The Pearl in the vault

Pearl Pearson has worked as the full-time assistant deputy to the clerk of Johnson County, keeping records in the vault since 2004. Person sees herself as a keeper of the history of the land in Johnson County.

She sits in a vault. Red leather-bound books line the walls, holding records of Johnson County – who owns land, who they purchased it from, who married whom.

The records are public and people come and go throughout the day, most in silence. Some stay for hours, taking photos of deeds to send to curious commercial enterprises. Some work for title companies, others for land developers and many for the oil and gas industry.  

Pearl Pearson sits silently behind her desk in the heart of a vault. She’s surrounded by the sound of hard books being pulled from their shelves, the smack of covers hitting the Formica tabletops and the swoosh of pages being turned.

During the most recent oil and gas boom in 2014, up to 35 people filled the vault – an area that feels crowded with only five people – all competing for the knowledge sought by their employers and attempting to conceal their work from each other. In those moments, she’s more of an umpire than a record keeper.

She monitors the activity, helping when visitors can’t find a deed or title.

It might be your first time meeting her, but her smile greets everyone like an old friend. Pearson takes the time to listen to the stories and ramblings of those who enter her vault; she makes time to care.

But not many know that she has worked in customer service for over four decades, that she helped run hot-shot hauls into oil and gas fields with her father, or that she helped to open the Flying J in Casper.

Pearson began her work in public records before she was out of high school. She was just like any high school senior in 1971. She had dreams of becoming a veterinarian. When funding seemed impossible, she considered joining the military, an idea that didn’t sit well with her World War II veteran father. So when a temporary position working with public records came along in Natrona County, Pearson jumped at the opportunity.

She was young, energetic and eager to learn. She helped where she could. After the temporary position ended, Pearson asked if she could stay on, if they could find the money to keep her and they did. A self-described “floater,” she went from one office to another, learning what each did and how she could help.

After a decade, Pearson moved on. She married and moved to Texas. She experienced Hurricane Alicia in 1983 and returned to Casper in 1985. She always wanted to return to the work she enjoyed – keeping records. But Natrona County wasn’t hiring, so Pearson helped out with her father’s hotshot service. She drove long hours taking parts and components to oil and gas field platforms and worked other jobs. The whole time she wanted to return to the record-keeping work.

When she remarried in 1995, she moved to Kaycee. She worked jobs in Kaycee and Buffalo.

Then she got part-time work with the Johnson County Clerk’s office as bookkeeper in early 2004, and by November of that same year, she became the full-time assistant deputy to the clerk in the vault and abstractor.

Pearson doesn’t see shelf after shelf of deeds; she sees the history of her adopted home – a genealogy of the geography. Pearson cares about the job she’s doing. She cares about the many people who come into her room with no windows.  

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