February 27, 1868 letter to Sarah Keith from Pros Crawford

February 27, 1868

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Prosper Crawford, Chicago, IL

Describes his employment as a conductor on the “horse cars” through the streets of Chicago. Prosper has been staying at Hiram’s with “our new sister” since having been taken sick and has had good care. He describes her as a pretty smart little woman and thinks she makes Hiram a good wife. She speaks in high terms of appreciation of a letter Sarah wrote to Hiram since his marriage in which some good advice was given. Mother is set on moving to Chicago to live. Prosper has given her little or no encouragement and is concerned about their ability to pay the rents that are in Chicago and live as well as she would like. He thinks she is much better off where she is. Robert intends to move with his family up on the Chippewa sometime this spring. Wants to know where Henry is and why he doesn’t write. He wrote to Mary yesterday.

1868-02-27 1868-02-27B 1868-02-27C 1868-02-27D 1868-02-27env

Address 444 Sedgwick St


Chicago           Feb 27’’ 1868

Dear Sister,

You dinna ken[1] how many times I have thought write to you this winter but realy have just set about it. If there is aney one trait of character peculiar to our Family it is this carelessness about writing commencing at the head growing worse and worse as it approaches the foot (thats me) and now as I am a sort of a reformatary character I propose to stop it and that to by example, so here goes.

I presume you have been informed ere this that I have been employed this winter in conducting a hors car through the streets of Chicago[2], yes and it has been very trying to my health. The cold and exposure connected with the irregularity of meals and sleep attending this buisiness makes it severe on one whose health is no better than mine. In the summer season it is better in some respects and in others it is not. In the place of cold we have clouds of dust following the cars, which is almost suffocating, so I am informed. But if I could only have my meals and sleep regular I could stand it pretty well. As it is, I shall be obliged to seek some other employment as soon as spring opens and buisiness takes a start. About two weeks ago I contracted a severe cold which threw me into the Fever, since which time I have done nothing and suffered a great deal. However, I am gradualy gaining my strength and am in hopes to be able soon to take my Car. I have been stop at Hiram’s[3] with our new sister[4] since I was taken sick and have had good care. She is a pretty smart little woman. She makes Hiram a good wife. She speakes in high terms of appreciation of a letter you wrote to Hiram since his marriage in which you gave some good advice. Mother[5] has set her cap on coming here to live and I hardly know why. I have given her little or no encouragment. In a letter recently received from her she inquires very earnestly what I intend to do and whether she will sell off any of her furnurture or not. Now the fact is, Sarah, we cannot live here and pay the rents that are exacted and live as well as she would like. Hirams salary exceeds mine a considerable and he lays up little or nothing and if I should be taken sick what then. And besides she would not be contented to live here one month. She could not associate with those whom she would like even in her own Church for here unlike places of less magnitude, wealth seems to be the criterion of fellowship and christianity. She is much better off where she is and I have written a very mild yet decicive letter (covering one sheet of fools cap) which I think will disabuse her mind of the idea of coming to Chicago. It is my intention to do as well for her as I can. I only wish she posessed more contentment of spirit. Robert[6] intends to move with his Family up on the Chippewain[7] sometime this Spring. It is a lumbering country. Of course I am in hopes the change will result well. Tis a fact he never can make anything in Omro. What does Luke[8] think of the impeachment[9] My old hats swinging in the air. I suppose my Friend over the river is is is, well I hope she is and done well. Where is Henry[10]? Why don’t he write? I wrote to Mary[11] yesterday. I should like to make you a visit O so much. Give my love to my little nieces and Ethen[12] Jimmie[13]. I suppose they wear long dresses and have baux [beaus].

Your affectionate Bro

L.P. Crawford

[At the top of the first page the following was written:] Write soon Sarah and let me know how you get along in the world.


P.S. Hi’s[14] wife sends her love to you.

[1] Scottish term meaning don’t know

[2] Pros’s brother Hiram was employed with the North Chicago City Railway Company and it is assumed from Nancy Betts’ December 9, 1867 letter that Hiram was able to secure employment for Pros with his company

[3] Hiram Crawford Jr., Pros’ older brother

[4] Hiram’s new wife, Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford

[5] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[6] Robert Crawford, Pros’ older brother

[7] The pine lumber industry in the Chippewa Valley flourished in the last half of the 1800’s. Shortly before 1850, landlookers or scouts penetrated the virgin forest of the middle Chippewa and its tributaries searching for pine groves. The vast majority of the logs in the Chippewa Valley were cut in the winter. The trees were felled by axes and cut up by cross-cut saws, and the logs were hauled directly to the river banks on go-devils or placed on large sleds and moved up to six miles over logging roads. Upon the arrival of spring with melting snow and rains, the colorful and dangerous log drives began. The brightly clad drivers broke the rollways, releasing the logs which had been piled along the banks. Using pike poles and riding either in the bateau (a special boat) or on the logs themselves, the drivers strove to keep the logs moving in mid-stream. At times they had to stand waist deep in the cold water to dislodge “hung up” logs. The wanigan, a supply boat, provided food for the five daily meals

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

[9] Presumably the impeachment of Andrew Johnson

[10] Henry C. Crawford, Pros’ older brother

[11] Pros’ sister-in-law and Edwin Crawford’s wife

[12] Sarah Keith’s son

[13] Sarah Keith’s son

[14] A nickname for Hiram


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: February 27, 1868 letter to Sarah Keith from Pros Crawford – Letters & Diary Entries From the 1860s

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