J. A. Kemp, biography c. 1926
[New Encyclopedia of Texas]
  Source: Davis, Ellis A. and Edwin H. Grobe, eds. New Encyclopedia of Texas. Dallas, Tex. Texas Development Bureau, 1926. Vol. I, p. 645.

J.A. KEMP, whether viewed as banker, capitalist, merchant, railway builder or as a philanthropist, is a star of the first magnitude. President of the City National Bank of Commerce, founder of a wholesale grocery business now known as Blair-Hughes of Wichita Falls and Dallas, but of which he is an active director to this day, builder of the Wichita Falls & Southern R. R. of the Wichita Falls & Northwestern R. R., and loved by everybody in a city which proudly calls him "our chief citizen," the genius of J. A. Kemp pervades everything in Wichita Falls. He is president of the Wichita Falls Traction Company, chairman of the board of directors of the Wichita Falls Motor Company, a chief builder of the Kemp Hotel a one-and-a-quarter million dollar structure, the Kemp Apartments, the City National Bank Building, vice president of Blair-Hughes Wholesale Grocery Co., formerly a director of the Great Southern Life Insurance Co., and a member of the board of regents of the University of Texas.

Mr. Kemp is a native Texan, born at Clifton, on July 31, 1861. His father, W. T. Kemp, came from Tennessee in the pioneer days; his mother, Mrs. Emma Stinnett Kemp, was a Missourian. Young Kemp was educated in the schools of his home town and since has taken many courses in the university of experience which acknowledges him as one of her most able graduates. In 1883 Wichita Falls became the home of this leader of men. He first engaged in the mercantile business out of which has grown one of the largest Texas wholesale grocery concerns of today. In 1892 he became president of the City National Bank which had been organized the year before. In the more than a score of years that have since passed, Mr. Kemp has found expression for his ability and usefulness in the various offices he holds today. He is interested in oil developments and especially the gigantic irrigation project which will place 150,000 acres of land near his city under irrigation and furnish an adequate supply of water for the City of Wichita Falls no matter how large a city it may become. The realization of this aim will easily bring 100,000 people to make their permanent homes in Texas' young giant city.

At Clifton, Texas, in 1882, Miss Flora Anderson, of Clifton, daughter of Captain Allen Anderson, became the bride of Mr. Kemp. To them have been born four daughters and one son: Mrs. W. N. Maer, Mrs. W. S. Langford, Mrs. A. B. Boothe and one daughter died after reaching her majority, and Joseph A. Kemp, Jr., who is now in the Hill School of Pottstown, Penn., preparing for Princeton University. The home residence is at 906 Grant Street.

Mr. Kemp is a Mason, a thirty-second degree man, K. C. C. H., Dallas Consistory, a member of the Wichita Club and of the Wichita Golf and Country Club .

In the marvelous strides that Wichita Falls has made in the last decade which is calling the attention of all the States to it, J. A. Kemp has been an important factor. He and his influence will be a power through the development of the next generation. Viewed from his talent and ability and his "great heart," for which people everywhere love him, J. A. Kemp is not simply a Texas character, he is one of the big men of the South and of the U. S. A.

Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections and contributions of new material.