Located in Bryan County, Kemp is three miles east of Hendrix and one-half mile east of County Road N3740. Originally known as Warner Springs, the community attracted settlers in the 1880s, because of the water provided by local springs. Most of these early residents belonged to the Chickasaw tribe, and the town was situated in Panola County, Chickasaw Nation. Circa 1890 the town name changed to Kemp, in honor of prominent Chickasaw Jackson Kemp. In 1890 the Post Office Department designated a post office at the townsite.
The 1900 population stood at 221. In 1909, as the Missouri, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway (MO&G) bypassed the town while laying tracks south to Texas, Kemp's estimated population was five hundred. Prior to railroad construction, the town supported a bank and was a trade center for fifteen to seventeen square miles of prime agricultural land that produced large crops of cotton and corn. Several businesses and the bank relocated to the new community of Kemp City, later Hendrix, on the railway, while other businesses moved to Achille, over seven miles north of Kemp, also on the MO&G. In 1918 Kemp still had a telephone company, three general stores, two grocers, three physicians, a drugstore, an undertaker, a blacksmith, a cotton gin, and a hotel. In 1920 the census reported a population of 396, declining to 186 in 1930.
In 1960 the population was 153, and Kemp still served as a farming community. In 1968 the school closed, and the students were sent to Yuba. The town converted the school building into a community center. The 2000 census reported 144 residents.
SEE ALSO: SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: The History of Bryan County, Oklahoma (Durant, Okla.: Bryan County Heritage Association, 1983). "Kemp," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.
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