Fort Bend County, Texas

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Fort Bend County, Texas
Fort bend courthouse.jpg
The Fort Bend County Courthouse in Richmond
Seal of Fort Bend County, Texas
Seal
Map of Texas highlighting Fort Bend County
Location in the state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location in the U.S.
Founded 1837
Named for A blockhouse positioned in a bend of the Brazos River
Seat Richmond
Largest city Sugar Land
Area
 • Total 885 sq mi (2,292 km2)
 • Land 862 sq mi (2,233 km2)
 • Water 24 sq mi (62 km2), 2.7%
Population
 • (2010) 585,375
 • Density 694/sq mi (268/km²)
Congressional districts 9th, 22nd
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website www.co.fort-bend.tx.us
Fort Bend County Court House in 1948

Fort Bend County is a county in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 585,375.[1] The county seat is Richmond,[2] while its largest city is Sugar Land. The county was founded in 1837 and is named for a blockhouse at a bend of the Brazos River; the fort was the start of the community in early days.

Fort Bend County is included in Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. Since the 1970s Fort Bend County has been one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States.[citation needed]

History[edit]

Prior to Anglo settlement, the area was inhabited by the Karankawa Indians. Mexican colonists had generally not reached this area, settling more in south Texas.

After Mexico achieved independence from Spain, Anglo-Americans starting entering from the east. In 1822, a group of Stephen F. Austin's colonists, headed by William Little, built a fort at the present site of Richmond. The fort was called "Fort Bend" since it was built in the bend of the Brazos River.[3] The city of Richmond was incorporated under the Republic of Texas along with nineteen other towns in 1837. Fort Bend County was created from parts of Austin, Harris, and Brazoria counties in 1838.

Fort Bend developed a plantation economy based on cotton and, due to the high number of African-American slaves held as laborers, it was one of six majority-black counties in the state by the 1850s.[4] In 1860 the slave population totaled 4,127, more than twice that of the 2,016 whites.[5] There were very few free blacks, as Texas refused them entry.

While the area began to attract immigrants in the late 19th century, it continued as majority black during and after Reconstruction, when Republicans were elected to office. By the 1880s, most white residents belonged to the Democratic Party, but factional tensions were fierce, largely along racial lines. The Jaybirds, representing the majority of the whites, were struggling to regain control from the Woodpeckers, who were made up of some whites consistently elected to office by the majority of African-Americans; several had been former Republican officials during Reconstruction. Fort Bend County was the site of the Jaybird-Woodpecker War in 1888-1889. After a few murders were committed, the political feud culminated in a gun-battle at the courthouse on August 16, 1889 when several more people were killed and the Woodpeckers were routed from the seat of government.[6]

Governor Lawrence Sullivan Ross sent in militia forces and declared martial law. With his support, the Jaybirds ordered a list of certain blacks and Woodpecker officials out of the county. The Jaybirds took over county offices and established a "white-only pre-primary," disfranchising the African Americans from the only competitive contests in the county.[6] This device lasted until 1950 when Willie Melton and Arizona Fleming won a lawsuit against the practice in United States District Court though it was overturned on appeal. In 1953 they ultimately won their suit when the Jaybird primary was declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in Terry v. Adams,[7] the last of the white primary cases.[8]

20th century to present[edit]

In the middle 1950s, Fort Bend and neighboring Galveston counties were plagued by organized crime, which was involved with the brothels and illegal casinos. A crusading newspaper editor, Clymer Wright of the Fort Bend Reporter, joined with state officials and the Texas Rangers to rid the area of such corruption. Wright defied death threats to report on the issues and clean up the community.[9] Wright soon sold his paper, now known as the Fort Bend Herald and Texas Coaster.[10]

While party alignments have changed since the early 20th century, with conservative whites now supporting the Republican Party, minority voting by minorities has been reviewed by the federal government under provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In April 2009, as part of a settlement with the United States Department of Justice, officials of Fort Bend County agreed to increase assistance to Spanish-speaking Latino voters in elections held in the county.[11]

Geography[edit]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 885 square miles (2,290 km2), of which 862 square miles (2,230 km2) is land and 24 square miles (62 km2) (2.7%) is water.[12]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 2,533
1860 6,143 142.5%
1870 7,114 15.8%
1880 9,380 31.9%
1890 10,586 12.9%
1900 16,538 56.2%
1910 18,168 9.9%
1920 22,931 26.2%
1930 29,718 29.6%
1940 32,963 10.9%
1950 31,056 −5.8%
1960 40,527 30.5%
1970 52,314 29.1%
1980 130,846 150.1%
1990 225,421 72.3%
2000 354,452 57.2%
2010 585,375 65.1%
Est. 2013 652,365 11.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
1850-2010[14]
2012 Estimate[1]
Demographic profile[15] 2010
Total Population 585,375 – 100.0%
Not Hispanic or Latino 446,408 – 76.3%
White alone 211,680 – 36.2%
Black or African American alone 123,267 – 21.1%
Asian alone 98,762 – 16.9%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 1,159 – 0.2%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 174 – 0.0%
Some other race alone 1,341 – 0.2%
Two or more races alone 10,025 – 1.7%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 138,967 – 23.7%

As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 354,452 people, 110,915 households, and 93,057 families residing in the county. The population density was 405 people per square mile (156/km²). There were 115,991 housing units at an average density of 133 per square mile (51/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 56.96% White (46.21% White Non-Hispanic), 19.85% Black or African American, 0.30% Native American, 11.20% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 9.10% from other races, and 2.56% from two or more races. 21.12% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Other self-identifications were 8.8% of German ancestry, 6.3% American and 5.8% English ancestry according to Census 2000.

In 2006 Fort Bend county had a population of 493,187. This represented a growth of 39.1% since 2000. The county's racial or ethnic makeup was 53.96% White (39.63% White Non-Hispanic), 20.88% African American, 14.77% Asian, 0.51% Native American, 7.73% other races and 2.14% from two or more races. 22.88% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 23.82% of the population was foreign born; of this, 50.24% came from Asia, 37.17% came from Latin America, 5.74% from Africa, 5.28% from Europe and 1.57% from other parts of the world.

In 2000 There were 110,915 households out of which 49.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 68.80% were married couples living together, 11.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 16.10% were non-families. 13.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.14 and the average family size was 3.46.

In the county, the age distribution of the population shows 32.00% under the age of 18, 7.60% from 18 to 24, 32.30% from 25 to 44, 22.40% from 45 to 64, and 5.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 99.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.30 males.

As of 2002, the largest two cities within Fort Bend County were Missouri City and Sugar Land, with portions of Houston combining to make up the county's third largest "city". In that year, 38,000 residents of the City of Houston lived in Fort Bend County.[17]

According to the 2008 American Community Survey, the median income for a household in the county was $81,456, and the median income for a family was $90,171.[18] Males had a median income of $54,139 versus $41,353 for females. The per capita income for the county was $30,862. About 5.50% of families and 7.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.50% of those under age 18 and 9.40% of those age 65 or over.

As of 2006 Fort Bend County is the wealthiest county in Texas and the 24th wealthiest in the US with a median household income of $75,202(In 2006 Inflation-Adjusted Dollars), having surpassed Collin and Rockwall counties(Dallas suburbs) since the 2000 census.[19] However, the Council for Community and Economic Research ranked Fort Bend County as America's 3rd wealthiest county when the local cost of living was factored into the equation with median household income.[20]

However, this estimate does not include property taxes and local taxes as they didn't measure effective tax rates and home insurance. Fort Bend County, along with other Texas counties, has one of the nation's highest property tax rates.

In 2007, it was ranked 5th in the nation for property taxes as percentage of the homes value on owner occupied housing. The list only includes counties with a population over 65,000 for accuracy.[21] Fort Bend County also ranked in the top 100 for amount of property taxes paid and for percentage of taxes of income. Part of this is due to the complex Robin Hood plan school financing law that exists in Texas.[22]

Racial and ethnic backgrounds[edit]

Since the 1970s, Fort Bend County has been attracting people from all types of racial and ethnic backgrounds. According to a 2001 Claritas study, it was the fifth-most diverse county in the United States among counties of 100,000+ population.[23]

It is one of a growing number of counties with no ethnic-racial group forming a majority of the population. Fort Bend County also has the highest percentage of Asian Americans in the Southern United States; the largest groups are of Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, and Filipino ancestry. By 2011 Fort Bend was ranked the fourth-most racially diverse country in the United States by USA Today. The newspaper based the ranking on calculating the probability that two persons selected at random would be of different ethnic groups or races. According to the USA Today methodology, the chance of people of being two different ethnic groups/races being selected was 75%. Karl Eschbach, a former demographer with the State of Texas, said in a 2011 Houston Chronicle article that many people from Houston neighborhoods and communities with clear racial identities, such as the East End, Sunnyside, and the Third Ward, moved to suburban areas that were too new to have established racial identities. Eschbach explained "[a]s a large minority middle class started to emerge, Fort Bend was virgin territory that all groups could move to."[24]

Government and politics[edit]

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2012 52.9% 116,126 46.8% 101,144
2008 50.9% 102,846 48.6% 98,136
2004 57.4% 93,625 42.1% 68,722
2000 59.6% 73,567 38.5% 47,569
1996 53.8% 49,945 41.1% 38,163
1992 46.6% 41,039 34.1% 29,992
1988 62.4% 39,818 36.6% 23,351
1984 68.7% 41,370 31.1% 18,729
1980 66.3% 25,366 30.3% 11,583
1976 60.3% 17,354 39.1% 11,264
1972 69.4% 10,475 30.1% 4,541
1968 39.7% 4,573 39.0% 4,493
1964 36.0% 3,493 63.8% 6,186
1960 42.8% 3,301 56.3% 4,339

County politics in Fort Bend County, as with all counties in Texas, are centered around a Commissioners' Court. It is composed of four popularly elected County Commissioners, one representing each precinct drawn on the basis of population, and a county judge elected to represent the entire county. Other county officials include a Sheriff, District Attorney, Tax Assessor-Collector, County Clerk, District Clerk, County Treasurer, and County Attorney.

Fort Bend County, like most Texas counties, for decades was a stronghold for the Democratic Party, having achieved disfranchisement of blacks at the county level (1889) due to the Jaybird-Woodpecker War and resulting actions.[6] The state effectively disfranchised blacks by imposition of a poll tax and white primaries; the latter device was declared unconstitutional in 1944.

So few Republicans resided in Fort Bend County at one time that in 1960, the county's Republican chair once received a letter addressed simply to "Mr. Republican".[25] However, as middle class master-planned communities in the eastern and northern portions of the county began to develop, the Houston area's growing Republican base on the west side began to expand into Fort Bend County. Beginning in 1978, Republicans began to win several offices within the county with William P. Clements carrying the county in his successful run for governor.

Among the first Republicans elected was fiscally conservative Ron Paul to the U.S. House of Representatives. Known for his opposition to the general platforms of both major parties, he earned the nickname "Dr. No".

Another key Republican elected was future Congressman and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who was elected to the county's only seat in the Texas House of Representatives. By 1982, several county-level positions were gained by Republicans. In 1984, DeLay succeeded Paul in Congress after the latter ran for an unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign; the Senate seat was won by the Republican primary winner Phil Gramm.

In 1994 a Republican County Judge was elected to the Commissioners' Court for the first time since Reconstruction. This solidified Fort Bend County's new reputation as a Republican stronghold. Today, every elected countywide office in Fort Bend County is held by Republicans. They control a majority of precinct-based positions (County Commissioners, Constables, Justices of the Peace, etc.). No Democrat has carried Fort Bend County in the presidential election since 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas won his second term. In 2008, Democrat Barack Obama came very close in heavy voting, when he won 48.6 percent of the vote compared to 50.9 percent for Republican John McCain.

Among the four Commissioners' Court precincts, two precincts, Precinct 3 and Precinct 4, which cover most of the Sugar Land and Katy areas, consistently vote Republican. Precinct 1 also votes heavily Republican, but it contains significant Democratic areas, specifically in Rosenberg and in the northeastern parts of the county near Fresno (which have large Hispanic populations). The fourth precinct, Precinct 2, contains a significant African-American voter bloc concentrated in the county's majority share of Houston and northern Missouri City. It votes mostly Democratic with a few Republican pockets, particularly around the Quail Valley neighborhood of Missouri City. All of its precinct-level officeholders are Democrats.

Commissioners' Court[edit]

Commissioners Name Party First Elected Communities Represented
  Judge Bob Hebert Republican 2002 Countywide
  Precinct 1 Richard Morrison Democratic 2008 Arcola, Beasley, Fairchilds, Fresno, Greatwood, Needville, Orchard, Richmond, Rosenberg, Sienna Plantation
  Precinct 2 Grady Prestage Democratic 1990 eastern Stafford, most of Missouri City east of FM 1092
  Precinct 3 Andy Meyers Republican 1996 Cinco Ranch, Fulshear, Lakemont, Mission Bend, Pecan Grove, Simonton, north Sugar Land, western Stafford
  Precinct 4 James Patterson Republican 1998 Missouri City west of FM 1092, New Territory, western and southern areas of Sugar Land (including First Colony)

United States Congress[edit]

Senators Name Party First Elected Level
  Senate Class 1 Ted Cruz Republican 2012 Junior Senator
  Senate Class 2 John Cornyn Republican 2002 Senior Senator
Representatives Name Party First Elected Area(s) of Fort Bend County Represented
  District 9 Al Green Democratic 2004 Mission Bend, eastern portion of Stafford, northern and eastern portions of Missouri City, county's entire share of Houston
  District 14 Ron Paul Republican 1996 (also served 1976–1977 and 1979–1985) Far northern and western areas
  District 22 Pete Olson Republican 2008 Sugar Land, Rosenberg, western, southern, and northern portions of Stafford western and southern portions of Missouri City

Texas Legislature[edit]

Texas Senate[edit]

District Name Party First Elected Area(s) of Fort Bend County Represented
  13 Rodney Ellis Democratic 1990 Northern portions of Missouri City, Stafford, county's share of Houston
  17 Joan Huffman Republican 2008 Sugar Land and southern Missouri City
  18 Glenn Hegar Republican 2006 Richmond, Rosenberg, Katy

Texas House of Representatives[edit]

District Name Party First Elected Area(s) of Fort Bend County Represented
  26 Rick Miller Republican 2012 Sugar Land
  27 Ron Reynolds Democratic 2010 Rosenberg, most of Missouri City, county's share of Houston
  28 John Zerwas Republican 2006 Far northern and western areas
  85 Phil Stephenson Republican 2012 Part of Fort Bend and Jackson and Wharton counties

Economy[edit]

Fort Bend County has jobs in the education, energy, hospitality, and other sectors. The Houston Business Journal said in 2010 that the diversity of industries promoted decades of rapid population growth.[26] After Memorial Hermann Hospital and St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital opened facilities in Fort Bend County, numerous doctors moved their offices to the county.[27]

Education[edit]

Public school districts[edit]

Kendleton Independent School District closed in 2010.

Community colleges[edit]

University centers[edit]

Libraries[edit]

Fort Bend County Libraries operates many libraries in the county.

Houston Public Library operates one branch in the county.

Media[edit]

Local newspapers in the county include the Fort Bend Star, headquartered in Stafford, and the Fort Bend Sun, headquartered in Sugar Land.

The Greater Houston newspaper of record is the Houston Chronicle.

Transportation[edit]

Major highways[edit]

Farm to Market Road 1092, a major entry into the county

Airports[edit]

The sole publicly owned airport in the county is Sugar Land Regional Airport in Sugar Land

Privately owned airports for public use include:

Privately owned airports for private use include:

The following general aviation heliports (all privately owned, for private use) exist in unincorporated areas:

  • Dewberry Heliport is in an unincorporated area between Fulshear and Katy

The closest airport with regularly scheduled commercial service is Houston's William P. Hobby Airport in Harris County.[citation needed] The Houston Airport System stated that Fort Bend County is within the primary service area of George Bush Intercontinental Airport, an international airport in Houston in Harris County.[28]

Mass transit[edit]

Fort Bend County officially created a department of Public Transportation in 2005 that provides commuter buses to Uptown, Greenway Plaza, and Texas Medical Center. It also provides Demand and Response Buses to Senior Citizens and the General Public that travel only in Fort Bend County to anywhere in Fort Bend County. www.FBCTransit.org Portions of the county (e.g., Katy, Missouri City) are participants in the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, and are served by several Park and Ride routes.

Freeway system[edit]

The TTC-69 component (recommended preferred) of the planned Trans-Texas Corridor goes through Fort Bend County.[29]

Toll Roads[edit]

The Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority (FBCTRA), located in Sugar Land, manages and operates the portions in the county of the following:

Fort Bend Parkway Toll Road
Fort Bend Westpark Tollway
Grand Parkway SH 99 Toll (Under Construction)

Corrections[edit]

The Fort Bend County Jail is located at 1410 Ransom Road in Richmond.[30]

Texas Department of Criminal Justice operates the following facilities in Fort Bend County, all at the Jester State Prison Farm site:

Prisons for men:

Other facilities:

  • Jester I Unit - Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility (Unincorporated area)[33] (Co-located with the Jester units)
  • Jester IV Unit - Psychiatric Facility (Unincorporated area)[34] (Co-located with the Jester units)

The TDCJ announced that the Central Unit in Sugar Land was closing in 2011.[35]

Communities[edit]

Cities[edit]

† Katy is incorporated in Harris County, with portions in Fort Bend County and Waller County.

Towns[edit]

Villages[edit]

Unincorporated areas[edit]

Census-designated areas[edit]

Other unincorporated areas[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 128. 
  4. ^ Alvarez, Elizabeth Cruce (Nov 8, 2011). "Texas Almanac 2012–2013". Texas A&M University Press. pp. Contents. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  5. ^ Virginia Laird Ott, "FORT BEND COUNTY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hcf07), accessed February 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association
  6. ^ a b c Yelderman, Pauline (2010). "Handbook of Texas Online: JAYBIRD-WOODPECKER WAR". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved February 22, 2014. 
  7. ^ Hayes, Bonni C. (2010). "Handbook of Texas Online: ARIZONA FLEMING". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved July 5, 2014. 
  8. ^ Johnson, Paul (2000). A History of the American People. Orion Publishing Group, Limited. p. 661. ISBN 978-1-84212-425-3. 
  9. ^ "Doug Miller, "Clymer Wright, conservative term-limit advocate, found dead in his home", January 25, 2011". KHOU-TV. Retrieved January 27, 2011. 
  10. ^ "About Fort Bend Herald and Texas Coaster". fbherald.com. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  11. ^ Bernstein, Alan and Zen T. C. Zheng. "Fort Bend accepts vote decree," Houston Chronicle. April 10, 2009. Retrieved on April 11, 2009.
  12. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  13. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  14. ^ Texas Almanac: County Population History 1850-2010 Retrieved December 16, 2013
  15. ^ "Demographic Profile Bay Area Census". 
  16. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  17. ^ De Mangin, Charles. "Neighborhood charts its course." Houston Chronicle. Thursday November 14, 2002. Retrieved on October 27, 2011.
  18. ^ American FactFinder, United States Census Bureau. "Fort Bend County, Texas - Selected Economic Characteristics: 2006–2008". Factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  19. ^ "2006 American Community Survey: Fort Bend County, Texas". census.gov. 2006. Retrieved 2007-11-21. 
  20. ^ Cost of Living Can Significantly Affect "Real" Median Household Income, Council for Community and Economic Research website . Retrieved December 9, 2007.
  21. ^ "Property Taxes on Owner-Occupied Housing by County, 2005 - 2008, Ranked by Taxes as Percentage of Home Value". The Tax Foundation. 2009-09-22. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  22. ^ Postrel, Virginia (October 7, 2004). "Economic Scene; A Texas experiment that shifts money from rich to poor school districts is turning into a major policy disaster". The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  23. ^ "Claritas Study Ranks Racial/Ethnic Diversity in Counties Nationwide; Analysis Shows California Leads Nation In Diversity Among Counties Of 100,000-Plus Population". Business Wire. July 23, 2001. 
  24. ^ Kever, Jeannie. "FACING A CROSSROADS." Houston Chronicle. June 1, 2011. Retrieved on June 3, 2011.
  25. ^ [1][dead link]
  26. ^ "Fort Bend County tops Forbes growth list." Houston Business Journal. Tuesday February 2, 2010. Retrieved on February 8, 2010.
  27. ^ Latson, Jennifer. "Businesses finding the suburbs superb." Houston Chronicle. May 18, 2010. Retrieved on May 24, 2010.
  28. ^ "Master Plan Executive Summary." George Bush Intercontinental Airport Master Plan. Houston Airport System. December 2006. 2-1 (23/130). Retrieved on December 14, 2010.
  29. ^ TxDoT, TTC Section C & S, Detailed Maps 2 & 3, 2007-12-17
  30. ^ "Detention." Fort Bend County. October 3, 2006.
  31. ^ "JESTER III (J3)." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved September 14, 2008.
  32. ^ "VANCE (J2)." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved September 14, 2008.
  33. ^ "JESTER I (J3)." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved September 14, 2008.
  34. ^ "JESTER IV (J4)." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved September 14, 2008.
  35. ^ Ward, Mike. "Texas closing prison as part of cutbacks." Austin American-Statesman at KDH News. Wednesday August 3, 2011. Retrieved on September 23, 2011.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°32′N 95°46′W / 29.53°N 95.77°W / 29.53; -95.77