Harris Kempner, 1837-1894, Founder of the American Branch of the Family
1853 Harris Kempner left Poland at age 16 and arrived in New York where he worked as a day laborer and studied English at night.
1858 Harris traveled to Cold Springs, Texas, and first peddled goods to outlying farms and then opened a small general store; he continued to perfect his English, develop his business skills, and build a strong reputation for integrity and dependability.
c.1868 After his service in the Confederate Army, Harris moved to Galveston, the commercial distributing center for all of Texas, and founded a mercantile enterprise.
1872 He married Eliza Seinsheimer of Cincinnati and continued to expand his interests to include banking, farm and timber lands, and cotton.
1873 The first of his eight surviving children was born.
1894 Mr. Kempner’s early death left a widow with eight children, aged 1 to 21. The oldest, Isaac Herbert, took over responsibility for the family and the various commercial endeavors.
In succeeding years, the four sons (Isaac Herbert, Daniel Webster, Robert Lee and Stanley Eugene) joined together to expand the businesses their father began and develop others. Three of the daughters married (Hattie to Henry Oppenheimer of San Antonio; Sara to David Westheimer of Cincinnati; Fannie to Louis Adoue of Galveston). Gladys, the youngest, lived with her mother and joined in her numerous charitable activities.
1947 Eliza died at the age of 97.
2001 Living descendants of Harris Kempner number 84 (ranging in age from 2 months to 93 years). They live all over the nation and the world. Many share in the philanthropic work of the Fund and/or carry out their own philanthropic endeavors.
2007 Living descendants of Harris Kempner number 95 (ranging in age from 3 years to 98 years).
In characterizing his parents’ legacy, Isaac (Ike) Herbert Kempner wrote the following in his Recalled Recollections: “We can be thankful for the larger vision of our parents which bid us try to emulate their wisdom, their benevolence, their reverence for God and devotion to their country.”
2014 Now in the sixth generation, living descendants of Harris Kempner number 105 ranging in age from 5 months to 82 years. They live on three different continents and all over the United States.