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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Harvey News & Updates

I haven't left the house since Saturday, and even then it was a half-mile trip to the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation to make certain everything was okay. 

My best guess is that old Sugar Land is almost back to normal. 

Emergency Contact Info

Here is some useful information from Mary Lee Sebesta and Wanda Benge. (Thanks!) 

Thank you Kathy Stewart Ezell who works for FEMA for all this valuable information!!

Homeowners.... You must go through your insurance company first.....FEMA comes in behind your insurance for further possible assistance... You must register 1800-621-3362.

If you lost income because you can't go to work... Call FEMA 1800-621-3362 and register for disaster

If your vehicle flooded out in the storm.... You'll need to have liability coverage on your vehicle at the time of the disaster, your title & registration for FEMA (1800-621-3362)to pay. 

If you have full coverage you must file with your insurance company first.

If you're under mandatory evacuation... Call FEMA and register... You will get up to 2 months of rental assistance at the fair market value of your area.

If you have bills you are behind in or if you have some coming due you can call them EVERY COMPANY is pushing back due dates & some are even credited full months of service if youre in Houston or surrounding areas. My friend just got 3 months no car note w/toyota due to weather & another friend who has chevy got car note credited for 2 months! Call your light companies , phone companies ,cable companies whoever and get the extra months to give yourself time to come back from this disaster!! If you don't need this info then disregard but share. Never know who this can help.. All you have to tell them is you are located in Houston or surrounding counties and was affected by the hurricane... A lot of them are already aware of whats going on here and have policies in effect to help us.
There is a free app to help neighborhoods coordinate their recovery. It's called Next Door. Click here to find it on iTunes. Click here to find it at Google Play.

Sugar Land

Here is a link to the City of Sugar Land's page on storm info. Click this link to access the page

Here is a short clip of drone video Tommy Laird sent me. (Thanks, Tommy.) It shows Sugar Mill on August 27th, which now seems like a long time ago. I was a little confused when I first saw this, but I can tell it was shot on the western side of Sugar Mill. At one point you can see the pool near Burney and Ragus Lake Dr. 

Click this link to view the video. The map below will help you identify the area.

Fort Bend County & Brazos River

The major issue now is the Brazos River.  Here's a link to a the National Weather Service station at Richmond, which reports on the river's height. Click here to view the link.  As you can see the river should crest tomorrow.

Here is a link to drone footage shot by the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management.  Unfortunately, a lot of it looks exactly like last year's flood.  Click here to view the list of videos.

Fire Ants

And last but not least, an interesting video on Fire Ants. Click here to view the short video.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

News & Updates

I have one item of regrettable news to pass along. Judy Bunting Goodson (DHS '77) passed away on August 3rd. She was the younger sister of Nan Bunting Middlebrooks (DHS '63), Mike Bunting (DHS '66), and Richard Bunting (DHS '67). I never knew Judy, but offer my sincere condolences to her family. Click here to view an obituary.

Morales Family Donations to SLHF

In 2014, the Morales family, long-time residents of Sugar Land, donated two historic jerseys to the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation. A ceremony highlighting the donation occurred at a Turn Back The Clock Night at Constellation Field before the start of a Skeeters game.

The jerseys were worn by George Morales, Sr. who played for the Imperials, a Hispanic team sponsored by the Imperial Sugar Company for many years. These jerseys date to the mid-1950s. You can see examples in the two photos below.

Sugar Land Imperials, mid-1950s.

 Manager Joaquin Mora wearing the same uniform.

In early August, the Morales family made another visit to the SLHF to donate a jersey from another team sponsored by Imperial. This one is an Imperial Pirates jersey. Here's an old team photo from the 1970s, showing the jersey.

Imperial Pirates in the 1970s.
The next photos show the Morales family displaying the Imperials and Pirates jerseys during their recent visit. The SLHF is very pleased to have these jerseys, which commemorate the tradition of Hispanic baseball in old Sugar Land.
Joe Morales with Imperials jersey and George Morales, Jr. with Pirates jersey.

The Morales family, long-time Sugar Landers and generous donors to the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation.

The visit included a surprise. Notice the black-and-white photo of the young boys in the background.  Here's a clearer view of it.

Four young SL baseball fans in the mid-1950s. Clockwise from lower left: George Morales, Jr., Julian Astorga, Fred Mora, and Mike Mora.
George Morales, Jr. saw it as we gathered in the museum and said, "That's me!"

George Morales, Jr. then and now.
The old photo was part of Sugar Land's 2016 FotoFest exhibit. When we put it together, we liked the photo and decided to use it, but had no idea who the boys were. There was no annotation on the back to give us a clue.

George said, "I heard all over town that people had seen my picture, but I never saw it. I'm glad to see it now!" 

The photo was taken for an article that appeared in The Imperial Crown, the monthly bulletin for employees, but it wasn't used. George supplied the identities for us. He's kneeling on the left. Behind him is Julian Astorga. Standing on the right is Fred Mora. Kneeling on the right is Mike Mora.

One last item to mention. We learned recently of an Arcadia book on Hispanic baseball.  It's Mexican American Baseball in Houston and Southeast Texas. There's a chapter devoted to Sugar Land, which is very good. I enjoyed it.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

People of Old Sugar Land

Thank you, Mark Schumann, for posting on Facebook many of your family photos. They are terrific. I'd also like to thank Elaine Cantu Bauer for posting some of her family photos, which I've included here. Click the image below to see their photos.
St. Theresa Catholic Church in the February 1960 Snowfall.
The next items are clips from my family's home movies. The first is a repeat, showing the summer, or spring pre-school camp at Sugar Land High School in 1953. The location is the Lakeview campus, which is now Lakeview Elementary. We're under the trees just a few yards southeast of the gym. Lakeview Drive is behind the camera.

SL Pre-schoolers in 1953.
The next clip is also from 1953. It shows a Kelly-Salter family gathering at 214 Brooks St., which was my grandparents' home. 
C. E. Kelly, Sr. clowning in front of the movie camera in 1953.

Dulles High School

I've looked at several things related to Dulles High School recently.  The first was an eye-opener for me.  Of course, I knew the Dulles football team's MVP award is named after Johnnie Frankie, but I didn't really know his story. Click the image below to read an article, entitled "Toughness Tempered by a Warm Heart and Pervasive Good Will." It appeared in a blog devoted to Rice University history. 

I'm not sure if the Frankies lived in Stafford or Missouri City, but their son Tony is a DHS alum in the Class of '65. (I'm amazed at how much Tony looks like his father.)

Captain Rice Football Team, 1936.

The Class of '77 celebrated their 40th anniversary a few weeks ago. They posted photos on Facebook. I've reposted a small selection of them here. (Thanks T. Champion and K. Walling Burnham.) Click the image to view the album.
Class of '77 Reunion Photos.

Janice Jenkins Girard (Class of '68) did some serious house cleaning a few weeks ago and sent me some vintage items, including the pennant shown above.  Here is another blast from the past.
Calvin Lee, Coach Bill Martin, and Happy Barker in the '67/8 school year. (Calvin and Happy are member of the Class of '68.)

Sugar Land Photos, 2005

Barbara Wadzuk donated some of her photos to the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation a couple of months ago. (Thank you, Barbara.) Among them were photos she took while touring the town in 2005. I thought they were very appealing - the town seemed to sparkle that day. 

Click the image below to view a selection of Barbara's photos.

First St. looking east from Main St.

Photos from The Great Depression

A couple of people recently sent me a link to a Google album containing images of the US during The Great Depression. The album provided no captions, but I think WPA photographers captured the images. 

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was a depression-era agency whose purpose was to provide jobs for the unemployed. At its peak the WPA employed more than 3 million Americans. The agency's projects were widely varied. They included the arts as well as conventional commercial/business endeavors. The arts group produced murals, posters, plays, and photographs, among other products. A large number of the photographs are now recognized for their aesthetic, as well as historical value.

Click the image to view the photo album.
Migrant farming family.

Friday, August 4, 2017

News & Updates

Sugar Land Heritage Foundation

As I've mentioned in the past, the Sugar Land Heritage Museum and Visitor Center is under construction. I can't give you a firm date on the opening, but it should be around the first of next year. I'll report more when I hear it. For now, you can read a recent newsletter from the SLHF board by clicking on this link.

Fort Bend County Historical Commission

The Fort Bend County Historical Commission will have its 3rd quarter meeting on Tuesday, August 15th. It's free and open to the public. Our speaker will be a good one. He's Dan Worrall, local historian and author. He will talk about Pleasant Bend and The San Felipe Trail.  Here's a blurb on his presentation:

The story of Upper Buffalo Bayou and the San Felipe Trail as they existed west of Houston in the 19th Century will be the program topic for the Tuesday, Aug. 15 full membership meeting of the Fort Bend County Historical Commission.

The meeting, which is open to the public free of charge, is booked at the Gus George Law Enforcement Academy, 1521 Eugene Heimann Circle in Richmond, beginning at 3 p.m.

Presenter is historical preservationist Dr. Dan Worrall of Fulshear, an active member of the Harris County HC. Worrall, a retired exploration geologist, is currently searching out prospective historical marker sites in west Harris County. He was instrumental in rescuing the 19th-century Morse-Bragg Cemetery, near Post Oak Boulevard in Houston, from loss to development.

Worrall extensively researched what he called "nearly forgotten" rural areas where pioneers settled and lived a century and a half prior to the sprawling westward growth of Houston. In describing the content of his recently published book, "Pleasant Bend," Worrall wrote:

"One such area is that of Upper Buffalo Bayou, extending from downtown Houston to Katy. In this area, European settlement began at Piney Point in 1824, over a decade before Houston was founded. Ox wagons full of cotton traveled across a seemingly endless tallgrass prairie from the Brazos River east to Harrisburg along the San Felipe Trail, built in 1830.

"Also here, Texan families fled eastward during the Runaway Scrape of 1836, immigrant German settlers trekked westward to new farms along the north bank of the bayou in the 1840s, and newly freed African-American families walked east toward Houston from Brazos plantations after Emancipation."

Fort Bend CHC Chairman Chuck Kelly, who helped secure Worrall as program presenter, noted that while Pleasant Bend lay beyond the Fort Bend County line, "its history and that of our county are contemporaneous in time and contiguous in location, and our ancestors were doubtless familiar with the story we will hear from Dr. Worrall in August."

Sons of the Republic of Texas

The Lamar Chapter of the Sons of the Republic of Texas (SRT) has been inactive for several years, although it was the first chapter of the SRT. Fort Bend County resident F. M. O. Fenn was the driving force to start the organization. It's important that we make a determined effort to restart the chapter.

Tom Green of the SRT has told me he found a copy of a letter from John R. Fenn's son, Frances Marion Otis Fenn, a lawyer in Richmond, Texas, who started the SRT in his legal office there in Richmond on April 11, 1893.  As far as we know, F. M. O. Fenn became the first member of the SRT on April 21, 1893, and a copy of his membership certificate is in the San Jacinto Monument archives.

There are no annual fees. The organization's mission is to promote local history, particularly in schools and educational organizations. The only qualification for joining is documented evidence of an ancestor living in the Republic of Texas (1836 - 1845).

Members of neighboring chapters have graciously volunteered to help this effort. If you want to become a member of the Lamar Chapter of the SRT, respond to this this message. An SRT member will contact you.

If you want to join the local chapter of Daughters of the Republic of Texas, please respond to this message, and we'll put you in touch with the chapter in Richmond. They are a very active group.

Old Timer News

I'm very thankful I have no deaths to report, but I do want to mention Steve Shelton. Some of you know he suffered a stroke a few months back.  He's at home in Hillje. I saw his sister Nancy and brother Lee a few days ago, and they said Rose (Steve's wife) and Steve would appreciate your prayers and good wishes. I'm not certain Steve is ready for visitors just yet, but I'll report on his progress when I hear it.

DHS Class of 1977 Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Dulles High School's Class of 1977 is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its graduation from that august institution with a reunion at the Redneck Country Club.  I'm very late with this, but the reunion is tomorrow evening, Saturday, August 5th.  I hope they provide post-reunion photos. Click the image below to view an album of images they've collected. (Thanks to all who have posted them on Facebook.)

DHS Class of '77 mementos & photos.

 An undated photo of The Viking Den posted by the Class of '77. (Thanks for the memory.)

I thought this last item was a hoot. Mark Schumann posted it on Facebook.  It's a Dulles directory from 1976. I don't think we had anything like this in my era. Click the image to view selected pages.

More People of Old Sugar Land

I've stretched the topic a little, but for good reasons. Click the image below to view the photo album. Be sure to turn on the captions option.

The Schumann kitchen on 6th St. back in the early 1970s.
I've posted items on the aircraft observation group in Sugar Land during WWII. Jackie James has kept her mother's certificate of appreciation for serving in the group. You can see it below.

I've talked to my mother about this. They had a similar group out at the Humble Camp. She said kids were allowed in the group, and when they were on watch they reported almost everything that flew in the air. She said the operator at the other end was always respectful and polite. He or she never told them to cut out the useless chatter. Who knows if they ever wrote down what  children called in, but they made them feel they were part of the war effort.

Certificate awarded to Miriam James for service in Sugar Land's aircraft observation group during WWII.
The final item was a surprise. I never knew former council woman, Cyril Hosley's family was connected to the Hoggs and Bayou Bend. Fascinating. Click the image below to read an article on her grandmother's employment with Ima Hogg at Bayou Bend.

Cyril Hosley on the right with her sister Carol and grandmother, Velma Arisman Beasley at Bayou Bend in 1949.

Brazos River & Fort Bend County History

About a month ago, I talked with John Rich, a member of the Harris County Archeological Society about water management on the lower Brazos River. We were looking through an Arcadia book Sharon Wallingford brought to my attention: Lower Brazos River Canals by Lora-Marie Bernard. 

John told me about a series of locks and dams on the river near Navasota. I had no idea there were ever any locks on the Brazos, but John said he discovered them on a canoeing trip he took in 2011 and documented in this article, which includes photos. Great stuff. Click here to read about John's trip.

A colleague on the Fort Bend County Historical Commission, Chris Godbold, writes a regular column on local history for Fort Bend Life Styles and Homes.  Here is a sampling.

Click here to view an article on Fort Bend County during WWI. (We are now in the 100th anniversary of The Great War.)

One final item: my brother found these photos of the Fort Bend County Courthouse by noted photographer Yarnell Richtie. (I wonder who those kids are.)

Fort Bend County Courthouse in 1948 by Yarnell Ritchie. (DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)

Fort Bend County Courthouse in 1948 by Yarnell Ritchie. (DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Old Imperial Brochures

While researching items for a future exhibit, I found several brochures Imperial Sugar published for different audiences through its corporate history. They span several decades and reflect changes in the company and, implicitly, in the town. I'll post a couple of early ones now and several more in the future.

The first is a short pamphlet on how sugar is made. M. R. Wood was a real renaissance man and eminently qualified to talk authoritatively about sugar technology. (Wood was the chief engineer and chemist at Imperial in its very early days.) Click the image below to view the brochure.
Cover of M. R. Wood brochure on Sugar Refining, c. 1920
The next brochure was printed in 1925. Note that the author is C. B. Gillespie, who was managing editor of The Houston Chronicle at the time. (My brother found this interesting tidbit about him, which says he was a newspaperman, who worked for W. T. Eldridge in Sugar Land for a few years before returning to the newspaper business and becoming a senior figure at The Houston Chronicle. I guess he did some free-lance work for his old employer and friend.)

Take a quick look at the images because they give an distinct impression of Sugar Land in the mid 1920s, but the business reason behind the brochure is interesting, too. 

The biggest sugar refiner in the US in those days was American Sugar Company, which produced Domino Sugar. The New York-based behemoth was trying to poach Imperial's market in Texas.  Eldridge was defending his company's territory from what appear to be under-handed practices.  American was selling inferior sugar as 'pure cane' sugar -- at a much lower price than Imperial. They seemed intent on driving Imperial out of business - or that's what Eldridge thought. 

Imperial (Eldridge) filed an anti-trust suit against American Sugar and won after a court battle that lasted several years. Eldridge was a real bull dog.

C. B. Gillespie's brochure on Texas Pure Cane Sugar, 1925

Thursday, June 22, 2017

More Images of Old Sugar Land

Click the image below to view a photo album of images of old Sugar Land.
Mr. & Mrs. Pilz with Kate & Joe.

More People of Old Sugar Land

Click the image below to view a photo album of people of old Sugar Land.
Cara Fisher & Regina Loper celebrate their 25th anniversary with Imperial Sugar Company in November 1953.

Randolph Foster & Richmond Chapter of the SRT

I want to thank Tom Green, KSJ Sons of the Republic of Texas, for sending me the article below on Randolph Foster, one of the Old 300. The Foster Family and Old Foster Community Museum hosted a dedication of an Old 300 grave medallion on Randolph Foster headstone in the Fulshear Cemetery. Click on the image below to view photos of the ceremony. (The relevant photos are #2 to #11 in the photo album.)
Randolph Foster Grave Medallion ceremony.

Tom participated in the ceremony and became interested in Randolph's story, so he did some research and wrote this short, but informative article.

History of Randolph Foster


Randolph Foster was born March 12, 1790, in the Natchez District of Spanish West Florida, later known as part of the state of Mississippi. He served with his long time Texas neighbor, Capt. Randal Jones in the War of 1812, probably in the Canoe Fight on the Alabama River. In 1821, when he heard about Moses Austin’s plan to bring 300 American families to Texas, and Randolph Foster came to Texas with his parents, John Foster and Rachel Gibson, and their other children, including his brother Isaac Foster, making the Foster family one first of the Old 300. On July 16, 1824, Randolph Foster received a 4,400 acres land grant in what is now Fort Bend and Waller counties. Randolph Foster had married Lucy Ruffin Hunter, born on 23 June 1804, in Wilkinson County, Mississippi before 1821, and before the family came to Texas. Randolph Foster was a great hunter and stories exist about his hunts with Stephen F. Austin, and during the Texas Revolution, Uncle Ran, as he was known, provided meat and other supplies to the Texian Army.

On October 11, 1835, Randolph Foster was sent by Richardson R. Royall to William Stafford’s plantation, for whom the present town of Stafford was named, to retrieve 800 pounds of lead for the use of the Texian Army. In April of 1836, when Capt. Wiley Martin’s company was sent to the Fort Bend area to prevent General Santa Anna’s Mexican Army from crossing the flooded Brazos River, Randolph Foster joined Capt. Wiley Martin’s company, which consisted of only 46 men. There were at least 1,500 in Mexican Army, and the task of preventing the crossing of the Brazos River was impossible, but the delay was enough time to allow the newly formed Republic of Texas government to leave Jane Harris’ home in Harrisburg before General Santa Anna arrived. The delay in crossing the Brazos River resulted in General Santa taking 750 of his Calvary to Thompson’s Ferry to cross the Brazos River. The leader of Mexican Calvary was Col. Juan N. Almonte, who was one of the few Mexicans who spoke English, so the other Mexican Calvary hid in the trees, while Col. Almonte impersonated a Texan and convinced the Thompson ferry operator to bring the ferry over the Brazos River, where the Mexican Calvary came out of the trees, commandeered the Thompson Ferry and crossed the Brazos River flanking Capt. Wiley Martin’s Company and forcing them to retreat. This was the event that separated General Santa Anna from the bulk of his army, and when General Sam Houston learned of the separation he turn his army south at New Kentucky and head for Harrisburg, and later to San Jacinto. While the efforts of Capt. Wiley Martin’s men at the Brazos River was considered a failure at the time, this event changed history and was the main reason the Battle of San Jacinto occurred at the battle site.

Randolph Foster helped guide and protect the women and children during the Run-Away-Scrape. He continued to live in the Fulshear area until August 18, 1878, when the 89 year old pioneer died at the home of his daughter, Mary L. Foster, who had married Thomas Blakely, the Sheriff of Fort Bend County. A local school has been named the John and Randolph Foster High School, and on May 18, 2017, the family, who are almost all members of the Old 300 Society, dedicated an Old 300 marker for his grave.

Tom Green, KSJ
2718 North Larkspur Circle
Pearland, Texas 77584
(713) 340-1965

I wanted to mention the Sons of the Republic of Texas are reviving their chapter in Richmond. It has been dormant for a few years, and they want to restart it. If you can trace your ancestry back to the Republic of Texas, you can become a member. 

They are hosting an initial meeting at Joseph's in Richmond on July 20th at 6:30. Everyone with an interest and an ancestor in Texas between 1821 & 1845 is welcome.

Of course, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas have a proud organization, too. Their Richmond chapter is very active. If you have an interest in their organization, comment on this blog and I'll send you info.

Wild Fish Tales

I had a recent conversation with an old high school classmate about fishing. I don't recall the details, but alligator gars came up. I have posted the following photo in the past, but I don't think he's ever seen it. It shows a gar caught in the Sugar Land area, I'm not sure where, and I don't know who the man is. Maybe someone will recognize him. Visual clues suggest the date is sometime around 1952. That's an impressive fish.

Alligator gar, 1952.

We also talked about noodling, or catching fish my hand, particularly cat fish. He knew I wasn't the type to wade a creek or river bank and stick my hand in a hole, pulling out a big fish (or something else!) hiding in there. However, I told him a branch of my mother's family (the Rachuigs) were big noodlers up in Bosque County northwest of Waco.  I have visual evidence to prove it. Click the image view an album of photos.
Noodlers in training about 1935. (My mother is the noodler second from the right.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Odds & Ends

I have a few miscellaneous items from recent research. The first comes from Jackie James, who said the following:

"... Of course I am old and do remember WWII very vividly.

I remember a small wooden building which was on Oyster Creek right at the end of where my Dad's park is now. There was no road but all fields at that time. The women of the town would go there and make bandages for the soldiers. They also looked for foreign airplanes. My mother would take me with her when she went and I was five years old when the war ended but I do remember this so well.

About a year ago I found something of my mom's that I had never seen before. It is a Certificate of Service from the U.S. Army Air Forces, III FIGHTER COMMAND, Aircraft Warning Service. It then says, "This is to certify that Mrs. T. L.James, Observer, OBSERVATION POST, PALM 129, faithfully and voluntarily served in the Aircraft Warning Service, III Fighter Command, U.S. Army Air Forces.

Witness my hand this FIRST day of JUNE in the year one thousand nine hundred forty-four"!

It is signed by a Major Signal Corps Acting Regional Commander and a Brigadier General, United States Army Commanding. I can't read their signatures or would have added them."

I hope Jackie can get a good image of her mother's citation - I'd love to have one. I've known about the observation post, but never heard its designation, "PALM 129." It would be a hoot if any of their reports turned up in a government archive.  
I'm sure I've said in the past that my grandmother Kelly was also an observer.  So was Mrs. W. T. 'Sallie' Matlage, Sr.  Here's her patch:

Jackie mentioned the location of the observation shack. Other people have given me the rough location. Here's an aerial photo taken in April 1941, which I've marked to show the general area. The hut wouldn't be built until sometime in 1942, I presume. (Click the image to magnify it.)
Sugar Land in 1941.
One more WWII item. Here's a piece of V-Mail Jean McCord Babineaux had in the McCord family archive. W. W. Jenkins (I don't know which Jenkins boy that was) sent it to Jean's mother at Christmas 1943 from somewhere in the Pacific theater of war. 
I saw this item on the KPRC History Page on Facebook. I remember some of these people: Bob Byron (who was co-host of the Tim & Bob radio program), Buck Buchanan (who was married to Marjorie Wappler [SLHS '48] at one time), Tom Fox, Bruce Layer (sportscaster), and Dick Gottlieb.