The area surrounding Stockdale was first settled in the 1830's, but it was not until the 1860's and 1870's that a village formed. Early names for the area included High Prairie, Free Timber and Bunker's Store. In 1871 a post office was designated, and the community needed a formal name. Jethro Bunker was the first postmaster, but he chose not to name the settlement after himself, so a committee of local citizens was formed to name the town.
Fletcher Stockdale had served as Lt. Governor and then Governor of Texas during the last days of the Confederacy. At the time that the name was selected, Stockdale was serving as an attorney for the railroad. It is possible that the town was named Stockdale in an attempt to influence the railroad to service the town. However, rail service did not reach Stockdale until the turn of the century, and was continued until the 1960's.
The town was laid out on land owned by J.R. King, William Palm and John Wheeler, and a plat was recorded in 1872. Legend has it that Stockdale was offered the county seat, but declined because the site requested was being used for raising hogs by King and Wheeler.
The first industry in Stockdale was Wheeler's Mill, built in the 1870's. Five or more cotton gins operated in the area during the heyday of cotton farming. Around 1915, watermelons became a cash crop in the area and peanuts followed in the 1930's. Watermelons were such an important crop that in 1937 the community's annual celebration was changed from the Autumn Fair to the Watermelon Jubilee. The annual Watermelon Jubilee remains today one of oldest watermelon celebrations in Texas.
Stockdale's city government was incorporated in 1919, and a telephone franchise was granted to Will King. Electricity was made available in the 1920's, a water system in the 1930's and sewage service in the 1940's.
Excerpted from Wilson County History, Taylor Publishing Company, 1990