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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

News You Can Use

This Saturday, October 25th, is the date for the 31st annual Texian Market Days out at the George Ranch Historical Park.  The weather should be terrific, and there's plenty to interest the whole family.  If you've never been up-close-and-personal with a Longhorn (4-footed variety), now's your chance.  Click here for more info.

Another event that may interest you is the Coastal Prairie Festival at Seabourne Creek Nature Park across from the County Fair Grounds south of Rosenberg.  You'll find a Web site and phone number on this circular.


A few weeks back I posted an old newspaper article about a pre-trial hearing held at Sartartia in January 1896.  Click here to view the posting.  While doing further research, I learned that W. O. Ellis was the older son of Colonel Ellis, and he would die in a shooting with a tenant farmer the following August.  W. O. sounds hospitable in the January article, but accounts of the August shooting paint a much different picture of his character.  I'll post that story next time.

I posted the following photo (taken in 1935) quite a while ago and wondered who were the men appearing in it.  I recently found ids in a 1958 issue of The Imperial Crown, so now we know who they are.  Here's a reasonably good version of the image.

Rather than retype the text, I'll post The Crown photo with its caption.

News From 1957, 1958 & 1995

I thought this summary from the December 1957 issue of The Imperial Crown was worth posting because it dates several significant events that happened that year: the second Laura Eldridge Hospital opened, as did the Red Barn Cafe and Dairy Queen.  Also note that Visco (now Nalco) was expanding.

This next clipping comes from the March 1958 issue of The Imperial Crown.  Families on Lakeview began buying company homes.

Following the same theme, here's a clipping from The Fort Bend Sun published on December 28, 1995, which reflects on life in The Hill section of Sugar Land.  I have a few quibbles about the article, but something I noticed right away was the statement that the homes on 6th St. were the first built on The Hill.  I take this to mean they were the first built in the grand redevelopment Gus Ulrich led around 1920.  I want to talk with Buddy Blair (SLHS '47) about this.  He may be able to clarify some of these issues about residential development.

The bottom photo shows Mildred Rozelle (SLHS '31) standing in a lot on 6th St.  I got this photo from Jean McCord Babineaux (SLHS '47), so my thanks go to her.  The annotation doesn't include a date.  Regardless, I'm guessing it was taken around 1922 or '23, showing the 'new' houses soon after they were built.  Large trees appear next to the street, but they were probably there before development.  You can see new plants (probably Crepe Myrtles) staked along the sidewalk.

More People Of Old Sugar Land

Who knew the '64 Dulles Band had a bass fiddle? (Thanks Linda Hagler Mosk, DHS '68 for this image.)

This is an undated photo of employees at Visco, later known as Nalco.  Jean McCord Babineaux (SLHS '47) thinks it was taken in the late '30s.  L-to-R: Benny Kinard, ? Koch, Kirk Kirkpatrick, Don Wilson, ?, and John McCord (Jean's father).  (Thank you Mrs. Babineaux.)

These following images come from the 1961/62 Viking Log, which was the Sugar Land Junior High yearbook.  My thanks to Rick Kirkpatrick (DHS '67) for letting me scan his copy.

Technically speaking, he's not an old Sugar Lander, but we'll break the rule for a neighbor.  I think this comes from the spring of 1970.

My thanks to the Helmcamp family for these images.  I think they show members of Dulles High's Class of 1970.  I think I see Pam Tise, Sheryl Gary, Waylon Gandy, Gary Buis, and Shannon Frierson.  Can anyone peg ids in these photos?

News Items From 1919

I've been reading issues of Texas Industrial and Commercial News, a weekly newspaper published in Sugar Land in the early part of the 20th century.  I've selected a few items of interest from the August 29th issue.  (I'll follow up next time with items from September.)  The quality of the images is spotty, so I've included transcriptions to aid readability.  However, I've included the images in case you want to check me.

This first item is about construction of the 'new' power plant, which still stands on the east bank of Oyster Creek near the water tower.  It's the light-colored, two-story, masonry building between Main Street and the creek.  It was officially completed in early 1920 (I think), but this article says Sugarland Industries was preparing the town for an upgraded electrical grid to be supplied by the new power plant.

One inference I'm making from this article is that the town and the refinery were already served by electrical power, which was supplied by an earlier plant inside the refinery complex, somewhere behind today's Char House.  I'm still trying to determine when electricity first arrived in Sugar Land.  My guess is that it was part of Edward Cunningham's new refinery built in 1893, although he may have built a power plant in 1888 when he introduced diffusion processing in his sugar mill.  (I've posted lengthy items about this project a few months ago.)

Town Wiring And Building On Power Plant Progresses

Work on the big power plant is progressing rapidly now.  Material is being unloaded in large quantities at the site.  A pile driver has been erected and the foundation will soon be going in.  Big poles are being set over town and new wiring installed.  The system is to be much larger in all aspects than the present equipment which the town has entirely outgrown.

A very early photo of the power plant. The view is toward the southeast, so Main St. is behind the building and Oyster Creek runs behind and to the right of the camera.  Note the Sealy Mattress smoke stack.  That building is hidden by the power plant.  It sat at the corner of Main and what is now Kempner Streets.
This next item is a blurb on renovations to the Imperial Inn, which stood roughly where Bayview intersects Highway 90A.  Here's a photo to help orient you.

You can see the Imperial Inn at the top center of this photo.
A closer view of the Imperial Inn.
And here's a view of it burning in 1946, or '47.  Mr. R. M. Laperouse took this photo when he noticed the fire.  He lived across the Creek from the Inn.  Buddy Wheeler (SLHS '59) told me he remembers this fire.  When he heard the siren, he rode his bicycle from The Hill to the tracks to watch the volunteer firemen battle the flames.  He was 5 or 6 years old.
I've mentioned this before, but the Imperial Inn was the old Thatcher Plantation House which sat out near Grand Central (just south of old Sugar Land) until 1908, when it was moved into town to serve as a hotel, restaurant, and town social center.  As you'll see from this brief article, the Brauner family, who managed the Inn, renovated it about 10-years later and were ready to reopen in early September.  (More about that next time.)  I know from early newspapers that the Inn was quite a hive of social activity.  

Tales of the Town
Imperial Inn To Open

Announcement of the opening of the Imperial Inn on September 10 will be noted in our advertising columns.  This commodious hostelry has recently been renovated and enlarged and with the new equipment it is expected that better service than ever before will be possible.  The manager announces that complete information will be published next week.

This next item is about the return of a WWI service man, Frank Loper.  He was discharged later than other local men, so he earned special mention.

Frank Loper Home

Frank Loper got his discharge on the 13th instant at Newport, R. I. and arrived at Sugar Land on the 18th since which time he has been learning the art of boiling sugar at the refinery.  Frank enlisted in 1917 in Houston and was sent to Pierce Island, S. C. and later Quantico, Va. for training.  He was with the 5th Brigade which was sent to Santiago, Cuba and was then sent to West Indies to quell the disturbance in Haiti.  After plenty of excitement his unit returned to the States in August 1918 to get ready for sailing across.  His unit embarked in September 1918 and landed at Brest where the expedition was split up, the Second Batallion going to St. Nizzarre (sic) and Nancy, the provisional unit going to Schleswig-Holstein.  This was Frank's unit and he says they just stalled around, doing picket duty and training and waiting and didn't get a single whack at the Boches.  He was later transferred to the 13th Batallion and in this reorganization on August 9th landed at Newport where four days later he got his discharge.

Frank is enjoying chicken dinners given by his friends here and says the boys who got home earlier have nothing on him even if they did have a barbecue and chicken spread on July 4.

Not long after his return, Frank got back to work and gave the newspaper editor a little demonstration of his skills.

Sugar Making Interesting

Mr. Loper, sugar boiler at the refinery, favored the editor with a demonstration of the process of refining sugar Thursday night.  He was operating the three big vacuum pans that turn out a total capacity of some 250 barrels of sugar at each filling.  It takes about an hour and a half to work a charge of liquor through these pans, where it is boiled and kept cool all at the same time till the granules have formed to exactly the desired size and hardness to make the best sugar in the world.  When the granulation is completed the batch is dropped by releasing the vacuum into a bin from which it is taken and washed and put through the sundry processes that turn it out ready to go into sacks and barrels.  It seems incredible that so many tedious processes can be given the raw sugar for such a trifling charge.  Refined sugar is only slightly higher than raw sugar and all that painstaking work must be done to make it ready for the table and at a charge per pound that would cause the butcher or shoe dealer to declare he couldn't possibly do it.

I'll have selections from the September 1919 issue next week.

The First Air Force One - Eisenhower's Constellation

My aunt, Mayme Rachuig Hause (SLHS '48) sent me this clip, which I thought was fascinating.  It's a brief video on the first designated AF One and the current attempt to preserve it.

More Ancient Relics

I want to thank Julius Baumann for sending me these photos.  They are a blast from the past.  First, there's the roll of caps for a cap gun.  Then there's the jukebox extension that was placed in diner booths.  I'm pretty certain White's and then Haas's Cafe had them.  Who can forget the Smith Brother's cough drops, or the Crayola box.  

When I was in Mrs. Boyer's kindergarten, each student bought a box of Crayolas at the start of the year.  When school ended, Mrs. Boyer collected all the remaining used crayons in our boxes (it was strictly voluntary) and put them in a chest she kept in the class room.  I thought it was gigantic, but it was probable the size of a shoe box.  Anyway, she collected what seemed to me to be a treasure trove of old crayons of various shades.

Naturally, we scrounged the box all through the year.  Didn't have a puce or chartreuse crayon?  No problem; dig through the treasure chest because some one had probably donated one in previous years.

I spent many hours during my college years going through the Fondren Library's wooden card catalog, which looked exactly like the one shown in this album.

Click on the image below to view the album.

Monday, October 6, 2014

More People of Old Sugar Land

I have to start off with sad news, unfortunately.  I received news from Charles Farrugia, that his great-uncle, Gilbert Kadlecek (SLHS '48), passed away recently.  Click this link to view the obituary Charles sent me.

I also received word that Olga Mutina, long-time resident on The Hill, died last month.  Click this link to view an obituary.  I know her sons, Louis (DHS '67) and David (DHS '70).  I don't know her younger children, Johnny, Ricky, Susan, and Donald, but I presume they are Dulles alums.

My heart-felt condolences go to the Kadleceks and Mutinas at this sad time in their lives.

My thanks go to Jean McCord Babineaux (SLHS '47) for the next two photos.

Ralph McCord, Sammy Norvic, & Earl Tise, Jr. in front of the Sugar Land Drug Store in 1942.

Louise Stephenson Hall, Jean McCord Babineaux, & Walterene Stephenson Farrell on April 9, 1944.

I'm pretty sure Randy Kozlovsky (DHS '67) gave me these photos, so I'll thank him for providing them.  I think they were taken in the '50s.  Maybe he'll give me the details.

I think that's Randy's mother on the left.  One of the other women is his aunt, but I'm not sure which.

Randy's father is holding his trophy catfish.  I'm not sure who the little girl is. 

I want to thank Linda Cruse Wilson (DHS '65) for this photo.  It shows Diane Broughton Lundell (DHS '65), Becky Cutia, and Linda.

Finally, I saw this article in The Houston Chronicle.  Kind of a stretch, but since it involves Alex and the Freeman Post, it qualifies as old Sugar Land.

Thompson Chapel Missionary Baptist Church

On Sunday, September 28th I attended services at Thompson Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, which celebrated its 134th anniversary.  I've talked with my brother Bruce, and we think it may be the oldest active church in Sugar Land.  We need to do more research, but there's good reason to think we're correct.

Click here to view a bulletin from the service, which includes a history of the church.  I recognize several names listed in the history and mentioned during the service.

I took a hand-held camera to record the service.   I haven't finished editing the video, but I've prepared a short preview.

Click here to view a short video of the 134th anniversary celebration at Thompson Chapel Baptist Church.  

My thanks go to Rev. Henry Hollis and Pamela Moore for inviting me to the church festivities.

More Images of Old Sugar Land

Click this link to view photos of the first service at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Mayfield Park in 1955.  These undated photos were taken a few years later, judging by the trees.  Although it has changed considerably, this church still stands at the corner of Avenue E and Ash St.

This next series of photos shows the truck weighing station at the west gate of the Imperial refinery.   This plot of land is now covered by the Distribution Warehouse, which is the western-most building standing on the Imperial site.  I will try to find the name of the gate man.  (If anyone recognizes him or other men in these pictures, I'd appreciate ids.  I can read the calendar, which indicates the indoor photo was taken in September 1962.)

This last photo shows gate man, Tillman Lewis.  Click this link to view a short bio on Tillman LewisI'm not certain, but I think he is watching monitors on the back gate on the north side of the refinery complex.  His office may be located in the liquid-sugar fleet loading station.

The liquid-sugar loading station is just below and to the right of the tankers.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Some of you may have watched the recent Ken Burns documentary, The Roosevelts.  I haven't seen the first episode dealing with TR's early life, but I've seen the others.   Even if you missed the documentary, you may know that the Democratic Party held it's 1928 presidential nominating convention in Houston.

Jesse Jones built a temporary, wooden convention hall on the site where the Sam Houston Coliseum and Music Hall stood for many years.  (The temporary hall was demolished in 1936.  The Coliseum and Music Hall opened in 1937.)  This site is now the location of The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

The Democratic Party nominee was Alfred E. Smith of New York.  His running mate was Senator Joseph T. Robinson of Arkansas.  FDR gave Smith's nominating speech.

Click the link below to view silent footage of the 1928 convention.  You'll get a glimpse of FDR giving his speech toward the end.  (For those of you who saw the Burns documentary, Louis Howe is the tubercular looking fellow shown briefly about midway in the film.)

The Burns documentary included a couple of excerpts of FDR's memorable Fireside Chats.  Click the link below to hear his first chat on the Banking Crisis, which he delivered early in his first term (March 12, 1933).  It's not long and worth hearing.

Prison Farm News From the Late 1890s

I've come across three articles about the prison farm west of Sugar Land while researching old newspapers.  The first one comes from The Sunday Gazetteer published in Denison, Texas on Sunday, March 18, 1894.  

At this point in Texas history, the state employed a convict leasing system, in which convicts were leased to private businesses at a fixed daily rate to perform various types of labor. Some worked for railroads; others worked for manufacturers, but most worked as unskilled farm laborers.  The state operated conventional prisons in Huntsville and Rusk, but a large number of convicts were scattered across the state in private labor camps.

The heirs of Ambrose Littleberry Ellis and Edward H. Cunningham owned most of the land that now constitutes Sugar Land.  Both used convict labor in their operations.  This article gives you a snapshot of their involvement in convict leasing.  I recognize additional Fort Bend County landholders in the list: T. W. House and C. W. Riddick. Some of the others may have been Fort Bend County plantation owners, but I'm not sure.  You'll notice there were just under 4,000 prisoners in the state penal system.  Over half (2,158) were located in the prisons at Huntsville and Rusk.

The next article is rather long, a little odd, and only mildly interesting, except for the final 3 paragraphs which give a quick sketch of Sugar Land in 1896.  Like the other two articles I found, this one comes from The Portal To Texas History.  Click here to view the whole article which was published in the Fort Worth Gazette on Thursday, January 9, 1896.  It begins at the top of the third column, but since it's long, I'll summarize it for you.  

The State of Texas sued L. A. Whatley, Prison Superintendent, and Reddin Andrews, a prison sergeant, for $75.  The State claimed both men conspired to pay Andrews a month's wages for work time he didn't perform.  The article is unclear on how this came about, but the State claimed fraud and wanted it's money.

The newspaper explains that the trial was held in the depot at Sartartia (the old Walker Railroad Depot), which sat by the tracks roughly where the entrance to Central Unit 1 is now sited.  This makes sense because that's approximately where the alleged crime was committed.  The accused brought many friends and jammed them into that little building.  The State was represented by the County District Attorney, who wanted the trial delayed and moved to Richmond.  The defense team said no, but it sounds like they were overruled and the trial was moved.  (I haven't yet found a follow-up article, so I don't know how it all turned out.)

The proceedings were concluded pretty quickly, but it was close to lunch time, and there was no place for the famished crowd to find some nourishment.  I've clipped the final paragraphs that explain what they did.  W. O. Ellis was old Colonel Ellis's son, who would eventually die in a shoot out with a prison guard.  However, on that day he fed some peckish visitors.  Colonel Ed Cunningham was renowned for his hospitality, so the crowd that walked to Sugar Land was, no doubt, amply rewarded.  The Riddicks seem to have been equally generous hosts.  Sounds like none of the visitors left Sartartia that day with an empty stomach.

This final article comes from The Houston Daily Post, published on Monday, January 4, 1897.  Click here to view the complete version at The Portal To Texas History.  I've clipped just a couple of excerpts.  The first shows that Cunningham was by then the largest lessor of convict labor in the state.  The Ellis family doesn't appear in the list.  

If you look at the complete article, you'll see there are 'Contract' and 'Shared' Farms - Cunningham is listed under Contract Farms.  I'm not sure what the distinction is.

This excerpt gives a brief description of the Harlem Prison Farm and its financial performance.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Updates on Recent Posts

I've mentioned recently that Haroldetta Robertson has a piece of the 1927 Richmond Bridge demolished in 1987.  She has graciously provided the following photos of that big event.
View looking east toward bridge.

View looking east toward bridge.

View looking east toward bridge.

Many thanks to Jackie James (SLHS '57) for sending me this obituary for Bruce Edwards, Jr.

Bruce Franklin Edwards, Jr. passed away after battling three kinds of cancer for over 10 years on Sunday, August 3, 2014 in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas where he had lived for the past 5 years after retiring. Bruce was born on March 27, 1947 in Bryan, Texas. He is the son of Dorothy Louise Bynum and Bruce Franklin Edwards, Sr.

The Edwards, Sr. family moved to Sugar Land, Texas in 1949 where Bruce grew up. He graduated from Dulles High School, Sugar Land, Texas in 1965 and from Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas in 1969 with a degree in architectural construction. Throughout his career he worked for several construction companies in Houston, Texas, retiring from Tellepsen Builders after 25 years in 2010 as a Vice President.
He married Carmen Thompson Edwards In 1969. They resided in Sugar Land, Texas until moving to Arkansas. Throughout his life, Bruce enjoyed many different hobbies including golf, sailing, hunting, fishing, and stained glass making.
He was preceded in death by his father Bruce Franklin Edwards, Sr., his mother Dorothy and his grandson, Dustin Tyler Edwards.
He is survived by his wife Carmen, his son, Chris and family of Beebe, Arkansas and his daughter, Traci Lockwood and her husband Jason and family of Sugar Land, Texas, his brother Randy and his wife Jan of Sugar Land, Texas and Rick and his wife Karry of Sandy, UT, four grandchildren, Kaylyn and Bryson Edwards and Tyler and Emma Lockwood and numerous nephews and nieces plus great and great great nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held August 16th, 2014 at 10:00 AM at Village United Methodist Church, 200 Carmona Road, Hot Springs Village, AR 71909.  In lieu of flowers, there will be a memorial established in Bruce's name at Village United Methodist Church where he was a member.
Finally, I want to thank Tommy Laird (DHS '67) for sending me information on Morris Hite, President of TracyLocke and good friend of the Laird family.