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Merle R. Hudgins

PIERCE, TEXAS. Pierce is on U.S. Highway 59 five miles northeast of El Campo and eight miles west of Wharton in central Wharton County. It was originally named Pierce's Station in 1881. The New York, Texas and Mexican Railway built a ninety-one-mile rail line between Richmond and Victoria, across the upper section of Abel Head (Shanghai) Pierce 's vast holdings. Pierce gave permission to build across his land if he could choose the sites of several stations on his land for loading and unloading cattle. The railroad promised to build a depot near Pierce's headquarters, but after several years Pierce built one, bearing all expenses; he called it Pierce's Station. Because it was the location nearest the geographical center of Wharton County, Pierce made plans to encourage the citizens to make it the county seat. In March 1894, 160 acres was surveyed into sixty-four 240-square-foot blocks and designated Pierce Townsite. The streets and alleys were donated to the public, and several square blocks were reserved for a courthouse, an academy, a park, and a cemetery. Pierce's Station received a post office in 1886, and the name was changed to Pierce in 1895. In 1890 it had approximately forty residents. Pierce tried to persuade the railroad to run a new rail line between Eagle Lake and Bay City on the west side of the Colorado River through his town to make it a crossroads, but he was unsuccessful. He built a three-story hotel, but it failed. He built a church and a few houses for his employees. By 1892 the community had six livestock brokers, several stores, a gin, and fifty residents. By 1914 Pierce was a company town run by A. P. Borden, Pierce's nephew; the population was 100. In 1921 the county established a common-school district, and built a brick schoolhouse with the financial help of the Pierce Ranch. In 1926 the population was still 100.

Pierce reached its zenith during the 1940s, when it had a population of 150 and five businesses. In 1953 the school was annexed to the Wharton Independent School District. The three-story hotel was razed in 1980, and by that time most of the houses on Pierce's streets were gone. The town had a population of 125 in 1967; in 1969 it had forty-nine residents and one business. The Texas Department of Public Safety moved to the Pierce area, and the Wharton County Youth Fair was housed there for a short period. In 1990 the Precinct No. 4 county commissioner's headquarters were located in the structure built by the Youth Fair committee. A lone grocery store, the post office, and the church were the only other enterprises remaining. The town still had a population of forty-nine in 1990 through 2000.


Chris Emmett, Shanghai Pierce: A Fair Likeness (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953; rpt. 1974). J. O. Graham, The Book of Wharton County, Texas (Wharton?: Philip Rich, 1926). Annie Lee Williams, A History of Wharton County (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1964).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Merle R. Hudgins, "PIERCE, TX," accessed August 12, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnp31.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on May 4, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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