Courtney is on the Southern Pacific Railroad at the western end of Farm Road 2 in extreme southwestern Grimes County. It was established about 1860 when the Houston and Texas Central Railway extended a line south of Navasota through the vicinity of Red Gully Creek. The site was first settled by slaveholding Anglo-American immigrants in the early 1820s. Local tradition has it that Stephen F. Austin colonist Jared E. Groce acquired the tract on which the town was later founded for the price of a riding pony and a bolt of cloth. On his plantation, known as Groce's Retreat, Groce built a cotton gin and a sawmill, but a community did not develop among the local cotton farmers until the railroad built into the area. In 1860 a post office was opened there; W. J. Calloway, the operator of a general merchandise store, was the postmaster. The settlement was named in honor of Courtney Ann Fulton Groce, wife of J. E. Groce's son, Leonard Waller Groce. The Houston and Texas Central Railway constructed a large freight platform, a depot, and a telegraph office in the town, which quickly became a shipping center for cotton and other agricultural produce. The Courtney Male and Female School was in operation from 1869 to 1870. In 1871 the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church was organized by the Reverend Prince Kiel. A two-story Grange hall stood nearby during the 1870s. In 1885 the community's population was an estimated 200. Around 1900 Courtney had a blacksmith shop, a gristmill, a cottonseed oil mill (see COTTONSEED INDUSTRY), two cotton gins, three general stores, and a number of churches and schools. A new two-story brick schoolhouse was erected in 1913. By 1936 the community's population had increased to an estimated 250. Courtney's population declined after World War II, and by 1949 the town had an estimated fifty residents and two businesses. In 1990 and again in 2000 the population of Courtney was estimated at fifty-five.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
Charles Christopher Jackson | © Texas State Historical Association
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