The Community of Pearl, Texas

Monday, June 23, 2014

The community of Pearl is located in northwest Coryell County, 22 miles west of Gatesville. It was originally known by the unlikely name of Wayback.  A petition had been sent in for the name of Swayback Mountain, which is near Pearl. A clerical error resulted in the post office being called Wayback in 1884.  Having looked up the origins of several of these community post offices I am surprised how many did not get the name for which they applied.  It would seem a prankster might have been at work at the post office. This name was used until 1890 when the community was renamed Pearl, for the son of a local store operator, Pearl Davenport. Three Edmondson brothers were some of the first of those who settled in Pearl in 1871.

A price war was waged in an unusual way in Pearl about 1900 among the local doctors. Pearl was fortunate enough to have three doctors in the early 1900’s. The price war was to see who could charge the lowest price to deliver a baby. The lowest price was only $2.50!! If that seems unbelievable remember that wages in 1901 for county officers were as follows per year: County Judge, $700, County Clerk, $400, District Clerk, $300, Sheriff, $300.  

By 1909 Pearl had one physician, a drug store, a blacksmith shop, a good school and school building, a nice hotel, several lodges, two large stores carrying general merchandise, several nice churches and a justice of the peace and constable. There was a nice picnic ground, what we would probably call a park today. There were numerous homes that cost from $1,000 to $4,500.

Up until the 1920’s each of the churches in Pearl had a ten-day revival meeting in August. It was very hot, but all the crops were harvested and the canning done for the year. Someone in every neighborhood had to go home often and feed the chickens and make sure their other stock had water.

Some of the churches rented tents for sleeping, and people loaded their wagons with bedding, and cooking utensils. These revivals were the main social event of the year.  I can only imagine what it was like to be there.  Church services were held, probably under a tabernacle, then good food served from picnic tables. There were children running and playing games, babies laughing or crying, a few teams of horses and wagons coming and going. Shy teenage country boys and girls getting to know each other. The women gathered together to visit, and possibly quilt and the men formed their own group to smoke,  spit, chew and talk. At night how did they ever settle down the families to get some sleep? I wonder if there was a certain time for lights out and to get quiet? I would have loved to be there, but maybe not for 10 days.

Kay Pruett lives in Pearl and writes the articles, “News from Around Pearl” She was kind enough to agree to an interview.

Today Pearl is the location of the famous Pearl Bluegrass Festivals and the Pearl Book Cottage. The Pearl School was build about 1917 when voters passed a $4,000 bond to build the brick building. In 1958 it was consolidated with the Evant school and the building became the Pearl Community Center. There are two nice photos of the Pearl School at Coryell Museum in the Schoolroom Exhibit. One is of the building used from 1884-1858 and the other of the 1930 school. 

Did Kay go to the school there and what years

Did she live there all her life

Did she live “in town” or on a farm and ranch

What did her father do for a living?

Any amusing stories about Pearl or the school that she remembers?

The information above was found in History of Pearl, Texas, Freeman, 1969, and  Coryell County, Texas, Families, 1854-1985 as well as the Gatesville Messenger Magazine Edition 1909.

Coryell Museum and Historical Center is open Tuesday thru Saturday as is our gift shop. Yearly Coryell Museum memberships are $20 for singles, $30 for families, and $40 for businesses and include free admission to the museum plus 4 newsletters.  Of course, large and small donations are welcome at all times.

Coryell Museum offers area schools and tour groups a delightful guided tour thru the museum with docents at many exhibits. Call the museum at 865-5007 to plan a visit.