Hempstead is the county seat of Waller County. It was established in 1856 as a railroad town when the Hempstead Town Company offered lots and blocks to the Houston and Texas Central Railroad as inducement for the line to run through town. Because the railroad made it an important shipping and receiving area during the War Between the States, several camps were established in the vicinity. Hempstead was long known as "Six Shooter Junction" because of an era of violence around the turn of the century that gave it a nickname. The most notable fight shocked the nation in 1905 when U.S. Congressman John Pinckney and his brother, and two others were gunned down in the courthouse while meeting with prohibitionists, recent victors in an election to ban booze. Heckling began, and in less than two minutes, four people were dead, and the Waller County Courthouse was riddled with 75 shots in the fight.
Today, Hempstead's economy is primarily farms, ranches, oil and gas. The close proximity to Houston (52 miles) offers opportunity for cosmopolitan city activities.