Proud of East Texas: The women that shaped Texas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Proud of East Texas: The women that shaped Texas

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) -

She was most famous for being the sweetheart of the Texas Centennial.

Model Janice Jarrat is only one of many East Texas women featured in Debora Lovett Burkett's book 'East Texas Piney Woods Spunky Women 1830s to 1950s.

Some women featured are famous, but most are now. However, all could be described as spunky. 

Burkett first used spunky in a series of newspaper articles and the response was overwhelming.

"I can't tell you how many e-mails and phone calls. People said we want to know more about those spunky women so I started doing a few more articles and then the book blossomed," says Burkett.

Burkett had been introduced to some of her spunky women in her previous book, 'Quilts and their Stories Binding Generations Together."

"I had more women in the palm of my hand and stories coming my way at the time, women who weren't just quilters but accomplished in many areas," says Burkett.

Although Burkett's spunky women book spans the years of 1830s to 1950s, her dedication goes back further to the naive American woman, Angelina, who interpreted for early Spanish and French explorers.

"The only county in the entire state of Texas named for a woman is Angelina County," says Burkett.

Daisy Bradford, who owned the land where the first East Texas oil well came in, is featured prominently in the book. Letters between Bradford and Driller Dad Joiner give personal insight to the setting of the Great East Texas Oil Boom.

"Without Daisy it would never have happened," says Burkett.

The World War II years are covered not only through women in the service but through personal photos of a Cherokee County woman who was privy to the top secrets at Los Alamos.

"She was a file clerk in Oppenheimer's office where they made the plan for the atomic bomb," says Burkett.

The Goodman museum in Tyler provided Burkett with both the history and lifestyle of Sally Goodman-LeGrand.

"You walk upstairs and her bedroom looks like she's getting ready for a party with her dresses," says Burkett.

Burkett says she found so very many spunky women in East Texas that it was almost impossible to chose who was the most interesting.

"At first, I thought I'm just going to write about 50 women can to 150," says Burkett. "Finally, I had to say, I've got to stop though I still had many more stories."

You're bound to know some of the many women featured in 'East Texas Piney Woods Spunky Women.' Some are your neighbors, your friends, and even your relatives.

If you don't fine someone you know in this book, just wait, volume two is on its way.

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