December 7, 1899 letter to Luke & Sarah Keith from D.C. Crawford

December 7, 1899

To: Luke & Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: D.C. Crawford, Cripple Creek, CO

Speaks of their Golden Wedding Anniversary. The great Cripple Creek fire put him in a financial bind. Before the fire his income was $30 a day clear. All outstanding accounts were valueless and there was no business for over two years. His family lives in Golden. They lived in Cripple Creek for three years but the cost was too high. Ida is teaching school at Fort Collins. Amanda and his son, who he thinks will be nine on February 14, are at home. A handwritten note on the envelope reads “Uncle D. C. Crawford’s last letter to Ma.”

1899-12-07A 1899-12-07B 1899-12-07C 1899-12-07D 1899-12-07E 1899-12-07env

Cripple Creek, Dec 7, 1899

Dear Brother and Sister
Galesburg, Mich.

When I opened my Box at the P.O. and tore open the wrapper exposing a newspaper and I read the word Galesburg, I commenced to hunt for items and was pleasantly surprised when I read of your “Golden Wedding Anniversary”[1]. Surely it must have been a joyful meeting of so many of you under the old homestead roof and to one and all must brought to mind many many of the reminiscences of by gone days at the eventful time full of the joys and hopes of youth. I note all were present except H. L. Keith[2] and James[3] – that was to be regreted as on such an occasion all should have tried hard to have been present. I would liked to have been present myself. Well, My Dear relatives we are getting along in years and these reunions should be encouraged as it brings us together, renews our friendships so to speak as we are apt to become unmindful of each other when long separated as in my own persenal experence. I do not know just when but has been years since we have exchanged letters. Why simply because we just neglected it. Other cares and duties have daily taken up all of our time (and absent friends and relatives have been to a certain extent almost forgotten.) This should not be, yet I am “guilty”. My time for past ten years has been almost incessently taken up. The great Cripple Creek Fire put me in such a financial shape that my whole time was taken up to exist for along time after the fire. At the time of the fire my income was about $30.00 per day clear and all outstanding accounts were valuless and there was no business for over 2 years. We are experencing better times but nothing to compare (at that time). While this is a great mining camp there are a great many poor people here. We have to put forth the same effort to make a dollar here as elsewhere. My family do not live here. They live at Golden, Colo. They lived here for three years but little to high here and having a home there, and Ida[4] is teaching school at Fort Collins 75-miles beyond Golden. (Amanda[5] and the Boy[6], who is coming 9-years of age, I believe February 14th are at home and Ida and myself are out restling for bread and butter. Of course, I would be very glad to see you all. Yet, I cannot promise that I can. “Darne fortune” has all to say about it. I find the battle of live much harder task in last twenty years then previous to that. Many a lucky fellow has made fortunes here but think of the thousands that expended their little all and went hungry and walked out of camp while his more fortunate Brother rides in and out in Palace cars. Now that I have commenced, I must write to Brother Robert[7] and Brother Hiram[8]. Both have written me and I do not quite remember if I have answered either of them. As stated, I am getting quite advanced in years and cannot move around as in former years. Yet I do get around all right and have the name of being the leivliest man of my age on the street. I will enclose one of my pictures as I look now. Well in conclusion will say that please remember me kindly to all the children and their parents, both present and absent. I had forgotten Louis[9] husbands Name. I note now Mrs Skinner[10] and her son C I Clark, wife[11] & 3 children[12]. He has done well, very nice man. He was with us awhile. Well dear Luke and Sarah, may God continue to bless you and yours and if it is our destiny never to meet on the shores of time may we hope to meet in the great hereafter if it be the will of him who doeth all things well.[13]

Your loving Brother

D.C. Crawford[14]

Box 34


[1] Sarah Crawford & Charles Luke Keith Jr. were married November 14, 1849 in Comstock Township, Michigan

[2] Henry Keith, Luke’s son by his first wife, Minerva Payson

[3] James Keith, Sarah and Luke’s son

[4] Ida (Crawford) Kelley, D.C.’s eldest daughter

[5] Amanda (Thornton) Crawford, D.C.’s wife

[6] Harold Valentine Crawford, D.C.’s son

[7] Robert Crawford

[8] Hiram Crawford

[9] Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner, Luke’s daughter by his first wife, Minerva Payson

[10] Lois’ second husband was Adelbert Skinner

[11] Charles Ira and Clara (Youngs) Clark. Charles was Lois’ son by her first husband, Byron Clark

[12] Edna, Ethan & Charles Clark

[13] There is a note on the envelope that this was Uncle D.C. Crawford’s last letter to Ma

[14] David Caleb Crawford

November 21, 1899 letter to Sarah Keith from Charles Eck Jr.

November 21, 1899[1]

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Charles Eck Jr., Chicago, IL

Was sorry to hear that Sarah had not been feeling well and was sending some ointment.

1899-11-21 1899-11-21env

Chas. T. Eck, Jr.                                                             Residence: 181 Lincoln Ave.
717 Marshall Field Building
Chicago, ILL.

Dear Aunt “Sarah”,

Am sorry to learn from “Jim”[2] of your feeling so much worse. I trust you will forgive our long silence and in the future we will at least keep you supplied with ointment even though we may fail to write. Jessie[3] will send you a letter in a day or so. Until then accept our best wishes and love to all.

Your Neph”

Chas T. Eck Jr[4]

Use both ointments Freely, more will follow in a day or so —  Chas.


[1] Envelope is postmarked November 21, 1899

[2] James Keith, Sarah’s son

[3] Jessie (Crawford) Eck, daughter of Sarah’s brother Hiram Crawford 

[4] Charles Eck married Jessie Crawford on July 9, 1898

November 16, 1899 Newspaper Announcement of Luke & Sarah Keith’s Golden Wedding Anniversary

From the November 16, 1899 Galesburg (Michigan) Weekly Argus

Keith-Crawford - Anniversary Article

Wedding Anniversary

Fifty years since, on the 14th day of November, 1849, in a house upon the site where now stands the fine residence of Mr. and Mrs. F. C. Burroughs, in Galesburg, the ceremony was performed which united Sarah C. Crawford and Charles L. Keith.

Since that date, the twain have lived honored lives near this village, and on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 14th, 1899, their children, their grandchildren and their great grandchildren assembled at the old homestead in Comstock township to celebrate their Golden wedding.

It was not a large assemblage, it being the intent to make the occasion one upon which those nearest them could unite in congratulating the old people upon having reached the anniversary which rarely comes to any.

Mr. Keith had been previously married[1], two children of that earlier union surviving, as follows: Mrs. A. R. Skinner[2], of Galesburg and H. L. Keith[3], of Oakland, Cal.

The five surviving children of the later marriage are, Ethan B. and Mrs. C. D. Towne[4], of Comstock township, Mrs. H. A. Brown[5] and James C. of Chicago, and Mrs. D. D. Harris[6], of Shelbyville. All the above were present excepting the sons in Chicago and California, who were unavoidably detained.

In addition to the above, a grandson C. I. Clark[7], his wife, with their three children[8], of Jackson, also was present, constituting a family party representing four generations.

The elder Keith is now 86 years of age while his wife is 78. The former is a native of New York and the latter was born in Canada. Mr. Keith has lived in the vicinity of Galesburg since 1837 and shares with the venerable J. Ripley Comings and Mrs. Catherine Whitcomb, the honor of being the oldest residents.

The occasion was a genuine family re-union, and will be long remembered by those participating.

Many evidences of regard were left, by the visitors, among which twenty two dollars in gold had a very appropriate significance.

All who know “uncle Luke” and his worthy wife, will join those present in the sincere wish that this Golden Wedding may be the prelude to their Diamond anniversary.


[1] Luke married Minerva Payson on April 23, 1839; she died August 29, 1843. He then married Jerusha Crittenden on July 25, 1847; she died September 23, 1848

[2] Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner

[3] Henry Keith

[4] Hannah (Keith) Towne

[5] Nancy (Keith) Brown

[6] Louese (Keith) Harris

[7] Charles Ira Clark, Lois’ son by her first husband, Byron Clark

[8] Clara (Youngs) Clark and Edna, Ethan and Charles Clark

April 9, 1896 Obituary of Mary (Comfort) Wickersham

From the Flushing Observer, Thursday, April 9, 1896, page 4, col. 1:

Wickersham, Mary - Obituary

The remains of Mary W. Wickershan [sic] were brought to this village Monday evening and placed in the vault until yesterday afternoon at 3 o’clock, when a short service was conducted at the grave by Rev. S. S. Clarke, and interment was made in the village cemetery. Deceased was born in Orange county, N.Y., December 14, 1804. At the time of her death, which occurred Sunday[1], she lived with a grand-daughter[2] at Rattlerun[3]. The funeral was held from her late residence Monday and the remains were brought here for burial as above stated. Mrs. Wickershan had been a member of the Baptist church for 72 years, was a devoted wife[4] and mother, and had taken a prominent part in church work during her life. She was the mother of five children, only one of whom survive her, Mrs. A. H. Lacy[5], of this village. She had many friends here.

[1] April 5, 1896

[2] Alberta (Lacey) McConnell

[3] Rattlerun, Michigan

[4] She married Jesse Wickersham on May 12, 1830

[5] Angelina (Wickersham) Lacey

October 1, 1890 letter to Ethan Keith from Hannah Comfort

October 1, 1890

To: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Hannah Marie Comfort, Campden, Ontario

Ethan had sent Hannah a picture of himself, which she has been showing to a young lady who lives in Campden. “Perhaps I may succeed yet in getting a lady who will be willing to share your fortunes.” She mentions her sister Mary’s death and enquires about her Aunt Mary Wickersham’s health. Her sister Jane, who has been nearly helpless at times, is waiting for a bath and rubbing. She uses salt and water, besides dog’s grease and liniment and yet does not get cured. The doctor says she has muscular rheumatism.

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Campden, Oct 1st/90

Dear Cousin Ethan

Perhaps you think it strange why I have not written sooner. I should have replied immediately after receiving yours with the photograph. But it seemed I scarcely had a minute to spare just at that time. My sister Jane[1] has been nearly helpless at times & I have had the whole care of waiting on her besides doing our housework. She is very much better now, so that she can dress her self with a little assistance. She gets up to take breakfast with me sometimes.

She did not sleep very well last not & is takeing a rest this morning, so I had to take my breakfast alone. And before she gets out, I want to write a little to you. That photo is good, it looks like you, & I thank you very much for it. I have been showing it to a young lady who lives here. Perhaps I may succeed yet in getting a lady who will be willing to share your fortunes. I wish I had one to send. It never seems to be convenient to get mine taken. We are having lovely weather. Soon it will time for the fairs & then we may expect rain. We have all been interested in a great murder trial that has been going on in Woodstock, a city west of here. You may have seen it too in the papers, on account of it I mean. A young man, a married man, murdered a young single man, both Englishmen. The trial I think is about ended & the man is condemned to be hung next month. There were both of good families, well connected in England, so the papers state. And it was all done for money it seems.[2]

Did I write you about sister Mary’s[3] death. I think I did. She died on the nineteenth of February last[4]. I hope Aunt Mary[5] is comfortable where she is. I would like to know her address. Not that I want to write to her. But I promised to try & get it of you for Cousin Alexander Patterson[6].

Jane has come out & is waiting for me to give her a bath & rubbing. She uses salt & water, besides dogs grease & linnament & yet does not get cured. The doctor says she has muscular rheumatism[7]. Besides her general health is not good. I told her she must wait until I finish this. Jane says remember her to your mother[8]. I would like to hear from Uncle Stephen[9] but he never writs to us. With my love to all the family.

Your Cousin,

H. M. Comfort[10]

When I get a photo of my own will send the first one to you.


[1] Eliza Jane Comfort, third child of Francis and Jemima (Wilcox) Comfort. Francis Comfort and Ethan’s grandmother, Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts, were brother and sister. According to Botting’s Comfort Families of America, Jane died of cancer March 13, 1892

[2] According to Wikipedia, Reginald Birchall (aka Lord Frederick A. Somerset) (25 May 1866 – 14 November 1890) was born into a situation of some privilege in Lancashire, England. He became heavily indebted and sold off his inheritance at a discount, purchasing a farm in Woodstock, Ontario. He traveled there with his new wife after an elopement, arriving in 1888. He soon fell into debt there and left again for England, where a scheme to defraud several wealthy people led him back to Canada with one of his victims. He supposedly murdered Fredrick Benwell in order to silence him. Birchall professed his innocence to the end and even wrote a long account of the affair while in prison. This memoir was published in an attempt to create an income for his wife after his death. The murder took place in Princeton, Ontario in a swamp that would later be called “Benwell Swamp” by the locals. Hunters in the area found the dead man on February 23 1890, who was apparently dressed quite well. Birchall had told authorities that Benwell had returned to England, so his story did not add up. The body was exhumed in order for Birchall to identify it. The trial of Birchall took place in Woodstock, Ontario and was a world wide media event. Birchall was sentenced on September 30 and was hanged on November 14, 1890 at Woodstock, Ontario. He was buried in the court yard of the Woodstock City Gaol, where he still remains

[3] Mary Catherine (Comfort) Haney, second child of Francis and Jemima (Wilcox) Comfort

[4] According to Botting’s Comfort Families of America, she died February 23, 1890

[5] Mary (Comfort) Wickersham, Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts’ sister

[6] This most likely is James Alexander Patterson, fourth child of Elizabeth Comfort and John Patterson. Elizabeth and Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts were sisters

[7] In the 19th century muscular rheumatism was used to refer to symptoms resembling those of fibromyalgia

[8] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[9] Stephen Comfort, Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts’ brother

[10] Hannah Marie Comfort, eighth child of Francis and Jemima (Wilcox) Comfort