Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

The Honorable Sam Kemp 


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The Time Capsules stories are prepared by Bob Brinkman
Texas Historical Commission


TIME CAPSULE - DEC 1871
The Honorable Sam Kemp 

            This month we celebrate the life of a local boy who became a noted attorney and jurist, serving as a judge in the Territory of Hawaii under Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt. Samuel Barnet Kemp was born at Merrelltown on December 26, 1871, the son of James Barnet and Eliza Sofronia (Woodward) Kemp. His father was a blacksmith and ginner at Merrelltown. Sam attended school there and at Round Rock High School, graduating in 1894 in a class of 13 that included Miss May Hope of Caldwell. Sam attended Texas A&M and the University of Texas, earning his law degree from UT in 1900.  In December 1904 he and May were married.

From 1900 to 1908 Sam practiced law in Austin. In 1906 he ran unsuccessfully for Travis County Attorney, losing a close race. Sam moved the family west to Robert Lee, and served as County Judge and Tax Collector of Coke County.

            In 1916 President Wilson appointed Sam to be an assistant United States attorney in the District of Hawaii.  Sam later served as a circuit judge of the First Circuit of Hawaii in 1917-18, and as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Hawaii from 1918-22. After practicing law through the 1920s, he was again appointed to serve the state by President Roosevelt. Sam was Attorney General of Hawaii from 1937-38, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1938-41, and Chief Justice from 1941 to his retirement in 1960, at age 88.

            Sam lived to see Hawaii achieve statehood in 1959, the same year that May died. Sam died in 1962 in Honolulu at age 90, and is buried there. Their daughter, Dr. Dorothy Kemp, was a medical graduate of the University of Texas, and head of the state health department in Hawaii.

            The Kemp family had a distinguished record of public and military service through the generations. Sam's father and grandfather served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and his great-uncles, Thomas and James P. Kemp, fought in the War for Texan Independence with Colonel James Fannin in 1836. James P. Kemp died in the war, and his name is listed on the monument at Goliad.


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