Guide to the Tannatt Family Papers 1813-1919
Cage 65

Summary Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Tannatt Family
Tannatt Family Papers
Cage 65
Date [inclusive]
1000.0 items.
General Physical Description note
5.5 linear feet of shelf space.
Correspondence, diaries, photographs, drafts and certificates re: General Thomas R. Tannatt's Civil War service, mining in Colorado, and as representative of the Villard railroad interests in Walla Walla, orchardist at Farmington, and Washington State University Regent. Elizabeth Tappan Tannatt's activities as a student in Boston, army wife, historian and essayist; E. Tappan Tannatt's employment as a civil engineer on irrigation and railroad projects in Hawaii and irrigation projects in Washington and Montana; and Miriam Tannatt's activities as a student in Walla Walla and librarian at Washington State University.

Preferred Citation note

[Item Description]. Cage 65, Tannatt Family Papers. Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

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Biographical/Historical note

The principal members of the Tannatt family were Thomas Redding Tannatt (1853-1913), Elizabeth Tappan Tannatt (b. 1837), Eben Tappan Tannatt (1864-1952), and Miriam (Minnie) Tannatt (b. 1866).

Thomas R. Tannatt graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1858 and rose to the rank of Brevet-General in the United States Army in 1864. A civil engineer by profession, Tannatt was the manager of several Colorado mines in the years after the Civil War, but was unable to continue strenuous activities because of a war disability. He returned to the East and became associated with the Henry Villard financial and railroad interests. As the manager of the Villard-owned Oregon Improvement Company, Tannatt located in Walla Walla in the later 1870's, where he managed the moves which blocked the extension of the Northern Pacific to the Pacific Coast. He was also the general land agent for development of railroad lands of the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Co. Tannatt was mayor of Walla Walla for two terms in the early 1880s and was a contender for appointment as Territorial Governor in 1885. Recurring health problems forced Tannatt into semi-retirement in 1887 and he moved to Farmington, Washington, a town he had earlier platted. There he was an orchardist, land developer, hardware merchant (with a store at Palouse) and silent partner in a brick works in Spokane. He was also a Regent of Washington State University from 1893-1901.

T. R. Tannatt's wife, Elizabeth Tappan Tannatt, attended Charleston Female Academy in Boston during the 1850s. She followed her husband to Dakota Territory in 1859 and around the Kentucky and Virginia battlefields of the Civil War. Later in Washington State she became active in women's suffrage and temperance movements. She was an active figure in the Spokane Daughters of the American Revolution and lead its efforts to place a monument marking the Steptoe expedition of 1858.

General Tannatt's son, Eben Tappan Tannatt, studied engineering briefly in the early 1880s at the University of Illinois and then went west to be associated with his father's land development interests. He returned to engineering school in the 1890s at Washington State University (then, Washington Agriculture College) and was a member of the second graduating class. He was an officer in a Volunteer Engineer Company in the Spanish-American War and mustered out at Hawaii. There he worked for several years as a civil engineer on irrigation and street railroad projects. He returned to the continental United States in 1905 and took a teaching position at Montana State University at Missoula, which he shortly left to become a consulting engineer and civil works contractor.

E. Tappan Tannatt's sister Miriam attended Whitman College Academy and held a variety of positions, one of which was as a librarian at Washington State University in the later 1890s. She married Dr. Cyrus Merriam in 1905 in Spokane.

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Scope and Contents note

The Tannatt family papers consist of correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks and photographs. The correspondence is principally that between Thomas R. Tannatt and his wife and other members of the family. Some of Tannatt's business correspondence is also included. The correspondence of E. Tappan Tannatt and Miriam Tannatt consists of letters to their parents. Additionally, the collection contains some letters from Mrs. Tannatt's family, especially William Hooper, businessman and United States Consul at Hawaii in the 1840s and 1850s. Diaries of all four Tannatt family members are found in the collection, with Elizabeth Tannatt's making up the major portion. Mrs. Tannatt's diaries are especially complete for her collegiate years and the early years of the Civil War. The scrapbooks in the collection contain a miscellany of materials, of which one prominent persons as Kit Carlson and Andrew Johnson. Some of the scrapbooks are made up by pastings in letterbooks from General Tannatt's mining years; in these the correspondence is partially obliterated by the pastings. The photographs in the collection are primarily of E. Tappan Tannatt's activities as a civil engineer in Hawaii and Montana, although a number of portraits of the various Tannatts are also included.

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Arrangement note

The papers are arranged into six series which segregate the various types of materials: Correspondence; Diaries and journals; Scrapbooks, letterbooks, and clippings; Literary and historical materials; Diplomas, certificates, legal documents, souvenirs, and maps; and Photographs. Within each series, the correspondence, diaries, and photographs, are arranged by principle correspondent, diarist, or subject.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries © 1956
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open for research use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The Tannatt Family papers were donated to the Washington State University Library in two installments: the first by Mrs. Richard Stolz in 1941 and the second by E. Tappan Tannatt in 1951.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • University of Washington. Board of Regents

Family Name(s)

  • Tannatt family--Archives

Geographic Name(s)

  • Farmington (Wash.)--History--Sources
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Diaries

Personal Name(s)

  • Hooper, William
  • Merriam, Cyrus Knapp, b. 1848
  • Stolz, Richard M., Mrs., donor. WaPS
  • Tannatt, Eden Tappan, 1864-1952
  • Tannatt, Elizabeth Foster Tappan, b. 1837
  • Tannatt, Thomas Redding, 1833-1913


  • Diaries
  • Mines and Mineral Resources
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Washington (State)

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Accession file and container lists 1941-1956   23

1 a


Box Folder

Correspondence of Thomas R. and Elizabeth Tannatt 1854-1916   300

1 1-2

Correspondence of Miriam (Minnie) Tannatt 1880-1914   13

1 3

Correspondence of E. Tappan Tannatt 1880-1914   70

2 4

Correspondence of William Hooper 1833-1865   8

2 5

Correspondence of Tannatts, Tappans and associates of T. R. and Elizabeth Tannatt ca 1850-ca 1914   35

2 6

Correspondence of Cyrus K. Merriam and family 1843-1914   13

2 7

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Diaries and journals 

Box Folder

Diaries of Thomas R. Tannatt 1856-1913   16

3 8

Diaries of Miriam (Minnie) Tannatt Marriam 1880-1914   8

3 9

Journal of E. Tappan Tannatt ca 1890   1

3 10

Diaries of Elizabeth Tappan Tannatt 1854-ca 1919   35

4 11

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Scrapbooks, letterbooks, and clippings 

Box Folder

Letterbooks of Thomas R. Tannatt (with Mrs. Tannatt's scrapbook items pasted in). ca 1875   3

5 12-14

Elizabeth Tannatt scrapbook ca 1880-ca 1910   8

6-7 15-22

Autograph book of Elizabeth Tannatt ca 1860   1

6-7 23

Clippings ca 1880-ca 1914   100

6-7 24

Ledger book with records of T. R. Tannatt Estate ca 1914-1919   1

6-7 25

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Literary and historical materials 

Box Folder

Drafts of Elizabeth Tannatt's writings and reminiscences ca 1900-1910   20

8 26

Diplomas, certificates, legal documents, souvenirs, and maps 

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Diplomas, certificates, legal documents, souvenirs 1814-ca 1919   100

Box Folder

Plat maps of Farmington ca 1910   10

8 oversize

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Box Folder

Photographs of Thomas R. Tannatt ca 1880-ca 1912   10

9 29

Tannatt and Tappan Family photos, and other prominent persons.   50

9 30-31

Pencil drawings, sketches, copies.   10

9 32

E. Tappan Tannatt personal and family photographs.   40

9 33-34

Photographs of Hawaii, irrigation and railroad construction, and some agricultural operations.   250.0 folio volumes

10 35

Photographs of civil works projects of E. Tappan Tannatt in Hawaii, Montana and Washington.   3

10 36-38

Photographs of Farmington, Spokane, Tannatt's orchards, Indian woman and infant, and pencil drawing of Maria Potacka.   5

oversize map cases 39

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