Skip to main content

Lamb Family Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Lamb

Scope and Content of the Collection

Small archive of a migrating family, relocating from Stoughton, Mass. to Lake County, Ill. in 1839.

Consists of Hannah Talbot Lamb's record book of deaths, 1812-1841; Joseph Lamb's 7 page manuscript journal of his journey from New England to Warren Township in 1839; Joseph Lamb's account book kept as a shoemaker and then as a farmer, 1831-1858 (which includes a grid-plan of his orchard listing over twenty varieties of apples); an 1840 land purchase document; documents relating to the Lambs as postmasters at the Whittier, Ill. Post office, 1870-1879; a hand-written will of son Nahum Lamb, 1912; and two miscellaneous items: a story of a Fourth of July in 1844 by B. F. Shepard of Gurnee, written in 1914, and receipt for work done by Ney Lamb in 1931.


  • Creation: 1812-1931



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Lamb Family Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Lamb Family Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of The Lamb Family

Chicago-area farming and entrepreneurial family.

Joseph Lamb, a shoemaker from Stoughton, Mass. was a pioneer settler in Lake County, just north of Chicago, Illinois. In 1839, Lamb brought his wife, Hannah Talbot Lamb and their children from New England to lay claim to land in Warren Township, and in 1841, Lamb built a home in what became Gurnee, Illinois. He continued to make and repair shoes, but now he was able to operate a large farm and eventually the Lamb family owned hundreds of acres.

Joseph Lamb was an entrepreneur, travelling twice to the western Gold Rush, where at one time he developed a company to build a canal with sluices and controls where miners could clean their ore. He left that business in 1855, and returned to Lake County and his family and his farm. Joseph and Hannah Lamb had six children, two of them were Nahum and Charles; both became industrious and inventive men. Charles opened a blacksmith shop in 1867 where he worked at horseshoeing and repairing wagons, buggies and farm machinery. From 1870 until 1880, the Lamb home served as a post office, located at a crossroads called Whittier. Joseph was postmaster until his death in 1871, when Hannah succeeded him.

After Joseph's death, Hannah and her son Charles and his wife Mary converted the upper floor of the blacksmith shop into living quarters. In 1876 Charles bought a house from a neighbor and had it moved nearby. In 1882, Nahum built an addition to the shop and opened a highly successful feed mill with his brother, both continuously upgrading their machinery. They also continued to farm. Later, Charles opened an undertaking business on the property, and Ney Lamb, a descendant, operated a photography studio in the area.

Hundreds of acres of land once owned by the Lamb family have been sold and developed. In the twenty-first century, the area once known as Lambs Corners is now the site of Gurnee Mills, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club, among other businesses.


0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)


Mainly papers of Joseph and Hannah Talbot Lamb, who relocated from Stoughton, Mass. to Lake County, Ill., in 1839. Consists of Hannah Talbot’s record of deaths, 1812-1841, and Joseph Lamb’s 1839 seven-page diary of his trip from Stoughton to Lake County. Also, a book of his shoemaking business accounts, as well as farming and general accounts, 1831-1859, which includes a grid-plan of his orchard listing many varieties of mid-nineteenth century apples; documents relating to the U.S. post office the Lambs operated in Whittier, Warren Township, in the 1870s; a hand-written will of son Nahum Lamb, 1912; and two other miscellaneous twentieth-century documents.


Arranged chronologically.

Collection Stack Location

1 23 4


Purchase, July 2007.

Processed by

Virginia Hay Smith, 2013.

Inventory of the Lamb Family Papers, 1812-1931
Virginia Hay Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States