The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960

Zhe great Pearl J t at
Caddo Lake
KATHERINE WILLIAMS
HE NEED for recording and preserving items of historical
significance in Texas is of constant concern to the his-
torian, who realizes how fickle is memory and how tran-
sient is interest in events which are exciting at the time of occur-
rence. Incidents which caused a furor fifty years ago are often
relinquished to the limbo of legend, and only old-timers of sev-
enty and eighty years of age are able to recall some of the details
surrounding them. A striking example is the great pearl-mussel
hunt at Caddo Lake in the summers of 19o09-1911, for persons of
sixty years of age who have always lived in Jefferson are skeptical
and wonder whether it really happened or whether it is only a
creation of the imaginations of octogenarians. Even a careful
custodian of historical papers like Mrs. B. Koontz of Jefferson
said "if" it really happened she would like to know more about it.
This writer went to Winnsboro, Texas, on March 27, 1959, to
talk to Howard W. Rosser, editor of a monthly paper called
Farm Talk. Rosser is fortunately a young man of curiosity and
alert to the news value of past events. In May, 1958, he revived
the story of the pearl hunting in his paper. He obtained much
of his information from talks with Earnest Bewley, a resident of
De Kalb, Texas, who had been one of the mussel hunters. Rosser
also talked to Hubert Howlett, who took part in the project and
who is still living at his fishing camp at Caddo Lake. After veri-
fying Rosser's information, the writer went to Jefferson to consult
files of the Jimplecute, but learned that the papers of 19o09-1911
had been lost in a fire. The writer, however, talked to several
old-timers in Jefferson and then went to Marshall to consult the
files of the Marshall Messenger. Old papers preserved on micro-
film contributed further verification of the stories. Miss Rebecca

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/. Accessed July 13, 2014.