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Jonas M. Tebbetts Collection

Identifier: MC 1553

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains three types of materials: a folder of family and secondary writings concerning Jonas Tebbetts, his family, and the Tebbetts Collection; thirty volumes of diaries, memo books, expense and account books, and other miscellaneous notebooks, written by Jonas M. Tebbetts. The volumes span the period 1847-1905.


  • Creation: 1847-2011


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Access Information

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

Restrictions Apply: Due to the fragility of the items patrons are encouraged to use extra caution when handling items.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17)

Biographical Note

Jonas March Tebbetts was born on January 5, 1820, in Rochester, New Hampshire, to what his daughter Marian characterized as "a New England low tariff family." He was educated at Philips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. Afterwards he lived an adventurous life that included work as a traveling salesman for Doddridge's Family Expositor, touring New England, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky; an appointment at age seventeen as an instructor of English literature, ancient history, and Greek and Latin languages at Western University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and working on a steamboat which sailed a circuit on the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers. By 1840 he had settled in Van Buren, Van Buren County, Arkansas, where he established a law practice that specialized in attending to the needs of Cherokee, Choctaw, and Creek Indians living in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) to the west.

In Van Buren he was elected to the position of judge. Affiliating with the Democratic Party, in 1844 he was elected to the position of prosecuting attorney of the Seventh Circuit Court of Arkansas, which resulted in him traveling outside of Van Buren County. While in Washington County he met Matilda Winlock, a Kentuckian and student at Fayetteville Female Seminary. They were married in 1847, and their union produced several sons and daughters. Following the wedding the couple took up residence in Fayetteville. Their famous house was built ca. 1853-1854, later receiving the name "Headquarters House" because of its use as headquarters by Union forces occupying Fayetteville in 1863. More recently (1967) the house was tended over by the Washington County Historical Societyand made into the Headquarters House Museum.

In 1850-1851 Tebbetts served as a representative from Washington County to the Arkansas state General Assembly in Little Rock, and afterwards the legislature appointed him attorney for the branch of the State Bank in Fayetteville. A Unionist who found slavery abhorrent, in March 1862 he was arrested by Confederate General Ben McCulloch following a brief occupation of Fayetteville by Union troops. Sent to Fort Smith to await hanging, charges against Tebbetts were dropped following McCulloch's death during the Battle of Pea Ridge, resulting in his freedom. Continued harassment by Confederate soldiers and an alleged plot against his life led Tebbetts to flee Fayetteville, and he spent the remainder of the war in Union territory in Missouri. After the war he and his family located to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, where he again practiced law. Following his wife's death in 1892, he eventually moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to live with his daughter Lillian and her husband John H. Galey, a petroleum wildcatter who had claims in Pennsylvania, Kansas, and Texas. Tebbetts died at the Galeys' house on January 16, 1913, at the age of 94. He was buried in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.


1 Linear Feet (2 boxes containing 30 volumes)

Arrangement of the Papers

Materials are arranged with the folder of family and secondary writings first, and the thirty volumes second, divided over two boxes. The volumes are broken down into three groups: the diaries and memo books under the title "Jonas Tebbetts Diaries;" the account and expense books labeled "Jonas Tebbetts Account Books;" and a third group with individual titles. The diaries and account books are arranged chronologically, while the third group of notebooks are arranged alphabetically. Finding aid titles do not necessarily correspond to handwritten titles on the volumes, but rather accurately reflect the contents of each volume.

Acquisition Information

The Jonas M. Tebbetts Collection was donated to the Special Collections Department, University of Arkansas Libraries on June 21, 2004, by Charles M. Kester of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Processing Information

Processed by Todd E. Lewis; completed in August 2011.


Jonas M. Tebbetts Collection
Todd E. Lewis
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Department Repository

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville AR 72701 United States
(479) 575-8444