Take a look at the generations-old families that are the backbone of the Katy's past, present, and future.
KATY MAGAZINE | September 2018
Katy Magazine Editors Opening photo of the Schmidt Family
THE BAKER FAMILY
The Baker legacy spans back to the 1840's, when John and Sarah Baker relocated to Katy, Texas from Jefferson County, Tennessee. Instead of joining most of Katy is farming, John made a living as a general contractor. In the 1940's, Baker built no less that 42 homes. His work constructing quality homes in Katy, Texas has spanned generations, passing down to the Bakers of today. John's great, great, great-grandson Craig Baker and his cousin Bruce have carried on the family tradition for over 30 years. They are the namesake for Baker Road near the Green Trails subdivision in Katy, and are credited with building the Barker Post Office.
In the 1940's, the Bakers made their home on the land that is now known as George Bush Park/Addicks Reservoir. The U.S. Corp of Engineers paid the family $3 per acre, although the land was valued at $200 per acre.
The Bakers have family ties with both the Foster and Beckendorff families, which were instrumental in establishing both Katy and Fort Bend School Districts. Now, decades later, the Bakers are still making their mark on the Katy community. Craig and Kelly Baker raised all of their children, Brooke, Jaime, and Thomas, in Katy ISD schools. Brooke and Jaime both graduated from Taylor High School, and Thomas from Katy High School. Their eldest daughter, Brooke Baham, is now a teacher in Katy ISD.
Gone are the days of quiet country backroads, but thousands upon thousands now live, work, and go to school in a thriving community the Baker family legacy helped build.
THE BECKENDORFF FAMILY
When Robert and Milton Beckendorff rode up to the Harris County Courthouse on horseback in 1896 to obtain land for a school district, they had no idea that their family name would become a hallmark of commitment to education and community growth in Katy, Texas. Within one year of their arrival, children living on Katy's prairie lands were sitting in their very own one-room schoolhouse, with Robert and Milton, and their associate Henry Cobb as the first-ever trustees on the board. The tradition would continue for four generations, eventually including Glenn Beckendorff, Waller County Judge.
Glenn not only served on the Katy ISD school board starting in 1980, but was instrumental in helping Katy ISD develop teaching programs for children with special needs, an area of education that was sorely lacking. For his and his family's longstanding dedication to the community, Glenn Beckendorff was chosen to be the namesake for Beckendorff Junior High, established in 2004.
Today, the Beckendorff family name is still a large and prominent one in the community. Glenn's oldest son Justin currrently serves as the Waller County Commissioner, and his youngest Blake and his wife Stacey own Beckendorff Farms, a special events/wedding venue near Morton and Bartlett Road in Katy's historic district.
THE CARDIFF FAMILY
Charles Cardiff was one of many Cardiffs who had settled in Katy in the early 1900s as a rice farmer. After his high school graduation in 1947, Hal and his older brothers inherited their father’s land and continued to farm rice. Over the years, they and other Cardiff family members have served the community as city council members, school board trustees, and teachers.
(Photo by Myra Nicole Photography)
The Cardiff family was honored as the namesake of Cardiff Junior High in 2008 for their pioneering efforts. Now retired, Hal Cardiff and his wife, Lynn, have four children. Their 11 grandchildren closely follow the success of the Katy Tigers. He is delighted that his son-in-law, Mickey Thompson, is one of the coaches. “Katy football is just so different now, but it is still home to me. Football brings everyone together.”
THE FRANZ-FRY FAMILY
David Peter Franz arrived in Katy in 1896 when he traveled from Russia to escape military service. Formerly a jeweler, Franz reinvented himself as a farmer and raised crops such as peanuts, corn, and rice. His sons continued the farming business after he retired; one of his sons, C.D. Franz, married Carrie Fry in 1906.
Several local landmarks honor both sides of the Franz and Fry families, including Franz Rd., Franz Elementary, and Fry Rd.
The Peek family made their way to Katy in the early 1900s. A.J., his brother Perry, and their father, Christopher Columbus Peek, took the train to what is now known as Katy to scout out the area.
The men traveled by cattle car while the women and children rode in the passenger cars of the train across the country to their new home. Upon arriving, they bought 640 acres of land to be split between the two brothers, and began their farming legacy. A.J. also partnered with William Chester Stockdick and became one of the original trustees for the Stockdick School, which was built in 1914. Today the acreage is known as Stockdick School Road and Peek Road, and last year Katy ISD opened Stockdick Junior High not far away.
(Photo by Sara Isola)
In 1895, Adam H. Stockdick settled in the area. “There was nothing here but a shed over a water well. Most settlers had to camp in tents or railcars until their homes were built. Living conditions could be very tough,” says greatgranddaughter Rosanne Stockdick Lopez. Adam came to build a home for his family who was still in Iowa at that time. Although he was a school teacher, he was not able to make an income with his teaching certificate.
To support his family, he began farming and became the first land agent for the MKT Railroad. Writing letters to friends and family, he attracted and brought many settlers to colonize and develop the area with businesses. Adam’s great-grandchildren Janet Stanberry and Ronald Scott share, “Adam influenced many families to move from Iowa to Katy based on the fertile farming land available.” The drilling of the earliest deep water wells for rice farming is another remarkable achievement by Adam that was documented in 1902.
In total, it is estimated that Adam was able to bring 15 pioneering families to settle. After he left the MKT Railroad, Adam opened his own real estate company and sold land to families coming to the small town.
The Stockdicks put their footprints on Katy land long before the town of Katy even existed. In honor of the family’s contributions to Katy, many Katyites have recognized area sites named in their honor like Stockdick Road, Stockdick School Road, and Stockdick House at Heritage Park. In 2017, Katy ISD opened Stockdick Junior High just a stones throw away from the intersection at Stockdick School Road and Clay Road.
(Photo by Layla Zakaria)
THE SCHMIDT-FUSSELL FAMILIES
The Schmidt family's small town roots began in the early 1900s when two brothers settled in Katy, one as a rice farmer and one as a grocery store owner. The family has long since been prominent members of the community. Blanche Fussell served as the Chamber of Commerce secretary and her brother Durwood Fussell began what is now Brazos Valley Schools Credit Union from his desk drawer as business manager of Katy ISD. Mel Jordan, a lifelong rice farmer and rancher, still calls Katy home, along with 38 of his 51 family members.
The family is credited with owning and operating the Scmidt Funeral Home and Fussell Senior Center in Katy, and are active in places like Keep Katy Beautiful, Katy's First United Methodist Church, and other local organizations.
THE ROMACK FAMILY
One of Katy’s earliest settlers was Giles Romack, a carpenter who le Illinois in 1900 to explore farming in Katy. In 1905, Giles built the “Romack House” at 5806 4th Street. e Romack home still stands and is now the location of Cottage Charm, a well-known event venue in Katy. In addition, he also owned a furniture store downtown on 2nd Street with an undertaking business in the back. The furniture store was eventually passed down to Giles’ son Harvey Edwin “H.E.” or Ed Romack, who became a pillar of the Katy community.
Ed Romack was heavily involved in giving back to Katy and served on the Katy ISD school board for 25 years, which is still the longest service record to date. During this time, he fought to keep the district open when they were threatened to close, working with ocials to ensure state standards were met.
When Katy was incorporated in 1945, Ed was one of the first three elected offcials. He also served on the Katy City Council, Katy Rotary Club as Justice of the Peace, and as a charter member of the Katy Volunteer Fire Department in 1947.
Despite the sound of cars whizzing by on Grand Parkway, the Romack family remembers a time when rice felds and dirt roads abounded, bikes were the main method of transportation, and cars were only used for special occasions. And even though we are blessed with a multitude of high-achieving schools today, they recall a time when there was just one high school with a graduating class of 23.