Oral History

These interviews were primarily conducted during the1970s and 1980s by volunteers and library staff. In 2013, the interviews were converted from audio cassettes into CDs, and is in the process of converting the audio CDs into MP3 files so that library users can listen on the go and learn about the history of this community.  

Hurricane Carla hit the Gulf Coast hard in 1961. During that time, Jim (J.B.) Cummings was a construction foreman for a telephone company. His interview, recorded by Kim Taylor on November 14, 1976, centers around Hurricane Carla and its damage in the Port Lavaca area, as that is where he was stationed.

Hurricane Alicia devastated Baytown and the Gulf Coast in 1983. There were two sets of oral history interviews done that focused on this event. One interview was with Norman Dykes, Lt. C. E. Shaffer, Sgt. Gary Cochran, Officer James Thornton, and Officer Roger Clifford, conducted by Martha Mayo in 1983.

An oral history interview with Blanche DuPlantis, recorded by Martha Mayo in 1986, covered topics ranging from Baytown in the 1920’s and 1930’s, the effect of World War II, banking business, and the founding of Trinity Episcopal Church.

An oral history conversation with J. Bryan Stratton, recorded by Sarah Swofford on August 29, 1979, discusses the consolidation of the tri-cities into the incorporated city of Baytown, the depression, the beginning of life insurance business, his service in World War II as a staff member of General Omar Bradley’s Headquarters Unit, the Charter Commission, and the adoption of the City Charter.

An oral history conversation with Norman B. Culver, recorded by Sarah Swofford on September 19, 1979. Mr. Culver received nurse’s training in Connecticut and served as a nurse in an Army hospital in Europe. In Baytown he was employed at the hospital of Humble Oil and Refining Company. Spotlights: the first poll tax sale in Baytown and Humble Day picnics.

An oral history conversation with Barney Webber, recorded by Martha Mayo on May 5, 1986. Mr. Webber discusses the history of Old Baytown, covering crime, social life, schooling, and school transportation.

An oral history conversation with Pat Ruyle, recorded by Wanda Brown in 1980.  Mr. Ruyle discusses the early history of Baytown and Robert E. Lee High School.

An oral history interview with E. C. (Smoky) Wood, recorded by Betsy Webber in the 1970s.  Mr. Wood touches briefly on his early work life with the refinery, then goes on to discuss involvement with the Humble then Exxon Annuitants groups.

An oral history interview with Freddy Rios, recorded on March 17, 1987. Mr. Rios discusses his experience in Vietnam as a United States soldier and the events that won him the Distinguished Service Medal. Tape ends before interview is finished.

An oral history conversation with William T. Busch - this interview has a Part One on September 13, 1979 and a Part Two on October 2, 1979. Mr. Busch’s interview covers his early life and youth in Cedar Bayou, his early employment, and his involvement in World War I. Sidelights: employment in banking institutions of Baytown, development of Goose Creek after the oil field boom and the effects of the Depression on Baytown.

An oral history interview with Bessie Jane Kilgore Busch, recorded by Sarah Swofford on October 2, 1979.  Mrs. Busch discusses her life in Cedar Bayou from ca. 1900-1925. Her remarks include her childhood, elementary school days, and religious life. Especially interesting are her comments about the oil boom and early days of Baytown.

An oral history conversation with B. E. Wilson, recorded by Jim Maroney on 2/20/1976. Mr. Wilson discusses his arrival in Baytown in 1929, his first impressions of the area and his views of all the changes he had seen over the years. Mr. Wilson also discusses a book he was working on about Confederate generals.

An oral history interview with Ella Williams, recorded by Betsy Webber in 1976.  Includes a discussion about the 1915 hurricane on Hog Island in the San Jacinto River.

An oral history interview with W. O. Tidman, recorded on August 11, 1976. Mr. Tidman was a citizen of Baytown and at the time of the interview he had been involved in Baytown politics for almost fifty years. He discusses how his interest in politics started when he learned about government at a young age in Missouri. One of the main topics of discussion is Humble Oil’s influence over the city of Baytown’s government.

An oral history conversation with Sara Snyder, recorded by William J. McNeill on December 17 and 22, 1975, and on January 9, 1976.  Ms. Snyder discusses growing up in Baytown.

An oral history interview with Lorraine Silva, recorded by Ann Rollins on November 28, 1976.  Ms. Silva discusses her family, including an early ancestor who arrived in Liberty on Christmas Day of 1824, and her adventures in schooling. Ms. Silva attended a one-room school called Bayshore School beginning in 1903. There is a second part to this interview, focusing on wild game, roads, and entertainment when Ms. Silva was growing up in the Anahuac area.

An oral history conversation with C. M. Dickerson, recorded by Betsy Webber on June 29, 1976. Mr. Dickerson discusses his early life and move to Baytown as a child in 1915. He discusses the one-room school he attended in Baytown near the oil fields near the mouth of Goose Creek Stream, as well as jobs he held in the area. He discusses where the family would buy groceries and the lack of activities for children. Mr. Dickerson started working at the refinery when he was underage. He told them he was 18 years old and eventually had his parents fill out legal forms. He worked many different jobs, but ended up going back to the refinery until retirement.

An oral history conversation with Laurene Douglas, recorded by James Maroney on January 27, 1976. Topics of discussion ranged from the 1937-1960’s: Baytown in the late 1930’s, teaching junior high in 1930’s, Hurricane Carla, World War II experiences in Baytown.

An oral history conversation with Willadene Hines, recorded by William K. Peace on February 11, 1976. Among the topics discussed is the house Ms. Hines lived in with her mother from 1925-1935, which upon its sale to a group of doctors became Baytown’s first hospital. Other early geography and family history is discussed.

Brief interview with Alice Fayle - only 12 minutes long. The interview was recorded by Betsy Webber in the 1970s, and talks about early life in Baytown. There is some background noise in this file.

Interview with Fay Butcher Lathrop, conducted on May 14, 1977. Ms. Lathrop discusses the Houston Riot of 1917 and the interview cuts off abruptly near the 45 minute mark.

An oral history interview with Jim (James M.) Nelson, recorded by Betsy Webber on April 7, 1977. Mr. Nelson discusses his family.

An oral history interview with Jimmie Carroll, recorded in February 1986. Mr. Carroll discusses early years living in Baytown/Goose Creek, working for Humble Oil. Housing, meal tickets, the work trains, and other aspects of daily life are discussed.

An oral history interview with Stephen C. Hughes, recorded on February 28, 1960 by Carter H. Miller.  Mr. Hughes was visiting family in Baytown at the time of the interview. He was born on October 22, 1868 and spent much of his life in the midwest. The interview covers his work on the railroad, as well as his affinity for travel.

An oral history interview with Julia Lancaster Pierson, recorded by William J. McNeill on March 11, 1976. Ms. Pierson discusses the creation of a clinic in Baytown prior to 1940. She also discusses what the Welfare League did in relation to the clinic, as well as facts about the way the clinic worked and how people were able to get medical care that they needed.

An oral history interview with Mrs. R. W. (Maude) Matthews, recorded by Linda Roberts on August 17, 1976. Mrs. Matthews was a historian for the Priscilla Club (a sewing club). At the time of the taping, this was the oldest club in the tri-cities. The interview focuses on the origins of the Priscilla Club and social activities in the 1920s, as well as differences in Baytown over the 50 years since then.

An oral history interview with Steele M. McDonald, recorded by Grace Tidmon on January 6, 1977. Mr. McDonald discusses his family history, and talks about his arrival in the tri-cities area in 1920. Mr. McDonald worked for Humble Oil, and discusses the geography of the Baytown area and the contrast between the way things were in the 1920s-30s and the way they were in 1977. He also discusses the consolidation of the cities and problems encountered at that time.

An oral history interview with Suzi Powers, recorded by Martha Mayo on April 13, 1994. Mrs. Powers discusses her summer with the women Marines in 1950.

An oral history conversation with Ruth Mageors, recorded by Karen Knight on November 10, 1975. Ms. Mageors talks about her life during the early years of Baytown, when it was known as Pelly. Recalls the ferry boat and Herring’s Drug Store. Approximately 25 minutes.

An oral history interview with Mrs. Louise Fowler Himes, recorded by Martha Mayo on February 4, 1986. Mrs. Himes was born in 1898 in Galveston, and moved to Cedar Bayou to teach in 1918. She talks about daily life in those early years.

An oral history conversation with James Collins, recorded by Martha Mayo on December 1, 1988.  Mr. Collins talks about his family history and his experiences with the Vietnam War. Approximately 30 minutes.

An oral history conversation with Charles A. Young, recorded by Martha Mayo on August 31, 1988. Mr. Young talks about his life and experiences in Evergreen between 1916/17 - 1922, then Orange Field (now Bridge City), then back to the Baytown area and his many years working for Humble Oil and Exxon. Mr. Young retired in 1977.  Approximately 60 minutes.

A Liberty History conversation with Joyce Calhoon, recorded by Vicki Smith on November 20, 1979. Joyce Calhoon was the Director of the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty.  The conversation discusses the facility and the history of Liberty. Conversation cuts off at 22 minutes.

An interview with Roy and Margaret Elms, recorded by Martha Mayo and Babs Thomas on March 12, 1993. Discusses how the Baytown Red Cross came to be. Approximately 20 minutes.

Interview with Leona Pelly Ashworth, recorded by Martha Mayo on February 3, 1994. Discusses early history of Pelly. Mrs. Ashworth was the daughter of Fred T. Pelly, for whom the town was named. Approximately 40 minutes.

Interview with Barbara Heinrich, recorded by Martha Mayo on March 21, 1994. Discusses Mrs. Heinrich’s time flying with the WASPs in World War II. Interview cuts off mid-word in two places. Approximately 50 minutes.

Interview with Dr. Luther Victory, recorded by Martha Mayo on April 27, 1994. Discusses Dr. Victory’s experiences as a POW of the Germans during World War II. Approximately 1 hr 40 minutes.