First settled by Stephen F. Austin's colonists in the early nineteenth century, Colorado County has deep roots in Texas history. Mainly rural and agrarian until late in the twentieth century, Colorado County was a cotton-growing region whose population was about evenly divided between blacks and whites. These life-long neighbors led separate and unequal lives, memories of which still linger today. To preserve those memories, Patsy Cravens began interviewing and photographing the older residents of Colorado County in the 1980s. In this book, she presents photographs and recollections of the last generation, black and white, who grew up in the era of Jim Crow segregation.
The folks in Colorado County have engrossing stories to tell. They recall grinding poverty and rollicking fun in the Great Depression, losing crops and livestock to floods, working for the WPA, romances gone wrong and love gone right, dirty dancing, church and faith, sharecropping, quilting, raising children, racism and bigotry, and even the horrific lynching of two African American teenagers in 1935. The Colorado County residents' stories reveal an amazing resiliency and generosity of spirit, despite the hardships that have filled most of their lives. They also capture a rural way of life that was once common across the South, but is now gone forever.
Patsy Cravens is a photographer, artist, writer, and video producer in Houston. Some of her photographs been displayed in the traveling exhibition, "Colorado County Memories: Everyone Has a Story to Tell." She also wrote and produced an award-winning oral history documentary called Coming Through Hard Times, which was based in Colorado County and has appeared on PBS.
Foreword by John B. Boles Acknowledgments Introduction The Stories Ethel and Hattie Lee Wilson Ivory "Pie" Steward "Kasper's Meat Market, Since 1917" Jack Fields George Braziel Eva Mae Glover Bennie Charles "B.C." Glover Myrtle Glover Toliver Leroy Glover Ida Mae Mitchell Charles Trefny Jr. Emma and Charles Trefny Sr. Charles Trefny Talks about the River Rosie Lee Hasty Hosie "Sonny" Hasty Odie D. Townsend Lillie and Richard Freis Elizabeth "Lillie" Lemons Atkinson Jaynice and Jodie Feyrer Rosezena Woodson Romona Woodson Cheeks Cassie Woodson McGrew Mary Hausner Lillie Williams Marie Williams G.A. "Big Boy" Williams Walter Williams Lee Andrew Williams Lillie Williams Barnes and Wilbert Barnes Oliver "Junior" Williams Lisa Williams Alex Williams, Tycie Williams, and Tennille Almeida Quentin Steitz Truman McMahan Lonzo Dorn Beulah Dorn LaVon Simpson and Mary Ann Nicholson Willie Beyer Willie Walchar Bud Greak Isabel M. Garcia Mamie Johnson Clarence Johnson Dorothy Lain Leora and Lewis "Bug" Henry Ruby Hicks Jim Kearney Paulina van Bavel Kearney Sarah Elaine Kearney Lacey Henry Pearl Ray Bremby Bessie Mae Williams Irizola Wilson Early Wilson Sadie and George Dorn Lillie Kahlden Freis Lonnie Coleman Roy Lee Coleman Willie Mae Denley W.B. "Bennie" Isgrig Ernest Brown Emma Stancik Lillie Poenitzsch JoAnn Vornsand H.C. Taylor Andrew Jackson Gillespie Jim Carter Josephine Carter Harvey and Ruth Steward Mary Mann and Rev. Melvin Jack Williams Selma and Walter "Jack" Johnson Jr. Juan Ybarbo Stella Taylor Tracy Vlasta Koller Father Victor Schmidtzinsky Melvin Houston Heine and Earlyne Beken The Pesak Brothers Olga Mae Hefner Em Hay Herbert Baines Leila Jackson Medie Mae Scott Henry Grays Joe and Nicolasa Ramirez RoseLee and Frankie Neiser Henry Lee Williams Gabriel Almeida John Webb Afterword by Bob Patten