Harris and Eliza Kempner Collection

About the Kempner Family

One of Galveston's most iconic families, the Kempner family influenced the social and philanthropic landscape of Galveston, and its members created an expansive economic empire. The Kempner family of Galveston began with Harris Kempner (1837-1894), who emigrated from Poland in 1854 and settled in Cold Spring, Texas. In 1858, he opened a general store and established the firm that still bears his name. Harris, foreseeing the growth of Galveston, moved his business to the seaport around 1868 and enlarged his interests as a cotton factor and commission merchant. He also entered a partnership with M. Marx to build a wholesale grocery business. Marx withdrew from the business in 1886, but Harris continued the firm and extended his range of operations into finance. He served as the president of Island City Savings Bank. Harris organized and directed some thirty-five banks throughout Texas, especially in smaller cities that lacked adequate banking facilities.

After Harris Kempner's death in 1894, his widow, the former Miss Eliza Seinsheimer of Cincinnati, preserved the estate. The line of trusteeship passed to Harris and Eliza's four sons: Isaac H. Kempner, Daniel W. Kempner, Robert L. Kempner, and Stanley E. Kempner. Isaac Kempner and his family purchased controlling interest in what later would become the United States National Bank in 1902. Isaac, who was born in Cincinnati in 1873 but received his early education in Galveston, later became president of the bank. He also served as president of the Galveston Cotton Exchange from 1905 to 1919.

The trusteeship later passed on to Harris and Eliza's two grandsons: Harris L. Kempner and Isaac H. Kempner, Jr. The Kempner family built a fortune not only through ventures in cotton and banking, but also in railroading, land development, ranching, oil, and sugar. The Kempner family partnered with William T. Eldridge and bought plantations in the area southwest of Houston between 1906 and 1908. This area, known as Sugar Land, became the base of production for the newly formed Imperial Sugar Company. The Kempner family became the sole owners of the sugar firm in 1946. Sugar Land, Texas operated as a company town for employees and became incorporated in 1959.

About the Physical Collection

The Rosenberg Library in Galveston maintains an extensive amount of Kempner family business records and personal papers The collections include a wealth of documentation relating to the Kempner family's involvement in business and industry, especially regarding the H. L. Kempner Company and the Imperial Sugar Company. Personal papers from dozens of Kempner family members may also be found in the collections. These papers reflect the family's extensive philanthropic activities and engagement in local, national, and international affairs.

Some additional materials are held by the Kempner Foundation.

About the Digital Collection

This digital collection contains a selection of materials drawn from the larger tangible collections.



At a Glance



Cite This Collection

Here is our suggested citation. Consult an appropriate style guide for conformance to specific guidelines.

Harris and Eliza Kempner Collection in The Portal to Texas History. University of North Texas Libraries. https://texashistory.unt.edu/explore/collections/KEMP/ accessed June 23, 2021.


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Counties (expand list)

Fort Bend County, TX
8,006
Galveston County, TX
5,595
Harris County, TX
1,991
Grimes County, TX
362
Travis County, TX
327
Dallas County, TX
194
Los Angeles County, CA
107
Reeves County, TX
100
Hidalgo County, TX
86
Bexar County, TX
84
Brooks County, TX
63
Cook County, IL
61
Orleans Parish, LA
60
Tarrant County, TX
51
Brazoria County, TX
40
Essex County, NY
40
Greene County, AR
37
Jefferson County, KY
30
Cameron County, TX
26
Victoria County, TX
26
Colorado County, TX
24
Jefferson County, TX
23
Nueces County, TX
23
Somerset County, NJ
22
Wichita County, TX
22
McLennan County, TX
21
Dimmit County, TX
20
New York County, NY
20
Presidio County, TX
19
Suffolk County, MA
18
Smith County, TX
16
Fulton County, GA
15
Hamilton County, OH
15
Kinney County, TX
15
Shelby County, TN
14
Waller County, TX
14
Alameda County, CA
13
Bell County, TX
13
Bergen County, NJ
13
Brazos County, TX
13
Jackson County, MO
13
Starr County, TX
13
Bosque County, TX
12
Denver County, CO
12
Caddo Parish, LA
11
Clinton County, IA
11
El Paso County, TX
11
Pecos County, TX
11
Wharton County, TX
10
East Baton Rouge Parish, LA
9
Oklahoma County, OK
9
Bolivar County, MS
8
Santa Fe County, NM
8
Taylor County, TX
8
Lubbock County, TX
7
Santa Barbara County, CA
7
Wayne County, MI
7
Jefferson County, AL
6
Philadelphia County, PA
5
Austin County, TX
4
Chatham County, GA
4
El Paso County, CO
4
Gregg County, TX
4
Hardin County, TX
4
Jack County, TX
4
Lavaca County, TX
4
Milwaukee County, WI
4
New Castle County, DE
4
Palo Pinto County, TX
4
Potter County, TX
4
Providence County, RI
4
Sedgwick County, KS
4
Titus County, TX
4
Tom Green County, TX
4
Val Verde County, TX
4
Walker County, TX
4
Broward County, FL
3
Carter County, OK
3
Cuyahoga County, OH
3
Denton County, TX
3
Edwards County, TX
3
Franklin County, OH
3
Hays County, TX
3
Hudson County, NJ
3
Jasper County, TX
3
Kent County, DE
3
King County, WA
3
Marion County, IN
3
Miami-Dade County, FL
3
Monroe County, NY
3
Montgomery County, TX
3
Multnomah County, OR
3
Pierce County, WA
3
San Jacinto County, TX
3
Shawnee County, KS
3
Tuscarawas County, OH
3
Ward County, TX
3
Allegheny County, PA
2
Anderson County, SC
2
Baltimore County, MD
2
Comanche County, OK
2
Dane County, WI
2
Erie County, NY
2
Erie County, OH
2
Fayette County, KY
2
Harrison County, OH
2
Hennepin County, MN
2
Highlands County, FL
2
Hill County, TX
2
Lake County, IN
2
Lee County, TX
2
Montgomery County, PA
2
Muscogee County, GA
2
Muskegon County, MI
2
Muskogee County, OK
2
Ottawa County, MI
2
Palm Beach County, FL
2
Parmer County, TX
2
Rockbridge County, VA
2
Salt Lake County, UT
2
Santa Cruz County, AZ
2
Talladega County, AL
2
Webb County, TX
2
Westchester County, NY
2
Wyandotte County, KS
2
Adams County, CO
1
Albany County, NY
1
Alcorn County, MS
1
Angelina County, TX
1
Arlington County, VA
1
Atlantic County, NJ
1
Bastrop County, TX
1
Blaine County, OK
1
Branch County, MI
1
Briscoe County, TX
1
Bristol County, MA
1
Bronx County, NY
1
Brown County, WI
1
Burleigh County, ND
1
Chaves County, NM
1
Cherokee County, TX
1
Coryell County, TX
1
Crane County, TX
1
Cumberland County, NC
1
Davidson County, TN
1
Des Moines County, IA
1
Dunklin County, MO
1
Duval County, FL
1
Eastland County, TX
1
Eau Claire County, WI
1
Essex County, MA
1
Essex County, NJ
1
Fannin County, TX
1
Franklin Parish, LA
1
Frederick County, VA
1
Grand County, CO
1
Greer County, OK
1
Hall County, TX
1
Hamilton County, TN
1
Harrison County, TX
1
Hartford County, CT
1
Haskell County, TX
1
Hillsborough County, FL
1
Iowa County, IA
1
Jasper County, IA
1
Johnson County, TX
1
Jones County, TX
1
Kaufman County, TX
1
Kendall County, TX
1
Kern County, CA
1
Kerr County, TX
1
Kingfisher County, OK
1
LaSalle County, IL
1
Latimer County, OK
1
Leavenworth County, KS
1
Lee County, IA
1
Liberty County, TX
1
Limestone County, TX
1
Linn County, IA
1
Lyon County, KS
1
Madison County, AL
1
Maricopa County, AZ
1
Marin County, CA
1
Mason County, TX
1
Matagorda County, TX
1
McCurtain County, OK
1
Mecklenburg County, NC
1
Medina County, TX
1
Mercer County, WV
1
Mesa County, CO
1
Miami County, IN
1
Middlesex County, MA
1
Midland County, TX
1
Minnehaha County, SD
1
Mississippi County, AR
1
Mobile County, AL
1
Montgomery County, IL
1
Montgomery County, KS
1
Moore County, TX
1
Nash County, NC
1
New Haven County, CT
1
New London County, CT
1
Okfuskee County, OK
1
Orange County, NC
1
Orange County, TX
1
Osage County, OK
1
Parker County, TX
1
Passaic County, NJ
1
Prince George's County, MD
1
Pulaski County, AR
1
Ramsey County, MN
1
Refugio County, TX
1
Richland County, SC
1
Richmond County, NY
1
Riverside County, CA
1
Rock Island County, IL
1
Rockingham County, VA
1
Rutland County, VT
1
Sacramento County, CA
1
San Diego County, CA
1
San Saba County, TX
1
Sangamon County, IL
1
Santa Clara County, CA
1
Skagit County, WA
1
Solano County, CA
1
Spokane County, WA
1
Stanislaus County, CA
1
Summit County, OH
1
Terry County, TX
1
Texas County, OK
1
Trinity County, TX
1
Tulare County, CA
1
Van Zandt County, TX
1
Vanderburgh County, IN
1
Warren County, VA
1
Washington County, MD
1
Washington County, OK
1
Washoe County, NV
1
Washtenaw County, MI
1
Wayne County, IL
1
Webster County, IA
1
Winnebago County, WI
1
Wise County, TX
1
Wood County, TX
1
Woodbury County, IA
1
Woodward County, OK
1
Worcester County, MA
1

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