Finding Your Folks: The Kempsons of Line Creek, Part 1

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

I was mildly surprised that this family, which had lots of children and married into many of the well-known families in Coweta and Meriwether, was not well represented in either the local history books or online. These Kempsons were the descendants of Harmon Kempson, a German immigrant who made his way from Hanover, Germany to South Carolina, and later to Meriwether County, Georgia and left many to carry on his name. His children were Henry, Elizabeth, Peter John Michael, Frederick Harmon, Benjamin and Susannah.

However, I have a couple of questions about the research:

First question: Most who have Harmon in their family tree online list his burial place as Mt. Carmel Methodist Church near Alvaton in Meriwether County but I could not find him listed there in the cemeteries book. There is supposed to be a marker on his grave, elaborating his trek from Germany to America. Was this erected after the cemeteries book was published (1993)? If so, is information on the marker accurate and who erected it? I may drive down there and try to find it for myself.

Second question: In one of the Caldwell stories in the Meriwether Heritage book, it is stated that Harmon's will was made and recorded in South Carolina. There is no mention of him in Meriwether County probate or land records. Was his will probated in South Carolina and not here? If he owned no property here, that could be possible.

Harmon did appear in the 1850 Meriwether census in the home of his son, Peter. His age was given as 92, so he was quite elderly when they made the trip from South Carolina. In the 1840 census, Benjamin and Peter Kempson are shown in Edgefield Co., S.C. and Harmon (son of Harmon the elder and brother to Peter and Benjamin) is shown in Newberry County. Records of the wives of both Peter and Benjamin, sisters Mary Ursula and Elizabeth Long, also are found in Newberry.

In the 1850 Meriwether census, ages and birthplaces of the children of both Peter and Benjamin indicate they made the move to Meriwether about 1842 or 1843. Land records place this date slightly earlier, showing that Peter Kempson purchased land in Land Lots 232 and 217 in the Upper Ninth District from Elan Wilbanks on 17 July 1840. No acreage was specified, but Peter paid $1,200 for the parcel. Five months later, he purchased 202.5 acres in Land Lot 233 of the Upper Ninth District from Henry Orrick for $400. Henry Orrick, you may remember, was married to Grace Tidwell, daughter of William Tidwell and Mary Amelia Jones and sister of Milly Tidwell who married James Boyd.

Peter's brother, Benjamin Kempson, also purchased land but not as early as his brother. Records show Benjamin Kempson purchased 200 acres of land in Land Lot 216 of the Upper Ninth District from Zadoc Blalock in July of 1844.

So, where, exactly, is this land and where did the Kempsons live? Early maps show the Kempson land to be south of Mt. Carmel Church, between Mt. Carmel Methodist and Mt. Zion Baptist and, no surprise to me, adjacent to the land owned by John “Wagonner Jack” Boyd and later, Jack's children, Sarah Boyd Bell and James Boyd. This land also is right at Mt. Sinai Church on Mt. Carmel Road, and, in fact, part of it is later donated (1891) by Mrs. Susan Kempson to Mt. Sinai for a church, schoolhouse and burial ground (Deed Book X, page 561).

Of Harmon the elder's children, four appear to have come to Meriwether and two stayed in South Carolina. Henry and Frederick Harmon remained in South Carolina and Elizabeth, Peter, Benjamin and Susannah came to Georgia with their father.

Peter and Benjamin married sisters, as stated before, both daughters of George Long and Elizabeth Catherine Stairley (also seen in some Newberry records as Stearley). Internet sources say Elizabeth was the daughter of Maria Ursula Eichelberger and Jacob Stairley/Stearley. There are involved records in Newberry court showing these relationships and lineages through wills, estates and property settlements. Some of these are difficult to understand but are worth wading through to find elusive ancestors.

Harmon's oldest son was Peter (Peter John Michael), born 30 Dec 1798 in Charleston, S.C. Peter married Mary Ursula Long in 1828 in Newberry, S.C. and they had 14 children, 10 of whom are named in his will: Henry Jacob, George A., Susan E., Sarah M., Catherine M., Christena E., Barbary C., Regina W., Lydia I., and Benjamin W. Children who died young were Elizabeth, Peter, Harmon and John Hope. Peter made his will on 31 Aug. 1866 and died 31 Aug 1867, His son and executor, George A. Kempson, filed and recorded the will on Dec. 2, 1867. (Meriwether County Will Book B, Page 113.) Witnesses were William P. Glass, Fannie A. Williams and Abner C. Brown. Peter's wife, Mary, lived until 1901. She and Peter are both buried at Mt. Carmel, along with many of their children.

Harmon's youngest son, Benjamin, was born in 1804 in Charleston, S.C. and died 21 May 1887 in Carroll County, Ga. Benjamin married first Elizabeth Long, Mary Ursula's sister and they had 12 children: Elizabeth C. (who married Joel J. Herndon), Harmon, Anna Christina (who married Marshall Herndon and Wilkins Stone), Mary Louise, John Peter Michael, Martha Ann, Susan Ann Jane, Levi J.H., Margaret Sophia, Matilda Carolina, and two unknown children who died as infants. Elizabeth died in 1855 and Benjamin remarried to Nancy Bell, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Boyd Bell, and had three more children: Sallie E., Benjamin Washington and George Thomas.

I will check on Harmon's gravestone and we'll continue this family next week.

login to post comments | Judy Fowler Kilgore's blog