April 23, 1868 letter to Sarah Keith from Pros Crawford

Last sentence updated on 02-11-2017

April 23, 1868 

To: Sarah Keith

From: Prosper Crawford, Omro, WI

Pros left Chicago about five weeks ago in rather poor health. The irregularity of meals and sleep was too much for him. He concluded that it did not pay for a poor man to be sick in Chicago. Mother was anxious for him to come home or else she wanted to move there to Chicago. He found Mother in poor health and rather despondent. She had been suffering from palpitations of the heart and nervousness, which reduced her strength. Soon she would not be able to do her own work. She was not very happy and his work called him away from home much of the time. He wished she had some company, someone to assist her, someone to care for her in the house. He thinks about marriage but is fearful of his ability to support another in his present circumstances.

1868-04-23 1868-04-23B 1868-04-23C 1868-04-23D

Omro   April 23’’ 1868

Dear Sister Sarah,

I received your very welcom letter Dated Apr 2nd and wa pleased to hear from you and yours. I expected to hear from you while in Chicago but did not untill I arrived home. I left Chicago about five weeks since in rather poor health. The irregularity of meals and sleep was too much for me. I could not stand it. Aside from that I liked my buisiness well and could do it as well as aney of them. Along the latter part of February I was attacked with the bilious Fever[1] which laid me on my back about two weeks and cost me about forty Dollars. I concluded it did not pay for a poor man to be sick in Chicago. Mother[2] was anxious that I should come home or else she wanted to move there. I concluded I could not pay the rent and live decent on my salary. So I came home about five weeks since during which time I have been working (when I fell able) on the Farm of a Friend about one mile distant from Omro, but I dont seem to get strength very fast. I found Mother in poor health and rather despondent. She has been attacted with palpitation of the heart and nervousness of late which reduces her strength. The time is fast approaching when she will not be able to do her own work if she fails as she has within the past year. She is not very happy. My buisiness calls me away from home most of the time. I have no trade to depend on. Consequently I have to depend on days work when I can do the best. I wish she had some company, some one to assist her, some one to care for her in the House. I have thought sometimes that I would marry but am fearful of results, that is I doubt my ability to support another in my present circumstances[3]. I desire to obtain a few broad acres if possible before that event takes place. Now, Sarah, I have not written the above wishing to give you any trouble but inasmuch as we are alike interested in the welfair of Mother it is but just that I recite the facts. I am happy to learn that you have bought a Farm. Though it is small it will give you a home an independence a feeling of reliance and this can be bought for no paltry sum. How is Luke[4]? Is he able to work? How I would like to see him and some others I know off in Michigan. While I was in Chicago, some afternoons when I was off duty I would get to thinking of Friends living in Mich and strold off down to the Depot M.C.R.R.[5] and O how many times I was tempted to step aboard and turn my back to Chicago. But it would not do. I wish you could have made us a visit. Mother would have enjoyed it so much. Well I suppos my little Nieces are not little according to your accounts, however. We had a fine snow last night and I just wish that Hannah[6] was here. I would accept the challenge to wash my face. And Nancy[7] to has grown strong. I suppose Ethen[8] thinks he could hold me a hard one on a take down. Well you tell him to keep right on whittling and perhaps he may invent something that can do it[9]. If he does he certainly will make a pile (on the ground).

Robert[10] is on the river working for twenty shillings[11] per day. His path is up a steep hill. You spoke of Lucy[12] as if she had not done well. Do you realy think so? That would be bad[13]. Write soon.

Your affectionate Bro

L.P. Crawford

You will not have to wait six months to hear from me this time. Henry[14] is running an engine. Did he not learn to be a telegraph operator? I have received a letter from Mary[15] since I came home. She is now living with her Father[16]. The property question is settled in xxxxxxx her favor now that step marm[17] is gone to Glory.

[1] Typhoid, malaria, hepatitis or elevated temperature and bile emesis

[2] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[3] At this time, Pros was about 26 years old

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

[5] Michigan Central Railroad, which operated passenger trains between Chicago and Detroit

[6] Hannah Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[7] Nancy Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[8] Ethan Keith, Sarah’s son

[9] Ethan was an inventor in later years and it appears from this letter that he must have been a tinkerer from an early age

[10] Robert Crawford, Pros’ older brother

[11] A shilling was worth about 12¢ to 16¢, so 20 shillings a day would be equal to $2.40 to $3.20 for a day’s wages

[12] Presumably Lucy Lee, the daughter of Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee who was Luke’s sister

[13] This might be a reference to Lucy’s marriage on February 26, 1868 to Martin Milham, who was described as a “shiftless man” (see September 21, 1873 letter)

[14] Presume he is referring to Henry Keith, Luke’s son by his first wife, Minerva Payson

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

[16] Patrick Hamilton

[17] Lovina (Taylor) Hamilton

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Updates & Corrections | Crawford/Comfort Family Letters
  2. Trackback: April 23, 1868 letter to Sarah Keith from Pros Crawford – Letters & Diary Entries From the 1860s

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