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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ralph McCord

Some of you are aware that Ralph McCord (SLHS '40) died recently.  Here's an obituary and a tribute from Austin College in Sherman, where he coached for many years.

His niece Sue Mitchell let me copy a video of home movies shot by Ralph's brother-in-law George Andre.  I'm very grateful for this video.  They are the earliest film of Sugar Land I have seen.

This clip records a visit Ralph made during 1942 or '43 while on leave from the US Navy. The McCords lived on 2nd Street, but I'm not sure if all of this was filmed there.  Some may have been filmed on other streets on The Hill.  I'll need to do more checking.  Other residents of The Hill make brief appearances.

Video of McCord Family About 1937 or '38

Once again, my thanks to Sue Mitchell for letting me copy this video.  Sue is a granddaughter of John & Hattie McCord, whose family appears in this film.  Their son-in-law George Andre shot it in 1937 or '38, I think.

This is the earliest film of The Hill neighborhood I know of.  The McCords lived on 2nd Street.  Check out the houses and the car that goes down Main Street.  It raises a lot of dust.  (Oops - the hotrodders appear in the  previous clip.)

(I noticed the typo in the video -- I'm too lazy to correct it right now!)

The Walnut Plantation (Nibbs-Fields House)

Recent posts about the Runaway Scrape prompted Mark Schumann to send me some interesting information about the Nibbs-Fields House that stood on his great-uncle Paul Schumann's property on Clodine Road. Some of you may recall this earlier post on the subject, but Mark has provided more detailed information, including this good photo of the brick home that replaced the earlier wooden structure.  (I don't have a date, but this photo must come from the early part of the last century.)

Here's a drawing of the earlier wooden plantation home.  It comes from the book, Following General Houston, by B. Wall and A. Williams.

The following text also comes from the book.

This last item is a memoir of Emma Fields McLaughlin whose family lived in the home beginning in 1884.  Many thanks to Mark for sending me these items.

Link to Mrs. McLaughlin's recollections written in 1943.

Lions Club Pancake Supper, March 29, 1956

Linda Hagler Mosk found another gem in her family's archive.  The Lions Club held a pancake supper on March 29, 1956.  I think they held the event in the meeting hall on the 2nd story of the old Salvage Building.  The structure stood in what is now an empty field on the north side of Kempner Street between Main and Wood.  Many community events occurred there since it was one of the larger meeting rooms in old Sugar Land.  As you can see it was equipped with a kitchen.

This first item is a photo that appeared in The Fort Bend Mirror.  It's a poor quality picture, but I wanted to provide the caption.

Linda said her father (on the far left) got an original print of another photo taken that night.  I recognize Don Hagler, Cliff Nygren, Fred Sciba, Hal Rucker and Fred Baker.  I'm not sure about the others, but I think I know who is dressed up as Aunt Jemima.  I think that's Katie Robinson, head cook at the Haas Cafe.  You can see the top of her face -- she's standing just in front of the man at the very back.  She's very short and wearing glasses.  Her skills as a cook were renown, so I can imagine they wanted her to supervise the amateurs.


Sugar Land's Old Fire Truck

Linda Hagler Mosk found the photo below in her mother's scrapbook recently.  I think its date must be the late 1970s.  The location looks like the fire station on Guenther Street.  I could be wrong, but I think that's Mr. Robert Laperouse in the front passenger seat and Johnny Plokuda behind the wheel.

1991 Houston Chronicle Article on Stellar Success of Sugar Land Area High School Football

My thanks to Linda Hagler Mosk (DHS '68) for sending me the following article, which appeared in The Houston Chronicle in December, 1991.  We're not in football season, but I thought I'd post it anyway.  Bill McMurray recounts the '63 state championship game and Sugar Land High's successfull run back in the '50s.

I and several of my classmates went to the Killeen game at the Dome.  Unfortunatley, Dulles lost 14 - 10.  Killeen had a speedy quarterback who gave Dulles fits.

I did a quick check of the Lone Star Football Network data base.  As far as I know, Willowridge is the only FBISD school to win a state football championship (1982).

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sugar Land Skeeters Inaugural Game, April 26th, 2012

I know this is late, but here's a 9-1/2 minute video of the Skeeters' inaugural game against the York (PA) Revolution.  My thanks to Tim and Tricia Bradbury for letting Mike Doan and me use their tickets.  We had a great time.

Sorry that the quality of this isn't up to par -- I couldn't use a tripod.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Addendum to The Old Whip & Runaway Scrape Story

I just finished Life In Early Texas: The Reminiscences of Mrs. Dilue Harris.  Dilue Rose Harris was an 11-year old in 1836.  Her father was a doctor/farmer who settled his family in 1834 on the Jesse Cartwright league midway between Sugar Land and Richmond. 

Her account of the Runaway Scrape is very interesting.  They got as far as Liberty when they learned of the victory at San Jacinto. (They heard sounds of the battle.  Her father was a former military doctor and recognized the din of cannon fire.)  

They had a very rough time -- her baby sister died of an unidentified disease while they were camped at Liberty -- but she said other refugees suffered more than they did.

As they made their way back home, they stopped at the San Jacinto Battle ground on the 25th.  She described it as grewsome.  She had a chance to go see Santa Anna, but declined.  She'd lost her bonnet and had to wear a table cloth to cover her head in the bad weather.  She didn't want to be seen wearing a table cloth by anyone she knew.

They picked up a lot of news while at the battle ground, including this account of Old Whip.  (She thought Allen Vince owned the horse, but most other accounts say his owner was William Vince.)

We stayed one day on Sims Bayou.  There were more than one hundred families, and all stopped to rest and let the stock feed.  We met a Mrs. Brown (a Scotswoman) who was living at William Vince's when the Mexican army crossed the bridge.  They took possession of Allen Vince's fine black horse.  Mrs. Brown's son James, a lad aged thirteen, went and mounted the horse and would not give him up.  The Mexicans made the boy a prisoner.   His mother came out and asked for Santa Anna.  Colonel Almonte came out and asked in English what he could do for her.  She told him she was a subject of the King of England and demanded protection.  Almonte assured her that she and her children would not be hurt and ordered her son to be liberated.  Santa Anna's servant put a fine saddle on the horse.  It was ornamented with gold and had solid gold stirrups.  When the captured plunder was sold at auction, the Texas soldiers bid it in (made the winning bid) and presented it to General Houston.

It appears that William Vince never got his saddle back.  In another section of her memoir, she described Santa Anna's capture.

General Santa was captured the next day after the battle.  He was seen by Captain Karnes to plunge into the bayou on a fine black horse.  He made his escape from the battle ground on Allen Vince's horse, but not on the fine saddle.  He (the horse) was taken to headquarters and after a few days was restored to Allen Vince.  James Brown (the young boy mentioned earlier) pointed out the horse.


Fort Bend Jaybirds Baseball Team (cont.)

I've posted a couple of items from Lou Payton's scrapbook covering his playing days for the Fort Bend Jaybird baseball team back in the early 1950s.  You may recall from an earlier post that the Fort Bend Jaybirds were formed in 1950 and named after Fort Bend County's Jaybird Democratic Party, which was declared unconstitutional in a case tried before the US Supreme Court.  

This first clipping is an undated preseason item.  I assume it came from the Herald Coaster.  It covers the Jaybird's signing Lou and pitcher Bobby Hollmann.  They were teammates at the University of Houston in their collegiate days.  My reading of the article suggests Hollmann (and possibly Lou) played for the Jaybirds before they actually signed contracts.

This next clipping is a '52 preseason article also from the Herald Coaster.  It has an interesting run down on the team roster.  Several players had come from collegiate teams.  Some were under contract with major league teams.  Notice local boy, Gus Hrncir, was the leading hitter on UT's 1950 national championship team.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The 20 Millionth Ford Vehicle, 1931

I found the following photo in T. C. Rozelle’s archive when Marjorie let me scan everything he collected. Even though he made the annotations shown with the photo, I couldn’t guess what it was all about. I was certain the Sugar Land Motor Company never sold Ford automobiles, so it was very puzzling. (The location is the refinery entrance.  The old main offices are on the left.)

Last week, Bruce’s daughter-in-law sent me two scans from her mother’s archive, which you see below. I’d read that Ford had an auto assembly plant on Navigation, which began operation around 1930 (building Model A vehicles) and ceased production when Ford sold the complex to General Foods in 1946. It’s the Maxwell House Coffee plant – or was, I don’t know what it’s called now.

Even though the sign says Bothager Automotive Company, I thought that may be Ford’s assembly plant, but I couldn’t get anywhere with that idea. I assume Bothager is the name of a prominent Houston dealership back in the 1930s. I knew I’d seen the car before and remembered the mysterious photo in T. C.’s archive.

I decided to google ’20 millionth Ford,’ and found what I wanted. Ford built its 20 millionth vehicle in April, 1931 and celebrated the occasion with a promotional tour of the country. You can read an interesting article on the car and the tour by clicking the link below, but I've provided a Cliff Notes version in the following paragraphs. 

Link to story about the 20 millionth Ford vehicle.

The 20 millionth Ford was a Model A sedan. Henry drove it off the assembly line himself. Here’s a link to a short video – no sound and it repeats itself, but you can see the historic occasion in moving images. The Ford Company toured the car around the country from April to December, 1931. The article says they had other promotional cars, but I have no reason to doubt the car in these pictures is the genuine car. I can easily imagine the car made an appearance at the assembly plant and then headed out 90A to points west. Why they stopped in Sugar Land is a mystery, but I guess William T. Eldridge, Sr. and Gus Ulrich had some pull. (Note that Gus is sitting in the car.)

As you’ll read in the article, the car still exists. A family on Michigan's northern peninsula owned it through the intervening years. The current owner leased it back to Ford, and they restored it for the company’s centennial celebration. Unfortunately, the log book (which recorded all stops on the nation-wide tour) is lost. I hope they find it so we can prove conclusively that the celebrated chariot made a pit stop in little ol’ Sugar Land back in 1931.

Edward M. House

I have a bachelor’s degree in history, so I like to think I have a fairly good grasp of the important figures in our past. I’ve known since my college days that Edward M. House was Woodrow Wilson’s right-hand man in foreign affairs. He was the President’s envoy to Europe before the US entered WWI. He helped develop Wilson’s Fourteen Points and the League of Nations Charter. He was definitely a key figure in foreign affairs in WWI.

For some reason I thought he was a Tennessean, but after looking through Jesse Ziegler’s book, “Wave of the Gulf,” I learned I was wrong. House was technically a Houstonian, but he had very close connections to Fort Bend County.

His story goes back to Jonathan Dawson Waters, who was reputed to be the richest man in Fort Bend County before the Civil War. He had a large plantation he called Arcola, near the present-day town of that name. He grew cotton and sugar cane. Waters went broke after the war, and Edward’s father, Thomas House, bought the plantation and amassed a fortune of his own. Edward spent a lot of time roaming the plantation before attending Houston Academy in the 1880s and then Cornell University in the 1890s.

House wasn’t much of a student, but he was apparently an astute guy. He was a close friend of James Hogg and played an instrumental role in Hogg’s hotly-contested gubernatorial campaign in 1892. Hogg was re-elected and so pleased that he bestowed the honorific rank of 'Colonel' on House.  He was forever after known as Colonel House.  

The Colonel spent time in Texas politics until 1904 when he moved up to national politics. He'd met Woodrow Wilson, and they hit it off from the start. House became an informal, but key advisor in Wilson’s administration, especially in the field of foreign affairs.

Wilson had a stroke in the last year of his administration. He went into seclusion, and his wife Edith essentially became president. She and House didn’t play well together, so his role in the Wilson administration came to an abrupt end. He lived until 1938. Although a life-long Democrat, House had serious concerns about the New Deal, but he never made them public.

Dulles Football Season Tickets, 1966

My thanks go to Linda Hagler Mosk (DHS '68) for sending me this clipping she found recently.  Notice how they sold season tickets -- you could go right to the top (Superintendent Edward Mercer) if you wanted to!  Also notice the ticket prices.

I happened to remember all those games.  Angleton gave me the worst beating I ever got in a football game.  Lamar Consolidated smeared 40-0.  Smeared was the term we used for serious drubbings in the old days.  

Here's a personal story from that game. Most Dulles alums near my age know my grandmother, Mamie Rachuig, was Registrar at Dulles High School.  I have a cousin, Bob Bass (almost exactly my age), who played football for the Mustangs.  This was a big game for my grandmother because her two oldest grandsons were playing on opposing teams.  Since the game was played in Rosenberg, she sat with Bob's family on the Lamar side of the field.  As I've said, things didn't go well for us.  (I can remember lots of details about that game, unfortunately.)

I learned afterward that my grandmother had very mixed feelings about the game.  Lamar had a very good team and beat the tar out of us.  (That's a good euphemism you don't hear much anymore.)  The Lamar crowd was ecstatic.  Of course, my grandmother knew all of the Dulles players and felt so bad for us she shed a few tears.  

No problem.  We got 'em the next season.