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Salem Pioneer Cemetery ~ Sarah Glenn Kemp ~ part of the Marion County Pioneer Cemeteries of Oregon
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Sarah "Sally" Glenn Kemp
MAIDEN NAME: Newbill AKA 1:  AKA 2:  AKA 3: 
BORN: 22 Apr 1804 DIED: 26 Oct 1906 BURIED: 28 Oct 1906
BIRTH PLACE:  Lunenburg Co., Virginia
DEATH PLACE: Near McMinnville, Yamhill Co., Oregon
IOOF register shows Mrs. S. C. Kemp, age 72, was burird in 1 NW, 10 Oct. 1906, d. McMinnville of old age. 
OSBH DC (Yamhill Co. 1906) #2146: Sarah G. Kemp, female, widowed, b. 22 Apr 1804 in Virginia, d. 26 Oct. 1906, age 102 years, 6 months, 6 days; burial in Salem, 27 Oct. 1906; W. H. Adair, informant.  
1860 CENSUS of Parkersville shows that Sarah Kemp, age 54, b. Virginia, is living with her son J. H. Kemp, age 29, also b. in Virginia. Two of Sarah's daughters are also in the household, L. C. age 19 and A. E. age 16, both b. in Missouri. The next household is that of her son-in-law's family E[lias] C[oleman] Adair and wife M[artha] M. and two daughters, F. C. and J. V. 

OVER A CENTURY -- Sunday April 22, [1906]. Mrs. Glenn Kemp, celebrated the 102 anniversary of her birth. Was born April 25, 1804, in Virginia, came to Oregon in 1852. Most of the time she has lived in Salem; the past year she has lived near McMinnville. Her mind is unimpared, and she has the use of all her faculties, and her memory is good. Five of her children are living: Mrs. J. T. Gowdy, of Dayton; Mrs. W. H. Adair, McMinnville, Mrs. M. A. Pratt, Beaverton; Mrs. M. M. Adair and Mrs. J. A. Ripperton of Portland. She has 21 grandchildren 24 great-grand-children and three great-great-grand-children. 
Mrs. Kemp has seen the settled portion of the United States grow from a narrow strip along the Atlantic with a few scattered settlements west of the Alleghenies, to a well peopled country extendiing from ocean to ocean. Lewis and Clark started on the Oregon Exploring Expedition the year of her birth. 
[Source not known] 

A LADY FROM VIRGINIA -- Editor's note: Mrs. Zulu Simpson Alexander, who wrote the following article about her pioneer grandmother [Sarah Kemp], was for many years a resident of the Smithfield community. She is the mother of Ross Simpson and Mrs. Allyn Phillips of route 1, Dallas. Mrs. Alexander now resides at Creswell and is a daughter of Sarah's oldest daughter, [Martha M. wife of Elias Coleman Adair]. 
By Zula V. Alexander 
Since this future pioneer began her life in 1804, the year that Lewis and Clark began their exploration of the Oregon Country, her day was a great time in the history of our country and her story could not be commonplace. Going as she did by covered wagon, drawn by slow oxen from east to west, across the United States, she had seen the populated portion of this country grow from a small strip along the Atlantic coast to a vast country stretching from ocean to ocean. She had grown up with this nation and knew it by personal experience. 
As I watched great grandmother sitting serenely in her old rocking chair, she made a never to be forgotten picture among life's memories. Such a refreshing memory in these days of tempestuous unrest! On a nearby shelf lay her Bible, a church paper, sometimes a book of Spurgeon's sermons, and often a small vase of flowers. Outside the window, during blossom time, bloomed nasturtiums, pansies, morning glories and other flowers. How proudly she would take me out to see a purple pansy of unusual dimensions! On the shelf stood also a workbasket. For her busy fingers made many yards of lace and tatting, besides pretty cotton, warm woolen and few beautiful silk quilts. There were warm mittens for small hands. Watching her placidly knitting, sewing or reading, she seemed a person of mystery. 
Other "grownups" planned for future days and hurried to meet them. The weather and other daily happenings caused them deepest concern. This pioneer mother made no demands of life. She accepted each day as it came and waited for God's tomorrow. 
My Virginian great grandmother, Sarah Glenn Newbill Kemp, began life in Lunenburg county, Virginia, April 25, 1804, and was the second of John and Jane Newbill's five children. Her grandfather Nathan Newbill served in Gerge Washington's army. Her aunt Nancy Newbill became the great grandmother of the famous American born Lady Nancy Astor. If Sarah Glenn should suddenly come stepping out on the street of any of today's towns, no doubt smiles would greet her appearance. A plump little body, a little below medium height, with a prejudice against "whale bones" causing her to appear somewhat "dumpy" and shapeless, that was Sarah. She seemed quite indifferent to changing styles, and her gathered skirts, attached to plain waists without any furbelows, were of somber colors and nearly touched the ground. She wore a net or black lace cap over her hair which she never waved or curled. She was fair and would have scorned any attempt at "make-up." 
Implicitly this Virginian lady believed in the old southern view of the different sphere for men and women. Politics, business and outside affairs belonged to man's domain, women's realm being within the home. Yet, when a girl, she had not accepted the opiinion of that time that girls needed no education. She begged for a long time before her father consented to her going to school a few months with her brothers. She made good use of her time and loved to read. Even in her later years books were scarce and she read almost everything she could find to read. A thrilling story of the young lord of the manor eloping with the gardener's lovely daughter delighted her. 
In her Southern accent she told fascinating stories of her early life as "Sally" on her grandfather's large plantation, of her Negro "Mammy," the little "pickaninnies" and the slaves who "toted" heavy burdens. Learning to spin and weave at the loom house with the Negro women had been fun. When her grandfather patted her on the head, saying, "You are worth your weight in gold, Sally!" she had felt very proud. 
Then Sally grew up, and William Riley Kemp came asking for her love. He was not only large and handsome, but also industrious and ambitious. Whether she wished to test his devotion or was undecided regarding her own heart remains a secret. But she refused his proposal of marriage. Apparently he knew "how to take no for an answer," and being an independent young man, he soon began to show interest in another girl of whom Sally decidedly disapproved. The state of her own feelings seemed no longer uncertain. She "just couldn't stand to see Riley marry that girl!" which seemed sufficient reason for drastic action on her part. So she schemed to save the poor boy from such a sad fate. Such a situation called for finesse. But Sally, determined, soon proceeded to the rescue attack. No doubt but she used all "beautifiers" that a maiden of that day could find and looked her prettiest before attempting maneuvers. Late in the after she suddenly decided that the time had come to reconnoiter. So she sallied forth, walking very fast until a certain vantage point down the road was reached. Then, a time for loitering, until a lone pedestrian is spied approaching. How quickly she could then remember the sun would soon be setting and hurry homeward, intent upon the road ahead! What a surprise a demure maiden discovered and greeted the footman! The young man, still smarting from his refusal, appeared indifferent. "How do you do, Miss Newbill!" "Why, Riley! Where have you been? I haven't seen you for quite a spell!" With the fair face blushing, the blue eyes pleading, how could Riley remain unconcerned? He hesitated a moment. "Are you in such a big hurry, Riley?" What pathos in the sweet voice. Certainly the young man lingered. The sun is setting soon. A gallant young man knew that she should have an escort. Beyond doubt Sally tried her best to make him feel at ease, talking with animantion and asking many questions. But they arrived at the Newbill home. Sally recognized an hour of crisis. He must not be allowed to pass by. What could she do without appearing "forward," which would never do? "Come in, Riley" she urged. "Please do come in!" With dogged dertermination, in his most masterful way, he answered. "If you won't have me, then I won't come in!" A long moment of suspense. Then decision. Clearly the answer came, "Come on in Riley." 
"That girl" was not the bride when a wedding took place March 4, 1828. Soon after the Riley Kemps moved up on the Blue Ridge and he became overseer of Major Price's plantation. Years afterward she loved to talk of that beautiful place and the happy time she spent there. Two children were born there and when they left for a new home in Missouri, Sarah rode on horseback with baby John in her arms, and often with little Susan Jane also on the horse with her. Father and mother Newbill soon moved to Missouri also. Sarah was "easy-going" and soft spoken, yet possessed great independence of character. When little Mary Amanda arrived, many wild strawberrries were ripe and tempting in the Kemps' front yard. The next day Jane Newbill came riding up on horseback to see her new granddaughter. She was horrified to see the baby's mother gathering berries, and cried out, "You, Sally! You go right back to bed!" Whether Sally obeyed of not, she lived to be 102 years old. 
Riley Kemp prospered on his farm near the present site of Sedalia, Missouri. He also served twice as Sheriff of Pettis county, and once as a member of the state legislature. In the years that followed, his wife thought of these times as "good." Then the covered wagon migration to the west, the most adventurous era of American history began. "Crossing the plains" became a thrilling topic of conversation everywhere. To men like Riley it presented a challenge. Sarah was happy with her family in her home. Her heart failed at the thought of the long hazardous journey, without their eight children. Her husband reasoned that there could be no better way to assure security for their children than by going West. (To be continued next week.) The Polk County Dallas Itemizer Observer, Thursday, June 28, 1951. 
A LADY FROM VIRGINIA -- By Zula V. Alexander (Continued from last week) So, with many misgivings, the good wife prepared to go with her man across the wilderness. With a company of relatives and friends, the Kemps left Missouri May 2, 1852, for an arduous six months trek in prairie schooners to far away Oregon. More pioneers crossed the plains to Oregon that year than in any other. 
Travelers going over these same miles today can scarcely visualize what such a journey meant in 1852. Flour, bacon, sugar, coffee and other commodities were packed in deep boxes in the bottom of the big wagons and covered with planks. On top were sacks of clothing and bedding. Two chairs, trunks and more bedding and various sundries were put in the light wagon. Such luxuries as rice, tea, crackers, dried fruit were hoarded to be used in case of sickness. But these were gladly given to needy ones, until soon none were left. The traveling cows could not long supply with milk. Soon bread, bacon and coffee became the usual rations, supplemented occasionally with wild game. They cooked on the open fire, sometimes burning greasewood or sage brush. Buffalo chips supplied them with fuel for weeks at a time. Long strings of oxen and wagons, and droves of cattle on the dirt roads made clouds of dust which often kept them from seeing more than a few hundred feet ahead. When the wind blew sand or alkali dust, the going proved almost unendurable. Then there was the constant fear of unfriendly Indians lurking along the way. 
After leaving Missouri they traveled to The Dalles without seeing ay houses except a few forts. Away in the wilderness, far from doctors, nurses or hospitals, baby Fannie Kemp so tenderly loved by them all became ill. The pioneer mother cared for her lovely baby, doing all that could be done. But she helplessly watched her little one die. With anguish she helped prepare the little body for burial here. Afterward, before leaving the little grave alone, they carefully smoothed it over and covered the spot with branches of trees, hoping to prevent wild beasts from finding it. Years afterward, grandchildren and great grandchildren listened with tender pity to the pathentic story of Fannie and her sweet, winning ways. And the caravan slowly passed over the wearisome miles until the Oregon country was reached. 
The pilgrims had lost much of the vigor and enthusiasm with which they started. How wistfully must they have thought of the homes they had left behind! But the stupendous task of making new homes in this wilderness awaited them. After reaching the Grande Ronde Valley in eastern Oregon, the tired company stopped for a time to rest and decide upon future plans. 
And it was there that the wife and mother came to "the Red Sea place" in her life, where "there is no way out, there is no way back, there is no other way, but--through." For soon the strong, ambitious husband and father was stricken with illness and died. Sarah Kemp could not easily talk of this bitter sorrow afterward, and seldom did. To return to the old home and dear ones at this time was impossible. With her seven children, Susan, John, Mollie, Martha, Elizabeth, Katherine and Anne, she must go on with the others. They arrived in Salem, Oregon, November 6, 1852. In spite of the pioneer sprit of helpfulness, the following winter proved a difficult one. Before leaving for the west, the Kemp's had not known privation or insecurity. After Riley Kemp had outfitted for the journey, he left with more cash than the average pioneer; but in this new land, food and clothing sold in the few trading posts at exhorbitant prices, while work for women and children was scarce. 
At times Sarah kept boarders, or the girls found housework to do at the low wages then paid. Sometimes she knitted socks for sale, knitting a pair in one day by working all day. Living in shanties or cabins, sometimes only with dirt floors, must have been a bitter experience for one with her background. In this new country, women were scarce and wives in demand. Before many years the Kemp girls married. Sarah lived with her daughter, Martha Adair, until 188l Then her home was with Katherine Adair, except for a few months occasionally with her daughter Anne Gowdy. In these homes she taught the girls to sew, knit and crochet. Some of them she taught to read, also to memorize scripture verses. 
Many years later when her granddaughter Vena was past 80 years, she greatly enjoyed recalling the day when she learned the "Shepard" psalm. In the adjoining room her sisters Florence and Inez entertained friends, playing the melodeon and singing. Her grandmother's patience was sorely tried by this. Vena never forgot the psalm. Neither could she forget the refrain. Afterward, chanting it over at play, with zest she put in her grandmother's mimicry of her sister's giggle (Now just hear Inez, tee hee, tee hee!) Her grandmother would have been deeply shocked if she had heard her. Each night great grandmother knelt at her bedside in prayer as her mother had taught her. For many years she read her Bible through every year. Often she repeated hymns. One which she liked to repeat was "Oh, why should I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, while others fought to gain the prize, and sailed through bloody seas?" 
She received her last proposal of marriage when about 80 years of age. And this time she knew her own mind. Without hesitation she gave her answer, "I think old folks like us should be thinking about dying, instead of getting married!" Yet, she did not die until October 25, 1906, having lived on earth 102 years, six months and three days. Five of her children, 21 grand children, 24 great grandchildren and three great grandchildren were living. 
Except for failing eyesight, she had the use of her faculties until the last. What a remarkable story she could have told, if only I had known then that I should some day write this sketch! Trials and hardships, bitter grief such as she had known have ruined the lives of many. But great grandmother Sarah had kept her faith and courage, and accepted life with calm fortitude. One who lived in the home with her for 18 years said, "I never knew anyone who met life with the calm peacefulness of grandmother." 
Having lived so long past her contemporaries, she must have been extremely lonely. But she did not murmur. Living with her memories, in a rushing, clamorous, changeful world, she waited and kept the faith that God controlled her destiny. 
She was buried in the IOOF cemetery at Salem, Oregon. Her epitaph was "Her heavenly birthday was October 25, 1906 . . . 'Nothing but the weary dust is dead.'" The latter quotation is from what Louisa Alcott said of her mother. We who remember the "lady from Virginia" say of her, in the words of her oldest granddaughter, "She was indeed a grand old ancestor!" 
The Polk County Dallas Itemizer Observer, Thursday, July 5, 1951.
KEMP--Friday evening, October 26, 1906, at the residence of W. B. Adair, her son-in-law, near McMinnville, Mrs. Sarah G. Kemp died, aged 103 years. Interment will be at City View cemetery [IOOF] Sunday, October 28, at 2:30 o'clock. 
Mrs. Kemp was born in Virginia and was one of the early pioneers of Oregon, crossing the plains in 1852, her husband dying that year on the journey. She settled in Salem near North Mill Creek. The following children survive her, Mrs. Mollie A. Pratt, Beaverton; Mrs. Anny Gowdy, Dayton; Mrs. Martha Adair, Portland; Mrs. Elizabeth Ripperton, Portland; Mrs. Katherine Adair, McMinnville. John Kemp and Mrs. Kyte, two of her children are deceased. 
In February 1905 Mrs. Kemp had the pleasure of enjoying a family reunion at Oregon City at which five generations of the family were present. 
Oregon Statesman 27 Oct 1906 4:4
Sarah Glenn Kemp
Her Heavenly Birthday Was
Oct. 25, 1906
She Had Lived On Earth
102 years, 6 months, 3 days
Nothing But The Weary Dust Is Dead
OSBH DC (Yamhill Co. 1906) #2146 
DAR pg 6 
S&H pg 37 
1860 CENSUS of Parkersville, Marion Co., OR, pg. 300, #2551 
The Polk County Dallas Itemizer Observer, Thursday, June 28 & July 5, 1951
OS 27 Oct 1906 4:4

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