2014 Hall of Fame Inductees: Nathan Jean Whitaker Sanders and Vincent Jacob

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Nathan Jean Whitaker Sanders

Nathan Jean Whitaker Sanders, affectionately known around the Rodeo and Trail Ride circuit to all as “Mama Sugar” was born June 6, 1939 to the late Lillie Mae Glenn and Reverend Ellis Haddie Whitaker.

She grew up in the Upshaw/County Line Community in Douglas, Texas.

She was raised by her Uncle Deffie Whitaker and Aunt Vada Yabrough who taught her everything about the country life. After graduating from C.L. Simmon High School in Cushing, Texas she moved to Nacogdoches, Texas.

There she worked at Mrs. Grant”s Boarding House where she was taught how to cook. At the age of 19 she met and married Lonnie Earl Sanders and moved to Houston, Texas to get away from the country life. She gave birth to five daughters and soon found herself raising them alone in the big city.

After several years of struggling in 1978, she met Myrtis Dightman, the first African American inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame. He introduced the girls to rodeoing at the Diamond L. Ranch where they were trained to compete by Mark Hatfield and Ted Hightower. This put her back in the country life style that she left behind.

In the early 80”s , Mama Sugar found herself raising another daughter. She then met Ron “Sugar” Mitchell who owned the Sugar Shack Disco Club in Arcola, Texas. From 1981 to 1988, the Sugar Shack became a hangout for African American Cowboys and other cultures.

She conducted country western dance classes and introduced many African Americans in Houston and surrounding areas to country western dancing. In 1981 she founded The Sugar Shack Trailblazers with 2 men and 6 women.

They became registered under Southwestern Trail Riders Association as a family oriented group.

Mama Sugar became one of our top Black History Educators of the Western Culture.

Before her sickness, you could find Mama Sugar extremely busy during the month of February giving lectures about the western culture throughout the Houston and Fort Bend Independent School Districts.

At the age of 75, she continues to dedicate her time and energies during the year volunteering for activities that include entertainment of youth and senior citizens.

She also helps Mollie Stevenson, owner of the American Cowboy Museum, with many Black Heritage projects year-round.

“Mama Sugar” has received many outstanding honors and awards throughout the community as well as resolutions from the State of Texas and Fort Bend County as being Outstanding Community Leader.

These honors include recognition as “A Living Legend” from the Black Heritage Committee of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 1998 and the Black Professional Cowboys and Cowgirls Association in 2002. She received an award in 1995 as being one of Houston”s Top Twenty Women of Distinction.

She’s the mother of the Southwestern Trail Riders Association where she has taught many how to survive on a little of nothing, how to keep warm around a camp fire and how good a meal can be from an open fire.

Her great cooking has lead to an article in the June 2006 issue of Gourmet Magazine where she receives outstanding recognition about her Juneteenth Celebration and showcases her recipes.

One of her most recent and greatest accomplishment in 2013 was being an Honoree at Foodways Texas Barbecue Symposium for her famous country style cooking and outstanding recipes. There she received a Lifetime Achievement Award and great recognition from some of Texas finest restaurant owners for her cooking skills.

Her recipes can be found in the local libraries in the Texas Cooking Cook Books. Mama Sugar believes that in order to be a GREAT cook your first ingredient is LOVE. If you are not preparing to cook with LOVE then you are not preparing to cook a GREAT meal.

Mama Sugar is a beautiful Black God fearing woman who loves her family and friends.

She continues to mentor, lead and encourage everyone to do their best.

Her induction into the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum is a great honor to everyone.

She is very deserving of this honor and her great works, accomplishments and outstanding efforts to keep the western heritage alive can be remembered by all.

Mr. Vincent Jacob

Mr. Vincent Jacob, the 4th child born on September 19, 1932 to Morris and Lillie Lewis Jacobs in Huffman, Texas was a rambunctious boy of that time being reared by a single dad and an older sister after the death of his mother when he was only 7 years old.

Young Vincent fell in love with horses and the power they processed at the age of 14 while living on a ranch and receiving training from the Sims family. As time passed Vincent grew into a man with a vision and that vision consisted of being the best cowboy there was. Unfortunately, one of many challenges he faced was being a Black man not only in a White dominated field but in the South.

As years past and many rodeo encounters some good, most not so good because of the biases that existed against Black men especially to those that seem to offer competition to be reckoned with. Mr. Jacobs found himself having to work harder to make such an accomplishment. Little did he know that his persistence and hard work will truly pay off in the future.

After marrying Evelyn Lewis Jacobs (not related to Lillie) in the 1950s and the rearing of six children, Abrain, Vincent Jr., Wanda, Herbert, Allen and Gwen, Mr. Jacobs continued his endeavor serving his community, speaking at many public engagements, receiving hundreds of acknowledgments and certificate from many organizations especially in the small community of Barrett Station where is still resides today.

Mr. Jacobs continue to craft his techniques while entering into as many rodeos locally and nationally as possible. The challenges of such a sport came with so many obstacles such as being cheated out of money from a winning that was truly his, sleeping in his car because hotels would not let him in, entry fees to the rodeo events being inflated after he and his friends would sign to enter an event.

At the age of 37 Mr. Jacobs decided to go pro and join the big rodeo circuit which would give him more exposure and recognition as a Black Cowboy. He became one of the first Black performers to ride in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and featured in two documents called “Hard Ride” and “The country Town.”

His profession allowed him to participate as an informer for the Smithsonian Institute” story on the Black Cowboy, being interviewed by columnist Tommy LeVrier of the Houston Chronicle, receive offers from film producers to come and tell his story and participation in a film title “The National Black Cowboys and eventually encourage to show off his acting skills as judge in a film called “The Kings of the Evening” starring Lynn Whitfield and Thurman.

Mr. Jacobs is now past 80 years and is still working in his community and enjoying all the accolades of being a small town celebrity and looking forward to celebrating a day that was proclaimed “Vincent Jacobs Day” which was one of the greatest moments in his life when a Proclamation was presented to him in 2005 by then the Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia of Pct 2. The proclaimed February 24th “Vincent Jacobs Day.”

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