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

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.

Research:

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

Ancestry.com

FamilySearch.com

FindaGrave.com

Art: Digital Collage, “Church Ladies”

Contact Me:

info (at) khattakstudios.com

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.

East Texas Research Trip

Halloween tree at Kurth Memorial Library, Lufkin, Texas.

I spent the past weekend in and around Lufkin, conducting research and visiting family. I added an extra day to my usual weekend visits to fit everything in, and I still didn’t fit everything in!

Due to the size and complexity of the Pine Curtain Project, I have divided it up into a multi-year roadmap and what I hope are small, manageable chunks. The last time I visited for this work, I focused on some cemetery tours and family oral history. For this trip, I chose two local history centers and narrowed down my research to Old Homer History and the beginnings of a Huntington, Texas history that I am pursuing.

Researching takes a long time, longer than expected and longer than people realize. When I look through archives or do field interviews, I usually have one or two main points I want to explore, but I also have to leave time and “brainspace” for other ideas and topics that I encounter along the way, to either fit them into the narrative or file them away for later. Especially when I am interviewing or consulting someone. This is why you may notice that sometimes my art production goes dark for a few weeks – it is just hard to do everything at once. The past few weeks have been devoted to launching the podcast and preparing for this trip.


Because the Ora McMullen Genealogy Room hours aren’t compatible with my non-resident schedule, the Kurth Memorial Library team was kind enough to pull stacks of requested materials and set me up in a study room on Friday. I stayed for nearly three hours and only made it halfway through. I spent my time going through three large file folders: One on the historic role of the Masonic Lodge in Homer; one on general Homer history; and one on Huntington, Texas around the 1930s-40s. I have 347 photos from my trip, and most of them are of documents found in these folders, if that tells you anything.

Workspace view and archival documents, Kurth Memorial Library, Lufkin.

Saturday morning, I woke up early and drove out to Huntington, to spend some time talking to Darrell Bryan of the Huntington Genealogical & Historical Society. Darrell is a longtime Homer, Huntington and East Texas historian whose work focuses on armed conflicts, cattle rustling, racism and land disputes. He is also a friend of my father’s, and very nice.

Darrell gave me a tour of the historical society building in Huntington’s Centennial Park, and then spent most of the morning sharing his research finds and opinions; and helping me understand the bigger picture around the incidents I am learning about. I came away with a better idea of the “whys” around the “what happened,” and also new, bigger mysteries to contemplate.

View of Heritage Park from the Huntington Genealogical & Historical Society and Centennial Park, Huntington, TX.

Suite at the Courtyard Marriott in Lufkin.

Since most of my work was in Lufkin proper, I stayed at the Courtyard Marriott. I’m a frequent guest there, and this time they upgraded me to a suite! Score! So, I spent the evenings with lots of space to spread out, organize my notes and snack from the giant bag of gummy candy I bought at Target.

When I wasn’t working or in the hotel, I was at my parents’ house catching up with their animals, and that was pretty cool, too. Less cool is the blighted field across the street from them, that used to have horses, goats, tall grass and trees. Soon, the field will be an all-night gas station and truck stop. An infuriating but important lesson that nothing lasts forever.

Poncho!
Sweet NaNa.
Soon, the construction site here to the left will be an Exxon gas station in Homer. To the right is my grandfather’s front yard. Harder to see – a great big hole at the end of the street to catch groundwater and God knows what else that drains from the site.

Research Notes: “Consider the Wampus Cat”

The latest episode of Pine Curtain Confidential is less supernatural than “Ghost Story, Ghost Town,” but just as scary! Maybe even more so, as I am learning to add mood music! (:

An area with dense pine trees can hide all kinds of things, and local east Texas folklore has long used the Wampus Cat for scares and warnings to stay away from places you might not belong.

This standalone episode looks at this mythic creature in more detail…just in time for Halloween, in case you were planning to trick-or-treat too close to the forest!

Here are some of the interesting items I found while researching the Wampus Cat:

The Story of the Wampus Cat in Appalachian History

The Wampus Cat, via AmericanFolklore.net

Texas Folklore Society. Folk Travelers: Ballads, Tales and Talk, book, 1953; Dallas, Texas : accessed October 28, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History; crediting UNT Press. Here are the search results for Wampus Cat. This book also introduced me to the Taily-Po, which will really make you sleep with the lights on.

Learn more about Pine Curtain Confidential and listen to episodes 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


Photos:

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

Addendum:

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, info@khattakstudios.com

Ready to Fly

“Ready to Fly,” by Stephanie Khattak

My grandmother’s cousin was a career flight attendant. She worked for Braniff International in the swinging sixties, among other notable things, and retired from American Airlines in the mid-nineties after a long and interesting career. Now she lives across town from me with a designer cat and a bunch of friends who are (almost) as fabulous as she is.

Here she is with her mother in their yard. I would estimate the year as somewhere in the late 50s. This was definitely not a Braniff outfit, so I’m guessing it was early in her career. All of her Braniff photos are at her house, and I’m sure she will share them when I pester her about it enough.

East Texas Video Archive

I’m not the first amateur archivist in the family. My dad, for as long as I can remember, has documented community and family life in East Texas, first with reel-to-reel recorders and Super 8 videos, then with a huge brick of a VHS camcorder (which went on every family vacation, duct-taped and cumbersome, until the late 90s, when the battery kept falling out at Graceland.) Now, like everyone else, he uses his iPhone and sometimes the video functionality on his digital camera. But he kept EVERYTHING, and a few years ago gifted me with a box of roughly 30-40 discs, each with 4-5 events captured on it. Best of all, he had long before captured the Super 8s onto the VHS, a painstaking process where he set up the screen in the living room, put on his oldies records, and videoed the screen while my mom and I tiptoed around the set-up and tried not to knock anything over or share incriminating gossip that might be picked up on audio. He later transferred those videos to DVDs as well, so they’re also in the box.

As modern technology evolved, I eventually found myself with no DVD player, and also no real way to copy those discs to a digital format. But they are treasures, and I knew that in particular, there was a Homer history talk by the OG Homer Historian, Mrs. Ruth Grant, in an event at our church in the early aughts. Because I don’t know of a labled map of old Homer, I needed to see if she mentioned any locations or had other information that I could use in my upcoming folklore presentation. So, I went on Amazon, bought some new equipment and started my journey down memory lane.

The good news is that it all works perfectly and I have been having a great time seeing so many memories again. I did find Mrs. Grant’s lecture, and it provided some missing links and also, since she was an expressive talker, I am able to estimate some of the important landmarks of old Homer based on which direction she pointed as she spoke.

This is really exciting for me, not only for this particular event I am preparing for, but also in general to see how I can use more multimedia content to create for and enhance the Pine Curtain Project.

The missing link!
The family dog’s haircut and then his funeral. Not on the same day. RIP Tater.
Not sure what happened at the Smokey Bear museum, but it must have been unpleasant!
My patron saint these days. She’s done all the hard work, I’m mostly just sifting through and organizing it.
How I wish she was still with us to discuss these things in person!

Coming Soon: East Texas History Presentation

I was selected to participate in the 2021 Folklore in the Archives symposium presented by the University Libraries at the University of North Texas! I will speak at Noon September 3, and the event is free and open to the public with registration.

My presentation, “Ghost Story, Ghost Town” will combine family stories and historical documentation to look at parallels between community folklore and a troubling era in my home community of Homer, Texas.

It’ll be short and sweet – around 15 minutes – with time for a Q&A. My fellow presenters are from universities, research centers and heritage organizations worldwide, so as an independent operator I feel proud to be in such good company!

About the Event: Join archivists, researchers, and lore enthusiasts from around North America as they share their collections and research in a two-part virtual showcase taking place on Friday, August 27, and Friday, September 3, from 11am-1:30pm CST. Participants will learn about topics such as cryptids, urban legends, superstitions, local lore, hauntings and ghosts, UFOs, and more through examples of archival materials and special collections. This is one event you don’t want to miss, so register today at: https://bit.ly/3BILXpv.

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.