Finding Your Folks: Kempson reunion set for Sept. 21

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

I usually don't use the column to announce family reunions but these families were so prominent on the south side I'm going to make an exception.

What do I mean by prominent? Oh, they had their share of preachers, doctors, lawyers, business owners, educators and well-to-do people, but in this case I'm using "prominent" to mean that there were a lot of them and many were just plain old good folks who were respected in their community … and they stayed here for decades.

Although the hub of this reunion is Harmon Kempson, an early resident of Meriwether County who is buried at Mt. Carmel Methodist Church near Alvaton, other families are being recognized in conjunction with the Kempsons, namely, the Brandenburgs, Grays and Caldwells who lived (and some still do) in what I call the "Line Creek" area. This area takes in southeastern Coweta, southern Fayette, southwestern Spalding, and northern Pike and Meriwether counties. Line Creek flows just about down the middle of the area, dividing Coweta from Fayette and Spalding, and joins with the Flint River to form the boundary between Meriwether and Pike counties.

Harmon Kempson came with his children from South Carolina to Meriwether County in the 1830s - 1840s and settled in the Upper Ninth District. Harmon's sons, Peter and Benjamin, had married sisters in South Carolina, Mary Ursula and Elizabeth Long respectively, moved to Georgia and purchased land south of Mt. Carmel Church in the area of Mt. Zion and Mt. Sinai churches, roughly where Oakland Road crosses Mt. Carmel. Both Peter and Benjamin had large families who married into many of the prominent families in the area. Benjamin's wife died and he later married Nancy Bell, giving yet another connection to the Caldwell family, in addition to the Peter Kempson-Caldwell connection.

I was familiar with the Brandenburg and Gray connection to the Kempsons but I didn't quite get the Caldwell connection until I stumbled across a story in the Meriwether Heritage Book written by the widow of a Caldwell descendant, Mrs. Harmon White Caldwell (Gwendolyn Burton) of Atlanta, who also was largely responsible for having the Mt. Carmel area declared a historic district and placed on the National Register map in 1998. Those attending the reunion this Sunday might want to take in some of the historic areas around the church.

Peter Kempson's children married into the Caldwell, Gray and Brandenburg families: his daughter Susan Elizabeth married Hosea Gray, son of Abraham Gray and Jane Wilson, and had Rosannah, Oscar, Leonidas, Mollie Tranquilla, Latimer, Hattie, Rebecca, Ida and Kate Gray.

His daughter Regina Wilhelmina married Rufus K. Brandenburg, son of Lewis and Ann Hatton Brandenburg, and had Henry Lewis, Lena, Mary Estell, Lydia Ann, Lovic (or Lovett) Pierce, William Rufus and Harvey Hill Brandenburg. Some Brandenburgs also are seen as "Blandenburg."

His daughter Lydia married Rufus's brother, Olin Brandenburg, and had Elmer Claudius, Alvin, Peter H., Mary A. (Mamie), Emmett Alexander, Margaret (Maggie), Hubert R., Orrie Kate, Dora I. and Susan Beatrice Brandenburg.

And his daughter Barbara Ann Charity married James Caldwell, son of Newton Alexander and Nancy Caldwell, and had Lucius, Wilbur, Theodore, Ernest and Harmon DeLos Caldwell. Newton Alexander Caldwell's sister, Elizabeth Caldwell, married James Bell, brother of Nancy Bell who married Benjamin Kempson, Peter's brother.

Many of these early settlers are buried at Mt. Carmel, including Harmon Kempson, who died in 1852. There also is a Caldwell Cemetery near Mt. Carmel.

Descendants of all these families are expected to be at the reunion this Sunday. The Rev. Hugh Pope is coordinating the effort and wrote to me with all the details.

The event will kick off Sunday morning, Sept. 21 at the Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church on Ga. Hwy. 362 between Alvaton in Meriwether County and Hollonville in Pike County. Family members will honor their German immigrant, Harmon Kempson, who came to Charleston, S.C. in 1776-1777 to fight in the Revolutionary War. He came to Meriwether County in the late l830s and was buried at Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church in l852. His grave recently has been restored by members of his family. His descendants settled in the surrounding areas of Coweta, Spalding, Fayette, Meriwether and Pike counties.

The event will be conducted along with the annual Homecoming Celebration at Mt. Carmel Church. Activities will include registration from 9:l5 - l0:30 a.m., worship at 11 a.m., and dinner under the  “old oak trees” in the churchyard at l2:l5 p.m.

The family will gather back at the church to honor their heritage at l:45 p.m. A short memorial service will be held at the grave of Harmon Kempson at 3 p.m. and the family will meet back in the church fellowship hall for refreshments and “chat time” at 3:30. Each family is asked to bring covered dishes.

For more information contact Rev. Hugh C. Pope,, or telephone him at 770-385-8727.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Alvaton, it is on Ga. Highway 85 (not I-85 but the 85 highway that runs through Riverdale and Fayetteville), south of Senoia, just across the Coweta line in Meriwether. Turn left in Alvaton on Ga. Hwy. 362 toward Griffin, and go about two miles to Mt. Carmel Church on the right. I would be willing to bet this is going to be one terrific reunion.

Stories about your families who lived on Atlanta's south side are always welcome. Send stories to or Mail to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214. All letters and e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

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