"McDade, named for James W. McDade, a prominent railroad man, lawyer, state legislator and senator, was officially incorporated as a town in May of 1873. A post office was established in 1871. Once a year, in July, the community joins together to celebrate the Watermelon FestivalIt has been held for 50 years.
Between Mc Dade and Elgin is an area known as "the Knobs," three hills on the northeast horizon. After the Civil War, rustlers and desperados moved into the Knobs, for entertainment, they lynched a black man in 1874. A year later, two white men met the same fate. When Bill Craddock, better known as Pea Eye, threatened to testify against some rustlers, he took twelve buckshot and was left dying on the floor of his wagon.
By 1876, John Prentice and Jim Oliver headed a powerful ranching family. They tried to scare off rustlers by bundling two of them inside the fresh hides of stolen cattle. Within weeks, a gang of twenty attacked the Oliver house. Several people died in the fight. Vigilante groups were formed, and additional lynchings started. On June 27, 1877, the vigilantes raided a home where a dance was in progress. They left with four men, all of whom were later found dangling from the same tree limb.
In 1883, Deputy Sheriff Heffington was shot dead. On Christmas Eve, a group of masked men carrying Winchesters entered a saloon and left with three captives. The next morning several law officers cut down the frozen bodies. The three that were hung were the McLerimores and Herny Piffler. The McLerimores were the Beatty's cousins. Jack and Azberry Beatty challenged the vigilantes from the street that same day, and died there. As time passed, additional killings took place, but the town gradually became peaceful. "
Taken from Roadside History of Texas by Leon C. Metz, pg. 310
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The Watermelon Festival, a tradition for over 50 years!
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