Chuck Kelly has always had a passion for history. Specifically, the history of places he has lived.
“My brother and I both have always been interested in Sugar Land history and local history,” Kelly said. “I’ve always been somewhat interested in the local history of every place I’ve lived and have made some effort to understand the terrain that I was in.”
Kelly, a native Sugar Lander who now lives in Waco, has worked in various places around the world, including cities in the United States and different countries in Europe and the Middle East. Despite the experience of living in different places, Kelly considers Sugar Land his hometown.
“My deepest roots are here in Sugar Land,” Kelly said. “It has been a hot issue at different times and it continues to confuse people”
Because of his passion for local history, Kelly searched through Fort Bend County records and found several letters written in 1859 – 100 years before Sugar Land was incorporated – showing the town name as two words.
But then the Imperial Sugar Company, which was headquartered in town, created Sugarland Industries, a trust that aspired to bring new businesses to the area.
The Imperial Sugar Company sent paperwork to a lawyer in Delaware in order to incorporate the Sugarland Industries name.
“From what I’ve been told, that lawyer in Delaware was the first person to legally attribute Sugar Land as only one word,” Kelly said. “When he was writing up the paperwork, he hadn’t realized it was two words – so he only wrote it as one.”
Sugarland Industries decided to live with the misspell, and the confusion was born.
And while there is evidence out there of Sugar Land (the city) being spelled as one word after the inception of Sugarland Industries, Kelly said that more often than not, those are mistakes.
“People made mistakes back in the old days,” he said. “The record keeping systems are not what they are today. Unfortunately human error had a big part to play in this.”
“But I can assure you all the old timers agree,” Kelly said. “The city’s name was always two words.”
To learn more about Sugar Land’s history, visit www.sugarlandtx.gov/history.