Riley Kemp’s Bet

As told by Beth Gowdy about her grandfather, Riley Kemp.

Riley Kemp was sheriff of Pettis County, Missouri, for eight years. Once before an election he and the other candidate made a friendly bet that the one who lost would give the other one an overcoat. Riley Kemp got the coat. A tailor made a heavy blue coat with twelve big white buttons. His son, John, wore the coat on the trail to Oregon, when he was away from the train hunting for wild game – sometimes away over night with the coat as the only cover. He also wore it while away during the Indian uprising. When he came home, the coat was so worn out, it could never be worn again, and only six buttons remained.

Sarah Kemp saved them and years later gave them to her grand daughter, Hattie Gowdy, who later had them linked together for a bracelet. Some years after she gave it to her great niece, Margaret Paxson Strom.

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