Special Agent Cleveland Kemp| Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad

13227742_1043346752368783_5221442019164773704_o

 


 

Special Agent Cleveland Kemp
Special Agent Cleveland Kemp

Age: 30
Served: at least four years
Before 1910 to June 7, 1914

 

Cleveland Kemp was born in May 14, 1883 in Falmouth, Kentucky to James and Malissa (McClanahan) Kemp. He married Sallie Buckley on March 23, 1910 in Bracken County, Kentucky. By then, he was a railroad detective. On August 10, 1912, Sallie gave birth to Carston Beckett Kemp.

Agent Kemp normally worked the railroad yards at Second and Park Streets in Cincinnati, but for the first time, on the night of June 6, 1914 he was assigned to the Silver Grove yards ten miles upriver from Newport.i

About 2 a.m. the next morning, June 7, 1914, while making his rounds between Tracks 11 and 12, someone came up from behind and landed a powerful blow with a pickax to the back of his head crushing his skull and killing him. The murderer(s) dragged Agent Kemp’s body over Track 12 and under the cut of cars that stood on the track and rolled him down an embankment of cinders.ii

Badge C&O SA PAGEAlso about 2 a.m., in another portion of the yards, without any idea what was happening to Agent Kemp, Special Agent Adkinson found a carload of meat with a broken seal. He resealed the car and continued his rounds. He then encountered a suspicious character that he held at gunpoint. But the man gave a credible story and Adkinson released him.iii

Shortly after 4 p.m. on the afternoon of June 7, Joseph Peacock and Thomas Moree, both 14 years of age and residents of Silver Grove, were on the way to the Ohio River for a swim when they found Kemp’s body just north of track No. 12, in a deep gully and partially covered by cinders.iv

Coroner Digby responded to the scene. He established where the murder occurred and where the body was dragged. One of the railroad workers, searching for evidence, found the pickax in the weeds 30 feet from the murder scene. Coroner Digby searched Kemp’s pockets and determined that the only item missing was his searchlight.v Later, Coroner Digby found that his hat was also missing.vi Agent Kemp’s fully-loaded revolver and blackjack were still in a hip pocket. Digby advised that death came very soon after the blow was initiated.vii Agent Kemp’s remains were removed to his home at 1532 Banklick Street in Covington.viii

Agent Kemp was survived by his wife, Sallie Kemp (21), and son, Carston Kemp (1¾).ix His funeral was held June 10, 1914.x He was buried in Bradford, Kentucky.xi
A search was initiated for Agent Atkinson’s suspect and telegrams were dispatched to various regions and railroad yards containing his description. It was thought that even if he was not involved in the murder, he may shed some light on it.xii By June 9, 1914 Coroner Digby reported that there was no lead other than Agent Kemp’s missing searchlight and hat.xiii He held an inquest on June 12, 1914 at the City Building and determined that it was a Homicide by train car thieves.xiv

Mrs. Kemp remarried three years later. Three years after that, during 1920, Agent Kemp’s only child, Carston, died from Tonsillitis at the age of 7.
To our knowledge, his murder was never solved. Within the next 12 months, two more railroad workers were killed in the Silver Grove yards, Special Agent Leslie Johnson and Switchman L. Archie Howley. Those murders were also unsolved.

If you have information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Director@police-museum.org.

 

© This narrative was further researched and revised April 27, 2016 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, with extensive research provided by Cincinnati Homicide Detective Edward W. Zieverink III (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Historian. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.

____________________________________________

i BLOW: From Pick Handle Ends Career of Special Agent of C. & 0. Victim … Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Jun 8, 1914; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841 – 1922) pg. 14

ii BLOW: From Pick Handle Ends Career of Special Agent of C. & 0. Victim … Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Jun 8, 1914; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841 – 1922) pg. 14

iii BLOW: From Pick Handle Ends Career of Special Agent of C. & 0. Victim … Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Jun 8, 1914; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841 – 1922) pg. 14

iv BLOW: From Pick Handle Ends Career of Special Agent of C. & 0. Victim … Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Jun 8, 1914; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841 – 1922) pg. 14

v BLOW: From Pick Handle Ends Career of Special Agent of C. & 0. Victim … Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Jun 8, 1914; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841 – 1922) pg. 14

vi ASSASSINS of Railroad Detective Still at Large. Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Jun 9, 1914; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841 – 1922) pg. 5

vii BLOW: From Pick Handle Ends Career of Special Agent of C. & 0. Victim … Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Jun 8, 1914; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841 – 1922) pg. 14 +

viii BLOW: From Pick Handle Ends Career of Special Agent of C. & 0. Victim … Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Jun 8, 1914; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841 – 1922) pg. 14

ix BLOW: From Pick Handle Ends Career of Special Agent of C. & 0. Victim … Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Jun 8, 1914; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841 – 1922) pg. 14

x ASSASSINS of Railroad Detective Still at Large. Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Jun 9, 1914; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841 – 1922) pg. 5

xi Kentucky, Deaths and Burials, 1843-1970,” index, Family Search (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FWP9-Y44 : accessed 19 Jul 2013 by Edward Zieverink), Cleveland Kemp, 07 Jun 1914.

xii BLOW: From Pick Handle Ends Career of Special Agent of C. & 0. Victim … Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Jun 8, 1914; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841 – 1922) pg. 14

xiii ASSASSINS of Railroad Detective Still at Large. Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Jun 9, 1914; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841 – 1922) pg. 5

xiv Case is Still a Mystery Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Jun 12, 1914; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer (1841 – 1922) pg. 13