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Francis Marion Van Pelt family collection

Identifier: L168

Scope and Contents

This collection contains Van Pelt family correspondence ranging from 1863 to 1929 and includes letters written by Frank, Madge and their children; letters sent to Frank's mother, Almira Van Pelt Smith, by her children and grandchildren; and letters sent by Madge's relatives in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. Family documents range from 1879 to 1936 and include Frank's promotion and resignation certificates from the Railway Mail Service; "The Bee-Hive" cover pages from College Temple of Newnan, Georgia; a circa 1890 advertising trading card for Lautz Bros. and Co.; a May 27, 1900 speech on patriotism by Madge Van Pelt; Frank's certificates regarding his election to the office of justice of the peace in 1902 and 1918; a September 14, 1914 local program for the 100th anniversary of the writing of "The Star Spangled Banner"; and essays by Frank including one about Oliver P. Morton.

Frank and Madge's personal scrapbooks contain clippings and letters ranging from 1898 to 1927 regarding a variety of topics including the costs of war, women's suffrage, politics, the Women's Relief Corps, and Wilder's Brigade. Frank's scrapbook also includes a 1913 photograph of General John T. Wilder and an undated photograph of Wilder with his granddaughter. The Anderson Township Progressive Club record book contains the roll of members, the club's constitution and bylaws, and meeting minutes (1912-1914).

Frank Van Pelt's military documents include correspondence, orders, quartermasters reports, stores lists and invoices from his service with the 17th Indiana Regiment (1862-1864); correspondence, newspaper clippings, and programs regarding the 17th Indiana and Wilder's Brigade reuinions (1905-1924); correspondence from James T. Wilder (1903-1917); a copy of History of Wilder's Lightning Brigade (1914); and record books of the 17th Indiana and Wilder's Brigade reunions (1885-1917). The collection also includes the 1903 Department Encampment committee booklet for the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR); a copy of Burt G. Wilder's May 28, 1914 address, "The Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Colored"; Frank's scrapbook with GAR correspondence and World War I clippings (1917); and his GAR commander speech (1925).

The Phipps family documents include correspondence of Henry and Adah Van Pelt Phipps (1916-1919); Henry's World War I identification record card; Y.M.C.A. memorandums; a copy of Hand-Book of Le Mans of the Senior Chaplain's Office, A.P.O. 762; "Buy French Treasury Bonds" promotional cards and a few tickets and hotel business cards (1818-1919); and newspaper clippings (1917-1919). George A. Phipps documents include a photograph from Huntsville, Indiana (circa 1870); a photocopy of a November 13, 1881 letter sent to George from his uncle B. F. Aiman; a Thos. J. Anketell and Co. calendar (Merrill, WI 1895); and pages from Orton and Sadler's Business Calculator (undated). Also included are George's almanacs and diaries: Green's Diary Almanacs (1881-1886), The Diamond Dye Almanac (1887-1888), August Flower and German Syrup Almanac (1889), and Wanamaker diaries (1920-1921).


  • 1861-1936


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

Francis "Frank" Marion Van Pelt was born August 15, 1838 in Madison County, Indiana to Uriah and Almira Van Pelt. He worked in the carpenter's trade before enlisting in Company G, 17th Indiana Volunteer Infantry at the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War. He began his service as a private and was recognized for his bravery under fire. He became part of "Wilder's Lightning Brigade" serving under General John T. Wilder. He was honorably discharged in January, 1865 and returned home as a non-commissioned captain. Following the war, Van Pelt worked for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in Galesburg, Illinois. He married Amanda Madge Slater (1842-1917) at Galesburg on December 24, 1868 and they had 5 children: Minnie (1870-1958), Frances (1876-1962), Jasper (1879-1880), Adah (1881-1966), and Myra (1884-1937). In 1870, he took a job with a publishing house and the family moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Frank entered into the railway mail service in 1874 and in 1880 he was appointed deputy collector with the Internal Revenue Bureau. In 1889, he was appointed superintendent of the registry department of the Atlanta post office. The family moved to Lincoln Nebraska in 1894 and then moved back to Anderson, Indiana in 1895. Captain Van Pelt served as commander of Major May Post, #244, Grand Army of the Republic of Anderson and was chosen as state commander in 1924. He also served on the Indiana Monument Commission and the Indiana Vicksburg Monument Commission. He was a member of the Progressive Party and served several terms as Justice of the Peace. He passed away at the age of 91 on January 21, 1930.

Captain Van Pelt's daughter Adah married Henry M. Phipps (1881-1943) on July 26, 1916 and they had two daughters: Adah Madge (1923-2001) and Ellen Jane (1925-1934). Adah was a school teacher and Henry worked as a credit manager in Indianapolis. Henry also served as a hut secretary for the Y.M.C.A. in France during World War I. Henry's father, George A. Phipps (1842 -1922), owned and operated a grist and flour mill and a saw mill in Huntsville, Indiana.


Information within collection.

"F. M. Van Pelt Dropped Dead This Morning." Anderson Daily Bulletin (IN), January 21, 1930.

"George A. Phipps 80, Died Tuesday." Pendleton Times (IN), November 23, 1922.

"Henry M. Phipps, Ill Eight Years, Succumbs Here." Indianapolis Star (IN), December 18, 1943.

Roll, Charles. Indiana, One Hundred and Fifty Years of American Development, Vol. 5. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1931.


1.8 Cubic Feet (5 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged in the following series:

Series 1: Van Pelt family papers, 1863-1936

Series 2: Francis Van Pelt military papers, 1861-1935

Series 3: Phipps family papers, circa 1870-1921

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from Adah Hayes on 1966/05/11 and 1968/02/28.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processed 2010/09 by Jessica Combs and 2012/04 by Nikki Schofield. Collection reprocessed in 2018/08 by Laura Eliason. EAD finding aid completed 2018/08/23 by Laura Eliason. EAD finding aid revised 2024/07/03 by Brittany Kropf.
Francis Marion Van Pelt family collection
Under Revision
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.