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Obadiah Ethelbert Baker Papers: Finding Aid
mssBaker papers  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical note
  • Scope and Content Note
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Baker, Obadiah Ethelbert Papers
    Date (inclusive): 1859-1923
    Collection Number: mssBaker papers
    Creator: Baker, Obadiah Ethelbert, 1838-1923.
    Extent: Approximately 350 pieces 2 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains the papers of Civil war soldier and teacher Obadiah E. Baker and his wife, Melissa Dalton Baker, of Iowa and, later, Northern California, and their family between the late 1850s and early 1900s. Notably, the collection contains letters kept by Obadiah Baker to his wife, while serving in the 2nd Iowa Cavalry Regiment, which reflect on military operations on the Western front, camp life, and Civil War hospitals and medical care.
    Language: English.

    Access

    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Obadiah Ethelbert Baker Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    The collection was purchased from Argonaut Book Shop in June 1966.

    Biographical note

    Civil War soldier and teacher Obadiah Ethelbert Baker (1838-1923), a native of Eden, New York, moved to Iowa with his parents, settling in Strawberry Point in 1856. At 21, he began teaching a class of 72 students at the local district school. In 1860, he married Melissa Dalton (1844-1918). In 1860s, Melissa, formerly a student of his, taught school in the same district.
    In September 1862, Baker enlisted in the Second Iowa Cavalry Regiment. The regiment was organized at Davenport in August and September 1861 and was posted at Benton Barracks, Missouri until February 1862, when it moved to New Madrid. The regiment took part in the operations at New Madrid, Island No. 10, and the advance on and siege of Corinth, Mississippi, the action at Iuka, the battle of Corinth, Mississippi, Grant's Central Mississippi Campaign, and operations in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee. In 1863, Baker spent several months in various hospitals in Missouri and Tennessee. He was honorably discharged in Washington, D.C., in April 1865.
    After the war Baker taught school in Mississippi and then returned to Iowa. In 1874, the Bakers left Iowa for Shasta County, California. In Shasta and Modoc Counties, Baker taught school and sold farm implements and medicines. In 1900, the Bakers moved to Kenwood, California. Obadiah E. Baker was active in Civil War veteran affairs. Baker died on January 25, 1923.
    Obadiah and Melissa Baker had four children: a son who died in infancy, daughters Grace Amelia (1870-1876) and Caroline Melissa (1866-1896), and son Milo Samuel (1868-1961), a renowned botanist. Between 1881 and 1887, Caroline and Milo attended San Jose Normal School.
    During the Civil War, Baker and his wife exchanged journals containing daily letters to each other. In 1870-1880s, while working on a book of memoirs, Baker made fair copies of some of these letter books.

    Scope and Content Note

    This collection consists of correspondence and individual manuscript volumes of Civil war soldier and teacher Obadiah E. Baker and his wife, Melissa Dalton Baker, of Iowa and Northern California, and their family between the late 1850s and early 1900s.
    Notably, the collection contains daily letters kept by Obadiah and Melissa Baker during the Civil War in the form of journals, which they exchanged with each other. Some of these volumes are fair copies of the letter books made by Obadiah Baker in the 1870s-1880s, while working on a memoir. Topics covered in the letters include military operations of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment on the Western front; camp life of a soldier: payments, foraging; drills and inspections, picket duty roads, recreations, hospitals, medical care; doctors and nurses, especially work of Catholic Sisters of Charity; and Confederate prisoners.
    In addition, there are poems (nearly 200 loose pieces), notebooks, and essays of Obadiah Baker, often reflecting on the Civil War experience and memory in the 1860s-1900s; family correspondence chiefly sent between the Bakers and their children, while the children attended the San Jose Normal School in the 1880s. The correspondence touches on family news, Baker's teaching experience, and, occasionally, business and financial affairs.

    Organization and Arrangement

    This collection consists of correspondence and individual manuscript volumes and is organized in the following manner:
    • Box 1: Civil War journals of Obadiah E. Baker
    • Box 2: Correspondence, manuscripts, and journals of the Baker family

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Subjects

    Baker, Obadiah Ethelbert
    Baker, Melissa Dalton
    Baker family.
    United States. Army Iowa Cavalry Regiment, 2nd (1861-1865)
    Schools - Iowa - 19th century.
    Corinth, Battle of, Corinth, Miss., 1862 -- Personal narratives.
    United States - History - Civil War, 1861 - 1865 - Personal narratives.
    United States - History - Civil War, 1861 - 1865 - Medical care.
    United States - History - Civil War, 1861 - 1865 - Literature and the war.
    Iowa - Social life and customs.
    Mississippi - Description and travel - Civil War, 1861 - 1865.
    Tennessee - Description and travel - Civil War, 1861 - 1865.
    Missouri - Description and travel - Civil War, 1861 - 1865.
    California - Description and travel.
    California - Social life and customs -- 19th century.

    Forms/Genres

    Memoirs -- United States -- 19th century.
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States 19th century.
    Poems -- United States -- 19th century.
    Diaries -- United States -- 19th century.
    Newspaper -- clippings -- United States.
    Photographs -- United States.
    Family papers -- United States.

    Additional Contributors

    Baker, Melissa Dalton