The History of Cora Texas Plantation
and Sugar Factory
Plantation and its Sugar Mill date back to 1817, when it was
established by the Urquhart family. Many of the first experiments
in the manufacturing of sugar occurred on Cora Plantation
and Cora factory. The Cora Sugar Mill contained the original
"Cora" nine-roller mill built by Fulton Iron Works
and designed by Martin L. Flowers, the progenitor of the vast
family of Fulton mills now spread all over the sugar world.
In 1919, Leon Kessler, Clarence Sovoie, Clay Dugas, James
Gilbert, and James and Julius Weil purchased Cora and Annandale
plantations and Cora sugar factory for $145,000 from W. G.
Strange. The Cora Plantation had a 36 inch railroad five miles
in length, and the rolling stock consisted of seventy four-ton
cars and two 12 ton Porter locomotives.
The Cora factory at White Castle was destroyed by fire on
New Year's day in 1920. The loss was estimated at $250,000
with $160,000 of insurance. Afterward, the tramroad was extended
three miles to Cedar Grove Plantation, where it was interconnected
with Supple's Catherine railroad. The cane was then processed
at the Catherine Mill.
In 1927, Cora Plantation bought one-half interest of the
Texas Factory from the Folse family, and the name was changed
to Cora Texas Factory. The Cora Texas mill was enlarged, and
the sugarcane from both plantations was processed there.
In 1948, the Kessler, Gilbert and Dugas families of Cora
acquired full ownership of Cora Texas from the Folse family.
Until 1950, one-half of Cora Texas Factory's production was
sugar and the rest was sold as syrup. All of the syrup produced
was sold to Pennick & Ford. In a record year, over 800,000
gallons of syrup were sold.
Paul Kessler, son of Leon Kessler, and the next president
of Cora Texas, was three years old when his father bought
Cora with the Gilbert and Dugas families. Kessler had developed
Cora Texas through the years from a small mill that ground
about 1,000 tons of cane in 24 hours to one that could handle
about 4,000 tons per day.
In 1976, Paul Kessler retired as President of Cora Texas
after serving more than a quarter of a century in that position.
Mel Schudmak, his nephew, replaced him as President and General
Manager of Cora Texas Manufacturing Company. Paul Buckley
Kessler, son of Paul Kessler, assumed the role of Secretary
and Assistant Manager.
After 29 years of service, Mel Schudmak retired from Cora
Texas in 2002. Under his leadership, Cora Texas grew from
a daily capacity of 4,000 tons to over 15,000 tons of sugarcane
per day. During Mel's campaign the number of sugar factories
in Louisiana plummeted from 35 to just 16. In 2002, Paul Buckley
Kessler assumed the role of President and CEO, and Charles
Schudmak, son of Mel Schudmak, assumed the role of Secretary
and COO. Charles is the fourth generation of the Kessler family
in management of the factory.
Cora Texas Manufacturing Company has continued to expand
its sugar factory and is presently grinding more than 16,000
tons of cane per day and often produces more than 4,000,000
pounds of raw sugar per day. Today, Cora Texas is the second
largest factory in Louisiana.