Building over the Past
In Sugar Land, Texas, the largest city in Fort Bend County, one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the country, sits the community of Telfair. The San Diego-based developer, Newland Communities, broke ground on the residential area in February of 2005 and dubbed it Telfair, likely after Edward Telfair, a prominent individual in the Thirteen Colonies during the Revolutionary War. A native Scotsman, Telfair came to America in 1758 and settled in Savannah, Georgia in 1766, where he, his brother William, and another Scotsman went into business together. As was typical of the most successful merchants and planters in eighteenth century Georgia, Telfair owned a great many slaves, and was also a consultant on many slave issues.
Many people don’t give much thought to the origins of the names for streets, residential areas, and institutions that they frequent every day. Cunningham Creek Drive, Ellis Creek Drive, Terry Street, Voss Road, and Telfair are just a few of the street names in Sugar Land that are named for known slave owners and/or Confederate veterans. Residential areas with names such as Plantation Homes and Magnolia Plantations are found throughout the city as well. While some might defend the choice to acknowledge history by naming establishments after these individuals, others question whether we should honor people who knowingly believed in and fought for the continuation of a system of a enslavement.