archivist at The History Center in Diboll since June of 2004, where she works to preserve the unique history of Diboll, Angelina County, and the local lumber industry. A native of the Houston area with roots in the pineywoods of northwest Louisiana, she now calls Lufkin home. She is a certified archivist and a member of the Angelina County Historical Commission.

Mel Johnson's A View From The Pines: Jasper, Texas

Melvin Johnson
Melvin Johnson
Melvin Johnson has been an instructor at Angelina College since 2004. He has master's degrees from SFA in English and History. His interests range from logging railraods to Texas mill towns to Mormon cowboys in the Texas Hill Country. He is a published writer of many books and articles. Melvin currently resides in Jasper county.

Lynda Jones' On a Historical Note

Lynda Jones
Lynda Jones
Lynda Carroll Jones has only been in Houston County for a year, but she has already fallen in love with its rich history. As managing editor of the Houston County Courier, the oldest newspaper in Houston County, she enjoys researching the county's history and linking it to current events. "At the Houston County Courier, we record history as it happens, so it naturally follows that I am enthralled with exploring the county's history." Jones is a fifth generation member of the William Carroll Crawford family. William Carroll Crawford (1804-1895) was the last surviving signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. He was related to Charles Carroll, the last surviving signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. As Houston County celebrates it 175th year, Jones is writing a number of articles about the county's history. Jones holds a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching degree from Sam Houston State University, with a major in journalism and a minor in English, and a Master of Arts degree in school psychology from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Kevin Ladd's Chambers County Perspectives

Kevin Ladd
Kevin Ladd
We are excited to welcome Mr. Kevin Ladd to our collection of local writers' columns. Kevin Ladd is the director of the Wallisville Heritage Park. The facility, open to the public at no charge, operates a museum and archives on Chambers County history as well as a genealogy library and research center in Southeast Texas. Mr. Ladd's column, Chambers County Perspectives, will feature new articles monthly.

Vina Lee's Peek into Panola

Vina Lee
Vina Lee
Vina Lee is founder of Academy of Life Coaches assisting people in every area of life by coaching through situations with successful life experiences Biblically and professionally. She has been a speaker and leader in personal growth seminars and life coaching for over twenty years. She is an ordained minister.

She has written and published many articles, books, poems, and children's books. She has received poetry honors from the East Texas Fall Festival of Poetry 2011, numerous RCPS awards and was chosen first in the International Who's Who in poetry 2004. She is a member of R.C.P.S., P.S.T. State, N.F.S.P.S. Poetry Societies; International Who's Who in Poetry, International Society of Poets, International Library of Poetry, an honorary member of the International Society of Poets and numerous other organizations.

Vina Lee has two daughters and four grandchildren and works with people of all ages. Her goal is to make a positive difference in people's lives prayerfully touching hearts.

Marvin Mayer's Plain Truths About Smith County

Marvin Mayer
Marvin Mayer
Marvin S. Mayer was born in Louisville, KY, attended local public schools, and subsequently graduated from the University of Louisville ("U of L") with a Bachelor of Science degree in business with a major in accounting. After graduation, he moved to New Orleans as an Assistant National Bank Examiner. In New Orleans, he met and married his wife, Iris.

Over the next 4+ decades, he worked in a variety of banking, bank regulation, and financial management positions moving from New Orleans to Shreveport, to Baton Rouge, to Kansas City, to Hartford (CT) and finally to Dallas. He retired to Tyler, TX in 2007. Since retiring, he has devoted his time to volunteer activities and to writing books for children.

The Mayer's are active members of Marvin United Methodist Church. They have two granddaughters, one great grandson, and one great granddaughter.

Judy Linsley's Jefferson County Chronicles

Judy Linsley
Judy Linsley
Judith Walker Linsley is a sixth-generation Jefferson County resident. Currently she is Curator of Interpretation and Education at McFaddin-Ward House Museum in Beaumont and an adjunct history instructor at Lamar University, where she earned her BA and MA degrees. Judy has co-authored two books: Beaumont: A Chronicle of Promise with Ellen Walker Rienstra, and Giant Under the Hill, A History of the Spindletop Oil Discovery in Beaumont, Texas, in 1901 with Rienstra and Jo Ann Stiles. She also formerly contributed to the "History Journal" column of the Beaumont Journal.

Ann Middleton's Bossier in Slices

Ann Middleton
Ann Middleton
Ann Middleton loves her job at the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She especially loves research and has sat down with many a beginner genealogist and patiently guided them through the process. She has been a genealogy /special collections librarian for almost twenty years, at the Historic New Orleans Collection, Jefferson Parish Library, Ouachita Parish Library and seven years here at the Historical Center.

Ann grew up in Rayville, La. in Richland Parish. She graduated from the University of Louisiana at Monroe with a B.A. in English Education and a minor in Library Science. While employed at the St. Mary Parish Library, she attended LSU in the summers and earned a Master's in Library Science. She raised three children in Jefferson Parish. When her nest was empty she went to the Historic New Orleans Collection where her love for genealogy and historical research blossomed.

Be sure to catch Ann's weekly column in the Bossier Press-Tribune highlighting items in our collection and the stories around them. Also, she is available for programs on Introductory Genealogy, Genealogy and Family Reunions, "Do You Own a Radio Set?" What the U.S. Census Takers Needed to Know 1790 - 1930, and "Bossier in Slices," a collection of captivating stories from Bossier's Past.

Ann has two grandchildren and a third on the way very soon. The Historical Center happens to be filled with animal lovers, and Ann is the biggest of them all. She has two dogs, Buster and Emmie, and two cats, Kemi and Piper.

Jonnie Miller's Newton County: A Glimpse From the Past

Jonnie Miller
Jonnie Miller
Jonnie Miller is a retired teacher and principal. She lives in Bleakwood, TX which is south of Newton in Newton County. She enjoys volunteering at the history center, the county library, and her church. She is also the secretary of the Newton County Garden Club and has been for 3 years. Her husband is retired from Dupont in Beaumont, TX.
She has a son who is a partner in Grant Thornton Consulting in Philadelphia, and has two grandchildren, a boy and girl.

The Oglesbees' San Augustine History: A Closer Look

John and Betty Oglesbee
John and Betty Oglesbee
John and Betty Oglesbee have been active in business, historical, civic, and church activities in San Augustine County, Texas for several decades. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, they returned to their hometown of San Augustine, where their four sons, Dr. John Oglesbee, Vance Oglesbee, Chris Oglesbee, and Forrest Oglesbee were raised. Both John and Betty are members of the San Augustine County Historical Commission and other professional organizations.The Oglesbees are authors of three books: San Augustine, A Texas Treasure and Reminiscing the Road (El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail from Los Adaes to the Trinity River), published by the East Texas Historical Association for their Ann and Lee Lawrence Series, and San Augustine County by Arcadia Publishing Company for their Images of America Series.

Jerry Pennington's From Saw Dust to Oil Sludge, an Adventure in Southeast Texas

Jerry Pennington
Jerry Pennington
Jerry Pennington is a practicing Attorney and Municipal Court Judge in the City of Orange, Texas. He was born and raised in Orange and other than education at the University of Texas in Austin and serving in the U.S. Army during the Viet Nam era, he has lived there all of his life. Jerry has served on the City Council and local school board as well as the County Historical Commission and Orange Historical Society. When bored with that he works on the 102 year old residence in the historic district of town with the help of his wife, Susan.

Matthew Prosser

Matthew Prosser
Matthew Prosser
Matthew Prosser's family has lived in East Texas for almost as long as there has been an East Texas. Emigrating from Ireland during the Great Famine of the mid-19th Century, Prosser's ancestors followed their dreams westward until they arrived in the newly-annexed State of Texas in the 1850s.
An alumnus of the University of Oklahoma and St. John's College, Prosser's fields of specialty include aesthetics, comparative religion, history of philosophy, and theology. Currently he serves as News Editor for the Henderson Daily News and is an ordained minister at Cornerstone Fellowship of Overton.
Born in New England to bohemian parents attempting to escape the siren song of Texas, Prosser has lived all over the United States. But he spent most of his youth at the family's ancestral estate in rural Rusk County, where he currently lives with his wife, the former Candace Rae Daniels of Tyler, and their five young children.
Prosser's personal website "A Place To Stand" is updated frequently and can be found at: matthew.wordpress.com

Rickey Robertson's Stories from across the Sabine River: Peason, Peason Ridge, and the Southern Confederacy

Rickey Robertson
Rickey Robertson
Rickey Robertson retired from the La. State Police in 2009. He was born and raised in the Peason Community in southeastern Sabine Parish. Rickey and his wife Patsy founded the Peason Historical Foundation Inc. in 2007 to gather and preserve the rich history of the sawmill town of Peason and of the settlers and homesteaders of Peason Ridge. They founded the Peason Memorial Park, which houses 2 historical markers and photo kiosks open to the public and they also have a small military museum at their home. Rickey is one of the few Heritage Family Members from Peason Ridge. Rickey writes historical articles for several local newspapers, and both local and national magazines.

Justin Robinson's Gathered Seeds of Gardening Lore

Justin Robinson
Justin Robinson
Justin Robinson lives, writes and gardens in Henderson, Texas with his wife and two children. In all, he tries to seek out the beauty of life and help others remember that it is precious. His hope is to help, as James Wright has said, "…keep life itself alive."

Robert Schaadt's Liberty County History

Robert Schaadt
Robert Schaadt
Robert L. Schaadt is The Vindicator feature writer and newspaper/electronic archivist. The Vindicator has been the newspaper of record since 1887 for Liberty County.Schaadt served as Director-Archivist for the Sam Houston Regional Library & Research Center, a facility of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission , for twenty-seven years and worked for the State Archives for a total of thirty-one years, retired in Sept. 2010. MA in History-Archival Management, University of California-Riverside, Certified Archivist, records management and archival work since 1978. He is the author of numerous articles and The History of Hardin County.

Jeri's Sharing

Jeri Mills
Jeri Mills
Jeri Mills is a retired educator has been an avid reader since early childhood. She did not pursue her dream of writing seriously until she was asked to read and critique a high school psychology textbook; Invitation to Psychology published by Scott Foresman and Company in 1981. As a high school teacher of Advanced Placement Psychology, many of her comments were accepted and used during the final editorial development process of the widely used textbook. This assignment sparked her interest in devoting more time to her dream of writing resulting in her works being published in local schools, state, and national publications. She was the featured columnist in the local Champion Newspaper and occasional guest columnist in several newspapers and local magazines in Georgia. Since retiring in 2003 and returning to her native East Texas, she has been able to devote more time to her passion to write creatively and research African American history. Currently Mills writes a weekly column for the Daily Sentinel in Nacogdoches.

Rolonda Teal's Sabine Parish Lore

Rolonda Teal
Rolonda Teal
Rolonda Teal is an anthropologist with expertise in African American studies. As the Co-Founder of Cultural Lore, a natural and cultural heritage consulting agency, she has worked with numerous educational groups, nonprofit organizations, and local and federal government entities in project planning and development, program management, and grant writing. Ms. Teal published African Americans in Natchitoches Parish (2007), and has writings in The Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellions (2007). In additional she has lectured at numerous workshops, universities, and conferences throughout the United States.

Renée Hart Wells' Hart to Heart from Hardin County

Renée Hart Wells
Renée Hart Wells
Renée Hart Wells, a descendant of pioneer Texas families, is the author of Hardin County: A Pictorial History. After thirty-one years as a school administrator, Renée retired and turned her energy to active involvement with both the Hardin County Historical Commission and the Hardin County Genealogical Society. She and her husband Cecil reside in Lumberton.