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Lanphear Family Letters

Identifier: MS-2319

  • Staff Only

The Lanphear Family Letters, 1854-1872, consists of four series. The first, entitled Series I. Ruebn Lanphear, contains ten items from Ruebn to his daughter, Eliza, and his sister and brother. These letters span the entire length of the war, from 1861-1865. Most concern Ruebn's struggle with illness and his effort to obtain a military discharge. He also writes of camp life and of the Indian problems of Minnesota.

The second series, Series II. George Lanphear, consists of 24 items from George to family members, primarily his sister, Eliza. Spanning a two-year period from 1861-1863, these letters concern camp life in the 2nd Minnesota Infantry Regiment. Family matters such as his mother and his brother Nelson's death are also discussed. George also describes his regiment's many travels across Tennessee, paying attention to the land and the climate.

Ten items from Mary Cummings to family members, primarily her sister Eliza, can be found in Series III. Mary A. Cummings . The letters describe Mary's and her husband's time at the hospital in Baltimore. She writes to her father asking him to leave Minnesota and live with her in Baltimore. Additionally, Mary discusses the deaths of her brothers Nelson and George.

The final series, Series IV. Other Family Members, contains three items that are from other members of the Lanphear Family. These items, which date from the 1850s through 1870s, describe the move westward, describing the prosperity to be found on the frontier.


  • 1854-1872

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite and must be requested in advance. See for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.

Conditions Governing Use

The UT Libraries claims only physical ownership of most material in the collections. Persons wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants on for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.


0.5 Linear Feet


The Lanphear Family Letters, 1854-1872, document the Civil War-era experiences of a Minnesota family. The majority of the letters are from George Lanphear, a soldier with the 2nd Minnesota Infantry who spent most of the war in Tennessee.

Biographical/Historical Note

After joining the 2nd Minnesota Infantry Regiment in the Fall of 1861, George Lanphear spent the majority of his time as a soldier in Tennessee. His regiment crossed the state early in the war and saw action at places such as Corinth and Missionary Ridge, where George was killed.

Ruebn Lanphear, George's father, joined the 4th Minnesota Infantry as a drummer during 1861. He battled injury and illness during his stint with the 4th Minnesota and spent much of his time in the military at Jefferson Barracks hospital in Missouri while he fought for a release from the military. Eventually, he was discharged and returned to Minnesota, which was experiencing considerable Native American unrest.

Mary A. Cummings was the daughter of Ruebn, sister of George. Her husband was stationed at a military hospital in Baltimore where she worked through much of the war.


Collection is divided into four series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I: Ruebn Lanphear, 1861-1865
  2. Series II: George Lanphear, 1861-1863
  3. Series III: Mary A. Cummings, 1862-1864
  4. Series IV: Other Family Letters, 1854-1872

Acquisition Note

This collection was purchased by Special Collections.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA