This community can trace its origins to 1851, when the U.S. Postal Service approved a station named Kemp with Levi Noble as first postmaster. In the years prior to the Civil War, Kemp was primarily an agricultural community, providing goods and services for the surrounding farm families. Itinerant Presbyterian preacher R.O. Watkins settled near Kemp about 1855 and in 1867 began the Kemp Academy to provide a strong educational center for the schoolchildren in the area.
It was the construction of the Texas Trunk Railroad in the 1880s, however, that boosted Kemp's growth and development. The Texas Trunk was built to connect Dallas with points east and south and later became part of the Texas and New Orleans Rail Line. As the tracks reached Kaufman (10 mi. N) in 1881, the county surveyor was laying out a town plat for Kemp along the projected rail line. By 1882, one year before the railroad even reached Kemp, the community boasted two dry goods stores, a drugstore, grocery, saloon, saddle shop, barbershop, blacksmith, three church congregations and a steam gin and mill.
Although the actual date of Kemp's incorporation has not been determined, it is known that the citizens voted to abolish their incorporation in 1910 and then elected to reincorporate in 1922. Kemp continued to grow, serving as a trade center for the surrounding
farms and ranches. Although the end of World War II signaled a shift in the population to more urban areas, Kemp remains an important community in the history of Kaufman County.