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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sugar Land or Sugarland?

I did some research recently on the issue of 'Sugar Land' vs. 'Sugarland.'  Not only was it interesting, but I learned some things.

I found a list of postmasters and post office names on John Walker's Web site, Life on the Brazos River.  You'll notice that Mrs. Nena Iiams was acting postmistress for Sugarland (sic) in 1927.  She eventually became the town's permanent postmistress and held that position for many years.

I then decided to look at some old postmarks to see what they said.  The one below comes from Janice and Nancy Jenkins.  It shows a get-well card sent to their father in 1959 after a plane crash.  (It's an interesting story that deserves it's own article on this blog.)  Anyway, you can see the cancellation stamp showing 'SUGARLAND.'

Well, maybe US Postal Service wasn't too concerned about an old designation and let the discrepancy ride, because town residents have used 'Sugar Land' from the beginning.  I've seen a letter from Sugar Land written in 1859, which shows the town's name as two words.  This letter was written just 7 years after the Terry-Kyle partnership purchased Oakland (the Williams brothers' plantation) and renamed it Sugar Land.

The next item is an example of the letterhead used by the Imperial State Bank in 1913.  As you can see, it has Sugar Land as two words on it.
Further evidence is this photo of the train depot soon after it was completed in 1927.  The town's name is written with two words.
Further proof (if you want it), but a little more puzzling, is the name on the town's post office.  This photo was taken in 1952.  As you can see in the magnification, the post office used the two-word version on its public sign.

Last but not least is this 1954 photo of a road sign on Highway 90A at the town's western boundary.  It too displayed the two-word version.

Of course, we have the Sugarland Industries, whose name was misspelled by a Delaware lawyer when he drafted the charter of incorporation in 1919.  Note the name of the company in the 1956 phone book.
Outsiders, quite naturally, still find this issue confusing.  There's probably more to the story.  For example, I don't know what our current postmark looks like.  In fact, I don't know if there is a Sugar Land postmark anymore, since our mail is processed in Houston.  If we have one, and it has Sugar Land as two words, I don't know when the US Postal Service made the change.  What I do know is the name on the outside of the post office has always been 'Sugar Land,' and locals have never been confused about the town's name.  (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.)