Pearsall, TX

About the Site

Nestled in the rolling plains south of San Antonio, Pearsall was the prehistoric home of a band of Coahuittecans known as the Pachal. These hunter-gatherers left us few archeological remains of their harsh subsistence lifestyle.

There were several artesian wells in the area, one of which was located present day Moreno Park and later became the first permanent habitation. A crossing on the Frio River gave early access to this area and brought the French explorer La Salle in 1685, the Camino Real (The King's Highway) of Spanish Texas Beginning in 1691 and in 1731 the Canary Islanders on their way to San Antonio.

The modern history of Pearsall began with the railroad. On July 4, 1881, the first passenger train pulled into town for the sale of lots by the International Great Northern Railroad. The town was named for Thomas W. Pearsall, a vice-president of the International Great Northern Railroad.

Although there is no recorded deed, the first settler was probably William Eastwood, who bought 500 acres on the west side of the river at the upper Presidio Crossing.

Frio Town, the original Frio County seat and place where Jesse and Frank James were imprisoned, had most of its population move to Pearsall to be near the railroad. In 1883, Pearsall was chosen as the new county seat and was incorporated as a city in 1909. We welcome you to read more about the history of Frio County.

Located at the beginning of the Chisolm Trail, Pearsall had cattle drives down the main street, public hangings and unfenced open range until 1887. Another interesting historical fact: the Mexican General Santa Anna camped near here on the way to victory at the Alamo.

Site history taken from the Pearsall, Texas Chamber of Commerce website.


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Research Questions

The original purpose of this project was to provide a comparison for our work with Mexican American English in North Carolina, since in Pearsall there have been four generations of contact between Spanish and English. However, the Pearsall interviews soon proved interesting in their own right, both for English and for Spanish, and spawned a number of papers.


Ericson, Holly Anne (2007), An Intonational Analysis of Mexican American English in Comparison to Anglo American English. M.A. thesis, North Carolina State University

Callahan, Erin E. (2008), Accomodation without assimilation:Past Tense unmarking and peak accent alignment in Hispanic English. M.A. Thesis, North Carolina State University

Kendall, Tyler S. (2009), Speech rate, pause, and sociolinguistic variation: An examination through the Sociolinguistics Analysis and Archive Project Ph.D. dissertation, Duke University

Thomas, Erik R., and Holly A. Ericson (2007), Intonational distinctiveness of Mexican American English, University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 13.2: 193-205

Wolford, Tonya E., and Phillip M. Carter (2010), Spanish-as-a-threat ideology and the sociocultural context of Spanish, ed. Daniel J. Villa and Susana V. Rivera-Mills. Frankfurt/Madrid: Iberoamericana/Vervuert

van Hofwegen, Janneke (2009), Cross-generational change in /l/ in Chicano English, _English World-Wide_ 30: 302-25