PRIMER, SYLVESTER (1842–1912). Sylvester Primer, Civil War soldier and scholar of Germanic languages, was born in Geneva, Wisconsin, on December 14, 1842, the son of Archibald and Eleanor (Jacoby) Primer. During the Civil War he served in the 108th New York Infantry for one year and in the Fifteenth New York Cavalry for two years. He participated in twenty-three battles and was wounded at Antietam. Primer earned a B.A. degree from Harvard in 1874, and then attended universities in Leipzig, Göttingen, and Strassburg, where he received a Ph.D. degree in philology in 1880. From 1881 to 1889 he taught at the College of Charleston, South Carolina. He taught at Friends School, Providence, Rhode Island, in 1889–90 and at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, in 1890–91, when he resigned to become professor of Germanic languages at the University of Texas. Primer's published works include Die Consonantische Deklination in den germanischen Sprachen (1880), and annotated editions of Lessing's Minna von Barnhelm (1889), Lessing's Nathan der Weise (1894), and Goethe's Egmont (1898). Primer married Lula Martha Muckenfuss on September 17, 1895; they had one son. Primer was a Methodist and a Democrat. He had memberships in the Modern Language Association of America and the Texas Academy of Scienceqv, and was an organizer of the Austin chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, which he served as treasurer and secretary for several years. He died in Austin on August 13, 1912, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.


The New Encyclopedia of Texas (4 vol. ed., 1929). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who Was Who in America, Vol. 1.

Lura N. Rouse



The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

William E. Bard, "ADAMS, WALTER R.," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed March 19, 2015. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.