Hempstead County was formed on December 15, 1818, from parts of Arkansas County and was named forEdward Hempstead, Missouri Territory's representative to Congress. Hempstead County was one of the first counties organized under the laws of the Territory of Missouri. The landscape is rolling hills. The economy is made up of food processing, poultry and egg production, along with beef cattle, soybeans and fruit. Each summer the Hope Watermelon Festival is held and draws not only local citizens but also hundreds of tourists. The county has two Wildlife Management Areas, Bois D'Arc and Hope, along with Millwood Lake, which features camping, picnicking, and swimming as well as hunting and fishing.