Born near Independence, Texas in 1862, W.T. Eldridge ran away from home at age 12 to escape his stepfather and never returned. A resourceful young man, Eldridge got a job as a cotton picker in Granbury. From there, he moved about the state doing odd jobs before opening his first business as a fruit peddler.
Eldridge went on to become a progressive businessman, farmer, and landowner of the time. Twice he was tried for murder--one victim was his former business partner--but both times he was acquitted after pleading self-defense.
Eldridge lived in the old Ellis plantation home (pictured below), which he had moved to the refinery site from its original location about a mile west of town. A very hands-on manager, he installed Sugar Land's first telephone line from the house to the refinery, so that he could maintain contact with supervisors at all times.
He later built this sprawling Spanish-style stucco mansion on Lakeview Drive near Eldridge Road which still stands today (and is currently up for sale).
Although Eldridge made headlines for killing two men during his lifetime, his true legacy is the creation and development of the successful company town of Sugar Land.
(Images Courtesy of Bettye Anhaiser and the T.C. Rozelle Collection)