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JAMES M. KEMPER HAMILTON MERCHANT IN THE SIXTIES

Narrator: W.T. Kemper, 68, of Kansas City and Others

Wm. T. Kemper, the Kansas City banker, is a son of James Madison Kemper, a pioneer of Hamilton and Sallie Paxton both natives of Kentucky. James M. Kemper came to Hamilton at the age of seventeen in 1858 to be a clerk in the A.G. Davis store - the first store here - located at the site of the Courter Theater facing south. He was a clerk under John Burrows of Mirabile, who managed the Davis Store. When he came, people called him Jimmy and for years he was thus known. When about twenty one he and Wm. Stone started a General Store in the Davis Building for themselves and it was in this store that the Casey-Bristow killing began.

Later the firm was made up of John Ballinger, S.P. Cox, and J.M. Kemper, still down by the railroad. An old ad in the 1864 Kingston Newspaper said they had a good supply of flour, salt, dry goods, groceries and took produce. They had a salt yard just north of their store building.

In 1865, Kemper and Paxton built a two-story frame on Main Street on the spot where the Bram Store now stands. James Whitt lately of Daviess County was the head clerk and above the store lived the young George Lamson and wife and baby Harry, who was then depot agent.

This store was popular and a money maker as all the early old timers recall it. It burnt sometime about 1870 and Kemper sold the site to Anthony Rohrbough and son-in-law Moore who built on the site the brick block which still stands.

When James Kemper decided to leave town a farewell dinner was given in his honor and B.M. Daley a prominent young lawyer sang a funny song with a refrain, "Jimmy Don't Go." Where upon every one present was supposed to weep in fun and ended by weeping in earnest.

During the rest of his life Mr. J.M. Kemper's heart was always in Hamilton. Here in this county he had met and lost the bride of his youth Sallie Paxton and they are both buried in the Kemper-Paxton lot in the Highland Cemetery. While living here he owned the big white house on the hill in the west end of town, now the James Kautz home.

He left here to enter a Mercantile business in St. Joseph where he stayed forty years. His first wife having died, he married again. He died in California 1928.

He was related to the Kemper family which have lived for years in the Mirabile neighborhood. He was also related by inter-marriage with the Paxtons of Mirabile and with the A.G. Davis family and the Penney family of Hamilton.

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All photos are copyright KingsCross Farm, 1997 & 1998
All written material other than reference material copyright KingsCross Farm 1998