August 18, 1856 letter to Sarah Keith from Luke Keith

August 18, 1856

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Luke Keith, Omro, WI

Got to Omro and gives an account of Sarah’s mother and various brothers. Gives a detailed description of the area. Hasn’t been feeling well and if he doesn’t feel better in a day or two, will think about coming home, but doesn’t want to travel while sick as people take advantage of travelers who are sick.

Omro Aug 18th 1856


I Landed in the city of Omro Saturday noon found the folks all well. Hiram & Pros[1] are here. David[2] has left. He has gone up the wolf river to Stevens point some 60 miles. I left Kalamazoo Monday night at one got to Laport next day at 10 found your mother[3] quite comfortable so she does some work. She talks of going to Galesburg. Eugene[4] is with her. They dont hear from Edwin.[5] She expected Edwin after gean[6] before this time. Pros feels as cute as _____. He has got a gun and was shooting black birds when I got there. He is well suited. They have a fine country here. Every thing right but water. There are no running streams here. They have good water by diging. Robert[7] has a large spring on his place where he gets his water some ten rods from the house. The boats come within fifteen rods of his door. There has one steam boat passen here this morning and three horse boats. Bob has got a good farm has got his barn done has got some 200 acres of land up in the woods. The soil is very black and rich. It looks like the bottom land on the river. I went round some six or eight miles Sunday and saw some as fine looking farmes as I ever saw in any country. On the road south from omro I could see five or six miles around and see large houses and barns. I should think it was as thick silted as Kalamazoo County. There is some sickness here the most they have ever known. They are troubled with a sort of summer complaint.[8] There has been one death only. I dont feel as well as when I left home. I have had the back door trot two or three days past which makes me feel rather weak. You must write soon as you get this. Perhaps I should get it before I leave here. I should like to hear how you and all the family are geting along. If I dont feel better than I have for a day or two back I shall think some of going home. I should not like to be sick out here on expence. They know how to put it on to people that are traveling, fifty cents a meal and poor at that counts up some. They hold inproved farms here from 20 to 25 pr acer but they are farms. This would be the place for Lasher.

Write soon as you get this.

[to] S. C. Keith

C. L. Keith


[1] Sarah’s brothers, Hiram Crawford Jr. and Lucius Prosper Crawford

[2] Sarah’s brother, David (D. C.) Crawford

[3] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford

[4] Sarah’s nephew, Eugene Crawford, who would be six years old on August 22

[5] Sarah’s brother, Edwin Crawford; Edwin was Eugene’s father

[6] Believe this is short for Eugene

[7] Sarah’s brother, Robert Crawford

[8] Summer complaint usually refers to diarrhea, usually in infants, caused by spoiled milk

July 20, 1856 letter to Luke Keith from David (D. C.) Crawford

July 20, 1856

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: David (D. C.) Crawford, Omro, WI

David is writing his brother-in-law, Luke Keith, to inform him that he has left the shop for a short time to help the boys hay & harvest. He has also found that there is a great abundance of young ladies in the area and that some “speak pretty well for this western country.” He thinks Luke should sell his farm and move into the area, although real estate prices are quite high due in part to a great emigration west. He is also enclosing $15, which is the balance due Luke on some venture that they had previously been involved with. David has added to the balance to compensate Luke for “your trouble and inconvenience.”

Omro July 20th/56

Friend Luke

I presume that you have been looking for A letter from me. I have no excuses to offer only on the plea of neglinence or as the old proverb says that procrastination is the thief of time and I think it would take effect in this case. I have been very busy for the last two or three Weeks. I have left the Shop for a short time and am helping the Boys Hay & Harvest so you can immagine about how I feel when it comes night little like retiring to the land of nod. Sundays have to go to Church and in the evening of course go and see the Young Ladies. We have A great abundance here and some that speak pretty well for this western Country. And to cut the whole matter short I am muched pleased with the Country up here and also the young Ladies and enjoy myself finely and think that if you could dispose of your interest there profitably and come out this and buy A Farm that you would have better health and like it to although as near as I can determine by inquiry & that real estate is held in this vicinity very high. I presume that you could not buy A place to suit you for much less than you could there. There is A great deal of emigration to West at present which keeps property very high. You was speaking of the width of the River at this place. The River averages about twenty rods wide[1] and the capacity of the Steam Boats that Navigate it waters is about forty Horse power.

I have enclose you fifteen $15.00[2] which is the balance due I believe with A little renumeration which I hope will partially compensate you for your trouble and inconvenience for the present and at some future period I hope I may be able to render you the like favor. Please answer this soon.

And I remain yours as ever

David Crawford
To C. L. Keith Esq
Galesburgh, Michigan


[1] This is approximately 330 feet

[2] This is about $350 in 2017 dollars

June 1, 1856 letter to Luke Keith from David (D. C.) Crawford

June 1, 1856

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: David (D. C.) Crawford, Omro, WI

David is writing his brother-in-law to inform him that he has moved to Omro, Wisconsin. He has enclosed $20, which is a portion of what he owes Luke. He will send the balance when he receives word back from Luke that he has received this letter. David had the full amount with him when he was living in Chicago, but was thinking about moving and thought he might need the funds. He is staying with his brother, Robert, who owns a farm just outside of town. His brothers Hiram and Prosper are also there. He finds that the surrounding area is quite populated due to an “immense emigration.”

Omro June /56[1]

Friend Luke

Dear Sir

As you perceive I am located in Wisconsin in the said City of Omro in good health and fine spirits. I here enclose you twenty Dollars[2]. I will now give you my reasons for not sending the balance. I have written to you several times since I left and have not received any answer. Therefore I thought as there is no express office here I would send part of it now and the balance just as soon as you will let me know that you have received this. Luke I might have met this long before while I was in Chicago. I had it but I did not like the City life. I was doing well and should [have] stayed all summer but my health was not very good and it was comeing on sickly so I thought I would tramp and might want to use it so I started and came here to Omro. I have A good situation here and presume I shall stay here A year. This is A fine Country up here. I like it very much. Robert[3] owns A nice farm about A half A mile from town. Robert is in good circumstances and in A fair way to get rich he ain’t far from it at present. Hiram[4] is to work for him on the Farm, Prosper[5] is also. They are all well. Robert is got A fine Woman[6] for a frau. A I like her very much. I feel very much to home up here. I supposed before I came here that this was a regular wooden Country but I find there is about as many People up here as any where. This town contains about A thousand inhabitents. Oshkosh City 12 miles below on the River contains ___ thousand. Berlin 12 miles above on the River contains 24 thousand. Fond dulac City at the east end of Lake Winebago contains, about 30 miles from here, 8 or 9 thousand and numerous other little towns all around. There is an immense emigration up this way. There is three Steam Boats pass and repasses A few rods from the store every day. I will bring this to a close now and write more particulars next time. Robert & Famly and the Boys sends there love to all of you. Please answer this soon and I will respond immediately. Give my love to Sarah[7] and all enquiring friends and I remain as ever your sincere friend.

David Crawford to Luke Keith

PS Please Address Omro, Winebago County, Wisconsin. D. C.


[1] While the date was incomplete and hard to decipher, based on subsequent letters it is presumed to have been written around the first part of June 1856

[2] This is about $550 in 2017 dollars

[3] Robert Crawford, D. C.’s older brother

[4] Hiram Crawford, D. C.’s younger brother

[5] Lucius Prosper Crawford, D. C.’s youngest brother

[6] Louisa (McCann) Crawford, Robert’s wife

[7] Sarah (Crawford) Keith, Luke’s wife and D. C.’s sister

May 23, 1856 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Crawford

Footnote #6 updated on 02-11-2017

May 23, 1856

To: Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Crawford, Cassville, WI

Arrived at Cassville on the Mississippi River in Wisconsin three weeks ago. Apparently staying with son James. Describes the area and also James and his family. Speaks of Eugene being quite sick. Asks Lois to write when she is going to marry Byron.

 1856-05-23 1856-05-23B 1856-05-23C 1856-05-23D

Cassvill May the 23 1856

Dear Sarah

We arived at Cassvill three weeks ago to day safe and sond and found James[1] and family the same. James looks quite natural. He is a vearry large stout man. Perty good looking. He has sandy wiskers, not quite so hevvy as Edwins[2]. His wife[3] is a verry good looking. She is bout Louesa bild, a verry little taller, verry fare blue eyes, lite chesnut brown hair. Thear children is large and fleshed for so yound as they be. The little girl[4] will be three years old the tweneth of next September and she [is] largear then your Nancy[5] and the boy[6] is one year old and he looks like a child two years old.

Edwin recommendation and pas that the Superitendent gave him past us all over raile and watter free. He thinks he can go to Roberts[7] without paying anything. He left hear the third day after we arrived hear and was a going to Roberts place and saide if he bought thear he wold rite to us in a few days and let us know all the perticulars. He had a grate ide of having James move thear if he bought and if not he was a going back to Hamelstons[8] and get Mary[9] and the houshold stuf and move out hear in this regeion of country to a place call Hastings and have James move with him but we havent heard from him cence he left. This is the resson that I delaid in riteing to you before.

Cassvill is a smoul town, quite a hamson location with scatterd housses and few good bildings in the loer end of the town, four stores, two publick houses, three groasses and som few bourding houses. It is on the Missippa river. Som of the bildings is close to the watter age. Cassvill is surrounded by mountains on south side of the river and iowa layes on the west side of the river. In some places the mountains is one hundred and thurty feet high. The hous we are aliving in is about thurty rods from the river. To morrow we expect to move in a hous that sets on the river edge. He [James] expects to stop thear tell he puts up one for themselves. He is a going to bild soon if he dont go with Edwin. James has traveled a grate deal sence he left us at Yorkvill[10]. He has ben to liverpool, round cape horn and to the east indes and to quebeck and Newyork City and broolin and a grate menny other places that is to leigus to menchen. He traveld betwen three and four years after he left home studdy. James has a unstiddy mind of his own fore ever to keep property after he earns it. He is indurstres, hard working fellow. I wish he could git with Robert in that kind of bissniss. I think he wold do better whare he cane have Roberts consol. I think he will hear [listen?] to him but I have no apinion of him going with Edwin, but still he may do well and I hope he may let him be whan he will for he has got a good kind wife and one that thinks evry thing of him and he is a good harted fellow as ever was.

Now Sarah I think I have told you all. Now dont split your sids a laughen when your reade this wen you see how I have blundert in the perticulars. James and family is well. I have a bad cold ever cence I have ben hear and a hard cough but I am som better of it now. Eugene[11] has the ague. He was verry sik yesterday. To day is his well day but he looks bad. He saide he wanted to go and see Eathen[12] and Nancy[13] but poor boy I dont know if he will ever have that oppertunity agane in his young days.

I cant tell you much about my self and and what I will do at present. I think now I will go back to Laport the first of July if the Lord spare my life. My things is thear. James and Ann wants me to stay longer if I can be contented. This place is settled mostly by dutch and a few irish and som americans and English. Rite as soon as you can. Give my respects to the old folks. My love to Luke[14] and youslef and the children, to Lous and Henry.[15] Tell Lous that she must rite to me when she and Byron[16] is a goen to git married[17] and get those verces from Miss Taylor and to put then in letter. James and Ann joins withe me in sending our love to you. No more at present but remain your afectunate Mother till death

Nancy B. Crawford

[to] Sarah C. Keith

N B give my respects to all inquirn frinds and rite evry peticulars.

N.B. Dear Sarah

The Missippa is a beatiful stream of water. It looks verry much like the river St. Clair only the water is soft and the cullar of rain water. The large boats is a runing up and down the river consinly. They engage six aday.


[1] James Crawford, Nancy’s son

[2] Edwin Crawford, Nancy’s son

[3] Ann (Rogers) Crawford

[4] Alice Crawford

[5] Nancy Keith, Nancy’s granddaughter (Sarah’s daughter)

[6] The baby’s name is unknown This was actually the second of three children born to James and Ann; name unknown. See notes below

[7] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[8] Nancy is referring to the Hamiltons, Edwin’s in-laws

[9] Edwin Crawford’s wife

[10] When the family moved to Michigan from Canada, they lost contact with James, who apparently went his own way while the family was living in Yorkville, Michigan (about 1846). See 9-16-1851 letter where they are trying to find the whereabouts of James. This is apparently the first time Nancy has seen James since he left

[11] Edwin Crawford’s son by his first wife, Louisa Hall

[12] Sarah Keith’s son, Ethan Keith

[13] Nancy Keith, Sarah’s daughter

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

[15] Lois and Henry were Luke’s children by his first wife, Minerva Payson

[16] Byron Clark

[17] Lois and Byron were married March 17, 1859

Additional note added on 08-09-2015 regarding Footnote #6 above. It is possible that this was another child who died in childhood. According to this letter, James and Ann had two children: the “little girl will be three years old the tweneth of next September and she [is] largear then your Nancy and the boy is one year old and he looks like a child two years old.” If that boy was Rollin (nicknamed Rolla), he would have been born around 1855, yet according to census records, Rollin was born around 1857 or 1858. Perhaps another boy was born to James and Ann who then died before Ann did in 1858. If Rollin was born in 1857/58, then possibly Ann died from complications of the birth.

Correction added on 10-18-2015: According to the obituary for Alice Crawford, “she was the last surviving member of a family of three children.” This confirms that Rollin was born in 1857/58 and that there was another boy born to James and Ann around 1855 and that that boy died before Ann did in 1858.

April 15, 1856 letter to Luke Keith from David (D. C.) Crawford

April 15, 1856

To: Luke Keith

From: David Crawford, LaPorte, IN

David is updating is brother-in-law on his brief trip to LaPorte, where two of his brothers, Edwin and Henry, as well as his Mother, are currently living. Edwin is thinking about quitting his job with the railroad and going west. His Mother is planning on going to Wisconsin to visit her son, James. Henry has a 5-month-old son that David is describing to Luke. David seems to be in some kind of venture with Luke that has had a couple of false starts. David would prefer that Luke not mention this if Edwin comes to visit. David is planning on returning to Chicago shortly.

Friend Luke    Laport I           April 15th/56

I presume that you have been looking for A letter from me before. I am at Laport to day at Edwin’s.[1] I have concluded not to go on the Lakes this summer but work at my trade in Chicago for the present. I have A good situation, but if it should happen to be sickly I might not stay. I came from Chicago to Laport last Friday and intend to return to morow if I dont haft stay with Mother.[2] Let me tell you why Edwin has been talking of quiting the road and letting Mary[3] go home and he go west to buy land or look for some other buisness. He talks now of quiting Tuesday. If he does he intends to go out to Dewagiac[4] with Mary and to Galesburgh to see you & Sarah[5] if he can. If he does Mother wants me to stay with her until he gets back. She intends to start for Jameses the last of this Month or the first of next. She had a letter from James the other day. They were all well at the date he wrote. He told her that the ice would be out the Lake so that she could come after the twentieth of the Month. Henry[6] sits here in the room where I am writing. He says tell you and Sarah they have got A boy[7] that weighs fifteen pounds. A nice fine boy. I think that he is pretty good looking all except it mouth if that was contracted in A little smaller space it would look all the better. His wife[8] has been sick but is recovering rather Consumptive. I think he is working in the car Factory this summer but say nothing.

Well Luke when are you going out West. It has been very dull out here so far this spring. I have been disipointed two or three times in my calculations but will make A go of it now. I think keep cool and I will straighten that matter with you and as soon as possible. If Ed comes out there dont tell him any thing about it nor what I wrote, if you please, for he will tell enough. He is A considerable of A hand to lengthen out on A story as you propably see if he comes out there. Write soon and address Chicago. Mother sends her love to all the folks, mine ditto.

Yours as ever

David Crawford Esq


[1] Edwin Crawford, David’s older brother

[2] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford

[3] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford, Edwin’s wife

[4] Dowagiac, Michigan

[5] Sarah (Crawford) Keith, Luke’s wife

[6] Henry Clay Crawford, David’s older brother

[7] John Henry Crawford, who was born on December 6, 1855

[8] Virginia (Worley) Crawford


January 15, 1856 letter to Luke Keith from D.C. Crawford

 Footnote #2 updated February 11, 2017

January 15, 1856

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Galesburg, MI

From: David (D.C.) Crawford, Kalamazoo, MI

D.C. was up to Potters yesterday looking at straw cutters and reporting his findings back to Luke.

1856-01A 1856-01B 1856-01env

Kalamazoo Jan/56


Dear Sir

I was up to Potters yesterday and saw their Straw Cutters. They have them from four dollars to eighteen dollars and in fact they have them here[2] and also to Walkers for about the same price. They go with a crank & a balance wheel. The knives cut with a circle a nice arrangement I should think. Come down. You cant help of getting one to suit you. In haste

Yours Truly

David Crawford


[1] Charles Luke Keith Jr., David’s brother-in-law

[2] D.C. worked at a young age for a hardware store and in 1856 he moved to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and formed the jewelry firm of Stanley & Crawford before moving in 1860 to Colorado

September 1, 1852 letter to Luke Keith from Sarah Keith

September 1, 1852                

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr.             

From: Sarah Keith, Dowagiac, MI

Sarah’s father is still alive but they don’t expect him to live much longer. He wants to live until David gets there. Edwin contracted cholera in Chicago and came home. They thought he was going to die also, but it appears he will pull through.


Dowagiac        Sep the 1, 1852

Dear Husband

Wednesday morning 9 oclock I can say I have a Father[1] yet in the land of the living but probably before this reaches you he will in the spirit world. To look at him and hear him breathe it does not seem possable according to human observation for him to live the day out. The Doctors gave him up last night. O the trying sene to stand by the dying bed of a dear parent.[2] David[3] is not here. We expect him this afternoon. Pa is very anxious to live till he comes. Edwin[4] is very sick. The Docters says he must have the best of attendence or he cannot get well. He was attacted with the colery in Chicago. He came home as soon as possible Sunday. They hadnt any hopes of him. If he had not have had a strong constitution he could not have lived. Father being in the situation he is has had a bad effect on him. This morning he took to vomiting & purging again we have stoped it on him and hope for the best. Mother[5] is about crazy. I have not slept any since I come here worth mentioning. My hand trembles so I can scarcly write. I feel very anxious about you and the children.[6] I do hope you will keep well. Kiss babe[7] for me. I will write again in a few days.

Sarah C Keith

[1] Hiram Crawford Sr., Sarah’s father

[2] Hiram died the next day, September 2, 1852

[3] David (D.C.) Crawford, Sarah’s brother

[4] Edwin Crawford, Sarah’s brother

[5] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford

[6] Lois and Henry Keith, Luke’s children by his first wife, Minerva Payson, and Ethan and Nancy, Luke & Sarah’s children

[7] Sarah’s daughter, Nancy Catherine Keith, was born July 9, 1852

August 30, 1852 letter to Luke Keith from S.H.D. Vaughn

August 30, 1852                    

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Galesburg, MI

From: S. H. D. Vaughn, Dowagiac, MI

Sarah’s father is very sick and her mother wants her to come “by the first cars.” Edwin is also very sick.


Aug 30th 1852

J W Cothren[1]

Dear Sir

Will you send this letter to Mr Charley Luke Keth as soon as recieved and oblige the parties

Mr & Mrs Keith

Your father (Mr Crawford[2]) is very sick and Mrs Crawford[3] is anxious to have her daughter come and see them by the first cars if possible. We hope that he will get well but his case is a critical one. Edwin[4] is also here sick but improving. I presume that she would also be glad to see any of the other children that could come out.

Yours in haste

S. H. D. Vaun[5]

[to] Mr Charles Luke Keith

[1] The envelope is addressed to J. W. Cothren, Freight Agent, Galesburg, Mich, with the notation “Haste without fail if possible”

[2] Hiram Crawford Sr., Sarah’s father

[3] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford, Sarah’s mother

[4] Edwin Crawford, Hiram & Nancy’s son

[5] From History of Cass County, Michigan (1882): “In the summer of 1851, a Baptist Church was organized under the labors of the Rev. S. H. D. Vaughn.”

October 17, 1851 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Crawford

October 17, 1851                  

To: Sarah Keith                               

From: Nancy Crawford, LaPorte, IN

Had a visit with Aunt Jane. Everyone was well except Frank Nelles’ wife, who was “confined with a young son.” They buried their 14-month-old daughter on September 1. Almira‘s husband died of cholera two months ago and Aunt Jane was in low spirits because of the cholera epidemic. Aunt Jane had lots of sewing to do and Nancy wished Sarah could live there as she could get as much sewing as she wanted. Robert said he would take Prosper in the Spring, and she sometimes wishes he would because she has a “grate trial with him,” but she would miss him. Henry left LaPorte September 17 for St. Louis. She is beginning to worry, as they haven’t heard from him yet. He hadn’t been able to work for 5-6 weeks because he had erysipelas on his hand and a fellon and boils. Edwin is going to Toledo for a new Engine — wanted to have Hiram as his fireman. Edwin is to have the greatest and the most splendid engine that runs. The name of the engine is the I. B. Parks (?), named after the president of the road. They moved to another house close to the depot (she is apparently living with Edwin). Edwin has always been kind to her, but Mary “has been quite clever since I came back.”


Laport October the 17 1851

Dear Sarah,

It is with plaseure i take my pen in hand to inform you of the viset i had with your Ant.[1] When I arive thear i found you relatives all well with the ecception of Frank Nelles wife.[2] She was confind with a young son all though she was quite smart. They beraed thear only Daughter the first of September a little girl fourteen months old. To my grate surprise i found Almira[3] thear a young widow. Her husband had ben ded two months and he dide with the Cholra and your Ant Jane was in low sperects for thear had ben so much Cholra a fue rods of her Door. She had felt quite alarmd for fear she wold have it herself. I saw a hous a fue rods of her door that the hole famly dide eccept two Children and thear it stands with the furniture all in it and they talk of burning it up. They was all glad to see me and i had a verry good viset. Your Ant wanted i shold stay with her this fall and winter and saw she has lots of sowing to do. I mad one coate wile i wase thear. She said it was made well. I wish you lived thear you cold git as much sowing as you wanted. It is a verry plesent location on high grown above the lake shore. I think Lukes[4] helth wold be better if he could injoy the Freach breeze of the Lake. I was gon little over two weeks. I returnd home the second day of October and found Mary[5] all alone with the ecception of a little molte citten that Ed[6] had brot home for her. Prosper[7] was out to play. It was half past eight in the eveing and Edwin dident git in till eleven. Dear Sarah wen i came home i found three letters that was directed to me. Ed had opend them all one from you and from Robert[8] and David[9] and sence i returned home i receive one from Hiram.[10] I was verry much plese to hear from you all and hear that you was weell but i am sorry hear that Luke helth is so poor. I wish he could find sumthem to help him. Sarah I dident want you to send me the dollar. I felt as tho you had paid it. You help me wen I moved. Robert saes he injoys life well with his companion[11] I hope they continyou so. He wrote that he wold take Prosper in the Spring. I somtimes wish he could take him now for I have a grate trial with him but wen I think of parting with him I feel bad. If he does go I hope he will do wright and be a good boy and Robert I think will be kind to him. I know he is under the protecting power that we all are and I feal to give him up in the hans of God. David roat about the monny Henry[12] ode him for the watch. Henry left Laport the 17 of Septeber for ST Loues. That what he told me. He said he wold write the next week after he gote thear but I have look with grate ankzity ever sence and havent receive no answer and I begen to be alarmd about him for fear that somthing has happen to him. He wanted to pay David but he had so little monny he could not spare it. He lost so much time. He had the arasiplus[13] on his hand and a fellon[14] and boils. He could not do any thing for five or six weeks. He said if his life wase spard he wold be back in two months and he wold send the monny. Hiram said in his letter he was a going out to live with Robert and he wold be a long hear the first of next month and stoped five days with us. Edwin is a going to toledo this week or next for a new Engine and he saide he wold like to have Hiram for his fireman if he could stan it. I dont want him to be a fireman without he wanted to. I would like to have him live whare i could see him wonce awile and Pa[15] may be disapointed if he stays. Ed is a got to be promoted. He is to have the graest and the most splendid Engin that runs over the road. The name of the Engin is I. B. Parks (sp?) named after the presedent of the road. We have moved in another hous near the depot and I have to live up stairs. It makes my work verry hard for me. Edwin has bout a good deal of second hand furniture all of it verry nice. He got it verry cheap. Thear part is furnish quite well. Mary folks[16] was out to see her wile I was gon. Her Father to[ld] them to pick out a block[17] to sute them and he wold send men on in the spring to bild them a hous of brick or a fram hous. She has been quite clever sence I came back. Ed has allways been kind to me. I have thought that I could not stanit it go up and down stars so often but it seams the back is filed for the burden. Mary said she could not do it. My helth is much better sence I returned home. I was verry sick on the boat a going out. They carred us by Wakegan[18] 25 miles to Recein[19] for i was so sick that i did not no wen they past by. The lake was verry rough and Dany was sick to. Sarah will you tell Hiram I wish he wold bring cloth and for Pros a coat. Clothing is so high hear. My love to you and Luke and the four children.[20]

This is from your fectunate Mother N B Crawford to Sarah Keath

[Following was written in the margin on the first page] PS Dear Sarah I wanto see you all verry much. I have a grate many things to tell you that I cant do with pen and paper. I hope you will answer this write away and write every particular. Give my respects to all inquiring frinds.

[1] Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin, Nancy’s sister, who was living in Waukegan, Illinois

[2] She may be referring to Selena (Myers) Nelles, wife of Francis Nelles who was the son of Jane (Comfort) and Jacob Nelles

[3] Almira Nelles, Nancy’s niece, the daughter of Nancy’s sister, Jane (Comfort) and Jacob Nelles

[4] Charles Luke Keith Jr., Sarah’s husband, who went by the name of Luke

[5] Mary Hamilton, who became Edwin Crawford’s second wife on January 6, 1854

[6] Edwin W. Crawford, Nancy’s son

[7] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Nancy’s son, who was about 9 years old

[8] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[9] David Crawford, also known as D.C., Nancy’s son

[10] Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy’s son

[11] Assume she is referring to Robert’s wife, Louisa (McCann) Crawford. At this time, it is unknown when they married

[12] Henry Clay Crawford, Nancy’s son

[13] Erysipelas is a bacterial infection of the skin, very similar to the “flesh eating bacteria” infection noted in recent years, and was one of the major causes of death in wars among wounded soldiers and hospitalized civilians in the days before disinfectants and hand washing

[14] A painful infection at the end of a finger or toe, near the nail

[15] Hiram Crawford Sr., Nancy’s husband

[16] Patrick and Rosanah (Perry) Hamilton

[17] Patrick Hamilton owned a tract of land consisting of eighty acres in the northeastern corner of the township of Pokagon. Upon a portion of this land the village of Dowagiac was platted and laid out. He laid out what was known as Hamilton’s First Addition to the Village of Dowagiac in the spring of 1849 which was quickly followed by Hamilton’s Second, Third and Fourth Additions. He has been referred to as the Father of Dowagiac

[18] Waukegan, Illinois

[19] Racine, Wisconsin

[20] This is a curious note: two of the children would be Lois and Henry, children of Luke by his first wife, Minerva Payson, and Ethan would be another, but Nancy wasn’t born until July of 1852, so the mention of four children is confusing

September 16, 1851 letter to Almira Nelles from Nancy & Hiram Crawford Sr.

September 16, 1851

To: Almira Nelles

From: Nancy & Hiram Crawford, Dowagiac, MI

Edwin is working on the “Engine,” Louisa is boarding at Marshall with her baby, and Sarah has a little 7-month-old boy. Robert is still in Wisconsin but she hasn’t heard from James. Said she wrote to “our folks in Canada” but hasn’t heard from them. Describes Dowagiac. Expects Sally and Louisa to visit. Asks Jane, if she receives news from California, to inquire if there is such a name as James H. Crawford there and to let them know as soon as possible.

Dowagiac September 16th 1851

Dear Niece[1] Once more I take my pen in hand to inform you that our healths is all very good eccept myself which has not been very good the last three or four weeks. I have not answered your letter as soon as you expected I should. I suppose it is beause I could not find anything to write about and because my health as I said before has not been very good. Edwin[2] is working on the Engine and Louesa[3] is boarding at Marshall [Michigan] with her baby.[4] Sally[5] has got a fine little boy[6] about 7 months old. Robbert[7] is still in Wisconsin and we had a letter from him last June. He was doing well then. We have not heard from James[8] yet. We expect Sally and Louesa out here to make us a visit and I should like to have your mother[9] or yourself or your sister[10] or both of you to come out and visit with Sally and Louesa. I have written to our folks in Canada and have not heard from them since last fall. This is a fine and thriving little Village. It is quite sick around here though. This little Village contains two taverns four dry good stores two groceries and one Drug store. It has one school house which answers for a school and meeting house to the Baptist and the Congregsionalest are fixing for to build a church a piece for them. Then there is a number of dwelling houses. There is a large grist mill going up besiges many other wonders of the grat Dowagiac City. Give my love to your mother and brothers  and sisters.

and believe to be your Affectionate Aunt

[to] Almira Nellis        Nancy B Crawford

NB Sally and Louesa will be here the last part of this month or the first of next. Jane if you recieve any news from Californ[11] let us know and if you write back to them ask them to inquire if there is any such a name as James H Crawford[12] there is let us know as soon as possible.

Your Sister

Nancy B Crawford

NB Almira answer this letter as soon as you can.

Your Aunt

Nancy B Crawford

[The following portion seems to have been written by Hiram Crawford[13]]

Dear Neice

You will excuse you aunt for not answering your letter sooner as she had nothing particular to write, but I could not put off any longer as I am anxious to hear from you all. Since I last wrote our healths have been as good as usual. We are living alone in Edwins house, his wife and child is living at Marshall and he is on an Engine running from Marshall to Detroit.

Sally has got a son 7 months old and was well when last heard from. Robert is in Wisconsin yet. We are looking for him home daily. James we have not hears from our anxiety is great about him.

We have had no news from Canada notwithstanding I have written several times. There is some sickness here prncipaley among the new comers. It is much heathier than last year. Our Village is growing fast. Some twenty or thirty buildings have gone up this season. In addition the Baptist and Congregation are each intending to erect meeting houses within a year.

Jane if you have any news from your Husband & children write. Should you write to them have them enquire for James H Crawford. Answer this letter Almira and come out one and all and see us as soon as [letter ends here, however the following paragraph was written upside down after this.]

Large subscripions have been raised for the building of two meeting houses, one by the Baptists and the other by the Congregationalists.

[1] Almira is the daughter of Nancy’s sister, Jane (Comfort) and Jacob Nelles

[2] Edwin W. Crawford, Nancy’s son, worked as an engineer for the local railroad

[3] Louisa (Hall) Crawford, Edwin’s first wife

[4] Eugene Crawford

[5] Sarah (Crawford) Keith, Nancy’s daughter

[6] Ethan Keith

[7] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[8] James H. Crawford, Nancy’s son

[9] Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin

[10] Almira had two sisters, both born to Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin and her second husband, Peleg Sunderlin: Jane Sunderlin (born in approximately 1840) and Louisa Sunderlin (born in 1846)

[11] Jane’s husband, Peleg Sunderlin, as well as two of her sons, Wallis Sunderlin and Henry Nelles, were apparently bitten by gold fever as they were all working as miners in Empire Canion, El Dorado, California, in 1850

[12] James may have been a sailor for a time. See description of his travels in letter dated May 23, 1856

[13] Nancy’s husband

1851-09-16 1851-09-16B 1851-09-16C 1851-09-16D

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