A Tribute to Christopher Columbus Pearson

1859 - 1910

Source: Burnet Bulletin, 17 Nov 1910

transcribed by JoAnn Myers, Jan 2005

 

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Hon. C. C. Pearson, A Friend to the Youth of his Country.

One of the best descriptive writers in the United States journeyed to the Grand Canon of the Colorado in Northern Arizona for the purpose of preparing an article for a great periodical. Standing on the brink of that wonderful gorge, the grandeur and sublimity of the scene overwhelmed him. Gazing down into that marvelous chasm with the myriads of colors, down, down ten thousand feet midst craig and pinnacle of wierd, fantastic shape, like a [text unreadable] the beautiful Colorado peacefully wound its way. Awe-struck and speechless for a time stood the man of letters; then turning to a companion, remarked, "I can't describe this. I would that I could."

I would pay some just tribute to the memory of a departed friend and companion, a friendship cemented and strengthened by the association of a lifetime; I hope I can make a truthful record, that I can write of his many virtues sincerely and lay not myself open to the charge of praising his work unduly. Yet as I approach the task a feeling of inability, of helplessness, comes over me; a thousand endearing incidents of a life companionship passes before me in the retrospect, a thousand courtesies received at his hands is in mind's eye, and if I write not dispassionately, the reason will be evident.

Fifty-one years was the span alloted our friend to fashion and build an earthly temple. Wednesday afternoon, November 9th, 1910, rest came for his work was finished. thursday afternoon with Masonic honors, participated in by the lodges from Bertram, Marble Falls and Burnet, and attended by hundreds of his friends from all sections of the county, interment was had at the Odd Fellows' cemetery, Rev. C. A. Taylor conducting the religious ceremonies. Out there in the silent little city, free from earthly care and toil, our friend sleeps, and though loving hands o'er the mound above him piled in great profusion flowers and sweed scented roses, he knows not their fragrance. Our words of affection and praise are pitifully futile to awaken in that bit of pulseless clay, one single pleasurable emotion, for to this world poor Lum is only a memory; but if he lived among us a manly man, may God help us to cherish and keep forever green in our hearts the record of his manliness. Let us therefore view the temple he hath builded, and see if head and hand and heart wrought not wisely and well.

Christopher Columbus Pearson was the oldest son of W. II and Margaret Pearson, both now deceased, the father in 1890 and the mother in 1902. He was born at buckhorn, Austin County, Texas, May 29th, 1850. He attended his first school at the age of seven, his teacher being a German by the name of Proddie. At this first school he received a merit card which he has preserved to th is day. On the back, in his own boyish and unsteady lettering is written the word, "Clumbuss."

The family moved to Burnet when the subject of this sketch was nine years old, and here he had for his teachers Prof. George Stalley and Prof. J. T. Motley, both of whom are still living, the former, at his home place on Spring Creek West of Burnet, in the 94th year of his age, and the latter in Burnet, now well along towards eighty. In the early seventies, the family again moved, this time to what was known as Bagdad, in Williamson County. Here he had two years in school under Prof. W. H. Russell, now of Rivers, California. Returning to Burnet County in 1876, the family settled in the little village of South Gabriel, near the present town of Bertram, and here again he took up his studies under the late J. D. Riley, who taught in the little crude stone building beside the "big wide road." After a term in the Davilla Institute, at Davilla, Texas and a commercial [text unreadable] in a college at Austin in [text unreadable] 1881 where he took [text unreadable] bookkeeping [text unreadable] days ended.

When the Austin & Northwestern R. R. was completed through Burnet in 1882, Mr. Pearson was made agent and telegraph operator at Bertram, which position he held until 1888, when he was elected District Clerk of Burnet County. It was from Bertram during this period that those interesting and often highly humorous letters began to appear in the county papers under the name of "Rustler." He used this nom-de-plume for all his public communications, and possessing a never-ending store of droll, rich humor, with a style evidencing the literary talent, these letters have for many years added material benefit and pleasure to the reading public of this section.

Elected County Clerk in November 1890, he served for two years, after which he again took up railroad work, this time as agent at Granite Mountain, at the same time acting as bookkeeper for the Texas & New York Granite Co. At the latter end of Cleveland's second term as President in 1895, Mr. Pearson was appoointed postmaster of burnet, and this position he held until a change of administration, when he was succeded by his sister, Miss Willie. Coming to Burnet from Granite Mountain, he became station agent at Burnet for the H. & T. C. R. R. and held this position at the time of his death.

As the nominee of the Democratic party he was elected to the Legislature from the counties of Williamson and Burnet in 1902 and served with distinction in the regular and called sessions of the 28th legislature. The road law for Burnet County, which bears his name was passed at this session, and while it has been often criticized it still remains the law of this county practically unchanged, though three other sessions of our law making bodies have been held since that time.

In 1908 Mr. Pearson was again elected and served in all the sessions of the now famous Thirty-First, and this year he was again nominated without opposition and elected the day before his death. It will be impossible in this sketch to speak of his legislative work. That however is a matter of record and known of all. It was his hand, however, be it said to his everlasting credit, that framed and had passed finally the law removing what was known as the "pauper clause" in the matter of allowing pensions to our disabled Confederate soldiers, as well as making a substantial increase in the amount thereof.

On the 15th of September 1997, he was married to Miss Margaret, daughter of Capt. and Mrs. Darragh of New York City. To this uniion, two children were born, only one of whom, Sarah, aged ten, is living. Beside the grief-stricken widow, there survives him, a brother, W. H. Pearson, (or "Scrap," as he is better known), and a sister, Miss Willie.

The best test of character, a true index of man's real merit may be had from an insight into his home life; his treatment of those dependent dear ones whose happiness the laws of God and man have entrusted to his keeping. For a number of years, even before the death of his father, the care of the family largely devolved on him, and speaking from abundant opportunity to know, I must say that never was man more devoted to mother, brother, sister, wife and daughter. After his father's death in 1890, a comfortable home was purchased in Burnet and here he bountifully provided for the comfort of mother and sister. Many is the time the writer enjoyed the hospitality of that home and well do I recall the good mother, who seemed to never tire speaking of the [text unreadable] of her loyal son, "Columbus." To brother and sister he was alike kind and never tiring in his efforts to assist them along life's rugged road. As Miss Willie herself remarked to the writer since his death, "God bless him, he was to me father, mother, brother, sister and all. I went to him always for aid and counsel and he never failed me." To wife and little daughter he was equally kind and devoted, and as we turn from this page of his life's record I feel that he richly deserves the plaudits of those who believe that a part of our purpose here on earth is to bring some happiness and sunshine into the lives of our fellows.

Known personally to almost every man, woman and child in this country, few men had more warm and loyal friends than he,. Once your friend, Lum Pearson never wavered, never doubted, never hesitated in your defense, and as the Hon. Dayton Moses aptly said at the cemetery, he was your friend, whether right or wrong, and deserted you only when your unworthiness was proven beyond every shadow of doubt. God bless your memory my dear old friend; who better than myself knows the bigness and goodness of your heart? Leaving my native town some years ago to try my fortunes in the big hurrying, selfish world, yours was the last hand clasp and your public utterance, "May God bless and keep and prosper thee my friend, good bye" recurred to me many times thereafter when the way seemed rough and the heart grew faint. Returning home a few years ago, none gave a warmer welcome, and now Lum, looking back o'er all these years with their successes and their failures, the joys and the sorrows, with uncovered head and a sad heart I stand before the temple of thyhandiwork, and humbly thank God that you were my friend. Some of your fellows may have misunderstood you, some may have spoken ill of you, but I know and your God knows the nobility of your soul. Driving into Burnet a few short months ago, lat at night from some meeting, he asked me this question: "Altman, if you were chronicling the work of my life, would your summary be failure?" Let me answer again: "No! A thousand times no!"

It is impossible in a sketch of this kind to do full justice to the manifold activities of our friend in works and deeds worthy of emulation. But one thing we cannot overlook or forgeet: public education, the schools of our county, our boys and girls striving after knowledge, never had a more devoted and enthusiastic friend and supporter than C. C. Pearson. He was never happier than when attending some school closing or when making report thereof to the county papers, praising and commending their efforts. This work, as the writer has heard him often remark, was one of the greatest pleasures of his life; it might almost be said to have been his hobby. A few days before his death, fully conscious and realising the approaching end, he called for paper and pencil and wrote: "A friend to the youth of his country." "Let this be my epitaph," he further wrote, and most every human being in our good county knows how true and fittingly should these lines adorn the stone that shall mark his last resting place.

For the past twenty-one years, with probably a skip of one or two, he has awarded to the graduating class of the Burnet High School a medal for the highest grade in oratory. The contest for the "Pearson Medal" at the close of each school year is always looked forward to with interest. But in this, as in other matters, his mind ever clear and heart ever true to the best interests of the great cause of education, he has provided for the continuation of this medal through some little endowment which he arranged in an insurancy policy.

About three years ago, there appeared, first through a little sore or pimple on his chin, what later developed into the dread cancer. After one or two slight operations at Austin he went to New York and underwent there, what for a time seemed a successful operation. But the disease reappeared in mouth and stomach, and so on last Wednesday, November 9th, death came, and he was ready. A member of the Christian Church since August 1804, to the rev. C. A. Taylor he said: "Iam ready. I regret some of the things I have done in life, but am ready to meet my God." He made all arrangements for his funeral, giving names of friends whom he wished advised of his death, and wrote to a few parties with whom he had not been on good terms or had had differences, saying he bore them no ill will. Then came the summons, and a poor, weak, pained-racked body was at ease, and the prophecy fulfilled, that "The dust shall return unto the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." "Look after my family in a Masonic way," were about his last written words and as the lights on the other shore came out and beckoned him and a cold, selfish world, the scenes of his wonderful activities, grew dim in the receding light, some way I wonder if poor Lum heard not the welcome, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

No man in public life can do his full duty at all times and under all circumstances and not have those who will abuse and deride. God made us all after his own image it is true, but there the likeness ends, for we are just mortal and liable to err. So did Lum Pearson perhaps, but allowing for the frailities of human mind and heart, taking the work of this man even to the end, is it not worthy of emulation in many things? If neither wealth nor high honors came to him, does he not leave us a far grander and more lasting legacy in the record of an honorable life, spent, not altogether for self, but for the betterment and for the happiness of those among whom he lived?

Loving hands may mark your last resting place with towering marble or granite, but Lum, you leave something far more enduring than all these, a good name. Yes it was true, you were a "friend to the youth of his country," and in the hearts of the living the love you so richly deserve will ever bloom. The temple representing the work of your life is finished, your fellow citizens pronounce it well done, and may the great God of Mercy before whom you now stand likewise approve. Lum, if we have wrongly accused you and misunderstood you betimes, He will not because He knows--maybe we did not.

Dearest and best friend, good bye. May God help us all to meet you in that "Beautiful isle of Somewhere."

T. A. Altman

 

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