Did you know that Comanche County is/or once was home to renowned writers, artists, politicians, and outlaws? Scroll down below and see for yourself!
De Leon has one of the oldest festivals in Texas, the De Leon Peach and Melon Festival, which had its beginnings in 1914. Celebrated during the first full week in August, it draws thousands to its numerous events including a carnival, tractor pulls, car show and a free cold watermelon slicing. The current watermelon seed-spitting distance record, as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records, of 75 feet 2 inches, was set at the festival on August 12, 1995, by Jason Schayot, then of Georgetown, Texas. Schaynot is a descendant of two long-time De Leon families.
Among De Leon’s unique events is the only paid appearance by Elvis Presley in which he sang only gospel music. It occurred at Hodges Park on July 4, 1955, when he followed his friends, the Blackwood Brothers, at the Battle of Songs show. The Blackwoods had lost family members in a plane crash in Alabama the previous year, just prior to a scheduled appearance in De Leon, and had remembered them in a performance immediately preceding Elvis’ performance. Elvis followed with more gospel music. It was one of three appearances Elvis made that day for promoter W.B. Nowlin, then Mayor of De Leon. The other two were in Brownwood and Stephenville.
Included among De Leon’s most distinguished citizens are former Texas Speaker of the House and later Lieutenant GovernorBen Barnes, a protégé of John B. Connally and Lyndon B. Johnson, and the 1955 Pulitzer Prize winner William White, whose The Taft Story focuses upon Republican presidential contender Robert A. Taft.
Winston Lee Moore, composer and singer of “Don’t Let the Stars Get In Your Eyes”, was reared just north of De Leon. He is better known under his stage name, Slim Willet.
Buried in the De Leon Cemetery is Cyrus Campbell, an early resident, who as a blacksmith made the leg irons placed on Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna following his capture at the Battle of San Jacinto. According to Campbell’s family tradition, he and his three brothers were the men who actually captured Lopez de Santa Anna the day following the battle.
The town motto, “Busiest Town, Friendliest People”, is a reminder of the slower-paced lifestyle still available in a few communities in this country.
Landreth is a Texas native and the eldest of four. She grew up in the small town of De Leon. She was married to Darrell Landreth until his death in 2007. She has three children, GeorgeAnne, Marion and Stanton. She has written several books and award winning poems along with short stories. After meeting actor Dirk Benedict and reading his book,Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy, Landreth now only eats vegetables and fish. She can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.