The rich history of the northeast region of Harrison County, highlighting the communities of Karnack, Caddo, Uncertain and Leigh, is now available in a new book at the county museum.
Titled “The Northeast Corner of Harrison County”, the history book is 463 pages, including 50 pages of notes and bibliography, a comprehensive index, over 140 photos, maps and drawings. It was written by Dr. Rose Mary Magrill, Marshall resident and retired professor, with input from Pat Odom, Karnack resident and former Karnack postmaster, and John Fortune, Karnack resident and Vietnam veteran. . The trio collaborated to create the book, through research, personal testimonials, interviews and more.
“I’m really excited about it,” Fortune said of the project, which spanned five years.
“I worked on the pictures and Rose Mary Magrill, a retired teacher, wrote; and she did an amazing job,” he said. “Pat Odom was the brainchild of it all. She and I had been talking about it for a while. None of us are authors. She goes to church with Rosemary and has enlisted Rosemary to help her; and Rosemary just took the ball and ran with it and did an amazing job.
“Few communities record their history as well as this one,” Fortune said.
The museum is pleased to announce a special book signing for the project, scheduled for Saturday on the second floor of Memorial City Hall’s West Gallery at 110 E. Houston St. The program will begin at 11 a.m. Books will be available for purchase until 2 p.m.
Fortune said they were looking forward to Saturday’s event and expecting a big crowd.
“As many mailings as we’ve sent out, if a small percentage show up, we’ll get a lot of people,” he teased.
Some highlights of the book include early settlements, monuments, religious and educational activities, oil and gas exploration, political experiences, and renowned notables such as former First Lady Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor Johnson and the legendary rodeo barrel racer Martha Arthur Josey.
Fortune said most of the material was made possible by researching the News Messenger archives.
“The News Messenger played a big part in that, thanks to their archive that we were able to use on news.com,” Fortune said. “We couldn’t have done the book without him. I enjoyed it very much.
“The authors are grateful to all the people in the northeast part of Harrison County who reported to the Marshall newspapers, beginning in the 19th century, about events in their communities; to The Marshall News Messenger for making all their old files available; and to the same journal for allowing their collection of negatives to be researched and copied for possible use in this book,” the authors wrote in the preface to the book.
The authors also thanked the many people who shared their photos and memories for readers to enjoy. These people included Dorothy Grant, Sandra Summers Philips, Charles Gillis, Billy Powell and Frances Dahmer Hare, among others. The authors also acknowledged Ernestine Rice, Ann Brannon, Marilyn Winters, and Ray Polk for loaning their yearbooks and directories for the project.
“The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also shared elements of their files,” the authors noted. “Laura-Ashley Overdyke, Robert Speight, Dorothy Ray Fortune Hayner, and Paul Fortune reviewed and commented on selected draft chapters of the book, while Richard Magrill and Richard LeTourneau read and commented on the entire text.”
The authors also thank John Kemp for his invaluable advice on the layout of the book. They also thanked Eliza Bacon and Diane Jones for their help designing the cover.
The authors also expressed their gratitude to Larry Howard, for allowing the use of his father Howard Howard’s painting to adorn the cover. Finally, the authors thanked the staff of the county museum for their support throughout the project.
“The staff and volunteers of the Harrison County Historical Museum Research Library were encouraging throughout the project,” the authors said.
More information about the book can be found on the website, karnackhistory.com. Fortune encourages the public to also come to Saturday’s book signing to purchase a copy and enjoy a meet-and-greet with the authors.
“This book gives a good overview of the history of Karnack and what happened before us,” Fortune said. “It offers a good view of what our ancestors did.
“It takes us from the 1830s to the present day, and very few communities are blessed with such a good history written about it; and I attribute it all to Rosemary,” he said.