The History of Cora Texas Plantation and Sugar Factory

Cora Texas Manufacturing Co., Inc.Cora 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.


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