NOTE (October 31, 2013): The following
information was presented on Willhite Seed Company's web site. It is
presented here for educational and historical purposes.
County, Texas has been noted for its excellent quality of watermelons. It
was in 1904 that this county first achieved distinction by winning first
prize for both the size and quality of its watermelons at the World's Fair
in St. Louis, Missouri. T. A. Willhite began growing melons in the 1900s
around Poolville, in the northern part of Parker County. About a year
later, friends suggested that he start selling seed. He sold a few melons
that year and 77 pounds of seed. From that humble beginning, Willhite
Melon Seed Farms began.
Mr. Willhite originally operated the business in a
building at his home. But, as business grew, he moved into the First State
Bank of Poolville office, which had closed during bad economic times.
During this time, Tom Watson and Stone Mountain were popular varieties.
Mr. Willhite passed away, and his daughter,
Clara Lee Willhite became owner and manager in the 1940s.
This was a period of growth for the company. She
expanded the business not only from coast to coast, but also worldwide.
She continued as owner and manager until her death in the 1960s. Upon her
death, the business was acquired by two of her employees, Vaughn Mader and
They continued the Willhite tradition and later sold
the business to Dr. Lee C. Coffey in 1970. Dr. Coffey expanded the product
line to include garden vegetables and supplies. Melon varieties continued
to be developed and improved and a hybrid breeding program began. The
company's name changed from Willhite Melon Seed Farms to Willhite Seed
Company to reflect these changes.
September 1, 1994, Willhite Seed Company legally became Willhite Seed Inc.
Even though we are incorporated, we are still a family owned business.
Except for the departure of Dr. Lee Coffey, Willhite Seed will still have
the same friendly personnel with whom you have always dealt.
Our general manager, Don Dobbs, has been with the
company over 40 years and has extensive knowledge of the varieties. Our
office manager, Carole Clark, has almost 30 years of experience and
personally tries many of the new varieties in her home garden.
Many new challenges face the seed industry. With the
development of genetically engineered vegetables and the occurrences of
new diseases, the future is uncertain. As in the past, we will strive to
offer the highest quality seed to our customers. Our goal is to continue
providing the highest quality seed to our customers for the coming years.
On October 22, 2013, we
received notice from Willhite that they would be closing their company to
sales as of October 31, 2013 and cease all operations as of November 30th
thus ending a 109 year tradition of melon breeding and seed production.
Click here for a copy of the
Postscript: Thankfully, and without
explanation, they were able to resolve whatever issues caused them to make
their 2013 decision, and as of this date (2014), decided to remain a
"retail only" business dropping bulk and wholesale sales.