The Storytellers

Come and remember Nacogdoches' most beloved citizens. Well known throughout the community, they were the best storytellers in this stretch of Piney Woods. In their memory, a statue by Harry Weber was placed to commemorate these most beloved storytellers. Here these men are sitting around a table, having some coffee, and listening to Mr. Murphey's wild and humorous stories.

Dr. Frances Edward Abernethy (1925-2015), was born in Altus, Oklahoma, and moved to Nacogdoches his senior year in high school. He enlisted and served in the United States Navy during World War II. After being accepted at a position at Stephen F. Austin Teacher College, he married the coach's daughter Hazel Shelton in 1948. He was a Distinguished Regents Professor Emeritus of English at Stephen F. Austin State University, the Executive Secretary-Editor Emeritus of the Texas Folklore Society from 1971 to 2004, the Curator of Exhibits for the East Texas Historical Association, and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters. He published poetry, short stories, a folk music book entitled Singin' Texas, a book of legends entitled Legends of Texas' Heroic Age, and a history of the Texas Folklore Society in three volumes. He lectured widely, popularly, and academically. Abernathy was a fixture in the local community when he carved out the LaNana and Banita Creek Trails to prevent future floods. He explored caves in Mexico and the Yucatan, he was a world traveler and a scuba diver, he soloed in a Cessna, he played the bass fiddle in the East Texas String Ensemble of Nacogdoches and was the vocalist in a jazz combo called the Golden Guys. [1]

Mr. Charles Raymond Bright (1927-2013), was born in downtown's Ingraham Building on Plaza Principle to thriving grocery owners Dovie Bailey and George Novel Bright. After graduating from Nacogdoches High School in 1945, he was drafted as an army military policeman. After the war, Bright was an entrepreneur who invented and patented the "Loco Lure." His status as a BIN (Born In Nacogdoches), and his lifelong residency in the city he loved provided him a vast knowledge of the town that few others possessed. Charles’s passion was the preservation of historic downtown Nacogdoches. In addition to the restoration of the Ingraham Building, he was responsible for the acquisition and placement of antique street lights, planter boxes, statues, and historical markers. He would recite the history of the buildings, name businesses that occupied them and name the business owners and their family members. Charles would regale listeners with stories rich with local history and lore known to few others. Charles bestowed a great gift to Nacogdoches by working so diligently to preserve her history by the buildings he saved, the statues he erected, and the stories he gathered to share with all.[2]

Mr. Bryan H. Davis, Jr. (1935-2017), was born in Nacogdoches, Texas to Bryan Holt and Elizabeth Bogard Davis. Bryan attended the SFA Demonstration School and was a graduate of Nacogdoches High School. He attended Stephen F. Austin State University and received his Bachelor of Arts and Law Degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. Bryan served as Nacogdoches County Attorney for 35 years. As County Attorney, he displayed a unique ability for diplomacy. People often came to his office angry about a given situation, only to leave laughing and with a sensible resolution for their dispute. As a prosecutor, he recognized that each case stood on its own merits and sought to seek justice, not merely convictions. He was instrumental in many projects which bettered our city and county, including the creation of the Nacogdoches County Court at Law, improvements to the courthouse and its various functions, and the creation of Lake Naconiche. One would be hard-pressed to find an individual more knowledgeable about Nacogdoches, its historic places, its stories or its inhabitants, both past and present, other than Bryan Holt Davis, Jr. In short, he loved every single thing about Nacogdoches and Nacogdoches County. He was a seventh-generation resident of the city. He was extremely proud of his family involvement in the community; a heritage that dates back to the early 1830s.[3]

Mr. Robert W. "Bob" Murphey (1921-2004), was born in Nacogdoches, Texas. Firefighting was Bob’s first love. Despite losing his arm at the age of twelve, Bob was a fireman from his youth. He served thirty-seven years of active duty with the Nacogdoches Volunteer Fire Department, five of those as Chief. He was President of the Texas State Firemen and Fire Marshall Association as well as an instructor at the Texas A&M University Fire School. Bob had various careers. His first job was as a Western Union delivery boy. He served his country as an officer in the United States Merchant Marine during World War II. He was Sergeant-at-Arms for the Texas House of Representatives, Nacogdoches County Attorney, District Attorney, and President of the East Texas Peace Officers Association. Bob was also a founding director of Fredonia State Bank, proudly served on the board for nearly forty years. Bob was probably best known for being a humorist and public speaker. He frequently appeared on national television and hosted his own early morning radio show. He was honored with the Mark Twain Award for humor as well as the Cavett Award awarded to him by the National Speakers Association. Bob entertained audiences all over the county…from the members of the Supreme Court to local churches and civic organizations. Bob’s travels took him far and wide, but he belonged to East Texas…it was home. Texas Monthly called Bob Murphey Texas’ Best Good Ol’ Boy, but as the people of East Texas knew, Bob was Nacogdoches’ treasured favorite son. He will long be remembered for his love of Nacogdoches and the gift of humor he shared with all.[4]


The Storytellers Creator: Christopher A. Cioffi
F. E. Abernethy Creator: Christopher A. Cioffi
Charles R. Bright Creator: Christopher A. Cioffi
Bryan Holt Davis, Jr. Creator: Christopher A. Cioffi
Robert W. Murphey Creator: Christopher A. Cioffi
Storyteller Plaque #1 Creator: Christopher A. Cioffi
Storyteller Plaque #2 Creator: Christopher A. Cioffi


Christopher A. Cioffi, “The Storytellers,” East Texas History, accessed September 28, 2022,