Pearce, John Elias (1876–1935)

By: Dorman H. Winfrey

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 1, 1995

John Elias Pearce, Galveston mayor and businessman, son of James C. and Florence L. Pearce, was born on March 8, 1876, in Big Clifty, Kentucky. He was a telegraph operator. He moved to Galveston, Texas, in 1896 and in 1909 married Katherine Pope. Pearce subsequently served as a vice president for the Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad, where he became chief cotton clerk. He organized a stevedore business in 1901 that handled all Galveston freight exclusive of the Southern Pacific line and also organized the Hotel Galvez Operating Company, of which he was president and general manager, in 1922. He later owned the Martini Theater and the Murdoch Bathhouse Company and was president of B. C. Doherty and Company, a clothing store. During the war he represented the United States government as superintendent of labor when the Galveston port and wharves were operated by the government. In 1924 he was a police and fire commissioner, and in 1925 he was elected mayor-president of the Galveston city commission, on which he served five terms. Pearce was a Mason, an Elk, and a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. He died on July 8, 1935, and was buried in Galveston.

S. C. Griffin, History of Galveston, Texas (Galveston: Cawston, 1931). Who Was Who in America, 1943.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Dorman H. Winfrey, “Pearce, John Elias,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995