SLHF                                                NOVEMBER/DECEMBER   2014 
Dennis Parmer ED photo




As a kid growing up in Mississippi, I was always fascinated with  numbers.  My father taught me the multiplication tables from 1 through 12 when I was 5 years old.  I still think '11 x 11' is the hardest one to remember!  That fascination led me to  Bachelor of Science degrees in both Mathematics and Computer Science at Mississippi State University.  The crazy thing is that instead of becoming a scientific programmer using Fortran, or an actuary, or an accountant, I was recruited off campus by a major oil company to be a commercial applications programmer.  I used to joke that the only numbers I see are employee ID numbers and Social Security numbers!!

Fast forward through three decades of programming/systems analyst/project leader positions and a couple of businesses, and here I am, writing an Executive Director's column for the SLHF newsletter.  I decided to do some statistical research for this column and use the results in some grant applications for SLHF.  The population and demographic numbers were obtained from the US Census Bureau.  Just search the Internet on Sugar Land or Fort Bend County and you will get  a ton of numbers, statistics, etc.
Using these numbers, did you know that:

  • When Sugar Land was a company town in 1950, about 90% of the current residents of Sugar Land were not even born.  The same statistic holds true for Fort Bend County - about 90% of the current population were not born yet.
  • In December, 1959, Sugar Land became an incorporated city.  The 1960 census lists Sugar Land with a population of 2,802.  The 2013 estimated census for Sugar Land is 83,860.  It is easy to come to the conclusion that 81,058 of the current residents  did not live here when the city transitioned from a company town to an incorporated city.
  • 20 years later, in 1980, the population was 8,826, which is a 214% growth from the 1960 census.  In the same 20 years, Fort Bend County grew from a population of 40,527 to 130,846, a 223% growth in population.
  • Beginning in 1980, things really started to grow.  The population in Sugar Land went from 8,826 in 1980 to 63,328 in the year 2000.  That is a 617% growth in 20 years!  Relative to today, that equates to 54,502 or 65% of the current estimated population of Sugar Land relocated or were born here between 1980 and the year 2000.  Fort Bend County grew from 130,846 to 354,452 for a 171% growth.
  • The 2013 estimated population of Sugar Land is 83,860.  That is an estimated growth of 20,532 from the year 2000.  Of the 83,860 estimated residents of Sugar Land:
    1. 20,630 are less than 18 years old, which is 24.6% of the population.
    2. 54,509 are between the ages of 18 and 64, which is 65% of the population.
    3. 8,721 are ages 65 or older, which is 10.4% of the population.
  • The 2013 estimated population of Fort Bend County is 652,365.  That is an estimated growth of 297,913 from the year 2000.  Of the 652,365 estimated residents of Fort Bend County:
    1. 184,619 are less than 18 years old, which is 28.3% of the population. 
    2. 409,685 are between the ages of 18 and 64, which is 62.8% of the population.
    3. 58,061 are ages 65 or over, which is 8.9% of the population
By now, if your eyes haven't glazed over from all the stats, you are asking, "Where is Parmer going with this article?". My rationale is as follows: 

  • Sugar Land/Fort Bend County/this region is rich with history and heritage.  The first colonies of settlers were authorized by the Spanish and then the Mexican governments via land grants to Moses Austin, and upon his death, to his son, Stephen F. Austin.  Of the "Old 300 Families", the vast majority were educated.
  • Sugar Land is unique in that it successfully transitioned from a Company Town to a very successful modern city. Transitioning from an economy based on a single company to being one of the best places in America for a business to locate is a phenomenal achievement!
  • Approximately 90% of the residents of Sugar Land and Fort Bend County did not live here or were not born when Sugar Land was a Company Town.  The vast majority of residents today have little knowledge of the history/life of Sugar Land as a Company Town.
  • The population of Sugar Land increased by 69,991 from 1980 to 2010.  Many came from other parts of the U. S. and many came from other parts of the world.  They brought with them their story, their heritage.  Sugar Land/Fort Bend County is one of the most diverse areas in the world.

We have a compelling need to tell the Sugar Land/Fort Bend County story.  A story rich in history, a story of transitions and successes, a story rich with diversity, a story worthy of the state of Texas.


The mission of the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation is to inspire community pride by collecting, preserving, communicating, and celebrating the history of Sugar Land, Texas.  Come join us!  Please contact us at 281-494-0261 or visit our website at  



As this year quickly comes to an end, I would like to take a moment to detail some of the work that has been completed  at the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation in 2014. Until recently, most of our collection consisted of items that had been removed from some of the buildings before demolition. However, in the last two years, the SLHF received two large collections of extreme importance. The first of these was a collection given to the foundation by the City of Sugar Land.


It consisted of 29 Bankers Boxes that were filled with pictures, documents, artifacts, and other items. The contents were originally owned by Imperial and given to the City for safe keeping. These artifacts make up the core of the foundation's collection and they will be the backbone of many future exhibits. The boxes contain over 5,000 different items; this collection is a real treasure for the foundation and the city of Sugar Land. As of October, this collection has been accessed and is currently being stored in the proper (stable) environment. In the near future, we hope to exhibit these important artifacts to the community.

 City of Sugar Land's Collection in Archival Storage


The second collection, known as the Richard Brown collection, consists of 30 Bankers Boxes and has a more specific focus which is advertising created by TracyLocke, dating from the early 1950s to the late 1990s. I have just started to access this collection and will continue the process over the course of the next few months. Like the city's collection, these boxes contain several thousand items, mainly documents and pictures, and will be a great addition to the museum's collection.  When this collection is complete, the museum will have a treasure trove of great artifacts to share with the community for years to come. My focus for the next several months will be to get this collection accessed and ready to be included in future exhibits.


Chris Bohannan, Lead Archivist 

Introducing the 4th ornament in our collection...the beloved Sugar Land movie theater. Opened in 1950, the Palms Theater was home to many high school sweethearts for over 35 years.

Each year, the ornaments of the Sugar Land Heritage Collection feature a treasured historic building or site in Sugar Land. These high-quality brass ornaments come individually packaged in a beautiful gift box that includes a printed card with information about the structure depicted. A unique addition to any Christmas tree or holiday display, a Sugar Land Heritage ornament is the perfect gift for family members, friends, or clients.

The cost of each limited-edition collectible ornament is just $25. Previous year's ornaments are the Char House, the Sugar Land Auditorium, and the Depot. Please click here to go to our website for ordering information.

Sugar Land City Council has approved the museum's new location in Imperial Sugar Land where it will occupy 12,600
square feet of space on the second floor of an historic container warehouse once used by the Imperial Sugar Company.  The space is located near the Imperial Sugar Char House, which is just off Highway 90 and Brooks Street, on Kempner. 

This initial rendering is subject to change as the design progresses.  SLHF will occupy the second floor of the container warehouse and the Fort Bend Children's Discovery Center will be on the ground floor.  Our permanent home should be open by early 2017.  The museum's temporary exhibit space in Imperial will continue to be open for visitors on Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., during the Imperial Farmers Market.

Plans call for the museum's permanent exhibit space to present the history of Sugar Land through five distinct periods:  Pre-1821 when the area was sometimes populated by the Karankawa Indians; 1821-1836 when the area's first settlements were formed; the Plantation Era during the Civil War; the Company Town Era which examines the growth of Imperial Sugar Company, and the Modern Era, presenting the visionaries who had the foresight to make Sugar Land the community it is today.

We are working on plans to launch a capital campaign to fund the build-out of the permanent space.  We are also looking for photographs, documents, letters, art and other items to add to our collection.  If you are interested in contributing to the museum or if you have items to donate for the exhibits, please go to or call 281-494-0261. 



We foresee the end of the brick pickers brigade by the end of the year.  Johnson Development is planning to start the renovation/re-purposing of the Container Warehouse in 2015 and we have bricks piled up against the side of that building!   

Saturday, November 22nd, from 9:00 a.m. until Noon or thereabouts, we will have a volunteer workday.  Come join in the fun.  For more information, please call the office at 281-494-0261.


We have a few new items in our gift shop that you might not know about.  In addition to our collectible ornaments, mugs, coffee cups, mouse pads, cookbooks, coasters, caps, tote bags and T-shirts, we have several books on the history of Sugar Land and/or Fort Bend County.

Fort Bend County Early History Book   $15  (72 pages)
Information and photos of the early beginnings of our cities and communities.   Originally printed in 1972 and reprinted by the Sugar Land Lions Club in 2006.

Fort Bend County, Texas, A Pictorial History  by Sharon Wallingford    $40   (200 pages, 1996) 
Information and photos of Fort Bend County, its people and its places.  Published by The Exchange Club of Sugar Land.

History of Fort Bend County by A. J. Sowell  $40
The book is composed principally of biographies of pioneers.  The author was born in 1848 in Seguin and served as a Texas Ranger.  Originally published in 1904.  Facsimile Edition by The Friends of the Fort Bend County Historical Commission, 2014.

The Jay Birds of Fort Bend County  by Pauline Yelderman $40
A narrative history of the political life of Fort Bend  County from 1865 to 1970, including political and personal feuds, corrupt county government, assassinations and a bloody street battle.  Originally published in 1979.  Facsimile Edition by The Friends of the Fort Bend County Historical Commission, 2014.

And don't forget these two books:

Images of America:  Sugar Land  $25
A great collection of photographs of Sugar Land and the people who helped form our city.  Arcadia Publishing, 2010.

Sugar Land, Texas and The Imperial Sugar Company  by R. M. "Bob" Armstrong  $25
The history of Sugar Land and the impact  Imperial Sugar had in creating this company town.  Printed by  D. Armstrong Company, Inc.  1991.

Come to the Museum on Saturday, 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. to purchase any or all of these wonderful books.  Or give us a call at 281-494-0261 or send an e-mail to SLHF to make other arrangements. 

 "The Development and Accomplishments of the Greater Fort Bend Economic Development Council"   by Herb Appel and Jeff Wiley

Review by Cliff and Susan Wagner

You may remember the words of an old song, "Que Sera, Sera, whatever will be, will be".  But wait a minute - not so fast!  Sometimes "whatever will be" needs a little guidance,  especially if you want to have an exemplary community with a robust local economy.  Fort Bend County is in the top 1% of all county economies in the United States in terms of employment growth, educational attainment, household income and ethnic diversity, but it has not always been this way.  So began the fifth in a series of Chautauqua Talks which described the humble beginnings of the Greater Fort Bend Economic Development Council (GFBEDC).  Herb Appel, the first director, discussed the council's early development and Jeff Wiley, the current director, followed with a presentation of the accomplishments of the council since he assumed the role.

In the early 1980s, Fort Bend County's economy was in decline.  The country was in a recession and Fort Bend County was suffering the pain of an economic downturn.  In the period from 1982 through 1987, 221,900 jobs were lost in Fort Bend County.  The Reed Tool Company had closed, Tang City Mall had failed soon after it opened, and the employee count at  Fluor was reduced to a mere 250 employees.  It seemed the only business prospering was U-Haul, as residents were moving elsewhere.  The question was asked, "What is needed to achieve a sustainable economic recovery in Fort Bend County and the cities we call home?".

Business leaders in the community had ideas about how an economic recovery might be achieved but there was no coordinated effort to accumulate and filter those ideas.  It was time to understand the economic issues facing the county, develop guiding principles and attempt to set the county on a path toward recovery.  In 1986, the GFBEDC was born, using seed money from 50 county businesses, to perform those functions and Herb Appel was the man charged with making it happen.  As Herb describes it, 'the GFBEDC was born as the son of a mother of a recession'. 

Guiding principles were established and the GFBEDC became the county's economic ambassadors, promoting quality development and enticing new businesses which were interested in an area with good schools and low crime rates.  As the council matured, a need for interaction and coordination with local city governments naturally evolved.  The cities and the GFBEDC now work hand-in-hand to attract new businesses, promote higher education and improve mobility in Fort Bend County.

In 2006, the director's reins were passed to Jeff Wiley, the second speaker in this Chautauqua talk.  The GFBEDC now has 90 trustee members and 110 regular members.   67% of its funding is from non-government sources and 33% is from government entities.  As explained by Jeff, the current goals of the GFBEDC remain very similar to the organization's original goals, but the world is much smaller now and the council has adapted.  For example, Jeff mentioned the fact that the development of Sienna Plantation was executed with overseas financing.  The council now looks for international business interests and pursues global initiatives as demonstrated by its receiving delegations from China, Turkey, India, and Pakistan, just to mention a few. 

In some ways I think building a community is like building a house.  One could start with concrete, wood, bricks and mortar and construct a dwelling that provides basic protection.  But how much better would that dwelling be if it started with foresight and planning.  Building our outstanding community didn't just happen; it was the result of initiatives taken by local businesses, governments and the GFBEDC.  As enlightened citizens, we should understand that the community in which we live is not a "whatever will be, will be" story.  It is the product of active leaders who were and are still guiding the direction of Fort Bend County.  In its quest, the GFBEDC has contributed to the quality of life we now enjoy and continues to attract new business and home owners to Fort Bend County.


SLHF's Colleen McGlocklin (L) and Crystal Moya, Area Community Coordinator for four HEB stores, at the reception

HEB donated the beautiful floral display for our conference table and supplied appetizers for the evening.  Braman Wines enhanced the evening by supplying a server and a variety of libations.   SLHF is thrilled to both establish and continue relationships with these businesses.

"Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever".  Even in 43 BC, the Roman politician, lawyer and orator, Marcus Tullius Cicero emphasized the importance of knowing history.  Fifteen students, in the first through the third grade from the School of Wonders in Missouri City, visited the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation museum and took a Heritage Hike on Friday, October 10th.  They now know a lot about the history of Sugar Land and the Imperial Sugar  Company.  Led by one of our docents, the children and their adult leaders enjoyed a tour of the museum, watched the Pure Cane Sugar video to learn about the entire sugar refining process, and walked from the museum to the Hill and back, learning about life in the company town.

We would like to thank Ms. Nayeli Garza, pedagogista at the School of Wonders, for contacting the SLHF and arranging the visit, and Carolyn Gilligan, SLHF docent and Volunteer Coordinator, for leading the tour.

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
Sonal Bhuchar
Roy Cordes, Jr.
Sharon Ehrenkranz
Carl Favre
Mike Goodrum
Bruce Kelly
Steve Porter
Claire Rogers
Keri Schmidt
Bill Schwer
Don Smithers
Allison Wen
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    November 8th, December 13th and January 10th


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
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
Braman Winery
Bob & Carole Brown
Bob Brown / Fort  Bend Economic Development Council
HEB Grocery
Home Depot in Sugar Land
Johnson Development Corp
Jane McMeans
Shay Shafie

Carolyn Gilligan

Cherry Wong

Betty Schofield

(unfilled at this time)

Haroldetta Robertson

Marsha Smith

Roy Wiffin

Becky Parmer

(unfilled at this time)

Raymond McDonald