Transcribed by Vada Sutton
May 17, 1951 and reprinted January 5, 1978
There are two or more branches of the Kemp family in this and surrounding counties. One of them is descended from Solomon Kemp. The other is from Burrell Kemp. We will try to give out some information this week about the Solomon Kemp branch of the family. Solomon Kemp was born in Virginia about 1750 and was a soldier of the American Revolution. We are sorry that we do not have his war record, but we feel sure that it could be obtained from Washington.
Solomon Kemp was married twice, but the surname of either wife is not known. The first was Judy, but we have no way of learning who she was prior to her marriage. The second wife’s given name was Hannah. Born to Solomon Kemp were the following children, but whether they were Judy’s children, or Hannah’s children or a mixture, we do not know. The first of the children of whom we have any record was Aulsey Kemp, born about 1788 and died in 1863. He married Peggy Jones. Next on our list is Wylie Kemp, who married Betsy Jones, a sister of Peggy. Jim Kemp is next. He married a daughter of Sion Bass, an early Middle Tennessee Baptist minister. Next is Jack Kemp who married Barbara Jones, a sister of the two Jones women above mentioned. They were the daughters of Wylie Jones. The next of the Kemp family on our record was Fannie Kemp, married Jim Jones. We do not know if he was a brother of Peggy, Betsy and Barbara, or even related. Perhaps some reader can tell us. Hixie was the next on our list. She married Bill Hesson. Polly Kemp, married John Wilson, is next. Ruthie Kemp, married a Hayes, is next. The last on the list is Nancy, married John Hesson.
Aulsey and Peggy Jones Kemp were the parents of Judy,, married Allen Ballard, a son of John Ballard, and then removed to Missiouri; Wylie Kemp, born April 6, 1829, and whose birthday was a great annual event of upper Peyton’s Creek for many years. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Smith Gregory, son of Squire Bill Gregory, a brother of Bry Gregory, the great-great-grandfather of the writer of this column. Jim Kemp, another son of Aulsey and Peggy, married Dicie Ann Climer; and Lark Kemp, married a Lankford or Langford; Ann Kemp, married Franklin Climer, a brother of Dicie; Betsy Kemp, married John Patterson; Polly Kemp, married a Donoho and later a Langord, Lucy Kemp, married Billie Canter; and Jennie Kemp, married a Pankey and removed to Illinois.
Wylie and Betsy Jones Kemp were the parents of: Polly Kemp, married Will H. Gregory, the father of the late Harvey Gregory who died a few years ago, near Lafayette; Martha Kemp, known in later life as “Duck”, married George McDuffee, son of Neal and Thenie Bry Gregory McDuffee; Peggy Kemp, married Lark Russell; Lark Kemp, married a Smith; Will Kemp, no record; Allen Kemp, married a Perry; and Eliza Kemp, married a Dillehay.
Jack and Barbara Jones Kemp were the parents of: Peggy Kemp, married a Carter; Aulsey Kemp, married a Wakefield; Allen Kemp, married a McClellan, Dycus and a Sadler; Ben, was of feeble mental power; Willie Kemp, married a Clark; Jane Kemp, married a Wakefield; Betsy Kemp, no further record; Tilda Kemp, married a Russell; and later Edler V. Sanders, a Baptist Minister.
Hixie Kemp and her husband, Bill Hesson, were the parents of: Dixon, Lark, Wesley, Jack, John, Arthur, Will and Peggy Hesson. Bill Hesson was a brother of John Hesson who married Nancy, the daughter of Solomon Kemp. John and Bill were sons of Andy Hesson. John Hesson was killed one night many years ago on the Mima Gregory Hill as he went home from Lafayette. We believe it was a First Monday when the fatal accident occurred. He had remained rather late in Lafayette and on his way home, which was on Payton’s Creek, he rode under a stooping tree and suffered fatal injuries, perhaps his neck having been broken by his impact against the tree, which was located about seven miles east of Lafayette and near the top of the Mama Gregory Hill. John had a son, Peter Hesson, and maybe other children; but this is all we have on his offspring.
Going back to the children of Aulsey and Peggy Jones, we come to their grandchildren. Judy and her husband, Allen Ballard, had one child, but name is not known. Wylie Kemp, who married Elizabeth Gregory had one son and he was known as “Uncle Willie” Kemp. He has not been dead a great many years. He had Jesse, Marlin, Harvey, Wylie Kemp; Betty, married Wilson Tuck; Emma, married Herbert Sloan, and perhaps we may have overlooked one or two other of his children.
Jim Kemp and his wife, Dicie Climer, were the parents of Harvey, Haskell, Newtie, Aulsey and Sallie Kemp. Many of our readers recall Haskell, who was know far and near as “Uncle Haskell.” He was a man who stammered to some extent, although he was and able auctioneer and also could sing quite well. Many are the funny incidents connected with his life. He has to daughters who still live. Mrs. E. J. Cassetty, of the Russell Hill section; and Mrs. Jim Woodard, of Route 1, Hartsville. We were often with this lively, jolly man who enjoyed a good joke as well almost as any man we ever saw. We recall many incidents in his life. One of them occurred about 1917, some time after his wife had died. He was perhaps “looking around” to some extent and proposed to Elder C. B. Massey to go with him on a trip to the preacher’s regular appointments at Old Union Baptist Church, near Woodburn, Ky. The two men, in the minister’s buggy and driving his bay horse, “Old Slasher,” left the minister’s home one summer morning to drive up Peyton’s Creek, climb the Mama Gregory Hill, and thence to Lafayette and Scottsville. Somewhere between Lafayette and Scottsville, Uncle Haskell’s linen collar, collars then being detachable from the shirt, because soiled and Brother Massey said, “Uncle Haskell, is that the only collar you have with you?” Haskell stammered and replied, “Er sir, siree sir, yessire. Sirree why?” He was told that the collar was dirty or soiled. Uncle Haskell, apparently worried about the impression he might make on the women at Old Union Church, asked, “Ersirree, sirree, what’ll I do?” Massey replied, “We will stop in Scottsville and see if we can get you a clean collar.” On arriving at Scottsville Brother Massey reported to the writer that they went to practically every dry goods store in Scottsville, trying to find a collar small enough for Uncle Haskell, who was very tall and extremely slender and whose neck was perhaps not larger than a 13. Finally the preacher spied a box of the old, hgh, shiny celluloid collars once worn by many of our men folks. The writer has worn them in time past. They were easily cleaned and would last indefinitely. However, they had a bad effect on one’s neck, frequently causing a “breaking-out” and much soreness of the neck. They were dangerous about a fire as they would burn like they had gasoline on them. The preacher having spied one of these collars, a 17 ½ in size, asked the clerk to hand him down one of the collars pointed to. The clerk started to say something against the idea of putting such a collar on the unsuspecting widower, but the preacher merely winked his eye at the clerk and managed to keep him quite. The preacher then took the big collar and put it on the innocent Haskell without letting him look into a mirror. The preacher pulled on the back of the big collar, taking up the slack which amounted to three or four inches and asked Uncle Haskell to stick his finger in the front part of the collar about his “goozie” or Adam’s Apple, and asked, “How is that for a fit, Uncle Haskell?” The poor fellow who was riding for a fall, replied, “Er sir, sirree, sirree, that is about sirree right.” The preacher then released the back part of the collar and he told the writer that he had never in all his life seen so ill fitting a collar on any neck. The “widower” on his way to new fields, was feeling good and was in a state of high glee, and the preacher was “tickled pink”. The man wearing the big collar was highly pleased with his yarns, tales and stories, supposing that the minister by his side was tickled at the fancy tales he was hearing. So he told more and more tales and stories of a funny nature,” Now and then, so the preacher said, Uncle Haskell would stretch his neck somewhat after the manner of a chicken trying to swallow one more grain of corn. Eventually the two arrived at the Church, to find quite a large crowd gathered for the Saturday afternoon service.
Although we feel that Uncle Haskell had already been sufficiently humiliated, the saddest part of all, the unkindest cut, was yet to come. Instead of taking the poor man to one side and removing the hugh collar, the preacher led him right into the midst of the folks and particularly the women and the reader need to recall that he was somewhat on the lookout for a wife or at least wanted to make a good impression on the old maids and widow present at Old Union church that day, and then proceeded to give Uncle Haskell an introduction to all present. The preacher informed the writer that he had never before seen such bowing and pawing and “scraping” as the man caring the big collar. He reported that each time he was given an introduction, he acknowledged the same with a bow that began at his waist and ended with his body in a horizontal position. At each bending down that preacher said, “That big collar looked like a hoop on a stick.” Church was over and the two men went to the home of Bill Daniels to spend the night. While preparing to each supper, Uncle Haskell went to a mirror and saw his collar for the first time. He could hardly talk as he stammered and stammered, but finally did manage to say, “Er siree, sree, ercer, ercer, you ought to be killed. This collar is, sirree sir, big enough for two necks like mine.”
A few days later we saw Uncle Haskell, and, having already been informed of the “big collar,” episode, we asked him about the size of the collar. His answer remains with us over a period of nearly 35 years: “It was, er sirree, ercer, ercer, sirree, sir, big enough for my horse.” So ends the episode of the long gone years, still recalled by some as “Haskell’s Big Collar.”
Uncle Haskell has been gone for several years to the land that lies beyond the setting sun, his work over and I may add, well done. He was one of the most lively and likeable persons it was ever our good fortune to meet. We still miss him at Gladdice, Defeated Creek and other places where we were so often together in those days when the writer was young and the end seemed far off.
Brother Massey is not the same jolly many that he was one. He is now almost 84 years of age and he no longer plays pranks and tricks on others as he once did. He is facing the end with a calm assurance of the rest that remains to the people of God. Soon he and Uncle Haskell will be together in a better and fairer land and perhaps they will recall the joyful times they spent together here in those days that have gone forever, and which live only in memory.
We forgot to add that Uncle Haskell’s “stock” took quite a tumble at Old Union and we do not recall his ever going there again. Anyway those were great and wonderful days that we feel will never come again