New Kerr County History Book Available!

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Another way to look at local history: documentary film. The premiere of "Voices of Doyle"

The stars of 'Voices of Doyle,' a new documentary
from the former students of the Doyle School, in Kerrville

There are many ways to tell our community’s history. For many of us scribblers, newspaper writers going several generations back, the way we tell Kerr County’s story is in words printed with ink on paper. 

I’ve been writing this weekly column since 1994. Our community’s story is like a mosaic, and each week I bring one tile and place it carefully here in the newspaper.

Others, though, have a different way to tell our story.

The Kerr County Historical Commission, for example, has a remarkable series of oral histories available online, at the Portal to Texas History, a project of the University of North Texas in Denton. These can be found at and accessed by typing “Kerr County Historical Commission” in the search bar.

This collection of oral histories features local people being interviewed by members of the historical commission. I believe around 97 of the interviews are online, and there is no cost to listen to them.

The interviews range from Kerr County folks who are still with us – like John M. Mosty, or Clifton Fifer, Jr. – to folks who’ve passed away – like Clarabelle Snodgrass or James Avery. These are a valuable historical resource, since each person is telling their own story. And it’s comforting to hear stories told in the voices of those who are no longer with us. 

Quite a few of the interviews were also recorded on videotape, and these videos are also available online at the Portal to Texas History.

I often listen to these interviews, or read the transcripts of the interviews, when I’m researching a topic for this column. Very often I learn something new about the person being interviewed, even after knowing them for many years. I’m happy to recommend these interviews to you – they’re fun and informative.

The Doyle School, as it appeared in the 1980s
Now a new way to tell stories has come to our community. Alyson Amestoy, a recent Baylor University graduate, is telling our town’s story through documentary films. Her production company, Story Garden, has produced a documentary about Kerrville’s Doyle School called “Voices of Doyle.”

This new video features dozens of people offering their memories of the Doyle School. Most of those shown in the video are former students of Doyle.

“Voices of Doyle” will premiere on Tuesday, February 28, at the Arcadia Live Theater, 717 Water Street, in downtown Kerrville. Doors open at 6:00 pm, with music by Clifton Fifer, Kiah Middleton, Konrad Wert, and more. The film will be shown at 7:00 pm. There will be a question-and-answer period with Amestoy around 7:45 pm. The event is free.

I’ve seen an early copy of the film, and it’s impressive. It’s about much more than the school itself. It’s about the community around the school, a community which was made closer and better by the school, and by the couple who taught there, B. T. and Itasco Wilson.

The stories told are poignant, and told by those who lived them. Despite the hardships the students, teachers, and school faced, by hard work and grace something beautiful was created.

Some of the stories are quite humorous, like the time a group of students decided to skip school and go to the movies.

B. T. “Prof” Wilson, the Doyle School principal, showed up at the movie theater and visited with the truant students there. The students didn’t do that again, ever.

I encourage you to go see this wonderful film. It celebrates an important part of our community’s story.  And it’s fun.

Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerrville and Kerr County historical items. If you have something you’d care to share with him, it would make him happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times February 25, 2023.

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