History of Pleasanton Texas

History of Pleasanton, Texas

If the trees could talk, there is a grove of heritage oaks near the intersection of U.S. Highway 281 and Main Street in downtown Pleasanton, Texas that would have much to tell. They might describe a bustling 21st century city, just 30 miles south of San Antonio, that is growing by leaps and bounds in the midst of a spectacular oil boom and marked by thriving new businesses, hotels, construction, capital improvements, and yes – traffic.

It’s a renaissance for this once-sleepy town that was built on the foundation of hard work and hope.But let’s rewind to the beginning of the story – the one that the ancient oaks of Pleasanton remember.

Location, Location, Location

When the old oak trees were younger and leaner, the town of Pleasanton was established near the mouth of Bonita Creek. Indian attacks on the town of Amphion had forced a search for a new county seat for Atascosa County, and the Pleasanton area evolved as the best candidate. It was here that two old Spanish roads – the old Laredo Trail to the east of present-day Pleasanton, and the newer Laredo Road near present-day Main street — came together along the banks of the Atascosa River.

Travelers on these roadways, stopping overnight to enjoy the cool water and the shady live oak trees — and feeling safer there from Indian raids — began to settle at the site. One of these settlers, John Bowen, founded the town in 1858 and named it Pleasanton after his friend, fellow settler John Pleasants. Bowen, who had the distinction of being San Antonio’s first Anglo-American postmaster, donated five square miles of land for development of the town.The town quickly had a life of its own: the first general store in town was opened by its very first settler, E.B. Thomas. And in 1860, Pleasanton was designated the first Atascosa County school district, with W.J. Pepham serving as the first teacher.

Indians Attack

But early Pleasanton, founded partly to escape Indian raids, was not completely safe even with all the development going on. In 1861, the Indians raided Atascosa County, killing two people in Pleasanton, wounding two, and capturing one. And while warnings of possible Indian attack were still reported in local newspapers as late as 1873, additional attacks never came about.

Getting Connected

Just after the turn of the twentieth century, the city of Pleasanton had two newspapers, the Pleasanton Picayune, which became the Pleasanton Express in 1909, and the Pleasanton Reporter. In 1910, the county seat was moved again, this time to Jourdanton. Pleasanton continued to grow to a population nearing 1,500 and became the connection with cities to the north and south. In 1912, the Missouri Pacific Railroad linked the town to San Antonio, and two years later Pleasanton was connected by railroad to Corpus Christi.

Birthplace of the Cowboy

Pleasanton encouraged and benefitted from the thriving cattle industry of the area and became a gathering place for cowboys who were driving cattle north to Kansas rail lines … and the nickname “birthplace of the cowboy” was born.

Today, Pleasanton hosts the annual “Cowboy Homecoming Festival”, to commemorate the end of the long cattle drives, when the weary cowboys would return home to South Texas. The festival, held annually in October, offers cook-offs, a parade, rodeos, and carnivals in tribute to the iconic cowboy and to the cattle industry.

Pioneers of a Different Type

In 1957, the Pleasanton School District voted to integrate its schools. The vote — the first in the State of Texas — came shortly after the crisis at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Pleasanton school enrolled some three dozen African American pupils, and Texas history was made.

This land is our land

For decades, farming has been the backbone of the area. The rolling terrain in and around Pleasanton consists of fertile, sandy soil with an underlying layer of bluish-grey clay. Almost anything will grow in this environment: from watermelons and peanuts, to hay, olives and strawberries and more.

Titillating Trivia about Pleasanton

Scenes from The Sugarland Express was filmed in and around the intersection of 2nd Street and Commerce Street. When country music legend George Strait was born on May 18, 1952, his parents lived in a little yellow house (which still stands) on Goodwin near the corner of Bryant in Pleasanton. The nearest hospital at the time was in Poteet, so that’s where he was born. A few years later, George’s father moved the family to Pearsall to run the family’s 2000-acre ranch. George Strait now lives outside of San Antonio. Willie Nelson worked as a radio DJ in Pleasanton at one time.

Learn More about the Area

The Longhorn Museum tells the story of the hard life of the working cowboy of Atascosa County. Much of the museum’s content illustrates the claim – accepted here as fact – that the legendary icon of a cowboy of the American West had his beginnings in this area, where men worked and herded cattle on horseback.The museum exhibits tell the story of the early settlers’ and cowboy lifestyles, with information and artifacts including early covered wagons and stagecoaches as well as farming and ranching equipment and displays. A world class Wild Game Trophy Exhibit is of particular interest to outdoors men.For those who are interested in the early railroad days of South Texas, the old San Antonio, Uvalde & Gulf Railroad’s Pleasanton Depot, as well as a train caboose, is located adjacent to the museum and houses exhibits and information relevant to the old railroad times. It is located on Highway 97 between the city and Interstate 37 and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.