April 14, 1864 letter to Sarah Keith from Henry Crawford

April 14, 1864

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Henry Crawford, Niles, MI

Hiram didn’t come home with the Regiment. He was detailed to stay. Virginia was in Laport because he couldn’t find a house fit to live in but has found one now and is doing very well considering the high price of gold.

Scan of 1864-04-14 Henry Crawford to Sarah Keith

Niles    April 14th 1864

Dear Sister

I received your letter to day. Was very glad to hear from you but as you did not say any thing about your self or family I am not any better posted than I was before in regard to your health & future prospects. You said Mother[1] was not verry well. I hope she will not bee sick. As your letter was a business letter I will proceed to business in the way of answering it. Hiram[2] did not come home with the Rigment that reenlisted. Thare was a part of them that did not reinlist as Hiram & three others Officers that had been home on a furlough. They ware detailed to stay. The last I heard from him he was in Camp near Culpeper[3] and was well. Virginia[4] got home last Saderday. The reason why she was at Laport so long was I could not get a house fit to live. We have got a verry good one now & are all well as can bee expected taking in casideration the high price of Gold. We would lik to have you all come and make us a viset this summer. I will close for the time hoping I may heare from you again. We unite in sending our love to all.

Your Brother

Henry C. Crawford

My pen was poor. I could not write with it.

[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Brother, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[3] Culpepper, Virginia

[4] Henry’s wife, Virginia (Worley) Crawford

September 27, 1863 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Jr.

Footnote #7 updated 02-11-2017

September 27, 1863

To: Sarah Keith

From: Hiram Crawford, Beverly, NJ

War news. Has seen a good deal of New York and has found Uncle Nathaniel Crawford and a whole nest of cousins. Uncle Nathaniel’s health is not very good as he suffers from rheumatism. He has an appointment with the police department at a salary of $600 a year, lives at 67 Horatio Street. His wife is dead and he has one daughter living, Miss Caroline B. Crawford, otherwise known as Carrie. She has some cousins living in the City by the names of Bodine and Nelles [Weller?] and more relations living in Orange County. Aunt Catherine, father’s sister, is living in Orange County, New York. Hasn’t heard from Mother since she went to Canada.

Scan of 1863-09-27 Hiram Crawford to Sarah Keith

Beverly New Jersey

Sept 27/63

Dear Sister

It is a great deal the same with me here as it was in the Army continually knocking around from one place to another. It is not so with the whole regiment. Only four companies seems to be favored amongst which is mine.

When we first arrived in the City, the regiment was quartered on the Battery[1] and my company and three others were detailed to guard Armories up town[2]. One week from this date the Regt was ordered to Fort Schuyler and we were sent to Davids Island fifteen 15 miles up Long Island Sound[3], to guard about three thousand Rebel wounded prisoners of war captured at Gettysburg. We had a good time and were in hopes that we would be kept there during the rest of our service, but alas the folly of human calculations, especially military calculations. Just as we had gotten everything fixed up in good shape for living one stormy day last week we received a dispatch to be ready within one hour to take the Steamer and report to this place. Our business here looks a little strange. We are guarding a regiment of N. Jersey vols[4] at present organizing who come here and enlist, draw their $550 Bounty and leave for parts unknown. Since we came it has pretty much stopped.

I have had some good times since we arrived from the Army. Have seen a great deal of New York. And by the way have found Uncle Nathaniel[5] and a whole nest of cousins. Uncles health is not very good. He suffers a great deal with rheumatism. His hand is drawn out of shape considerable. He is as poor as the general run of Crawfords, has an appointment in the police department at a salary of $600 a year, lives at 67 Horatio Street, nice brick hous and well furnished. His wife[6] is dead and has one child living, Miss Caroline B. Crawford, or as she styles herself Carrie. Who by the way is a very fine young lady, not particularly handsome but good, is neat and tidy and seems to be very much a Lady. I like her very much. She has several cousins, second cousins of mine living in the City by the name of Bodine & Nelles/Weller(?). Very fine young ladies all of them. Shouldn’t wonder if I married into the family. Carrie has told me of more relations living in Orange County then I could put down on two sheets of foolscap. Aunt Catherine[7] (Father’s sister) is alive and lives in Orange County. If we stop over here this winter I will go and see her and if I come home this winter I will bring Miss Carrie along. I spoke to her about it and she expressed herself very much pleased with the idea. Let me know where Mother[8] is. I have not heard a word from her since she went to Canada. My love to Luke[9] and the Children not forgetting yourself. Write soon and believe me to be ever your brother,


Enclosed please find photograph

[1] Battery Park on lower Manhattan

[2] The four companies were quartered at Grammercy Park

[3] Off the coast of Pelham, New York

[4] Volunteers

[5] The younger brother of Hiram Crawford Sr. (Hiram’s father)

[6] Ethalinda (Bodine) Crawford

[7] His aunt, Catherine Crawford (4-23-1797 – 03-12-1868), was married to Johannes Miller Dickerson and lived in Orange County, New York

[8] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[9] Sarah’s husband, Charles Luke Keith Jr.

August 11, 1863 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

August 11, 1863

To: Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Betts, Beamsville, Ontario, Canada

Was at Mary Hanys Campfield Station 18 miles from “your Unculs.” Was glad to hear Hiram survived the battle in Pennsylvania. Wants Sarah to write to David and Hiram. Is staying at Prowley Kilhorns. Says she is anxious to get home but can’t come until she gets her money. Brother Stephen is at “Alymer 12 miles from St. Tomes.” Can’t find where William Crawford and family are. Heard that John Oneal is dead; his wife may be in London.

Scan of 1863-08-11 Nancy Betts to Sarah Keith

Beams Vill – August the 11 1863

Dear Sarah

I take my pen in hand to write afew lines to you. I received your letter last weeke a wensday. I was at Mary Hanys Campfild station eightteen miels from your Unculs. He brought it to me. I was glad to hear from you and yours and David[1] like wise and hear that Hiram[2] had survived that awful Battel in Pennsylvany.[3] O how glad I was to hear that he was yet alive. I have fellt verry anxous about him and to hear from him if he was alive. I som expected to git a letter from him. I wish that you wold write to to David and Hiram fore me and when I git home I will pay you for your trobbel and the postege stamps. My health is verry good at present. I feal verry anxous to git home agane and I want to hear from from the rest of the boys but I cant com till I can git my monny. They have promest to pay me about the 23 or the last of this month. I have injoide my self verry well the most of the time in visiting. I am now at Prowley Killhorns. I expect to stay hear this weeke and perhaps a part of the next. They expect to have a Ministrual Conferns Meeting hear next weeke. They have invited me to stop withe them. Brother Stephen[4] is at Alymer 12 miles from St Tomes.[5] I do wanto see him before I returne home if I can. I cant find out whare William Crawford[6] is and famly so I cant see them. I heard that John Oneal is dead and whare his wife is I cant find out. She may be in London[7] to. Any rate, I think of stoping at London if Providence permit on my return home. I went aviseting yesterday with Mr Killorn and wife and tow other ladys to Mr Samuel and Jacob Pritchens. We had a plesent viset. I think now that I wont git away from this place till the frist of next month. I wish you would write to Prosper[8] and inquire about his health. I have ben anxous to hear from him this som time. Write agane when you git any word from the boys. I will close by giving my respets to all inquireing frinds and my love to your self and famly. This is from your mother

N B Betts

[to] Sarah Keith

NB Give my love to Ethen and the girls. Kiss Sisse and Bub[9] for me. Tel them granma wants to see them all.

N B Betts

[1] David “D.C.” Crawford, Nancy’s son

[2] Hiram Crawford Jr, Nancy’s son

[3] The Battle of Gettysburg, July 1 to 3

[4] Stephen Comfort, Nancy’s brother

[5] Alymer, 12 miles from St. Thomas

[6] The brother of Nancy’s first husband, Hiram Crawford Sr.

[7] London, Ontario, Canada, where Hiram and Nancy lived before moving to Michigan in the early 1840s

[8] Prosper Crawford, Nancy’s youngest son

[9] Ethan, Nancy, Hannah, Louese and James Keith, respectively; Nancy’s grandchildren (Sarah’s children)

July 4, 1863 letter to Sarah Keith from D.C. Crawford

July 4, 1863 

To: Sarah Keith 

From: David (D.C.) Crawford, Sterling City, CO

Mother went to Canada. He is proud of Hiram for serving his country. He says if he were needed he would go, but not until then. Wants to know how many children Sarah has.

Scan of 1863-07-04 D C Crawford to Sarah Keith

Sterling City    July 4th /63

Dear Sister

A recent mail brought me a long letter from one whom I have not seen for many a day. It brought to my mind vividly scenes that were evident and have passed into oblivion. This person above spoken of was no less than (Sister Sarah). I opin you was very happy to hear from you. Mother[1] has gone to Canada I presume. She will have a nice time amongst her old friends. I am glad she had an opportunity of going. To day is the glorious fourth. This is a small place about 3/4 Union 1/4 secession. Ive hoisted the Stars & Stripes and have celebrated in a limited way the Independence Day of our forefathers. Three cheers for the old flag, long my she wave on the land of the “free and the home of the brave.” Its the the sincere wish of your humble servant that this once happy Union but much diseased[?] country may again soon enjoy the quiet peace and happiness that it was wont to do in former days. I wrote to Hiram[2] twice in the last two months but have received no answer as yet. I shall try and write him a few lines this mail. Hiram is a good boy and I am proud that his is doing service for his country and home for hizself. I hope he may survive this wicked war and we all may again be permited to enjoy each other. Surely if the war should close soon I may pay you all a visit this fall. There is some talk of the (Draft) being enforced in the territory although this territory has furnished its quota long ago. I have always said that if I were needed I should go but not before. If the war is not closed soon many predict we will have war at home. God knows I hope not but if should I am with them. We have great many Rebels throughout the territory and if war should take place it will be ______ ______ from the fact. The mountains would be a great advantage to guerilla parties. As regards my photographs I do not think they are good ones but the time I had several taken and you can all have one and when I get better ones taken I will send them. How many children has (Lois)[3] got and also youself. I have lost all track of them. I wrote Mother some two weeks since but did not send it. Will send it this mail with Hiram likeness when he was young[4]. You can open the letter if you choose and then send it to Mother with ______tintype[?]. Please write soon.

From your brother

DC Crawford

[to] Sister Sarah

[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Brother, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[3] Sarah’s husband’s daughter, Lois Keith, by his first wife

[4] The transcription of this sentence could be wrong; the “original” of this letter was a photocopy and D.C.’s handwriting can be extremely hard to read

June 7, 1863 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Jr.

June 7, 1863

To: Sarah Keith 

From: Hiram Crawford Jr., Belle Plaines, VA

Was surprised to hear Mother had gone to Canada for a visit. Jennie wrote that Ed had given up farming and that Pros was running the farm. “Mary always thought more of him [Pros] than the rest of the family.” The fight on May 3 was the hardest. He believes no battle on record shows a musketry fight of so lengthy a duration.

Scan of 1863-06-07 Hiram Crawford to Sarah Keith

Camp 20th Ind Vol near Belle Plains

June 7th, 1863

Dear Sister

Your welcome letter was received last night. I had almost despaired of hearing from you or Mother[1]. I wrote Mother twice, one just before the fight and one since and thought it very singular, for Mother is much more prompt than I be (and that you know is saying a good deal for her). Thought that the twenty dollars had stopped somewhere on the road and am glad to hear that it is all right. The first knowledge that I had of Mother being in Canada was by a letter from Jennie[2] received the 4th. I was much astonished. Mother had written something about such a journy in some of her letters but I hadnt any idea that she seriously entertaind any such an idea, much less going. Well I hope she will have a good time generally, and come back satisfied with everything and everybody.

Jennie wrote me that Ed[3] was running on the Burlington and Quincy R R and that Pros[4] was running the farm. I guess that Ed has made up his mind that the old Gentleman[5] will out live him[6], and that it aint going to pay to punish himself any longer by hoeing corn and potatoes. Well I dont think the farm will suffer any by the change for I guess that Pros is the best farmer and Mary[7] always thought more of him than she did of all of the rest of the family. I should have written to Pros if I had known where he was. He will hear from me soon.

That was a tough old week that we spent across the River[8]. I was as near used up when arrived back to camp as I ever was. The fight on Sunday (May the 3d) was the hardest on record. A continual roar of musketry was kept up from sunrise to 12 Oclock am. I believe no battle on record shows a musketry fight of so lengthy a duration. The Artilly was not idle although not quite as heavy as at Malvern Hill[9], it was enough so to make it very interesting. I might with propiety say decidedly interesting. Our supported Batteries for five days, in fact all the time most, which account for our small loss. One shell struck in my Company, knocking the arm off from one and severely wounding two others. We was very much surprised when we received the order to retreat. We supposed that we was whipping the Rebs all the time.

Everything has went on quietly since we returned up to the lst of this month when we received orders to be ready to march at short notice, sent off all our superfluous baggage, got ready and are quietly awaiting the final order. Which way where or when remains to be seen.

My love to Luke[10] and the children. Answer and oblig.

Your Brother

Hiram C

P.S. Please accept the enclosed note and oblige.


[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Virginia (Worley) Crawford, his brother Henry Crawford’s wife

[3] His brother, Edwin Crawford

[4] His brother, Prosper Crawford

[5] Edwin’s father-in-law, Patrick Hamilton

[6] Ironically, Edwin died in 1866 and Patrick Hamilton outlived him by almost four years

[7] Edwin Crawford’s second wife, Mary (Hamilton) Crawford

[8] Probably the Rappahannock River, returning from Chancellorsville

[9] A defensive battle fought in June 1862 as the Army of Potomac retreated following its failed attempt to march on Richmond, VA

[10] Sarah’s husband, Charles Luke Keith Jr

May 27, 1863 letter to Sarah Keith from Edwin Crawford

May 27, 1863

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Edwin Crawford, Burlington, IA

Edwin is telling his sister, Sarah, that he has written their Mother and sent a five dollar note, which he hopes will arrive before she departs for Canada. He is now living in East Burlington, Illinois, where he has accepted a position as foreman of the locomotive shops for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. There were some strange faces and whispering among the men in the shop when he first arrived, but he seems to be gaining their good will.

Scan of 1863-05-27 Edwin Crawford to Sarah Keith

Burlington Iowa May 27th – 1863

Dr Sister[1]

I received your letter with Mothers[2] Likeness and was glad to hear from you and Luke[3]. I mailed a letter to Mother the Day befour I received yours with a Five Dollar note[4] in it. I hope Mother will get it before she leaves for Canada.[5] I will send my Likeness as soon as I have an oppertunity. I cant send it to Mother for I dont know what part of Canada she will stop in so if I have no further Notice I will send it to you.  I received a Dispatch in march to come hear and Drive an engine. As soon as I arrived hear the Master Machinist wanted me to take the Foremanship of the Locomotive Shops at East Burlington, Illinois, the termination of the CB.&.Q RR.[6] I hesiteated for a while but finely concluded I would take it. So he gave me my passes and I started for Est. Burlington, my new home. When I arrived their I see nothing but strange faces. I heard some whipsering thats our new Boss and evry boddy was gaping at me – but still I carried a stiff upper lip, and read my letter of introduction and instructions to those I have in charge witch seemed to be satisfactory, and since that time I have started to please and gain the good will of all the men witch I believe I have accomplished and they have an idea that I know more than they Do. It is verry Dry hear, and quite sickly. I was very sick for a Week with the Billious Fever. I have gained strength since my illness. So I feel quite well at present. If you get any track of Hiram[7] give me his address. 

Sister I send my Love to you and Mr Keith. No more at present. Direct your letters to Burlington, Iowa.

From your Brother E. W. Crawford
Foreman – at
East Burlington – Illinois
Locomotive Shops


[1] Sarah (Crawford) Keith, Edwin’s older sister

[2] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[3] Charles Luke Keith Jr., Sarah’s husband

[4] $98 in 2017 dollars

[5] Nancy was most likely going to Canada, where she grew up, to visit relatives

[6] Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad

[7] Their brother, Hiram Crawford Jr.

May 23, 1863 letter to Nancy Betts from Edwin Crawford

May 23, 1863

To: Nancy Betts

From: Edwin Crawford, East Burlington, IL

This is his birthday; he is either 37 or 38. His father, on his deathbed, told him if he had money to spare he should give it to his mother so he’s sending her $5.00. He has charge of the locomotive shops. He boards in Burlington, Iowa, across the Mississippi so letters should be directed there.

Scan of 1863-05-23 Edwin Crawford to Nancy Betts

East Burlington Illinois           May 23” 1863

Dr Mother

This is my birth Day and I suppose my age is 38 or 37 years. How fast time passes away. I am enjoying good health at present and hope you, in your Declineing years, are enjoying the same blessing. I wonderd how I should celibrate my birth Day and as I was thinking of the past I rememberd what my Father[1] said to us when on his Dying bed if you have a Dollar to spair remember your Mother. So I this Day will compy with his Dying request and send you five $5 Dollars of my wages.

I have charge of the Locomotive Shops at East Burlington Illinois, the termination of the Chicago Burlington & Quincy R Road[2]. On the oppisite side of the Mississippi River is Burlington Iowa a sitty of twelve thousand inhabitents. Their where I board. I pass over night & morning on the Ferry Boat. So Direct your letters to Burlington Iowa. I send my best respects to Sister Sarah[3] & Brother Keith[4].

My Love and good wishes to you Mother.

Henry W. Crawford


[1] Hiram Crawford Sr.

[2] Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company was founded in 1859 by John Murray Forbes, who combined several smaller Midwestern railroads. It grew until it extended from the Great Lakes to the Rocky Mountains

[3] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[4] Sarah’s husband, Charles Luke Keith Jr.

April 1, 1863 letter to Luke & Sarah Keith from Jeff Chaffee

April 1, 1863

To: Luke & Sarah Keith

From: Jeff Chaffee, Camp Near Falmouth, VA

Returned to camp Friday; he was reported AWOL. Looked up Lieutenant Hiram Crawford who is in command of Company E. He’s a first lieutenant and all his men like him. Says to tell Aunt Catherine and Lucy to expect a letter from him.

Scan of 1863-04-01 Jeff Chaffee to Luke & Sarah Keith

Camp Near Falmouth v.a.[1]

Apr lst 1863

Dear Friends one and all

It affords me much pleasure to write to you. I am once more with my company and once more a Soldier surrounded with all the Pleasures and displeasures of camp life. I reached camp Friday noon found all things lovely. The Ajutant had got me reported absent without leave but it did not do him any good. I am all right now. There was a little excitement here last night and this morning but I guess it will not amount to anything. The long roll beat and orders came to be ready to fall in at a moments notice but I guess it was an April Fool.

Last Monday I went and hunted up Lieut. Hiram Crawford your son and brother. I found him very easily. He is onely about a mile from here. I delivered my message to him and he was both pleased and supprised when I told him who I was and where I was from. He was very glad to hear from you. He had a great many questions to ask about the folks at home. Aunt Sarrah you and your mother[2] may well be proud of your Brother and Son. He is a noble looking fellow. His men all like him by what they say. He is in command of Company E. He is first Lieutenant. He says he would like to see you all again. I think if we both live we will be better acquainted by and by for I like his looks and appearance first rate.

There is no news to write to you. I expect we will soon move. You must give my love to all that you think will receive it without being offended. You must all excuse me for not makeing you a longer visit but you know that I could not stay. I hope I shall come home some time when my time will not be limited and and I can stay untill you get tiered of me.

Tell Aunt Catharine[3] and Lucy[4] to look out for a letter pretty soon and that I am a looking for one now from them with some Pretty faces in them and also Lois[5] give my love to all reserve a share for yourself. So no more at present. So Adieu.

from your faithful friend


To Uncle Luke and Aunt Sarah

[1] Northeast of Fredericksburg

[2] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[3] Luke’s sister, Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee

[4] Catherine’s daughter, Lucy Lee

[5] Luke’s daughter, Lois Keith, by his first wife, Minerva Payson

[6] Jeff’s last name, and his relationship to Luke and Sarah, are not clear at this point (Update of 04-02-2017): Further research indicates that this most likely is Thomas Jefferson Chaffee Jr. who was married to Luke’s niece, Frances “Kate” (Keith) Chaffee

October 28, 1862 letter to Luke & Sarah Keith from Edwin Crawford

October 28, 1862

To: Luke & Sarah Keith

From: Edwin Crawford, Dowagiac, MI

Mother is leaving Dowagiac for Galesburg on Wednesday, October 29th. All are well but for some ague and fever.

Scan of 1862-10-28 Edwin Crawford to Luke Keith

Dowagiac, Oct 28th 62

Brother & Sister Keith

Mother[1] leaves our place for Galesburgh[2] Wednesday 29th. We are all well with the exception of some ague and feaver.

Yours respectfully

E W Crawford

[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Galesburg, Michigan

August 2, 1862 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

August 2, 1862 

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Nancy Betts, Dowagiac, MI

Was in Niles last week, presumably visiting Henry and his family, but they had all been sick. Mary has not received a letter from Edwin since he went away.

Scan of 1862-08-02 Nancy Betts to Sarah Keith

Dowagiac        August the 2 1862

Dear Sarah

I thought of returning home this weeke. Last night I stade with Julia Hallus. This moring I am at Mrs. MacConnell. I am now scraching of a few lines to you. I was at Niles[1] last weeke returnd back last satturday. They had all ben sick but whear quite better when I rived thear. I was quite sick two days last weeke. That is one reson I did not stay longer. I supspose you have thought strang that I did not write but I thought it wasent worth wile. They are all well at Marys[2]. She has not received a letter from Edwin[3] since he went a way. She thinks he is sick. He left the next Sunday after I came. I am anxious to get home. It has been such hot wether and I have not ben very well apart of the time that I did not in Joy my self so well as I would if my health had ben better. If the Lord will I shell be home a Friday. I wont write any perticulars. When I see you I can tell you better. It is very could and plesent this morning. We had a smart shower yesterday and evry thing seames to rejoice over it. My love to you Lous[4] and the children. Tell Ethen[5] I would lik to have him meete me at the cars.

This is from your Mother

[to] S C Keith

N B Betts

N B exscuse my paper

[1] Nancy was visiting her son, Henry Crawford, who lived in Niles, Michigan, at the time

[2] Edwin’s second wife, Mary Hamilton

[3] Edwin Crawford, Nancy’s son

[4] Sarah’s stepdaughter, Lois Keith

[5] Sarah’s son, Ethan Keith

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