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A Brief History of Sugar Land and the Imperial Sugar Company (1996)

Sugar Land Heritage Foundation

Sound | 1996

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  •  Imperial Holly Sugar Company President and author of the book, Sugar Land Texas and the Imperial Sugar Company, Robert M. Armstrong introduces the film 
  •  Historian and former KPRC newsman Ray Miller explains the history of Imperial Sugar and Sugar Land 
  •  Benjamin F. Terry, owner of the Oakland Plantation 
  •  Col. Edward Cunningham, owner of the Cunningham Sugar Company 
  •  I. H. Kempner and W. T. Edlridge, founders of Imperial Sugar 
  •  I. H. Kempner 
  •  Herbet Kempner, former president of Imperial Sugar 
  •  I. H. Kempner III, Chairman of the Imperial Holly Corporation 
  •  James C. Kempner, President, CEO of Imperial Holly Corporation 
  •  Armstrong concludes 
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In this 1996 educational film, historian and former KPRC newsman Ray Miller summarizes the history of Sugar Land and the Imperial Sugar Company. With the aid of historical photographs, Miller traces the company’s story from its origins as the Oakland Plantation to its acquisition of the Holly Sugar Corporation. Robert M. Amstrong, former president of the Imperial Sugar Company, introduces Miller. Armstrong also authored the book, Sugar Land, Texas and the Imperial Sugar Company.
The city of Sugar Land now occupies the site that was once the Oakland Plantation. It was here that in 1843 Samuel May Williams installed a commercial sugar-grinding mill on his land, leading to a rapid shift from cotton to sugar cane as the area's dominant crop. In 1905 the area's sugar plantations were acquired by the Kempner family, who dubbed their company the Imperial Sugar Company. Though sugar has not been refined at the original plant since 2003, the company's headquarters remains in Sugar Land, making it the oldest extant business in Texas.
Newsman Ray Miller (1919 - 2008) began his broadcasting career in 1938 in his home town of Fort Worth. He relocated to Houston soon thereafter, where he joined KPRC Radio. When KPRC purchased Houston’s first television station in 1951, Miller adopted the burgeoning medium, eventually winning a Peabody Award. In 1969, Miller created The Eyes of Texas, a regional television series examining all things Texas. On the air for 30 years, the series became Houston’s longest-running local television program. Miller retired in 1979, serving as news director at both KPRC Radio and KPRC-TV for over 40 years. During his decades-long tenure at KPRC, Miller mentored a number of journalists, including Dan Rather and former US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. 
After retiring from television production, Miller became a local historian, writing several books and travel guides about historic attractions in Houston and Galveston. He also worked with the Harris County Historical Commission to secure markers for numerous sites.