April 25, 1921 letter to Nancy Brown from Hannah Towne

April 25, 1921

To: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

From: Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

This is the seventeenth anniversary of their father’s death. She thinks that Eda has a cancer of the colon and hopes that the treatments will destroy it. Uncle Henry came for a visit and “can do all he said he did.” The money that Nancy sent apparently was stolen from the envelope. She had a very strenuous week and was kind of nervous. She didn’t sit up much on Saturday and was doing only what had to be done.

Monday 1:37 P.M. Apr 25 – 1921

Dear ones all –

This is the seventeenth anniversary of Pa’s[1] going a way. You have made a mistake about aunt Jule.[2] Bess[3] was 40 last Feb and she was born the Feb 1881 before aunt Jule went in Apr.[4] aunt Alfleda[5] went to Oscars[6] the 22nd the day she passed away. Ethan[7] and I talked about it that day. Seventeen years has gone quick in a way. Lots has happened in the time. I read in the paper three or four weeks ago that _____ wed [to] “I know who she married but cant think” has a baby. If I remember right it is a boy. When you first wrote about Eda[8] and said there was a stoppage of the large colon I said to Ethan it looks like a cancer to me. Then when you wrote she was agoing to take the medicine treatments I thought so more than ever. I believe the doctors know but are agoing to try and distroy it and I hope they will what ever it is. Dont let she or Claude[9] know what I have written. Clara[10] is the one who dont know what Uncle Henry[11] does. “Did she put his rubbers on.” A man as smart as he is and take a trip crooked trip from S.B. to G. and stop off at Kal-[12] and get is lunch so not to make me any trouble can do all he said he did. He wiped my dishes that morning – there were a lot of them and I was pretty _____ over the _____. It had been a very strenuous week week for me. I know I did’nt sit up much Saturday. I was kind of nervous as you will see by my letter. I wrote about Pa then aunt Jule and then Pa again. The reason I am writing this letter is. Your letter came to day but no money. It was registered so I think we will get the money all right. It has been opened in the end about two thirds of the way. Then did Lou[13] seal it with some red sealing wax? I will put in envelope in this and show you just how for it was opened and where the wax was. He wrote in the back

Mrs L. A. Mueller
4445 N. Francisco Ave.
Chicago, Ill.

Some one opened the letter and took the money out and we think sealed it. Mr Carr[?] spoke about its being torn on the end so I took the letters out so he could see there was no money. He will take the envelope and letter to morrow to Sam Faltz. Ethan has been waiting for the money for the C______issors papers have got to go to Hollender right off will have to go to morrow. He has’nt got but a little money and he dont know but he will have to give H- some but if he has to and dont have enough H- will have to wait until he goes again. I have just read this over and it will worrie you the way I have written it because you have’nt sent it before but we have’nt needed it before and to day was soon enough. You or one no one else is to blame for the money being taken only the one who did it. So dont let it worrie you because you did’nt send it last week. The way my head is I cant think how to write and have it sound all right. (My nervousness[?] is all right)

I did the washing last week a few pieces at a time so now I have been a lady laying around and doing just what has to be done. I dont see how Bess can do our washing with all she has to do. I wont have to send clothes until next week and she wont have to wash them before the week after and I will send as few as I can. Wish we could of seen Dorothy.[14] I know she looked nice. Let me know when the Orchestra comes to Kal-. I told Ethan I hoped we would have some fresh butter milk for J[15] if he comes up here.



[1] Hannah’s and Nancy’s father, Charles Luke Keith Jr.

[2] Julia Ann Allen, the sister of Matilda (Allen) Brown who was the mother of Nancy’s husband, Henry Brown

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

[4] Julia Ann Allen died April 22, 1881 in Comstock, Michigan

[5] Alfleda (Starr) Keith was married to Harvey Keith, Charles Luke Keith Jr.’s brother

[6] Alfleda’s son, James Oscar Keith

[7] Hannah’s and Nancy’s brother

[8] Nancy’s daughter-in-law, Edith (Neumaier) Brown

[9] Nancy’s son, Claude Brown

[10] Clara (Crawford) Hopkins Hammatt, Hannah’s and Nancy’s cousin (daughter of Henry Clay Crawford)

[11] Henry Clay Crawford (age 88), the brother of Hannah’s and Nancy’s mother, Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[12] South Bend, Indiana, to Galesburg, Michigan, and Kalamazoo, Michigan

[13] Louis Mueller, Nancy’s son-in-law

[14] Dorothy Recoschewitz, Bess’ daughter

[15] Julius Recoschewitz, Bess’ husband, who played second violin with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

[16] Hannah (Keith) Towne. Hannah’s handwriting is hard to decipher and we may have made some assumptions that are not correct

August 14, 1876 letter to Sarah Keith from Louese Keith

August 14, 1876

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Louese Keith, Chicago, IL

Louese is writing her mother, Sarah Keith, and describing her adventures over the previous four weeks which have included trips to Graceland Cemetery, Lincoln Park, a visit to the city water works and a nearby Catholic church, a tour of the tunnel under the Chicago River and an ice cream festival at the church (which she got into for free).

Chicago  Aug 14th 1876

Mrs Sarah Keith

Dear Ma

Tuesday evening. You see by this that I commenced this last night but I was so sleepy that I have put it off until now so will try my luck at it. Now I will tell you where I have been since I wrote to you last. Four weeks ago last Saturday Aunt Kate,[1] the children[2] and I went out to Graceland Cemetery. We took a City limits car[3] and rode down to the dummy (that is a car run by an engine) and that took us to Graceland. I can not tell any thing about. They have Sofas, chairs and marble dogs on every lot mostly to have it look as near like a home as possible. When we enter the grounds we go through kind of a church and every time a funeral possession passes through the bell tolls. I dont know how they afford to die in that little country town (Galesburg)  after all if it is so little I would not mind it if I could get off from the train when it stops there to morrow but dont expect to very soon. I see that I have run on further that I expect so will go back. After we left Graceland we went on came back and went over on the South side got home at six. The next Monday Jessie and I went to Lincoln Park. We saw Gene.[4] He wanted us to get on his car but he had got to run up to the limits and it was so late then that we would not have time so we came home about 7 Oclock. That week a Saturday we went down to the water works, went to the top of the tower. We could see all over the City. It was splendid. I counted over 300 steps. All the water that is used in the City has to go clear to the top of this tower. It is forced by 4 of the largest and nicest engines in the world. If Ethan[5] could see them he would not have any dyspepsia or any thing else. They shine just like silver and gold. The steam is all in the basement so that it does not touch the engines. When we came back we stopped in a catholic church. It was just magnificent. The alter was marble and gold but I can not tell any thing about it with a pen. The next week Tuesday Aunt Kate, Jessie and I went down and took a Cly borne avenue car and went down to the bridge, got off and went through the tunnel on the South side. We went down two short flights of stairs to get in to the tunnel. There is about 3 ft of earth between the tunnel and river. We could hear the boats going over us. You better believe I was glad to get out. Then we took a car and went on to the west side. When we had went about 12 miles we got a dish of Ice cream and came home. The next Thursday I went to an Ice cream festival at the church. The fee was __5 cts but Mrs Smith the door tender let me in for nothing. Mrs Hollis treated me. Her husband is Superintendent of the Sunday school. We are going to have a picnic next week. I am going. We are going to take the street cars and go some where. We are in for a good time. Write soon.


Grandma[6] Mr Brown wants to know how you get along. We would like to see you out here first rate.

Aunt Alfleda[7] how do you stand this warm weather.


[1] Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford

[2] Kate’s children, Harry and Jessie Crawford

[3] Streetcar or trolley

[4] Eugene Crawford, Louese’s cousin

[5] Her brother, Ethan Keith

[6] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[7] Alfleda (Starr) Keith, the widow of Luke’s brother Harvey Keith; Alfleda was living with Luke & Sarah Keith

June 27, 1876 letter to Luke & Sarah Keith from Louese Keith

June 27, 1876

To: Luke & Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Louese Keith, Chicago, IL

Louese is writing her parents about an accident three weeks earlier in which she was burned by heated dish water as it was being hoisted from the basement in the home of Kate & Hiram Crawford, her aunt and uncle. She had not placed the pail properly on the hoist and it tipped over when it hit the ceiling as she was raising it. Although her face was burned, Aunt Kate treated the burns and now three weeks later there is little evidence of the accident. Uncle Hiram decided to redesign the hoist so that it can be raised from above to avoid future injury.

Dont read this before Grandma.[1]

Chicago June 27th 1876

Mr & Mrs. C. L. Keith

How is Aunt Alfleda[2] and Grandma,

Dear Pa and Ma

I recieved your letters a week ago yesterday and expected to have answered them before but have put it off until now. Aunt Kate and Uncle Hi[3] have gone out this evening, Jessie and Harry[4] have just gone to bed and as it is not very late I thought it would be a good chance to write. The weather has been fearful warm until to day which has been a little cooler. Aunt Kate and Mrs Squires went into the Country to Mr Marwoods to day to pick cherries. They got back about five Oclock and got a few cherries. I suppose Nancy[5] has written about me getting burned. It was a pretty narrow escape and if you have not heard I will tell you. It was three weeks ago this morning I went down in the basement to get the dish water before I went to school. I put it on the dummy[6] but did not set the pan on far enough so that when it went up it hit the floor and the water came down on me. I was very near to the front gate before I knew any thing and how I got out of the basement is more than I know but I run up stairs to Aunt Kate and she put some Cosmoline[7] on my face right away and covered it with batting and if I know my self it burned for the next two hours like fun.[8] My face was burned to a blister and it broke four times and the hair has come out on that the left side considerable but it is all well now and it left no scar but as Uncle Hi says a good rich color. No one would know that I had ever been burned now. Uncle Hi said that I was the last one that would get burned to death so he bought and iron rod about fifteen inches long and fastened in the top of the dummy as you see by the picture so we pull it up instead of pushing it so if the water gets spilled it will not burn any body. This is a picture of the dummy the three sides shelves in the dummy and it slides up and down in those two those sides that you see.


Well I will have to say a word or two to Jim[9] and Ethan[10] so (Good Night).

School was out last friday we had a big time it com– the last of sept.

James and Ethan

Dear Brothers,

I recieved your kind letters and was glad to hear from you but should’t wonder if you had given up ever recieving any answers, but here she goes. Gene[11] was up here last Saturday night. It was the first time that I have seen him since we went to the exposition building and that was seven weeks ago. He is running a North Clark St car now. He puts in his 13 hours a day so he does not have much time to run around. Lincoln park is on that street. I some expect to go to the park Saturday. Am going to a conversation meeting any way at the church. Ethan has Gene ever answered your letters. He told me the night that we went to the concert that he should not blame you if you never spoke to him again but he said that he run the car nights and when day time come he was so sleepy that he kept putting it off until he thought it was two late. I told him that you would not get mad at that that you knew him too well. He said that he knew it but he had used you mean. Now dont tell Grandma this for she will write to him and dont you write this to him or ever tell him of it for I dont want him to know that I told you of it. Now besure and dont tell him or Grandma. I did not say any thing to him about it Saturday night but I know that he thinks you are offended but for lands sake dont tell him that I’ve ever said a word. Aunt Kates hat or the price of it was seven dollars[12] and the price of mine six and a half. They are both real handsome and Ma how I wish you had one. Write soon. Good night.

How is Ma’s leg.

Louese Keith

Membr of Lincoln School


[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Alfleda (Starr) Keith, the widow of Luke’s brother Harvey Keith; Alfleda was living with Luke & Sarah

[3] Hiram & Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford Jr., Sarah’s brother and sister-in-law

[4] Hiram & Katherine’s children

[5] Nancy (Keith) Brown, Louese’s sister

[6] A hoist, similar to a dumbwaiter, that used rope and pulleys to lift heavy items from the basement to the first floor of homes

[7] Cosmoline was commonly used in the storage and preservation of some firearms. According to The Homeeopathic Domestic Physician, by Konstantin Hering (B. Jain Publishers, 1993), “Cosmoline or vaseline are excellent applications in burns.”

[8] The Oxford Dictionary gives its meaning as “vigorously or quickly”

[9] James Keith, Louese’s younger brother

[10] Ethan Keith, Louese’s older brother

[11] Eugene Crawford, Louese’s cousin, the son of Edwin & Louisa (Hall) Crawford

[12] Seven dollars in 1876 equals $165.00 in 2018 dollars