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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Mr. Kemps Ice Cream. Who Doesn't Like Ice Cream?

When William Henry Kemps was born in 1878 in Illinois, his father, Samuel, was 35 and his mother, Clara, was 29. He married Edna Hamond Wright on June 5, 1907. They had three children during their marriage. He died in 1964 at the age of 86.

Although the farm in Oakdale was still listed as home in 1900, William was a traveling salesman selling stereoptical viewers and views, door to door.  He would say that is were he gained his real sales skills.  ”Never get discouraged by a slammed door.”  In the middle of the year 1900, he moved to St. Louis and began working for the next year a half as a retail route driver (horse drawn wagon) for the St. Louis Dairy Company, located at 2008 Pine Street.

Delivering Milk in 1901

The 1901 St. Louis City Directory shows William as a salesman for the St. Louis Dairy Company and his residence as 2746 Lucas Avenue.


William Henry Kemps served in the military on May 22, 1902, when he was 24 years old.

On May 22, 1902, he enlisted in the Army for a three year stint as a telegraph operator in the Signal Corps.  In the fall of 1902, all of 1903, and 11 months of 1904, he served in the Philippines in the aftermath of the Philippine - American War (the hostilities continued until 1913). He attained the rank of First Sgt. of his company and was the quarter master.  During this time, he became life long friends with his commanding officer, Col. Charles McKinley Saltzman.  Saltzman went on to become a major general and worked in the White House under Herbert Hoover.  He became our first chairman of the new Federal Communications Commission (his signal corp. experience paid off).  He was William Henry's mentor. William was discharged on May 21, 1905 at the Benicia Barracks in California.

Afterwards, William returned to St. Louis and played minor or amateur baseball and may have scouted for the St. Louis team.  He also worked as a conductor on a train line that ran to Mexico.  The 1907 St. Louis City Directory shows William as a conductor and living at 1925 Olive.  The train is where he met Edna Wright. She was vacationing in Mexico and they met on the train. William and Edna were married in Indianapolis on June 5,1907. The 1908 St Louis Directory shows William as the superintendent of the St. Louis Dairy Company and living at 3945A Botanical Avenue.  The 1909 St. Louis City Directory shows William as the assistant manager of the St. Louis Dairy Company and living at 3945A Botanical Avenue.  William took classes in St. Louis and he and another fellow (possibly John P. Cabanne) partnered to develop the milk product "FER-MIL-LAC."  For more on FER-MIL-LAC, see below.


FER-MIL-LAC is a type of fermented milk made by a patented process.  William Henry Kemps took classes in St. Louis and he and another fellow (possibly John P. Cabanne) partnered to develop the fermented milk product "FER-MIL-LAC."  On July 9, 1909, John Cabanne, a resident of St. Louis, filed a patent for a process for the fermentation of milk. Patent 944,013 was issued on December 21, 1909.  According to this patent, the fermentation is due alone to the introduction of a germ known as the Bulgarian bacillus.  It is believed William and John started the FER-MIL-LAC Process Company.  (John Cabanne was the manager of the St. Louis Dairy Company in 1901 and signed the December 23, 1901 letter of recommendation for William, see STLOUIS.JPG.) In 1910, William was the Vice President of the Fer-Mil-Lac Process Company located at 423 Chestnut.

One of William Henry’s photographs, FERMILAC.JPG, taken in June 1910, shows the office of the company and shows a typewriter with FER-MIL-LAC letterhead paper and a framed advertisement that proclaims “You Can’t Get Enough of The Flavor.”

A quote on page 265 of a 1915 book, The Medical Economist, states “Fer-mil-lac will guard the body against this danger, insuring a good digestion, a clear mind, and a happier and longer life.”
Page 225 states “For a healthy stomach, Prescribe FER-MIL-LAC.”

A 1917 book available for free download from Google, “City Milk Supply”, shows on page 342, a horse drawn delivery wagon that is painted with FOR PERPETUAL YOUTH; DRINK FER-MIL-LAC; DELICIOUS FERMENTED MILK.

References to the FER-MIL-LAC process can also be found in two other books available free from Google; page 272 of a 1912 book “The Milk Question” and page 261 of a 1915 book “The Manufacture of Ice Cream and Ices.”

Another of William Henry’s photographs, FERMILC2.JPG, shows him sitting at his office desk, probably at Lathrop-Kemps Ice Cream, and a “FIR-MIL-LAC Cultured Milk” plaque is on the wall and another FIR-MIL-LAC plaque is on the door.


William Henry Kemps married Edna Hamond Wright on June 5, 1907, when he was 29 years old.

Edna Hamond Wright


The 1910 St. Louis City Directory shows William as the Vice President of the Fer-Mil-Lac Process Company at 423 Chestnut and residing at the West End Hotel.  In the 1910 Census, William and Edna were living at 6151 McPherson Avenue along with his sister Ethyl.  At that time, they owned the house and he listed his position as a dairyman in the Fermented Milk industry.  The 1911 St. Louis City Directory shows William as the Vice President of the Fer-Mil-Lac Process Company at 423 Chestnut and the family residing at 3945A Botanical Avenue.

In 1911, William and Edna moved to Minnesota and had their first child, Marian, on October 6, 1911.  On September 13, 1913, they had twins, Kathryn H. and William Worth.  They were then living at 2200 Oliver Avenue South in Lake of the Isle, an upscale sub-division of MinneapolisMinnesota. In 1913, his occupation was milk dealer.

About 1914, William partnered with W. S. Lathrop, who owned the Lathrop Candy Company which was on the verge of, or in, bankruptcy.  The Lathrop Candy company also had an ice business, thus, the segue into ice cream. Together they launched the Lathrop-Kemps Ice Cream Company located at 222 Fifth Street North in Minneapolis.  William supplied the dairy experience, the sales expertise and the funding.  He was the Vice President and their product was labeled Kemps Ice Cream.  The product was "special quality" ice cream that cost more than the other brands.  The partnership agreement called for Lathrop to maintain his sobriety.  At some point, that did not occur and William became the sole owner of the company.  William Henry registered for the draft on September 12, 1918 in the City of Minneapolis at the age of 39.  Details included: Occupation as Mfg. Ice Cream at Lathrop-Kemps Ice Cream Company at 7-11 Royalston Ave. MinneapolisMinn.; Height - Short; Build - Medium; Eyes - blue; Hair - brown. See the reference file for the image of the card.  The 1920 US Census indicates that William and Edna and their three children were living at 2200 Oliver Avenue South in Minneapolis and he listed his occupation as employer in the ice cream business.

They went to California for a visit around 1921.  About that time, the doctor advised William that his health was such that he could not survive too many more winters in Minneapolis.  They went back in 1922 and 1923 in the winter time and bought a piece of property in Beverly Hills and built a home at 633 N. Foothill Road. The family moved there, about 1924 and stayed in that house for a few years. Barney Oldfield, the race car driver, was one of their neighbors.  The actress, Theda Bara, was also their neighbor in Beverly Hills and the children (William, Kathryn and probably Marian) went there to play on occasion.  At the time of the move, the Lathrop-Kemps Ice Cream Company was sold to the competitor, Crescent Creamery.  William played golf for a couple of months and then decided that he needed something to do.  So he bought into a Cadillac Dealership in Glendale.  They were going to build a new home in the Westwood area (chose a lot and had house plans drawn up).  However, William had a problem with his sacroiliac and had to have a driver to chauffer him around.  (He had recruited Theda Bara’s chauffer, Albert Alexander, who drove for the Kemps family until William Henry’s death in 1964). He decided that if he was going to be in business in Glendale and did not like driving into the sun all the time, they should build in Glendale.  So they found a piece of property and used the same house plans with minor adjustments.  The Glendale house was built in 1926 at 1565 Hillcrest Avenue and all the children attended Toll Junior High School.  The 1930 US Census indicates that the family was living at this address and William’s occupation was listed as General Manager of an Automobile Dealership.  During the depression not enough people were buying Cadillacs, so he sold the dealership (Modern Motors is still there).

Registering for the Draft in World War I

After the Selective Service Act was signed in May 1917, William Henry Kemps registered for the draft.

One month after the United States entered World War I in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Selective Service Act, requiring men between 21 and 30 to register for the military. Initially, many Americans balked at the idea of a draft, voicing their continued desire to remain neutral. Determined to “unify sentiment in the nation” in favor of America entering the war, President Wilson organized a massive propaganda effort promoting the need for the Selective Service. Within a few months, 10 million men had signed up for the draft. And before war’s end in November 1918, 6 million more would add their names. Despite this success, thousands of Americans were still opposed to the draft. Nearly 350,000 “dodged” the draft, some with the help of local governments. About 2.8-million draftees served—more than half of the 4.8-million Americans who ultimately fought in World War I.

William and Edna in Glendale about 1930

About the same time, somewhere before 1931, the Cammack brothers (Crescent Creamery) had William start an ice cream plant named Beverly Dairies, Ltd., located on Jefferson at Hill St., in Los AngelesCalifornia.  William was the President and eventually the Chairman of the Board. William Worth Kemps, son of William Henry, later, joined the company and eventually ran it until 1956 or 1957 when it was sold to the Bressler brothers. Richard G. McCall, son-in-law, of William Henry, also joined the company and worked there for about 12 years.

William about 1940

In 1933, when the kids were finished with high school, William and Edna built their last home on three acres at 5305 Harter Lane in La Canada.  This house was built during the depression when wages for construction were very low, something like thirty cents per hour.  William offered forty or fifty cents per hour to insure quality work.  The house was a masterpiece!  It had a three car garage and a very nice back yard with a patio and rose garden.  It backed up to the Angeles National Forest.  William loved to feed the birds, including peacocks and quail, in the back yard after work.  The 1940 Census shows the couple and daughter, Kathryn, living in this house, and William was listed as the President and Director of a Dairy Company.  The children, as they got married, built homes in Glendale.  Kathryn and her husband, Richard McCall, later built a home in La Canada and eventually moved to Lake Tahoe.  Marian lived in the Southern California area. Grandson, Wayne McCall, spent a great deal of time with Edna and William when he was young.  He loved the house and grounds and played there as much as possible (he lived less than a mile away).  Wayne relates that William and Edna lived a very refined and happy life, donated heavily to favored causes and treated people with great respect.


William Henry Kemps lived in Glendale, California, in 1930.
Marital Status: Married; Relation to Head of House: Head

The Great Depression
During the Great Depression, William Henry Kemps likely faced hardships like joblessness and scant resources while living in Glendale, California in 1930.

The End of Prohibition

William Henry Kemps may have been part of the majority that celebrated in Glendale, California when the 21st Amendment ended national alcohol prohibition on December 5, 1933.

                                                                 William in the late 1940s 

The Kemps Dairy Products History

There originally was a candy company in the Twin Cities by the name of Lathrop Candy Company.  It was on the verge of, or in, bankruptcy.  The Lathrop Candy Company also had an ice business, thus the segway into ice cream. Somewhere around 1914, William Henry Kemps bought into that company and they formed the Lathrop- Kemps Ice Cream Company, located at Two Twenty Two Fifth Street No. in Minneapolis.  William Kemps brought the dairy experience, the sales expertise and the cash to the partnership.  W. S. Lathrop was the President and Treasurer and William Kemps was the Vice President.  They produced a “Special Quality” ice cream that sold for a premium price. About 1924, the company was sold to the competitor (three brothers; Arthur, Howard and W.R. Cammack). They then had the Kemps Ice Cream Company in Minneapolis and a company called Crescent Creamery in St. PaulMinnesota. Kemps-Crescent eventually acquired Marigold Dairies of Southern Minnesota, Dolly Madison Dairies of Wisconsin and the Clover Leaf Dairy Company of Minneapolis.  In 1961, the company became known as Marigold Foods selling a multitude of dairy products with the “Kemps” brand name. In 2002, Marigold Foods, LLC became Kemps LLC.

About 1931, the Cammack brothers had William start an ice cream plant named Beverly Dairies, Ltd., located on Jefferson at Hill St.Los AngelesCalifornia.  William was the President and eventually the Chairman of the Board. Green Lantern was the premium line of ice cream.  They struck a deal, for the rest of the dairy products, with National Dairy Products Corporation of New York.  William Worth Kemps, son of William Henry, joined the company and eventually ran it.  In 1956 or 1957, Kemps-Crescent sold the Beverly Dairies to the Bressler brothers.  They had a new plant in City of Industry at the time.  They bled all the cash from Beverly Dairies and ran it into bankruptcy.  It was then bought by CARNATION and later sold again.


His wife Edna Hamond passed away on July 10, 1954, at the age of 75. They had been married 47 years.

 William and the children about 1920. 
Marian, Kathryn and William Worth about 1920.

Roger Kemps
Philippine American War.rtf is a description from Wikipedia.
Photo's :  by Philip Smith, William Worth Kemps, Jr.  & Wayne McCall

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