Ross S. Sterling, Governor

Houston Ward 4, Harris, Texas

Is your surname Sterling?

Research the Sterling family

Ross S. Sterling, Governor's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Ross Shaw Sterling

Birthdate: (74)
Birthplace: Anahuac, Chambers Co., Texas
Death: March 25, 1949 (74)
Fort Worth, Tarrant Co., Tx.
Immediate Family:

Son of Benjamin Franklin (4) Sterling and Mary Jane Bryan
Husband of Maud Abbie Sterling
Father of Walter G Sterling; <private> Sterling; <private> Sterling; Rosa S Sterling; <private> Sterling and 1 other
Brother of Frank Sterling; S. H. Sterling; Cora Angelica (5) Sterling; Annie Leora (5) Sterling; Oliver Bryan (5) Sterling and 6 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
view all 20

Immediate Family

About Ross S. Sterling, Governor

Ross Shaw Sterling (February 11, 1875 – March 25, 1949) was a U.S. political figure who was the 31st Governor of Texas, having served a single two-year term between January 20, 1931, and January 17, 1933.

Sterling was born in Anahuac in Chambers County near Houston, 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 twenty-one, he launched his own merchandising business, and in 1911 he organized the Humble Oil Company, since Exxon-Mobil.

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

In 1925, Sterling's daughter Mildred married the prominent architect Wyatt C. Hedrick of Fort Worth, Texas.

A Democrat, Sterling defeated former Governor Miriam "Ma" Ferguson and several other candidates in the 1930 primary 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 pro-ration, but the courts struck down the plan. 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 continued to decline during Sterling's term in office.

Sterling's gubernatorial secretary, Jessie Ziegler of Houston, apparently exerted wide latitude in his administration of the office. She was known to have altered mail correspondence in which Sterling became intemperate with demanding constituents so as not to close the door on gaining future support from such irate voters. She was known to advise him on decision making, including the issuance of pardons in the aftermath of scandals in the previous Ferguson administrations. After Sterling's loss in the 1932 Democratic primary to Miriam Ferguson, whom he had defeated in 1930, Ziegler took a similar but lower-paying staff job with a state senator.

Sterling died at the age of seventy-four. Two Texas high schools, Sterling High School in Baytown, and Sterling High School in Houston, are named for him. In addition, his grand-nephew, Ross N. Sterling, a Republican, became a United States federal judge in Texas under appointment of U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, Jr.

Sterling's former house, built about 1910, was moved in 1999 from 106 Westheimer Road to the intersection of Bagby and Rosalie to undergo restoration.

view all 14

Ross S. Sterling, Governor's Timeline

February 11, 1875
Anahuac, Chambers Co., Texas
Age 4
Double Bayou, Chambers, Texas, United States
May 20, 1901
Age 26
Age 31
Age 34
Houston Ward 4, Harris, Texas
Age 44
Houston Ward 4, Harris, Texas