October 17, 1851 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Crawford

October 17, 1851                  

To: Sarah Keith                               

From: Nancy Crawford, LaPorte, IN

Had a visit with Aunt Jane. Everyone was well except Frank Nelles’ wife, who was “confined with a young son.” They buried their 14-month-old daughter on September 1. Almira‘s husband died of cholera two months ago and Aunt Jane was in low spirits because of the cholera epidemic. Aunt Jane had lots of sewing to do and Nancy wished Sarah could live there as she could get as much sewing as she wanted. Robert said he would take Prosper in the Spring, and she sometimes wishes he would because she has a “grate trial with him,” but she would miss him. Henry left LaPorte September 17 for St. Louis. She is beginning to worry, as they haven’t heard from him yet. He hadn’t been able to work for 5-6 weeks because he had erysipelas on his hand and a fellon and boils. Edwin is going to Toledo for a new Engine — wanted to have Hiram as his fireman. Edwin is to have the greatest and the most splendid engine that runs. The name of the engine is the I. B. Parks (?), named after the president of the road. They moved to another house close to the depot (she is apparently living with Edwin). Edwin has always been kind to her, but Mary “has been quite clever since I came back.”

Scan of 1851-10-17 Nancy Crawford to Sarah Keith

Laport October the 17 1851

Dear Sarah,

It is with plaseure i take my pen in hand to inform you of the viset i had with your Ant.[1] When I arive thear i found you relatives all well with the ecception of Frank Nelles wife.[2] She was confind with a young son all though she was quite smart. They beraed thear only Daughter the first of September a little girl fourteen months old. To my grate surprise i found Almira[3] thear a young widow. Her husband had ben ded two months and he dide with the Cholra and your Ant Jane was in low sperects for thear had ben so much Cholra a fue rods of her Door. She had felt quite alarmd for fear she wold have it herself. I saw a hous a fue rods of her door that the hole famly dide eccept two Children and thear it stands with the furniture all in it and they talk of burning it up. They was all glad to see me and i had a verry good viset. Your Ant wanted i shold stay with her this fall and winter and saw she has lots of sowing to do. I mad one coate wile i wase thear. She said it was made well. I wish you lived thear you cold git as much sowing as you wanted. It is a verry plesent location on high grown above the lake shore. I think Lukes[4] helth wold be better if he could injoy the Freach breeze of the Lake. I was gon little over two weeks. I returnd home the second day of October and found Mary[5] all alone with the ecception of a little molte citten that Ed[6] had brot home for her. Prosper[7] was out to play. It was half past eight in the eveing and Edwin dident git in till eleven. Dear Sarah wen i came home i found three letters that was directed to me. Ed had opend them all one from you and from Robert[8] and David[9] and sence i returned home i receive one from Hiram.[10] I was verry much plese to hear from you all and hear that you was weell but i am sorry hear that Luke helth is so poor. I wish he could find sumthem to help him. Sarah I dident want you to send me the dollar. I felt as tho you had paid it. You help me wen I moved. Robert saes he injoys life well with his companion[11] I hope they continyou so. He wrote that he wold take Prosper in the Spring. I somtimes wish he could take him now for I have a grate trial with him but wen I think of parting with him I feel bad. If he does go I hope he will do wright and be a good boy and Robert I think will be kind to him. I know he is under the protecting power that we all are and I feal to give him up in the hans of God. David roat about the monny Henry[12] ode him for the watch. Henry left Laport the 17 of Septeber for ST Loues. That what he told me. He said he wold write the next week after he gote thear but I have look with grate ankzity ever sence and havent receive no answer and I begen to be alarmd about him for fear that somthing has happen to him. He wanted to pay David but he had so little monny he could not spare it. He lost so much time. He had the arasiplus[13] on his hand and a fellon[14] and boils. He could not do any thing for five or six weeks. He said if his life wase spard he wold be back in two months and he wold send the monny. Hiram said in his letter he was a going out to live with Robert and he wold be a long hear the first of next month and stoped five days with us. Edwin is a going to toledo this week or next for a new Engine and he saide he wold like to have Hiram for his fireman if he could stan it. I dont want him to be a fireman without he wanted to. I would like to have him live whare i could see him wonce awile and Pa[15] may be disapointed if he stays. Ed is a got to be promoted. He is to have the graest and the most splendid Engin that runs over the road. The name of the Engin is I. B. Parks (sp?) named after the presedent of the road. We have moved in another hous near the depot and I have to live up stairs. It makes my work verry hard for me. Edwin has bout a good deal of second hand furniture all of it verry nice. He got it verry cheap. Thear part is furnish quite well. Mary folks[16] was out to see her wile I was gon. Her Father to[ld] them to pick out a block[17] to sute them and he wold send men on in the spring to bild them a hous of brick or a fram hous. She has been quite clever sence I came back. Ed has allways been kind to me. I have thought that I could not stanit it go up and down stars so often but it seams the back is filed for the burden. Mary said she could not do it. My helth is much better sence I returned home. I was verry sick on the boat a going out. They carred us by Wakegan[18] 25 miles to Recein[19] for i was so sick that i did not no wen they past by. The lake was verry rough and Dany was sick to. Sarah will you tell Hiram I wish he wold bring cloth and for Pros a coat. Clothing is so high hear. My love to you and Luke and the four children.[20]

This is from your fectunate Mother N B Crawford to Sarah Keath

[Following was written in the margin on the first page] PS Dear Sarah I wanto see you all verry much. I have a grate many things to tell you that I cant do with pen and paper. I hope you will answer this write away and write every particular. Give my respects to all inquiring frinds.


[1] Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin, Nancy’s sister, who was living in Waukegan, Illinois

[2] She may be referring to Selena (Myers) Nelles, wife of Francis Nelles who was the son of Jane (Comfort) and Jacob Nelles

[3] Almira Nelles, Nancy’s niece, the daughter of Nancy’s sister, Jane (Comfort) and Jacob Nelles

[4] Charles Luke Keith Jr., Sarah’s husband, who went by the name of Luke

[5] Mary Hamilton, who became Edwin Crawford’s second wife on January 6, 1854

[6] Edwin W. Crawford, Nancy’s son

[7] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Nancy’s son, who was about 9 years old

[8] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[9] David Crawford, also known as D.C., Nancy’s son

[10] Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy’s son

[11] Assume she is referring to Robert’s wife, Louisa (McCann) Crawford. At this time, it is unknown when they married

[12] Henry Clay Crawford, Nancy’s son

[13] Erysipelas is a bacterial infection of the skin, very similar to the “flesh eating bacteria” infection noted in recent years, and was one of the major causes of death in wars among wounded soldiers and hospitalized civilians in the days before disinfectants and hand washing

[14] A painful infection at the end of a finger or toe, near the nail

[15] Hiram Crawford Sr., Nancy’s husband

[16] Patrick and Rosanah (Perry) Hamilton

[17] Patrick Hamilton owned a tract of land consisting of eighty acres in the northeastern corner of the township of Pokagon. Upon a portion of this land the village of Dowagiac was platted and laid out. He laid out what was known as Hamilton’s First Addition to the Village of Dowagiac in the spring of 1849 which was quickly followed by Hamilton’s Second, Third and Fourth Additions. He has been referred to as the Father of Dowagiac

[18] Waukegan, Illinois

[19] Racine, Wisconsin

[20] This is a curious note: two of the children would be Lois and Henry, children of Luke by his first wife, Minerva Payson, and Ethan would be another, but Nancy wasn’t born until July of 1852, so the mention of four children is confusing

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: October 17, 1851 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Crawford – Letters to and from the Keith and Related Families

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