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Jessa Lauren Seewald (née Duggar) (born November 4, 1992) is the fifth child and third daughter of Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar.

She is the sister of Joshua Duggar, Jana Duggar, John-David Duggar, Jill Dillard, Jinger Vuolo, Joseph Duggar, Josiah Duggar, Joy-Anna Forsyth, Jedidiah Duggar, Jeremiah Duggar, Jason Duggar, James Duggar, Justin Duggar, Jackson Duggar, Johannah Duggar, Jennifer Duggar, Jordyn-Grace Duggar, and Josie Duggar.

She is the wife of Ben Seewald and the mother of their children, Spurgeon, Henry, Ivy, and Fern.

Early life

Jessa as a child

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

As a child, Jessa has said that 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 their mother's advice, Jana gave Jessa her most prized possession - her jewelry box.

Along with her siblings, Jessa was homeschooled growing up. She and her siblings were raised as active participants of Bill Gothard's Institute in Basic Life Principles, and regularly attended the yearly Advanced Training Institute conferences in Big Sandy, Texas. As she grew older, she was given the responsibility of helping her younger siblings with their schoolwork, in addition to doing her own. She took the test to get her GED in 2009, at sixteen years old.

Like most children, Jessa was assigned chores growing up, which the family called "jurisdictions". As of 2009, one of Jessa's jurisdictions was managing the family's computer-based schooling system, on which she was the administrator. As of 2011, Jessa's jurisdictions were organizational work, tutoring Jackson and Johannah, and preparing supper. As of 2014, Jessa's jurisdiction was being the family barber. Jessa was no longer expected to keep up with her jurisdictions after she began her courtship.

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. It is unknown who Jessa's original younger buddy was. By 2009, the family had switched from individual buddies to buddy teams, with each team being led by one of the oldest four daughters. Jessa's buddy team consisted of younger siblings Jeremiah, Justin, and Jordyn-Grace.

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

In 2006, as featured on one of the TV specials, Jessa and her family moved into a new home in Springdale, Arkansas. 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.

In late 2009, after her sister Josie was born premature, Jessa moved with her family into the Cornish House in Little Rock, Arkansas, to be closer to the Arkansas Children's Hospital. Once Josie was able to leave the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Jessa and her family moved back home.

In 2010, Jessa was an extra in 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 is seen in the film attending a young girl's funeral.

Thanks to the reality show, Jessa was able to take a number of vacations as a child and teenager. Notable vacation locations include: Disneyland, New York City, Niagara Falls, Scotland, Ireland, London, Israel, China, and Japan.

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.

Jessa enjoys sewing, interior design, and reading.

Personal life

Courting

Courtship

Jessa met Ben Seewald when he attended her family's church while on vacation in Jessa's hometown. He grew facial hair in an attempt to look older in hopes of impressing her. He soon befriended two of Jessa's younger brothers, Joseph and Josiah. He began working overtime to try to earn extra money to go visit the Duggar family under the guise of visiting Josiah, but would always ask if "the whole family" would be there before visiting. After attending church with the family many times, Ben asked Jessa's father, Jim Bob, for her phone number, and began getting to know her both in person and through text.

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

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.". Shortly after beginning their courtship, Ben moved into the guest house on the Duggar family's property to be closer to Jessa and avoid the 3 ½ hour drive between them. Ben also worked for Jessa's father, Jim Bob, during this time, doing various jobs at Jim Bob's multiple properties.

Engaged

Engagement

On August 13, 2014, Jessa and Ben went out to dinner with their parents, Jim Bob and Michelle and Michael and Guinn, at Marketplace Grill, where they went on their first date. At this dinner, Ben gave Jessa a gift with the instructions not to open it until the next day. When she opened the gift on August 14, 2014, she found a tablet with a prerecorded message from Ben instructing Jessa to head to the plane hangar where her older brother, John-David, would take her on a flight to his hometown, Hot Springs, Arkansas. Once in Hot Springs, John-David gave Jessa the next clue, and her brother, Joseph, drove Jessa and their sister, Jinger, to the next destination. They arrived at mini golf, where the couple went on a double date with Jessa's parents, and she had to score a hole-in-one to get the next clue. 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. After a day-long scavenger hunt, Jessa and Jinger headed to Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where Ben had set up candles and rose petals down the aisle. Ben was at the end of the aisle and he proposed to Jessa, and she said yes. Their engagement was featured on the 19 Kids and Counting episode "Jessa's Engagement".

Just married

Marriage

On November 1, 2014, Jessa married Benjamin Michael Seewald at First Baptist Church in Bentonville, Arkansas. Although Jessa expressed interest in getting married at Thorncrown Chapel, the location was deemed too small for the more than 1,000 guests invited to the wedding. The wedding was officiated by Mike Schadt. Jessa's maid of honor was her sister Jinger. Her bridesmaids were her sisters Jana, Jill, and Joy-Anna, Ben's sisters Jessica, Danielle, and Michelle, and her friends Anna Hackel, Jennifer Hartono, Amara Query, and Peyton Weiss. The flower girls were Jessa's sister Jordyn and Ben's sister Faith. Ben's best man was his friend Dylan McMahan. His groomsmen were his brother Ethan, his cousin Russ Seewald, Jessa's brothers Joseph and Josiah, and his friends Rob Flowers, Jake Hendrix, Kolton Kulis, Daniel Robinson, and Ryan Schofield. The ring bearer was Ben's brother Thomas. Jessa's dress was designed by Allure Bridals and was a blush color. It was purchased at Tesori Bridal 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. Their wedding was featured on the 19 Kids and Counting episode "Jessa's Wedding" and their YouTube channel.

For their honeymoon, Jessa and Ben went to Paris, France, Rome, Italy, and Venice, Italy. Their honeymoon was featured on the 19 Kids and Counting episode "European Honeymoon".

Motherhood

Jessa and Ben have publicly expressed a desire to adopt children on many occasions, and have looked into the possibility of fostering children as well.

Baby Spurgeon

On April 21, 2015, Jessa and Ben announced that they were expecting their first child, due November 1, 2015, their first wedding anniversary. On November 6, 2015, Jessa and Ben announced that their baby was a boy and that he was born after 27 hours of labor at 6:24 p.m. on November 5, 2015, at their home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He weighed 9 pounds and 11 ounces, and was 21 ¼ inches long. Jessa had post-birth hemorrhaging after his delivery and had to be rushed to the hospital. On November 11, 2015, they revealed his name to be Spurgeon Elliot. His birth was featured on the Counting On episode "Counting One More".

Baby Henry

On August 23, 2016, Jessa and Ben announced that they were expecting their second child, due February 2017. On February 6, 2017, Jessa and Ben announced that their baby was a boy and that he was born at 4:26 a.m. on February 6, 2017, at their home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He weighed 8 pounds and 11 ounces, and was 21 ¾ inches long. On February 13, 2017, they revealed his name to be Henry Wilberforce. His birth was featured on the Counting On episode "A New Baby".

Baby Ivy

On January 9, 2019, Jessa and Ben announced that they were expecting their third child, due late Spring 2019. The due date was later revealed to be June 6, 2019. On May 28, 2019, Jessa and Ben announced that their daughter, Ivy Jane, was born at 5:57 p.m. on May 26, 2019, at their home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She weighed 7 pounds and 14 ounces, and was 20 ½ inches long. Jessa had post-birth hemorrhaging after her delivery and was rushed to the hospital. Her birth was featured on the Counting On episode "A Surprise Delivery".

Baby Fern

The couple suffered a miscarriage in 2020, but chose not to publicly speak about it at that time. They mentioned it while announcing their pregnancy with Fern, calling the child a "rainbow baby".

On February 18, 2021, Jessa and Ben announced that they were expecting their fourth child, due Summer 2021. The due date was later revealed to be July 17, 2021. On July 20, 2021, Jessa and Ben announced that their daughter, Fern Elliana, was born at 8:10 p.m. on July 18, 2021, at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She weighed 8 pounds and 5.9 ounces, and was 21 inches long. Her birth was featured on Jessa's YouTube channel.

Career

Author

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

Missionary work

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

Social media

Jessa is often seen on her Instagram stories promoting products from various companies.

Scandal

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. 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 File 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."

On May 18, 2017, Jessa and three of her sisters sued InTouch 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 and that the publicized report caused them "extreme mental anguish and emotional distress". On February 9, 2022, their lawsuit was officially dismissed with prejudice, due to the defendants' qualified immunity and lack of direct proof.

Wedding involvement

Jessa was a bridesmaid at her brother Josh's wedding to Anna Keller on September 26, 2008.

She was a bridesmaid at her parents Jim Bob and Michelle's vow renewal ceremony in 2009.

She was a singer and violinist at her family friend Priscilla Keller's wedding to David Waller on February 4, 2012.

She was a bridesmaid at her sister Jill's wedding to Derick Dillard on June 21, 2014.

She was a bridesmaid at her family friend Amara Query's wedding to Joshua Hulin on September 16, 2016.

She was the matron of honor at her sister Jinger's wedding to Jeremy Vuolo on November 5, 2016.

She was a bridesmaid at her sister Joy's wedding to Austin Forsyth on May 26, 2017.

She was a bridesmaid at her brother Joseph's wedding to Kendra Caldwell on September 8, 2017.

She was a bridesmaid at her sister-in-law Jessica's wedding to Phillips Lester on May 18, 2019.

Gallery

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