Taken with permission from the Wichita County Heritage Society June 2007 “Riverside Cemetery Tour”. I thought it would be fun to learn more about our neighborhood’s namesake.
Mrs. Flora Anderson Kemp came from a prominent family connected with the early days in central Texas. Her great-grandfather Neil McClennan was among the first to settle there. Through a treaty with the Waco Indians, he established the first home in Waco. Later the county was surveyed, and named in his honor, McClennan County. His son, Mrs. Kemp’s maternal grandfather, was killed before Flora’s mother was born. Flora’s mother was raised by Neil McClennan, and became his sole heir.
Her dad, Allen Anderson, was killed May 1864, near Comanche, Texas. Indian raids were devastating the nearby colony of white pioneers, and because of his military experience, he was made Captain of the troop. A boy under his command from New Orleans, who possessed an insatiable desire to kill an Indian, saw Captain Anderson riding around camp; mistaking him for an Indian, the boy opened fire. Captain Anderson’s grave marked the first in the Comanche region.
Prior to his death, Captain Anderson selected his homestead in Clifton because of its scenic beauty. On January 14, 1861, Flora Anderson was born there. She had one brother, Arch Anderson, who drowned in Lake Wichita years later. Flora was a normal girl, full of energy. Upon the death of her father, Mrs. Kemp moved back to Waco. She was given every available educational advantage, and must have been an excellent student. When she decided to teach school she received a First Grade Certificate with a high average. For two years she taught school in a Norwegian settlement. The experience sobered her temperament considerably, and she took on responsibility that was broadening and meant much to her in later life.
She married Joseph A. Kemp, a Clifton merchant, when they were both 21, October 18, 1882. Soon after the marriage her husband decided to sell out to his partner. He and his new bride moved to Wichita Falls, March 3, 1883. At first she found the country dull and uninteresting and felt she could not “stick it out.” Mrs. Barwise and Mrs. Bettie Gentry inspired her on the good parts of the community. Once while Mrs. Kemp visited one of her husband’s stores in Harrold, she met Quanah Parker with two of his wives. She dressed his baby in a pink chambray dress. Quanah was delighted and asked Flora her baby’s name. She said it was Sibyl, and he pointed to his baby and said Sibyl, meaning he would name his baby after her baby. She became involved in many community events of the times. In 1916 her husband asked her what she wanted for her birthday, December 17, 1916. Fora said without hesitation, “I want a library for Wichita Falls.” It was constructed and the formal opening was Flag Day 1918. It is still part of the city’s prominent history and currently is the Kemp Center for the Arts. She died at the age of 96.
Keep an eye out for upcoming Riverside Cemetery Tours with the Wichita County Heritage Society. It’s an amazing group of people with a wealth of knowledge about North Texas! Find out more about them at www.wichita-heritage.org