Passionate collector of Lincolniana

Osborn H. Oldroyd.
The Lincoln Memorial: Album Immortelles.
New York, 1883.

Sergeant Osborn Oldroyd, whose initials spell OHIO, was only nineteen years old when he enlisted with the 20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He joined the Union Army at Camp Chase, Ohio, on October 15, 1861, and was mustered out of the same camp on July 19, 1865. During the years he spent in the Union Army, he recorded historical data as well as personal observations of the war. His book, A Soldier’s Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, published in 1885, gives a sixty-five day account of the Vicksburg Campaign.

Following the war, Oldroyd returned to Ohio where he was Steward of the National Soldiers’ Home in Dayton, Ohio. During this time, Oldroyd began to actively pursue a hobby that he had begun as early as 1860, collecting Abraham Lincoln memorabilia. What started as a simple hobby eventually turned into an all-consuming passion. The volume shown here was published to promote this collecting.

Oldroyd and his family moved to Springfield, Illinois, and soon rented the home of President Lincoln. In 1884, he turned the home into The Lincoln Museum, charging the public to view the Oldroyd Lincoln Memorial Collection. The museum was a successful venture and his collection continued to grow in size. In 1893, after the Lincoln home was donated to the State of Illinois, he moved his mammoth collection to Washington, D. C.—to the Petersen House where Abraham Lincoln died. With the permission of the government, Oldroyd and his family lived in this home rent-free. The price for viewing his Lincoln memorabilia was twenty-five cents. In 1917, he wrote and published The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, detailing the murder and death of his hero. Overnight, the book became one of the best sellers of the time. In 1925, in failing health, Oldroyd sold his entire collection of Lincoln memorabilia, including rare books, photographs, mementos, and Lincoln’s original furniture, to the government. After years of offers and counter-offers, the government finally purchased the entire collection for the sum of $50,000.

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