Hempstead hĕmpˈstĕd, –stəd [key]. <1> Town (2020 pop. 793,409), Nassau co., SE N.Y., on W Long Island. It surrounds the village of Hempstead (2020 pop. 59,169), inc. 1853. The town, which has the largest population of any town in New York State, is a retail center for the area. Electronic equipment, tools, chemicals, and metal products are made there. The town grew significantly in the 1970s with the construction of nearby freeways, large retail outlets, and the expansion of regional suburban industries. Hempstead was settled in 1644 by English colonists who named it for their old home in England, Hemel-Hempstead. Hofstra Univ. is located there, as are many colonial houses and monuments and the oldest Presbyterian congregation in the United States. <2> Town (2020 pop. 5,430), seat of Waller co., SE Texas; founded c. 1858; inc. 1899. The town was developed as the terminus of the Houston and Central Texas Railroad line. During the Civil War, it was home to training camps for the Confederate Army and also became a major supply and distribution center for the war effort; large prison camps for captured Union soldiers were established there from 1862. In late March/early April 1865, 8,000 Confederate troops converged on the area waiting for President Jefferson Davis to arrive to stage the Confederacy's last stand; however, the Confederacy surrendered before the battle could occur, and the town was later occupied by Union troops. A Freedman's School briefly operated there (1866-70). Unrest between Klansmen and progressive forces in the post-Civil War years led the town to earn the nickname "Six Shooter Junciton." From the late 19th century, the town was a center of shipping via rail and trucking, and was said to be the largest shipper of watermelons in the country through the 1940s; an annual festival is still held there as well as the county fair.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. Political Geography