Ira W. Hand is now living retired in Piper City but for many years was closely identified with the farming interests of Ford county. He has made judicious investment in property in Minnesota, from which he derives a good income. Since 1902 he has resided in Piper City and the rest which has come to him is well merited. A native of the Empire state, he was born near the city of Utica in Oneida county, New York, April 1, 1831, his parents being Seth and Irene (Runyan) Hand.
The father was a native of Vermont, born May 20, 1807, but in his boyhood he became a resident of York Mills, Oneida county, New York, and throughout his business career was there engaged as overseer in cotton mills, following that pursuit until his death, which occurred on the 19th of December, 1845. His wife, who was born in New York, December 9, 1810, long survived him, passing away in Herkimer county, that state, in August, 1891, when in her eighty-first year. Three of their children yet survive: Thaddeus, Ira and Charles, while one son, William Harrison, who reached adult age, died in Little Falls, New York.
No event of special importance occurred to vary the routine of life for Ira W. Hand in his early youth. He was, however, but fourteen years of age at the time of his father's death and was then forced to start out in life on his own account. Previous to this time he had attended the public schools to some extent but was largely educated in night schools. His record has always been characterized by intense and well directed activity up to the time when his former successes justified his retirement from business cares. While still living in the east he was married to Miss Harriet Seeber, a native of Montgomery county. New York, and a daughter of David and Lana (Yordon) Seeber, who were of German descent. Both of the grandparents of David Seeber served in the Revolutionary war. The parents of Mrs. Hand spent their last days in Sandwich, De Kalb county, Illinois. Their daughter Harriet was reared in Boonesville, Oneida county, New York, and following their marriage, Which occurred on the 23il of August, 1853, Mr. and Mrs. Hand remained residents of the east for three years, when in 1856 they sought a home in Illinois, settling first in De Kalb county. In the east he had been employed at factory labor and his industry and careful expenditure enabled him to acquire the capital that justified his purchase of a farm on coming to Illinois. He lived in De Kalb county until 1859, when he removed to La Salle county and two years later he purchased and located upon a farm in Livingston county. There he was engaged in carrying on general agricultural pursuits at the time of the outbreak of the Civil war and with deep interest watched llic progress of events in the south.
When it was seen that the northern troops could not achieve victory as easily as it was anticipated and that the war would prove a long continued contest Mr. Hand, with patriotic ardor, responded to the country's call, enlisting on the 12th of August, 1862, as a member of the One Hundred and Twenty-ninth Illinois Infantry under Colonel G. P. Smith. The regiment was sent to Louisville, Kentucky, and assigned to the Tenth Division, R. S. Granger being commander of the brigade. They went in pursuit of Bragg to Crab Orchard, then retreated to Danville, and were sent to garrison Mitchellville, Kentucky, November 21, 1862. They were afterward on guard duty at Fort Thomas, and Gallatin, and in August, 1863, marched to Nashville, where they did guard duty until February 24, 1864. Previous to this, the regiment had been assigned to the First Brigade, Third Division, Twentieth Army Corps, under General Joseph Hooker. On the 3d of May, they started for Atlanta with General Sherman and participated in the battles of Resaca, Buzzard's Roost, Dallas and Peach Tree Creek. Mr. Hand was wounded at Kenesaw Mountain in the left leg. The ball passed through the leg and lodged in his pocket-book and this piece of lead he yet has in his possession. The wound proved quite serious and he was confined in the hospital until the 24th of June, when he was sent back to Chattanooga, and afterward to the Cumberland Hospital in Nashville. By the neglect of the surgeon, gangrene set in and his sufferings were intense. His father-in-law came for him and he returned home, just two years from the day of his enlistment. He received his discharge January 28, 1865. He might have had a position as captain of a colored regiment but determined to remain with the regiment in which he had enlisted. They marched to the front with nine hundred and twenty-seven and returned with less than two hundred, some being killed and others transferred.
The war having ended, Mr. Hand returned to his home wnth a most creditable military record. He was still suffering from his injuries and was yet on crutches when he resumed farm work in La Salle county, where lu; remained until 1872. That year witnessed his arrival in Ford county, where he has since remained. Here he purchased eighty acres of land and at once began the further development and improvement of his farm, bringing his fields under a high state of cultivation, while upon the place he put up substantial buildings affording ample shelter for grain, stock and farm machinery. Everything about the place indicated his careful supervision and for about thirty years he successfully carried on general agricultural pursuits. In 1902, however, he put aside the more active work of the fields and removed to Piper City, erecting a pleasant and attractive residence of eight rooms at the corner of Walnut and Pine streets, where he has since lived. He is now enjoying well earned rest and derives a good income from property in Minnesota. After selling his farm in Pella township he went to Minnesota with his sons, David and Warren, and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land three miles north of Staples, which property he still owns.
Mr. and Mrs. Hand are the parents of Cora, a native of New York, who was married November 29, !1877, to Jacob L. Miller, who lived for a time in Pella township and now resides at Staples, Minnesota. David S., who was born in La Salle county, was married February 15, 1882, to Minnie McLean and was at one time a resident of Seward county, Nebraska, but is now at Staples. Warren, born in La Salle county, was married on Christmas day of 1888 to Cora A. Serine in Randalia, Iowa, and is now living in Hawkeye, Iowa. William, born in De Kalb county, was married February 28, 1890, to Miss Edith Geary and is likewise a resident of Staples, Minnesota. Curtis J., who was born in Livingston county, Illinois, and is also located at Staples, married Virginia Thompson, who died February 24, 1892. Alma I., who was born in Livingston county, and Lewis S., a native of Ford county, are both at home. Mr. and Mrs. Hand also lost their firstborn, who was a native of De Kalb county, Illinois, and died in Livingston county, April 7, 1866, at the age of nine years. The children were provided with good educational privileges and the sons have followed in the political footsteps of the father, being stalwart advocates of the republican party.
Mr. Hand has long been recognized as one of the stalwart champions of republican principles in Ford county. While in Pella township he was made clerk of the board of drainage commissioners and acted with that board during the construction of all three districts. He justly claims the best drainage record of any man in the United States. He and Charles A. Cook worked together on this board for many years. He labored untiringly for the development of the county through an improved system of drainage and although his work was opposed by many men of wealth and numerous injunctions were served on him, he was victorious in the courts, his course being sustained by the United States courts at Springfield. There is perhaps no other agency which has contributed so largely to the welfare of the county as has the drainage work, whereby many acres of swamp land have been reclaimed and converted into fields of rich fertility. Mr. Hand has frequently served as a delegate to county and state conventions of his party and in 1887 was policeman in the capitol during the thirty-fifth general assembly. For fifteen years he was a director of the Brenton & Pella Fire Insurance Company and he has always been deeply interested in every movement and measure tending to benefit the community at large and promote its wonderful development. Both he and his wife are members of the Methodist church, with which they have long been identified, and of the Grand Army Post at Piper City Mr. Hand is a prominent representative. He thus maintains pleasant relations with his old army comrades and for some years he served as chaplain of the post and was also adjutant and commander. He was likewise treasurer of the Fair Association of the county for a number of years and no practical, progressive movement in the county has failed to elicit his endorsement and in many instances his active cooperation. Starting out in life on his own account when but fourteen years of age, denied many of the advantages which many boys receive through inheritance, he nevertheless possessed the strength of character that enabled him to overcome difficulties and obstacles and to work his way steadily upward to a position of affluence. He is now comfortably situated in life and moreover he commands the respect and trust of all with whom he has been brought in contact.

Extracted 16 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 601-605.

Templates in Time