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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“Did you hear about the carpenter who drank too many screwdrivers? He got hammered” (2/17)
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Entry from December 10, 2006
Watermelon Capital of Texas (Hempstead) & Seedless Watermelon Capital of Texas (Knox County)

Who knew that there would be so much competition for “Watermelon Capital of Texas”?

Knox County is officially the “Seedless Watermelon Capital of Texas” by act of the Texas Legislature in 1997. Hempstead (west of Houston) calls itself the “Watermelon Capital of Texas,” as does Dilley (south of San Antonio). The Bolivar Peninsula used to be the “Watermelon Capital of Texas.”


Official Capital Designations - Texas State Library
Seedless Watermelon Capital of Texas
Knox City
House Concurrent Resolution No. 245, 75th Legislature, Regular Session (1997)

Texas Legislature
By:  HaywoodS.C.R. No. 92
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, The Lone Star State is home to many communities whose agricultural enterprise and endeavors comprise the backbone of the state’s economy; and

WHEREAS, Knox City is home of a unique crop of seedless watermelons which thrives in this community of 1,440 with its sandy soil and an average growing season of 217 days; developed in the high plains, the seedless watermelon is a testament of the ingenuity and determination of the people of Knox City and Knox County to produce a fruitful crop from the often unforgiving terrain; and

WHEREAS, Johnson’s Farms, operated by the families of Donald Johnson and his son, Dwayne Johnson, served as the birthplace of this landmark innovation in agricultural history; the produce is shipped to every state in the union and has gained worldwide prominence in the global market; the success of the seedless watermelon has seen operations expand to California, Mexico, Central America, and Israel with the seeds produced in Knox City being sold to other operations; and

WHEREAS, Knox City plays annual host to the Seedless Watermelon Festival held each July, which serves to promote the area’s most treasured commodity and attracts tourists from around the state and nation; the event also serves as a community reunion where friends and families come together each year to renew friendships and share in fellowship; and

WHEREAS, The ever increasing popularity and availability of the seedless watermelon has been of significant impact to the community’s agricultural production and overall economy; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 75th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby designate Knox City as the Seedless Watermelon Capital of Texas; and, be it further

RESOLVED, That an official copy of this resolution be prepared for Knox City as an expression of highest regard by the Texas House of Representatives and Senate.

Knox City
Knox City
“Seedless Watermelon Capital of the World”

In the spring of 1903 it was learned that the Orient Railroad would be passing through where Knox City now stands. A far-sighted group of businessmen each gave fifty acres of land for a town site. When the promoters requested a post office for “Orient”, they found the name was already taken. The name Knox City was then selected taking the name from the county named for Gen. Henry Knox, a member of George Washington’s cabinet. Hailed as the “Seedless Watermelon Capital of The World”, Knox City hosts a festival in July offering free watermelon for all. Melons are shipped all over the US and Canada and seeds for the melons are shipped around the world. Abundant quail dove, and wild hog abound for the hunter. Shoppers and visitors will find unique shops offering hand crafted wooden items, exclusive gift shops and a commercial greenhouse ablaze with poinsettia during the Christmas season. Knox City Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 91, Knox City TX 79529, 940-658-3442,

Hempstead, Texas
Hempstead is located 50 miles west of Houston on U.S. 290 and State Highway 6. Hempstead is known as the “Watermelon Capital of Texas,” and agri-business is important to the town where livestock and row crops grow in addition to the popular watermelon and other fruits and vegetables. The Hempstead area offers the advantage of working and living in a rural setting with easy access to the full range of urban services in the Houston Metroplex. Prairie View A&M University provides higher education within five minutes. U.S. 290 gives four-lane access into the Houston market. Houston Intercontinental Airport and the Port of Houston offer transportation advantages. I-10 is located within 25 minutes and I-45 is within an hour.

Handbook of Texas Online
HEMPSTEAD, TEXAS. Hempstead, the county seat of Waller County, is on U.S. Highway 290 at its junction with State highways 6 and 159, fifty miles northwest of Houston. Dr. Richard Rodgers Peebles and James W. McDade, founders of Hempstead, organized the Hempstead Town Company on December 29, 1856, to sell lots in the new town at the terminus of the projected Houston and Texas Central Railway. The doctor named the town for his brother-in-law, Dr. G. S. B. Hempstead of Portsmouth, Ohio. Peebles and his wife, Mary Ann Groce Peebles, contributed 2,000 acres from the Jared E. Groce, Jr., estate for the townsite, which Mary Ann Peebles helped lay out. The Houston and Texas Central was extended to Hempstead on June 29, 1858, and the town became a distribution center between the Texas interior and the Gulf Coast. Hempstead incorporated on November 10, 1858, and its importance as a transportation center increased with construction of the Washington County Railroad from Hempstead to Brenham. A post office was established in 1857. During the Civil War the town served as a Confederate supply and manufacturing center. Hempstead was the site of a Confederate military hospital; three Confederate camps were located in its vicinity. Despite occupation of the town by federal troops during Reconstruction and recurring yellow fever epidemics, Hempstead prospered after the Civil War. Availability of transportation facilities and the surrounding area’s large cotton production facilitated growth of textile manufacturing and cotton processing industries. Merchandising and processing grew rapidly between 1867 and the 1880s. The town prospered as a transportation center and became Waller county seat in May 1873. Hempstead’s commercial, manufacturing, and processing sectors suffered large financial losses from fires between 1872 and 1876. Production of the town’s cottonseed oil mill rose to a $90,000 gross value, second highest in the state, by 1880. Lack of banking facilities slowed the retail sector in the 1890s. In 1904 the population was 1,849. In 1906 the Citizen’s State Bank was chartered.

In the twentieth century, produce shipping and truck hauling gradually replaced cotton. The Raccoon Bend oilfield developed near the town. Hempstead’s location on the Southern Pacific Railroad and the convergence of state and federal highways helped sustain the town’s economy when its population decreased from 2,500 in 1914 to 1,395 in 1959. Hempstead was the largest shipper of watermelons in the United States until the 1940s. 

Handbook of Texas Online
BOLIVAR PENINSULA. Bolivar Peninsula, named for Simón Bolívar (1783-1830), the South American hero, is a narrow strip of eroding land or “barrier island” stretching twenty-seven miles along the Texas Gulf Coast in a northeasterly direction to form eastern Galveston County (the center of the peninsula is at 29°26’ N, 94°41’ W). At its widest point between Crystal Beach and Caplen, the peninsula is three miles wide. At its narrowest point—where Rollover Pass divides the community of Gilchrist—the peninsula is a quarter of a mile wide. Water separates the peninsula from Galveston Islandqv by a distance of less than three miles. The sheltered Gulf Intracoastal Waterway,qv which extends the length of the peninsula on the north side, is used primarily for transporting freight; at Bolivar Roads, it forms a water passageway that serves as the marine entrance from the Gulf of Mexico to Galveston Bay. The Bolivar portion of the waterway belongs to the Galveston District and is maintained by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Bolivar Peninsula is accessible by land from the Texas mainland only through southern Chambers County. Towns on the peninsula, in addition to Crystal Beach (the only incorporated community), Caplen, and Gilchrist, include Port Bolivar and High Island; independent school districts serving the peninsula include Galveston and High Island. At the southwestern tip of the peninsula at Point Bolivarqv stands old Fort Travis, named for Alamo hero Col. William B. Travis.
(...)
Once an important agricultural and ranching area known as the “breadbasket of Galveston” and the “watermelon capital” of Texas, Bolivar Peninsula also enjoyed a brief oil boom centered near High Island.

Weighty Watermelons, Roadside America
Our night visit to the city park in Dilley, Texas, bore bitter fruit. Dilley calls itself the “Self-proclaimed Watermelon Capital of Texas,” yet their statue is no more than five feet long—and possibly smaller than some real watermelons. Local watermelon production has averaged 15 million pounds, so Dilley is no slouch. Maybe we just missed bigger tributes in the dark. Harvesting happens in June.

Luling, Texas does a better job with their impressive Watermelon water tower, and amusing conversions of old oil drills into watermelon tributes and other cartoon scenes. Luling holds the Watermelon Thump car rally, seed-spitting competitions, and a Watermelon Queen pageant the last weekend in June. The celebration has been going since 1953. 

Google Groups: austin.food
From:  sam
Date:  Tues, Mar 26 2002 1:48 pm

Karen Kay wrote:
> Where is Hempstead?
bout a hunnered miles east on 290.

> Do they have a good farmer’s market?
DiIorio Farms & Roadside Market is sposed to be good.
And they are the ‘Watermelon Capital of Texas’. 

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, December 10, 2006 • Permalink