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John Tipton collection

Identifier: L160

Scope and Contents

The collection consists principally of Tipton’s correspondence and business papers from the period 1810-1839 in Indiana. His correspondence, including retained copies of his outgoing letters, includes letters relating to the operations of the Indiana Militia in the 1810s; and political correspondence regarding the work of the state legislature (1820s-1830s), his senatorial elections (1831, 1832), his appointments to federal office (1831-1839), and local, state, and national issues, particularly internal improvements, Indian policy and banking. The collection also includes correspondence regarding his work as Indian agent (1823-1831), including treaty negotiations, trading practices with the Miami and Potawatomi Indians, federal Indian policy, and the removal of the Potawatomi people from Indiana (1838). Also included is correspondence regarding his personal business interests, particularly land development in Logansport and along the Wabash River; correspondence regarding the Masonic Lodge in Indiana; and family correspondence with his son, Spier S. Tipton, a student and lawyer in Madison, Jefferson County (1828-1829), and his daughter, Matilda Tipton, at school in Cincinnati, Ohio (1826-1827).

Also included are Tipton’s journals of the Tippecanoe Expedition (1811), the Driftwood Expedition against the Native Americans along the White River (1812), his trip to locate the Owen County seat (1820), his trip to locate a site for the Indiana state capital (1820), his trip to mark the Indiana-Illinois boundary (1821), and his trip to Washington, D.C. with Miami and Potawatomi chiefs (1826). In addition, there are accounts of annuities and treaty provisions paid to the Indians; and receipts, contracts, accounts, and other papers relating to his personal business interests.

The collection also includes business papers and correspondence of his son, Spier S. Tipton (1814-1847), including papers relating to the settlement of John Tipton’s estate; correspondence regarding his personal business interests and Cass County politics; and letters from Spier’s half-brother, George T. Tipton, written while a student at Wabash College, Crawfordsville (1844-1846). Many of Tipton’s papers are published in The John Tipton Papers (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1942. 3 vols.).

There is also a commission document given to Thomas S. Dunn on August 1, 1864 (OBC033).

Correspondents include: William B. Astor, James Barbour, Joseph Bartholomew, Hervey Bates, Daniel R. Bearss, James Blake, Thomas H. Blake, Ratliff Boon, Jesse D. Bright, Bishop Simon Brute de Remur, John C. Calhoun, Israel T. Canby, Lewis Cass, Marston G. Clark, William Connor, John W. Davis, John D. Defrees, Charles Dewey, John B. Dillon, John Dowling, Thomas Dowling, Lyman C. Draper, George H. Dunn, John B. Duret, Isaac C. Elston, George W. Ewing, John Ewing, Thomas Ewing, Graham N. Fitch, Calvin Fletcher, Davis Floyd, Allen Hamilton, Hugh Hanna, Samuel Hanna, Edward A. Hannegan, William Henry Harrison, John Hays, William Hendricks, Edmond O. Hovey, Tilghman A. Howard, Elisha M. Huntington, Jonathan Jennings, Richard M. Johnson, General Washington Johnson, James F. Lanier, Jonathan McCarty, Nicholas McCarty, Isaac McCoy, Thomas L. McKenney, Pierre Menard, Samuel Merrill, Samuel Milroy, Austin W. Morris, Elias Murray, James Noble, Noah Noble, Benjamin Parke, Abel C. Pepper, John U. Pettit, William Polke, Thomas Posey, Daniel D. Pratt, James Rariden, James Brown Ray, James M. Ray, John B. Richardville, Joseph Richardville, Solon Robinson, William Rockhill, Samuel Sample, Oliver H. Smith, Jeremiah Sullivan, Cyrus Taber, Waller Taylor, John Test, Henry P. Thornton, Edward Tiffin, David Wallace, James Whitcomb, Albert S. White, William W. Wick, William Woodbridge.


  • 1806-1858


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

John Tipton was born near Sevierville in Servier County, Tennessee, on August 14, 1786. In 1793, his father was killed by Cherokee Indians and in 1807 he moved with his mother to Harrison County, Indiana. He served with the “Yellow Jackets” in the Battle of Tippecanoe and eventually achieved the rank of brigadier general of the Indiana Militia in 1817. During this period, he was also twice elected sheriff of Harrison County. Tipton subsequently served as a state representative from 1820-1823, during which time he was appointed a commissioner to select a site for the new capital of Indiana as well as to establish the border between Indiana and Illinois.

In 1806, he married his first cousin, Martha Shields (1791-1850), daughter of John Shields, with whom he had two children: Mathilda Stanly (1811–1827) and Spier Spencer (1814-1847). The couple divorced in 1816. Tipton then married Matilda Spencer (1807-1839) on August 11, 1825, daughter of Captain Spier Spencer, the namesake of his son from his previous marriage. The couple had three children: George T.(1828-1873), Harriet B. (1830-1887), and John, Jr. (1831-1861).

In 1823, he was appointed Indian agent for the Potawatomi and Miami tribes, and was ultimately responsible for the removal of the Potawatomi to Kansas in what became known as the “Trail of Death.” While serving as Indian agent, Tipton platted the city of Logansport in 1828.

In 1831, Tipton was elected to the United States Senate (Jacksonian), where he served on the Committee on Roads and Canals and the Committee on Indian Affairs. After declining to run for re-election due to his ill health, Tipton retired from the Senate on March 3, 1839 and died at his home in Logansport on April 5.


Items in the collection. "John Tipton." Find a Grave. Accessed October 1, 2020.

Robertson, Nellie Armstrong and Dorothy Riker, eds. The John Tipton Papers, vol. 1. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1942.

United States. "Tipton, John." Biographical Directory of the Library of Congress. Accessed 2012.


8.36 Cubic Feet (19 manuscript boxes, 1 large oversize folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a purchase from Mrs. John Tipton on 1925/09/21; depositied 1925/12/12.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2012 February by Laura Williams. EAD finding aid created 2012 February by Laura Williams. EAD finding aid revised 2020/10/01 by Brittany Kropf; 2021/12/06 by Lauren Patton.
John Tipton collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.