Kemp, Louis Wiltz (1881–1956)

By: Gibb Gilchrist

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: February 1, 1995

Louis Wiltz Kemp, historian, son of Dempsey and Martha (Taylor) Kemp, was born in Cameron, Texas, on September 4, 1881. He attended high school in Cameron and studied engineering at the University of Texas from 1901 to 1903. He married Violet Volz on October 7, 1925, and they had two sons. Kemp began employment with the Texas Company (later Texaco, Incorporated) in 1908 and continued in that service until his retirement. He spent his spare time in the study of Texas history. The State Cemetery in Austin was little known in 1932, and Kemp brought this to the attention of the state highway department, which paved the roads within the cemetery grounds and dedicated them to Kemp. A red granite marker honoring Kemp for his role in the reburial of many Texans in the cemetery was placed on the grounds.

At the end of his career he was considered one of the best informed men on Texas history. He checked and verified numerous inscriptions on historical monuments and, along with others, located the massacre site and burial place of James W. Fannin's men. Kemp was the prime mover in the plan to construct the San Jacinto Monument and Museum and was instrumental in having drives built in the San Jacinto battleground so that spots previously accessible only by foot or on horseback might easily be reached. He was a member of the board of the Texas State Library and chairman of the board of Texas historians for the Texas Centennial. He was one of the directors of compilation of Monuments Erected by the State of Texas to Commemorate the Centenary of Texas Independence (c. 1939), published as the report of the Commission of Control for Texas Centennial Celebrations. He was the author or coauthor of several works, including The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence (1944) and The Heroes of San Jacinto (1932). He served as president of the Texas State Historical Association from 1942 to 1946. His collection of Texana was bought by Houston Endowment, Incorporated, and the University of Texas and was placed in the Barker Texas History Center at the university. Kemp died on November 15, 1956, in Houston, where he was buried. He was reburied in the State Cemetery on May 5, 1957, beside the granite marker placed there to honor him.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Oil and Gas Industry
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Gibb Gilchrist, “Kemp, Louis Wiltz,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995