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Coryell County, North Central Texas

22 miles W of Gatesville
60 miles W of Waco
30 miles NE of Lampasas
Population: 125 (est)

Pearl, Texas Area Hotels > Gatesville Hotels
Church of Christ, Pearl, Texas
Church of Christ in Pearl
Photos Courtesy Jim and Lou Kinsey, 8-04
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History in a Pecan Shell

The application for a post office had been filled in with the name Swayback, for nearby Swayback Mountain. A misspelling resulted in "Wayback" when the office was granted in 1884. The townspeople lived with this until 1890, when it was re-named after Pearl Davenport, the SON of a store keeper.

Pearl had three doctors in the early 1900s. The rivalry resulted in a price war for services and as a result, the cost of delivering a baby was $2.50. Telephone service arrived in 1908 although subscribers had to buy their own equipment, including wire, and posts. They also had to string the wires.

In 1875 Ellen Reily deeded land for Cowhouse School. By the 1890s, the name was changed to Sweet Home School. In 1917 a four-room brick school was built and named Pearl School. The building is now the Pearl Community Center.

The population of Pearl peaked in the 1970s with 220 people.

Pearl Texas old stores
Two closed stores in Pearl
Photos Courtesy Jim and Lou Kinsey, 8-04

Pearl TX Bluegrass Jamboree
The Pearl Bluegrass Jamboree
Photo courtesy Michael Barr
Pearl, Texas – The Sound of Music
"Hindsights" column by Michael Barr

“We get started about noon,” Medart said. “We schedule 45 minutes for each band, but you know how bluegrass musicians are. There are jam sessions going on all over the place. Bluegrass lovers come from all over the country. We never know exactly who is going to show up. Many of them bring their own instruments and sit in. It’s a family thing. We officially close about midnight, but people play out under the trees and in the RV park until 2 or 3 in the morning.”... more

Comanche Raids in Coryell County
"Texas Tales" column by Mike Cox

The Army, both in its absence and its presence, has had a big impact on Coryell County over the years.

The establishment of Fort Gates on the Leon River in 1849 is what helped stimulate settlement of the area as folks in Bell, Burleson, Milam and Washington counties began to move into the eastern and southern parts of Coryell County. Hostile Indians wisely steered clear of the vicinity.

The military abandoned the stockaded garrison (one of the few Hollywood-style military posts ever actually built in Texas) in March 1852, but the settlers drawn by the protection it had offered did not. By the 1860s, some of the county’s early settlers had moved westward, building cabins near what soon became the community of Pearl.

With the soldiers gone, and most of Texas’ fighting men tied up in the Civil War, the Comanches felt free to raid all along the state’s western frontier. Texas’ Confederate state government fielded companies of Rangers to patrol the outlying counties, but they couldn’t be everywhere at once.

That’s how things stood on April 26, 1863 when a Comanche raiding party came up on a settler named Steven Williamson, who lived several miles southeast of Pearl.

When Williamson didn’t come home that night, worried family and friends went looking for him. They found his arrow-studded body lying near a large tree that he may have tried to use for cover. The Indians had scalped him and then pinned his thighs together, a sign that he had defended himself gamely. Likely he wounded or killed some of his attachers before they overpowered him.

His family carried his body home in the back of an ox-drawn wagon, built a coffin, lined it with black calico and took him to the southern part of the county near the community of Eliga for burial.

Years later, Gordon Shook, Williamson’s great-grandson, could still find what was left of the liveoak where his relative’s body had been left by the Indians and posed for a photograph there. Charles E. Freeman used the image in his book, “A History of Pearl, Texas.” Gordon Williamson’s grandfather, J.W. Shook, in 1875 had settled the land where the attack had occurred.

Freeman also included in his book a couple of accounts from Coryell County oldtimers who lived through those bloody days... more

Pearl Texas Sunday afternoon bluegrass in the old school building
Saturday afternoon bluegrass in the old school building
Photo courtesy Ken Fortenberry, July 2006

Pearl, Texas Forum

Subject: Pearl, Texas
Dear TE, The Pearl Blue Grass Jam is every first Saturday of the month, except for September when it's the second Saturday. All bluegrass performers are welcome to come and play and the public is invited to come join the fun and enjoy a great afternoon of music. The ladies of the community fix wonderful food and sell it at reasonable prices. It's worth a trip to spend a nice Saturday afternoon listening to some "downhome" music. - SAMANTHA AND JASON STRINGER, May 18, 2008

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