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Biography of Nathaniel L. Kemp (1774-1858)

The first Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, from September 5th to October 26th, 1774. The Congress sat in Carpenters Hall. They affirmed the right of the colonies to life, liberty and property. Fifty-six delegates attended, half of whom were lawyers. The British were shocked by the destruction of the tea in Boston Harbor and other colonial protests which occurred in early 1774. The British parliament gave its speedy assent to a series of acts that became known as the "Coercive Acts"; or in the colonies as the "Intolerable Acts". These acts included the closing of the port of Boston, until such time as the East India tea company received compensation for the tea dumped into the harbor. The Royal governor took control over the Massachusetts's government and would appoint all officials. Sheriffs would become royal appointees, as would juries. In addition, the British took the right to quarter soldiers anywhere in the colonies. Such was the beginning of a new country, at the time of the birth of our Nathan L. Kemp on February 3, 1774. Family lore and some old written correspondence between family members from the last century and the beginning of this century give his birth place as Rutherford or Rockingham County, North Carolina.

In our years of research of Nathan it is our logical deduction that he was from Rutherford County, North Carolina, although no absolute proof has been found to verify this claim.

Rutherford County came into existence in 1779 during the American Revolution. Prior to 1779, Rutherford County was formerly part of Tryon County, North Carolina. In 1771 Governor Tryon called out 5 militiamen of Tryon County to help put down the Regulator movement, a protest against corrupt county officials and excessive taxes, centered in counties to the northeast of Tryon. Although the colony was officially at peace with the Indians from 1763 to 1776, the Tryon County frontier was the target of occasional raids, usually by Cherokees but sometimes by Shawnees and other faraway tribes. The county sent two representatives to the First Provincial Congress in 1774. On August 14, 1775 the Committee drafted an "Association" to be signed by the people of the county. These resolutions deplored the fighting that had already begun in Massachusetts and declared that the time had come "to take up arms and risk our lives and fortunes, in maintaining the freedom of our country". Cherokee war parties, encouraged by British agents, attacked several Tryon County settlements in July 1776. Neighbor joined neighbor, Tories joined Whig in fighting off the raiders and marching with General Griffith Rutherford to devastate the Cherokee towns across the Blue Ridge. Crippled by this destruction, the Cherokees never again posed a major threat to the country, but small raids continued, and the militia had to patrol the frontier and man the forts almost constantly.

A story passed down through generations of our family states that as a boy Nathan lived on a farm that his father owned or managed on or near where the "Battle of Cowpens" was fought in 1781. The following paragraph lays claim to his birth being in Rutherford County, North Carolina:

The term "cowpen" was associated in colonial times with an open-range stock raising operation bearing many similarities to the Western cattle ranch of today. The cowpen was an institution that originated in the low country of South Carolina, and which was less common in the piedmont than in parts of the state (SC) much further south. The cowpens from which the battle site takes its name is sometimes referred to as "Hannah's Cowpens or as Saunders's Cowpens. This "cowpens" site was a place of considerable notoriety fro a trading path with the Cherokees which passed by it. Modern researchers have been unable to locate records connecting the site to its original owner, although it was customary for "cowpen" owners to hold title to the ground on which their buildings and cattle enclosures were erected. An 1803 state grant to Daniel McClary is the earliest record of the site. If you review the site and the closest Kemp or Camp family living near there a Thomas Camp settled in Island Ford, Rutherford County, North Carolina, which is about two miles north of the South Carolina state line or just over two miles from the site of the "Battle of Cowpens". However, no proof has been located that can link Thomas Camp to Nathan L. Kemp.

In an affidavit sworn in McNairy County, Tennessee Court in 1857. Nathan states that in 1793 he enlisted to fight the Cherokee Indians and mustered out of Oconee Station, South Carolina. By, 1797 he can be found in Franklin County, Georgia where he is listed on tax lists from 1800 to 1809. All children from Nathan's first marriage to Nancy Walters/Waters state in future census records that their birth place was the state of Georgia.

A list of taxable property in Madison County, Mississippi Territory dated July 19, 1810 places Nathan as either owning land or living in Madison County, Mississippi Territory in 1810. This later became Madison County, Alabama. Madison County was created by Mississippi Territory Governor Robert Williams on December 13, 1808. Additional land was added until the county achieved its current form in 1824. The first white settlers entered the area in 1804. The area was previously inhabited by Cherokee and Chickasaw Indians. The county seat was established at Huntsville.

In the same affidavit mentioned above, Nathan states that in April of 1813, he enlisted in the Creek War from Madison County for six months. On November 4, 1813 Nathan married Margary Brashears in Madison County. The license/bond spells his name as Nathan Camp. This is the one and only document which spells his name in that manner. All children born to Nathan and Margary give their birth places as the state of Alabama, except for their youngest son, James.

Sometime between 1828 and 1829, Nathan moved his second wife Margary and their children to McNairy County, Tennessee. Nathan's older sons and daughters from his first marriage also followed their father into McNairy County, all by the year 1830. The 1830 census of McNairy County listed Nathan, as well as, his older sons. Nathan can be found on the 1830, 1840 and 1850 census of McNairy County, Tennessee. In early fall of 1857 Nathan's youngest son, James decided to move himself and his wife to Hot Spring County, Arkansas. James was living at that time at home with his father and mother and his new wife, Matilda. For whatever reason, at the age of 83, Nathan decided to make the move to Arkansas. The following is a story of that move:

Nathan was about 83 years old when he moved to Hot Spring County, Arkansas. Upon arriving in Hot Spring County, all stopped for a luncheon a few miles distant from the Kemp settlement (Nathan's son John was already there). Nathan remarked upon the natural beauty of a hill near a small brook and said that he would choose such a spot for a burial place. Possibly he had a premonition of impending death. So, soon after his arrival he died and his wife and others recalling his comment about the beautiful hillock, took him to it, only a few miles distant, and he was the first one to be buried in what is today called the Old Antioch Cemetery. It is located near Bismarck, Arkansas.