Jacob Sheets (1828-98) and his family moved from Shenandoah County, Va., to Vermillion (now Vermilion), Edgar County, Ill., during the 1850s. Jacob and his wife, Edith, had four children: George, Sarah (Sallie), Elizabeth (Lizzie), and Clarence. Jacob's occupation was a blacksmith, but he also traveled extensively in southern Illinois and Indiana as a minister of the United Brethren Church. He was drafted into Co. H, 34th Ill. Vol. Inf., and served from Mar. 23 to July 12, 1865. During the late 1880s Jacob and Edith returned to Shenandoah County.
This collection contains Sheets family correspondence, including letters between Jacob and Edith while he was in the army and on the church circuit. Edith exchanged frequent letters with family members in Virginia and Indiana, including references to the weather, crops, prices, religion, family matters, and hardships and destruction from the war. In addition, Jacob corresponded with people associated with the Church, discussing membership, finances, and religious beliefs. The collection also contains correspondence of the Sheets children and of relatives and friends.
Helen Russell of Urbana, Ill., widow of James Russell, donated the collection to the Library in 1987. Mrs. Karl Zander of Paris, Ill., added several items to the collection, also in 1987.