The remaining information is research completed by Mrs. E. E.
Evans, genealogist from Columbia, Missouri (year unknown). One of her sources of
information was the book entitled, of the Kemper Family in the United
States,Descendants of John Kemper & Virginia, by Willis Miller Kemper and Harry
Lynn Wright, published by Geo. K. Hazlitt & Co., Printers, of Chicago, in 1899; her
other sources given about the various Kempers in the United States are unknown; this
information is being provided only as information, even though it may not in all cases
pertain to the Kempers listed earlier in on the other pages.
In early times, the members of a "family" in a
"tribe" became known by the type of activity in which they engaged. The name
KEMPER seems to be identified with the ancient German tribe, the Cimbri, who in 113 B.C.
overcame the Roman army. The Romans lost 80,000 men in the conflict. The Cimbri tribe
overran Gaul and moved into Spain, where they were repulsed. They were routed by Romans in
the Po Valley of Italy in 101 B.C. The Cimbri were related to their allies, the
Teutonites. Variations of "Kemp" are Kempen land (Campine in French), a
geographical location in central Europe, and Kempen, a German city in the Bavaria area.
Recorded instances of the migration of members of the
Kemper clan from Germany show they started moving from Germany following a series of
misfortunes of a political nature. The Reformation (Protestant movement) spread throughout
Europe, causing the Catholic and Protestant faiths to become increasingly antagonistic,
resulting in open warfare. The 30 Years War was fought mostly in Germany, but all the
important nations of Europe took part. Before it ended, Germany was impoverished,
thousands had been killed, industry had been practically destroyed, and Germany no longer
had a united government. The war ended by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. Germany was
The Rhineland, bordering on the region where the
early-day Kempers lived, was left devastated by the Palatine princes, a group of rulers
who emerged from warring factions in the Palatinate section of Germany. The war parties
moved about, stripping the land and its inhabitants of their provisions, supplies,
shelter, and tools. By the nature of the name Kemper, is reasonable to assume that our
ancestors were enlisted with the warring factions. The Kemper coat of arms, as shown in
Vol. 3, page 99 of Compendium of American Genealogy-First Families of
America, is a war-like shield with the legend "Die, Kemper," German for the
"the warrior." "Die" is pronounced "dee."
The first that is known of the Kempers is that they were
living about 1650 in the little German village of Musen, about 15 miles northeast of the
city of Siegen, on the Sieg River, in the then principality of Nassau-Siegen, the present
Prussian province of Westphalia. Siegen, Musen, and the surrounding territory belonged at
that time to the House of Nassau, or the Nassau-Orange family. The Orange family still is
the ruling monarchy in Holland. The Columbia Encyclopedia says of Siegen: "A city of
40,269 in 1939, and a population of 29, 922 1946. More than half the city was destroyed in
World War II. Siegen lies in an ironmining region and has iron foundries. Peter Paul
Rubens, Flemish painter, was born here.
The neighborhood of Siegen, the center of the most noted
iron production and manufacturing district in Germany, at Musen iron mines.
Musen, 15 miles northeast of the city of Siegen, is in
the principality of Nassau. Siegen, the present Prussia, is in the Province of Westphalia.
About 1650, there was living in Musen one Johann Kemper
and his wife, Anna, whose maiden name was Low. (Other forms of the name, Johann, are
Johannes and Hans, or in English, John).
The 1899 book said that knowledge of the Kemper family in
Musen was obtained wholly from the records of the little Reformed Church in that village.
The church with all its records was destroyed during the 30 Years War and now
records begin with January 4, 1649.
The Compendium of American Genealogy
identifies one Johann Kemper as "Colonel Johann von Kemper, here itary commander of
Stahleak Castle, near Mannheim on the Rhine." No explanation is given of where this
delightful piece of information comes from. It may be that Johann von Kemper was an
ancestor of the Johann Kemper of Musen, which is about 200 miles downriver from Mannheim
on the Rhine, and about 60 miles east of the Rhine.
In America in 1710, Alexander Spottswood, who was
born in Tangier, Morocco, was appointed Governor of Virginia, the first of the 13
colonies. He was only 34 years of age, had been a soldier in many campaigns, and was of a
bold and adventurous disposition. He was very interested in increasing the wealth and
prosperity of the colony, as well as adding to his own fortune. After he discovered
evidence of iron ore in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, he developed a plan to
import skilled iron workers from Germany, where the residents were impoverished because of
political developments and eager to seek their fortunes in the New World. A colony of 40
was formed, evidently largely from the neighborhood of Siegen, and started for America in
1713. The Germans spent a dreary winter stranded in London and arrived in Virginia in the
spring of 1714.
The Westphalian peasantry, ever the most thrifty in
Germany, by their industry soon made the good lands about Germantown to blossom as the
rose. The Germantown settlement was know far and wide for the thrift and comfortable
livinq of its inhabitants. The community was an intelligent one. Nearly every man of them
could read and write. Johannes (John) Kempers (the immigrant) handwriting shows him
to be a man of good education. He is credited with inventing the first shovel
plow. It has been impossible to find any will of his or any administration on his
While Johannes (John) Kemper came from Germany to
Virginia, one of his brothers, Johann Heinrich (John Henry) Kemper moved from Germany to
Pennsylvania. Johann Heinrich is the ancestor of the Pennsylvania Kempers. At that time,
the principal mode of transportation was on the rivers, and the Germans went downriver on
the Rhine to Holland, where they sought passage to America. It is reasonable to believe
that some Kempers settled along the route. Johannes Meichor Kemper, born in 1776 in
Amsterdam, Holland, became famous as a university educator, lawyer, and author of the
criminal code of Holland. Genealogical references disclose two Kemper coat of arms, of
similar design, in Holland.
The German colonists later left Germantown and went west
again, into Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Louisiana, and Texas. Germantown was
abandoned. At Germantown, they had kept up their worship, both public and private, in the
German language, and their public political matters transacted in English, their language
gradually was lost in the second generation.
The posterity of Johannes (John) Kemper is described in
the 1899 book as "a race of honest, industrious, and rather unambitious people, and
are numerous. Not one of the children of this man has failed of descendants to this day
(1899). No wonder when they commenced to emigrate that the West soon had a teeming
"Why, tis a happy thing to be the father unto
many sons."-Shakespeares King Henry VI.
James Kemper was the father of 15 children. Tillman
Kemper (born in Virginia, died in Kentucky) and his wife, Dinah Hitt, had 15 children, all
of whom lived to maturity and married. One couple named Herndon, related to Kempers by
marriage, had 20 children. Another Tillman Kemper and his wife, Sarah Haden, had 16
children, all of whom lived to maturity except possibly two, though dates of their deaths
are not given (1899).
William H. H. Kemper (18131882) and his wife,
Almira Alverson, had 15 children, all of whom lived to maturity except two. Two sons,
Napoleon Bonaparte Kemper and Thomas Jefferson Kemper, were killed in battle in 1863
during the Civil War.
Numerous other Kempers had 10, 11, 12, 13, or 14
There is hardly a state or territory in the Union, from
New York south and west, but furnishes a home for some member of the Kemper family.
Something seemed to impel them to go West about the end of the American Revolution.
The name of the Rev. James Kemper will always be
associated with Presbyterianism in the West. He was born in 1753, died in 1834 of cholera,
and was the father of 15 children. He moved West from Virginia to Kentucky in 1783, was
first teacher in the first public school in Kentucky, and acted as public catechist, the
first one West of the Allegheny Mountains. He was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of
Transylvania, and in December 1790, moved to Cincinnati, where there was no Presbyterian
minister. He and his congregation built a two-story frame house of worship, which became
in due course the First Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati. He was the first licentiate of
the First Presbytery. He preached the first sermon in Ohio that was preached by a
representative of the Presbyterian Church. He was the first minister ordained on the north
side of the Ohio, and founded Lane Seminary in 1829.
Three grandsons of Johannes (John) Kemper, namely: Jacob,
Isaac, and Daniel Kemper, were paymaster, sergeant, and surgeon, respectively, in the
regiment in the War of 1812.
The name of Reuben Kemper was a household word in the
Southwest for the first 25 years of the 19th century, and no one man did more than he to
win Florida and Texas for the United States. Reuben, an uncle of John Moore Kemper, was
born February 21, 1771, in Fauquier County, Virginia, and died January 28, 1827,
unmarried, at Natchez, Mississippi. His brother, Samuel, died in Louisiana in 1814,
unmarried; but the third brother to gain fame, Nathan, married, became a sugar planter,
had 11 children, and died in Louisiana in 1832 at the age of 57. The three sons of Peter
Kemper, a Baptist clergyman and a captain in the Revolutionary War... Peter is listed on
the honor roll of "Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution." Also
listed in the register are Charles, Daniel, John, and Tillman or Tulman E. Kemper.
Reuben, Samuel, and Nathan went with their family from
Virginia to Ohio, then about 1800 went down the Mississippi and settled in Feliciana, near
the mouth of Bayou Sara, lust above Baton Rouge in what was then West Florida, Spanish
territory. They became embroiled in disputes with Spanish authorities over land claims,
retreated into Mississippi territory and organized a force and declared West Florida an
independent nation. An attempt to take Baton Rouge in 1804 failed. The three were
kidnapped in 1805 but were rescued by U. S. force at Point Coupee as they were being taken
down the Mississippi to Baton Rouge. Other forays were climaxed in 1810 by Reubens
unsuccessful attempt to occupy Mobile. East Feliciana, West Feliciana, and Gross Coupee
are present-day parishes in Louisiana, north and west of Baton Rouge. Reuben is identified
in encyclopedia references as adventurer, frontiersman, and soldier. Some historians refer
to him in less complimentary terms. One, Jesse J. Cox, in The West Florida Controversy,
published by John Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 1918, recounted an incident in which Reuben,
becoming displeased with an adversary, had some friends nip off the offenders ears.
Reuben, said Cox, then put the ears in some pickling juice and placed them on his mantel.
Reuben aided the Mexicans in efforts to overthrow Spanish rule, and was a colonel of the
American contingent in expeditions in Texas, then ruled by Mexico. He fought valiantly
against the Spanish and added to his military reputation under General Andrew Jackson in
the defense of New Orleans in 1815. The remainder of his life was spent quietly as
operator of a plantation in Mississippi, where a county was named
James Lawson Kemper, 18231895, a Confederate
general and a Democrat, was 34th Governor of Virginia (18741878). he was born in
Madison County, Virginia, was graduated from Washington College (now Washington and Lee
University), the great-great-grandson of Johannes (John) Kemper. In 1847, he was captain
under General Zachary Taylor in Mexico, attained the rank of major general in the
military, and was severly wounded the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 while
leading his brigade in Picketts charge. He was later captured in the North. He is
mentioned in history books on the Civil War. He served 10 years in the Virginia
legislature. His term as Governor was distinguished for his independence and integrity.
His brother, Frederick Thomas Kemper (18161881), a teacher, founded Kemper Military
Academy at Boonville, Missouri.
"Those who toil bravely are strongest;
The humble and poor become great;
And so from these brown handed children
Shall grow mighty rulers of state."