December 26, 1902 letter to Nancy Brown from Robert Crawford

December 26, 1902

To: Nancy Brown

From: Robert Crawford, Shell Rock, IA

Robert is writing about his last visit with his sister in October and about Ethan and Hannah’s devotion to their parents. He is staying with his daughter Lizzie and her husband, Jay Smith, through the Christmas holidays and then spending the winter with his other daughter, Lulu, in Oelwein, Iowa.

Scan of 1902-12-26 Robert Crawford to Nancy Brown

Shell Rock             Dec 26″ 1902

Mrs Nancy Brown
Chicago, Ill

Dear Niece

I suppose you are waiting for me to write you and I should have sooner but my eyes has been very bad. I cannot read or write but little but I wrote to Leila[1] quite a while ago as you were in Mich then you came there when your Mother[2] died, Nancy, and see her pass away very quietly I think without much suffering. Dear Old Sarah. She had enough of that before. I realized Nancy your mother could not stay much longer here when I was there last. I thought she could not pass away so soon or I would not have come away at the time I did. I expressed my self quite freely Nancy in regard to Ethen[3] & Hannah[4] devotion to your Ma & Pa[5] and how they had taken care of their parents so long and faithfully that was good and kind for them to do it and I think Nancy you or Lou[6] would have done the same if placed in the same position they were. I know Nancy my sisters children always thought kindly of their parents and loved them. I am here at Shell Rock to visit Lizzie and Jay her hubby and Paul their son[7] and spend Christmas with them. They are well. I intend to stay here till a week from tomorrow and then return to Oelwein and stay with Lulu[8] this winter. I intend to come to Chicago in the Spring some time & will visit you then. I rec’d a letter recently from your Uncle Hiram[9] saying that he had not heard from Mich by letter since he came away from there. Also that Charly Eck[10] his son in law was very poorly and hardly expected to recover. Excuse me now Nancy for my eyes are giving out and write me here at Shell Rock Iowa. Lizzie & Family join with me in love & regards to you & yours. Nancy I did not hear from Leila yet. I will write to Bessie[11] next.

Your Uncle Robert

Robt Crawford

My address when at Lulu is Oelwein Iowa Box 280

——-

[1] Lela Brown, Nancy’s daughter

[2] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[3] Nancy’s brother, Ethan Keith

[4] Nancy’s sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne

[5] Charles Luke Keith Jr.

[6] Nancy’s sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[7] His daughter, Lizzie, and her husband and son, Jay and Paul Smith

[8] Lulu (Crawford) Witte, Robert’s daughter

[9] Robert’s brother and Nancy’s uncle, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[10] Charley Eck was married to Hiram’s daughter Jessie Blanche (Crawford) Eck

[11] Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz, Nancy’s daughter

December 24, 1902 letter to Nancy Brown from Ethan Keith

December 24, 1902

To: Nancy Brown

From: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

Ethan is writing his sister about their Christmas, which has been empty without their mother. Pa seems to have her on his mind much of the time and wishes they could have both died at the same time. He was sorry that Lela couldn’t join them for Christmas.

Scan of 1902-12-24 Ethan Keith to Nancy Brown

Galesburg, Mich.

Dec 24, 1902.
8.10 P.m.

Dear Sister,

This is the first Christmas eve that we have ever known that Ma[1] was not with us. How we would like to see her. There are so many things to keep reminding us of her. I dont want to forget her but it is hard to keep thinking. It was a sad time for us last friday evening and Sunday was a hard day. Will Clark[2] came over and staid a couple of hours. Ma is on Pa’s[3] mind most of the time I think. He will take a long breath or say something about her every once in a while. I went over to see Geo Monday eve and Hannah[4] said Pa talked a good deal about Ma and cried. Said as he has before that no one could say but she had done her part here. Said he always hoped Ma would live as long as he. She asked if he had rather went first. He said no, but wished they could have went together. Pa sleeps as well as I expected he would. Two nights he has come out to my bed and looked at me to see if I was there. Think he was afraid I had gone up stairs.

We received your letter yesterday containing the money order. Were not very much disappointed to hear that Lela[5] could not come christmas for it didn’t seem to me that business[6] had been as good as she would want it to be for her to come. I am sorry. We would have been very glad if she could have come. Hope it wont be a very great while before she can.

Christmas night. 7.20. Will try and finish this tonight. Well the first christmas is about drawing to a close. Ma has not wished us a Merry Christmas (as we know of) something she never failed to do. Hannah sent by Mrs Blake last night to get us some oysters for to day, so our dinner was got in a hurry. We would not have wanted a big dinner if we could have had it. Mrs Blake and Carrie both sewed. Yesterday and to day have both been pretty rough, snowed, and wind has blown so hard that it made the snow fly. Carrie has walked over both mornings. She has been doing first rate lately Hannah says. Mrs John Allen sent her dress skirt and a note over tuesday told Hannah she had ruined her dress.  She did not know how to loose it. A nice dress in their family meant a good deal. She wrote quite a letter. You can imagine Hannahs condition after reading it and ever since. She had to go to the Burg[7] that evening to see the lady. Got Mrs Struble to stay with Pa. Mrs Allen was nice but she is bound not to be satisfied, I guess. She did not get an invitation to the wedding and has been disappointed about going to Hastings and Grand Rapids a visiting so probably has got to act out Windy some way. I must write a little to Lou[8] so will close.

Love to all

Ethan

No letter from Henry[9] yet

——-

[1] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[2] Will Clark, Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner’s son from her first marriage to Byron Clark. Lois was Nancy and Ethan’s half sister

[3] Charles Luke Keith Jr.

[4] Hannah (Keith) Towne, Ethan and Nancy’s widowed sister. Both Ethan and Hannah lived at home with their parents

[5] Lela Brown, Nancy’s daughter

[6] After Nancy’s husband, Hank Brown, died in 1901, Lela and her sister, Bess Recoschewitz, appear to have helped with the operation of the family photographic business

[7] Galesburg, Michigan

[8] Nancy and Ethan’s sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[9] Nancy and Ethan’s half-brother, son of Charles Luke and Minerva (Payson) Keith

Obituary of Sarah (Crawford) Keith

Keith, Sarah Crawford

Sarah (Crawford) Keith

December 26, 1821 – November 18, 1902

OBITUARY

From an unknown newspaper clipping.

Keith, Sarah - Obituary

November 17, 1902 letter to Sarah Keith from Edna Allen

(This post was updated on 09-21-2021)

November 17, 1902

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Edna Allen, Kalamazoo, MI

Edna is writing her Aunt, who unfortunately died on the 18th, before the letter arrived. Edna is updating Sarah on her family. She was in Wisconsin, but missed seeing Uncle Robert, although she has received a letter from him. She saw in the paper that Hiram had been in Galesburg visiting.

Scan of 1902-11-17 Edna Allen to Sarah Keith

[Postmarked November 17th, 1902][1]

Dear Aunt Sarah,

Doubtless you will be much surprised to hear from me as I have been silent so long. You have often been in my thoughts and I have promised myself meny times to run down and spend the day with you. But my health is not very good and I go very little. Mrs Mills, boards here where Madge[2] & I are boarding so I often inquire of Mrs Dr McBeth as she visits the Mill’s. We are living in Kalamazoo since we left Sycamore. Madge finished school 2 years ago. I hear that Nancy[3] has lost her Husband[4] and that her two daughters[5] are married. She must feel quite alone in the world. Henry was a good Husband and Father. How is Hannah[6] and the rest of the family? Madge and I were in Wisconsin a few weeks last year. I did not see Uncle Robert[7] but got a nice long letter from him. I saw by the paper a few weeks ago that Uncle Hiram[8] was in Galesburg. I have been in Dowagiac some since my return from Sycamore. It’s grown to be a delightful place to live in. I had about live there as here. Emmet[9] is quite well. His mind is worse[10] I think but his general health seems to be about the same. I am here alone tonight. I wish you might step on and we would have a good old fashion talk. Madge is up to her Grandma’s.[11] She expects to stay untill Monday. She thinks a great deal of them and they of her. Her Father[12] is in South Carolina. Jolley Allen[13] wife[14] has seperated from her husband and he is South. She and her two Children[15] are living in Jackson. The youngest son, Glen[16] his wife[17] seperated from him a year ago last November. She has gone to her home in Peoria, Ill. She was a beautiful woman. Judge Macklivanes daughter, she had a little daughter but it died two years ago. They all had the same trouble that I had with O.M.[18] There is but one boy left that is living with his wife. Its strange they can not behave when they have good wives, don’t you think so? Mr Allen[19] is building several stone houses for rent. Mrs Allen[20] health is much better than it has been for several years. Mr. Allen is in very poor health. I guess I must close this letter as its quite late and I am very tired. I wish you could come and see me sometime. After a while I may run down Saturday night and stay untill Monday but I will write you the day before so you can meet me at the Depot. I should like to see you all so much. It would give me much pleasure. My love to you and the family. I remain your affectionate neice.[21]

Edna Crawford Allen
415 South West Street
Kalamazoo

P.S. Please excuse paper

——-

[1] While the letter itself was not dated, the envelope was postmarked November 17, 1902

[2] Her daughter, Madge Allen

[3] Sarah’s daughter, Nancy (Keith) Brown

[4] Henry Brown died May 22, 1901 at the age of 51

[5] Edna was under the impression that both of Nancy’s daughters were married, however Nancy’s daughter, Lela Mae Brown, was engaged to Samuel Boyer. Nancy’s youngest daughter, Bess Rae Brown, married Julius Recoschewitz November 6, 1902. Edna probably had heard about the marriage of Josephine Meredith to Fred Dean (see the November 14, 1902 letter to James Keith) and confused the two girls

[6] Sarah’s daughter, Hannah (Keith) Towne

[7] Sarah’s brother, Robert Crawford

[8] Sarah’s brother, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[9] Emmett Patrick Crawford, Edna’s younger brother

[10] The 1880 census listed Emmett as “insane” and his uncle Emmett Hamilton’s probate records referenced Emmett as being a resident at the Asylum for the Insane in Kalamazoo; however, in later years he was able to live either with Edna or near her

[11] Her mother-in-law, Hannah (Smith) Allen

[12] Oscar M. Allen Jr. He and Edna were divorced

[13] Oscar’s brother

[14] Lizzie (Merriman) Allen

[15] Ralph and Duane Allen

[16] Oscar’s brother

[17] Priscilla McIlvaine

[18] Oscar’s nickname

[19] Oscar’s father, Oscar M. Allen Sr.

[20] Oscar’s mother, Hannah (Smith) Allen

[21] Edna’s father, Edwin Crawford, was Sarah’s brother

November 14, 1902 letter to James Keith from Robert Crawford

November 14, 1902

To: James Keith, Shelbyville, MI

From: Robert Crawford, Neenah, WI

After visiting relatives in Shelbyville, Robert went to Chicago with his nephew, Ethan, to visit his niece, Nancy, and his brother, Hiram, before returning home in Neenah, Wisconsin. He received a letter from his sister, Sarah, who was getting weaker and was gradually failing when he saw her. He was planning to spend the winter with his daughter, Lulu, and her family in Oelwein, Iowa. Heard about the marriages of Cora’s sister, Josephine, and also his niece, Bess, to Julius.

Scan of 1902-11-14 Robert Crawford to James Keith

Neenah Nov 14 1902

Mr J C Keith
Shelbyville Mich

Dear Nephew

As you are aware by this time I came through with Ethen[1] to Chicago over the M C. We had a pleasant trip and was met at the depot by Nancy[2] and your Uncle Hiram[3] and I was pleased to meet them. I came through to Milwaukee the next day and here shortly after. My folks are usually well.[4] I have re’d a letter from your mother[5] since I came home but it was all she could do to write to me. I have written to her twice lately. I expect to go to Milwaukee next Tuesday on my way to Oelwein Iowa to stop with my daughter Lulu[6] this coming winter and return in the spring if possible. Well James how are you and Cora[7] and the children.[8] I hope that you are all well. I heard about Coras sister getting married[9] all right. I hope that she is happy. Please give her my regards and the family. Hope they are well. How many potatoes did you have JC[10] and have you a team yet.[11] You need one there is no doubt about that. If not it will come in time and you will appreciate them more perhaps. I did not see much change in your mothers condition JC from the time I saw her when I first came till I came away last. I think she is getting weaker and is gradually failing. I expect to go to Chicago by the 23 of this month and shortly after will leave for Iowa. I recd cards announcing the marriage of Miss Besse[12] to Julius[13] & we hope they will be happy. I am feeling quite well now and I think my trip to Mich done me good. I hope that I may come again to visit you all. It has been raining quite hard this forenoon and it makes it disagreeable and unpleasant. I wrote to your sister Mrs Lou Harris[14] but I have not heard from her yet. I hope they are all well. If I hear from you my nephew I will write you again when I get to Iowa.

Regards & love to you and Cora and the Children & relations friends

Your Uncle

Robt Crawford

Address me at 102½ 31″ Street
Milwaukee, Wis

——-

[1] James’ brother

[2] James’ sister, Nancy (Keith) Brown

[3] Robert’s brother, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[4] Robert lived with his daughter, Edna (Crawford) Henry Tullar, and her family until his death, April 13, 1903

[5] Sarah (Crawford) Keith. Sarah was Robert’s sister; she died November 18, 1902

[6] Lulu (Crawford) Witte

[7] James’ wife, Cora (Meredith) Keith

[8] Mary “Winifred” (age 10) and Walter Keith (age 4)

[9] Josephine Meredith had recently married Fred Dean on October 22, 1902

[10] James’ middle name was Clinton

[11]James and Cora had just recently moved back to Shelbyville after having lived in Chicago for approximately ten years

[12] Bess Brown, daughter of Henry and Nancy (Keith) Brown

[13] Bess married Julius Recoschewitz November 6, 1902

[14] Louese (Keith) Harris

November 14, 1902 letter to Nancy Brown from Ethan Keith

November 14, 1902

To: Nancy Brown

From: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

Ethan is writing his sister describing the poor condition of their mother. He is having much difficulty caring for her as her condition fails.

Scan of 1902-11-14 Ethan Keith to Nancy Brown

Nov. 14. 1902.

Dear Sister,[1]

Fifty-three years ago now Pa[2] and Ma[3] were in Battle Creek on their wedding tour and now Pa is lying on the and Ma is in the wheel chair west side of the stove. She is coughing a good deal this P.m. For the last three or four days there has been quite a rattling in her throat when she breathed but has been worse to day. We have given her Hulls cough balsam and this P.m. have given her Shoops croup cure that you left here. Cant see that it does much if any good. Ma looks bad and is getting poor. It is getting to be an awful job to get her to bed. She seems to loose the use of her limbs. Last night after we got her in the bedroom I thought she would get down on the floor in spite of us. We had to drag her. She could not stand up or move her limbs. She is so heavy we cant lift her.[4]

We will be very glad if you can come. Ma would like you or Lou[5] here all the time but of course knows that cant be. I’ll be glad for your sake when you get moved. Will have to stop. Mrs Blake wants to go.

Love to all.

Ethan

[The following was written sideways on the first page:]

H L Keith[6]
870 Castro St
Oakland

[1] The envelope is addressed to Mrs. H. A. Brown

[2] Charles Luke Keith Jr.

[3] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[4] Sarah died just four days later on November 18, 1902

[5] Ethan’s sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[6] Ethan’s half-brother, Henry L. Keith

October 29, 1902 letter to Louese Harris from Robert Crawford

October 29, 1902

To: Louese Harris, Shelbyville, MI

From: Robert Crawford, Milwaukee, WI

Robert arrived in Chicago Sunday on the excursion train with Ethan after visiting Sarah. They had a very enjoyable trip and found Uncle Hi and his sister Nancy there at the Central Depot. All were well except Charley Eck who was in very poor condition. “Your Mother is in a very poor condition and gradually failing.”

Scan of 1902-10-29 Robert Crawford to Louese Harris

Milwaukee, Oct 29″ 02

Mrs Lou Harris
Shelbyville, Mi

Dear Niece,

I came to Chicago Sunday on the excursion train with Ethan.[1] We had a very enjoyable trip and found your Uncle Hi[2] & your sister Nancy[3] there at the Central Depot to meet us. We found them all usually well but Charly Eck.[4] He is in a very poor condition. Your Mother[5] dear Niece is in a very poor condition and I think she is gradually failing. I hope that may get the better of this but it is a poor consolation to live and suffer as she does.[6] We hope for the best. I expect to go to Neenah (to Ednas[7]) next Friday the 31″ to stay awhile there and to Omro, my old home. Will return to Milwaukee later. Expect to go to Chicago about the 20″ of November & visit relations there and then to go to my daughters at Oelwein.[8] I ____ to stay there through the winter. I forgot to mention that I found Bird[9] & Hers well and I am feeling well myself. I hope that you & yours are well Lou & JC[10] and family. Tell Jim[11] I will write him later. I suppose that he has got through his County Business by this time. I hope that he is feeling much better then he was when I was there. I heard recently that Miss Meredith[12] was married a few days ago.[13] Please give my congratulations and my regards to Mr Meredith[14] & Family and love and regards to you dear Niece & your husband and children and JC & family. Your Uncle Robert

Robt Crawford

Will be pleased to hear from you any time Niece

——-

[1] Ethan Keith, Louese’s brother

[2] Hiram Crawford Jr., Robert’s brother

[3] Nancy (Keith) Brown

[4] Charles Eck, the husband of Jessie (Crawford) Eck, Hiram’s daughter

[5] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[6] Sarah died on November 18, 1902

[7] Robert’s daughter, Edna (Crawford) Henry Tullar

[8] Oelwein, Iowa, where his daughter, Lulu (Crawford) Witte, lived

[9] His daughter, Cynthia (Crawford) Carlson

[10] Louese’s brother, James C. Keith

[11] James Keith

[12] Josephine Meredith, who was the sister of Cora (Meredith) Keith (James Keith’s wife)

[13] Josephine married Fred Wilbur Dean on October 22, 1902

[14] Cora’s and Josephine’s father, Walter Burton Meredith

October 9, 1902 letter to Sarah Keith from Angelina Lacey

October 9, 1902

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Angelina Lacey, Flushing, MI

Angelina was 64 last March 9. She went to Toronto last summer and saw Dr. Andrew Comfort and his wife. He is about 81. Dr. John is not well. Nancy keeps his house and Hannah stays with them in the winters. She remembers when Sarah and Aunt Nancy came to visit when she was very young and her mother lived at Grimsby.

Scan of 1902-10-09 Sarah Keith to Angelina Lacey

Flushing, Oct. 9, 1902

Dear Cousin,

Yours of Sept 5 is before me. I will be pleased to correspond with you as long as we both live. It is very lonley. Know one knows how lonley it is but there is no way at presant I would like to board in the winter. My coal, I burn hard coal, would pay my board but it is not easy to get a place where they have a furnace to heat the House. My house is not built for a families nor is it easy to have it fixed over. It is not in the rite shape and I might not get those that would be agreeable. If I was near you and you had a room I would be glad to come and board with you and shut up my home. I was 64 last March the 9. They say I look like Mother.[1] I weigh 164 lbs. I went to Toronto on an excursion this summer. I seen Dr. Andrew Comfort[2] and wife.[3] He is about 81, has been smart till a few month ago. He had a sick spell. I do not think he will recover.[4] Dr John[5] is not very well. Nancy[6] keeps house for him and Hannah[7] stays with them winters. My daughter[8] has very poor health so has her husbband.[9] They own a farm about 100 miles from me, but it is not home for me. (They) have a daughter[10], the oldest 18 years but I love my own home and enjoy it. Am happy but lonley, sometimes am more so there. I can walk out here and go to church or a lecture or make a call, have conveniences they have not on the farm. My Daughter is not the best disposition. I am as close as I like to be. She is like his People and married against my will and wish they never get a head in life but are always behind it. Is sad for me that it is so. My son[11] had a kind good disposition. As people have said was in love with his mother. He was ingaged to a young lady and she seems like my daughter. Often comes and takes tea with me and goes to church with me. She is the Organist. I have a very nice home. I remember seeing you and Aunt Nancy[12] when I was very young when Mother lived at Grimsby.[13] I had the ear Ach and ma roasted onion and a ladies came. You was taller than Aunt and a little lame. Mabe you will remember. It is very kind of you writing to me when it is so difficult for you to see and I will be pleased to hear from you at any time.[14]

Lovingly your cousin

Angelina Lacey

What is the address of your brother Hiram[15]

——-

[1] Mary (Comfort) Wickersham, the younger sister of Sarah’s mother, Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Dr. William Andrew Comfort was the eldest son of Francis and Jemima (Wilcox) Comfort. Francis was an older brother of Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[3] Julia (Strickland) Comfort

[4] In fact Andrew Comfort lived until December 20, 1905

[5] John Harris Comfort, second son of Francis and Jemima (Wilcox) Comfort.

[6] Nancy Comfort, youngest daughter of Francis and Jemima (Wilcox) Comfort

[7] Hannah Marie Comfort, daughter of Francis and Jemima (Wilcox) Comfort

[8] Alberta (Lacey) McConnell

[9] James McConnell

[10] Angelina McConnell

[11] Orville Lacey; he died December 23, 1890 at the age of 26

[12] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[13] Grimsby, Ontario, Canada

[14] Sarah Keith died a month later on November 18, 1902

[15] Hiram Crawford Jr., Sarah’s brother

October 4, 1902 letter to Sarah Keith from Robert Crawford

October 4, 1902

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Robert Crawford, Milwaukee, WI

Robert is writing Sarah to update her on his travel plans.

Scan of 1902-10-04 Robert Crawford to Sarah Keith

Milwaukee Oct 4″ 1902

Dear Sister Sarah

I came down here[1] the middle of this week. Found my folks usually well. I intend to cross the lake to Ottawa Beach the first of next week if the weather is favorable as I want to stop at Shelbyville[2] on my way to your place. Will likely be there at Shelbyville this next week and then will come to your place. Will write you at Shelbyville. Your brother,

Regards

Robt Crawford

——-

[1] His daughter, Cynthia, and her husband Charles Carlson, were living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

[2] Shelbyville, Michigan, where some of Sarah’s children were living

September 21, 1902 letter to Sarah Keith from Robert Crawford

September 21, 1902

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Robert Crawford, Neenah, WI

Robert hopes to visit Sarah in October. He is glad to hear about Hiram’s visit with her.

Scan of 1902-09-21 Robert Crawford to Sarah Keith

Neenah Sept 21″ 1902

Dear Sister Sarah

Your kind letter was recd yesterday and I was pleased to hear from you. I am sorry to hear of your afflictions My Dear Sister but we have to put up with Our Troubles in this life and it is hard to bear with them some times. We are all usually well. I recd a letter from Hiram[1] after his visit to your home. He said that he had a great visit. I am glad that Hiram could get away from his business. I dont know when I can come to see you Sister, but the first of Oct some time. Business matters have delayed me. I think that I will come by Port Huron if the weather is favorable and then return by way of Chicago. It will depend on rates some. I am glad that Hannah[2] can get away and go to Chicago. It will be some rest for her.

Regards & love to you & yours.

Your Brother

Robt Crawford

——-

[1] Hiram Crawford Jr., the younger brother of Robert and Sarah

[2] Hannah (Keith) Towne, Sarah’s daughter

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