Oblinger Letters

The Uriah W. Oblinger Collection, donated to the Nebraska State Historical Society in 1958, includes 318 letters (1862-1911). At the heart of this correspondence lies the story of land and its settlement, of Uriah’s lifelong attempts to settle on a farm of his own. Principal writers include Uriah, Mattie Thomas (Uriah’s first wife), Giles Thomas (Mattieís brother), Laura Bacon (Uriah’s second wife), and the Oblinger children.

Uriah W. Oblinger was born May 14, 1842, in Ohio. The family moved to Indiana in 1843. His first wife was Martha Virginia “Mattie” Thomas. During Uriah’s service in the Civil War, he corresponded with Mattie as did Giles Thomas, her brother. A number of letters survive from this period.

Mattie and Uriah were married on March 25, 1869. In the fall of 1872, Uriah and two of his wife’s brothers, Giles and Samuel Thomas, settled on homesteads in Fillmore County, Nebraska. Uriah’s letters between September 1872 and May 1873, when Mattie joined him in Nebraska, paint a vivid picture of the homesteading experience. After Mattie died in February 1880, Uriah returned to Minnesota. On October 30, 1881, he married Laura Iona Bacon and in 1883, returned to Nebraska and rented a farm about a mile and a half south of his original homestead.

By April 1886 the Oblinger family had moved to Gove County, Kansas. Laura broke her arm in January 1887, and went to her parents’ home in Minnesota for treatment. Many letters survive from this period. Laura returned to Gove County in 1887. By the spring of 1891 the Oblingers were living on a rented farm near Wheatland, Missouri, where they stayed until 1894.

After the Missouri venture failed, Uriah rented a farm near Danbury, Red Willow County, Nebraska, where his oldest daughter farmed with her family. Laura and the younger children joined him there, but Laura spent the winter of 1895-96 with her parents in San Francisco. She returned to Nebraska during the spring and summer of 1896 but returned to San Francisco permanently that winter. Letters are sparse from later years, but show that despite setbacks Uriah maintained a basic optimism. By 1900, however, his health was deteriorating. He died on March 27, 1901.

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast.

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.