Luther James Kemps

1876 - 1935

By Roger Kemps  © 2008

With contributions from Charles Byrne.




Luther James Kemps was born on February 25, 1876 in Oakdale, Illinois.

He died on November 22, 1935 at age 59 in Chicago, Illinois.


His siblings were:


           Albert Rodman (6/1/1870 - 4/4/1958)

           Lawrence Edward (4/20/1872 - 10/5/1873)

           William Henry (10/29/1878 – 10/2/1964)

           May Belle Kirkpatrick (6/14/1881 – 2/16/1964)

           (Clara) Ethel Boyle (12/23/1882 - 2/27/1953)

           Edna Adella Smith (8/26/1885 – 12/20/1932)


His parents were:


           Samuel Henry Kemps (3/27/1842 - 4/2/1921)

           Clara Amanda McClurken (6/7/1849 - 5/27/1936)


The 1880 Census shows Luther J. living with his parents, two brothers and two boarders in the Elkton Precinct of Washington County, Illinois.



Page 82 of “History of Oakdale Township” lists Luther Kemps as a member of the Oakdale Band who played bass horn.


Page 34 of “History of Oakdale Township” lists Luther Kemps as a member of the (Covenanter) Oakdale Reformed Presbyterian Church who served in the Spanish American War. This has not been corroborated.



The above picture shows Luther Kemps and Julia Ryan in a group of about thirty six people, primarily in couples.


The back of the picture reads “To Julia from Luther March 28, 1899.” One man holds a pointer and is presumable a teacher or the leader of the group; however, the purpose or affiliation of the group is unknown.


A blow-up of the above


The 1900 Census shows Luther J., at age 24, living with his parents, two brothers and three sisters in the Oakdale Township of Washington County, Illinois. His occupation was listed as farmer, as was his father and brother, Albert.


He married Julia Ryan (3/28/1879 – 4/6/1960) of St. Louis, Missouri on October 15, 1902 in the Wagoner Place United Presbyterian Church in St. Louis. They had two children:


           Clara Louise Byrne (8/10/1905 - 2/8/1966)

           Samuel Harold Kemps (7/12/1907 - 7/7/1984)


The St. Louis City Directories show that in 1903, Luther was a salesman for the St. Louis Dairy Company and the family was living at 1101 Glasgow Avenue. In 1904, Luther was a driver and they lived at 2808 Gamble. In 1906, Luther was a carpenter and the family, including Julia’s mother, Louisa Ryan, was living at 1463A Arlington Avenue. In 1907 and 1908, they were all living at 4722 Kennerly Avenue (Louisa was not with them in 1908). In 1909, they were living at 2364 Bernays Avenue. In 1910 and 1911, they were living at 4806 Maffitt Avenue (the 1910 Census is consistent). Luther was a partner in Kohl & Kemps (carpenters) at 15 N. Theresa Avenue. In 1912, the family lived at 1443 Burd Avenue. In 1913 and 1914, the family was still living at 1443 Burd Avenue; however, Luther was now a chauffer for Julia’s half sister, Pauline Miller Rutledge.  In 1915 through 1917, the family was living at 5355 Theodosia Avenue and Luther was still chauffeuring. Later in 1917, they moved to 2082 W. Greenleaf Avenue in the Rogers Park area of Chicago, Illinois. Luther appears in the 1917 Chicago City Directory as a chauffer.


Luther James registered for the draft on September 12, 1918, in the City of Chicago at the age of 42. Details included: Occupation as laboratory work at W S Phillips Company at 29 S. LaSalle Street in Chicago; Height - Short; Build - Medium; Eyes - gray; Hair - gray. At that time, the family was living at 2082 W. Greenleaf Avenue in Chicago. On the same date, Julia’s brother, Thomas Patrick Ryan, also registered for the Draft and listed the same address. He listed his mother, Louisa Ryan, as his next of kin, also living at the same address.


The 1920 Census shows Luther and Julia and the two children living at 2082 W. Greenleaf Avenue. Luther was a salesman for the Stocten (sp) Company working “on own account” (commission). The 1923 Chicago City Directory shows the family living at 2320 Greenleaf Avenue and Luther was a salesman.


Samuel, Julia, Luther and Louise

The 1930 Census shows Luther, Julia and son, Samuel, renting a house at 1744 W. Arthur Avenue. Both Luther and Samuel were selling auto insurance.


Julia, Chess (son-in-law), Luther, Louise, Samuel & grandson, Charles, about 1930


During the depression, the family lost their savings when the bank failed. In 1933 and 1934, Luther registered a 1929 Chevrolet Sedan (Model A. C. 6 cylinder) with the State of Illinois. A copy of a 1935 City of Chicago Vehicle License is also available. In October of 1935, Luther was issued an agent’s license by the Farmers Automobile Inter-Insurance Exchange of Los Angeles, California. For a copy of these items, see documents. It is uncertain whether Luther and Julia were planning to move to California at that time.  


Luther about 1933

In November of 1935, Luther and Julia were living with their daughter (Clara) Louise Byrne, and her family at 6052 N. Albany Avenue. On Thanksgiving Day (November 22nd) of 1935, while having dinner, the phone rang and Luther went to the living room to answer it. After some considerable time, Louise asked grandson, Charles, to go tell his grandfather Luther that his food was getting cold. Upon entering the living room, Charles found Luther on the floor. It was later determined that he had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and subsequently passed away.


Luther James Kemps was buried on November 25, 1935, in Rosehill Cemetery; Section 28, Row 5, Grave 4. At the time of his death, he was 59 years, 8 months and 27 days old. For an image of his headstone, see this link.


Luther James is sometimes identified as James Luther. The marriage license and the 1906 St. Louis City Directory show James L.; however, all other documents show Luther James.


Reference files:

Oakdale, Illinois

History of Oakdale Township and references


Oakdale Reformed Presbyterian Church

1880_Samuel_Kemps.jpg   see line 17

1900_Samuel_Kemps.jpg   see line 83         

1910_Luther_Kemps.jpg   see line 73

1920_Luther_Kemps.jpg   see line 73

1930_Luther_Kemps.jpg   see line 43








1910SL_Kemps_Luther_p1154.jpg  see Kohl & Kemps

















Home Page

Biography Index

Ancestor Tree



Last updated   3/8/2017