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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Imperial Crown, December 1970

My thanks to Leon and Bettye Anhaiser for providing these scans.

Riding With Santa On The Sugar Land Fire Truck

There was a discussion on Facebook about riding with Santa (Soapy Borowski) on the antique Sugar Land fire truck.  I'm not sure everyone was aware the Lairds have home movies of this town tradition.

Shirley Laird

Dot and Scotty Hightower let me scan the following photo from their family collection.  It's undated, but it must come from the mid 1950s.  You see Shirley Laird, Gladys. Pierce, and Ida New.  Without looking this up, I think Gladys Pierce was the school librarian while Shirley Laird and Ida New were high school teachers.  They are standing somewhere on the Lakeview campus. 

(Update)  Judy Harrington Diamond (SLHS '59) helped me with the teacher on the right.  It's Miss Eleanor Berry, not Miss Ida New.  Many thanks to Judy for helping me get this right.

I 'borrowed' the following picture from Tommy Laird's Facebook account.  It shows his mother on November 15th, her 91st birthday


Selections from The Fort Bend Mirror, November 19, 1959

Punt Helmcamp and his father Boots made the front page of The Fort Bend Mirror on November 19, 1959.  Notice the deer in the back seat.

Here is the Sugar Land society column from the same edition.  You may recognize some of the people mentioned by the unnamed reporter.

My thanks go to the Helmcamp family for providing me these scans.

Imperial Sugar Memorabilia

I want to thank Cherryl Hughes Fikes for sending me these scans of Imperial Sugar Company memorabilia.  I think this first item is a paperweight.  I have one from the 1950s.  It's made of clear plastic, so you can see the sugar inside.  Air can't get to the sugar, so it will never deteriorate.  This item is much older; it's probably from the '20s or earlier.  It may have sand in it.

This next item is a printing plate for boxes of light brown sugar.  I'm not sure when it was made, but I presume it may be from the '20s or earlier.

I'm not exactly sure what these next items are, or the date they were printedBased on the title, I assume this pamphlet was aimed at retailers.  Regardless, I can remember seeing 1-lb. boxes like these in the Sugar Land store.


Dulles High In The Chuzzy Jenkins Era

I found these pictures in the H. L. 'Chuzzy' Jenkins family photo collection.   (Thank you Janice and Nancy.)  These are random clippings from his term as principal at Dulles Senior High School, which began in 1966.  I think they all come from The Fort Bend Mirror.  Along with Mr. Jenkins you see former students Diane Park Bailey, Nilgun Serdaroglu, and Stephen Farrell.


SLHS Class of '47 as 5th Graders?

My thanks go to Buddy and Billie Blair for providing me this picture.  It's undated, but I'm guessing it shows the Class of '47 when they were in the 5th grade, or thereabouts.  That is Lakeview Drive behind them.  I think you can just make out the tennis courts on the right edge of the picture.  Buddy is on the front row, 5th from the left.

I can't make out anyone else, but here's a list of the class.  Maybe it will help someone identify them: Ray Anhaiser, Jean McCord Babineaux, Buddy Blair, Patsy Rushing Buck, Albert Coburn, Edna Murl Cotham, Jack Curry, Bert Dearing, Richard Dierks, Minnie Jean Roberts Elskes, Verna Kelly Farrall, Walterene Stephenson Farrell, Ophilia Casarez Fuintero, William Gaertner, Colleen Hall Holt, Allen Lemke, Jimmy McFadden, James Miller, Janie Borowski Oberhoff, Jean Renfrow Speck, Agnes Urban Stein, Frank Tallas, Jerry Tallas, Neila Jo Spencer Thomas, Frank Topolanek, James Vavrecka, Jean Watson, Taz Watson, Royce White, and Clementine Malinoski Zdunkewiez.

Sugar Land Heritage Foundation Open House

Sorry about the late notice, but I thought I'd put it up anyway.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

SLHF & SLCAF Revive Chautauqua Talks At The Old Auditorium

The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation and the Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation have brought the Chautauqua movement back to Sugar Land. The Chautauqua Institute sponsored adult-education presentations traveling multiple, national circuits beginning in the 19th century and ending about the time of WW II.  

Leon Anhaiser inaugurated the new series of local talks on November 13th with his presentation entitled, "Sugar: The Essential Building Block of Sugar Land."  More talks at the Auditorium are scheduled over the coming months.  They are free to the public and will be presented at the Auditorium.  More about them in the future.

I videoed the session which included presentations on 
  • the Cultural Arts Foundation by its Executive Director, Amanda Rackliff
  • the Chautauqua movement by Bruce Kelly
  • the Heritage Foundation by its Executive Director, Bill Benson
  • and of course, Leon's featured presentation on sugar.

Unfortunately, technical difficulties lowered the color fidelity of the video, but I added still photos to supplement the video and improve 'watchability.'


Tenant Farm House Moved To Old Foster Community Museum

On October 18th the Old Foster Community Museum moved an 85-year old tenant farm house to its museum complex on FM 359 just south of Fulshear.  It was a surprisingly elaborate project that I caught on video.  Yoakum House Moving Inc. of Brenham took several days to prepare the move, which began at 9:00 a.m. and ended around 3:30 p.m. I shot nearly 2 hours of video which I've whittled down to 12 minutes. 

Many people are unaware that Sugar Land has connections to that area of Fort Bend County.  Colonel Cunningham built the Imperial Valley Railway which extended from Sugar Land to the Brazos River just west of Foster.  The railway hauled sugar cane from the area to the mill and refinery in Sugar Land.  It hauled other crops as well, but cane was the principal freight.  When cane crops died out in the late '20s, the railway's fate was sealed.

Sugar Land's second tie to the area is water.  A pumping station on the Brazos moved water from the river into Jones Creek, which fed it to Oyster Creek near what is now Pecan Grove.  Imperial needed the water for the refinery, and Sugarland Industries needed it for its extensive farming and ranching operations.  Without Brazos River water Sugar Land would never have expanded.

The area's third link to Sugar Land is Foster Farms, which was part of Sugarland Industries agricultural operations.  The Kempner family still owns the property.

As you'll see, the farm house is now on museum property.  I'm not certain when its restoration will be complete, but visit the Old Foster Community Museum if you are in the area.  Call 281-239-2178 for information on opening times and events.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lonnie Green, Sugar Land's Lone Combat Death in WW I

My brother Bruce Kelly wrote the following article on Alonzo Richmond 'Lonnie' Green.  He died of combat wounds in World War I making him Sugar Land's only soldier killed in the Great War.  His story is well worth reading.  The small park at Wood and First Streets is named after him.

I have a small bonus to add to Lonnie Green's story.  I found the following postcard in T. C. Rozelle's archive.  It's from Otto Martin to a Sugar Land resident, Mrs. I. G. Wirtz, Sr.  (I'm not sure Otto was a Sugar Land resident.)  He sent it a little over a month after the War was over.  He must have served in the occupational forces stationed in Munich, which saw considerable tumult after the Armistice.

Anyway, it is a good example of mail soldiers sent back home.  Otto was in Battery A of the 344th Regiment in the First Artillery Division, if I'm reading the card correctly.  I presume that's the censor's approval at the bottom center of the front of the card.


The Raymond Freeman American Legion Post 942

Sugar Land's oldest American Legion Post is No. 942, located on Ulrich Street in Mayfield Park.  They celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2009.  I think Alfred Smallwood is still Post Commander.

I'm reasonably certain the following pictures were taken when the post opened in 1959.

Sterling Thomas (left) & Heywood Davis, long-time Post Commander.

Sugar Land's Rail Depots

Sugar Land had at least 2 railroad depots I'm aware of.  (The town may have had a depot or simple building before 1903; I'm not sure.)  The first was built in 1903 and made of wood.  Here's a picture of it I found in T. C. Rozelle's archive.

The second was built in 1927 and had thick stucco walls.  It stood on the same location: on the west side of town where Ulrich Street intersects with the tracks. This second depot is the same building that was moved in March 1985 to Commerce Green Blvd. in Sugar Land.  It now serves as the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce building.

The second depot under construction in 1927.
The second depot just after completion in 1927.

A crowd at the depot after its opening in 1927; possibly on its inaugural day.

Nema Brock Olle, SLHS Class of '44

My thanks to Betty Sue Lubajosky (SLHS '49) and Judy Diamond Harrington (SLHS '59) for sending me the following death notice.  Betty Sue, Judy and Nema were cousins, I think.  (The Brock family has many branches, so relations can get complicated.)

Nema Mae Olle went to be with her Lord November 3, 2012, after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.  Funeral services were held November 7th at First Baptist Church in Woodsboro, Texas.  Her husband, Joe, graduated in from SLHS 1943.  Condolences may be sent to him at P. O. Box 304, Refugio, TX 78377.

Dulles vs West Columbia, November 1966

Here's a scan of the program for the Dulles vs. West Columbia game played at Kempner Field in Sugar Land on November 18, 1966.  As you can see from the page in '67 Viking yearbook, we squeaked out a 6-0 win.  Tommy 'Bobo' Nelson had a very good game and scored the sole touchdown.

You see Happy Barker in the top photo on what appears to be a sweep left.  In addition to William Reagan and Happy, I see Al Smallwood (55) and Larry Brasfield (82).  If you look way in the back you can see me looking back at the play.  I don't think I was doing a good job of 'selling the fake.'

You see Lupe de la Cruz defending the pass attempt in the bottom photo.  Frank Tanner (75) is on the left.  (Update: I just looked at the program & 75 isn't Frank.  Don't know who he is.) I think that's Al Smallwood trailing the play behind the receiver.


Dulles Junior Varsity Football Team, 1965

I played on the Dulles Junior Varsity Football team in 1965.  We had an undefeated season as you can see from this page I scanned from the '66 Viking yearbook.  

One of my team mates was Carlisle Holland, #65 in the middle row.  His mother, Pete Simpson, taught at Dulles and wrote an ode to the team in celebration of its successful season.  I think it's terrific.  Unfortunately, I didn't sign it, and I don't know why.  I remember seeing it back in '65, but for some reason I didn't get to sign it.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Texian Market Days at the George Ranch Historical Park

Last weekend, I attended Texian Market Days for the first time.  It's an annual event (each October) at the George Ranch Historical Park south of Richmond on FM 762.  The Park is a treasure local residents often overlook.

As you'll see from the following videos, Texian Market Days is a living history festival focused on 4 eras in our local history: the 1830s, 1860s, 1890s, & 1930s.  I've posted videos of other events at the Park.  They have a changing schedule of events, so check out the Park if you and your family want a taste of local history.


Anna Muehr Rae, SLHS '43

My thanks go to Judy Harrington Diamond (SLHS '59) for sending me this information on the recent death of an old Sugar Land resident.  

Anna Muehr Rae, 86, departed this world peacefully Wednesday, October 3, 2012.  She is preceded in death by her parents, John and Rosa Muehr, her husband, Milton Rae, brother Leo Muehr, and sister, Marie Dunkerly.  She is survived by her brother, Alton Muehr; her daughters, Margaret Sullivan and husband John, and Linda Tollett and husband Jesse; her grandchildren, Tiffani Brooks and husband Trey, Dawn Hawthorne and husband Jason, Trey Sullivan, Nathan Tollett and wife Marlene, Jessica Grizzaffi and husband Chris, and Lauren Tollett; her great-grandchildren, J.T. and Harrison Hawthorne, and Sullivan Brooks.

Born in Schulenburg, Texas on January 11, 1926, her family then moved to Sugar Land, where she was raised.  After the war, she met her future husband Milton at a bus stop outside his barber shop in Houston.  They were happily married for nearly 60 years. She spent over 20 years in retail and retired after working at both Battlestein’s and Bealls.  A talented seamstress, her hobbies included all types of needlework.  She was a longtime member of St. Christopher Catholic Church until she moved to Friendswood and attended Mary Queen.  Anna was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother, and her priorities were her God and her family.  She was generous and kind, funny with a sharp wit, and a Christian example to others. She will be greatly missed.

The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 12:00pm Saturday, October 6, at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church, with visitation one hour prior to the mass, starting at 11:00am.  Interment will follow at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery.

The family would especially like to thank Jackie Jeane and Darlene Mitchell for their help and friendship, as well as the staff of Houston Hospice for their care of Anna these last two weeks.

In lieu of usual remembrances, memorial contributions in Anna’s name may be made to Houston Hospice, 1905 Holcolmbe Boulevard, Houston 77030, or to the charity of your choice.

A Short Video, "Richmond: Where History Meets Opportunity"

I saw this short video on Richmond and thought it well worth posting.


A Houston Post Article On Sugar Land's Growth Projections in 1962

I'm not certain how I collected this article, but as you can see it was published in The Houston Post on November 11, 1962 -- almost exactly 50 years ago to the day.  I checked on Sugar Land's and Fort Bend County's actual census figures over the intervening years.  

Sugar Land Population

 In 1990 (I couldn't find 1987): 33,712
 In 2012: 81,700

Fort Bend County Population

In 1987: 200,000
In 2012: 600,000

The photo doesn't have a caption, but I presume that is Bernard Johnson with Tom James (President of Sugarland Industries) and Bill Little (then Mayor of Sugar Land).


Sybil Fowler's Brief Paper on the Ellis Plantation

T. C. Rozelle collected several short research papers by local historians covering various topics.  Syb Fowler wrote this one on the Ellis Plantation.  I don't know the date she wrote it.  Actually, I don't know when Mrs. Fowler died; probably, sometime in the 1970s or early '80s.

Notice a couple of things she says in the last paragraphs.  First, the Ellis plantation home moved to the tiny community of Imperial, Texas (on the south bank of Oyster Creek opposite Constellation Park) before eventually moving into Sugar Land (next to the refinery) in 1909.  T. C. made a note in his files that the move from Imperial, Texas (about 3 miles) required teams of oxen using 40 logs as rollers. I presume the Eldridge family lived in the home when it was sited at Imperial, Texas.  
Ellis Plantation Home next to Imperial Refinery.  Served as W. T. Eldridge family home til 1929.
Second, notice that she lists occupants after the Eldridges moved from the plantation home to their 'modern' home at the east end of Lakeview in 1929.  The Albritton family took over the home in 1931 and ran it as a cafe-boarding house until 1962/3.  I regret that I never went into that home.


Sybil Fowler's Short Paper on Sugar Land Schools

This is another of Syb Fowler's short papers that T. C. saved.

I noticed I made a mistake last week.  Hansel Addison, the only member of Sugar Land High's first graduating class in 1919, was a young woman.  I had mistakenly thought Hansel was a young man.  I wonder why her parents didn't name her Gretel?