Arts & Culture
Renowned Journalist Covers His Family’s SA History in New Book
Published: December 4, 2013
When you were growing up, how much were you aware of your family’s influence and impact in San Antonio? You moved away fairly young, so how much did you discover in the process of researching and writing the book?
I was aware of the Kallison Ranch because the family went out there every weekend and I had the special privilege of going out there very early in the morning with my grandfather and my uncle Perry. With each one of those people, the uncles, the grandparents, the aunt, and with my own mother, my appreciation of who they were, what kind of character they had what they had done … my information was minimal. I came away from this experience not only with the facts, but with far greater understanding of my mother … She was kind of a phenom, went to the University of Texas when she was 15 and so forth.
In the case of each of the aunts and uncles, a huge appreciation for who they were and what they did in the community.… Whether its my uncle Perry, Aunt Frances, Uncle Morris and his wife Ruth, I didn’t have a clue—as I look back on it now, I so wish that I knew all of this while they were alive, because there was so much I would have wanted to ask them. They were very accomplished people as human beings. That kind of level of appreciation, I certainly didn’t have as a child.
What was your research process like?
I’ve written six books and hundreds of newspaper stories [but] I have never done something that was so totally dependent on the information that is now available via the internet. .... Without the incredible amount of information that has been scanned and put online I couldn’t have written the book.
The Bexar County Clerk’s Office has been a pioneer in scanning records … he has scanned online I think every single property transaction in San Antonio going way back into the 19th century. So that was terrific to use. Before there were telephone books, there was something called a city directory, which told you where people lived and where they worked. I didn’t know there was such a thing. That was an incredible help. Have you ever used newspaperarchive.com? [It’s] spotty around the country, but for the San Antonio newspapers, including ones that no longer exist, it’s all there…. Obviously there were family members and they cooperated, but this was not a family where diaries were kept, where business records were kept, letters. So, I was dependent upon my skills as an investigative reporter to find so much of that detailed information.
Was there anything that you found surprising during your research into your grandfather’s time period and society?
It seems to me that there was more opportunity and less prejudice, particularly for Eastern European immigrants, when they got away from the big cities and they came to Texas and Oklahoma and Wyoming.
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