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Hempstead, Texas facts for kids

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City of Hempstead, Texas
Hempstead City Hall
Hempstead City Hall
Watermelon Capital of Texas
Location in the state of Texas
Location in the state of Texas
Country United States
State Texas
County Waller
Incorporated Originally incorporated November 10, 1858, re-incorporated June 10, 1935
 • Total 6.56 sq mi (16.99 km2)
 • Land 6.55 sq mi (16.97 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)
227 ft (69.1 m)
 • Total 5,770
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,275.38/sq mi (492.42/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 979
FIPS code 48-33200
GNIS feature ID 1337592

Hempstead is a city in and the county seat of Waller County, Texas, United States, part of the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area.


The community, located at the junctions of U.S. Highway 290, Texas State Highway 6, and Texas State Highway 159, is around 50 miles northwest of downtown Houston. The population was 5,770 at the 2010 census.


On December 29, 1856, Dr. Richard Rodgers Peebles and James W. McDade organized the Hempstead Town Company to sell lots in the newly established community of Hempstead, which was located at the projected terminus of Houston and Texas Central Railway. Peebles named Hempstead after Dr. G. S. B. Hempstead, Peebles's brother-in-law. Peebles and Mary Ann Groce Peebles, his wife, contributed 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of the estate of Jared E. Groce, Jr., for the community. On June 29, 1858, the Houston and Texas Central Railway was extended to Hempstead, causing the community to become a distribution center between the Gulf Coast and the interior of Texas. On November 10 of that year, Hempstead incorporated. The Washington County Railroad, which ran from Hempstead to Brenham, enhanced the city upon its completion.

The Civil War and aftermath


The Confederate Military Post of Hempstead was established in the Spring 1861. Numerous camps of instruction were established east of town along Clear Creek. Camp Hebert CSA was established on the eastern bank of Clear Creek and south of the Washington Road. Camp Hebert was the earliest camp in the area, and served as the headquarters of the Post of Hempstead early in the war.

Camp Groce CSA was established in the Spring of 1862 on Liendo Plantation on the eastern bank of Clear Creek as a Camp of Instruction for Confederate Infantry Recruits. Originally named, "Camp Liendo", the name was changed to honor Leonard Waller Groce, the owner of Liendo Plantation, and the owner of over 100 slaves. A contract to construct the barracks at Camps Groce and Hebert was let in February 1862. Numerous Confederate infantry regiments were organized, trained, and equipped at Camps Groce and Hebert. In the Spring of 1862, the camps were abandoned due to their sickly locations. Camp Groce was reused as a military camp until the Spring of 1863, but was again abandoned. From 1861 to 1863, nearly 200 Confederate Soldiers fell sick at Camps Groce and Hebert and died. Many were taken to the Post Hospital in the Planter's Exchange Hotel located at the southwest corner of 12th & Wilkins St. in downtown Hempstead. Many died in the hospital and almost all of them are buried on McDade Plantation west of town, which became the hospital cemetery.


In June 1863, Camp Groce was re-opened as a prison camp for Union prisoners captured in the Battles of Galveston (January 1, 1863)and Sabine Pass I (January 21, 1863). The Union prisoners of war taken at the Battle of Sabine Pass II (September 8, 1863) were also sent to Camp Groce. 427 Union prisoners were held at Camp Groce in 1863 and 21 died. Most of the dead were buried 1/4 northeast of camp where most of them still rest today.


Camp Groce was re-opened in May 1864 for 148 Union prisoners captured at the battle of Calcasieu Pass, La. The group of prisoners included the crew of the USS Granite City and USS Wave, Tinclad #45, and 37 Soldiers. About 40 Soldiers from the 1st Texas US Cavalry were sent to Camp Groce in June 1864, and 506 more Union Prisoners were transferred to Camp Groce from Camp Ford in August 1864. Yellow Fever and other terrible diseases prevailed on the prisoners. They were moved to Camp Gillespie near Bellville in late September 1864 and then to Camp Felder, 6.5 miles north northwest of Chappell Hill, Texas. 221 prisoners died or are missing from Camps Groce, Gillespie, and Felder in 1864. 444 were paroled in December 1864.


About 10,000 Confederate Soldiers were ordered to Hempstead in the Spring of 1865. They were waiting for Confederate President Jefferson Davis to arrive to make the Last Stand of the Confederacy. Davis was captured in Georgia and Confederate General Kirby Smith surrendered the Department of the Trans-Mississippi in May 1865. All Confederate forces in Hempstead and all other CS posts in Texas simply went home. Immediately after the surrender of CS forces, it took about a month before US troops entered the state. The first US forces that arrived in Hempstead after the war was the 29th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.

In August 1865, Maj. Gen. George A. Custer arrived in Hempstead with a division of volunteer US cavalry. The division camped in and around Liendo Plantation for about 2 months before moving to Austin or were mustered out of the service at Hempstead in 1865-66. The cavalry regiments under the command of Custer at Hempstead were the 1st Iowa, 2nd Wisconsin, 7th Indiana, and the 5th and 12th Illinois Cavalry. Company K of the 37th Illinois Volunteer Infantry occupied the town and guarded the railroad line until the regiment was mustered out in May 1866.


In 1867, the 1st Battalion, Companies A and B of the 17th US Infantry, were stationed at Hempstead. The battalion had arrived for duty in Hempstead the Fall of 1866. They setup camp 1/4 north of the US Post Office. Their mission was primarily in support of the Freedmen's Bureau. In the Fall of 1867, a terrible Yellow Fever epidemic devastated the civilian population of Hempstead, and nearly 40 Soldiers of the 17th US Infantry perished as well.

1863: 427 POWs, 21 died, 2 escaped
1864: 683 POWs, 147 died, 28 missing, 18 escaped, 13 deserted to the enemy, 14 status unknown, and 1 political prisoner held by CS authorities until released in May of 1865.

Totals: 1,110 POWs held, 168 died, 28 missing, 20 escaped, 13 deserted to the enemy, 14 status unknown

At least 225 Confederate Soldiers died or are missing from in and around Hempstead,Texas during the Civil War.

Most of the US and CS Soldiers who died in and around Hempstead,Texas during the Civil War are still buried in the area. They are buried in 3 primary locations in and around Camp Groce and west of town on the old McDade Plantation Cemetery on Austin Branch Road near Sorsby Road. There is a Texas State Historical Marker there entitled, "Union Army POW Cemetery," but there are numerous US Navy POWs buried there along with numerous Confederate Soldiers who died in the hospitals in downtown Hempstead.

Twentieth Century and up to present

Hempstead is famous for its watermelon crop, and until the 1940s, the town was the top shipper of watermelons in the United States. Billy DiIorio was known as the Watermelon King and Angelina DiIorio was known as the Watermelon Queen. Both resided in Hempstead, Texas. The town holds an annual Watermelon Festival in July.

The town has grown in recent years because of its relative closeness to Houston along U.S. Highway 290. The current economy is based on county government, shipping, and a small but growing industrial base. However, the closing of a large auto dealership (Lawerence Marshall) in 2009 hurt the community's economy and correlated with a drop in the town's population. The town has, however, rebounded in its population since 2010.

One of the town's residents was Lillie E. Drennan, who in 1929 became the first woman to hold a commercial driver's license in Texas. She ran a regional hauling company called the Drennan Truck Line while maintaining an excellent driving record. Drennan received periodical attention in national newspapers and radio broadcasts.

Another notable Hempstead resident is R. L. Bucher, who along with his two sons, runs the privately owned 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge Hempstead & Northern Railroad on his property. Carlton C. Colmenares, another famous resident, is currently teaching at Seven Lakes High School in Katy, Texas after retiring from the United States Air Force and conducting research on soil erosion for Princeton University in Papua New Guinea.


Map of Hempstead

Hempstead is located at 30°5′29″N 96°4′53″W / 30.09139°N 96.08139°W / 30.09139; -96.08139 (30.091427, -96.081252).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.0 square miles (12.9 km²), of which, 5.0 square miles (12.9 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.40%) is covered by water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,612
1890 1,671 3.7%
1940 1,674
1950 1,395 −16.7%
1960 1,505 7.9%
1970 1,891 25.6%
1980 3,456 82.8%
1990 3,551 2.7%
2000 4,691 32.1%
2010 5,770 23.0%
2019 (est.) 8,355 44.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, 5,770 people, 2,010 households, and 1,360 families resided in the city. The population density was 1,040.8 people per square mile (401.8/km2). The 2,220 housing units averaged 400.7 per square mile (154.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 36.8% White (including 22.5% non-Hispanic/Latino), 38.9% African American, 1.4% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 20.2% from other races, and 2.2% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 37.4% of the population.

Of the 2,010 households, 36.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.7% were married couples living together, 22.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.3% were not families. About 25.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.42.

In the city, the population was distributed as 30.6% under the age of 18, 14.7% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 9.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 95 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,859. In 2008–2012, the per capita income for the city was $15,888. About 25.4% of the population was below the poverty line.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen climate classification system, Hempstead has a humid subtropical climate, Cfa on climate maps.

Learn more about Camp Groce CSA by accessing the following resources:

The Last Prison:The Untold Story of Camp Groce CSA, by Danial Francis Lisarelli,1999.

  • Hempstead, Texas from the Handbook of Texas Online


Until February 2009, the Lawrence Marshall car dealership was Hempstead's largest employer. The sudden closure of the dealership led the city to reconsider capital projects such as sewer upgrades and city park upgrades.


The City of Hempstead is served by the Hempstead Independent School District. The one private Christian school in Hempstead is the Community Christian Academy. The grades of study offered are K through 5th grade.

See also

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