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Ross Shaw Sterling (February 11, 1875 – March 25, 1949) was a U.S. political figure. He was the 31st Governor of Texas between January 20, 1931 and January 17, 1933.

Sterling was born February 11, 1875 in Anahuac, Chambers County, Texas. He grew up on a farm and, after little formal education, began working as a clerk at the age of twelve. At the age of 21 he started his own merchandising business, and in 1911 he organized the Humble Oil Company.

In addition to oil, Sterling was also involved in a railroad, a newspaper, banking, and real estate in the Houston area, and was an active member of the Houston Port Commission. He served as chair of the Texas Highway Commission under Governor Dan Moody.

Ross Sterling's Mansion in the Montrose area of Houston was built in 1916

In 1925, Sterling's daughter Mildred married architect Wyatt C. Hedrick.

Sterling defeated former governor Miriam "Ma" Ferguson and several other candidates in the 1930 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 the plan down. 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 also suffered during Sterling's term in office.

Governor Sterling was defeated by the person he defeated in the previous election, Miriam Ferguson, in his attempt at re-election in 1932. Ross Sterling died on March 25, 1949 at the age of 74.

Two Texas high schools, Sterling High School in Baytown, and Sterling High School in Houston, were named after him. In addition, his grand-nephew, Ross N. Sterling, became a United States federal judge in Texas.[1]

Sterling's former house, built around 1910, was moved in 1999 from 106 Westheimer Road to the intersection of Bagby and Rosalie where it was scheduled to undergo restoration.[2]


  1. ^ Steven Harmon Wilson, The Rise of Judicial Management in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (2002), p. 241-242.
  2. ^ "A monumental task." Houston Chronicle. April 3, 1999. A25 MetFront. Retrieved on November 15, 2009.

Further reading

  • 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 0292714424.  

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Dan Moody
Governor of Texas
Succeeded by
Miriam A. Ferguson


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