Pierce statue (left) and the marker for
his brother, Jonathan Edwards Pierce (right). Photo courtesy Ken
Rudine, October 2003|
|History on Pecan
Once known as Deming’s
Bridge, after Edwin A. Deming, who constructed a crude bridge over the
Tres Palacios River in 1857, the community underwent a change of name in 1899.
There had been a community in the area since the 1850s but it went unnamed until
a post office opened in 1858 – with Deming as postmaster.
“Shanghai” Pierce and his brother Jonathan had their ranch headquarters just
south of the bridge around the time of the Civil War. The post office closed after
the war but reopened in 1872.
By the mid 1880s, Deming’s Bridge had a thriving
population of 300 which grew to 500 by the early 1890s.
The town had 17
business at this time, including two stores and a wagonmaker. Jonathan Pierce
had taken over as postmaster for the town by this time and when his son Abel received
an appointment in the Navy, Pierce repaid the kindness of his son’s benefactor
by renaming the town in his honor. Robert Bradley Hawley was the namesake, although
the local school retained the name of Deming’s Bridge.
In 1903 the New
York, Texas and Mexican Railway was advancing across the prairie and Jon Pierce
donated land to insure the railroad would pass through the region. The town of
appeared that year and Hawley’s post office and Masonic Lodge moved to the new
town, cutting Hawley loose to become an eventual ghost town.
most notable reminder of the town is the well-kept Hawley Cemetery whose most
famous resident is Abel
“Shanghai” Pierce. His statue, ordered far in advance of his death, is one
of the tallest landmarks in Matagorda County outside of Bay
who was fiercely proud of his thrift, got the sculptor to give him a hefty discount
and erected the statue in Blessing
so that he could admire it before it was put to use. Pierce
was an early believer in what funeral directors now refer to as “pre-need.” Pierce
died in the last days of 1900 but his statue stands today like a sentinel in mufti,
gazing unblinckingly toward the gulf.
Hawley Cemetery historical marker|
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, February 2009
Matagorda County: Old Hawley Cemetery
The Old Hawley Cemetery is located about 3 miles northeast of Blessing.
I was there a little early to take good clear photographs of the Shanghai Pierce
Statue, said to be taller than any statue of a Confederate General. - Barclay
Gibson, February 17, 2009
Things you should know about Shanghai Pierce
by Brewster HudspethPierce,
Texas by Brewster Hudspeth
An informal history of Pierce, Texas:
Containing barely- related facts on neighboring towns in Wharton, Jackson and
Comments: I first learned about Shanghai Pierce last February when I was asked
to be part of the entertainment for the First Annual Shanghai Days Cowboy Gathering
in Wharton in April. And then what I was told was not nearly as interesting as
..... Well, thanks for the skinny behind Pierce. - Lou Ann Herda