Page 845-847, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.


Worth W. Kemper, a successful farmer and stockman, of Plum Grove township, now residing in Whitewater, is a native of West Virginia. He was born in Lewis county, May 18, 1860. Among his earliest recollections are the closing days of the Civil war. The different sections of his native State were alternately in the hands of the Union and the Confederate troops, and in that section of the country, neighbors, and even brothers, differed on the great question involved in that conflict. Mr. Kemper recalls the existence of a cave in the mountain side near his home, where he and his little companions frequently played. This same cave was also used as a place of refuge of first one


side and then the other, as the position of that section shifted from the control of one of the contending armies to the other.

Worth W. Kemper is a son of John Robert and Elizabeth (Simmons) Kemper. The father was a native of Virginia, and of German descent. The Kemper family dates back to Colonial days, in this country, and was founded in the colony of Virginia in 1749. John Robert Kemper was a farmer, blacksmith, and preacher, and spent his life in West Virginia. His wife, Elizabeth Simmons, was a daughter of David and Sallie (Grogg) Simmons, natives of Germany. John Robert Kemper and his wife were the parents of nine children, of whom Worth W., the subject of this sketch, was the fifth in order of birth.

Worth W. Kemper grew to manhood in Lewis county, West Virginia, and was brought up on a farm, and, in his youth, learned to use his father's blacksmith tools. After reaching his majority, he went to West Union, W. Va., and worked at the blacksmith's trade about a year, when he went to Tyler county and worked at his trade for a time. Here he met Miss Tama B. Joseph, to whom he was married in March, 1882. She is a daughter of James and Nancy Joseph. After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Kemper lived in the little town of Camp, Tyler county, where Mr. Kemper worked at blacksmithing. Several members of the Joseph family had been in Kansas in the early days, and Mrs. Kemper's father had lived in Butler county when she was a girl, but had returned to Virginia in 1874, and, as a girl, Mrs. Kemper had many pleasant as well as some disagreeable recollections of life on the plains of Butler county in the pioneer days.

In the spring of 1883, Mr. Kemper and his wife and their infant son, James Ott, set out for Kansas. They located in the old, historic town of Plum Grove, now extinct. Their capital was limited, Mr. Kemper having just $14 in cash, when they reached Butler county. He bought a small, two room house, which served as their home, and he also bought a set of blacksmith tools and a shop, for which he agreed to pay $300, when his note came due. As soon as he opened his blacksmith shop to the public, work came in abundance, and he had all that he could do in the thriving little town of Plum Grove. However, there came a day, when the Missouri Pacific railroad was built, which missed the town of Plum Grove, and it was then that the old town began to slip from the map. Shortly after the railroad was built, Mr. Kemper moved his shop to the new town of Brainerd, and had plenty to do in his line of work there.

Three years later he moved to Potwin, where he conducted a blacksmith shop about a year. Mr. and Mrs. Kemper then took up their home on the farm of her grandfather, Whitman Joseph, who was quite an old gentleman. Mr. Kemper operated the Joseph place, which was a very large farm, for seven years, until the death of Mr. Joseph in 1895. After the death of the old gentleman, Mr. Kemper bought a part of the farm, consisting of a quarter of section 8. Later he bought another


quarter section from N. M. Joseph, which joins his first purchase, and he now owns a half section of rich bottom land on the Whitewater, which will compare favorably with any soil in the State of Kansas. He raises a great many cattle and also carries on general farming. He is one of the best cattlemen in the country. He is equally as good a judge of market conditions as he is of cattle, and in twenty years of experience as a feeder, he has never lost money on a bunch of cattle, and he has handled a great many.

Mr. and Mrs. Kemper are the parents of four children: James Ott, a successful farmer and stockman, Plum Grove township; Iva, deceased; Lula, wife of J. O. Wilson, Murdock township, and Waldo, at home. Mr. and Mrs. Kemper reside in a beautiful, modern residence in Whitewater, where they are well known and have many friends. Mr. Kemper is a member of the Knights of Pythias, Modern Woodmen of America, and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

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