Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


[p. 604] deceased, an aforetime resident of Neshannock township, was a member of that large and intelligent body of citizens who have contributed so much to our wealth as a nation and to our welfare as individuals by their labors and endeavors in agricultural pursuits. He was born in Blair township, Huntington [sic] Co., Pa., May 14th, 1811, and was a son of Joseph and Molly (Piper) Kemp, who were of Dutch descent. The grandfather and grandmother of our subject commenced the sea voyage to America with their little son and daughter, Joseph and Kittie, but the mother was taken sick and died in mid-ocean, and the father only lived a short time after reaching the city of Philadelphia. The daughter, Kittie, married George Doubler of Gettysburg, Pa.

Joseph Kemp, our subject's father, after receiving an education in the schools of Blair township, learned the cooper's trade, and followed it all his life in Huntingdon County in connection with farming. His native Dutch thrift and saving habits stood him in good stead in acquiring a comfortable home, and in providing liberally for his children. His wife, who was born in Petersburg, Huntingdon Co., Pa., bore him twelve children, namely: John P., our subject; Phillip; Peggy; Lydia; William; Molly; Betsey; Christina; Andrew; Joseph; Annie; and Katie. In religious attendance they were Lutherans.

John P. Kemp was educated in the schools of Blair township, and at an early age learned the cooper's trade under his father's instruction, and followed it a number of years in the latter's shop, subsequently turning his attention more in the direction of agricultural pursuits. About 1849, he left his native place for Neshannock township, Lawrence County (but then in Mercer County), and settled on the farm, now the home of his widow, which was then in its virgin, uncultivated state. For a residence he built a frame house in which they lived seven years, when he erected the present brick structure; the brick was made on his own farm from excellent clay beds, and all the wood-work was done by his own hand, for he was a first-class mechanic in all lines of wood-working and carpentry. At that time he cleared sixty-eight acres of the eighty acres of land owned by him, which are adapted to general farming and stock-raising, and are situated about five miles north of New Castle on the Mercer and New Castle "pike," which thus brings the farm into easy communication with the markets. He was a very ambitious man, and always interested in the improvement of his property and in the development of all the resources of the farm. In his home life he was a model man, treating his wife with that respect and consideration as was her due, and extending toward his children a warm sympathy with their desires and ambitions that made his departure from their midst deeply felt. He interested himself in politics as a loyal, patriotic American citizen, never pushing himself forward into public notice, but fully content to cast his vote for the man of his choice and rely on the will of the people as the supreme law; he was a Whig and cast his first ballot for William Henry Harrison, the hero of Tippecanoe. He became a Republican upon the dissolution of his own party, and the organization of the new power in politics.

On Dec. 25, 1832, he was joined in marriage with Esther Ann Lowery, daughter of George and Hettie (Hartman) Lowery of Washington County, Maryland. Of the seventeen children born of this union, the following ten are the only ones now living: Joseph; William; Lydia; Rebecca; Susan; Hannah; Florence; John and James, twins; and Samuel P. They were faithful attendants of the M. E. Church, in which Mr. Kemp was for many years a member in the best of standing. Mrs. Kemp, who was born Aug. 26, l813, still survives her husband, and is remarkably active for one of her advanced years, and still does her own housework. Mr. Kemp died Feb. 14, 1897, aged eighty-five years and nine months.

Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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