Resignation of Hiram Crawford Jr.

From the July 22, 1889 Chicago Herald:

Hiram Crawford Has Resigned

President Yerkes Loses his North Side Car Line’s Secretary and Treasurer

Hiram Crawford, after twenty-three years of active service as employee, stockholder and officer of the North Chicago Street Railroad Company has retired. He handed his retirement to President Yerkes on the 1st of July and since then his old duties as secretary and treasurer have been performed by W. D. Meeker, who was promoted from the position of assistant. Mr. Crawford’s connection with the street car company dates back as far as 1865, when he entered its service as a conductor, immediately after his return from the battle fields of the south. He collected fares for two years and then was promoted to the position of receiver. In the fall of 1877 he succeeded H. N. Townes as secretary and treasurer, and he continued to perform the functions of that important office until ill health compelled him to retire from active service. Mr. Crawford will retain his stock in the company, and will probably officiate in the capacity of director both for the North and West Side roads, but for several months to come he will spend most of his time in searching for recreation and amusement. His retirement from the office of the North Side company, where he has probably met and become known to half the people of the North Side, will be a source of regret to all his friends. During the twenty-three years that he was manager and treasurer he probably handled as much money as any man in Chicago. In fact he did little else besides count money from the time he took off his coat in the morning until he donned it again in the evening. He sat within a fortification of green paper all the time. It was no uncommon sight to see him carrying an armful of bills in and out of the company vault just as a small boy carrying an armload of wood. Mr. Crawford all through the Turner-Rehm management, and when President Yerkes took hold four years ago he was promptly tendered his old position, with the understanding that he could have it as long as he pleased. His retirement was only by [President Yerkes with] protest.

September 9, 1884 letter to Sarah Keith from Mary Wickersham

September 9, 1884

To: Sarah Keith

From: Mary Wickersham, Waukegan, IL

She received Sarah’s letter of July 21 telling her of Nancy’s death. She wrote to Stephen telling him. Says her “time is next by age.”

1884-09-09 1884-09-09B 1884-09-09C 1884-09-09D

Ill, Waukegan Sept 9 /84

Sarah my dear Niece,

Your most welcome letter was duly received mailed the 21 of July. It touched my feelings very much for they where so like your own only I can realise that she is dead[1]. I can picture in my imagination her body lying in the grave mouldering to dust but it always looks light there in the night. I often when awake think of her. The same light appears in my mind because I know that Jesus laid in the tomb lighten and made it a resting place for the bodies of those who has believed in and excepted Him as their salvation. Her soul is safe with Him in whom she bleived and as He arose the third day and triumphed over Death, hell and the grave, so in the morning of the resurrection we are told in Gods word that all who sleep in Jesus untill the time when He will come to Judge the world in righteousness then will the trump of the arch Angle sound forth and awake the sleeping dust. The dead in Christ will rise first, their glorified bodies like unto their saviors in the twinkling of an eye. The Apostle sais body and soul shall unite and be caught up with the Lord in the air. So shall we ever be with him. What glorious thruths such causes light to shine on my pathway of lonelyness toil and sorrow buoys up my sinking spirits and enables me to look forward with antisipated hope of rest with Jesus and all the blood washed throng which John in his vision saw standing on the sea of glass who had come out of great tribulation having washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb. These truths I meditate on by day an night when awake or I would long since been in the insane Asylum or sleeping in the grave. These thoughts make it look so light to me when I look in your Mothers grave which often do. The darkest night it is always light. I seem to see her so plain always have since her death.

Dear Niece dont think because have been slow in answering your kind letter that it was carelessness or lack of sympathy. No far from that. I am as anxious to keep up correspondence as you and will as long as able so to do. Was sick in the spring, sick spells often, over worked some times, because of age alone. None to do a chore but myself. Last winter had nine correspondence, now have five. Will drop more. The lady who lives in part of the same house with me has been sick for nine weeks. Three weeks and half since she was taken to a friends house to be nursed. For five weeks I done her work and mine and and waited on her throug the day. Now I have the care of her house, also watering her plants with my own. It is hard for me so you can see why I have not written sooner. Br S.[2] wrote to me as he said. I answered and told him of your Mothers death. Hope you are all well as usual. Write soon. I like to hear from you. It will not be long. My time is next by age. Oh I long to rest. With much love to you all.

Yours Affectionately

M W Wickersham

[to] Sarah Keith

[1] Mary is referring to her sister, Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts, who died June 4, 1884.

[2] Brother, Stephen Comfort

Obituary of Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

From the June 6, 1884 Supplement to the Enterprise (Galesburg, Michigan):

Mrs. N. B. Betts passed from earth life last Wednesday evening at 11:15.  Funeral at half past two to-day at Baptist Church.  Only two of her sons, Prosper and Hiram Crawford, were able to be present.


From the June 19, 1884 Omro Journal, Page 1:


Mrs. Betts died very suddenly at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. C. L. Keith[1], on June 4, at 11 p. m. She had been unusually well during the day, had been visiting her grand daughter, Mrs. H. A. Brown[2], and others, and at nine o’clock returned home and in two hours she passed away.

Her maiden name was Nancy B. Comfort. She was born in Orange Co., New York, August 6, 1802, and removed to Beamsville, Canada, in 1812, and was married to Hiram Crawford July 25, 1820. In 1846 they moved to Galesburg, Mich., and from thence to Dowagiac, Mich., in 1851. Mr. Crawford, her husband, died September 2, 1852. After his death she went to Omro, Wis., where she married Rev. Platt Betts, a Baptist minister, on November 8, 1857. Mr. Betts died December 29, 1861, since which time she has lived in Galesburg, mostly with her daughter Mrs. C. L. Keith. She has reared a family of eleven children[3], nine sons and two daughters. Six of these are now living, one daughter and five sons[4], all of whom are good, substantial citizens. She was the mother of a noble family of children. Could there be a greater evidence or a more fitting testimony of genuine worth than the bringing up of such a family as she has. When we reflect the life of this old lady dying at the age of eighty-two, and think of the suffering and care she has endured for these long years, the life of a true mother, we feel that she deserves the blessings of Heaven and our greatest admiration. —Enterprise, Galesburg, Mich.

Mrs. Betts was mother of Robert Crawford of our village.


From Charles Luke Keith Jr.’s 1884 diary:

June 4: Sarah and her mother went over to Nancys in morning. I drawed some stone from corner. Went over to burg in Evening after Sarah and her mother. Got home about ten oclock. Mrs. Betts Died about Eleven in Evening.

June 5: Went over to burg in morning to get casket and make arrangements for funeral. Hiram and Kate came in afternoon. D. and Lou came in evening.

June 6: Took Box over to cemetry. Got Mr. Miner to dig the grave. Pros came this morning. Mrs. Betts Buried to day.

June 7: Henry came this morning from South Bend. They all left for home on the 11. Oclock Train.

[1] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[2] Nancy (Keith) Brown

[3] In the Keith archives there is a picture showing a young couple standing in front of a monument with the following inscription (it was very faint and the dates may be in error):

In Memory of

Walter Crawford Died Aug 31, 1823

Francis Crawford Died Aug 10, 1832

Nancy M. Crawford Died June 6, 1844

It is believed that these were Nancy’s and Hiram’s children, who died in childhood; research is ongoing

[4] Sarah, Robert, Henry, David, Hiram and Pros. Besides the children listed in Footnote #3, Edwin and James had predeceased Nancy

April 20, 1884 letter to Nancy Betts from Robert Crawford

April 20, 1884

To: Nancy Betts

From: Robert Crawford, Omro, WI

Robert reports that he has arrived home after stopping for one day in Chicago. Pros stopped the next day and they went to the stockyards and saw other sights. Got back to Kit’s and then the next day they went to Hiram’s. Ethan was there and was getting better.

Omro April 20th, 1884

Dear Mother,

I arrived at home last Friday evening having stayed but one day in Chicago. I met Mr. Birklund[1] at the Central Depot then we went to L.P.[2] that evening, stayed over night with them. Found all well. Had a good visit. Prosper stopt off next day and went out to the Stock Yards with me and then we went to see the Panorama of Gettysburg[3], a grand picture, and other sights in the city and I got back to Kitt’s[4] that night. Early next morning Kitt and I went over to Hiram’s[5] and visited til ten oclock. Had a pleasant time. Eathan[6] was there and is improving in health so Aunt Kate[7] says. I think Eathan is doing better under the treatment he is getting there than anywhere else but the weather has been very unfavourable for him in Chicago. I found my folks usually well and were pleased to hear their grandmothers health was better and their Aunt Sarah[8] and her family was well. Mother, I have not seen any of your old friends yet but will in a short time and give them your regards. I will close now with our love and regards to you, Mother and Sarah and family.

From your affectionate son

R Crawford


[1] Robert’s son-in-law, Ormand Birkland

[2] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Robert’s younger brother

[3] Visitors to the exhibit could purchase as a souvenir a small (4×6) hardcover book entitled “Panorama of the Battle of Gettysburg on Exhibition Cor. Wabash Avenue and Hubbard Court, Chicago”. It was a picture book with 9 pictures that “accordion-pleat” and when opened up show a panoramic view of Gettysburg. It was copyrighted in 1884 and was shown again in Chicago at the World’s Fairs in 1893 and 1933

[4] Katherine Sarah “Kit” (Crawford) Birkland, Robert’s daughter

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

[6] Ethan Keith, his sister Sarah (Crawford) Keith’s eldest son

[7] Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford, Hiram’s wife

[8] Sarah (Crawford) Keith, Robert’s sister

March 6, 1884 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Jr.

March 6, 1884

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Hiram Crawford Jr., Chicago, IL

Sent $75 and talks of sending some “Balm of Gilead … which may amuse” their mother. Also mentions Ethan being sick all season and Eugene being sick since the first of the year – possibly from lead poisoning while working in the mines.

1884-03-06 1884-03-06B 1884-03-06C 1884-03-06env

V.C. Turner, Pres’t. H. Crawford, Treas.
North Chicago City Railway Co.
Office, 430 North Clark Street,

Chicago, Mar 6th 1884

My Dear Sister,

Your letter was received today and agreeable to request will enclose you Post Office Order for Seventy five dollars. The balance, of course, you can have when you want it.

I think I fully appreciate the misery and suffering you endure and wish that there was some way in which you could be relieved. I have at last found her[1] Balm of Gilead and will send it this afternoon, which may amuse her for a little while. Will also write her. As you suggest I will consult some Physician, although I know that his answer will be that its simply the dying out of her vital powers on account of age, but perhaps something may be done to relieve her suffering.

I guess, Sarah, that this is one of the crosses which Kate[2] talks about, which is apportioned off for you to bear. I hope it wont be so heavy as to completely crush you. I am glad that Henry[3] visited you, and that everything was so pleasant. After what happened I was afraid he would not want to come.

If the weather was pleasant and warm, I think Ethan[4] would get along faster. This season of the year is against anybody getting well and in favor of everybody getting sick. However, I think he is doing as well as could be expected under the circumstances.

I heard through Minnie[5] brother that Eugene[6] had been quite sick much of the time since the first of the year. He didnt let her know anything about it until she got home. I believe his sickness was caused by lead poisoning while in the mine.

Love to Mother and all.

Affectionately your Brother,

H. Crawford

I have made the PO Order payable to Mrs Sarah C Keith. You must sign it as above. HC


[1] Their mother, Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford, Hiram’s wife

[3] Henry Crawford, Hiram’s and Sarah’s brother

[4] Sarah’s son, Ethan Keith

[5] Minnie (Crooks) Crawford, Eugene Crawford’s wife

[6] The son of Hiram’s and Sarah’s brother, Edwin Crawford. There is a reference in a letter dated 6/12/1879 from Edna Crawford to Eugene’s work in the mines in Leadville, Colorado

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

December 17, 1883 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Jr.

December 17, 1883

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Hiram Crawford Jr., Chicago, IL

On North Chicago City Railway Company stationary. Wants to know if Mother is better.

1883-12-17 1883-12-17env

V.C. Turner, Pres’t.                                H. Crawford, Treas.
North Chicago City Railway Co.
Office, 430 North Clark Street,
Chicago, Dec 17th, 1883

Dear Sister,

I received Nancy’s[1] Postal today. As I have not received a telegram I assume that Mother[2] is much better for I believe you would send for me if you thought it was necessary and wouldnt without you did. I have been intending to write to her for sometime but have been pretty buisy and thought I would wait until Christmas. I hope I havent waited to long. Please drop me a line with regard to her health and remember me in love to her.

Family all well

Your brother

H. Crawford

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

[2] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

June 24, 1883 letter to Sarah Keith from Robert Crawford

June 24, 1883

To: Sarah Keith

From: Robert Crawford, Omro, WI

Robert was thanking Sarah for her letter of sympathy. It was hard for Robert to believe that his wife Louisa was gone, but it was also a relief for she had suffered so much. Robert described the last few months of her life and the funeral service that they had for her.

1883-06-24 1883-06-24B 1883-06-24C

Omro June 24 1883

Dear Sister Sarah,

Your kind and sympathetic letter I recd yesterday on my return from the Boom.[1] I could hardly realize at first when Louise[2] died that she was gone but since that time the girls[3] have gone out to their Aunt, the house is shut up and I miss her for she was always there when I came home. But when she died, Sister and Brother, it was a relief to me for she suffered so much and was so patient to bear it. I was at home the most of the time for the last five months of her life and took care of her the latter part of the night and she talked to me a great deal about the children and of herself. She wished me to keep the girls together and Lizzie to keep house and I would have a home and they would and I am going to do it. Everything was done in harmony with her wish at the funeral. She wanted Elder Baleck to make a few remarks at the funeral and the Misses Drew[?] to sing and to have the services at the house. It was so. I would like to come to Chicago if Mother[4] comes out there but I am so fearfully behind, or in other words in debt, with all of this sickness and expense attending it that I cant go and my business is just booming now and I must attend to it. But Sister tell Mother Dear I hope to see her again before long to and now my love to you Sister and your and Mother and regard to inquiring friends.

From your affectionate Brother

Robt Crawford


[1] Bay Boom was where the lumber companies sorted out their lumber

[2] Louisa (McCann) Crawford, Robert’s wife, died June 8, 1883. According to the 1880 census, Louisa had consumption and was “unable to attend to normal business or duties” as she was “maimed, crippled, bedridden, or otherwise disabled”

[3] Presume he was referring to his three youngest daughters who were still living at home, Melissa (Lizzie), who was 21, Cynthia, age 13, and Lulu, age 6

[4] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

Obituary for Louisa (McCann) Crawford

Louisa (McCann) Crawford died on June 8, 1883 in Omro, Wisconsin, and she is buried in the Omro Cemetery.

Crawford, Louisa - Obituary 2

Omro Weekly Journal, Page 5

Death of Mrs. Crawford
Mrs. Robert Crawford, who has been confined to the house for years, died at about one o’clock, Saturday morning. For a long time it was known that she could not recover and that in death she would only find relief from her severe suffering. The funeral services were conducted by Rev. O. W. Babcock from the family residence, on Sunday afternoon.


Crawford, Louisa - Obituary

Crawford, Louisa – Obituary

Obituary (source unknown):

Mrs. Crawford, wife of Robert Crawford, of this place, died last Friday night at about one o’clock. This estimable lady who has been a resident here for many years, and was well and favorably known, has for several years past been an invalid whose sufferings were long and protracted, though patiently borne.

Though perhaps her life has not been one of wide and varied experiences, it has been one of the character that most endeared her to her kindred and friends — a life permanently devoted to her family, and of the kind that tend to better the world and society. Her most prominent characteristics were fidelity and affection — in youth a dutiful daughter, in woman’s years a loving wife and mother. These traits make the blow fall with still greater weight upon her beloved family, notwithstanding it has been long expected.

The funeral services were held at the house Sunday afternoon at two o’clock, Rev. Babcock officiating, and were very largely attended, both from the village and country.

May 20, 1883 letter to Nancy Betts from Eugene Crawford

May 20, 1883 

To: Nancy Betts

From: Eugene Crawford, White Pine, CO

Written on Crawford House stationery, showing E. L. Crawford as the proprietor. Eugene is writing his grandmother and enclosing $2.00. He would have sent more, but couldn’t because he didn’t expect to realize anything from his mine until the fall. His wife, Minnie, is tired of living in Colorado and he hopes to send her back in the fall. He will come also if possible. He sends news that D.C. has a new baby daughter.

This letter was originally posted to the Letters From the 1860s blog site and can be viewed here.

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