By Melinda Narro
Fort Bend Museum Intern
Tomorrow, the Fort Bend Museum will host its annual Candlelight Tours of the historic Moore home. With the entire first story decked in holiday décor, guests can stroll from room to room while learning about different Christmastime traditions throughout Texas—and, on their way out, enjoy the romantic glow lent to the Museum grounds by soft, flickering candlelight.
Whether it’s at baptisms, vigils, anniversary dinners or even birthday parties, today we tend to light candles only for special occasions; electricity serves to meet our daily illumination needs. But when did Texans start to shift their allegiance from the old standard of wax and wicks to glistening glass bulbs? Although Galveston led the charge by building the state’s first electric power plant in the 1880s, industrial development in Texas progressed slowly. Only in the 1920s did the electric power industry truly begin to boom statewide, and yet another decade would pass before rural electrification efforts gained steam. Interestingly, in Fort Bend County, both Richmond and Rosenberg were among those lucky Texas towns at the forefront of electrical innovation.
Electric lights blazed to life in Richmond for the first time on January 19, 1898, and the pioneering Richmond Electric Company received its charter the following year. Rosenberg’s electrification came by way of an ambitious West Virginia transplant, W.C. Czigan, who, along with partner J.A. Sadler, founded C & S Light & Power Company in 1912. On a Sunday morning in May, Czigan personally threw the switch that turned on 40 “drop cord type lights” installed in Rosenberg’s newly dedicated Baptist church. He later estimated that most of Rosenberg’s population of less than 1,000 attended this momentous event, recalling, “You never heard such cheering in your life.” Knowing the community’s excitement must have helped Czigan and Sadler power through the challenges of being the city’s only electrical enterprise: for years, the two men singlehandedly wired homes, sold light bulbs, read meters, and managed customer accounts. One particularly trying incident saw Czigan staring down the gun of a tardy bill payer when he attempted to cut service to the man’s gambling hall!
Come kick off the holiday season with us at the Museum tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. All ages are welcome, and the Wells Fargo stagecoach will also be on hand for old-timey rides! For more information, click here.
Funding has been provided to the Fort Bend History Association from Humanities Texas and the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
Fort Bend Museum Staff