Texas Hill Country
31°4'39"N 97°58'57"W (31.077512, –97.982610)
At the junction of U.S. Highway 190 and Ranch Road 2313
on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
and the Lampasas River
10 miles E of Lampasas
the county seat
12 miles W of Killeen
ZIP code 76539
Area code(s) 254 512
Population: 1,140 Est. (2019)
1,089 (2010) 1,004 (2000)
Book Hotel Here Lampasas
much of its history, this little town in Lampasas
couldn't stay put. The immediate area was known as Picket Valley
when a number of people named Pickett moved there in the 1850s, but
by 1865 it was known as Brummersville. The Pickett Cemetery
is still there, just west of the present city of Kempner.
Daniel Webster Taylor came to the area in 1854 and brought with him
a large herd of cattle and some cowboys, enough that he felt compelled
to build a store for them. The store doubled as a post office named
Taylor's Creek. You pass over Taylor Creek on one side of town
as you drive in (or through) on U.S. 190.
The area was rowdy and lawless in its early days. There was considerable
Indian trouble. Taylor asked Governor F.R. Lubbock for ammunition
to help the settlers hold their own against the Comanche, but Lubbock
wrote back that he and his neighbors should contact a man named Mr.
Foster in Burnet
for their gunpowder.
As if that wasn't bad enough, several stagecoach and mail robberies
occurred between Taylor's Creek and Belton.
After Taylor's death, the state sent Texas Rangers to the area. In
the book "Lampasas County: Its History and People," Walter Prugh notes:
"The crimes changed from Indian raids and stagecoach robberies to
more common acts of the day: unlawful card playing, dogging hogs,
maliciously killing dogs, disturbing the peace by using unbecoming
or vulgar language in public places, such as the post office and churches,
the unlawfull carrying of pistols and fighting."
The Taylor's Creek post office was discontinued in 1878 and a post
office named Slaughterville - in honor of Phillip Slaughter,
not mass carnage - was established at the same site.
The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway came through in 1882, running
a couple of miles from Taylor's store, and the town settled down as
Kempner in honor of Harris Kempner, a native of Poland, a Galveston
merchant and director of the railroad. Prugh writes of Harris Kempner:
"He joined Parson's Brigade, Confederate Army, and was wounded in
the Red River Campaign. He was left on the battlefield for dead but
recovered and served to the war's end. Then he helped to rebuild Texas."
Part of his rebuilding efforts involved establishing a large and successful
wholesale grocery in Galveston
with a man by the real name of Marx Marx. Kempner was a stockholder
and director of national banks in Cameron
and eight other cities in addition to being director of the railroad.
other towns of Kempner's ilk declined in the 20th and into the 21st
Centuries, Kempner has more than held its own. Its population was
listed as 300 in 1927 but dropped to 125 in 1933 and stayed around
that number for several years.
The town voted in 1997 to incorporate. The vote was 200 in favor,
33 against. The push to incorporate came when the Copperas Cove City
Council annexed land that extended into Lampasas
County, leaving residents to wonder if their community could be
next. The 2000 census lists Kempner as the home of 1,004 people.
Kempner is located at the junction of U.S. Highway 190 and Ranch Road
© Clay Coppedge
"Letters from Central Texas"
February 23, 2006 column
| 1940s map showing
Kempner in SE Lampasas
From Texas state map #4335
Texas General Land Office
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