October 12, 1870 letter to Sarah Keith from Pros Crawford

October 12, 1870

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Prosper Crawford, Omro, WI

Making arrangements to go in the pinery this winter. Expects to be on the Peshtigo River north of Green Bay. His job will be at the landing tending the scale and keeping records for thirty dollars per month. Robert expects to manage a concern for McArthur in Minnesota near Lake Superior where Eugene is working (and has been the past four months). Uncle Pat Hamilton died the 27th of August. No letters from Mary. Prosper heard from another source that Pat Hamilton willed all his property to Mary and her brother Emmett, “who in all probability will not live another year.”

 Omro   October 12th/70

Dear Sister,

I received your letter bearing Date Oct 2, and was happy to hear from you. Am glad to know you are not particular as to which owes the letter, but I think I wrote you last. And now I am going to be promt once in my life if I fail ever after and give you a short history of thing in general and myself in particular. Of course you wont expect me to write very legibly for it is so seldom I write that an attempt almost results in a failure. My health has been very good the past year. Still there has been times when I was obliged to lay by from my work a day or two but as a general thing have been blessed with health. Mother[1] has likewise enjoyed unusual good health for one that has passed through the hardships she has. I think she holds out remarkably[2]. What a comfort it is to those who after living a life long of trial and suffring are in the evening of their existence crowned with this priceless boon.

I am allready making arraignments to go in the pinery this winter. I expect to go in on the Peshtigo river north of Green Bay. This company expect to put in three million feet of Pine. My business will be at the landing takeing the Scale and keeping acct of the same for which I get thirty Dollars per month. It will be an easy job and I am quite anxious to secure it. I shall know in a few Days. Robert[3] expects to manag a concern for McArthur in Minnesota near Lake Superior where Eugene[4] is at work (and has been the past four months). Verily the past year has wrought a wondrous change in the physical ability of that man. No longer can he wade the cold watters of the pine laden wolf (river) in spring time or at any time expose his person to the inclement weather. That time has past. Nature has sumed up with him on this point. Should he be careless at aney time he is gently reminded by sharp pains in his joints or a contraction of his mussels in the hip which by the way naturaly makes him holler out O. Och. Nature is a strict accountant. She never makes a single mistake or misses a single thing and if we run in debt to her in the way of violating the laws of health we must pay the penelty which would be added loss to us always, were it not for the rich experience that it sometimes brings to us.

I am sorry to learn that your Family have been so sorely afflicted with disease. It must be a heavy burden for you to bear the care of the whole upon you. I suppose you would be sick to if you had time. Never mind, your turn will come, you will not be overlooked. The present diseased condition of your Family, the difficulty in rearing them to their present stand point, must have furnished you with abundant material for serious reflection as to the cause. Climate alone could not produce these results for other Families in your vicinity have grown up comparatively healthy and robust. It is a habit with some to charge God with their ailments and losses and say that if such is a special visitation of his Providence but away with such libelous utterances for they are false. However he has instituted laws that are fixed and unvarying, the obedience of which brings us health happiness. But so long as we remain in stolid ignorance of these laws what can we expect but that which we experience every day of our lives in some form namely pain, premature decay, discord, death. It is a statistical fact that one half of all the children born die before they reach the age of seven. This one half of the tenderest and fairest of humanities flowers are niped in the bud of their existence. Should this be? What think you? The inadaption or unfitness of parties in the married life and the consequent transmission of inharmonious qualities of mind and body to that of their children is said to be the prolific sourse of disease. Would that it were my mission to assist as a teacher in the matters of reform. It seems as though my happiness would be complete but I must rest satisfied in a humbler sphere of action and try and reform or correct the mistakes of my life, my view not only of the pleasure it brings here but its relation to a glorious future which crowns the efforts of all who live true to their best intentions of right. I sincerely hope that some agency may be pointed out to you that may be applied with beneficial effect as a health restoration. There is Nancy[5] who possesses much natural taste and refinement so as this is her nature who loves music and all those things that tend to elevate and develop character. And Hannah[6], may I never forget her fun loving rollicking nature who sees everything in a ridiculous sense. Verily we need all such characters to chase the shadows from this suffering, saddened world. And Ethen[7], who possesses inventive genus. His work should not be laborious. Farming is distastful to him. His mussels do not relish the harsh exercise. Give him the opportunity and his success is certain. Sarah, pleas to pardon the foregoing. I have written as I thought without aney particular arraingement as I do not write very often. Perhaps you can stand it but if you cant write me and I will try and do better next time. How is Luke[8]? Has he forgot me? How I would like to see you all again, but the thought of Mich makes me sick. My respects to Streeter[9], may he never want for a watch for every thief needs one.

Uncle Pat Hamilton[10] died the 27th August. We received a local from Dowagiac announcing the fact. No letters from Mary[11]. I heard from another source that he willed his property all to Mary and her brother Emmett[12], who in all probability will not live another year. Eugene[13] is working near Lake Superior in Minn. He is steady and all right. But enough this time. Write soon. Mother sends love.

Your affectionate Bro.

L.P. Crawford

PS Nancy dont break the box until I see you


[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] At the time of this letter Nancy was 68 years of age

[3] Robert Crawford, Pros’ older brother

[4] Eugene Crawford, Pros’ nephew (the son of his deceased brother Edwin Crawford and his first wife, Louisa Hall)

[5] Nancy Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[6] Hannah Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[7] Ethan Keith, Sarah’s son

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

[9] This is believed to have been Marius O. Streator, a neighbor of Luke and Sarah Keith

[10] Father-in-law of Pros’ late brother, Edwin Crawford

[11] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford, Edwin’s widow and Pros’ sister-in-law

[12] Emmett Hamilton. In spite of Pros’ prediction, Emmett lived another 12 years; he died on August 16, 1882



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  1. Trackback: October 12, 1870 letter to Sarah Keith from Prosper Crawford – Letters & Diary Entries From the 1860s & 1870s

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