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Jessa (Duggar) Seewald is the fifth of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's nineteen children. She is married to Ben Seewald, and they have four children, Spurgeon, Henry, Ivy, and Fern.

Early Life

Jessa right after being born

Jessa Lauren Duggar was born on November 4, 1992, to Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Ruark. She was the couple's fifth child, and they went on to have fourteen more children after her.

As a child, Jessa has said she had quite a headstrong personality. According to her book, Growing Up Duggar, she especially clashed with older sister, Jana. They were forced to share a bunk bed and Jessa would repeatedly kick Jana's bed at night. Under her mother's advice, Jana gave Jessa her most prized possession- her jewelry box. [1]

Jessa with her sister Jinger

Jessa was homeschooled growing up. As she grew older, she was given the responsibility of helping her younger siblings with their schoolwork in addition to doing her own.[2] Jessa took the test for her GED at sixteen years old.[3]

Like most children, Jessa was assigned chores growing up, which the family called "jurisdictions". In 2009, one of Jessa's jurisdictions was managing the family's computer-based schooling system, on which she was the administrator.[4] In 2011, Jessa's jurisdictions were organizational work, tutoring Jackson and Johannah, and preparing supper. Jessa no longer was expected to keep up with her jurisdictions after she began courting Ben Seewald in 2012.

By 2001, Jessa's parents had implemented a buddy system, where each older child was paired with a younger child to take care of. Typical tasks for an older buddy included dressing, bathing, and feeding their younger buddies.[5] By 2009, the family had switched from individual buddies to buddy teams, with each team being led by one of the oldest four daughters.[6] Jessa's buddy team consisted of Jeremiah, Justin, and Jordyn.

Jessa began taking piano lessons from Ruth Anita Anderson, who she and her siblings referred to as "Nana", as a young child.[5] She also took violin lessons.[7] As an adult, Jessa has been seen playing the harp, but it is unknown when she learned to play this instrument.

Jessa was raised as an active participant in Bill Gothard's Institute for Basic Life Principles.

Jessa in 14 Children and Pregnant Again

When Jessa was eleven years old, the first of her family's television specials, 14 Children and Pregnant Again!, aired on Discovery Health Channel. This special was followed by four more special programs about her family's life before the family became the subject of their own regular show, 17 Kids and Counting, on TLC when Jessa was fifteen years old.

In 2006, as featured on one of the TV specials, Jessa and her family moved into a new home in Springdale, AR. The family made a point of doing much of the work on the house themselves, seeing it as a learning opportunity for their children. In this house, Jessa was given a dormitory-style room with her sisters.[8]

As a teenager, Jessa kept her hair long and permed, which she credited to that being her father's preference. Jessa and her sisters gave each other perms at home to keep up this style.

In late 2009, after her sister Josie was born premature, Jessa moved with her family into the Cornish House in Little Rock, AR, to be closer to the NICU. Once Josie was able to leave the hospital and survive on her own, Jessa and her family returned to their home in Springdale, AR.

Jessa as an extra in the film Courageous

In 2010, Jessa was an extra on the film Courageous, which was released on September 30, 2011. Although the entire family was on set, Jessa was one of the only family members to make it into the film's final cut. She was seen as an attendee of a young girl's funeral.


See main article: Josh Duggar molestation scandal

Jessa and Jill on The Kelly Files

On May 19, 2015, InTouch Weekly published a redacted copy of a police report dated December 7, 2006. The report revealed that Jessa's oldest brother, Joshua, had molested five underaged girls, including four of his sisters, in 2002 and 2003.[9] In an interview filmed on May 31, 2015, Jessa named herself as one of the previously unnamed victims. Jessa was fourteen years old at the time of the police interview and ten/eleven years old at the time that the molestations were occurring. During the television interview, which aired on The Kelly Files on June 5, 2015, Jessa said that she was unaware that the molestations had occurred. "I was shocked, like okay this is strange," Jessa stated, "I didn't know, I didn't understand this is what happened." Jessa also strongly defended her brother:

"Well I think in the case of what Josh did, it was very wrong. I'm not going to justify anything that he did or say it was ok, not permissible, but I do want to speak up in his defense against people who are calling him a child molester or a pedophile or a rapist, some people are saying. I'm like that is so overboard and a lie really, I mean people get mad at me for saying that but I can say this because I was one of the victims. So I can speak out and I can say this and set the record straight here. Like in Josh's case, he was a boy, a young boy in puberty and a little too curious about girls. And that got him into to some trouble. And he made some bad choices, but really the extent of it was mild, inappropriate touching, on fully clothed victims, most of it while girls were sleeping."[10]

On May 19, 2017, Jessa and three of her sisters sued In Touch Weekly, Springdale, Arkansas, and Washington County, Arkansas, for breach of privacy. The four women claim that they were promised confidentiality when speaking to investigators in 2006.[11]



Jessa met Ben Seewald when he attended her family's church. Ben befriended her brothers, and as he spent more time around the family he got to know Jessa too.[12]

Jessa with her boyfriend, Ben Seewald

On September 9, 2013, Ben asked Jessa's father, Jim Bob, for permission to court Jessa.[13] Jim Bob gave his permission, and immediately brought Jessa into the room so Ben could ask her too. This courtship proposal, which was featured in the 19KaC episode "Flea Market Finale", gained some national attention, being mocked on some late night talk shows and internet gossip sites for its awkwardness.[14]

Jessa and her sister Jill were courting at the same time, and often went on group dates with their parents

Jessa and Ben set high standards for themselves during their courtship, allowing themselves only limited physical contact. "Jessa and Ben have said that was the only contact they would have," Jessa's mother, Michelle, said of their rules, "when they initially greet each other, when he comes to visit for their first hello, they have a quick 30-second-or-less side hug and a goodbye side hug, and they agreed that would be the only contact they should have."[15]

During their courtship Ben moved into a separate building on the Duggar property to be closer to Jessa and avoid the 3 1/2 hour drive between them. Ben also worked for Jim Bob during this time doing various jobs.


Jessa and Jinger reading a clue on the proposal scavenger hunt

Ben proposed to Jessa on August 4, 2014. The proposal included a scavenger hunt that involved both of their families.

The first step was a dinner the night before with both of their parents where they had their first date. Ben gave Jessa a present that she was not allowed to open until the next day.

The gift was a tablet with a prerecorded message on it, instructing Jessa to go to the plane hangar where her older brother, John David, would fly her to Ben's hometown.

Once in Hot Springs, John David gave Jessa the next clue and another brother, Joseph drove Jessa and sister Jinger to the next destination.

They arrived at mini-golf, where the couple went on a double date with Jessa's parents, and Jessa must score a hole in one to get the next clue.

Ben proposing to Jessa

Jessa then had to collect a dozen roses from strangers in the park, which was specifically designed to get her out of her comfort zone.

The next clue sent them to take a trolley ride where Jessa took a quiz about her relationship with Ben. On the trolley ride, Jessa was presented with a special outfit for her to wear.

The final destination was Thorncrown Chapel, which was lit with candles and has rose petals down the aisle. Ben was at the end of the aisle and where he proposed.[16]

Jessa's wedding to Ben Seewald


Jessa and Ben's wedding took place on November 1, 2014. Jessa's maid of honor was her sister Jinger Duggar. The other bridesmaids were her sisters Jill Dillard and Jana and Joy Duggar, future sisters-in-law Jessica, Danielle, and Michelle Seewald, and friends Mandie Query, Anna Hackel, Peyton Weiss, and Jennifer Hartono. Her brothers Joseph and Josiah Duggar were among the groomsmen. Her flower girls were her sister Jordyn Duggar and her sister-in-law Faith Seewald.

Jessa and Ben leaving a lock on the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris, France

Jessa's dress was designed by Allure Bridals and was a blush color. It was purchased at Tesori in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Notable parts of the wedding were the ice cream sundaes served at the outdoor reception, the couple's exit to the Arkansas Razorbacks fight song, and their decision to leave the sanctuary before their first kiss, which was witnessed only by a photographer.

For their honeymoon, Jessa and Ben went on a tour of Europe, including Paris, France, and Rome and Venice, Italy.


Jessa and Ben shortly after the birth of Spurgeon

On April 21, 2015, the Seewalds announced that they were pregnant with their first child, due on November 1, 2015, their first wedding anniversary.[17] After twenty-seven hours of labor, Jessa gave birth to Spurgeon Elliot on November 5, 2015, in her home.[18] Shortly after, Jessa was rushed to the hospital to be treated for blood loss.

Jessa with her family shortly after the birth of Henry

On August 23, 2016, the Seewalds announced their second pregnancy, due in February[19]. Henry Wilberforce Seewald was born on February 6, 2017. The second labor went much faster than Spurgeon's, and there were no complications.[20]

On January 9, 2019, the Seewalds announced that they were expecting their third child, due in June.[21][22] Ivy Jane Seewald was born on May 26, 2019. She was born at home, weighed 7 pounds and 14 ounces, and was 20.5 inches long.[23]

On February 18, 2021, the Seewalds announced they were expecting their fourth child, due in Summer 2021, following a miscarriage the previous year.[24]

On July 19, 2021, Jessa announced via her youtube channel that the baby had been born. The following day she released a second video revealing the baby's name, gender, and birthday. Fern Elliana Seewald was born July 18, 2021. She weighed 8lbs 5oz and was 21in long.[25]


Author Career

On March 14, 2014, Jessa and her sisters Jana, Jill, and Jinger released their first book, Growing Up Duggar.

Television Appearances

Jessa with her sister Jill in an ad for Counting On

After growing up on the Discovery Health and TLC specials and the show 19 Kids and Counting, Jessa became the subject of her own show in 2015. Jill & Jessa: Counting On focused heavily on Jessa and her sister Jill as they dealt with the fallout from their brother Josh's scandals and moved on with their lives. The show, which was later renamed Counting On when it expanded to feature more of Jessa's siblings, is currently in its third season.

Mission Work

Jessa and her family go on a yearly mission trip to El Salvador the week after Christmas. Jessa also often does missionary-type work in her local community.

Wedding Involvement

Jessa in Josh and Anna's wedding

Jessa has been involved in the following weddings:

  • bridesmaid: her brother Josh Duggar's wedding to Anna Keller (9/26/08)[26]
  • bridesmaid: her parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's vow renewal ceremony (2009)[27]
  • bridesmaid: her sister Jill Duggar's wedding to Derick Dillard (6/21/14)[28]
  • bridesmaid: her friend Amara Query's wedding to Joshua Hulin (9/16/19)[29][30]
  • matron of honor: her sister Jinger Duggar's wedding to Jeremy Vuolo (11/5/16)[31]
  • bridesmaid: her sister Joy Duggar's wedding to Austin Forsyth (5/26/17)[32]
  • bridesmaid: her brother Joseph Duggar's wedding to Kendra Caldwell (9/8/17)[33]
  • bridesmaid: her sister-in-law Jessica Seewald's wedding to Phillips Lester (5/18/19)[34]

profile photo credit


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  6. ↑
  27. "20 Years, 20 Duggars". 18 Kids and Counting. TLC. Silver Spring. 6 Oct. 2009. Television.
  28. "Jill's Wedding". 19 Kids and Counting. TLC. Silver Spring. 28 Oct. 2014. Television.
  32. "Joy's Wedding." Counting On. TLC. Silver Spring. 12 Jun. 2017. Television.