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 29, 2022.


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Counties (expand list)

Fort Bend County, TX
8,232
Galveston County, TX
6,303
Harris County, TX
2,109
Grimes County, TX
370
Travis County, TX
343
Dallas County, TX
253
Limestone County, TX
157
Cook County, IL
138
Los Angeles County, CA
113
Reeves County, TX
104
Bexar County, TX
87
Hidalgo County, TX
86
Greene County, AR
64
Brooks County, TX
63
Orleans Parish, LA
63
Tarrant County, TX
57
Brazoria County, TX
41
Essex County, NY
40
Cameron County, TX
34
Jefferson County, TX
32
Jefferson County, KY
30
New York County, NY
26
Nueces County, TX
26
Somerset County, NJ
26
Victoria County, TX
26
Brazos County, TX
25
Colorado County, TX
24
Smith County, TX
22
Wichita County, TX
22
Hamilton County, OH
21
McLennan County, TX
21
Dimmit County, TX
20
Shelby County, TN
20
Clinton County, IA
19
Presidio County, TX
19
Suffolk County, MA
18
Caddo Parish, LA
15
Fulton County, GA
15
Jefferson County, AL
15
Kinney County, TX
15
Bosque County, TX
14
Waller County, TX
14
Alameda County, CA
13
Bell County, TX
13
Bergen County, NJ
13
Jackson County, MO
13
Starr County, TX
13
Denver County, CO
12
Lubbock County, TX
12
Pecos County, TX
12
Santa Barbara County, CA
12
El Paso County, TX
11
Oklahoma County, OK
10
Wharton County, TX
10
East Baton Rouge Parish, LA
9
Philadelphia County, PA
9
Santa Fe County, NM
9
Bolivar County, MS
8
Mahoning County, OH
8
Taylor County, TX
8
Wayne County, MI
8
Cuyahoga County, OH
7
Highlands County, FL
7
Westchester County, NY
7
Essex County, NJ
6
Hudson County, NJ
6
Broward County, FL
5
Middlesex County, MA
5
Middlesex County, NJ
5
Milwaukee County, WI
5
Monroe County, NY
5
Montgomery County, PA
5
Multnomah County, OR
5
Ottawa County, MI
5
Solano County, CA
5
Tom Green County, TX
5
Austin County, TX
4
Bucks County, PA
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
New Castle County, DE
4
Orange County, FL
4
Palo Pinto County, TX
4
Potter County, TX
4
Providence County, RI
4
Sedgwick County, KS
4
Titus County, TX
4
Val Verde County, TX
4
Walker County, TX
4
Allegheny County, PA
3
Carter County, OK
3
Edwards County, TX
3
Franklin County, OH
3
Hays County, TX
3
Jasper County, TX
3
Kent County, DE
3
King County, WA
3
Marion County, IN
3
Miami County, OH
3
Miami-Dade County, FL
3
Montgomery County, TX
3
Pierce County, WA
3
Pinellas County, FL
3
San Jacinto County, TX
3
Shawnee County, KS
3
Skagit County, WA
3
Tuscarawas County, OH
3
Ward County, TX
3
Albany County, NY
2
Anderson County, SC
2
Atlantic County, NJ
2
Baltimore County, MD
2
Comanche County, OK
2
Dane County, WI
2
Davidson County, TN
2
Denton County, TX
2
Erie County, NY
2
Erie County, OH
2
Fayette County, KY
2
Geauga County, OH
2
Hall County, TX
2
Harrison County, OH
2
Harrison County, TX
2
Hartford County, CT
2
Henderson County, TX
2
Hennepin County, MN
2
Hill County, TX
2
Kalamazoo County, MI
2
Kendall County, IL
2
Lake County, IN
2
Lee County, TX
2
Leon County, FL
2
Mobile County, AL
2
Montgomery County, IN
2
Muscogee County, GA
2
Muskegon County, MI
2
Muskogee County, OK
2
Palm Beach County, FL
2
Parmer County, TX
2
Rockbridge County, VA
2
Salt Lake County, UT
2
Santa Cruz County, AZ
2
Suffolk County, NY
2
Talladega County, AL
2
Webb County, TX
2
Wyandotte County, KS
2
Adams County, CO
1
Alcorn County, MS
1
Angelina County, TX
1
Arlington County, VA
1
Baker County, FL
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
Chelan County, WA
1
Cherokee County, TX
1
Clackamas County, OR
1
Coryell County, TX
1
Crane County, TX
1
Cumberland County, NC
1
Dauphin County, PA
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
Fairfield County, CT
1
Fannin County, TX
1
Franklin Parish, LA
1
Frederick County, VA
1
Grand County, CO
1
Greer County, OK
1
Hamilton County, TN
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
Linn County, IA
1
Lucas County, OH
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
McLean County, IL
1
Mecklenburg County, NC
1
Medina County, TX
1
Mercer County, NJ
1
Mercer County, WV
1
Mesa County, CO
1
Miami County, IN
1
Midland County, TX
1
Minnehaha County, SD
1
Mississippi County, AR
1
Montgomery County, IL
1
Montgomery County, KS
1
Moore County, TX
1
Morris 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
Pemiscot County, MO
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
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
Union County, NJ
1
Van Zandt County, TX
1
Vanderburgh County, IN
1
Warren County, VA
1
Washington County, AR
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
Weld County, CO
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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