Winter/Spring 1884 letter to Nancy Betts and Sarah Keith from Stephen Comfort

Winter/Spring 1884

To: Nancy Betts and Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Stephen Comfort, Northboro, IA

Was glad to hear that Nancy’s health was improving. Is thinking of going back to Canada. Last July a tornado destroyed all the crops. In February he helped his grandson move to Nebraska by driving his team while his grandson drove the stock. They were on the road six days in cold weather and it affected his health. He is getting better now.



Dear Sister

Your letter of the 20th January last was duly received written by your daughter[3], my respected niece, which informed me of your sickness but that you was slightly better when she wrote which I was rejoiced to hear. We cant expect to get up as soon as in youth but even though the constitution may long hold out and health continue yet advancing years bring with them infirmity and decay which point in no doubtful manner to the close of life. I myself am very sensible of it. Yes, the flattened eye, requiring the opticians aid; the ear failing in its sensibility to sound; the palate loosing its keen relish to savory viands and the olfactories of sweet odours; the blood coursing sluggishly along the vains; the brain torpid and heavy in its movements; and the shrunk mussels easily tired and moving heavily the failing limb – all, all tell the traveller that he has almost reached the end of his journey. But we know that there is a world where there is no sickness and we trust it will be our inheritance. O, with what earnest desire do the Christians thoughts stretch forward and anticipate the time when he shall enter the building of God – the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Once, in the buoyancy of health and youth this world put on enchanting smiles, but now the dream is passed by and heaven only is clothed in beauty.

I have some idea of going back to Canada soon. And when I do I shall see you all once more.

To My Dear Niece

I do assure you your letter of 20th Jany last was received and very welcome though unexpected as we had never corresponded though I was none the less gratified to hear from you all particularly.  Sorry to hear of your ill healths but anxiously hope you have all fully recovered. I presume the weight of years is beginning to tell on him. Mr. Keith[4], I am refering to, hopeing his health has improved. Now Dear Sarah C, I beg you will [not] let the thought enter your mind that I am forgetting you in consequence of my negligence in not writing sooner or when I should have done so. The only palliation I have to offer is that we are three miles from store or post office. I have frequently written and dated letters and not have an opportunity to get them mailed until they would become too old and then thrown asside, but beg your forgiveness knowing to err is human; to forgive divine. I will try to be more punctual in future.

We have had a very severe winter here but not over two inches snow at any time though frequent flurries but would go off before any more come. The lowest the mercury indicated with us was 28° below zero. I have realized the cold here as much if not more than in Canada. This Prarie wind is what plays the duce with me. We had on the eleventh of last July a sweeping tornado with heavy hail cutting all the crops to the ground. Elias[5] had about sixty acres of corn literally destroyed. Also wheat and oats. He gathered of corn about eight hundred bushels when a common yield would have given him four thousand. The storm was so severe we fled to the cellar for safty.

My health has been only midling not having been serious ill at any time. I took a trip of to Nebraska in February. Elias’s son[6] sold out and went there. I drove his team out while he drove his stock. We were six day on the road. It was rather too big an undertaking in cold weather. It set pretty hard for a while but I am comeing up again. It is getting warm and that agrees best with me.

Now Dear Niece I have stretched this out pretty well and conclude to wind up by requesting to be rembered to all enquiring friends. And my highest esteem to your self & husband. And regards to sons and daughter though not having had the pleasure of meeting her.

And may the blessing of God rest upon all is the sincere wish of your most affectionate uncle.


To my respected Niece Mrs. Sarah C. Keith Galesburg, Mic

[1] Believe this might have been written in late winter or early spring 1884 based on other letters concerning Nancy’s ill health

[2] Northboro, Iowa

[3] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

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

[5] Stephen’s son, Elias Woodruff Comfort

[6] Charles Comfort. Charles’ son Merton was born in March 1882 in Iowa, while his daughter Minnie was born in April 1885 in Nebraska, which suggests this letter was written sometime between that time period. Charles’ youngest son, Claude was born in Northboro, Iowa, so it appears that the family left Nebraska and returned to Iowa sometime after April of 1885

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Winter/Spring 1884 letter to Nancy Betts and Sarah Keith from Stephen Comfort – Letters & Diary Entries From the 1860s through the 1890s

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: