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    PEARLAND, TEXAS

    Brazoria County, Texas Gulf Coast
    Highway 35
    37 Miles N of Angleton
    SE of Houston
    Population: 37,640

    Where to Stay
    Pearland Hotels

    1890s Pearland TX - Home and  Post Office
    Pearland home and post office in 1890's
    Vintage photo courtesy Pearland Historical Society
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    History of Pearland, Texas

    The original townsite of Pearland is on State Highway 35 in Brazoria County approximately 37 miles north of Angleton, the county seat. In 1882 the area became a siding switch for the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe railroad on its route from Galveston to Houston. The original settlement was called “Mark Belt” when a post office was established in the community in 1893.
    Witold von Zychlinski - Polish nobleman who founded Pearland in 1894
    Vintage photo courtesy Pearland Historical Society
    In 1892 Witold von Zychlinski, a man who was purported to be a Polish nobleman, purchased 2500 acres of land adjacent to the railroad. Zychlinski reportedly toured the area in a fancy buggy pulled by two shiny, high stepping horses. An agent by the name of J.R. Jeter was hired to plant pear trees and other fruit trees to spruce up the coastal prairie land. On Sept. 26, 1894 Zychlinski filed the plat for the townsite of Pear Land. Although the original plat read “Pear Land”, there is no evidence it was anything but Pearland (one word) thereafter. Within a year Zychlinski left for parts unknown and was never heard from again. Many thought Zychlinski was not really of Polish nobility; but just another land speculator with a gimmick. However, in 2006 a member of the Pearland Historical Society living in Denver, Colorado found a man in Chicago by the name of William Willoughby who is the great grandson of Witold von Zychlinski. Willoughby is a retired Major General of the U. S. Air Force. General Willoughby was doing research on the Zychlinski family and was in the process of writing a book on the family. He verified that Witold von Zychlinski was a Polish Count who had married a relative of President Zachary Taylor while she was in Poland at a finishing school. General Willoughby also furnished the first picture of Zychlinski anyone in Pearland had ever seen. Zychlinski and his bride came to New York where he went bankrupt in a coal business. He then left his wife and two sons to pursue business activities in the south. His great grandson reported the family never heard from him after that and he was unaware of his activities in Pearland. The trail of Witold von Zychlinski ends the day he left Pearland. He has never been heard of since and remains a man of mystery; but he is the founder of Pearland and the man who ordered the planting of the beautiful pear trees from whence came the name “Pearland”.
    Pearland TX - 1890s Railroad Depot
    Original Pearland depot built in 1890's.
    Now moved to next to City Hall and a Texas Historical Building
    Photo courtesy Pearland Historical Society
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    Pearland TX - Suburban Gardens Hotel circa 1904
    Suburban Gardens Hotel approx. 1904
    Vintage photo courtesy Pearland Historical Society
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    An advertising campaign to attract buyers from the cold snowbound Midwestern states promised buyers a virtual Garden Eden with beautiful flowering pear trees, strawberry fields and orange orchards with a mild climate and plenty of water. In 1894 a railroad station was built with labor furnished by local settlers. The station today has been moved next door to Pearland City Hall and is the oldest building in Pearland. From 1894 until 1900 many settlers came to Pearland attracted by the mild climate and cheap land and the promise of pears, strawberries and oranges. By 1900 there were 5 stores, a newspaper and a school with about 100 students. On Sept. 8, 1900 a devastating hurricane hit Galveston killing some 8000 persons and virtually wiping up the little village of Pearland. Many families abandoned their homes and farms and returned to the Midwest. Over the next few years the pear trees died from the blight, the strawberry patches were abandoned because of too much rain; and most of the remaining settlers made their livings by baling hay or raising cattle. Still the advertisements in the mid-west drew new settlers who had their rail fares paid to visit “The Paradise Garden”. A hotel called the “Suburban Gardens” was built across the tracks from the depot to accommodate the prospective buyers. Once more the Pearland had a mini-boom. Once again farmers were raising oranges and vegetables and a great freeze struck and destroyed orchards and vegetable farms and once again many settlers returned to the mid-west. Still people came and in 1912 built a two story brick school. In 1915 once more disaster struck in the form of another terrible hurricane which many old timers said was worse than the 1900 storm. The storm destroyed the new school and for the next 22 years Pearland high school age children were bused to Webster High School.
    1912 Pearland Texas High school
    Pearland High school built in 1912 - destroyed by storm of 1915
    Vintage photo courtesy Pearland Historical Society
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    Pearland TX - Original Methodist Church circa 1915
    Pearland's Original Methodist Church circa 1915
    Vintage photo courtesy Pearland Historical Society
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    After the orange orchards disaster, Pearland experienced another boom with the growing of figs. A commercial fig canning plant in Pearland was a boon to the economy. However overproduction virtually killed the fig industry and from the period of around 1917 to the 30’s hay farming, cattle farming and dairy farming were the means of livelihood for most families. In the 30’s after discovery of oil at nearby Hastings and Manvel, Pearland became a mini-boom town with dance halls and beer joints flourishing. Most of the streets and roads in the area at that time were oyster shell. A concrete highway connecting Pearland with nearby Houston (Highway 35) was completed in 1936 giving Pearland citizens a quicker access to the large city. Also a concrete road (Highway 518) to Manvel to the west of Pearland was completed in 1938. During the oil boom years, the Pearland area also became a large rice growing area with thousands of acres west of the city being cultivated for rice. In those boom days Pearland also became known as a sort of “honky tonk” heaven where oil field roughnecks, farm hands, and construction crews came from all around the Houston area to enjoy the numerous dance halls and beer joints. Also in 1937 a new school was constructed giving local high school students a first class facility once again.

    As Houston expanded, Pearland grew also. In 1949 a Water Control and Improvement District was approved by voters with basically the boundaries being the “old townsite” as platted by Witold von Zychlinski. The City incorporated in 1959 and the 1960 census listed Pearland’s population as 1497. During the past 5 decades the Pearland area has seen tremendous growth. Today the population is over 90,000 with new sub-divisions and shopping centers springing up on the western side of town. Although it is no longer a small town, citizens are attracted to Pearland because of the still small town atmosphere and especially to the excellent school district. For more information about the history of Pearland see the Pearland Historical Society website at www.PearlandHistoricalSociety.org

    Where to Stay
    Pearland Hotels
    Brazoria and Ft Bend County Texas 1920s map
    1920s Brazoria County map showing Pearland
    South of Harris County line
    Courtesy Texas General Land Office
    Where to Stay
    Pearland Hotels

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    , in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic photos of their town, please contact us.
    Pearland, Texas
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    This page last modified: March 15, 2011