John Hammet (1795-1834) emigrated from Cork County, Ireland, to Virginia in 1816. From 1818 to 1826, he worked as an overseer in Montgomery County, Va., for General John Preston, an influential politician and member of southwest Virginia's leading family. Five of Hammet's relatives followed him to Virginia between 1816 and 1830. One, half-brother William Hammet (1799-1861), became chaplain of the University of Virginia and later a Mississippi congressman. In 1826, John Hammet moved to Bourbon County, Ky., as a partner of James McDowell, who later served as governor of Virginia. In 1828, Hammet moved to Illinois, followed by several relatives.
In 1886, Hammet's granddaughter Virginia married Arthur Newell Talbot (1857-1942). Talbot was the grandson of George Newell (1795-1878), an English immigrant farmer who settled in Illinois in 1851. In 1881, Talbot graduated from the Illinois Industrial University with a degree in civil engineering. After working for several western railroad companies, he joined the faculty of his alma mater in 1885, where he remained until 1926. Talbot's daughter, Dorothy, married Warren Franklin Goodell (1899-1965), a member of one of central Illinois' most important commercial families.
The Hammet-Talbot-Goodell Papers contain a wealth of information on the states of Virginia, Kentucky, and Illinois. Notable correspondents include James McDowell, James Preston, John Preston, and William R. Preston. Topics discussed include agricultural practices in the free and slave states, brewing and distilling on the frontier, family life, Illinois Industrial University, milling, political issues from Virginia's 1830 constitutional convention to World War I, railroads, religion, and teaching. Several of John Hammet's letters describe how slavery was practiced in the mountain South. The collection is important especially to historians of nineteenth-century America researching Appalachia, early Illinois, industrialization, and the South.
The collection came to the Library in installments, beginning in 1978. Inventory (4 pages) and item lists.