Cherokee County History Spotlight: Howard Gordon Bennett

Howard Bennett

Howard Gordon Bennett graduated from High School in 1959. He was accepted as an officer candidate in the U.S. NAVY at Newport, R.I. in June, 1960. After this graduation he was commissioned as an Ensign, Supply Corps, United States Naval Reserve, October 14, 1960. He was released from active duty in October, l963.

Gordon began working at The City National Bank of Guymon, Oklahoma in January 1964. He was transferred to Jacksonville, Texas in 1991 as a loan officer and retired from banking in 1993.

Gordon met Patricia Ann Spurlin in 1969, they married in August 1972, and they divorced in 1979. There were no children added to this union.

After retiring from banking, Gordon was employed part time by Lon Morris College as a Library Assistant from September 1996 until it closed in May 2012. The library had about 20,000 books and other media in its collection that had to be converted to an internet catalogue system. Gordon’s estimate is that he catalogued 10,000 items for the library in 15 years.

In 1996 Gordon joined the Cherokee County Genealogical Society and in September 1998 he became the Editor. He has since edited 73 quarterly issues of “Tree Talk” and 11 books published by the Genealogical Society. Gordon has served as President since September 2012.

Gordon has the responsibility of bringing awareness in Cherokee County of the Genealogical Services available through the Society. Family research of his own family helped stir and develop his interest in Genealogy. There is enormous potential in Cherokee County for Family History Research. To date, we have developed 1 DVD, 3 CD’s & 73 books. We have the works of Ogreta W. Huttash, Helen Woodall Crawford and others to make up our collections. We participate with Libraries in Jacksonville, Rusk, Alto and Wells because of the size of Cherokee County. Located in the Rusk library is the work of Betty Smith. There is a need to increase membership in order to assist with our genealogy research. The Genealogical Society currently, has Dr. Deborah Burkett covering Troup in north Cherokee County and George Martin covering Alto in south Cherokee County collecting genealogical information.

Like other programs there is a lack of youth participation in our society. Ideas are being discussed as to how we can create an increase in genealogy among our youth. Families are currently so scattered geographically that it’s difficult to access information and develop an interest in genealogy. The Genealogical Society needs to work with Public Schools in order to try and generate interest in Genealogy. Genealogy sites are seldom visited by

Public Schools.

Gordon states that the 50-60 year old age group seems to have a greater interest in Genealogy than other younger age groups. There is a need to educate the general public about the importance of collecting Family History.

Reaching the entire general population is a part of the Society’s future plans. Our website plays a significant role in addressing request outside the Texas area. For example, there is a great need to reach the African American Community because African American history is usually collected orally. There is little African American history written, making it difficult to develop genealogy and present a success story as to how genealogy research should be conducted. The African American community needs to know that they are welcome to conduct Family Genealogy research at any of the Public libraries in Cherokee County.

On success story cited in the African American community was in the genealogy research done at the request of the Lane family. The services of the County Clerk’ s office, Historical Commission and Genealogy office were utilized in order to complete her request. In order to get the African American community more involved in genealogy, Gordon plans to mail a copy of “Tree Talk” to each African American church in Cherokee County to make them aware of the services the society provides. He also plans to start making presentations at these churches whenever possible. Cherokee County can get more involved by making the Genealogy office a Hub for information on Family Genealogy Research.

Howard Gordon Bennett would like to invite the general public of Cherokee County to attend monthly meetings held by the Genealogical Society the second Monday of each month with exception of summer months. The following are Officers of Cherokee County Genealogical Society: Gordon Bennett, President & Editor; Vivian Cates, First Vice President; George Martin, Second Vice President; Anna Nolley, Secretary; Helen Marable, Treasurer and Mary Marsh, Historian.

Gordon Bennett can be reached at:, 903-586-0135

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