Biography of Frank A. Kemper

It is pleasure to us to be able to grant to this prominent and substantial citizen a consideration in the history of Nez Perces County, both because of his excellent industry and wisdom, which have accumulated a good holding for him, and because of his real worth and integrity.

Frank A. Kemper was born in Lippstadt, Germany, on August 31, 1845, being the son of Henry and Mary E. (Heimyer) Kemper, natives of Westphalia. Frank attended school from seven to fourteen. At the age of twenty he joined the regular army and served in the Franco Prussian War, being under General Mantaufel. He served in four of the fierce battles of that war, namely Forbach, Columba, Gravalotte and Auxere. He endured great hardships and terrible fatigue in forced and long marches. Many bullets passed through his clothes and many soldiers fell at his side, but Mr. Kemper was never wounded. He was honorably discharged in 1871 and in October of that year he came from Bremen to the United States, landing in Baltimore October 22, after eleven days at sea.

On March 13, 1872, he started for San Francisco, and his train suffered wreck at Oakland, but he was not injured. Then he came by steamer “Ajax” to Portland, and there followed his trade, harness making, for four years, and then went to Cornelius and farmed for some time. There, on January 16, 1877.

Mr. Kemper married Miss Barbara Thomas, a native of Bavaria, Germany. In 1887 they came to Uniontown, Washington, where Mrs. Kemper died on September 18, 1888, leaving three children, Joseph, Kate and Nicholas. On July 25, 1889, Mr. Kemper married Kate Hageman, a native of Peoria, Illinois. She was born in March 4, 1855 and came to Uniontown via San Francisco and Portland, in 1885. Mr. Kemper left the harness making trade and in 1893 made a trip to the reservation to inspect the land and view the country: the result was that on November 18, 1895; he was on hand to file on his present place, about two miles northwest from Nez Perce. He has a fine seven room house, a large barn, first class granary, bearing orchard and the entire premises show skill and industry.

In Mr. Kemper’s house was held the first Catholic service of the entire reservation country and for two years there was service there on each alternate Sunday. Father Suer, a well known and faithful missionary, was the officiating priest.

One child, Mary Magdalen, has been born to this couple.

Back to: Nez Perce Biographies

Source: An Illustrated History of Northern Idaho, Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903

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