Resources: Kilgore Geekend 2022

I was invited to participate at the 2022 Kilgore Geekend, sharing the inspiration and processes behind my work on the Pine Curtain Project. As part of my presentation, I also shared some of my resources for Texas history research, and some favorites I have found in the archives. I’ve listed them below, in the order they appear in my presentation, along with the accompanying art, photographs or artifacts.

Featured Art:

“Birthday Party,” by Stephanie Khattak

“Future Cat Lady,” by Stephanie Khattak

“The Reverend” and “Down to the River,” by Stephanie Khattak

“Waves,” by Stephanie Khattak

“In the Pines,” by Stephanie Khattak

“Grand Ol’ Time,” by Stephanie Khattak

“Railroad Gang,” by Stephanie Khattak

“Dunbar Marching Band,” by Stephanie Khattak

“Her Golden Lasso,” by Stephanie Khattak

“Embroidered Paper,” by Stephanie Khattak

Found in the Archives: Maps

Geological Survey (U.S.). Kilgore Quadrangle, map, 1936; Reston, Virginia. Accessed May 5, 2022. University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.
Caddo Lake State Park – Project Map. 11/19/34.
Draftsman: Westbrook, Joe W. Waxed linen with brown, red, and black ink.
Legend and compass. LN: 48.46 x WD: 35.66
Found in the Texas State Archives Flickr account.

Found in the Archives: Photographs

Lee, R., photographer. (1939) Oil worker eating lunch. Kilgore, Texas. United States Kilgore Texas, 1939. Apr. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress.
Lee, R., photographer. (1939) Oil field workers taking timeout to read the paper, oil well, Kilgore, Texas. United States Kilgore Texas, 1939. Apr. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress.
Lee, R., photographer. (1939) Street scene. Kilgore, Texas. , 1939. Apr. [Photograph]
Retrieved from the Library of Congress.

Found in the Archives: Newspapers & Ads

The Kilgore Daily News, June 1939.
The Kilgore Daily News, June 1939.

Found in the Archives: Scrapbooks

[Photograph album belonging to Elanor Trotter], book, Date Unknown; accessed May 5, 2022, University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History;
crediting Palestine Public Library.
[Loose Page Covering Austin, Tyler and Longview], photograph, Date Unknown; accessed May 5, 2022), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History; crediting Private Collection of T. B. Willis.

Found in the Archives: Student Publications

English IV Presents “The Bard of Avon,” 1960. Courtesy of the Dunbar Hall of Honor collection at the East Texas Digital Archives, SFASU.
“Tiger Rag,” 1961. Courtesy of the Dunbar Hall of Honor collection at the East Texas Digital Archives, SFASU.


Portal to Texas History

Library of Congress

The History Center in Diboll

East Texas Digital Archives, SFASU

Texas State Archives Flickr Account

Art: “Queens for the Day” inspired by a photo in The History Center archives.

Sounds + Video

Internet Archive Sound Recordings

Texas Moving Images Archive Collection

American Folklife Center

Image: The Angelina Four, Keltys.

Family + Community

Art: Digital Collage, “Church Ladies”

Contact Me:

info (at)

Instagram: @pinecurtainproject

Facebook: @khattakstudios

Interested in a piece of art that you’ve seen here or elsewhere? I offer hand-embellished fine art reproductions of most pieces made to order. Prices start at $100 for an 8X10 hand-embellished piece, and will deliver in approximately two weeks from order confirmation. Please let me know if you see something that speaks to you. More information can be found here, and information about commissions, etc. can be found here.

Would you like for me to speak to your group? Please get in touch to discuss options for events, meetings or workshops starting Oct. 2022.

An East Texas Stories Podcast!

The first two episodes of Pine Curtain Confidential Season One, Ghost Story, Ghost Town are available now!

These two short east Texas history podcast episodes introduce us to Homer, Texas and one of its haunting mysteries, using folklore and community stories to tie a Texas ghost story to real events. New episodes drop the week of Oct. 11.

Listen on Buzzsprout, Spotify, Google Podcasts, I Heart Radio, Amazon Music or Stitchr. New platforms, including Apple Podcasts coming soon!

Research notes for this season are available here!

Research Notes: “Ghost Story, Ghost Town”

Hopefully, you will be or were able to tune in to my 2021 Folklore in the Archives talk, “Ghost Story, Ghost Town,” covering a pivotal moment in Homer, Texas history and one of East Texas’ many ghost stories that has endured through the years. Here are a few supporting resources along with links to relevant archive collections for further independent exploring.

Archival information:
The History Center, Diboll, Texas
The Ruth Grant Homer History Collection, The History Center, Diboll, Texas
Portal to Texas History, The Banner, Homer, Texas


Sarah Scroggins (right) with her parents and children in Old Homer, 1900. Shortly after Robert Scroggins was murdered.
Robert and Sarah Scroggins (seated) with their children and Sarah’s mother.

Digitized Newspapers:

Witness Testimony: Angelina County Press, May 4, 1900 via The History Center


This information appears in episodes 1-4 of Pine Curtain Confidential Season 1, an expansion and continuation of this story.

Prohibition and Temperance in Texas, Texas State Historical Association

“In the nineteenth century a movement against alcoholic beverages arose when some Americans, appalled by the social damage and individual wreckage that alcohol consumption too often seemed to cause, sought to persuade citizens to refrain from drinking liquor. This “temperance” movement enjoyed considerable success and continued parallel with the prohibition movement.”

Prohibition Party (PRO), Wikipedia

The Big Thicket of Southeast Texas, TexasHistory.Com

“These were pioneers that were looking for land of their own and looking for privacy. They were individuals that didn’t come to join the chamber of commerce. They were people who lived off the land and whatever they crops they could raise and whatever game they could hunt.” – Dr. Francis E. Abernethy

Contact Information:

Please get in touch if you have questions or comments, or if you would like for me to speak to your group on this or related topics. If you are interested in other topics like this, I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter to learn when my podcast launches later in September.

All archival images, digitized newspapers, etc. are used courtesy of their holding institutions. Please do not copy or publish my presentation, slides or research notes pages without permission. This content is is free to share on social media with credit to Stephanie Khattak, Pine Curtain Project and a link back to this Website or the appropriate social media platform.

Stephanie Khattak,

Research Notes: Lufkin Foundry Roundup

I never thought of corporate communications as historic research material, but now that I have found some, it makes total sense. Internal company publications are amazing snapshots of the day-to-day lives of working people, and usually include everything from professional milestones to posed and candid photos to articles about the period’s relevant issues through the context of the business. Some have some “funnies,” too, but the humor can be a bit…dated, so I don’t highlight those as much.

The Lufkin Foundry, later Lufkin Industries and then Citation, was one of Angelina County’s biggest employers, and also gave us the famous Lufkin Rudolph. And like other employers in the region, it closed its doors in the mid-aughts. These publications, the company’s “Foundry Roundup” show a different era that is worth a look, whether you’re revisiting memories or seeing it for the first time.

Complete digitized magazines from 1944-1992 are in the online collection of The History Center in Diboll.

Research Notes: Balinese Room

One of the family history threads I’ve been researching leads to Galveston, Texas in the 1930s-40s and the Maceo family, and by extension, Galveston’s Balinese Room. This spot was super-popular in its heyday, attracting visits and performances from celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Peggy Lee and others. Apparently it was quite the place to be – and a dance hall and illegal casino stretching over the Gulf of Mexico does sound pretty cool!

“On January 17th, 1942, the Maceos opened their Galveston jewel, the Balinese Room. The interior had been remodeled in a South Seas motif and the pier had again been expanded, this time to 600 feet. Its private back room was equipped with the most modern gaming equipment, and long before Vegas attracted the big names, the Maceos lured high rollers to “Play on Galveston Island.”” – via Galveston Island/Facebook

Unfortunately, time and Galveston’s famous tropical storms and hurricanes have erased The Balinese Room from its prominent spot across from Hotel Galvez, at 21st and Seawall Blvd. After being purchased and rebuilt several times over the decades, Hurricane Ike demolished it, leaving only the memories and memorabilia of this distinctive place.

Later on, I will dive deeper into my family’s connection with Maceo family associates and its repercussions. For now, enjoy these images and scroll down to read more about this fascinating place and period in Galveston and Texas history.

June 10, 1957:The Balinese Room at 2107 Seawall Blvd, Galveston. via Houston Chronicle Files
Galveston’s Seawall Boulevard and Balinese Room, via Galveston Island/Facebook

Please explore these links for further reading:

Boatman, T. Nicole. Island Empire: the Influence of the Maceo Family in Galveston, thesis, August 2014; Denton, Texas. University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library.

“One Last Shot,” Texas Monthly, June 1993

“Land of the Free: Galveston’s Resilient Spirit Sparks Another Renaissance,” Texas Highways, June 2021

Research Notes: The Angelina Four

The Angelina Four at Kelty’s Lumber Co., Lufkin, Texas, 1940 Ruby Lomax,
Library of Congress. Alphonso “A.H.” Charlton; Tom “T.J.” Bailey; Jerry Watkins, and Jethro “Jabbo” Williams.

I’ve mentioned these guys before when writing about the work of John Avery and Ruby Lomax, but thought that they needed their own spotlight.

The Angelina Four was a quartet of men who were employed by the Angelina County Lumber Company in Keltys, a community outside of Lufkin. The East Texas musicians recorded 15 pieces, a “singing commercial” – Angelina Longleaf Pine, – and 14 songs that included popular, gospel and spiritual music with rich harmonies.

Notes from Lufkin Recordings. American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Please explore these links for citations and further reading:

Amy Bertsch, “Lufkin Recordings,” East Texas History, accessed May 17, 2021.

Megan Biesele, “Keltys, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 17, 2021.

John Foster, “Blues, Baptisms, and Prison Farms: The Lomax Snapshots of 1934-1950,” Design Observer.

Lomax, J. A., Lomax, R. T., Bailey, T. J., Charlton, A. H., Watkins, J. & Williams, J. (1940) Angelina Longleaf Pine. Lufkin, Texas.

*Some of these sources document outdated and now-unacceptable language, policies and ideas around race. Like the authors of these academic works, I do not condone or wish to ignore potential negative impact by reporting or linking to them. In writing about history, I often must weigh the benefit of sharing the “entire picture” against the potential harm in doing so. In this case, I felt that it was important to tell the whole story of the Angelina Four, understanding that the entirety of their lived experiences likely contributed to their creative work and place in history.

Research Notes: Vintage Texas Postcards

As summer fast approaches and we are finally able to (kind of) leave our houses, travel is looking better and better! Particularly road trips, and for me, that means travel in Texas. East Texas is my easy go-to for obvious reasons, ie. that’s where the parents and grandparents are. And, after a year of having to ration those trips, I’ll make a few of them over the coming months.

While sending snail mail from vacations is a thing of the past, I have enjoyed coming across these and other vintage postcards of East Texas landmarks and destinations in my research.

Angelina County Courthouse, 1903-1955, Lufkin, Texas.
Hotel Angelina, Downtown Lufkin, Texas.
Aerial View of Tyler, Texas.
Stephen F. Austin State College, Nacogdoches, Texas.
Beach Boulevard and Seawall, Galveston, Texas.

Research Notes: Brownsville Snake Hunters, 1900s

“Lady Snake Hunters, Captured in One Day,” William Deming Hornaday Collection, Texas State Library and Archives.

This photo is so visually arresting! And, the more I researched and learned about it, the more compelling its story was. The image was found in the William Deming Hornaday collection on the Texas State Library and Archives Flickr page (a great resource that I use a lot!). This photo stood out to me, and I immediately knew that I wanted to learn more and create my own work inspired by it. But, without much to go on from the Flickr caption, where to start? This is where the process gets fun for me.

As I learned more about William Deming Hornaday, I discovered that he was a photojournalist and eventually the public relations director for UT Austin, and that most of his Texas work was in Central and South Texas. Moving beyond the TSLAC Flickr Page, I went into the Texas Digital Archive and started searching through his work, focusing in on geographic areas and using the “Search Within” function until I found a set that had a lot of snakes in it. I enlarged those files until I found this image, and the one below, which identifies the ladies as Mrs. W.A. King and her sister.

“Mrs. W.A. King and Sister. Expert snake hunters.,” William Deming Hornaday. Texas Digital Archive.

Here’s where it gets REALLY interesting! I took to Google with a simple keyword search, and pulled up this family’s story. These Lady Snake Hunters were part of a huge snake business in Brownsville, Texas, providing the reptiles for circuses and other traveling animal acts.

According to his biographer and other documents, William Abraham Leiberman was a Russian/Polish Jewish-American businessman in New York who saw unusual business opportunities along the Rio Grande and moved to the then rural border town of Brownsville, Texas to open “Snakeville”, a “roadside facility to breed, sell, and show off snakes for tourists and interested clientele around the world.” Leiberman eventually changed his legal name to William Abraham Snake King.

Texas-born Manuela Cortez King was the snake king’s wife, and evidently quite the talented snake handler, herself. I can’t find exact confirmation on the sister who is pictured here, but Mrs. King’s obituary names two sisters: Matiana Walker and Luisa Samaron. Perhaps it is one of them.

Please explore these links for citations and further reading:

This video shows W.A. and Manuela Cortez King in a “snake catching contest” in 1914, a contest which they won in 3 minutes and 45 seconds.

“Rattlingly Yours…Snake King,” by W.A. King, Jr.

“The Snake King of Brownsville,” Valley Morning Star, Harlingen, Texas. (Gated content)

*As an animal lover, I acknowledge that this story contains some dated attitudes around animal welfare and exhibition that are not acceptable today. I found “Snakeville” to not be not just a fascinating tale of entrepreneurship that brought to life a unique time, place, and personalities in Texas history, but an exciting opportunity to find a name and deeper identities for this photo.

Research Notes: Broadcast News Scripts

The UNT digital library has an extensive collection of archival broadcast news scripts from the WBAP-TV/NBC station in Fort Worth, Texas. Many include dispatches from other parts of the state, including Lufkin! I like that the scripts include handwritten notes, so you can see the last minute edits.

While this isn’t a public domain resource, the library encourages “fair use” which can include sourcing for a school paper, presentation or research project; citation in public discussion or forums, or genealogical research.

“Lawless Lufkin.” NBC 5/KXAS News Scripts (AR0787), University of North Texas Special Collections
“Lufkin’s 80th Anniversary. NBC 5/KXAS News Scripts (AR0787), University of North Texas Special Collections
“Lufkin Storm.” NBC 5/KXAS News Scripts (AR0787), University of North Texas Special Collections
“Lufkin Politics, 1972.” NBC 5/KXAS News Scripts (AR0787), University of North Texas Special Collections