|View of Sugar
Land and bridges over the creek
Founded 1853. Named
by B. F. Terry and W. J. Kyle for sugar mill and plantation bought
on their return with fortunes from California Gold Rush. The town's
founders organized Terry's
Texas Rangers at the start of the Civil War. Farming market. Site
of Texas' only cane sugar refinery. Texas prison farms are located
Hwy. A-90 at Imperial Sugar, Sugar Land
F. Austin's colonists brought sugar cane to Fort
Bend County in the 1820s. The Sugar Land area was once part of
Oakland Plantation, where Nathaniel (1800-84) and Matthew Williams
(1805-52) planted sugar cane about 1840. They began processing the
cane in 1843 using a horse-powered mill and open-air cooking kettles.
In 1853 the plantation and mill were purchased by William J. Kyle
(1803-64) and Benjamin F. Terry (1821-61). They improved the mill
and promoted a railroad for the area, which they named Sugar Land.
Terry later helped organize the famed Confederate cavalry unit, Terry's
Texas Rangers, and was killed in the Civil War (1861-65). After
the war, the operation was sold to Edward H. Cunningham (1835-1912),
who expanded the sugar mill into a refinery.
W. T. Eldridge (1862-1932) and Galveston businessman I. H. Kempner,
Sr. (1873-1967) purchased the refinery in 1907. They began importing
raw sugar to operate the refinery year-round because local cane was
available only seasonally and in decreasing quantities in the early
Named by Kempner for the Imperial Hotel in New York City, the Imperial
Sugar Company and the City of Sugar Land have grown steadily. During
the 1970s, the Imperial Sugar Company produced more than three million
pounds of refined cane sugar daily.
226 Lakeview Drive, Sugar Land
Built in 1917,
this auditorium is the oldest public building still in use in Sugar
Land. It was designed in the Mission Revival style by Imperial Sugar
Company engineer M. R. Wood as the central structure in a crescent-shaped
eleven-building school complex. A vital community asset, it has been
used for cinema and stage productions, rooftop socials, graduation
ceremonies, and once housed the superintendent's office downstairs
and a janitor's apartment upstairs.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1992
Lakeview Elementary School, 1st and Lakeview Rd.
Independent School District No. 17
A public school
was established as early as 1912 for families moving to the company
town of Sugar Land. In 1918, the State Legislature created Sugar Land
Independent School District No. 17, with the requirement that at least
two of the seven board members be women. Mary Anna Collins Woods served
as the first school superintendent. Sugar company engineer M. R. Wood
designed the school and served as school board president. In 1959
the district was merged with schools in Missouri City and Stafford
to form the Fort Bend Independent School District.
200 block of Easton Ave. 0.1 miles S of Hwy 90A
Imperial Prison Farm Cemetery
Prior to the Civil
War, this rich river bottom land was known for its cotton,
corn and sugar cane crops and
sugar mill. With the emancipation of slaves in 1865, area plantation
owners struggled to work the fields and mill. In 1878, landowners
L. A. Ellis and E. H. Cunningham negotiated a lease with the State
of Texas to open a private prison, leasing convicts for labor. Five
years later, the state gained control over the prison and inmates.
Sugar trade thrived here, and in 1908, I. H. Kempner and W. T. Eldridge
bought the small town of Sugar Land, created the Imperial Sugar Company
and a stable company town and workforce. Also in 1908, the State of
Texas purchased 5,235 acres of adjoining land and started the Imperial
State Prison Farm. With more than 400 inmates, it was one of Texas'
first state-run prisons. Once dubbed the "Hellhole on the Brazos,"
this and other Texas prisons became notorious for deplorable inmate
treatment and living conditions before public outcry forced reforms
The cemetery has 31 marked graves of inmates and guards, dating 1912-1943,
some with graphic descriptions of their deaths. By the late 1940s,
all Texas inmates were buried at Huntsville's
Prison Unit or in prisoners' hometowns. Later called the Central State
Prison Farm and then Central Unit, the prison farm operated here until
2011 when the state sold part of its land for a new housing development.
The City of Sugar Land purchased 65 acres, including the cemetery,
for parkland and to ensure the preservation of the cemetery. A white
cross, surrounded by prisoner-made bricks, stands in the center of
the cemetery; the gate and some sections of the fence are original.
Historic Texas Cemetery - 2007
[See Texas Cemeteries]
|View of the creek
from the bridge
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