A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 23, 2008
Leather Capital of the World (Yoakum nickname)

The city of Yoakum holds annual “Land of Leather Days” celebration at the end of February and the town’s welcoming sign reads “Land of Leather.” Since at least 1991, Yoakum has called itself the “Leather Capital of the World” because of its many leather manufacturing firms. Yoakum used to be known as the “Green Wrap Tomato Capital of the World” and it still holds an annual Tom Tom Festival.

Neither “Leather Capital” nor “Land of Leather” is trademarked. Surprisingly, Yoakum hasn’t yet been made an official Texas “capital” of leather by the Texas legislature.


Wikipedia: Yoakum, Texas
Yoakum is a city in DeWitt and Lavaca Counties in the U.S. state of Texas. The population was 5,731 at the 2000 census.
(...)
Nickname: Leather Capitol of Texas, Hub City of South Texas

Handbook of Texas Online
YOAKUM, TEXAS. Yoakum is on the Lavaca-DeWitt county line. It was built on a league of land granted to John May by the government of Coahuila and Texas in 1835 and was used as a gathering ground for cattle to be driven up the Chisholm Trail. Yoakum did not grow until the construction of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway in 1887. At this time a townsite was laid out and named after Benjamin F. Yoakum, vice president and general manager of the line. J. P. Jamieson built a store in 1887, and a post office opened that year. Railroad shops were located in Yoakum in 1888, and hundreds of people from surrounding towns found employment at its large roundhouse. The town was incorporated on May 13, 1889, with L. W. Thomas as mayor. By 1896 Yoakum had a cotton mill, three cotton gins, a compress, several churches, a bank, an ice factory, specialty and general stores, two weekly newspapers and one daily, a school system with 700 pupils, and a population of 3,000. By 1914 the number of residents had reached 7,500. In 1919 Carl Welhausen took over a small tanning company, the first of several in the city. The firm, known as Tex-Tan, a manufacturer of saddles, bridles, harnesses, belts, billfolds, and novelties, later became part of the Tandy Corporation.qv By 1940 other local industries included a creamery and a mattress factory. The first commercial tomatoes in the Yoakum area were grown in 1926. By the 1940s fifteen packing sheds in Yoakum shipped tomatoes north, and the town was sometimes called the tomato capital of south central Texas. In 1970 Yoakum had 170 businesses, including a leather-goods shop, a meat-packing plant, a food-processing plant, a metal workshop, a cannery, a newspaper, and two banks. Yoakum community services in 1989 included a nursing home, a hospital, a library, a municipal park, and a municipal airport. The Bluebonnet Youth Ranch, a home for neglected children, was founded by Charles Kvinta in 1968. The former home of J. K. Elkins and Mr. and Mrs. William Browning became the Yoakum Heritage Museum in 1982. The town had twenty-one churches of ten denominations. Among them is St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, which celebrated its centennial in 1969. The First Baptist and First Methodist churches were built in 1889. Yoakum is a division point for the railway and also the site of a Texas highway department office. Since 1960 the town has sponsored an annual wildflower trail in the spring, which includes a guided tour and wildflower art exhibits. The May Tom-Tom Festival, which first publicized the tomato business, began in 1928, was suspended for five years in World War II, and resumed in 1946. The annual event now celebrates the local leather industry and is called the Leather Tom-Tom Festival.

Yoakum USA
Yoakum is known as the “The Leather Capital Of The World” due primarily to the economic impact of 9 Leather Goods manufacturing firms with some 16 factory locations in Yoakum. In its early years, Anglo-Americans used Yoakum as a gathering site for thousands of Texas Longhorns that were grouped into “Cattle Drives” and driven along the Chisolm Trail to market. Yoakum’s townsite was established in 1887 with the arrival of the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad. Once, Yoakum was the “Green Wrap” tomato capital of the world and still commemorates this heritage with the Annual Tom Tom Festival. As this industry faded, the community leaders, namely Mr. C.C. Welhausen, fostered the idea that Yoakum needed another industry upon which to base its economy - thus the beginning of the leather industry era that now employs some 1,500 people and produces millions for the Yoakum area economy. Lavaca and DeWitt counties rank among the top five counties in the State of Texas in cow-calf operations. A true Cowboy-Culture exists in the Yoakum Area due to the thousands of head of cattle grown on area ranches.

Yoakum Area Chamber of Commerce
Yoakum in Brief
Yoakum is located partially in De Witt and Lavaca Counties. When the railroad was building northward through South Central Texas, B.F. Yoakum, the superintendent, was looking for a location to establish an maintenance facility and divide the route into northward and eastward branches. The May family, one of the many Irish families in the area who received land grants from the Mexican government, offered land for a townsite if the railroad would build their facilities here. The town was named for the man who made that decision.

Yoakum immediately became a center of business and commerce. With the advent of refrigerated cars, it became more efficient to ship carcasses rather than live cattle. The abundance of hides and leather tanning facility formed the foundation for a leather manufacturing industry that caused Yoakum to be known as the “Leather Capital of the World.” There are currently nine leather manufacturing firms with nationwide product distribution that headquarters in Yoakum.

Another contributor to the Yoakum economy was the tomato industry. Community leaders discovered a tomato variety that would prosper locally and fill a void in the seasonal production. Since the railroad already had an ice manufacturing plant for shipping, this seemed to be a great cash crop for local farmers. For almost 30 years (lathe ‘20’s through late ‘50’s) Yoakum shipped untold n umbers of refrigerated cars filled with tomatoes. This era is still commemorated with the Tom-Tom Celebration on the first weekend in June.

Because Yoakum has always been a center of business and commerce, it became known as the “hub City of South Texas.” Located equal distance from Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin and Houston, it still benefits from the strategic location selected by the railroad.

31 March 1991, San Antonio (TX) Express-News:
At the far eastern edge of the county, Yoakum has 15 leather companies and is known as the “Leather Capital of the Southwest.”

Dallas (TX) Morning News
Strapped for good chili? Hide out at Leather Days
Author: Kathryn Straach
Publish Date: February 9, 1992
If you’re into leather and/or chili cook-offs, make plans now to head to Yoakum Feb. 29 to March 1 for Land of Leather Days. Where?

“Yoakum is the hub city of South Texas,’ said Rob Layton, chamber of commerce manager. “It’s 100 miles from Houston, San Antonio and Austin.’

Not only is it centrally located, it is the land of leather—reason enough to celebrate.

Google Groups: gov.us.congress.record.extensions
Newsgroups: gov.us.fed.congress.record.extensions
From:
Date: 1999/07/14
Subject: 1999CRE1524 SALUTE TO THE CITY OF YOAKUM, TEXAS

Archive-Name: gov/us/fed/congress/record/1999/jul/13/1999CRE1524
[Congressional Record: July 13, 1999 (Extensions)]
[Page E1524]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr13jy99-16]
[[Page E1524]]

SALUTE TO THE CITY OF YOAKUM, TEXAS
______
HON. RON PAUL
of texas
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, July 13, 1999

Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the City of Yoakum, Texas, which will celebrate its 112th birthday on Wednesday, July 28, 1999, with a festival at the city’s Heritage Museum.

Yoakum is located partially in western Lavaca County and partially in eastern DeWitt County. Today, the city is known as the “Leather Capital of the World,’’ due primarily to the economic impact of 12
leather goods manufacturing firms and some 16 factory locations in Yoakum.

In its early years, Anglo-Americans used Yoakum as a gathering site for thousands of bawling Texas Longhorns that were grouped into cattle drives and driven along the Chisolm Trail to market. Yoakum’s townsite was established in 1887 with the arrival of the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad—the railroad of Yoakum’s history.

Once, Yoakum was the “Green Wrap’’ tomato capital of the world and still commemorates this heritage with the annual “Tom Tom Festival.’’ As that industry faded, the community leaders--namely Mr. C. C. Welhausen—fostered the idea that Yoakum needed another industry as a base to its economy. The result: a leather industry era that now employs some 1,500 and produces millions of dollars of the Yoakum area economy.

Beef production is also huge in Yoakum, and both Lavaca and DeWitt Counties rank in the top five counties in the State of Texas in cow-calf operations. A true cowboy culture exists in the Yoakum area due to the thousands of head of cattle grown on area ranches.

I am proud to represent a city so full of rich, Texas heritage. Mr. Speaker, I hope you will join me sending happy birthday wishes to the City of Yoakum, Texas. 

Victoria (TX) Advocate
Yoakum opens streets for 15th leather festival
Author:  ANN RUNDLE
Date: February 20, 2002
Page: 4A
YOAKUM—Yoakum calls itself the “Leather Capital of the World,’’ and it will celebrate that heritage Thursday through Sunday with the annual Land of Leather Days event. “The reason we are having Land of Leather Days is to recognize the many leather companies that are located in Yoakum,’’ Larry Brandt, president of the Yoakum Chamber of Commerce, said as he explained that some of these industries date back to the early 1900s.

Google Groups: tx.wanted
Newsgroups: alt.culture.us.southwest, rec.music.country.western, tx.wanted
From: “Dan Rick”
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2003 05:21:12 GMT
Local: Wed, Jan 15 2003 1:21 am
Subject: Re: steel laced cantle belts

Found… at “The Leather Capital”, Yoakum TX.  Real nice folks, they will look for what you are hunting for then call you back.  The store’s web site http://www.theleathercapital.com is on the fritz right now, but a picture of one made of imitation leather (The Leather Capital had the real mccoy) is at
http://www.cavenders.com/dept.asp?dept%5Fid=5005 (the second one).

Google Groups: tx.motorcycles
Newsgroups: tx.motorcycles
From: (Ed Stimach)
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 12:51:43 GMT
Local: Mon, Feb 16 2004 8:51 am
Subject: Re: Star Riders of Houston Chapter Ride to Hearne, TX

Our next ride is Saturday 2-28-4. We will ride to Yoakum for their annual “Land of Leather Days” festival. We will meet in Katy (Snappy’s CafĂ© & Grill - 5803 Highway Blvd [Hwy 90]) and after breakfast, depart around 9:00AM.

Sunshiny Days
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Town Motto
(...)
Finally we come upon Yoakum. They kept their sign short and sweet: Land of Leather. There are a bunch of cattle farms around there. They even have a complete cattle topiary scene downtown.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Monday, June 23, 2008 • Permalink