Decidedly among the most interesting, as unquestionably among the most honored of citizens of Carmel-by-the-Sea are Mr. and Mrs. Joseph W. Hand, of Ocean avenue, who have resided here so many years that they may well claim to be a part of the historic art colony. Mr. Hand was born at Lynn, Massachusetts, July 29, 1845, and in the still colorful days of ’61, he came west, and while yet a lad of eighteen, he was a pony express rider on a branch line that ran from Virginia City to Humboldt. He later met his “beloved Mollie,” who was then a Canadian girl popular as Miss Mary E. Dickson, and they were married at San Francisco, April 26, 1874, by the Rev. Mr. Lathrop, after which they made Alameda their home for years. While a resident of Alameda and Oakland, Mr. Hand was in the grocery trade. It was in 1906 the year of the great earthquake and fire, that he left San Francisco to take up his abode in Carmel—the Mecca of artists and writers and for six years he was bookkeeper for the Carmel Development Company. Now he is in the general real estate and insurance business, and what Mr. Hand does not know about Carmel is hardly worth the knowing, and what Mr. Hand is not willing to do, in all sincerity and kindliness for the stranger, is hardly worth the asking of any one else. He has also been recorder of Carmel for many years, and in this position he has added to his many friends, especially among those appreciative of geniality in the transaction of official business. Mrs. Hand is likewise active in civic and social life, and as president of several women’s clubs, she continues to wield an enviable influence for great good—a circumstance delightful to read about, for not to many others has it been given to spend so long a time in a spot so beautiful as Carmel, or to still be so enamored of their first love at the end of their protracted stay. With their long sojourn here, Mr. and Mrs. Hand have come to love the town, for its picturesqueness and its traditions, and no one wishes more heartily that it may never lose the atmosphere which has made it beloved and famous.
Joe Hand, as he was long affectionately called by the Carmelites, was the “daddy of dramatics” in the nationally famous art colony, having started the town’s first dramatic club, and been the original president of the widely-known Forest Theater. Mrs. Hand has been the mother of all of Carmel’s club activities. The Arts and Crafts, for example, which she helped organize and bring into being many mars ago, and of which she was president for many seasons, is, as it has always been, a Ma-Eng– factor in the social and art life of the town, and it was the pioneer organization in the Little Theater movement.
Three distinct shifts of artists have come and gone during the sway of this well beloved couple in turbulent Carmel; and possibly the only point of agreement between these different groups of assorted temperaments was their fondness for Mr. and Mrs. Hand. These pioneers saw such figures as H. Batchel, Sidney Yard, Jack London, Ambrose Bierce, Mary Austin, Jimmy Hopper, George Sterling and a dozen others, who rank high in the artistic annals of this country, come and go in the first era. Later, Sinclair Lewis and William Rose Bennett rented a cottage from the Hands, where they burnt the midnight oil and ate soda crackers, while they laid the foundation for their big national careers.
These, with a long list which boasts such names as Kathleen Norris and Charles Norris, I. A. R. Wiley, Elizabeth Frazier and a score of others, make up the second category, also of lasting interest and appeal. And now there is the present era, which takes in such names as Harry Leon Wilson, Samuel G. Blythe, Joe Mora, Robert Welles Ritchie, Alice McGowan Cooke, Frederick Bechdoldt, William Ritchel, Ferdinand Burgdorff and all the other celebrities and near celebrities that go to make Carmel-by-the-Sea the unique town that it is. Mrs. Hand always went in for the directing of local dramatics, while Joe Hand was for years Carmel’s most beloved actor. Of late, it may be whispered, he has taken to making “farewell” appearances, but like the Divine Sarah, his public, it must be admitted, simply refuses to let him leave the boards.
On April 26, 1924, Mr. and Mrs. Hand celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary, assisted by forty-eight relatives, including ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, when none were merrier or younger than the worthy and handsome couple themselves. By a former marriage Mr. Hand has one daughter, Mrs. Addie C. Graham, of Connecticut. The children of the second marriage are Mary E., now Mrs. M. E. Ives of Los Angeles, and Edgar and Herbert Hand. It was at Edgar Hand’s cozy home, in San Francisco, that the old-fashioned family reunion took place.
Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California’s history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925.