May 11, 1871 letter to Sarah Keith from Henry Crawford

May 11, 1871

To:  Sarah Keith

From: Henry Crawford, North Ceres, IN

The children have all had the measles this winter, five at one time and all very sick. Virginia has also been very sick. In the past four weeks she has been up but not very strong. He has a contract making wheels for the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Co. making two hundred sets per week. Henry employs nine hands.

1871-05-11 1871-05-11B 1871-05-11C 1871-05-11D 1871-05-11env

South Bend, May 11th [1871[1]]

Dear Sister,

I will acknowledge that I have not been verry Brotherly In not writing to you before. I will or I can safely say that you have been remembered by me at least once a day for the past year. Your letter was a welcom letter to me. I was glad to hear from you & to know you are all as well as you are at the present time. As I have heard from you in a round about way, I am aware you have sorely afflicted with sickness. I hope your Childeren are all well. I think I can simpathise with you for I believe we have had our share in the past six months. The Childeren have all had the Measles this winter, five at one time & verry sick. Virginia[2] has been verry sickly. In the past four weekes she is so as to be up but not very strong. These trials is hard to bare but if we believe thar are for our good, it makes the burden light.

I have a contract making wheels for the Studbaker Brothers Manufacturing Co[3]. I am making two hundred set per weeke. I employ nine Hands. Thare is over three hudred men employd. It takes Eight Thousand dollers to pay off every two weekes. I will send Luke[4] a paper that will tell you more than I can write. The Boys[5] are with me in the shop. They are almost men.

We would like to make you a viset or we would like to have you viset us. I think if we all keep well this summer Virginia & the Boys will supprise you some time in July. It will bee almost imposable for me to get away. I think Luke would fat on the ribs some if he could see how we make a Waggon every fifteen minuts. Luke, come to South Bend. Bring the whole family. It will do you all good. Sarah, I would like to have a chat with you. I would say things to you in a better light than I can write you. We unite in our Love to you all. Com & see us.

Good By you Brother.

H. C. Crawford

Excuse poor spelling for I presume I have made (Lots) of mistakes.


[1] The year of this letter is not given, however, it is believed that it was written sometime between 1870 to 1872. Prior to 1870 Henry and family were living in Niles, Michigan. His letter refers to all five children having the measles at the same time. Henry’s sixth child, George E. Crawford, was born July 26, 1872. In addition Henry’s description of the level of activity at Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Co. generally corresponds with the growth of the company in the early 1870s (see below)

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

[3] In 1852 the Studebaker brothers built their first small business. It was a blacksmith shop located in the heart of South Bend but soon they began building farm wagons and the business grew slowly until the Civil War. Over the years the company’s name changed several times. The Civil War’s demand for wagons, ambulances, etc. put a strain on Stubebaker’s production and they began to look for labor outside of the city. They also moved their manufacturing facilities to the southwest end of town, encompassing an area between Western Avenue and Sample Street, and Main Street to Walnut Street. By the 1870’s the westward migration required sturdy covered wagons and farm wagons and Studebaker was a major manufacturer with sales offices all throughout the West. The need for more workers caused the company to go overseas to find a workforce. Many who came were German or Polish. The company continued to make farm wagons until shortly after 1900 when they began to make automobiles. For more detail on the Studebaker Company see the following web site:                        

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

[5] Henry’s two eldest sons, John H. and Robert Clement (Clem), who were both in their mid teens

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: May 11, 1871 letter to Sarah Keith from Henry Crawford – Letters & Diary Entries From the 1860s & 1870s

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