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Oglesby Family Papers

Identifier: BC492

Scope and Contents

Oglesby Family Papers, including correspondence, military papers, reports, dispatches, drafts of speeches, petitions, agreements, recommendations, notes, legal documents, tax receipts, business papers and letterpress books concerning Governor Richard J. Oblesby, and his son, Representative and Liutenant Governor John G. Oglesby.


  • Created: 1845-1938
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/1970


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.


32.20 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Richard J. Oglesby, elected governor of Illinois in 1864, 1872 and 1884, appointed to the U.S.Senate in 1873 and his son John G. Oglesby, elected Illinois lieutenant governor in 1908 and 1916,were active in Illinois politics for almost a century. Richard, who was basically self-educated,learned the law and became a lawyer, served in the Mexican War, was a delegate to the WhigConvention in 1852, gave the “railsplitter speech” for Lincoln at the 1860 Republican Convention,and after serving in the Civil War and being severely wounded, he was elected governor of Illinoisin 1864. He was elected to that office again in 1872, but thirteen days into his term, the IllinoisRepublican legislators chose him for the U.S. Senate to replace Lyman Trumbull. He wasineffective in that office and was not re-elected. After serving as governor again from 1885-1889,he retired from politics and stayed at home with his wife in Elkhart, Illinois.John Gillett was the third child born to Richard and, his second wife, Emma Gillett KeaysOglesby. He was born in Decatur, Illinois and attended Harvard for two years until war wasthreatened with Spain. He left school and joined the military, serving as Captain of Troop K, FirstIllinois Cavalry and continued in the militia after the war to obtain the rank of colonel. He servedas private secretary to Governor Richard Yates, Jr., 1901-1904, member of the Illinois House ofRepresentatives, 1905-1908 and was elected lieutenant governor in 1908 and again in 1916. Hecontinued to be active in Republican politics until 1936.

Arrangement Note

The collection is divided into two series. The Richard J. OglesbySeries, 1840-1924, is divided into nine files: I. Correspondence, 1846-1924; II. Speeches, 1863-1887; III. Miscellaneous Papers, 1840-1896; IV. Military Papers, 1861-1864; V. Legals, 1846-1918; VI. Tax Receipts, 1850-1898; VII. Business Papers, 1869-1896; VIII. Bound Volumes,1861-1920; IX. Architectural Drawings of Elkhart House. The John G. Oglesby Series, 1892-1938, is divided into six files: I. Correspondence, 1892-1938; II. State Council of Defense, 1917-1919; III. Subject File, 1898-1936; IV. Published Material; V. Scrapbooks, 1912-1938; VI. BoundVolumes, 1899-1938.Series I: Richard J. OglesbyThe Correspondence File, 1846-1924 (Boxes 1-16) is arranged chronologically and includesletters from the Mexican War, his law office in Decatur, Republican Party conventions andelections, service in the Civil War, his terms as governor and in the Senate, his interests in silvermines and Emma Oglesby’s correspondence from 1895-1924. The Mexican War letters describemilitary operations, camp life and personal interests. There are about 40 letters from the Indiana& Illinois Central Railroad with many signed by the president A. L. Roache. Three letters arefrom Peter Dumont Vroom in September 1855. A subscription list to the Republican Wigwam inDecatur, Illinois in May 1860 and correspondence and accounts regarding the Lincoln rails areincluded.Civil War correspondence covers his service at Forts Henry and Donelson and at Corinth. Itincludes dispatches, telegrams, and reports. Correspondents include Grenville M. Dodge, John C.Fremont, John Wallace Fuller, Ulysses S. Grant, Reuben Hatch, Stephen A. Hurlbut, NathanKimball, John A. McClernand, Joseph B. Plummer, Benjamin Prentiss, Thomas E. G. Ransom,James S. Rearden, Leonard Ross, William T. Sherman, Edwin M. Stanton and William H. L.Wallace. A few documents relate to his tenure as president of the General Court Martial, butinclude a printed copy of the charges against General William A. Hammond and a manuscriptcopy of charges against Abraham C. Hitt.The correspondence of his first term as governor reflects the interests that he proposed thelegislature attend to and much has an anti-Johnson sentiment. There is a January 1866 letter fromJonathan Baldwin Turner opposing the school for soldier’s orphans. Several letters from Oglesbyand Stephen Hurlbut to Andrew Johnson regarding the charges brought against Hurlbut in May1865. Andrew Sherman, a prison commissioner, wrote frequently about progress on the newprison. Letters regarding the improvements on the Illinois River and other waterways areincluded. A letter from Robert G. Ingersoll dated January 22, 1866, expresses his agnostic viewsand a March 1868 letter makes a bid for the Illinois governorship. A twelve page letter fromLeonard Swett, April 26, 1867, argues against state taxation of national banks. Several lettersfrom George Frederick Wright concern his commission to paint portraits of Lincoln for the statecapitol. Other correspondents include Isaac Arnold, Conrad Baker, Ira Batterton, James H.Beveridge, Montgomery Blair, Mason Brayman, Henry Pelham H. Bromwell, John H. Bryant, Ambrose E. Burnside, Salmon P. Chase, SchuylerColfax, Shelby M. Cullom, David Davis, Adele Douglas, T. M. Eddy, Allen C. Fuller, Ulysses S.Grant, B.J.F. Hanna, Isham N. Haynie, Ebon C. Ingersoll, Edward S. Joynes, Gustavus Koerner,Herman Lieb, John A. Logan, Mary S. Logan, Joseph Medill, Oliver P. Morton, John Palmer,Charles H. Ray, John C. Rutherford, Jonathan Young Scammon, Carl Schurz, William T.Sherman, George H. Thomas, Lyman Trumbull, Elihu B. Washburne, John Wentworth and JamesHarrison Wilson.The senatorial election of 1871 and the gubernatorial election of 1872 receive a lot of coverage inaddition to U. S. Grant’s cabinet and administration, John Palmer’s political aspirations, Robert G.Ingersoll’s political demise, reconstruction, banking and national currency, Mexican and Cubanaffairs, improved railroad legislation, Illinois Industrial University, National Lincoln MonumentAssociation and removal of Lincoln to the new tomb, and interstate commerce legislation. Thereare also letters from Sanford Loring and W. B. Jenney regarding Oglesby’s new home.Correspondents for the years 1869-1872 include William K. Ackerman, John H. Addams, MartinBeem, John Lourie Beveridge, Lorenzo Brentano, James B. Brown, George M. Burns, Allan A.Burton, Joseph G. Cannon, William P. Chandler, Robert Clow, Shelby M. Cullom, David Davis (7items), James Dinsmoor, Jesse K. Dubois, Jesse W. Fell, Thomas C. Fletcher, Greenbury L. Fort,Franklin Corwin, Calvin H. Frew, Addison Goodell, John M. Gregory, Ira Harris, Ozias M. Hatch,Jesse S. Hildrup, Thomas J. Henderson, William D. Henderson, Stephen A. Hurlbut, Robert G.Ingersoll (9 items), Charles W. Jenks, Joseph J. Kelly, Lucien H. Kerr, Herman Lieb, John A.Logan, John McNulta, Sylvester S. Mann, Carlile Mason, Joseph Medill, Noyes W. Miner, JesseHale Moore (9 items), Thomas H. Nelson, John M. Palmer (5 items), James Rea, James Shaw,Jarius C. Sheldon, George R. Stowe, E. Talbott, William Thomas, Lyman Trumbull, ElihuWashburne, Lawrence Weldon, Lorenzo D. Whiting, John Williams, and Bluford Wilson.His senatorial correspondence, 1873-1879, consists mainly of requests for jobs and appointments.Some topics are the need for revised railroad legislation in Illinois, repeal of the war tax onbanking, President Grant’s veto on currency bill, Indian affairs, and the appointment of the chiefjustice of Utah. There are a number of letters regarding the 1879 senatorial election.Correspondents include William K. Ackerman, John Addams, Jehu Baker, Moses M. Bane, CarlBergstein, John L. Beveridge, William Black, Newton Booth, Jacob Bunn, George W. Burns,Richard Butler, A. C. Cameron, Joseph G. Cannon, Matthew H. Carpenter, M. H. Chamberlin,Zachariah Chandler, James Dustin Connolly, James L. Crane, Shelby Moore Cullom (9 items),David Davis (4 items), William O. Davis, Charles Devens, Grenville M. Dodge, John M. Douglas,Jesse K. Dubois, James K. Edsall, Jesse Fell, Augustus Hill Garland, John Dean Gillett, HenryGreenbaum, John Milton Gregory, Harriet Haskell, Milton Hay, Jesse S. Hildrup, James E. Hill,Timothy Howe, Stephen Hurlbut, Collis Potter Huntington, Robert Ingersoll (6 items), WilliamJayne, Marshall Jewell, Alba M. Jones, William Pitt Kellogg, Nathan Kimball, John W. King, W.G. Langford, John A. Logan (4 items), Mary Logan, Owen M. Long, John A. McClernand, JohnMcNulta, James W. Marshall, Joseph Medill, Richard Michaelis, William Moffett, Isaac N.Morris, John Newell, Nathaniel Niles, William Penn Nixon, Robert D. Noleman, John A. Palmer,J. W. Powell, Daniel Pratt, Charles Randolph, John P. Reynolds, Thomas S. Ridgway, JohnRinaker, George M. Robeson, James P. Root, George A. Roper, Leonard F. Ross, Edward Rutz, J. Young Scammon, M. Schaeffer, John Sherman,William Henry Smith, John Converse Starkweather, Ziba S. Swan, John Tanner, Lyman Trumbull,Jonathan Baldwin Turner, John P. Van Dorston, Sheridan Wait, Lew Wallace, Horace White,Daniel Wilcox, George H. Williams, John Williams, Bluford Wilson (8 items), Frederick Winesand Willard Woodard.Some correspondence for the years 1879-1884, refers to the national political scene and efforts tonominate Grant for a third term. Oglesby’s time on the board of the Western Mining Company isdocumented with a number of letters from Leadville, Colorado and includes the ConsolidatedGold and Silver Mining Company, Citizens Mining Investment Company, Silver CordCombination Mining Company, Leadville Mining Company and the Rocky Mountain MineDeveloping Company. One letter gives a sketch of a mine shaft in “Oglesby Mountain”.At least 500 letters deal with the 1884 election, where once again Oglesby was a candidate.Correspondents from 1879-1884 include William Boyd Allison, Chester A. Arthur, Smith D.Atkins, Newton Bateman, Wimer Bedford, John Beveridge, Robert Brigham, H. J. Caldwell,William Calhoun, James D. Cameron, Joseph G. Cannon, Eli H. Chandler, Henry T. Chace,Chicago Association of Ex-Union Prisoners of War, Lorin C. Collins, Jr., Shelby Cullom, PhilDallam, David Davis, Richard T. Davis, Samuel Deneen, Henry Dement, Clinton Fisk, CharlesFuller, Frank Gilbert, John Dean Gillett, James Benton Grant, Benjamin H. Grierson, J. SterlingHarper, David Harts, Milton Hay, Willis Hawkins, Jesse Hildrup, Isaac R. Hitt, Illinois StateAssociation of Union Prisoners of War, William Jayne, Merritt Joslyn, James Langley, JosephLawrence, Charles Leffingwell, John A. Logan, Edward C. Lovell, John R. Marshall, William E.Mason, James B. Matlack, Joseph Medill, Hilon A. Parker, Robert Patterson, F. H. Pieper, MaxPolachek, Fitz-John Porter, O. T. Reeves, Francis A. Riddle, John J. Rinaker, Henry Ruger, JohnC. Salter, James Shaw, John Crocker Sherwin, Andrew Shuman, David R. Sparks, Henry H.Spencer, William Stone, Maurice Starne, William Swahlen, John Tanner, James H. Thomas, JohnTillson, John H. Tyler, Edgar Wakeman, Joseph Delos Ward, Elihu B. Washburne, BlufordWilson, Henry Wood, Tingley Wood and Omar H. Wright.The gubernatorial correspondence of 1885-1889 covers issues such as Chicago Lake Frontmatters, quelling the quarry strike at Joliet and Oglesby’s commutation of the death sentence forthe Haymarket conspirators, Samuel Fielden and Michael Schwab. This decision received a floodof letters including two from other condemned conspirators, August Spies and Albert Parsons, onNovember 6 and 8, 1887. Other correspondents include Samuel P. Bates, Fred Bennett, NewtonBooth, William J. Campbell, T. R. Cogswell, William Fessenden, Stuyvesant Fish, Seth Hanchett,Carter Harrison, William Herndon, Henry Hertz, James Hill, William Kerr, H. H. Kohlsaat, A.Lieberknecht, James Magie, Joseph Medill, G. M. Mitchell, Stephen Northrop, P. Bird Price,Hermann Raster, Lorenz Reitz, Leonard Ross, J. Young Scammon, Horace Singer, John C. Smith,William Vocke, Lew Wallace, A. Waterman and Frederick Winston.The correspondence from 1889-1899, covers Oglesby’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 1891 and thenational and state election of 1896. Other topics covered are the erection of the GAR Memorial Hallin Decatur, the need for repairs on the Lincoln Monument, and the fire at his home in Elkhart. There is a March 31, 1891 letter from Gustavus Koernerregarding his compensation for services rendered for the state of Illinois and one letter from R. W. Surlyof the 7th Illinois Cavalry, describing his part in the Benjamin Grierson raid of April-May 1863.Correspondents include George E. Adams, John P. Altgeld, Samuel Ashton, Joseph M. Bailey, James T.Beach, E. B. M. Browne, Charles P. Bryan, James G. Blaine, Jacob Bunn, Clarke E. Carr, Lorin C.Collins Jr., James Austin Connolly, Shelby M. Cullom, Joseph W. Fifer, Stuyvesant Fish, John Gillett,John Brown Gordon, Charles H. Grosvenor, Lynde Harrison, Alex G. Hawes, Robert Roberts Hitt, JohnG. Irwin, W. J. Landram, John C. Lanphier, T. H. Leslie, Robert Todd Lincoln, Celsus P. Link, John A.McClernand, James K. Magie, William E. Mason, Thomas E. Milchrist, James W. Nye, John M. Palmer,Isaac N. Phillips, John I. Rinaker, Chester A. Snider, William K. Sullivan, John R. Tanner, Wheelock G.Veazey, Wilbur F. Wakeman, Hempstead Washburne, Augustus E. Willson and Joseph H. Wood.The Speech File, 1863-1887 (Box 17) is arranged chronologically and contains manuscript draftsof speeches given by Oglesby while campaigning, at conventions, as governor, and at otherorganizations such as the GAR.The Miscellaneous File, 1840-1896 (Boxes 18-18 ½) is arranged chronologically and includesmemoranda, petitions, agreements, recommendations and notes. Also included is the journalOglesby kept on his world tour, with lengthy accounts of his travels.The Military File, 1861-1864 (Boxes 18-19) is arranged chronologically and includes correspondence,general orders, military dispatches, court martial proceedings, consolidated morning reports, assessmentof damages sustained by citizens, list of killed, wounded and missing, list of quartermaster’s stores,roster of commissioned officers, copy books for letters sent and received, telegram record book, orderbook and endorsement books. There are over 100 dispatches signed by General Dodge. GeneralsHurlbut, Fuller and Kimball are also well represented. See also Bound Volume File.The Legal Documents File, 1846-1918 (Boxes 20-21) is organized chronologically and includesa stock certificate in the Great Western Railroad Company, a contract between Oglesby and theIndiana & Illinois Central Railroad Company, papers regarding the I & ICR, mortgages, deeds andestate papers.The Tax Receipts File, 1850-1896 (Box 22) is organized chronologically and consists of tax receipts.The Business Papers File, 1869-1896 (Boxes 23-28) is organized by form of material andincludes receipts, checks, proclamations, petitions, published material regarding anarchists and theHaymarket Riot and news clippings pertaining to business and political stories.The Bound Volume File, 1860-1905 (Volumes 1-18, 23-29) is organized chronologically andincludes letterpress books of Oglesby and Wait, military copybook, military papers sent andreceived, regimental order book, special orders book, telegram record book, endorsements, realestate registry for Woodlawn subdivision, political scrapbooks and check books.. Emma GillettOglesby’s scrapbook includes World’s Fair clippings.The Architectural Drawings File, ca. 1891 (Oversize Mss. 1-8) is organized by level andincludes floor plans for Emma Gillett Oglesby’s home in Elkhart, Illinois. Architects Bullard andBullard drew plans for first and second floors, wood ceiling roof, foundation and sketch of houseplans.Series II: John Gillett OglesbyThe Correspondence File, 1892-1938 (Boxes 29-38) is organized chronologically and includesletters from every aspect of Oglesby’s public career. Some of the subjects discussed are thepassage of the direct primary law, the Cherry Mine Disaster, Senate Bill 233 prohibiting childrenfrom acting on stages in Illinois, the Progressive Republican movement, the Panama-PacificInternational Exposition, the East St. Louis Riot of 1917, the State Council of Defense, the Illinoiscentennial celebration, the Oglesby Monument Commission of 1919, Lowden for presidentcampaign of 1920, Oglesby’s efforts to win the nomination for governor in 1920, the AgricultureBureau of the Republican National Committee and the campaign of 1928, the Illinois RepublicanState Central Committee and the state convention of 1930, affairs of the State AgriculturalConciliatory Committee, and the primary campaign of 1936. Some of the correspondents includePaul Angle, J. Ogden Armour, Edgar Bancroft, Ethyl Barrymore, Florence Fifer Bohrer, Edward J.Brundage, Enrico Caruso, Henry B. Chamberlin, George M. Cohan, Shelby Cullom, V. Y.Dallman, Charles Dawes, Rufus Dawes, Charles Deneen, Edward Dunne, Davis Elkins, Joseph W.Fifer, Milton J. Foreman, Frank Funk, James W. Good, Dwight Green, Logan Hay, J. W.Henninger, Herbert Hoover, Albert Jarvis Hopkins, John P. Hopkins, Henry Horner, Edward J.Hughes, Harold L. Ickes, Samuel Insull, Edward J. Kelly, Otto Kerner, Sam Lederer, JamesHamilton Lewis, William Lorimer, Frank O. Lowden, F. Scott McBride, Medill McCormick,Cyrus H. McCormick, Robert McCormick, Ruth Hanna McCormick, William B. McKinley,Walter H. Newton, Miles Poindexter, Henry Rathbone, Thomas Rees, Amelia Sears, Lawrence Y.Sherman, Len Small, Elbert S. Smith, J. Emil Smith, Lewis G. Stevenson, William J. Stratton,William Hale Thompson, Edward Tilden, Hal Trovillion, Charles H. Wacker, HempsteadWashburne, Jessie Palmer Weber, George Webster, Kate Douglas Wiggins, George A. Zeller, andRichard Yates, Jr.The State Council of Defense File, 1917-1919 (Boxes 38-45) is organized by person and includescorrespondence with Adjutant General Frank S. Dickson; Angus F. Hibbard, Chairman of theMilitary Affairs Committee of Cook County; Samuel Insull, Chairman, State Council of Defenseand David E. Shanahan, Illinois State Speaker of the House of Representatives and member of theMilitary Affairs, State and Local Defense Committee. Other correspondence is arrangedalphabetically. Other files are organized by subject and include home guards, reserve militia,Volunteer Training Corps, Thirty-third Division, applications, reports and the Insull dinner. It alsoincludes some documents, booklets and news clippings.The Subject File, 1898-1936 (Boxes 46-50) is organized alphabetically and includes suchsubjects as St. Marks School, the Spanish American War, Springfield Marine Bank, education,farm debt adjustment, heating system specifications, National Economic League, NationalRecovery Administration, petitions, sample ballots, speeches and bills.The Published Material File (Boxes 51-54) is organized by form of material and includesbroadsides, invitations, passes, news releases, political material, programs, tickets and newsclippings.The Scrapbook File, 1895-1938 (Boxes 55-68) is organized chronologically and includes ascrapbook from St. Mark’s School, family scrapbook and scrapbooks covering campaigns,elections, political news and events from his career and life.The Bound Volumes File, 1899-1938 (Volumes 19-22) is organized chronologically and includesa docket book (justice of the peace) and register of chattel mortgages, news clippings, FelicityOglesby Cenci scrapbook and Oglesby clippings scrapbook.

Appraisal Information

1980, 1986, 1987, 2001, 2006

Separated Materials

Photographs, broadsides, Lincoln and published material transferred out of the collection.
Archon Finding Aid Title
Description rules
Other Unmapped
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collection Repository

112 North Sixth Street
Springfield IL 62701 US
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