Because Diboll is unique on so many levels, the Diboll Historical Society tries to preserve and pass on details of its past for future generations. One of the primary ways the group has been able to accomplish this goal is by providing a historical coloring book to school children.
A recent donation from the Thomas T. Keeler Grant Program has guaranteed “Diboll Days—Then and Now”will continue to be available for many years. The $4,000 grant paid for the printing of a little more than 4,700 copies.
Rebecca Donahoe, a long-time member of the Historical Society, explained the development of the books.
“Twenty years ago Linda Maxey, a fellow teacher, and I collected the material and created the coloring books to depict the history of Diboll. We made them available to third-grade social studies teachers, which is the level where local history is introduced in school,” she said.
Local artist Raymond Ryan did the illustrations in that first edition, and the Temple Industries Public Relations department paid the publishing costs. They have been used in Diboll schools since that time, but last year Renae Lowther, the contact person for the project, notified the society that all the books had been used up.
“We decided to update the material and print another batch of the books so they would still be available,” Donahoe said. “Since they are tied so closely to education and to community culture, we felt an application for a Keeler grant was in order.”
To receive the award, a selected organization should demonstrate a mission which seeks to enhance the educational, social and physical qualities of life in the community in the areas of education, health, community and social services, cultural arts, and the humanities. Grants are made in honor of Thomas T. Keeler and his wife, Cora, and in memory of his grandfather T.L.L. Temple and his mother Marquerite Temple Payne.
There are some new pictures in the latest edition of the book, including the new H.G. Temple school as well as a likeness of its namesake. The creators have tried to keep the text on a third-grade reading level while working in some specific new vocabulary words.
“We tried to make a connection between Diboll, Angelina County, and Texas history,” Donahoe said. “There is also a section on how a tree is turned into lumber for building material since that is the primary industry in this area.”
In a separate, but similar, project, the Angelina County Historical Commission provides the same kind of material for other schools in the county. However, all of theirs are strictly online, and teachers have to print off what they use in class. Diboll is the only town that actually has printed copies for the students.
“Diboll is unique,” Donahoe said. “Most sawmill towns are just ghost towns now. And we want kids to be proud of their community.”
“Diboll Days—Then and Now” should be back from the printer by now. In addition to being used in school, some copies will also be made available to the Diboll Business Association as an information source for new businesses and at City Hall and the History Center.