Joseph Hand, a relatively prosperous farmer in Yoxall, Staffordshire, England (about 25 miles north of Birmingham), emigrated to Illinois with his wife and children in 1845. His wife, Sarah Shipton Hand, died at sea en route. He bought land at Paddock's Grove, Madison County, and in a few years added adjacent land straddling the county line into Bunker Hill, Macoupin County. Upon his death, Joseph's daughter Sarah A. Hand (1819-1906) took over management of the farm. Sarah's brothers, Joseph, Richard, George, and John settled in the area. Their sister Mary (1825-91) married (1851) William Cruickshank[s] (1816-98), who was born in Montrose, Forfarshire, Scotland. Their other sister, Ann Wilson, remained in England with her husband, William Wilson, a blacksmith.
This collection contains family correspondence, county tax records and receipts, and auction records. The correspondence illustrates the lives of working and middling rural English people, and includes Ann's letters to Illinois, concerning family in England; several letters from Sarah's fellow servants at Coton Hall, a manor where she worked in 1843; four letters from Samuel or Mary Harding, a sister of Sarah Hand, brimming with the evangelical spirit of the 1830s; and two letters by Rev. H. Price seething with despair at England's political and social condition in the 1840s.
The county tax records (1845-1903, 1905), kept by Joseph, and then Sarah, provide a good picture of the evolution of the types of taxes levied and the forms used in two adjoining Illinois counties. Tax receipts of an in-law, Scott Mize, of Dorchester, Macoupin County, are also included. In addition, there are also an auctioneer's broadsides and reports from two pre-departure sales in Yoxall, and many small financial notes from Illinois, as Joseph Hand retained some investments in England until about 1857.
In 2004, Joseph Hand's great-great-grandson, Robert M. Sutton, for Mary Hand Cruickshank, donated the collection to the Illinois Historical Survey. It was inventoried by James Cornelius, who transcribed several letters.