Pearl Burgess: A slice of Orange history
She was taken completely by surprise at commissioners court Monday when Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux proclaimed Thursday, Oct. 27 as “Pearl Burgess-Stanfield Day.”
“I’ve written proclamations and we’ve passed them for the last 17 years,” said Thibodeaux. “This is one of the most interesting stories I have read. When I read this proclamation you’ll realize the historical value of Mrs. Burgess and the historical value to Orange County of her family.”
Burgess’ family fills the pages of Dr. Howard Williams’ book, “Gateway to Texas.” Pearl’s copy has bookmarks scattered throughout the volume indicating her family’s mark on Orange History.
Born at home in Brunner on Oct. 27, 1920, Stanfield was one of six children born to Oscar Olivia (Poole) Myers and Henry Carlyle Myers.
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 in an earlier article on her life. “I am proud of my heritage.”
A true tomboy, Burgess loved to hunt, shoot marbles and could “split a top” as well as any of the boys, if not better.
Both of Burgess’ grandfathers were Orange County judges and so was her great-uncle.
Not all of her family history is glorious. Her grandfather, was shot and killed in a dispute with another meat market owner in the infamous “Meat War.”
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.
In 1936, Burgess’ cousin, Ed O’Riley, the chief of police was gunned down by a Baptist preacher named Edgar Eskridge.
“I don’t know why my preacher is always saying, ‘Pearl, behave yourself,’” she said laughing Monday.
Pearl married Billy Burgess in 1938. Together they raised three daughters, Juanita, Billie and Beverly. Billy passed away in March 1997.
She later married J.D. Stanfield. After nine years, he died on Nov. 15, 2008.
Pearl spends her days visiting the sick in nursing homes and does church work. She continues to drive and maintains her own home and yard at the ripe young age of 93.
“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.”
“I want to say amen after that.” Said Precinct 3 Commissioner John Dubose.
Burgess said her daughter Beverly jokingly told her she was bringing her to court to commit her. She said her preacher was there to make sure she was committed.
“This is a great surprise to me,” said Burgess. “I have two grandfathers up there on the wall, their pictures, they were judges. I really appreciate this, it makes me feel humble in front of ya’ll. Thank you very, very much.”
“When I read your story, that was the most interesting thing I had read in a long time.
Especially the gun fight,” said Thibodeaux. “I know you don’t like to talk about that, but that was interesting. Maybe you want to tell the court about those gunfights.”
“Well I gave up my last gun the other day,” said Burgess. “My last gun was a BB gun and it’s for my great-grandson.”
“So your going to go the straight and narrow now?” asked Thibodeaux.
“The court can rest easy now,” said John Dubose.
Thibodeaux said, “Mrs. Burgess, now that your leaving, we’re gonna let the deputy sheriff go home now.”
“He better follow her,” said one of the audience members as they laughed.
“Like I just said, I left my guns at home,” said Burgess laughingly, as she left the courtroom.