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Thomas M. Terrill papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0690

Scope and Content

This collection (1871-1994, undated) contains the diaries of Thomas M. Terrill and related papers. The diaries span the years 1871 through 1912, lacking only the diary for 1883, and record Thomas's daily activities on his farm with occasional entries documenting family life. Published transcripts of the diaries completed by granddaughter Lois Terrill Mueller are included in the collection as is genealogical information on the Terrill family compiled by Audrey MacLellan, another granddaughter. The family genealogy is presented in the manuscript "Thomas Terrill of Iowa, 1850-1912; Some Ancestors and His Descendants." There are also several miscellaneous diaries with notes by Thomas, including one that has diary entries copied from his brother Daniel's diary from the years 1865-1869. Two pocket bibles acquired by Thomas are also included in the collection.


  • 1871-1994, undated


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Thomas Milton Terrill was born in Ohio County, Virginia, on May 18, 1850, the son of Daniel and Tabitha Hemphill Terrill. In 1853 the family moved to Cedar County, Iowa, where they started a farming operation on land purchased by Tabitha's grandfather Hemphill. Thomas's father passed away that same year and Thomas and his brothers were left orphans when their mother died in 1861. At the age of eleven, Thomas was a ward of the county and "bound out" to the John Blaylock family, which subsequently moved to Keokuk County, Iowa.

At the age of twenty-one, Thomas started recording in his diaries and continued to do so for the next forty-two years. He moved to Grand Junction in Greene County, Iowa, and while looking for land started working for James Thompson. Thomas eventually acquired land from Mr. Thompson in Washington township (Greene County, Iowa).

Thomas married Lydia Maria Hill on November 6, 1879. Thomas met Lydia through his friendship with the Thompson family. Together they had seven children who survived to adulthood: Katharine May, Otis Wallace, Geneva Isabelle, William Daniel, Clinton Albert, Thomas Emery, and Enolia Hemphill. They also had one daughter who only survived for three days past birth.

Farming occupied most of Thomas's attention, and much of the diaries is devoted to recording daily activities on the farm. In his later years, Thomas managed to travel, and these trips are also recorded in the diaries. On September 22, 1912, he passed away while visiting one of his daughters in Spokane, Washington.

Though Thomas never had the opportunity to attend college, he would be proud to know that many of his descendants took advantage of furthering their education including at least 20 descendents (as of 2007) who have graduated from Iowa State University.


3.15 Linear Feet (7 document boxes and 1 half-document box)


The collection is organized Alphabetically.

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

MS-0690. Thomas M. Terrill papers, 1871-1994, undated
December 12, 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672