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The Ross S. Sterling Collection, no. 4 - Swimming at Morgan’s Point

Sterling Miller

Silent | 1920s

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    This home movie captures scenes of the Sterling family, likely Ross Sterling’s adult children and their spouses, spending leisure time at the family’s vacation home in Morgan’s Point. Family members sunbathe in the gardens, swim in the Galveston Bay, and dive from a gazebo on the water’s edge into the water.
    Ross Sterling was the 31st Governor of Texas from 1931-1933. He was born in Chambers County’s Anahuac, Texas on a farm and moved to Sour Lake in 1903. Sterling married Maud Abbie Gage in 1898; they were the parents of five children - Walter, Mildred, Ruth, Ross Jr., and Norma. At the age of 36, Sterling developed his two oil wells into Humble Oil and Refining Company, which later became part of Exxon-Mobil. He was also involved in banking and owner of the Dayton-Goose Creek Railway Company. After moving to Houston in 1925, he began working in real estate and bought two newspapers, the Houston Dispatch and the Houston Post. He was elected to office in 1931. During his term as governor, he made several controversial decisions, including declaring martial law in 4 East Texas counties, in an effort to save the oil industry from self-destruction during the Depression. He was defeated for a second term by Miriam “Ma” Ferguson and returned to Houston where he continued to work in several industries, including serving as president of the Sterling Oil and Refining Company from 1933 to 1946. Sterling died in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1949. 
    The Ross Sterling Mansion at Morgan’s Point was built in 1927 near La Porte, Texas. It was designed by architect Alfred C. Finn, who is known for his work on the San Jacinto Monument. At the time of its completion, the mansion was said to be the biggest residence in the state and was commonly referred to as the “White House of Texas,” as its design was modeled after the nation’s White House. It has 34 rooms including 9 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, a ball room, billiards room, bowling alley, and 300 seat dining room. The Texas limestone structure is currently owned by a Houston nonprofit that is making efforts to restore the mansion.