Skip to main content

Kempe family diaries

 Collection — Carton: 1
Identifier: MSS 8196

Scope and Contents

Contains diaries belonging to the Kempe and DeWitt families. Includes a diary of Christopher Jensen Kempe about his missions, time in the Detroit penitentiary, and marriages. Also contains diaries of Abel Alexander DeWitt, Jr. about his mission from 1901-1903. Finally, contains an autograph book and diary of Ruth Leila Kempe DeWitt as well as a short biographical history of her descendendants and ancestors. Dated approximately 1860-1996.


  • approximately 1860-1996


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Kempe family diaries must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Christopher Jensen Kempe (1837-1901) was a Mormon missionary and pioneer.

Christopher Jensen Kempe was born in Denmark on June 26, 1837 to Jens Rasmussen and Ane Kirstine Neilsdatter Kempe. He was raised by his maternal grandparents, Neils Larsen Kempe and Marie Christensen. He was sent to school when he was 7 and then apprenticed in his uncles' wagon shop. He loved to read in his spare time. He left his small Danish town for Copenhagen to be a wagon maker. On February 16, 1859 he was baptized into the LDS church. A month after his baptism, he was called to serve a mission in Sweden and Denmark and 5 months later was called as president of Helsingborg Branch. He served 7 years as a missionary after requesting 3 times to be released so he could go to Utah, it was time and left on the ship B.S. KIMBALL on May 10, 1865. He traveled in the Miner G. Atwood Company across the plains. He arrived in Salt Lake City on November 8, 1865. He married Anne Ongerod in 1865, but she died in the same year. He then married both Oline Olsen and Anna Dorthea Johnson in 1865 and had 16 children. He lived in Provo and Richfield, UT and then was called to settle northeastern Arizona along the Little Colorado River. He served 2 years in a Detroit penitentiary for polygamy, and was released on October 9, 1886 after receiving a pardon from President Grover Cleveland. After returning home, he was called as bishop in Concho, Arizona. He owned a general store and had fine large orchards. He was called to serve a 2nd mission at the age of 62 in Scandinavia, and returned in 1901. He died on September 30, 1901.

Biographical History

Abel Alexander DeWitt, Jr. (1865-1953) was a farmer and pioneer.

Abel Alexander DeWitt Jr. was born on October 1, 1865 to Abel Alexander DeWitt, Sr. and Margaret Miller Watson DeWitt. He was born in Cottonwood, Utah. He moved to Arizona to help create establishments for the Mormons. He married Caroline Skousen and married her in 1855. She died in 1906. He remarried Ruth Leila Kempe in 1911. He worked as a farmer and served a mission to the midwestern United States in 1901-1903. He died on May 18, 1837.

Biographical History

Ruth Leila Kempe DeWitt (1880-1943) was an educator and pioneer.

Ruth Leila Kempe DeWitt was born in Richfield, Utah on July 29, 1880. She was born to Christopher Jensen Kempe and Anna Dorthea Johnson. They moved to St. Johns, Arizona at the call of Mormon leaders. DeWitt (Kempe at the time) was educated there, then attended Brigham Young Academy in Provo, Utah. Later she went to Flagstaff and Tempe Normal (ASU) and summer school at University of Utah. She became a teacher of elementary students and lived in Mesa. She married Abel Alexander DeWitt, Jr. in 1911. In 1921, they moved to Englewood, California. She died on July 7, 1943 in Modesto, California.

Biographical History

The Kempe family was related to the DeWitt family by marriage. Both families lived for a short while in Utah, and then were called to settle areas of Northern Arizona for the Mormons. Prominent family members included Christopher Jensen Kempe (1837-1901), who was born in Denmark but immigrated in 1865 and participated in the practice of polygamy. His daughter, Ruth Leila Kempe (1880-1943), married Abel Alexander DeWitt, Jr. (1865-1953). They were farmers and businessmen, except Ruth, who was a schoolteacher.


1 carton (1 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Maintained in original order.

Custodial History

Donated by Joyce Larsen in 2012.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Joyce Larsen; 2012.


19th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts.

Contains diaries relating to Church work, as well as daily life in the American West.

Processing Information

Processed by Kelsey Samuelsen, student manuscripts processor, and John M. Murphy, curator; 2013.

Register of the Kempe family diaries
Kelsey Samuelsen, student manuscripts processor, and John M. Murphy, curator; 2013.
2013 May 6
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States