During the 1870s, the wagon trains stopped at a well located on a large sheep ranch. They named the site Waggoner’s (Wagner’s) Well. In 1882, the International-Great Northern Railroad purchased the land around the well and platted the town of Pearsall, naming it for the vice president of the railroad. The railroad offered excursion train trips for possible settlers interested in viewing the town and lots. Residents and businesses from the County seat town of Frio City moved to Pearsall to be closer to the railroad. In 1882 the town had a population of 700, had a school, churches, a weekly newspaper, and was named the new county seat. Pearsall was the beginning of the Chisholm Cattle Trail. The town had cattle drives down main street, public hangings, and unfenced open range until 1887. The town’s population was 1,000 when a fire burned much of downtown in 1890. In 1907, the Frio Cotton Oil Company was founded, and the Pearsall Artesian Well Company was founded to provide the town with electricity. By 1914, the population was 2,000 and the town boasted the 500 seat Laurel Opera House. Oil was discovered in the 1930s; in the 1980s, Pearsall had another oil boom. Pearsall is located in the transition area from the irrigated farmland of the Winter Garden area of the Rio Grande Valley, to semiarid brush and chaparral. Agricultural crops include several varieties of legumes such as peas, beans, clover, alfalfa, soybeans and others. The main crop is peanuts; the area harvests over 55 million pounds of peanuts annually. A giant peanut monument is located downtown. Other crops include cotton, corn, grain, sorghum, watermelon and cantaloupe, a large variety of vegetables, pecans and herbs. Cattle ranching is also an important industry. The town is also located in the Golden Triangle area of South Texas, a premiere hunting area. Frio river fishing is popular. Country singer George Strait was raised in Pearsall. Pearsall is the County Seat for Frio County. The town is billed as the “Heart of South Texas Hunting.” Pearsall is located at the intersections of IH-35, FM 1582 and FM 140, 56 miles southwest of San Antonio, 42 miles southwest of Castroville, 23 miles southwest of Devine, 46 miles northeast of Artesia Wells, 17 miles northwest of Dilley, 55 miles southeast of Uvalde, 36 miles slightly southeast of Batesville, 44 miles south of Hondo, and 24 miles south of Yancy, Texas.
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Leah N. Carrizales