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James W. Jessee papers

Call Number: RH MS 878


This collection consists of diaries and their transcripts, military letters of appointment, correspondence, writings, and other materials kept by James W. Jessee, a farmer who lived in both Douglas and Osage Counties, Kansas and McClean County, Illinois. The most substantive part of the collection are his diaries from his time serving in the American Civil War with the 8th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry.


  • Creation: 1861-1907 (bulk 1861-1865)


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of James W. Jessee

James W. Jessee was born on March 8, 1838 in Empire Township, McLean County, Illinois to William J. and Nancy (Weaver) Jessee. At the age of 14 his family moved to the Kansas Territory soon after it opened up to Euro-American settlement in 1854. The Jessee family resided in Douglas County until the summer of 1857, helped founding the town of Bloomington, and returned to Illinois in the winter of 1858. William Jessee was elected as a free state delegate to the first territorial legislature, but his election was rejected with several others by the pro-slavery segment.

In July 1861 Jessee, by now a farmer, volunteered for service in the 8th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry; at this same time he began keeping a diary. He served in the Civil War at various ranks, ending as a sergeant, in K Company of that regiment from July 1, 1861 to July 30, 1864. He saw action in Tennessee and Mississippi, participating in the siege and occupation of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

After mustering out in early August 1864, Jessee returned to Illinois, marrying Maria Caroline Standiford in July 1865. By 1870 he had moved his wife and twin sons Lincoln Sherman and Logan Sheridan Jessee to Kansas, settling on a farm near Olivet, Osage County, Kansas. James Wilson Jessee died on April 17, 1907 and was buried in Lebo, Coffey County, Kansas.


.25 Linear Feet (1 document case + 7 volumes, 3 folders, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

RH MS 878

Physical Location


Physical Location


Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Mrs. Howard Seetin, 1977

Related Materials

Jessee, James W. Civil War Diaries of James W. Jessee, 1865-1865: Company K, 8th Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry. With Military Units, Steamers and Boats, Places, Businesses and Other Titles, and Persons Indexes. Transcribed by Alan D. Selig and William P. LaBounty. Normal, Il: McClean County Genealogical Society, 1997. Located at Spencer Research Library at RH D7219.

Guide to the James W. Jessee Collection
James W. Jessee papers
Finding aid compiled by lgg, 1976. Finding aid prepared by mg, 2004 and mab, 2007; revised by cl, 2010; revised by mwh, 2017.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in<language encodinganalog="language">English.</language>
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
James W. Jessee papers, Kansas Collection, RH Vlt MS E4, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States