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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Baseball In Sugar Land!

(Update) Roland Rodriguez (SLHS '50) will throw out the ceremonial first pitch!

August 9th is 'Turn Back The Clock Night' at Constellation Park. You'll see more information at the bottom of this post, but the theme of the event is a celebration of Sugar Land's baseball history.  What better way to start some buzz (pardon the Skeeters pun) than posting some historic photos?

A little background: Sugar Land had two amateur baseball teams in the 1950s, both sponsored by Imperial.  The Imperials were predominately Hispanic; the Tigers were predominately African-American, although both teams became multiracial over time.  As you'll see, the Tigers were very successful in 1953 & '54.

July 1953

August 1953

July 1954
July 1954
July 1954

A note about Sugar Land's West End Ballpark. As the name implies, it was located on the west side of town off old Imperial Boulevard -- across Oyster Creek beyond the right-field wall of Constellation Park. 

I've learned recently that there were two locations, but I haven't determined when the change occurred.  This previous posting shows the first location on what is now Nalco property.  I think Imperial moved the field when they sold that property to Nalco (then Visco), so they could expand their plant. 

The next location was directly north of the old location between Imperial Boulevard and Oyster Creek.  It stayed in this spot well into the '70s or '80s.

Back to August 9th.  Here's the text of today's press release:

The Sugar Land Skeeters and  Sugar Land Heritage Foundation (SLHF) are pleased to announce that the August 9th game with the Long Island Ducks will be a "Turn Back the Clock Night".  The SLHF has been researching old pictures in an effort to help the Skeeters in designing uniforms for the game.  Jerseys will have the look of the earlier eras of baseball.  Old pictures and other items reminiscent of the past will be a part of the evening.  

There will be a silent auction of the jerseys worn by the players that night, with proceeds going to support SLHF programs.  More details of the auction will be available at the game that evening.  This is a great chance to get a one-of-a-kind jersey.  Successful bidders will be able to get their pictures taken with the respective players, as well as getting the players to autograph the jerseys purchased by the winning bidder. 

This is a regular season game, so your season tickets are good for the game.  Additional tickets will be available for the game via the Skeeters' website: Buy Tickets Here.  (Enter Promotion Code: SLHF)

Dennis Parmer, SLHF Executive Director, said, "This is going to be a lot of fun.  It will be a great night of baseball with an old timey theme.  SLHF would like to thank the Fluor Corporation, First Southwest Company, and Bob & Carole Brown for their help in sponsoring this event."If you like history and baseball, this night has both, including baseball history from right here in Sugar Land.   The entire theme of the night will involve old school baseball; it is a night I have really been looking forward to," said Ira Liebman, "Voice of the Sugar Land Skeeters".

 To inspire community pride by collecting, preserving, communicating, and celebrating the history of Sugar Land, Texas.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter:
Sugar Land Heritage Foundation
198 Kempner Street
Sugar Land, Texas 77498

New Development In Mayfield Park, 1954

I found this article in the October 1954 issue of the Imperial Crown.  The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation has numerous maps, documents, and photos relating to Mayfield Park.  Many of these items will go on display in the future at the temporary museum site next to the Char House.  

This blog, plus the Heritage Foundation's Web site & newsletter, will alert you when significant exhibitions go on public display.

Sugar Land High School in 1957

Classroom Scene

Gator Staff: LaNormand, Horn, Bissett, Keller, Baird, & Binford

Here's Where Daddy Works (at Imperial in 1954)

I found this article in the Imperial Crown published in October 1954.  Many Dulles alumni my age remember Jim (McCoy) Thompson (DHS '70), currently residing in Wharton.  Great to see him as a 2-year old!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Imperial Sugar Television Ad from 1993

This television ad was produced by Brown Communications and TracyLocke for Imperial Sugar, as it celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1993. 

Other videos and slide shows covering Imperial corporate history, the technology of sugar refining, and Sugar Land community history are on display at the Sugar Land Museum each Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.  Stop by for a visit if you're near the old refinery site.  (The Museum is on the first floor of the two-story, red-brick building on the west side of the Char House.)


Dulles Marching Band in the 1970 FFA Parade

My thanks go to Walter Buehring (DHS '73) for posting this clip from his family's home movies on Facebook.  It shows the Dulles band marching in the FFA parade in the spring of 1970.  The initial scenes show the band at the intersection of Brooks & Guenther Streets in Sugar Land.  I think the second set of scenes is on Highway-90A in Stafford, but I'm not certain.

Sugar Festival, April 1956

The following article appeared in the Imperial Crown published in April 1956.  It describes that year's Sugar Festival, an annual event held each spring through the 1950s.

The program below is a little hard to decipher, but essentially, members of each class (first graders through high school seniors) were presented at the festival's royal court.  The night's events included entertainment performed by other students.  I recognize many names listed in the program.
    Page 4 left - Page 1 right
      Page 2 left - Page 3 right

2nd Grade Nobility: Jody Frierson & Calvin Rozelle
5th Grade Nobility: Bobbye Zalokar & Joe Middlebrooks
Elementary Court
A personal note: I'm the little twerp sitting on Dr. Wheeler's left.  Gregory Muehr, William Hollemon, and I were commandeered from Mr. Boyer's kindergarten to act as scepter bearers and crown bearers.  I remember the event real well, or so I thought until I found this program.  

I always thought Joan Chambers was Queen of the Elementary Court, but I was wrong.  She was Joan Tupper.  I suppose I was dazzled by her beauty and never got her name right, but then I was just 6-years old and had never met royalty before.

Monday, July 22, 2013

More on Sugar Land High School's Class of '31

Margery Brooks Ashford (SLHS '31) saved the class photo I posted last week, plus these items relating to her graduation.  The first is an invitation to the graduation exercises held in the Auditorium on Thursday, May 28th, 1931.  The second item is pages 2 & 3 of the graduation program.  (Unfortunately, I don't have pages 1 & 4.)

Notice the printer misspelled Sugar Land on the invitation.

M. R. Wood School in 1985

This 1985 photo shows the old M. R. Wood School, located in Mayfield Park.  I think it was taken just before the the old school buildings were demolished and the new school built on the same location.


Girl Leaves Town To Smoke A Cigarette in 1931

I'm not certain who she is, but I think she is seated on the far left of the front row in last week's picture of Sugar Land High School's Class of '31.  If you look closely you'll see that she's smoking a cigarette.  My best estimate is that she's standing beside Highway 6 in the location I've marked on the accompanying aerial.  

The right field section of Constellation Park is now located on the land at the left side of the photo.  The area in the background will change considerably in the next few years.

1963 Alligator Story with Better Pictures

Back in 2009 I posted an article from The Fort Bend Mirror about a 12-foot alligator Buddy Wheeler, Robert Johnson, and Ralph Senior pulled out of Oyster Creek near DeWalt.  Their prodigious feat occurred 50 years ago this month, and I found two original photos of the gator recently, so I feel justified in reposting the article with the new photos.



Sunday, July 14, 2013

I. H. Kempner & W. T. Eldridge Sell the Ellis & Cunningham Plantations in 1908

I found this article in The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer Gazette, an industry publication that covered Texas and other important locations, as well as Louisiana.  I've found a surprising number of articles and references to Sugar Land in the limited number of editions I've read so far.  This long article covers the sale in 1908 of Kempner and Eldridge land to the State for use as a prison farm. 

The first thing to note is that the article is incorrect.  It states that Kempner and Eldridge retained the refinery and mills only; i.e., they sold all their acreage on the Ellis and Cunningham plantations to the State.  This didn't happen.  What actually happened was Kempner and Eldridge sold the Ellis Plantation to the State and kept the Cunningham land.  

A short article appeared two weeks later saying the parties were renegotiating the deal.  It says the State found a significant problem with the 1908 sugar cane crop, which materially lowered the land value.  We know from other sources that the parties agreed on a final deal in September 1908.  Had they agreed to this earlier deal, Sugar Land would have been a small town and refinery surrounded by state prison farms.

Another thing to notice is the paragraph suggesting E. H. Cunningham and Lincoln Trust were selling the Cunningham Plantation. Other sources suggest Cunningham was just a figurehead on the company board.  Lincoln Trust was the company's principal creditor, and A. A. B. Woerheide (Lincoln President), working in concert with Kempner and Eldridge actually ran the company.  Essentially, the Cunningham Sugar Company was bankrupt and in receivership.  As the principal creditor, Lincoln ran the show and wanted to transfer the company to Kempner and Eldridge -- which is what actually happened.  Not long after this deal they eased Cunningham out of the company, allowing Kempner and Eldridge to take full control. By September 1908, W. T. Eldridge was the chief operating officer and on-site manager.

As this article suggests, the State of Texas wanted to clean up its penal system, which had become a glaring stigma.  This deal would allow them to end the lease system (renting prisoners to private companies) and establish permanent prison farms housing self-sustaining and money-making enterprises.  Although the deal changed later in the year, the State eventually achieved its goal of ending the lease-convict system in 1912.

The article is worth reading if you have the time.  Although it errs by announcing a 'premature deal,' it paints a detailed picture of early 20th century 'horse trading.'  

Archeology at the Imperial Refinery Site

The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation's scope of interest includes local archeology, as well as other historical matters.  As we go through the archives, we are finding photographic evidence of what lies under the ground.  Here are a few samples of these items, all of which appeared in issues of the Imperial Crown over the years.

This first set of pictures shows the 19th century foundations of the old finishing house.  I'm still unclear where this building was located.  It may have sat near the old Wash Plant, which was located behind the Char House, or it may have sat near the old Sugar Mill and Sugar House.  (Actually, it may be an alternate name for the Sugar House.  I hope to clear this up in the future.)  These buildings were located in the refinery complex across from the Main Street bridge.

T. C. Rozelle's annotations identifying the photo.

T. C. Rozelle's annotations identifying the photo.
This next picture shows a pair of melters (which liquified raw sugar) buried near the old Wash Plant.  Note T. C.'s comments regarding Claude Douglas.  He went back to a real old-timer for help with identifying them.

(Update) I got a note from Bruce Edwards, Jr. pointing out the man in the hole is Mr. Boozer.   I don't know if I ever heard his first name; everyone referred to him as Boozer, as I recall.  He was the site foreman for the construction company Imperial used for jobs like this.  (Was it called Southwest Construction?  I'll have to look it up.)  Bruce said he worked on this project in the summer of '67.  He may be one of the guys sitting on the bench in front of the Char House. (See upper left.)

T. C. Rozelle's annotations identifying the photo.

 These last two photos show underground channels (flumes) for discharging refinery waste water into Oyster Creek. They are in the ground where the old Sugar Mill and Sugar House were located (across from the Main Street bridge).  Work crews uncovered them in 1969.  Former Imperial employees think they may still be in tact.

They are made of handmade bricks.  I presume they date from the 1880s, which means convicts on the prison farm made the bricks locally.  They may have worked on the underground construction, as well.  We hope to learn more with additional research. 


Sugar Land High School's Class of 1931

When I look at the roster of SLHS graduates, I count 15 members of this class, but 16 students appear in this picture.  I'm not sure who is the 'extra' person.  

I recognize (in the back row) Howard Dunkerly (2nd from left), Dorothy Trout Mason (4th from left), Marjorie Brooks Ashford (center of row), Gifford Horn (far right), (in the front row) Mary Rozelle Kindard (3rd from right), and Mildred Rozelle (far right). 

(Update) I got a note from Tracey Matlage Calvert that the woman seated in the middle of the first row is Nell Rose Doyle.  I haven't asked Tracey, but I wonder if she's their class sponsor rather than fellow student.  That would explain the discrepancy with the class roster.

Dock Workers' Sugar High

I've been doing research in The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer Gazette, an industry publication published in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  I found the following article in the issue published on January 16, 1892.  (Since the report appeared in a Philadelphia newspaper, I presume they got their cheap high while working a ship at the Philadelphia docks.)

Sugar Land High Green Hands, 1955

I found this article in Bennie Rychlik's (SLHS '56) scrapbook.  (Thanks, Bennie.)  I think this short article, written by Leo Toman (SLHS '56), appeared in the Texas Coaster, but I'm not certain.

I presume the article appeared in the fall of '55.  I wonder if the FFA still has a Green Hands organization.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sugar Land High School Alumni, 1991

The Kadlecek family saved this photo taken at a SLHS reunion in 1991.  (The location is the parking lot in front of the Harman Community Center on Matlage Way.)  

It's a panoramic photo, which I had to slice for posting here.  There are overlaps at the seams, so no one is left out.  I recognize many of these people, but I'd appreciate any help with identifications.


Edward H. Cunningham's Sorghum Experiment in 1888

Edward H. Cunningham owned the town of Sugar Land in the late 19th century.  It wasn't much of a town because sugar refining was a very seasonal business.  Cane harvesting usually began in October and ended about 3 or 4 months later.  The rest of the year, the mill and refinery sat idle.

Cunningham was farsighted -- he knew he could make lots of money if he could extend the production cycle, ideally, year-round.

There is much more to the story, but I've been reading the 1888 Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, an industry weekly that also covered Texas.  As you can see from the top half of the front page, Cunningham was an owner of the paper.  (His name is listed among the stockholders in the left-hand column.  There are numerous articles about Sugar Land in the 1888 editions.)
This edition, published 125 years ago, contained the following article, which explained Cunningham's experimentation with sorghum as an alternative source of raw sugar.  I think its growing cycle does not coincide with sugar cane's, so it could have provided a lucrative supplemental source of raw sugar. 

You'll see refiners in Louisiana had already experimented with sorghum, but due to a controversy in reporting the results, the sugar industry was closely following Cunningham's large-scale experiment.  

The experiment did not prove successful -- I assume the engineering needed to extract sugar from sorghum was different from that needed to process sugar cane.   Essentially, a refiner would need two refineries to make it work, and that was probably economically unfeasible.  I'll continue reading to see if they report the results of Cunningham's sorghum experiment.


An Update on Jake Schrum

In the last set of posts, I mentioned that Jake was leaving the Presidency of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas and becoming President of Emory-Henry College in Virginia.  I want to thank Rick Kirkpatrick (DHS '67) for sending me a link to this article about Jake on Emory-Henry's Web site.  Click here to view it.  

I found this short article in the edition of The Fort Bend Mirror from January 1956.  It mention's Jake's father.


1st Edition of the Imperial Crown, January 1953

This is the inaugural issue of the Imperial Crown. The first issues contained feature articles explaining the processes of refining sugar.  

This issue covered the importation of raw sugar, which at that time arrived at the Galveston docks (and eventually the refinery in Sugar Land) in large burlap sacks.  Sugar mills at the source of the crop (whether it was Cuba, the Philippines, Dominica, or Louisiana) ground the cane, boiled the resulting syrup, and then crystallized it into a substance that appeared superficially identical to brown sugar found on store shelves.

The February issue, which I'll post next time, explained the initial step of refining: remelting the raw sugar, removing impurities, and preparing it for fine filtration.


Imperial Crown, July 1985

Since it's July, I thought I'd post this Imperial Crown from nearly 30 years ago this month.