SLHF                                                      JULY/AUGUST  2014 


 How does SLHF fulfill its mission 'to inspire community pride by collecting, preserving, communicating, and celebrating the history of Sugar Land, Texas'?
Before I respond to that most important question, let me give you a little background of where it comes from.  Starting last September and ending in April of this year, I was enrolled in the Leadership for Non-Profits course that is conducted by the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce and is underwritten by the George Foundation.  The class meets the first Wednesday of each month and covers a variety of essential topics regarding non-profit organizations. If you are associated with a non-profit organization as a Board Member, Staff person, or as an active volunteer, this course is invaluable in teaching you how a non-profit organization needs to conduct business/fulfill its mission statement.  I would heartily recommend that you contact the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce about enrolling in this class.

Now, on to responding to this very important question.  It would take a very, very long article to cover all the ways that SLHF is going about fulfilling our mission statement.  So I want to give you one of the most visual ways and that is through the use of photographs.

With regard to "collecting and preserving" the history of Sugar Land, our archivists have been actively evaluating/accessioning a large number of photos into our collection.  Chris Bohannan, SLHF lead archivist, wrote a very good article for our last newsletter on best techniques for preserving photographs.  To read that article, please click here to go to the Newsletter section of the website.  Chris's article is in the April/May issue and is the second article in that issue.

As mentioned above, SLHF has been blessed with a large number of photographs as a part of our collection.  There are several ways SLHF is using these photos to communicate and celebrate our history.  We are displaying some of these photographs in our temporary museum that is open every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., except when we have our quarterly workday.  We make a concerted effort to rotate photos every three to four months.  Other photographs have been scanned and are used in a slide show format that is viewable on Saturdays at the museum.  Just ask a Saturday morning volunteer to start the slide show for you.  Other photos have been expanded to poster size for displaying at events.  These 3' x 4' posters have been displayed in 2013 and 2014 at the Wine and Food Sip & Stroll event and also at Constellation Field as a part of the SLHF/Skeeters "Turn Back the Clock" baseball game. 

As you would imagine, there are lots of other ways SLHF is fulfilling its mission.  SLHF communicates by sending out a newsletter 6 times a year.  We also communicate by hosting a website that is kept up-to-date in a timely manner.  We celebrate by opening our temporary museum on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.  We also conduct our Heritage Hike on the second Saturday of each month. 

Most importantly, our volunteers inspire community pride with their respective efforts!!!  They are a great group of folks.  They range in age/stage of life from students to senior citizens.  Come join us as SLHF continues to fulfill its mission. 

To become a volunteer, contact Carolyn Gilligan, SLHF Volunteer Coordinator, at or Colleen McGlocklin at


To find out more about SLHF, visit our website at

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer and is getting a chance to relax and enjoy the dog days of summer with your family.  Last week, the Heritage Foundation held one of our annual fundraisers in conjunction with the Sugar Land Skeeters, known as "Turn Back the Clock Night".  It is always a great event and I hope everyone that was able to attend had a fun time at both the game and the fireworks show after!

At SLHF, things are moving at a fast pace, and I would like to take this opportunity to talk about donations of artifacts/items to the Heritage Foundation's future museum.  We want to thank all the people from the community who have already donated items to the museum.  We are in the process of building a good collection of artifacts related to Imperial Sugar but we certainly want more items if you have them.

Recently we did a thorough evaluation of our artifacts, and even though we are at the early stages of the design phase, it is becoming increasingly clear that we need many more items, from several particular time frames.  I'll break them down into three parts:
  1. Early Texas history, which would include artifacts dealing with the early natives (Karankawa Indians), Spanish rule/early settlers/missionaries.
  2. Stephen F. Austin and the early settlement, the 'Old 300', S. M. Williams and his brothers, pre- and post- Texas revolution.
  3. The Plantation period, pre- and post-civil war, slave/convict labor, the Terry and Kyle time period, any and all Sugar Land railroads, the Cunningham and Ellis period, and sugar refining during this time.

These are the time frames that we are in need of more artifacts and are in search of more information regarding these eras.  If you or anyone you know has any artifacts related to these periods, please contact me or Dennis Parmer so that we may talk with you about a possible donation.  As a general rule, items could include but are not limited to: pictures, artifacts (large and small), newspaper articles, personal items, or general information.    

Thanks for your time!


Chris Bohannan, Lead Archivist 


From L to R:  Jim Shamblin, Roland Walton, Felix Fraga, Lou Payton

Jim Shamblin played 2nd base for the first National Championship team at the University of Texas in 1949.  He held the hitting record of 5 hits in one game at the College World Series, a record that stood for over 50 years.  He played for Weimar in the Houston Post Semi-Pro Tournament in 1949 and for Victoria in 1950 when both teams won the tournament.

Roland Walton was a 4-year letterman at short stop and MVP in 1951 at the University of Houston when U of H won the Missouri Valley Conference Championship.  He played on the Houston Post Tournament Championship teams from Victoria, and coached the U of H Cougar baseball team from 1974 to 1986.

Felix Fraga was a 4-year letterman at first base for the U of H Cougars.  He played on the 1951 Championship team and captained the 1952 Cougars.  He has been involved with the youth program at Ripley House for over 60 years,  served on the HISD school board for 4 years, and was a City of Houston Councilman for 6 years.

Lou Payton (SLHS '46), who threw out the ceremonial first pitch this year, played center field for the 1951 and 1952 U of H Cougars and was captain and MVP in 1952.  He played for the Fort Bend Jaybirds and other local semi-pro teams for several years.  Lou won the batting title of the Houston Post Tournament in 1950 with a .500 average and played on the Jaybird team that won the tournament in 1952.


"Life was Good in a Good Company Town"
 by Diane L. Ware

Review by Cliff and Susan Wagner

From the early 1900s to the late 1950s, Sugar Land residents knew each other and everything that was going on in their company town; therefore, it was particularly fitting that Diane Ware developed her presentation, "Life was Good in a Good Company Town" using quotes from Sugar Land's old-timers.  She extracted many of these quotes from interviews she had conducted with Sugar Land's senior citizens over twenty years earlier.  In doing so, the audience received personal perspectives of a company town and perhaps glimpsed the personalities of those who were Sugar Land.  Without a doubt, fond memories live in the hearts of old-timers and at this fourth Chautauqua talk, it was fun to hear them tell their stories.

In the first half of the 20th century, I. H. Kempner and W. T. Eldridge, owners of the Imperial Sugar Company, were unquestionably the two most significant personalities in Sugar Land.  We have named streets and a school after these pillars of early Sugar Land, but who were they really?  As told by Diane, their backgrounds were certainly not what I expected.  It turns out one was "rough" and one was "polished".  I. H. Kempner was born into a wealthy Galveston family and managed the family's substantial wealth from the age of 21.  On the other hand, W. T.
Eldridge's early life was diametrically opposite.  Eldridge had a remedial education and left home at the age of 12.  From that humble beginning he became a self-made man with a somewhat shady past, having allegedly killed three men, although he was never convicted.  Eldridge was smart and prospered, using his ingenuity and entrepreneurial skills.  As described by I. H. Kempner, he was a "big thinker".

I. H. Kempner and W. T. Eldridge formed their partnership in 1905 and the Imperial Sugar Company was born.  By 1908, all of the Cunningham properties in and around Sugar Land, including a rundown sugar mill, were acquired by the partnership.  The Kempner/Eldridge partnership was a strange combination but it worked, with Kempner residing in Galveston and Eldridge living on the factory property and managing the company operations in Sugar Land.  It was the partnership's expressed goal to establish a model company town and to operate a modern sugar company.

Diane's presentation described areas of the company town:  the Flats, the Hill, the Quarters and Rat Row.  She talked about the teacherage where single female teachers were housed, and the evolution of the town's hospital.  Early residents felt they had a say in their town and an obligation to set the record straight.  T. C. Rozelle, an old-timer, was quoted as correcting those who were building in the Alkire Lake subdivision, "You got it wrong.  That's not Alkire Lake, that's Alligator Lake!"  Using a combination of oral histories, photographs and documents from early Sugar Land, Diane painted a picture of town life.  Baseball games on Sunday after church, problems with tenant farmers, and syrup day at the refinery were just part of company town life.  She described the sharing of church buildings between religions and races, the time Glover shot Sheriff Brooks, life in the Quarters and the display of a nine-story cross on the Char House at Christmas.  I. H. Kempner was Jewish, but he allowed the cross to be displayed.  Diane presented all these topics and many more.

Of course there were other personalities who shaped early Sugar Land.  There was Gus Ulrich, whom Eldridge acquired to hire and manage skilled labor to build the town's infrastructure.  Ulrich wanted workers with a good work ethic and if that was not the case, then "the road runs east and west, pick a direction".  M. R. Wood, the straight-laced chemist for Imperial Sugar, redeveloped Sugar Land's racially segregated school system and believed "children within this company town were more than fodder for the machinery of the factory".  And hard-nosed Captain William Brooks who had worked in the Texas prison system prior to becoming the town's sheriff.  Twice he had been the target of shootings:  once through the back of his truck and once through the window of his home.

A company town is a place where employee needs and infrastructure are provided by the company.  Needless to say, all company towns were not suitable for raising a family, but Sugar Land was a good company town.  It was managed by two partners who established from the start that Sugar Land was going to be a "model company town".  They believed what was good for the employees would also be good for Imperial Sugar.  Possibly no other event demonstrates this more than the actions taken by Eldridge and Kempner during the Great Depression.  Multitudes of people were out of work but all those working at the sugar company remained employed and received their full wages at the expense of the company.  In this company town, Imperial Sugar cared for its employees.

Diane discussed several railroads in early Sugar Land and I was a little confused.  I didn't know which of the trains the locals referred to as "The Dinky".  Recently I sat with Buddy Blair and I asked him to clarify.  His eyes lit up when he said, "Oh yeah, The Dinky.  It went from Sugar Land to San Antonio."  "Why did you call it The Dinky?", I asked.  Dick  Shult, who was sitting next to Buddy lit up and chimed in, "Because it was so small.  It only had two cars!"  (Editor's note:  Some sources report that The Dinky ran between Houston and Victoria, with a stop in Sugar Land as well as other towns along the way.)

I knew some of the old-timers whom Diane so aptly quoted and one thing I know for certain, old-timers love to talk about their experiences growing up in Sugar Land.  And that seems to be the point of Diane's presentation.  In a good company town, there are many memories to be shared and many willing to share them.  I am thankful that Diane had the foresight to capture those oral histories as some of those senior citizens have since passed away.  If you know an old-timer, don't miss the opportunity to ask about early Sugar Land, but be forewarned.  Grab your cup of coffee and prepare to sit back and listen.  Just don't wait too long to ask!

We all had a great time on the 31st at the workday and
 managed to get a LOT done! Here are a few photos from the day - apologies to the brick crew - the photographer didn't get any shots of y'all.  Next time, I promise!!

Student volunteers (and a parent!) cleaning our beautiful 'new' chairs for the conference table.  So pretty and so comfortable.

Terri taking a shine to the window in our front door.  EVERYTHING got cleaned - floors, walls, windows.  The place looks GREAT!

Dennis, our fearless leader, and Chris, lead archivist, manhandling a HUGE cabinet.  We can get to our gift shop inventory so much more easily...and that pesky light switch!



The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation has recently enrolled in the Kroger Community Rewards Program. Local schools, churches and other nonprofit organizations will earn millions of dollars through Kroger Community RewardsŪ.  All you have to do is shop at Kroger and swipe your Plus Card!


If you would like to participate, please follow these instructions:


You MUST have a registered Kroger Plus card account online to be able to link your card to the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation.  Do you use your phone number at the register?  Call 800-576-4377 and select option 4 to get your Plus Card number.


If you do not have a Kroger Plus Card, you can obtain a digital Kroger Plus Card when creating an account online or at any Kroger store.


Link your card at Kroger Community Rewards Program 


 Our organization number is 26403


If you are a new online customer, scroll down the page to Texas and click on Enroll Now. 


You will need to enter your e-mail address, create a password, enter your zip code, click on favorite store, and agree to the terms and conditions.  Once you have finished entering your information, you will get a message asking you to check your e-mail inbox and click on the link within the body of the e-mail that was sent to activate your Kroger account.


Already have a account? If you have an existing account, click on Sign In.


Enter your e-mail address and password to proceed to the next step.  Go to Community and click on Kroger Community Rewards.  Click on Enroll Now.  Then enter our organization number, 26403 and click on Search.  Select Sugar Land Heritage Foundation and click on Save.  To verify that you enrolled correctly, you will see Sugar Land Heritage Foundation on the right side of your account settings page.

Once you are linked, you can start earning rewards immediately for our organization.  (Note: The message saying that you are supporting an organization through the Kroger Community Rewards program will start printing on your receipt about 10 business days after you linked your card.)


Remember, you must swipe your registered Kroger Plus Card or use your Alternate ID when shopping for each purchase to count.


If you have any problems with this, please contact Marsha Smith, for assistance.


We appreciate your choosing Sugar Land Heritage Foundation as your charity for Kroger's Community Rewards program.



To inspire community pride by collecting, preserving, communicating, and celebrating the history of Sugar Land, Texas.

Sugar Land Heritage Foundation

Dennis Parmer
Executive Director

Colleen McGlocklin
Marketing & Administrative Assistant

Chris Bohannan
Lead Archivist

Chuck Kelly
Assistant Archivist
Board of Directors

W. Martin Nicholas
Shay Shafie
Vice President

Bettye Anhaiser
Regina Morales

Bob Brown
Roy Cordes, Jr.
Sharon Ehrenkranz
Carl Favre
Bruce Kelly
Steve Porter
Bill Schwer
Don Smithers
John Whitmore

Farmers' Market
Every Saturday
9:00 - 1:00

Sugar Land Heritage Foundation Museum
Every Saturday
9:00 - 1:00

Docent-led Walks
2nd Saturday of each month at 10:00

$10 for adults
$5 for 12 - 18
Free for under 12

The next 3 walks are    July 12th, August 9th & September 13th


Samantha Chan
Scott Coffee
Alyssa Coffey
Carolyn Gilligan
Jane Goodsill
Hal Jay
Paula Jay
Bruce Kelly
Marc Martinez
Shaleen Miller
Marisa Parks
Roberta Prater
Tracy Prater
Anish Rao
Betty Schofield
Marsha Smith
Miriam Watson
Cherry Wong

Dennis's Wish List!

Fire Proof Cabinet for Archivist Area


Steel Shelving to Store Artifact Collection


Funds for Build-Out for Museum Exhibits


Folding Tables & Chairs


Presentation Screen


Transcription Machine for Oral Histories



Bettye Anhaiser
Bob & Carole Brown
Bob Brown / Fort  Bend Educational Council
Fluor Corporation
Jane Goodsill
Johnson Development Corp
Bruce Kelly
The Gloria Krehmeier Family
Dr. Shannon Orsak
Shay Shafie
Marsha Smith
St. Michael's ER


Carolyn Gilligan

Cherry Wong

Betty Schofield

(unfilled at this time)

Haroldetta Robertson

Marsha Smith

Roy Wiffin

Becky Parmer

Aisling Venza

Raymond McDonald