Bound Books

 

Three of my books associated with this website are available from Amazon.

Author:  John Gregory Hall

(descriptions follow)


    The Gathered Words of Mulberry, Texas is documentary history and personal interpretation of Mulberry, a small Texas farm and ranch community in one deep bend of Red River. Beginning in the days of the Republic, the account describes "Indian troubles," fatally contested land surveys, and a pre-Civil War plantation. Filled with colorful personalities, the history of this remote riparian culture unfolds vividly from the earliest days of settlement through Reconstruction, the Great Depression, and poignant stories of tenant farmers, black, hispanic, white, as they battle heat, cold, drought, discrimination and poverty.

    The broad sweep of history in Mulberry for more than a century is revealed through the numerous sources consulted and organized by the compiler/editor. Examples include lively accounts of the remembered outlaws, Hunter and Green, “foul murder” of Lena Pendergrass, called out testimony of Levi and Beulah Stewart, and a 1919 Cyclone that devastated the “little town” and took eight lives.

    Through two World Wars, the rise of modern farming and ranching, and a fast changing cultural milieu, every aspect of life is seen. This work is based on family letters, extensive library research, newspaper reports, court records, maps, personal observation and interviews. It is generously illustrated with period photographs and contemporaneous documents.

    One portion reveals the fortunes of local families who accepted farms offered through the U. S. Rural Resettlement Administration of the 1940's. These farms and families are pictured, where available, with a narrative of their experience. There is a treasure trove of local school, store, church and cemetery documentation. Individual and family portraits and genealogical data not elsewhere recorded in the well-known sources are included.

    Mulberry's unexpected association with Private Eddie Slovik, the sad story of a WWII soldier with a local connection, is revealed. Then poems by Mulberry's own son, Michael Busby, are unique and affecting word-pictures until the time of his too early death.

    Eighty years of life has inspired this gathering of words and photographs. Against the backdrop of a North Texas boyhood, the compiler draws on his journeys in Europe, the Middle East and beyond, his army service in New York City, library work in London, and a Peace Corps assignment in Iran. Well read in the history and literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, Hall deftly reveals a perspective both ironic and compassionate. Multigenerational and transcultural, the story is replete with intertwined lives, their grit and courage, and most clearly, the influence of strong, independent women as they navigated turbulent waters toward transformation and triumph.


   Gladrags Aspires collects the writings of Gladys Maudie Gregory Hall (1905-91) from her letters and notebooks, unfolding gradually her capacity to be alone. Yet telling a story was always her deliberate purpose that here overrides privacy and conventional decorum. The reader is invited to experience with empathy the major milestones in the long playing-out of her singular life.

    For more than fifty years Gladys will live in a remote place called Mulberry, Texas, in a looping bend of the Red River, sending out and receiving numerous letters. Among these, the letters to Gladys from a Chinese woman, Vung-Tsing Pao, between the years 1923 and 1950, hold a central place in this volume. They reveal not only an intensely patriotic and culturally committed life “on the other side of the world,” but the inspiration planted early in Gladys’ own life to discover meaning in the day to day experiences of family and community.

    Gladys’ mother Maudie whispered to her one evening when Halley’s Comet was passing high overhead, “When it returns you will be an old woman, and I will be dead.” Her mother passed away far too soon, and when the Comet returned at last, dark clouds so obscured the sky that there was nothing to see, say, or hold then in shared memory. Instead, this volume enfolds riches that would otherwise be lost.


    Lake Fannin Saved is available in two versions: “full color” and “black and white”.

    These pages, using documents and photographs, show why Lake Fannin in 2001 was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Purpose now must be to look at fraught events: at how a promise in 2001, nurtured first, was abruptly denied in 2013, so that Lake Fannin is again one of the most endangered historic sites in America.

    Starting late in the 1990’s, hours and days of strenuous labor, special skills applied, and determined perseverance by Fannin county citizens working as Lake Fannin Volunteers had accomplished a transformation.

    Between 1934 and ‘38, spring-fed Lake Fannin in a North Texas county of the same name was enlarged and re-imagined for the enjoyment of people who were drawing their economic sustenance from the work they were about. The federal government’s Rural Resettlement Administration in its larger purpose meant that farm families could again hope to own and cultivate productive land. Years later, as they continued to enjoy the cool water and facilities of Lake Fannin for swimming, dancing, picnics, and family reunions, a treasured “sense of place” took hold.

    An extensive photographic record of Resettlement work at Lake Fannin exists in

the collection of the Fannin County Museum of History. The local director of the project, Malcolm Campbell, is credited for creation of an “Album” which this book makes available to a wider public. Keen photographers among the Volunteers themselves have made possible their own “Album”. Finally, the Lake Fannin photographs of Bonham’s own Casey Jones reveal what the Volunteers have worked so hard to save.

    Documents still available in the Sam Rayburn Museum and Library in Bonham reveal the determined, if precarious, early months of Resettlement work assisted by Mr. Rayburn. The research and organization necessary for Lake Fannin to be added to the National Register was ably accomplished by Mr. John Ippolito, Heritage Resource Program Manager, for the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas.