Drop Down MenusCSS Drop Down MenuPure CSS Dropdown Menu

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Interactive Map & Photos of the San Jacinto Battleground

Since it's April 21st, I thought I'd post this set of interactive map & photos of the San Jacinto Battleground.  One is a historic map drawn in 1856 by Henderson K. Yoakum, an early Texas historian.  It shows the battleground as it appeared at the time of the battle.  The second is an aerial taken in 1930.  The third is a contemporary ESRI satellite aerial.

Free Admission to Texas Historical Sites - May 3rd

I got a note recently from the Texas Historical Commission saying various Historical Sites will offer free admission on Saturday, May 3rd.  

If you live in the Sugar Land area, I saw three sites that are within easy distance.

Click here to details on the Levi Jordan Plantation home in Brazoria County.  It showcases local agricultural history and the African-American experience in Texas.

Click here to view details on San Felipe de Austin in Austin County.  Stephen F. Austin founded San Felipe de Austin as his colony's administrative capital.  A state park offering hiking, biking, camping, and canoeing is close by if you're interested in those activities, too.

Click here to view details on the Varner-Hogg Plantation in Brazoria County.  It is the site of a restored, stately plantation home once owned by the Hogg family.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Late Update

Exciting Scavenger Hunt Details

New date:  Sunday, May 17, 2015

Same time:  1:30-6:30pm

Same place:  Fort Bend Toyota (20465 Southwest Freeway in Sugar Land)

Same great ways to participate:  Sponsor and gather a team to go on a historical Scavenger Hunt through Sugar Land.

Click this link for details.  Be there on May 17 for lots of fun and a chance to Discover Sugar Land!

Dennis Parmer

Saturday, April 18, 2015


I have some sad news to report.  Tracey Matlage Calvert sent me a note saying her father W. T. Matlage, Jr. (SLHS '34) died recently.  My sincerest condolences go to the extended Matlage family.  

Click here for an online version of this obituary.

I'm reasonably sure this is W. T., Jr. standing on a sewer pipe ready for installation as The Hill was developed during the 1920s.

W. T., Jr. with his parents during WWII.



More People of Old Sugar Land

I want to start with a memory of the Palms Theater from a classmate, Cynthia Owen Farrar (DHS '68):

Hey Chuck,
Don't know if you remember or not, but Kay [Cyn's sister and fellow classmate in DHS '68] (sold tickets and took orders from the balcony), Barbara [Cyn's sister in the DHS Class '69] and I ( behind the counter making suicides, selling popcorn, candy and those big dill pickles) and Buzz [Cyn's brother in the Class of '71] ( ushering) all worked at the Palms Theater.  Also working as ushers were Robert Allen [DHS '68] and Monte Allen [DHS '66], Ralph Barnidge [DHS '67], and Roger Solomon [DHS '69].  
I got out of school early because I would make up the bags of popcorn for the football games that were played at home.
Those were the days and I don't think the ol'  Palms Theater was ever the same. 
I have to agree with Cyn, the Palms Theater couldn't possible remain the same after that crew finished with it!

I know I've got graduating class years messed up in the captions for several of these photos, but I figure someone will send me corrections.  (Incidentally, I give persons' graduating class years, so readers can infer ages.  I'm sure I would get far fewer contributions if I noted ages in stark black & white.)

The Buehring siblings before they moved to Sugar Land: Walt (DHS '73) with Cindy (DHS '70) and Bunnye (DHS '71).
The Daniels sisters on First Street: Gayla (DHS '72), Carla (DHS '70), and Deana (DHS '66).
The Jenkins sisters in a bad mood: Nancy (DHS '70) and Janice (DHS '68).
The Jenkins sisters with their mother Dorothy Moses Jenkins.  (Note the improved attitude.)
Fort Bend County Fair Queen candidates, but I don't recognize them or know the year.
SLHS graduation in the auditorium.  If that is Luther Jordy and Ann Keller, then it's 1958.  Mr. W. E. White & Dr. Leslie Wheeler, Jr. are on the left.  Mr. Edward Ernest is partially visible on the right.  (Not sure who the others are.)

The 1958 Sugarland Industries awards banquet in the old Salvage Building.  Shown in the photo are: Rev. R. L. Cooke, W. H. Louviere, Sr., G. A. Stirl, J. B. Fowler, T. L. James, J. M. Schrum, G. U. Stabler, R. P. Hill, Hal Rucker, and Homer Johnson.

Some Texas History

We're approaching April 21st, so I wanted to post a few items on early Texas history.  The first two are short videos on archeological investigations of the San Jacinto Battleground. The first is an overview of plans to modify the park's current layout, so it better reflects the topography and flora as they were on the day of the battle.  The second is an overview of the methods archeological teams follow as they excavate and analyze the Battlegrounds and other historical sites.  They are each roughly 6-minutes long.

This next video is a 42-minute lecture, which author Stephen L. Moore gave as part of a series of historical lectures hosted by the City of Bryan, Texas.  It's a general survey of the battle from Santa Anna's rapid advance and Houston's strategic retreats to the aftermath of the conflict.

Just for good measure I've included this photo of the Capitol of the Republic of Texas in Houston.  It stood at Texas and Main Streets where the old Rice Hotel (now apartments) was located.  I don't have a date for this photo, but it's well after the Republic's government first occupied the building in April 1837.

And finally, I want to thank John Walker for this map showing the original boundaries of the Republic of Texas.  Of course, the southern boundary was in dispute with Mexico well into the 1840s.

I don't know how many people are aware of this, but Mirabeau B. Lamar, the Republic's second president and resident of Richmond, was a vociferous proponent of westward expansion, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Old Sugar Land: Images & Newspaper Articles

I found this interior photo recently of the old Acid Plant, located roughly where the water tower now stands near the Main Street bridge.  I found it in a scrapbook at the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation.  I'm virtually certain it appeared in the September 8, 1921 edition of The Texas Farm and Industrial News, a weekly newspaper published in Sugar Land.

I'm not sure what to make of the photo's caption.  It says the Sugar Land Manufacturing Company (a subsidiary of Sugarland Industries) made battery acid in three plants.  I know of just this one plant, and I also know they made acids for other uses.

Here's an exterior photo of the plant.

The same issue of the weekly paper included these photos of the Sealy Mattress Plant just a few yards away at the southwest corner of Main and Sugar Land (now Kempner) Streets.

The plant closed just a few years later.  Several enterprises set up operations there, but in 1936 Marshall Canning Company took it over and canned local vegetable crops in that location for 20 years.  In 1956 Sugarland Industries built them a new, much larger complex where the old Acid Plant stood.  They operated in that location into the early 1970s, I think.  So, this story has come 'full circle' in a sense.

I have one more article from The Texas Farm and Industrial News of 1921.  Sugar Land was then in the midst of widespread redevelopment, which drew interest from afar.  Kempner and Eldridge were happy to showcase their burgeoning enterprise to the outside world, so they invited people like O. W. Crawford to take extended tours of Sugar Land.

You'll notice Crawford's nickname was 'Deepwater,' which I take to mean he was highly involved in developing the Houston Ship Channel in 1915.  You'll see he was in Sugar Land due to his involvement with a redevelopment project in Schriever, Louisiana.  This article doesn't say it was a sugar growing, milling, and refining project, but I assume it was.   You'll also note that as a state commissioner Crawford was interested in our town's extensive land reclamation project, which was privately funded with Kempner and Eldridge money and proved very effective in flood abatement and land improvement.  Even in those days Sugar Land was a happenin' place.

One final item relating to Visco, or Nalco as it's now known.  Both clippings come from The Fort Bend Mirror, the larger printed on August 31, 1967 and the shorter around August 1, 1971.  Connie Quinton Nugent (DHS '66) wrote the former on new expansion of Visco's plant, which hasn't changed location since it's inception.  It's simply expanded westward and northward from where it started in 1930.  The latter clipping announced W. H. Kirkpatrick's retirement from the company.  I had no idea he retired in the early '70s.  I thought he continued at least a decade longer.

Houston, Then and Now

The Astrodome has been in the news lately, at least The Houston Chronicle, so I've seen several historic photos of that well-known structure.  The aerial below was one of the best.  It appeared on the Traces of Texas Web site.  You get a good view of how things looked around Reliant Stadium back in the mid 1960s.

Kirby Drive is in the lower left.  Old Colt Stadium is in the middle left.  The Medical Center (along Main and Fannin Streets) is further in the background on the left.  If your eyesight is good, you can see the Warwick Hotel (now Hotel Zaza) further down Main St. towards the middle.  Downtown Houston is on the horizon beyond it.  

I think the large white complex in the middle distance behind the Dome at roughly 1 o'clock  is the old Veterans Hospital on Holcombe Blvd.

My classmate, Marsha Bauman Shaw (DHS '68) took the next two photos of trail riders as they rode near her home in Memorial in February.  Of course, they were on their way to camp at Memorial Park.  I found some photos of Salt Grass Trail riders camping in Sugar Land in 1954.  I'll post them next week.

Imperial Sugar Photos from 1954

The December 1954 issue of The Imperial Crown, the sugar company's monthly employee bulletin, contained the following photos.  They show the employee awards banquet held in November at the Sugar Land Shopping Center at Highway 90A and Brooks Street.

Unfortunately, the photos have no captions.  I know from other sources that the young boys eating ice cream are the Reyes brothers.   I recognize Sparky Brock, Vlasta Fatheree, Willie Reese, I. H. Kempner, Sr., and a few others, but many are unrecognizable to me.  Can anyone help?

Here are a couple of bonus photos that come from the early 1970s or later.  Although I've posted similar photos before, I wanted to show these because they are in color.

The Distribution Warehouse, which is still standing.

Although this may be the Raw Sugar Warehouse in Galveston, I think it's the Warehouse in Sugar Land, which is still standing.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Current News

I'm very sorry to report the deaths of two residents of old Sugar Land.  First, Rosie Syblik Janssen, mother of my classmate Dorothy Syblik (DHS '68) passed away recently.  Mrs. Jansen was a long-time resident of The Hill and church secretary for St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Sugar Land.  Here is an obituary.

Rosie Syblik Janssen in the early 1960s.

Harold 'Kirk' Kuykendall, Jr. (DHS '63) passed away in Bryan, Texas in August 2014.  I wasn't aware of his death until recently. [Thank you Marsha Krause Smith (DHS '68) for notifying me.] Here's an obituary.

On a happier note, I want to congratulate Carolyn & Vernon Madden, who have been honored by Fort Bend ISD for their lengthy careers in our local schools.  Carolyn & Vernon Madden Elementary School will open in August in the Aliana subdivision in west Sugar Land.  Click here to view an online newspaper article on the new school.  Congratulations to Coach and Mrs. Madden!

Last, but not least, the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation has organized a scavenger hunt to raise funds for the new Sugar Land museum.  Test your scavenging skills for a good cause!  (Here's a contest where old timers may have an advantage.)  Here are the details.

Recent Sugar Land Demolitions

I want to thank Julius Baumann and Randy Kozlovsky (DHS '67) for the following photos, which shows recent demolition in old Sugar Land.  The Post Office building, which opened on Brooks St. in 1967 has been razed, and the municipal admin building and adjacent fire station at Guenther and Matlage Way are gone, too.

The first is an aerial Randy took from nearly the same location as the iconic 1956 photo, which I've included immediately below.  The next photo shows the area in 1970.

Notice the demolition of municipal buildings on the southwest corner of Guenther & Matlage Way.  Also notice the demolition of the old Post Office on the southeast corner of Brooks St. & Highway 90A.

Julius Baumann provided the ground-level photos of the demolition on the southwest corner of Guenther and Matlage Way.  That building served as a municipal administrative building for many years.

Looking south - Matlage Way is on the left.

Looking west along Guenther toward Ulrich.

Looking northwest from center of Matlage Way.

Looking northwest from center of Matlage Way.

Stafford & Missouri City News

Late last month the Stafford Historical Society unveiled a collection of historical plaques in old town Stafford.  Click here to view an article from The Houston Chronicle.

I want to thank Sadie Williams, President of the Historical Society, for sending me these additional photos.  (You see various scenes from the event.  The first shows Stafford Mayor Leonard Scarcella and local dignitaries.  The last one shows the Rudy family in front of the Rudy-Katz Building.)

I first learned about St. John Missionary Baptist Church at the February quarterly meeting of the Fort Bend County Historical Commission.  A delegation explained their project to restore the church which was damaged by a major fire in 2006.  The church, located off Oil Field Road in Missouri City, was established by Freedmen in 1869, so it has deep historical roots.  As you'll read in the accompanying article from The Houston Chronicle, it's a real testimony of faith that the congregation has kept the church viable at its current location.  Click here to read the newspaper article

The delegation distributed brochures at the Historical Commission meeting, which included the following photos taken by Gabriel Cuellar.  I've taken the liberty of posting them here to give a better idea of the church, its condition, and location.  

I'm sure I'll have more information on this restoration project in the future.

One last item: I found the photo below of Missouri City High School's Class of '59 at their 20th reunion in 1979.  Wanda Morris Scarpinato (DHS '64) shared it on Facebook from her friend Gerry Batte Russell.  (I hope Gerry doesn't mind me posting it here.)  Unfortunately, I don't have complete identifications of the alums.