Mr. Charles Freeman wrote History of Pearl, Texas in 1969 and it includes many delightful stories. Mr. Freeman was born November 29, 1903, four miles east of Pearl. He spent his entire life with the people and soil he loved. Below are some delightful excerpts from his book about life in Pearl, Texas. The next two articles also include much information from his book. His daughter, Mrs. Inez Arnold remembers her father traveling many miles, working to collect the photographs, genealogy and stories for this book. She also was born and raised in Pearl and attended 11 grades there.
Amazingly, telephones came to Pearl about 1908 or 1909 and Mr. Freeman was instrumental its organization. The system was soon a non-profit rural telephone company. There were directors elected by the people who owned telephones. The people had to buy their own telephone boxes, wire, and post. They erected their own service lines and kept them repaired and the directors would employ someone to operate the switchboard. Mrs. Susie Smith, operated the switchboard for about 24 years. At one time the regular phone bill was forty cents per month. Later it went to seventy-five cents and then to $1.25 plus a few cents tax.
The people depended on the operator to be their “information bureau”. If your clock stopped, all you had to do was call the operator for the time of day, or if someone was sick or had died in the community all the details could be learned by calling “central”. At one time Pearl Telephone Company had direct lines to Purmela, Izoro, Evant, King and Lampasas and all the calls that were put thru these central stations were free because they were all rural free telephone systems.
The Pearl Telephone Company was one of the last old time rural telephone systems in Texas to go out of business. In 1964 a modern dial system was built into the community from Gatesville and the Pearl Telephone Company faded away.
Mrs. Kay Pruett is also a long time resident of Pearl and writes the articles, “News from Around Pearl” which I enjoy very much. She was kind enough to agree to an interview. It was delightful to meet her and hear her stories about Pearl today and long ago. Her parents were Henry Glenn and Laveail Ballard Hermann. Kay was born right in the middle of World War II and gasoline was scarce. Dr. Kermit Jones was coming from Gatesville on a horse to help with her birth. It had rained the night before and the creek was full and running fast. Dr. Jones hung on to his bag and let the horse swim the creek. He made it just in time for the delivery.
Kay told me that she was born at home in a small barn wood type frame house just east of the King community. Her mother had attended Pearl School in 1928-1929. After the Pearl School closed in 1958, some of the old records remained in a tiny superintendent’s office just outside the auditorium. Pearl folks were working to clean up the building in the early 1990’s and a report card for Kay’s mother was found, and brought to her sister, who gave it to her. It is a wonderful treasure for her family. The subjects taught were spelling, writing, math, geography, history and English and of course her mother made good grades.
Her father was a farmer, rancher, and carpenter. At the time she was born he was working cutting wood all day long for 75 cents a day and the use of the little gray house. Later they moved where ever he worked on ranches in west Texas as well as in the oil fields. When Fort Hood offered employment, they moved back to Pearl and Kay started to Pearl School in Mrs. Mamie Keeton’s second grade. Kay’s parents bought a farm in Pearl and lived there on it until their deaths in 1997 and 2001.
For 25 years Kay worked at a motor freight company in Dallas for a nice employer and his family until she retired in 1987. She moved back to Coryell County and lives on her parent’s farm today.
Pearl is the location of the famous Pearl Bluegrass Festivals and the Pearl Book Cottage. Kay and her long time friend, Linda Ray are partners and founding members of the Pearl Book Cottage where they raise money for charity. Linda Ray has compiled four books, The Pleasure and Profit Club (a women’s quilting club), The Pearl House Book (2 volumes), Pictures of Pearl and The Little Girl From Pearl by Doris Preston Queener. These are for sale at the Pearl Book Cottage on the first weekend of the month at the Pearl Bluegrass Festival.
The Pearl School was built about 1917 when voters passed a $4,000 bond to build the rock building. On November 20, 1941 the Pearl School burned and was rebuilt. The rock front and some of the interior cement walls remained and the new building was built around them. In 1958 it was consolidated with the Evant School and the building became the very active Pearl Community Center which is the location of the Pearl Bluegrass Festival. There are two nice photos of the Pearl School at Coryell Museum in the Schoolroom Exhibit. One is of the building used in 1930 and the other of the building used until 1958.
By Jann Dworsky and Property of The Gatesville Messenger 2014