Welcome to Sugar Land, TX
“Great Place to Work, Live and Raise a Family.”
Sugar Land’s heritage traces its roots back to the original Mexican land grant to Stephen F. Austin. One of the first settlers of the land, Samuel M. Williams, called this land “Oakland Plantation” because there were many different varieties of oaks on the land, such as willow oak, post oak, water oak, southern red oak, and live oak. Williams’ brother, Nathaniel, purchased the land in 1838. They operated the plantation by growing cotton, corn, and sugarcane. During these early years, the area that is now Sugar Land was the center of social life along the Brazos River. In 1853, Benjamin Terry and William J. Kyle purchased the Oakland Plantation from the Williams family. Terry is known for organizing Terry’s Texas Rangers during the Civil War and for naming the town. Upon the deaths of Terry and Kyle, Colonel E. H. Cunningham bought the 12,500-acre (5,100 ha) plantation soon after the Civil War, and developed the town around his sugar-refining plant around 1879.
In 1906, the Kempner family of Galveston, under the leadership of Isaac H. Kempner, and in partnership with William T. Eldridge, purchased the 5,300-acre (2,100 ha) Ellis Plantation, one of the few plantations in Fort Bend County to survive the Civil War. The Ellis Plantation had originally been part of the Jesse Cartwright league and in the years after the Civil War had been operated by a system of tenant farming under the management of Will Ellis. In 1908, the partnership acquired the adjoining 12,500-acre (5,100 ha) Cunningham Plantation, with its raw-sugar mill and cane-sugar refinery. The partnership changed the name to Imperial Sugar Company; Kempner associated the name “Imperial”, which was also the name of a small raw-sugar mill on the Ellis Plantation, with the Imperial Hotel in New York City. Around the turn of the 20th century, most of the sugarcane crops were destroyed by a harsh winter. As part of the Kempner-Eldridge agreement, Eldridge moved to the site to serve as general manager and build the company-owned town of Sugar Land.
The trains running through Sugar Land are on the route of the oldest railroad in Texas. They run adjacent to the sugar refinery, west of the town, and through the center of what used to be known as the Imperial State Prison Farm, now redeveloped largely into the suburban planned community of Telfair.
As a company town from the 1910s until 1959, Sugar Land was virtually self-contained. Imperial Sugar Company provided housing for the workers, encouraged construction of schools, built a hospital for the workers’ well-being, and provided businesses to meet the workers’ needs. Many of the original homes built by the Imperial Sugar Company remain today in The Hill and Mayfield Park areas of Sugar Land, and have been passed down through generations of family members.
During the 1950s, Imperial Sugar wanted to expand the town by building more houses. This led to the creation of a new subdivision, Venetian Estates, which featured waterfront homesites on Oyster Creek and on man-made lakes.
Recently the city of Sugar Land has received many accolades including: As of 2007, Sugar Land held the title of “Fittest City in Texas” for the population 50,000–100,000 range, a title it has held for four consecutive years. In 2006 CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked Sugar Land third on its list of the “100 Best Cities to Live in the United States”. In 2007, CQ Press ranked Sugar Land fifth on its list of “Safest Cities in the United States” (14th annual “City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan American”), and in 2010 it was ranked the twelfth Safest City in the United States, as well as the safest city in Texas. In 2008, Forbes selected Sugar Land along with Bunker Hill Village and Hunters Creek Village as one of the three Houston-area “Top Suburbs to Live Well”, noting its affluence despite its large population. The Sugar Land Police Department places an emphasis on quality law enforcement, crime prevention and community policing.