From Fayette County, Texas Heritage, published in 1996:

Kirtley was located on Hwy. 71 of La Grange near the Bastrop County line. It was originally called Primm after an early colonist, Dr. William Primm. However, after a train wreck that resulted from a misunderstanding in communications regarding the switching of trains between Plum and Primm, the railroad changed the name to Kirtley, the name of the postmaster of Primm. There once was a post office and schools for the white and Negro children, grades one through seven. In 1934-35, there were 35 white students and 38 Negro students enrolled in their respective schools.

There was a grocery store owned by a Mr. Inge and a saloon and a cotton gin owned by Anton Elias. The businesses were located across the railroad tracks from the main road from La Grange to Smithville.

In addition to the Inge and Elias families, some of the early settlers were the families of Tom Mikulenka, Jim and Bill Richards, Henry Miller and Henry Tanecka. They were predominantly farmers who raised cotton, corn and sugar cane.

There was a family cemetery located on land originally owned by Dr. Primm that had some of the family members buried there, including his wife Seelia, and son, St. John. It was surveyed by Joe Cole in 1958 and Norman Krischke in 1965 and only six graves were found. It is felt that more persons were buried there, however, nothing could be found at the site in 1986, but a large gravel pit. The Primms are listed as owners of large herds of cattle.

1907 receipt to county from Sladczyk & Primm when Kirtley was still known as Primm
Courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum and Archives

A Footprints of Fayette article submitted by Carolyn Heinsohn:

Prim/Kirtley, Texas on the MK&T RR

by W. O. Wood, MKT ENGR 1968-1988 UP ENGR 1988-2008

Primm, Texas was settled in the mid-1800s on a land grant to Barton and land deeded to Dr. William Primm when the Taylor-Bastrop-Houston Railroad that was built from Taylor to Bastrop was bought by the Missouri-Kansas and Texas to build from Bastrop to Boggy Tank, which was located just inside the Colorado County Line south of Cummins Creek. As the Katy was laying track across the cotton fields into western Fayette County, a cotton gin (Winkler) was already operating with a general store. The workers on the railroad building eastward (RR southward) were dying from yellow fever and were buried along the right of way (ROW) as they went. This was about 1887. Timber for bridges and ties were being cut along Cedar Creek on the old Alf Young/Charlie Cox places. As the track laying crews approached the camp at West Point, more men were dying, so the folks of Woods Prairie gave permission for burials in their community cemetery.

Now on the morning of April 7, 1912, MK&T Train # 5 with eng MK&T 367 was called out of Smithville for 8 a.m. with Conductor Rice, brakeman Adams, Bkm Wallace, engr Farris and frm Donnell; it was a southbound local due to leave Smithville on a timetable schedule and due out at 9:59 a.m. They proceeded to switch and make up their train in the yard at Smithville. They would pick up their train orders and clearance before departing, directing their train with regards to meeting other trains, slow orders, and any other conditions affecting their southward movement to Houston. According to their schedule, they would meet train #6, northbound out of Houston at 2:00 a.m., and running on time, to meet at the LA Yard in La Grange. Train #6 with MK&T eng 544 with Cond Scoggins, bkm Jones, bkm Rightmer, engr Hawkins and frm Brown was a fast freight with no work but having to clear the passenger trains, which were superior by class.

At Fayetteville, No 6 received an order to meet No 5 at Prim, which was the railroad name for Primm. No 5 was the restricted train and had not received this order yet, but the operator had copied it to be delivered to the C&E of No 5 before departing. The crew on No 5 was in a hurry to get out of town and glanced through their orders. Reading and writing was a required skill for railroading, but some of the old timers relied more on habit than on what they would see, and the engineer of No 5, C. Farris saw Prim as Plum, so he was highballing his little local freight to make a run at West Point Hill. Conductor Rice was busy with his paperwork. No 6 was drifting down West Point Hill working no power. No 5 crossed Barton Creek and made the curve to the left. Coming out of the curve, there was No 6 coming out of the other curve at the top of the hill. Both trains “big holed and joined the bird gang”, a collision followed with no casualties, just scratched up from the briars and with hurt egos, because everyone knew someone done messed up. After the investigation, and going over the train orders, it was determined Prim and Plum were too closely related, so Prim was changed to Kirtley. The little depot survived into the 50s along with the cotton gin, which all are gone by the wayside now. Other accidents have happened along the railroad, not all as lucky as this, and from each loss, there is a new rule.  Now the Union Pacific trains run over this route, and these youngsters will never know of what went before them.

Photo caption: Kirtley Depot, 1950; Charles, A.F. and Edwin Miller


Related Links

Dr. William Primm, An Early Fayette County Plantation Owner
Footprints of Fayette

William Primm
Family submitted biography

Kirtley, Texas
Handbook of Texas Online