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Tobe Turpen Collection, 1939.


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Turpen, Tobe
Collection NameTobe Turpen Collection,
Inclusive Dates: 1939.
Physical Description11 Black and White Photos and Negatives.
Abstract Photographs of Tobe Turpen, including pictures of the Tobe Turpens Trading Post.
Collection NumberNAU.PH.2000.72
Language English.
Repository Cline Library. Special Collections and Archives Department.
Northern Arizona University
Box 6022
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-6022
Phone: 928 523 5551
Fax: 928 523 3770

Biographical Note

Tobe Turpen began trading in 1908 at the age of 11, when he came west from Texas to work at a Shonto trading post owned by his brother-in-law, C.D. Richardson. Tobe's Sister, Mrs. Trula Richardson, brought young Tobe to learn the trading business. During that time, he learned the Navajo language and became experienced in trading.

Tobe then joined the Navy and entered World War I. Upon his return, Tobe Turpen married Irene Harris and returned to Shonto were he worked in Richardson's Leupp and Blue Canyon trading posts.. He then was hired by a famous trader named McAdams, and moved to Gallup in the late 1920's. Tobe Turpen also worked in the curio department for Gross-Kelly where he traded jewelry, pottery and rugs with the Native Americans for supplies and goods.

In 1939, Tobe Turpen occupied the J.L. Hubbell building located on North Third Street, and owned by Lorenzo and Roman Hubbell. In 1923, Tobe and Irene Turpen's son Tobe Jr. was born in Flagstaff, Arizona. Tobe Turpen Jr. enlisted in the Navy and did his service during World War II, and returned from service in 1946 to work with his father. In 1954, Tobe Turpen Jr. bought the store from his father, who then moved to Albuquerque to operate an Indian jewelry and a cattle ranching business. In 1966, due to the construction of the Highway Interstate 40, the Tobe Turpen's Trading Post was moved south of Gallup,. The store is still in the current location of South Second Street.

Tobe Turpen Jr. continued the trading tradition and due to the popularity of Native American jewelry in the 1960's was very successful. After the explosion of sales in Native American jewelry, Jim Turpen, Tobe's cousin became the general manager in 1973 till he retired in 1994. Tobe Turpen Jr. moved to Albquerque to partially retire from trading, however the store is still operating today.

Scope and Content Note

Views include: Tobe Turpen Trading Post in Gallup, N.M. (formerly J.L. Hubbell Trading Post) and interior and exterior images of trading post. Individuals photographed include Frannie Etsitty, Edison "Skippy" Etsitty, Navajo Customers, Tobe and Mollie Turpen, Tobe Turpen Sr. with baby in cradle, Sheepskins Grandson, and Sheepherders.


Organized in 3 folders.
I. Tobe Turpen and Trading Post, 1939.
II. Tobe Turpen outside settings, 1939.
III. Color picture of Trading Post, n.d.





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Related Material

Cline Library. Special Collections and Archives Department. Digital Exhibit- "Traders: Voices from the Trading Post". Tobe Turpen Oral History [NAU.OH.75.27].

Administrative Information

Credit Line

Tobe Turpen Collection, NAU.PH.2000.72, Cline Library. Special Collections and Archives Dept.

Container List

Series 1, Tobe Turpen and Trading Post, 1939.
1.1 (NAU.PH.2000.72.1.1-6): Tobe Turpen and Trading Post, 1939.
1.2 (NAU.PH.2000.72.2.1-4): Tobe Turpen outside settings, 1939.
1.3 (NAU.PH.2000.3.1): Color photo of Trading Post, n.d.