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Thursday, July 30, 2015

News & Updates

If you haven't seen the recent announcements, the old Imperial refinery site is about to undergo big changes.  Developers Jim Murnane and Geoffrey Jones will launch a project early next year to develop the location.  Expected costs range from $150 million to $162 million. You'll find additional details in a recent article published in the Sugar Land SunClick here to retrieve it.

I want to thank Leon Anhaiser (SLHS '57) for sending me a link to much more detailed information on the City of Sugar Land's Web site.  When you click the link, you'll see an item labeled "June 23, 2015 - Joint City Council Planning & Zoning Meeting."  Under item II ("Workshop") paragraph A, you'll find links to a presentation (architectural renderings) and a video snippet.  Click here to access the Web page.  There's quite a lot of information covering railroad crossings and other city matters.

Jackie James (SLHS '57) commented on the item I posted recently about Sandra Broughton Gandy.  She reminded me that the Broughton family has close ties to Sugar Land.  Joan Broughton Vaccaro was in Jackie's 4th grade class at Sugar Land Elementary.  I know one or two older Broughton siblings appear in the early Sugar Land Gator yearbooks from the late 1940s.  I wonder how tough it was switching sides in the SLHS-MCHS rivalry?

Finally, I saw a newspaper article about an event the Houston Public Library is hosting.  They are inviting the public to the downtown library on August 8th, where they will record oral histories detailing personal memories of the Astrodome.  They will also scan documents and photograph objects brought to the event.  [I know Johnny Harris (DHS '64) is in Georgia and probably can't attend, but he has a terrific story about Dale Robertson's appearance at the Houston rodeo in the '60s when it was held in the Dome.]  Click here to read the article in The Houston Chronicle.

These digital records (audio and images) will become part of a collective online project to be completed later.  Events like this one are becoming popular now and fall under the term 'common heritage.'  The Fort Bend County Historical Commission is considering a similar event in 2017 to celebrate Fort Bend County's 180th anniversary.

More on the Pryor/Schumann House

I want to thank Jimmy Lingenfelter for posting on Facebook the following photos he took of the Schumann house in 2008.  (You'll recall I had an item about this house in my previous posts.)


I posted this photo from the 1940s or '50s a couple of weeks ago.

1940s or '50s

I included this higher-altitude aerial photo from 1953 showing the house's relative location to Central Unit 1.


I also posted this photo from the Texas Prison Museum showing what they believe is the same house in the late 19th century.  (It comes from the Pryor family, who resided in a house in that location during the Imperial Prison Farm era.)

Texas Prison Museum
Jimmy pointed out the general structure is all wrong, and I thought so too when I first saw this photo.  But then I noticed it was a possible fit if I flipped the photo horizontally, as shown here.  (I've seen a surprising number of old photos that were printed in the wrong orientation.)

Old photo flipped horizontally.

I'll admit it's not an exact match.  If they are the same house, there was certainly extensive remodeling.   No doubt I'll have to talk with my friends at the Texas Prison Museum to resolve this conundrum.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

More Places of Old Sugar Land

I'm not certain of the date for the first set of photos, which shows the refinery's old carpentry shop and machine shop. This aerial will help with orientation on the refinery site in its current state.

I think these photos were taken around 1960 -- definitely before 1965 because the new machine shop was built in 1965.  I've also got problems identifying many of the men appearing in them.  Any help is appreciated. Furthermore, I'm not certain I like the new way Google handles these pictures.  I've provided captions, but you must click the info icon to see them.  (Click on the image to access the album.)

The next set of photos shows the 'new' power plant.  It was built in 1938 inside the refinery complex to replace the old plant built in 1920 between Oyster Creek and Main St.  The new plant was torn down in the demolition done a few years ago, although two of its smoke stacks are still standing.  The 1920 plant still stands but is scheduled for demolition very soon. (Click image to view album.)

I found the next two photos in the SMU library's digital collection.  I'd never seen anything like them before.  The first shows convict laborers at the front of the Cunningham refinery  roughly where Brooks St. crosses Highway 90A.  (As best I can tell.)  It is undated, but it could be as early as 1894. (Click on image for full display.)
DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.
The next photo (also undated) shows a fine dining establishment, The Sugar Land Inn, in the same era.  I've examined old photos of the Cunningham refinery showing the side facing the railroad tracks, and I can't find any structure matching this place.  The building's location may have been on the south side of the tracks roughly where The Texas Brisket is located today.  Maybe the inscription, "On the American Place," is a clue.

The photo is stereoscopic (thus the two copies).  I've never seen a stereoscopic photo of old Sugar Land before.  (Click on image for full display.)  

DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.
I'm posting these next two photos to give you an idea of what the front of the Cunningham refinery looked like in the early days.  These are some of the photos I examined, hoping to find the location of the Sugar Land Inn.

1908 or '09.
This final photo is a bonus.  It's one of the Sugar Land Heritage Foundations maps of Mayfield Park during its development.  (I don't see a date on it, but I assume it was drawn in the early 1960s.  It shows the utility easements, utility lines, houses, and other structures in sharp detail.  Unfortunately, Google isn't the best at high resolution images.

Color Aerials of Sugar Land in 1965

It seems that shadows from clouds and the plane's wing affected the color of these photos.  I didn't correct them since I thought they weren't too bad, and I'd probably do no good.  They are worth a look anyway.







More People of Old Sugar Land

Old Sugar Land High School published a student newspaper called The Alligator Splash.  (The school's mascot was an alligator.  Their colors were green & white.)  Our family scrapbook had a copy of the February 6, 1942 issue, which you can view by clicking on the image below.

I noticed a few things.  First, a front-page article says my father had a pretty good night against Beasley in the last game of the 1942 season.  (Maybe that's why my grandmother kept this issue.)  Another front-page article says Ronald Miller (a third grader) won a contest and got to meet Gene Autry who was headlining the Houston Rodeo.  I recall asking Ron about this a few years ago.  I think he said he has a vague recollection of meeting Autry, but his dominant memory is of the fancy cowboy outfit he (Ron) got to wear on the big occasion.  (I may have this wrong, or confused with another story I've heard.)

On page two you'll see a short essay by Wayburn Hall (SLHS '43) on Patriotism.  In a couple of years Wayburn would be a Marine in the South Pacific.  In 1945 he would participate in the Battle for Okinawa.  (In a year my father would be in the US Navy, and in 1945 he would be at Okinawa, too.)
I want to thank Mark Schumann (DHS '76) for sharing the following photos of his Uncle Max Schumann, Jr. (SLHS '40).  Max Schumann was born in 1922 and died in 2012.  As you'll see in some of the photos, he grew up on 4th Street.
Max on left with brother Herbert around 1923.
Max in the center with brothers William on left and Robert on right with the family cows which were pastured about where 7th St. is today.  (I presume they are standing in or near 4th St.)

Max and Robert on 4th St. sometime during WWII.

Max and wife Hilda with Max's step-mother Hattie in the center. (They are standing in their yard on 4th St.)

Max during WWII.

Max and Hilda in later years.


I watched a 6-minute clip from The Texas Bucket list, recently, on the historic Burton Cotton Gin & Museum.  Click here to view the video.  This led to a discussion with some friends about cotton harvesting and ginning.

The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation archives has this undated photo of loaded cotton wagons lined up in 'downtown' Sugar Land waiting for a spot at the gin.  (The date of the photo is probably 1910, give or take a few years.)  

You can see the railroad tracks on the left side of the photo, so the camera is pointing west, down what is now Kempner St.  The wagons are parked about where the Farmer's Market is held today.  

Notice that the farmers have covered their wagons with tarps.  In my day, the wagons had sides made of chicken wire, and covers were optional.  During harvest time, there was probably enough cotton strewn along Brooks, Main, Kempner and Highway 90A to make a bale of cotton.

Here are some photos of the modern approach to harvesting cotton.  I took the first two a couple of years ago near the George Ranch Historical Park south of Richmond.

Obviously, a mobile unit came out to the field and formed those large blocks of clean, compressed cotton.  I didn't stop to get a closer look, so I thought maybe they were completely ginned, but a friend said that's not the case.  They are partially processed and still need further work at a gin.  He took the next photo of the same sort of blocks awaiting processing at a gin in Crosbyton, Texas just east of Lubbock.  Flat-bed trucks with tilting beds pick them up and haul them to the gin.
Photo by Bill Barksdale.
My friend said the gin was incredibly noisy, and that's the way I remember the old Sugar Land gin.  I went there once with my father when I was about 5-years old.  I was the kind of kid who didn't like loud noises, so I had my hands over my ears the whole time.

Texas Historical Commission Mobile Apps

The Texas Historical Commission has developed three mobile apps for use as electronic guides for heritage tourist.  They are 
  • African Americans In Texas
  • Historic Bankhead Highway
  • Red River War of 1874-1875
If you have a smart phone or tablet and want to download an app, click the image below and scroll to the second item in the list.

I'm certain the THC will produce more of these apps.  Let's hope they produce one that covers a location close to home.
If you don't have a mobile device, or don't want to wade through the complete app, I've included these links to the short videos in each app.  Just click on a link and select a video from the displayed list.

Vintage Color Photos of the US

I want to thank Donna Christopher Baker (DHS '63) for sending me the link to these vintage color photos.  Like most people, I think of the distant past in black and white, so it's fascinating to see these color images.

They hadn't perfected the technology.  As they text explains, Kodachrome was a few years away, so the colors seem a little bit drab.  However, I'm not complaining.  (Click on image to view album.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

News & Updates

I regret that I have bad news to report.  Jesse Rayburn Morton, long-time Sugar Land resident passed away recently.  You may know his children: Gayle Morton Adler (DHS '65), Jesse M. Morton (DHS '67),  Janice Morton Padgett (DHS '70), and Lesa Morton Tyson.  (I'm not sure of Lesa's graduation year.)  Here is an obituary for Mr. Morton

Sandra Broughton Gandy (MCHS '59) also passed away recently.  Sandra was older sister to Bill Broughton (DHS '63) & Diane Broughton Lundell (DHS '65).  I'm not certain when sisters Jane Broughton Schiller and Joan Broughton Vaccaro graduated from MCHS.  Here is an obituary for Sandra.

My sincerest condolences go to the Morton and Broughton families for their loss of cherished family members.

Many old timers may have heard that Frances and Charlie Tise (SLHS '48) lost their home and most of their belongings in the devastating floods on Memorial Weekend in May.  They live in Wimberly and barely escaped the rampaging Blanco River.  Fortunately, their granddaughter lived near them and help them escape danger, and I think Charlie's brother Earl was able to give them shelter.

David Wickersham (DHS '63) has told me they are getting mail at their home address, so if you'd like to contact them please post a comment on this blog, and I'll send you their address.  (I'm reluctant to post it on an open blog.)  I'm sure they'd like to hear from friends. 

David also gave me some help identifying a fellow JC in the following photograph. Here's what he said:

Sorry to hear about Charles Thomas.  In the picture he and the others are wearing Jaycee hats so it must have been one of the many public events we worked at.  The one in the middle is Louis Mullberger (sp).  I do not know the other one; he looks like me but I do not remember being there.  We were all in the JCs around that time.
Jackie James (SLHS '57) has confirmed John Pauswang's (DHS '67) recollection that 'CU' was the brand used by Sugarland Industries.  She's trying to get me a photo of a sign on FM 359 showing the turn off to Foster Farms, which the Kempner family still owns.  The brand is included in the sign's artwork.

Here are a links to the Katy Heritage Society and their yearly bulletin, which serves as an annual report.  I never realized until recently that a large part of old Katy is in Fort Bend County.  I always assumed all of it was in Harris County.

Dulles Class of '65

Since the Class of '65 at DHS is celebrating its 50 anniversary, I've posted their senior photos. Congrats to the old timers. Click the image to view the photo album.

More People of Old Sugar Land

Why are older brothers shorter than younger brothers?

Wayne Boehm (SLHS '55) & Jerry Boehm (SLHS 59) at the 2015 Brock family reunion.
Thank you, Stephanie Youngblood Wilson (DHS '65), for sending me the following set of photos.  They connected some dots for me.

Stephanie's mother, Barbara Ann Dreier, on the left with her sister (Stephanie's aunt), Betty Lou Dreier at Barbara's graduation from SLHS in 1938.  (It appears they are in a yard on the north side of  Lakeview Drive.)

Barbara Ann Dreier Youngblood in her SLHS pep squad uniform.

L to R: Muffet Guenther Gideon (SLHS '41), Mary Norton Shelton (SLHS '39), and Barbara Ann Dreier Youngblood (SLHS '38) on Brooks Street in 1940.

The 1937/38 SLHS Girls Tennis Team.  L to R: (front row) Anna Belle Richardson Friddle, Jean Lee Davidson Wynne, (second row) Dorothy Schultz Gandy, Barbara Ann Dreier Youngblood, Mary Norton Shelton, MayDoll Douglas Stokes, Mary Gene Logan and Viola Boehm Stapelfeldt, (back row) Elizabeth Gentry and Blanche Boehm Prikryl.

H. L. Dreier in his back garden.

Etna Schindler, Stephanie's aunt and long-time Sugar Land telephone operator, in 1940

These next two photos are rather timely since the Class of '65 at Dulles High School will celebrate their 50th anniversary this year.

L to R: Carol Ann Waldrop, Joyce Foitik, Carol Jean Alaminsky, and Betty ? in 1956 when they were in the 3rd or 4th grade.

Mrs. Boyer's kindergarten in 1953. We can identify Bruce Edwards, Jr., Janie Wheeler, Susie Kuykendall, and Stephanie, but the others are a problem.  Any help?

More Places of Old Sugar Land

These first set of photos shows old homes that were "out in the country" back in the old days.  

My thanks go to Mark Schumann (DHS '76) who posted the first photo on Facebook.  It shows the home where his grandparents, the Max Schumanns (Sr.), lived for a time.  I believe they moved from 4th Street out to this house and then sometime later moved back to The Hill.  I'm not certain of the dates, nor when this photo was taken, but judging by the car it must have been the 1940s or '50s.
The house was located just north of Central Unit 1.  This 1953 aerial will help orient you - the house is circled.  Notice the barn's white roof is very distinct and matches the location shown in the photo above.
We're trying to confirm the home was built originally for Superintendent Pryor, the first chief of the Imperial Prison Farm, which predated the Central Units by several decades.  Although we have no exact date, the Pryor home was built sometime in the 1880s or '90s.  The next photo shows it in 1899.  We think it's the same house shown in the picture above. 

1899 (Texas Prison Museum)
Another point of significance is that the Sugar Land Railroad had a stop called Pryor, which we assume was beside, or very close to the house.  The stop is marked on maps and train schedules, so there's no doubt about its existence. 

Next, I want to thank Stephanie Youngblood Wilson (DHS '65) for providing this photo of her grandparents' (the H. L. Dreiers) home on the northwest quadrant where the Southwest Freeway crosses Highway 90A.  The location is identified by the circle in the '53 aerial photo.

H. L. Dreier home about 1940.

Notice the racetrack just east of the house.  Stephanie told me there was a time when the house wasn't air conditioned, and afternoon naps on summer weekends were interrupted by the sound of roaring engines coming through open windows.

The last photo is one of the Imperial refinery probably taken around 1908, when I. H. Kempner, Sr. and W. T. Eldridge, Sr. took over the Imperial Sugar Company.

About 1908.
Here's a shot of how the same location looks in recent years.  It's a Google Street View of the same location dated April 2011.