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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Johnnie Stephenson Guajardo, Dot Hightower, & Louise Stephenson Hall

Many of you have probably heard about the recent deaths of three old-time Sugar Land residents.  A few weeks ago, Johnnie Stephenson Guajardo (SLHS '51) passed away.  Here is an obituary.  

Earlier this week her sister, Louise Stephenson Hall (SLHS '44), died in Bryan, Texas.  She and her husband Wayburn Hall (SLHS '43) retired to Franklin, Texas several years ago.  Many will remember Louise as our school nurse and Wayburn as the owner/operator of the first Exxon service station in Sugar Land.  Here is an obituary.

Photo from 1959 Sugar Land School yearbook

Photo from 1963 Sugar Land Elementary yearbook

The Kelly and Hall families were close friends before I was born, so it's a sad time for the Kelly family as well as the Halls.

Dot Hightower passed away last week, which added to our family's sadness.  Dot's daughter Scotty is married to my cousin Bob Bass, but like many other Sugar Land residents we knew Dot and her husband Dugan as mainstays in Sugar Land schools.  I learned to appreciate Dot's skills as story teller in later years.  I heard a lot of good stories about Sugar Land from her.

Photo from 1959 Sugar Land School yearbook

Article on Hightower's love of Sugar Land

Sugar Land School faculty basketball game in late 1950s

These old timers are in a much better place, but we'll still miss them.

Jake Schrum, Jr. President of Emory & Henry College

Jake Schrum, Sr. was head of agriculture operations for Sugarland Industries.  Jake, Jr. is a 1964 graduate of Dulles High School and former President of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.  In August he will become President of Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia.  Congratulations!


Texaco Service Station Opens in 1956

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I prepared a slide show of Imperial photos for display at the Sugar Land Museum.  (Stop by on any Saturday to take a look.)  There are 190 photos in the slide show, and I reviewed at many, many more while making my selections.

Here are some samples of the culls.  They show the Texaco service station which opened on April 23, 1956 on the southeast corner of Brooks and Highway-90A.
Construction begins in early 1956
April 23, 1956
April 23, 1956
April 23, 1956
April 23, 1956

Chenango Sugar Mill

The Kempner family owned sugar plantations before they acquired the Ellis Plantation (Sartartia) in 1906.  One of these properties was the Chenango Plantation in Otey, Texas north of Angleton.  They sold it and other properties before purchasing the Ellis Plantation.  I don't know this with any certainty, but it's likely Chenango was a source of raw sugar for Imperial's refinery.

Here is a short article that appeared in The Houston Chronicle in 1955.

Here are a few more pictures of Chenango.

Recollections of Early Sugar Land by W. H. Dierks in 1956

In January 1956 The Fort Bend Mirror devoted part of an issue to the 4th anniversary of the 'new shopping center.'  The issue included several articles about town history, some containing recollections of long-time residents.  

The following short article recounts the memories of W. H. Dierks.  What interested me most were his comments about the Mercantile Store.  He says that before 1908 Sugar Land had a single building that served as a store and post office.  After Kempner & Eldridge bought the Cunningham Sugar Company, they moved a newer building from Imperial, Texas (Mr. Dierks refers to it as the Imperial Plantation) into town.  It became the Mercantile Store that stood until the 1970s.  

Here's a photo of workmen putting their finishing touches on it.  
Notice the date of the photo is September, so they had recently completed the move from Imperial per Mr. Dierks's recollection. He said they moved the building during a night and half a day.  

If you look closely, you can see the Ellis Plantation House being moved into Sugar Land.  It eventually sat on the east side of the Char House and served as Eldridge's residence until 1928.

I've seen T. C. Rozelle's annotations on copies of this and other photos.  He noted that they used 40 mules and large logs to 'roll the house into town.'   

Imperial, Texas was located on the south bank of Oyster Creek opposite Constellation Field, today's home of the Skeeters.  At the time this picture was taken that acreage was Prison Farm property and the site of a sugar mill, about half the size of the mill in the Cunningham refinery complex.  The mill burned in 1914 and the small community of Imperial, Texas disappeared into distant memory.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

More Laura Eldridge Hospital Photos from 1957

I've reviewed a large archive of Imperial Sugar Company photos at the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation over recent weeks.  I selected 190 of them to include in a slide show for display at the Sugar Land Museum on Saturday mornings, when it's open to the public.  This week's posts offer a sample to whet your appetite.  

Visit the Museum on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm to see all 190 photos.  There are many more photos in the archive, so we'll update the slide show over the coming months.

The following photos supplement the ones I posted last week, showing the hospital's location.

Surgery Room - Lou Sanders, LVN

Betty Cabrera, RN

Buster Brown, Hospital Orderly

Nema Sheppard holding door for ambulance attendants delivering patience from old hospital


Sugar Land Baseball

The first photo shows the 1957 Sugar Land Tigers, an African-American team sponsored by Imperial.

  Kneeling L-R: Buster Wharton, Frank Johnson, Monral Daniels, Leonard Raines, Chatman Harton, Earl Kemp, Standing L-R: Tommie Green, Oris Raines, Ruth Matthews, Jessie Lee Grant, Earnest Johnson, Forrest Johnson, Charles Gussett, James Gorman, Charlie Williams, W. T. Thompson, Ervin Wharton

These next two photos were taken on May 22, 1959 at the opening of the new Little League ballpark at the corner of Wood and Kempner Streets.  The first shows George Andre giving a speech in which he presented the property deed to the Sugar Land Lions Club, who built the park.  (Imperial donated the land.)  The second photo shows Sugar Land's two Little League teams, the St. Theresa Knights and the Sugar Land Lions.


The Old Union Hall, 1960

Imperial built a Power Plant on the east bank of Oyster Creek in 1920.  It is the grey building that is still standing.  (See the aerial below.)  They built a new power plant on the west bank within the refinery complex in 1938, leaving the old building for other uses.  One of its uses was a union hall.

The following photos were taken in the hall during May 1960 at a ceremony celebrating a National Safety Council award Imperial had won.


Sugar Land Post Office Employees in 1956

The US Postal Service began home delivery in Sugar Land in July 1956, which is the date of this photo. The Post Office was then located in the shopping center; it looks to me as if they are standing at the rear entrance to the shopping center.

Left to right: Mrs. Nena Mae Iiams, Post Mistress, Meinert Pundt, Mail Carrier, John Hess, Mail Carrier, Mrs. Carroll Smith Rome, Parcel Post Carrier, and W. R. Warrick, Postal Inspector.

The Old Machine Shop in 1965

The photo below shows Robert Laperouse, Refinery Plant Manager, speaking with retirees in the interior of the old Machine Shop in 1965.  

The following aerial photo shows where the old Machine Shop was located on the refinery complex.  Just a couple of years later Imperial built a new Machine Shop on the north side of the complex.

Tony Sanchez Retires from Imperial in 1958

Some of you may remember Tony Sanchez.  He was born in Spain and began working in the Cuban sugar industry, which eventually brought him to Imperial and Sugar Land.  At the time of his retirement in 1958 he was a refinery shift superintendent.  Here is a very short article about him that appeared in The Fort Bend Mirror in January 1956.

The following photo was taken at his retirement in 1958.  He's the man in the easy chair, which he received as a retirement gift.

Imperial Sugar Retail Display in the Sugar Land Grocery Store, 1950s

I'm not sure if this photo appeared in any Imperial Sugar promotional materials, but I found it in the files.  That is Maxine Wheeler in the picture.  I think it was taken in the mid to late 1950s.