A Pearl of Orange’s History
Sitting at her kitchen table, Pearl Stanfield thumbed through Dr. Howard Williams’ book, “Gateway to Texas.” Bookmarks were scattered throughout the volume indicating her family’s mark on Orange History.
Stanfield celebrated her 89th birthday Tuesday. Her family’s roots are entwined with Orange’s colorful history.
Born at home in Brunner on Oct. 27, 1918, Stanfield was one of six children born to Oscar Olivia (Poole) Myers and Henry Carlyle Myers.
Brunner was between Orange and West Orange, on front street.
Her family tree has been traced back to Europe and also includes Osage Indians native to America. “Some of my family met the Mayflower,” she said. “I am proud of my heritage.”
They settled in Orange after fleeing Savannah, Georgia during the Civil War.
A tomboy at heart, Stanfield said, “I was the queen with all the boys.” She loved to hunt. Whatever they caught, “Mamma would cook it.”
“I would set flying squarrel traps. Then put a string around the squarrels neck, take him to school and sell him for a quarter.”
She played marbles and could “split a top” as well as any of the boys, if not better.
“Sis, your as tough as a hickory nut,” her mom would say.
Stanfield’s father and paternal grandfather, Henry Clay Myers, owned a store with a meat market, located on the same street they lived on. “The depression came. Grandpa and daddy fed just about everybody in Brunner.”
Unfortunately her grandfather, was shot and killed in a dispute with another meat market owner. Her father continued to run the family business.
Myers was not the only member of Stanfield’s family to die by the gun. The legend of the Poole brothers reads like a western “shoot ‘em up.” Three brothers, all shot to death in unrelated instances and different times.
Here’s the condensed version.
Stanfield’s maternal grandfather, Oscar Poole had a run in with a Texas Ranger named Fuller. On Christmas Eve, 1899, Poole was shot right between the eyes by Fuller, while sitting in the barber’s chair getting a shave and haircut. When Fuller came back to town for his trial for the shooting, Oscar’s brother Tom Poole went into the barber shop. Fuller was sitting in the same chair he shot Oscar in. Tom said, “Here’s the same for you,” killing the man that shot his brother. He was exonerated in the shooting.
Tom Poole and Marshall Jem Jett were drinking in a saloon. They got into an argument, Jett pulled a gun, fatally shooting Tom. Jett was later killed by the third Poole brother, George. He spent a short time in jail in Jefferson County and was later killed in Lake Charles in March of 1908 during a strike.
There was one more fateful encounter in the family tree. In 1936, Ed O’Riley, Chief of Police was gunned down by a Baptist preacher named Edgar Eskridge.
Eskridge was known for toting his revolvers to church and setting them on the pulpit on each side of his Bible. “He was crazy,” said Stanfield. “He shot and killed my cousin, Ed O’Riley.”
No wonder Stanfield was born with a gun in her hand.
Stanfield married Billy Burgess in 1938. Their favorite pastimes were hunting and Disney. Ask Pearl about a duck dinner and the hunt they never discussed.
They loved Disney after two trips to Disneyland, Walt Disney World opened in Orlando, Fla. Two trips a year they made to the Magic Kingdom. The cast came to know them so well, Pearl had to perform every time they went to the Crazy Horse Saloon.
Together they raised three daughters, Juanita, Billie and Beverly. The pair also have five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Pearl says Beverly and husband Jody, who live in Bridge City are her right arm.
Billy Burgess passed away in March 1997.
Stanfield filled her time working with the church, visiting the sick and teaching Sunday school. She also enjoys throwing parties. “They call me party girl.”
That’s what she was doing during a fateful trip to Walmart. “I had lights and decorations strewn all over the house.” She was preparing for a Christmas party.
At Walmart, she spied longtime friend J.D. Stanfield bending over, looking at eggs. “I bumped into him on purpose,” she said. Seeing coffee in her cart, he tried to invite himself to her house. “I said no, no, you can’t. I didn’t want him to see my house like that.”
Afraid he thought she was putting him off, she called him a few days later, after all the party supplies were put away. That was all it took.
“We had known each other all our lives. I guess we were meant for each other. If God gave us a year, that would be fine,” she said.
They got nine. J.D. died Nov. 15, 2008. “I miss him greatly.”
Pearl still visits the sick in nursing homes and does church work.
“Like most families we were not perfect, but the legacy I want to leave my children and grandchildren is to remember the Lord. Walk in his way and accept the Bible verse John 3:16 God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son and those that will accept Him will have eternal life.”