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History of Kemper County

Kemper County was created by an act of the Mississippi Legislature on Dec 31, 1833, and was formed out of that portion of the Choctaw Cession under the Dancing Rabbit Creek Treaty. The county was named for the Kemper brothers - Ruben, Nathan and Samuel - who were Virginia patriots who moved to Woodville, Mississippi Territory, early in the 19the century to fight the Indians and Spanish, also fought with General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans. The county seat, DeKalb, was named for Baron Johann DeKalb, a German citizen who enlisted in the French Army at an early age and came to America with the French General Lafayette to help in the Revolutionary war, and was killed in the Battle of Camden and buried in South Carolina. The first inhabitants were the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Alabama and Muscogee Indians who all had various traditions of a migration from the far west. Nearly all of these traditions centered around the large mound that is only a "stone's throw" from the northwest corner of Kemper County, and in the edge of Winston County. This mound was named Nanih Waiya (bending hill) by the Indians. No records could be found as to who were the oldest settlers in the county. Family records indicate that a Dr. Young came to southwest Kemper County around 1810 and built a home that is now owned and occupied by Mrs. Christine Webb McLauren Mosley. This home was sold to a Dr. Ramsey about 1820. He is credited with building a water mill on Pawticfaw Creek that was finally owned by Mr. R. C. Keeton. Other sources say that Dr. Hunnerly from Camden, South Carolina, was one of the earlier settlers and that he built the first water mill in Kemper County which was later acquired by the Sciple family. It is the only water mill still running in the county and is operated by Mr. Edward Sciple, son of the late Mr. George Sciple. Dr. Hunnerly and other early settlers from Camden are credited with the suggestion that the county seat be named for Baron Johann DeKalb. Among the other early settlers of the county were: E. P. Scott, B. C. Opeefan (an Israelite lawyer), Judge Marshall, Joseph Baldwyn (author of Flush Times in Alabama and Mississippi), William Potis, John Olive, T. Mosley, McClagar Magee, S. S. Latimore, Abel Key (first clerk of the county), Judge W. G. Gibbs, Slocum Gully, Archie Adams, Henry Gregory, Pearsons, Hulls, William Fox, William Murry, William Callaway, Peter B. Cullum, John McConnell, Dr. Albert Brown, James Britton, Dabbs, Jacks, Overstreets, Joseph Doty, Thomas Prewitt, Jones, John Spinks, McWilliams, Jake Odum, Jacob Giles, Judge Isaac Nicholson, George Kimbrough, Allen Avery, Whitsetts, Clarke Carter, O. T. Neely, Governor John J. Pettus, John Kerr and Thomas Thurman. There were many other early prominent settlers in the county, but because of the lack of records, communication at that time, and other reasons their names were not listed among the early settlers of the county. Research is being done on who the other early settlers of the county were so that their names can be listed."