The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Mr. Claude. By Ada Morehead Holland. (College Station, Tex.: Texas
A&M University Press, 1984. Pp. xiv+ 146. Preface, acknowledg-
ments, bibliography, photographs. $12.50.)
This readable and engaging work by Ada Morehead Holland, the
author of No Quittin' Sense, will intrigue and frustrate traditional
scholars as it opens a window onto the life and customs of the piney
woods of deep East Texas. What emerges is the social history of an area
largely populated by nonelites, with the lives of Claude Barr Ken-
nedy (1869-1963) and his family used to humanize and illustrate the
story.
Claude was one of eight children born to John Holt and Mary
Frances Phillips Kennedy, who cleared their land shortly after the
Civil War. He was blessed with a father who enjoyed passing along to
the younger generation an oral tradition that originated in the virgin
forests during the period of the Republic. In the lap of his father,
Claude first heard of cabin building, log rolling, and the years before
East Texans had clear titles to their lands. His childhood memories
also included his parents' hardships during Reconstruction and his
father's death when Claude was only eleven.
Throughout most of his life Claude lived in the lumber country of
East Texas. His is primarily a story of life in Houston and Trinity
counties-of working in one sawmill after another and sharecropping
on poor land. Wrongly accused of theft, Claude fled company and law-
enforcement officers until he was able to clear his name. Claude mar-
ried Liddie Luana Evans and their lives were invested, and used up,
in the region's many mill towns. In later years, after Liddie's death,
Claude resided with his son, Fred, and his family for almost thirty
years. There Claude respun the stories heard in his youth, held his
grandchildren on his lap, and kept the family lore alive, leaving a
priceless legacy now reconstructed by the author. Never did any of
these Texans know affluence.
Holland knows her East Texas social and economic history, the
backdrop of Mr. Claude. She also deftly weaves together the accounts
gained through interviews with Fred and Effie Kennedy and their off-
spring, who loved their "Papa" dearly and hung on his every word.
The Kennedys moved so often and to so many places, sometimes out
of state, that one wishes the author or the publisher had provided
either a chronology or a serviceable index to the book. Since there are
neither footnotes nor endnotes, it must be assumed that Holland has
not transposed oral accounts and attributed stories to the wrong nar-
rators as she organizes the second and third parts of the work in ways

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/. Accessed October 22, 2014.