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Aaron S. Oberly Papers


Aaron S. Oberly Papers
Oberly, Aaron
Collection number:
0.25 linear feet (6 items)
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
State of Maryland and Historical Collections
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

This collection includes 6 letters written to and by U.S. Navy Assistant Surgeon Aaron S. Oberly. The majority are "love letters" from Oberly to his future wife, Anna M. (Maria A.) Woodford while he was in Baltimore. In 1863, he served aboard the Union gunboat Kineo and in 1865, the steamer Santiago de Cuba.

Important Information for Users of the Collection

Preferred citation:

Aaron S. Oberly Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Aaron S. Oberly was born in April 1837 in Pennsylvania and died in 1918 in Avon, CT. In 1860, he was a medical student at what is now the Yale School of Medicine and lived in New Haven with the Woodford family. In July 1861, he entered the U.S. Navy as an assistant surgeon. From 1861 to 1863 he served on the Kineo, a navy gunboat that fought Confederate forces along the Mississippi River. In August 1863 the Kineo sailed from New Orleans to Baltimore with two other Union gunboats, the Itasca and the Winona. In 1865, Oberly served on the Santiago de Cuba, a side-wheel steamer that stopped in Norfolk, VA and later Baltimore.

In 1866, Oberly married Anna Maria (Maria A.) Woodford (1844-1941) of New Haven, CT. They had two daughters.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Aaron S. Oberly Papers consist of six letters dating from 1863 and 1865. Five are "love letters" from Oberly to his future wife, Anna M. (Maria A.) Woodford. Among the details he provides, including his affection for Maria, are those of his health, the weather conditions, a train ride from New Haven, CT, to Baltimore, hotels he stayed in, and conditions of the ships and sailors.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information


Processing Information

Processed by:

This collection was processed by Terry Ann Sayler in March 2011

Processing note:

The materials have been placed in acid-free folders and stored in an acid-free box.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Jennie A. Levine.

Arrangement of Collection

The collection is organized into one series.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Correspondence, 1863-1865 (0.25 linear feet (6 items))

Five of the six letters are from Aaron S. Oberly to his "dear friend," Anna M. (Maria A.) Woodford. He served as an assistant surgeon aboard U.S. Navy ships during the Civil War and these letters were written while he was in Baltimore on two different occasions. In August 1863, the Kineo was in Baltimore for repairs after seeing battle in New Orleans. He wrote her it was "in a very dilapidated condition" and as a result he stayed at Sherwood's Hotel. In September 1863, he visited his family in Easton, PA and in his letter of September 27 he wrote her that his father "offered strong inducements for me to resign, to which I fear I shall comply if national affairs present a favorable appearance´┐Ż" In the same letter he mentioned the "draft for U.S. conscripts." He believed that not many of those selected would see war as long as there was the $300 exception. One of his brothers was selected but Oberly thought his poor eyesight would keep him at home.

On February 14, 1865, Oberly returned from visiting Maria in New Haven and stayed at the City Hotel in Baltimore because the weather delayed him reaching the ship in Norfolk. The train ride was cold and many of the passengers smoked which made him uncomfortable. The hotel room was cold also and he saw more snow in Baltimore than he saw on the trip from Connecticut through New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. On March 26, 1865, Oberly wrote Maria that the ship would soon take twenty men and women for a sail and he wondered at "where we will pack them" and if they would be seasick if there was a storm.

The letter to Oberly from the Commodore of the Naval Station, Baltimore, granted him an additional week of leave in September 1863.

Arrangement is alphabetical by last name of correspondent, and then chronological.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
To Aaron S. Oberly from Commodore, Naval Station, Baltimore, MD, September 17, 1863 (Online) series 1box 1folder 1
To Maria A. Woodford from Aaron S. Oberly, August 25, 1863 (Online) series 1box 1folder 2
To Maria A. Woodford from Aaron S. Oberly, September 27, 1863 (Online) series 1box 1folder 3
To Maria A. Woodford from Aaron S. Oberly, October 4, 1863 (Online) series 1box 1folder 4
To Maria A. Woodford from Aaron S. Oberly, February 14, 1865 (Online) series 1box 1folder 5
To Maria A. Woodford from Aaron S. Oberly, March 26, 1865 (Online) series 1box 1folder 6

Related Material

Directory of deceased American physicians, 1804-1929: a genealogical guide to over 149,000 medical practitioners providing brief biographical sketches drawn from the American Medical Association's Deceased physician masterfile. contains a small paragraph about Aaron S. Oberly.

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships Vol. VI contains information about the Santiago de Cuba.

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships Vol. III contains information about the Kineo.

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.


Names (Added Entries)