Ross Shaw Sterling (February 11, 1875 – March 25, 1949) was an American politician who was the 31st Governor of Texas, serving a single two-year term from January 20, 1931, to January 17, 1933.

Ross S. Sterling
31st Governor of Texas
In office
January 20, 1931 – January 17, 1933
LieutenantEdgar E. Witt
Preceded byDan Moody
Succeeded byMiriam A. Ferguson
Personal details
Ross Shaw Sterling

(1875-02-11)February 11, 1875
Anahuac, Texas, U.S.
DiedMarch 25, 1949(1949-03-25) (aged 74)
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
Resting placeGlenwood Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
Maud Abbie Gage
(m. 1898)
A 1926 magazine cover depicts the proposed 40-story Sterling Hotel in Houston, designed by Ross Sterling's son-in-law, architect Wyatt Hedrick; the hotel was never built.[1]

Early years edit

Sterling was born in Anahuac in Chambers County near Houston, Texas. He grew up on a farm and, after little formal education, began working as a clerk at the age of 12.[2]

Career edit

At the age of 21, Sterling launched his own merchandising business. In 1911, his brother Frank Sterling, other oilmen, and he formed the Humble Oil Company, a predecessor of present-day Exxon-Mobil.[2] They were joined in the venture by their sister, Florence M. Sterling.[3] Sterling and his brother Frank and his sister, Florence, were referred to as the "Trio".[4]

In addition to the oil industry, Sterling was involved in a railroad company, the former Houston Post newspaper, banking, and real estate in the Houston area. He was a member of the Houston Port Commission. He served as chairman of the Texas Highway Commission under his predecessor, Governor Dan Moody.[5]

Public service edit

A Democrat, Sterling defeated former Governor Miriam "Ma" Ferguson and several other candidates in the 1930 primary race for governor. During Sterling's term in office, the East Texas oil fields experienced rapid and uncontrolled development. The Railroad Commission of Texas attempted proration, but the courts struck down the plan. Because of the chaotic situation, Sterling declared martial law in four counties for six months. National Guard troops were sent to the oil fields to limit waste and control production. This action was later declared unwarranted by the federal district court and the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Railroad Commission's plan for proration was accepted. Cotton prices continued to decline during Sterling's term in office.[5]

Sterling's loss in the 1932 primary was the closest primary defeat for an incumbent governor in United States history.[6]

Personal life and death edit

This mansion of Governor Sterling's at Morgan's point, a scaled down version of the White House, was completed in 1927
Birthplace of Governor Sterling
Ross Sterling's mansion in the Montrose area of Houston was built in 1916.

He wed Maud Abbie Gage on October 10, 1898.[2]

Sterling died in Fort Worth on March 25, 1949, and is buried at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.[7]

Three Texas schools are named after him, Sterling High School in Baytown, Sterling High School in Houston, and Ross Sterling Middle School in Humble, Texas. In addition, his grand-nephew, Ross N. Sterling, a Republican, became a United States federal judge in Texas under appointment of U.S. President Gerald R. Ford Jr.[8]

In 1925, Sterling's daughter Mildred married the prominent architect Wyatt C. Hedrick of Fort Worth.

Sterling's former house, built about 1910, was moved in 1999 from 106 Westheimer Road to the intersection of Bagby and Rosalie to undergo restoration.[9] In 2015 it opened as a bar & restaurant called Sterling House [10]

References edit

  1. ^ "Designs for the 'Sterling Hotel' in Houston". The Grand Old Lady. August 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Ross Shaw Sterling". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas STate Historical Association. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  3. ^ McArthur, Judith N. (15 June 2010). "Sterling, Florence M." Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 14 April 2016.
  4. ^ "From Anahuac to Millions". Petroleum Age. 7 (10): 61. January 1920. Retrieved 14 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Jessie Ziegler and Governor Ross Sterling," East Texas Historical Association and West Texas Historical Association, annual meeting in Fort worth, Texas, February 26, 2010
  6. ^ "A Failure to Launch? Kansas' Republican Gubernatorial Contest and the History of Incumbent Governor Primary Performance – Sabato's Crystal Ball". 9 August 2018.
  7. ^ Ross Sterling, Texan: A Memoir by the Founder of Humble Oil and Refining Company. University of Texas Press. 2010. p. 236. ISBN 9780292773479.
  8. ^ Steven Harmon Wilson, The Rise of Judicial Management in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (2002), p. 241-242.
  9. ^ "A monumental task." Houston Chronicle. April 3, 1999. A25 MetFront. Retrieved on November 15, 2009.
  10. ^ "Historic Sterling house, built in 1905, converted into midtown bar and restaurant."

Further reading edit

  • Sterling, Ross S.; Kilman, Ed (2007). Ross Sterling, Texan: A Memoir by the Founder of Humble Oil and Refining Company. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-71442-7.

External links edit

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Texas
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Texas
January 20, 1931 – January 17, 1933
Succeeded by