Jacksonville, Texas: A Collection of History and Memorabilia

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Tomato Capital of the World

First Shipment of Tomatoes, 1906

of this section will go on growing tomatoes because it is their chief livelihood and throughout all their active farm life, they have been accustomed to growing them.

Tomatoes grown in the rich, red loam and sandy soil heavily impregnated with iron ore and other minerals of this East Texas area are fine flavored and a distinctive favorite on American tables. Growers of this section, because of their experience, the soil and climatic conditions, have an advantage in a superior pack and a higher quality product."


"Tomatoes and two year old Peach Orchard at Jacksonville, East Texas, on Cotton Belt Route"
Postcard, printed ca. 1910
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"Loading Tomatoes for Shipment at Jacksonville,
East Texas on Cotton Belt Route"
Postcard, printed in 1913
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During the "pink" deal, farmers packed their own tomatoes in crates at the farm and brought them down to town to be loaded, as shown in photo. The "pink" deal, according to Jack Douglas, ended about 1906, when the "green wrap" deal began to develop.
Photo from Staton family collection.
Jacksonville's Tomato Festival, an elaborate annual celebration which drew nation-wide attention during the hey-day of the tomato deal, originated in 1934. First queen was Billye Sue Hackney (Mrs. W. R. Stearns), the second queen was Violette Slaton (Mrs. Violette Lahourcade). They are shwon here with Texas Governor James V. Allred. In addition to her reign as Tomato Queen, Miss Slaton was Queen of the Texas Centennial in 1936.
Photo from Raymond West collection.

This float appeared in the initial Tomato Festival parade in 1934. Seated at the top of float, Billye Sue Hackney, first queen, standing above her is Violette Slaton, lady in waiting. Seated (in hats) are Lena Gibson and Virginia Acker; seated toward center is Frances Fuller and seated at the front are Beryl Bolton and Alice Naoma Shattuck. The young girls seated at the top, right, is Ruth Joyce Dashiell. Two of the youngest girls are Charlotte Ann Acker and Glynda Gay Haberle; other children unidentified.
Photo from Frances Fuller Peacock collection.

Ed. Van Zandt, Jacksonville newspaperman at the time, looks over a few baskets of No. 1 "green wrap" tomatoes as they are unloaded at the packing shed. This photo was taken during the 1941 season, just prior to World War II, and tomato shipping has declined steadily since that time.
Photo from Raymond West collection.

These two brochures were printed for the 1940 Tomato Festival
View "Tomato Festival"
View "In the Land of the Tomato"

"Famous East TExas Two Lip Brand" crate label
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"Texas Tomatoes" crate label
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Compiled by Greg Smith. If you have any materials you'd like to contribute, please email me.

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