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Kemper County, Mississippi facts for kids

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Kemper County
Map of Mississippi highlighting Kemper County
Location within the U.S. state of Mississippi
Map of the United States highlighting Mississippi
Mississippi's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Mississippi
Founded 1833
Named for Reuben Kemper
Seat De Kalb
Largest Town De Kalb
 • Total 767 sq mi (1,990 km2)
 • Land 766 sq mi (1,980 km2)
 • Water 0.8 sq mi (2 km2)  0.1%%
 • Total 10,456
 • Density 14/sq mi (5/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 3rd

Kemper County is a county located in the U.S. state of Mississippi. As of the 2010 census, the population was 10,456. Its county seat is De Kalb. The county is named in honor of Reuben Kemper.

The county is part of the Meridian, MS Micropolitan Statistical Area. In 2010 the Mississippi Public Service Commission approved construction of the Kemper Project, designed to use "clean coal" to produce electricity for 23 counties in eastern part of the state. As of February 2017, it was not completed and had cost overruns. It is designed as a model project to use gasification and carbon-capture technologies at this scale.

United States Senator John C. Stennis, who served from 1947 to 1988, was born in Kemper County. Another Kemper County native was Texas Ranger Captain Bill McDonald.

East Mississippi Community College is located in Kemper County in the town of Scooba, at the junction of US 45 and Mississippi Highway 16.


In this county the land was developed by white planters for cotton cultivation in the 19th century. It continues to be largely rural. After the American Civil War and Reconstruction, racial violence increased as whites struggled to regain power over the majority population of freedmen. In 1890, blacks made up the majority of the county' population: 10,084 blacks to 7,845 whites.

Beginning in late December 1906, there were several days of racial terror in the county.

In 1934, three African-American suspects in Kemper County were repeatedly whipped in order to force them to confess to murder. In Brown v. Mississippi (1936), the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled such forced confessions violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and were inadmissible at trial.

The peak of population in the county was in 1930. Mechanization of agriculture decreased the need for farm labor. From 1940 to 1970, the population declined markedly, as may be seen on the table below, as people moved to other areas for work. This was also the period of the second wave of the Great Migration of 5 million African Americans out of the South to the North and to the West Coast, where the defense industry had many jobs, beginning during World War II.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 767 square miles (1,990 km2), of which 766 square miles (1,980 km2) is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) (0.1%) is water.

Major highways

  • US 45.svg U.S. Highway 45
  • Circle sign 16.svg Mississippi Highway 16
  • Circle sign 21.svg Mississippi Highway 21
  • Circle sign 39.svg Mississippi Highway 39

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 7,663
1850 12,517 63.3%
1860 11,682 −6.7%
1870 12,920 10.6%
1880 15,719 21.7%
1890 17,961 14.3%
1900 20,492 14.1%
1910 20,348 −0.7%
1920 19,619 −3.6%
1930 21,881 11.5%
1940 21,867 −0.1%
1950 15,893 −27.3%
1960 12,277 −22.8%
1970 10,233 −16.6%
1980 10,148 −0.8%
1990 10,356 2.0%
2000 10,453 0.9%
2010 10,456 0.0%
Est. 2015 9,969 −4.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 10,456 people residing in the county. 60.1% were Black or African American, 35.3% White, 3.7% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 0.1% of some other race and 0.7% of two or more races. 0.5% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

As of the census of 2000, there were 10,453 people, 3,909 households, and 2,787 families residing in the county. The population density was 14 people per square mile (5/km²). There were 4,533 housing units at an average density of 6 per square mile (2/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 39.03% White, 58.13% Black or African American, 2.06% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.11% from other races, and 0.57% from two or more races. 0.73% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 3,909 households out of which 32.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.70% were married couples living together, 20.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.70% were non-families. 26.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.11.

In the county, the population was spread out with 25.40% under the age of 18, 12.50% from 18 to 24, 25.20% from 25 to 44, 21.80% from 45 to 64, and 15.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 92.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $23,998, and the median income for a family was $30,248. Males had a median income of $24,431 versus $18,199 for females. The per capita income for the county was $11,985. About 21.20% of families and 26.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.30% of those under age 18 and 26.70% of those age 65 or over.

Electric power plant

Kemper County Coal Gasification Plant
The Kemper Project power plant

In 2010, the Mississippi Public Service Commission approved the construction of a lignite coal plant in Kemper County to be financed by electricity customers in twenty-three southeastern Mississippi counties being served by Mississippi Power Company. It is designed as a model project to use gasification and carbon-capture technologies at this scale.

The plant was strongly opposed by former Republican State Chairman Clarke Reed of Greenville, who favored a less-expensive natural gas-fueled plant. Reed called the project "...a horrible thing." He said it would be a political issue that could be used against Republicans for years.

The Kemper Project was scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2016, more than two years behind schedule. Its cost increased to $6.6 billion—three times original cost estimate. As of February 2017, the project was still not in service, and the cost had increased to $7.1 billion.



Census-designated place

Unincorporated communities

Ghost town

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