William Henry Kemps
1878 - 1964
By : Roger Kemps ©
with additional informationf from :
William Worth Kemps, Sr.; William Worth Kemps, Jr.; and William Wayne McCall
William Henry KEMPS|
The son of Samuel Henry KEMPS (3/27/1842 - 4/2/1921)
& Clara Amanda (nee McClurken) KEMPS (6/7/1849 - 5/27/1936)
William Henry Kemps was born on October 29, 1878 in Oakdale, Illinois.
He was the middle child of seven. His siblings were:
He married Edna Hammond WRIGHT (1/24/1885 - 7/10/1954) of Indianapolis on June 5, 1907.
Although the farm in Oakdale was home in 1900, William was a traveling salesman selling stereoptic viewers and views, door to door. He would say that is were he gained his real sales skills. "Never get discouraged by a slammed door". In the middle of the year 1900, he moved to St. Louis and began working for the next year a half as a retail route driver (horse drawn wagon) for the St. Louis Dairy Company, located at 2008 Pine Street.
On May 22, 1902, he enlisted in the Army for a three year stint as a telegraph operator in the Signal Corps. In the fall of 1902, all of 1903, and 11 months of 1904, he served in the Phillipines in the aftermath of the Phillipine - American War (the hostilities continued until 1913). He attained the rank of First Sergeant. of his company and was the quarter master. During this time, he became life long friends with his commanding officer, Col. Charles McKinley Saltzman. Saltzman went on to become a major general and worked in the White House under Herbert Hoover. He became our first chairman of the new Federal Communications Commission (his signal corps experience paid off). He was William Henry's mentor. William was discharged on May 21, 1905 at the Benicia Barracks in California.
Afterwards, William returned to St. Louis and played minor or amateur baseball. He also worked as a conductor on a train line that ran to Mexico. That is where he met Edna Wright. She was vacationing in Mexico and they met on the train. William and Edna were married in Indianapolis on June 5,1907. William took classes in St. Louis and he and another fellow (possibly John P. Cabanne) partnered to develop the milk product "FER-MIL-LAC".
In 1910, William and Edna were living at 6151 McPherson Avenue along with his sister Ethyl. At that time, they owned the house and he listed his position as a dairyman in the Fermented Milk industry.
By 1911, William and Edna had moved to Minnesota and had their first child, Marian, on October 6, 1911. On September 13, 1913, they had twins, Kathryn H. and William Worth. They were then living at 2200 Oliver Avenue South in Lake of the Isle, an upscale sub-division of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1913, his occupation was milk dealer.
About 1914, William partnered with W. S. Lathrop, who owned the Lathrop Candy Company which was on the verge of, or in, bankruptcy. The Lathrop
Candy company also had an ice business, thus the segway into ice cream. Together they lauched the Lathrop-Kemps Ice Cream Company located
at 222 Fifth Street North in Minneapolis. William supplied the dairy experience, the sales expertise and the funding. He was the Vice President
and their product was labeled Kemps Ice Cream. The product was "special quality" ice cream that cost more than the other brands. William Henry
reigistered for the draft on September 12, 1918 in the City of Minneapolis at the age of 39.
The 1920 US Census indicates that William and Edna and their three children were living at 2200 Oliver Avenue South in Minneapolis and he listed his occupation as employer in the ice cream business.
They went to California for a visit around 1921. About that time, the doctor advised William that his health was such that he could not survive too many more winters in Minneapolis. They went back in 1922 and 1923 in the winter time and bought a piece of property in Beverly Hills and built a home. The family moved there, about 1924 and stayed in that house for a few years. Barney Oldfield, the race car driver, was one of their neighbors.The actress, Theda Bara, was also their neighbor in Beverly Hills and the children (William, Katherine and probably Marian) went there to play on occasion. At the time of the move, the Lathrop-Kemps Ice Cream Company was sold to the competitor, Crescent Creamery. William played golf for a couple of months and then decided that he needed something to do. So he bought into a Cadillac Dealership in Glendale. They were going to build a new home in the Westwood area (chose a lot and had house plans drawn up). However, William had a problem with his sacroiliac and had to have a driver to chauffer him around. (He had recruited Theda Bara's chauffer, Albert Alexander, who drove for the Kemps family until William Henry's death in 1964). He decided that if he was going to be in business in Glendale and did not like driving into the sun all the time, they should build in Glendale. So they found a piece of property and used the same house plans with minor adjustments. The Glendale house was built in 1926 at 1565 Hillcrest Avenue and all the children attended Toll Junior High School. The 1930 US Census indicates that the family was living at this address and William's occupation was listed as General Manager of an Automobile Dealership. During the depression not enough people were buying Cadilllacs, so he sold the dealership (Modern Motors is still there).
About the same time, somewhere before 1931, the Cammack brothers (Crescent Creamery) had William start an ice cream plant named Beverly Dairies, Ltd., located on Jefferson at Hill St., in Los Angeles, California. William was the President and eventually the Chairman of the Board. William Worth Kemps, son of William Henry, later, joined the company and eventually ran it until 1956 or 1957 when it was sold to the Bressler brothers. Richard G. McCall, son-in-law, of William Henry, also joined the company and worked there for about 12 years.
In 1933, when the kids were finished with high school, William and Edna built their last home on three acres at 5305 Harter Lane in La Canada, This house was built during the depression when wages for construction were very low, something like thirty cents per hour. William offered forty or fifty cents per hour to insure quality work. The house was a masterpiece! It had a three car garage and a very nice back yard with a patio and rose garden. It backed up to the Angeles National Forest. William loved to feed the birds, including peacocks and quail, in the back yard after work. The children, as they got married, built homes in Glendale. Katherine and her husband, Richard McCall, later built a home in La Canada and eventually moved to Lake Tahoe. Marian lived in the Southern California area. Grandson, Wayne McCall, spent a great deal of time with Edna and William when he was young. He loved the house and grounds and played there as much as possible (he lived less than a mile away). Wayne relates that William and Edna lived a very refined and happy life, donated heavily to favored causes and treated people with great respect.
Edna died on July 10, 1954. William died at the age of 85 years and 11 months on October 2, 1964.
For a more complete Kemps Dairy Products history, see the website page Company Overview, at