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Jarvis-Van Zandt Family Papers

Identifier: MS04

Scope and Contents

The Jarvis – Van Zandt Family papers include legal documents, land titles, photographs, personal correspondence, news clippings, genealogy notes, and ephemera covering a period of more than one hundred seventy years. Letters, diaries, and reminiscences written in the 19th and 20th centuries found in the papers offer insights on the life of Texas pioneers. Other materials, such as business, tax, and real estate records shed light on some aspects of Fort Worth’s economic history. The collection does not include substantial information about Texas Christian University, although some correspondence and administrative materials related to Ida Van Zandt and her son Van Zandt Jarvis pertain to TCU students’ life at the turn of the century.

Special Collections received the papers in several stages. The listing begins with the personal correspondence between James J. Jarvis and Ida Van Zandt Jarvis, the first records received in this collection. From there, the papers are arranged by accession, meaning each successive donation of papers has been kept separate from those that came before it.


  • Creation: 1841-1974


Conditions Governing Access

Portions of this collection are stored offsite. Advance notice is required for retrieval. Contact Special Collections staff.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been transferred to Texas Christian University.

Biographical / Historical

The Jarvis – Van Zandt Family Papers reflect the history of these Texas pioneer families over at least four generations. Isaac Van Zandt (1813-1847), a lawyer, legislator, diplomat and politician, married Frances Cooke Lipscomb (1816-1909) in 1833. The couple first settled in Salem, Tennessee, but Van Zandt’s business activities took him to several locations. He arrived in Texas in 1838. Van Zandt attended the Fifth and Sixth congresses of the Republic of Texas and, in 1842, President Sam Houston appointed him chargé d’affairs of the Republic of Texas to the United States Government. Van Zandt worked to promote Texas’ annexation to the Union. After annexation occurred in 1845, Isaac returned to Texas and attended the convention that completed annexation and framed the state’s first constitution. He died on October 11, 1847, in Houston, during his campaign to become governor of the state.

Isaac Van Zandt and Frances Cooke Lipscomb had several children, including Khleber Miller (1836-1930) and Eliza (Ida) (1844-1937). Khleber Miller acted as president of Tidball, Van Zandt and Co., predecessor of the Fort Worth National Bank, as well as president of K.M. Van Zandt Land Company. In 1866, Ida married James J. Jarvis (1831-1914), an attorney and land agent who had moved to Texas in 1857. The couple lived in Quitman until 1872, and then settled in Fort Worth, three years before the railroad arrived. Jarvis continued to practice law and began to make highly profitable investments in real estate. Soon, the couple became known for their philanthropic spirit. As benefactors of Add-Ran Christian University, James and Ida built a strong relationship with what would later become Texas Christian University.

James Jarvis was President of the Board of Trustees of Add-Ran University between 1887 and 1895. While in office, he is presumed to have written the Add-Ran Christian University Charter, signed by him and others on September 27, 1889. James and Ida contributed generously to TCU during the coming years. Between 1905 and 1909, James helped finance the Add-Ran Jarvis Institute at Thorp’s Spring. In 1914, Ida supplied $85,000 to the endowment fund and provided the funds to establish the school of domestic science. She became the first woman member of the Board of Trustees in 1928. Ida served for twenty years on the advisory board. Jarvis Hall, a women's dormitory, was named in honor of her and her husband.

James and Ida’s descendants have remained connected to TCU in several ways. Members of the family have attended the university in Thorp’s Spring, Waco, and Fort Worth. Van Zandt Jarvis (1873-1940), one of the couple’s sons, elected chairman of the Board in 1926 and was very active in the efforts to move TCU to Fort Worth. James and Ida’s granddaughter, Ann Day McDermott (1916-1988) became TCU’s first Special Collections librarian in 1972, and she served in that capacity until she retired in 1981. Mrs. McDermott, daughter of Daniel Beall Jarvis and Martha Lipscomb, compiled a good deal of the Jarvis – Van Zandt Family papers.


9.0 Linear feet

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Ann Day McDermott, Marion Day Mullins, and others.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Mary Couts Burnett Library Repository

TCU Box 298400
2800 S. University Drive
Fort Worth, Texas 76129-0001
Fort Worth Texas 76129
(817) 257-4566
(817) 257-7282 (Fax)