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RG0830.AM:  Orsamus Charles Dake, 1832-1875

Papers:  1845-1902

Omaha, Douglas County; and Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska:  Episcopal minister, educator, poet

Size:  1.0 cu.ft.; 2 boxes


Orsamus Charles Dake was born in Portage, Livingston County, New York on January 19, 1832. He graduated from Madison University in Hamilton, New York in 1849. Dake moved to Illinois, where in 1853 he married Amanda Catherine Eaton of Edwardsville. In 1859, the Dakes moved westward to Lincoln, Illinois where Dake edited a pro-Lincoln newspaper, the Lincoln Herald. After a year and a half at this position, he worked briefly in Washington, D.C. as a clerk in the Census Bureau, Department of the Interior. During these years, he had studied for the Holy Orders and in 1862 was ordained in Omaha at Trinity Church (later Trinity Cathedral) by Bishop Talbot. Dake and his family remained in Omaha for a year. In 1863, he opened Brownell Hall, an Episcopal school for young girls. The Dakes again moved in 1865 to Fremont where he organized St. James’ church. He also help found Fremont College in 1869 and served on the original Board of Trustees. The family remained in Fremont until 1872, when Dake accepted the chair of Belles Lettres at the University of Nebraska. He became the first faculty member to publish a book when in 1871 his volume of poetry, Nebraska Legends and Other Poems,was published. He published second volume of poetry, Midland Poems, in 1873. Orsamus Dake died suddenly Oct. 18, 1875 of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 43.


The Orsamus C. Dake collection is arranged in six series: 1) General Correspondence, 1858-1878; 2) Diaries, 1857, 1869 and undated; 3) Manuscripts 1866-1870, undated; 4) Legal papers, 1866-1902; 5) Printed Matter; and 6) Miscellany, 1863-1875. The papers span the years from 1857 to 1902. The collection relates to Dake’s career as an editor, Episcopal minister, professor at the University of Nebraska, and poet.

Series 1 contains letters relating to his career as a newspaper editor in Lincoln, Illinois, the establishment of Brownell Hall and his ministerial work in Omaha and Fremont, along with an account of his appointment to and early impressions of the University of Nebraska. The diaries in Series 2 give brief accounts of Dake’s newspaper work, his stint as a clerk in Washington, and the start of his ministerial career in Fremont. Series 3 contains Sermons, drafts of his poetry, and recollections of Dake written after his death in 1875. Several of these were written by Dake’s daughter, one by his granddaughter, and another was written by a former student. Land deeds, tax receipts, Dake’s last will and testament and incorporation records of Fremont College and Episcopal Church in Fremont are included in Series 4. The last two series contain a family Bible, several books and other miscellaneous papers of Reverend Dake.

See the photo component (RG0830.PH) for photographs.


Series 1 – General Correspondence, 1858-1878

Box 1


  1. 1858-1861 [Photocopies]

  2. 1862-1865

  3. 1867-1871; 1873

  4. 1875-1876; 1878

Series 2 – Diaries, 1845, 1869, n.d.

  1. 1845-1869; photocopy of the diary of a horseback trip from New York to Illinois, 1853

Series 3 – Manuscripts, 1866-1870, n.d.

  1. Sermons, 1866-1870, undated

  2. Poems and essays, undated

  3. Recollections of O.C. Dake

Series 4 – Legal Papers, 1866-1902

Box 2


  1. Land Deeds, 1866-1902

  2. Tax Statements, 1868-1899

  3. Fremont College papers of incorporation, 1869

  4. Fremont Episcopal Church papers election of church officers 1869; tax receipt 1886

  5. Will and Testament, 1869

Series 5 – Printed Matter

  1. Dake Family Bible, psalm book, incomplete book of novels

Series 6 – Miscellany

  1. Ordination certificate, 1862; Copyright notice, 1873

  2. Church Bulletin, 1875; Contents of small wallet, receipts and clippings calling cards, ads for magazine subscription, undated


Subject headings:

Dake, Orsamus Charles, 1832-1875

Episcopal Church — Nebraska — Fremont

Fremont College (Fremont, Nebraska)

Love, Anna Margaret (Dake)

Nebraska University


Revised TMM       04-19-2007