Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of two stories highlight a new exhibit of local authors at the Madison County Museum.
Madison County Museum newest exhibit is entitled “Local Authors from Madison County and Surrounding Areas.” When we began planning it, I had no idea there would be so many. I was thrilled recently when an out-of-town visitor liked the idea too and said she was going to suggest it for her hometown’s museum.
Authors featured include Lucille McGill Bates, Alice Brock, Johnny Carter, Angela and Jerry Fannin, Josalyn Ironette-Dione Holiday, Frances Landers Isbell, Sally Jaster, Terry Keeling, Coushatta LaRue, Marcus Luttrell, James Nash, Gala Nettles, Debbie Patrick Clopton Parks, Tre Rebstock, LeRoy Stanton, and Jacquelyn Thompson. Some of those have lived here all their lives, some moved here from elsewhere, and some reside in surrounding counties.
We can thank Hurricane Rita for Coushatta LaRue living in Madison County. She was born in and lived in Louisiana until that storm destroyed her hometown in 2005. Her father is from Normangee and he had lived in Madisonville before, so the family relocated here and stayed. Though she has dyslexia and dysgraphia, she has written “The Embers of Amour” and “The Ashes of Amour.” She loves writing and varies her themes, composing horror, action, science fiction, and suspense. She strives to write novels that help people grow, learn, and have fun, and she hopes to inspire folks to believe in themselves.
Gala Nettles needs no introduction. For years her column ’Round Town has appeared on our Meteor’s front page each week. Born and reared in Groesbeck, she has lived in Madisonville for many years now. She raised her son and daughter here, and she taught a while in local schools. Also Gala has written 18 books, two of them Christian books, 12 booklets, and many articles and columns for newspapers and magazines.
Tre Rebstock is a relatively new to Madison County. He owns the martial arts studio on Highway 21 East. His first novel, “Close to Home,” is a work of science fiction.
Sally Jaster taught school for years in our local school system and then worked as a Texas Department of Criminal Justice counselor. Now she is retired. “Terry Lee” was her first novel, written in 1987; followed by “The Revenge Factor” in 2005. Sally has a third book, about her father’s military experience, which will be published in the near future.
Johnny Carter was born and raised here. He taught and coached in our school system for many years. “The First Season” is about his coaching experience at Kennard High School in 1966. He was then a rookie coach who took a newly integrated team to a Texas state basketball championship. I’m thrilled he’s working diligently on a second book. He knows that I don’t care for sports involving balls. Surprisingly, I loved “The First Season” and I highly recommend it.
Terry Keeling is from neighboring Leon County, specifically the Leona-Evans Chapel community. In his lifetime, he has been involved in the cattle industry, teaching, and real estate, but his true passions were writing and photography. His first book was written in 1999 and titled “Tales of Jackasses, Bee-Hunters, and Coffins (and Other Redneck Things).” It has been followed by several others.
Marcus Luttrell was born in Houston but grew up on a small ranch outside Huntsville. In June 2005, he was a member of a four-man Navy Seal team attacked in Afghanistan. Three of the four men, and a rescue helicopter holding 16 men was shot down. It was the worst day in the history of the Navy Seals. For his actions, he was awarded the Navy Cross as were two of the deceased Seals, and his deceased commander, Lt. Michael Murphy, was nominated for and later received the Medal of Honor. “Lone Survivor” is Luttrell’s story of the assault and was published in 2007.
Alice Brock is a retired public school teacher who lives on a cattle ranch in the North Zulch area. Her first book, “The River of Cattle,” was published in 2016. It is the story of Will, an 11-year-old, going on a cattle drive with his father and the famed Charlie Goodnight in 1867. Recently in the Will Rogers Medallion Award organization’s contest of Western fiction for young readers, Brock’s book placed fourth out of 200 entries. I have a copy stashed for a Christmas gift.
James Nash was born and raised in the Leona area of Leon County. Recently he published his first book, “The Ancient Landmark.” That title was derived from Proverbs 22:28, “Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.” These personal essays were first published in the Houston Chronicle in a supplementary magazine called State Lines. I found Nash’s stories quite entertaining.
Jacquelyn Thompson was born in Houston but grew up in Normangee, a sixth-generation Texan. For more than a decade, she has written a newspaper column, and she has won honors for writings for the Texas State Genealogical Society annual forums. “Sabine Crossing” was published in 2009 and is based on the author’s great-great-grandmother, Letty Bradley, and early Texas history, 1820-1861. Mrs. Thompson currently lives in Bryan.
Josalyn Ironette-Dione Holiday was born and raised in Madisonville. A 2000 graduate of Madisonville High School, she now has both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She taught school for a while and is currently an instructional coach at Keeble Early Childhood-Pre-Kindergarten in Aldine ISD. She has written two books, “A Treasure in Irianna” in 2015 and “It’s Okay to Be Different” in 2017. Both focus on self-esteem and being proud of who you are.
Frances Landers Isbell is a retired high school and elementary school English teacher. She is 97 years young. In 2014 she published “My Wonderful Life of Faith, Family, and Friends.” Faith is our foundation, Family holds up our house, and Friends come bearing the gifts of love and joy from outside into our lives. Read her book, and in the end, you’ll have made a new friend.
Husband and wife team Angela Farris Fannin and Jerry Fannin were born and raised in Madison County. Both graduated from Madisonville High School and Sam Houston State University. Their first book, “Johnnies, Biffies, Outhouses, Etc.” was published in 1980. “The Complete Unabridged Armadillo Handbook” came out in 1982, and Porch Chatter followed in 1984. Three years later, “Between Anvil and Forge: Pictorial Remembrances of the Blacksmith Shop” was published. I understand that Jerry took the photographs and Angela wrote the text for their books which are treasures for those of us who love Texas and American folklore.
Debbie Patrick Clopton Parks was born and raised in Madisonville. Her first book, “The Trouble with Lacy Brown,” was published in 2005. Since then, she has written 50-plus books, all Christian inspirational romance novels. She has done several book series, for example, the Windswept Bay series, Texas Matchmaker series, and New Horizon Ranch series. Debbie has won various awards, including The Best Sellers’ Best and National Readers’ Choice Award. She was a finalist for Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award.
Madison County Museum, at 201 N. Madison St., Madisonville, TX, is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Museum curator Jane Day Reynolds welcomes your visits. Memorials or donations may be mailed to the Museum, P.O. Box 60, Madisonville, TX 77864.