April 17, 1924 letter to Nancy Brown from Louese Harris

April 17, 1924

To: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

From: Louese Harris, Shelbyville, MI

Has been trying to write letters but there have been several interruptions as well as her neuritis which kept her from writing. Recounts various visitors they have had as well as the conditions they are suffering from and/or the trips they are taking or planning to take. Wishes Lela and the girls could come for a couple of weeks or that she could take the girls over their summer vacation to give Lela a break. Writes about the predicament Ethan and Hannah are in as far as not having the money or ability to fix up the old home.

Shelbyville Apr. 17-1924

Dear Sister:

I hope you’ve not given up hearing from me this week, but I’ve been writing to Aunt Kate[1] and for some reason every time I sat down to write some thing would happen so I’d have to stop, for instance last Fri. Mildred[2] and I had work done early after dinner. She wanted to sew and I to write and I’ll be jiggered if Stella did’nt come when I had only four lines written. Had’nt been here in four weeks, she staid until supper time. After that was over with and dishes washed I said, Now I’m going to write all the evening, had been at it less than ten minutes and Cora and Mr Kitchen[3] came – returned home Sun. eve. I was all in then and did not do a thing at writing until Tues. Some of the time the neuritis gets my right wrist and it is hard work to use my hand. Hannah[4] wrote me you had had a spell at it and was very bad. I hope you are all over it and wont have any more. Think you were all more or less afflicted, Bess[5] with lumbago, Lela[6] all used up, sick head ache, and in the midst of candy making. It’s a big problem for all but I dont see how Lela can hold out – if she has to go and see Lou[7] every week. I’m awfully sorry for him but it is worse for her. Too bad he is down again. Do the doctors account for it in any way and do they think he will get up again. I wish his uncle[8] would do what he ought to and give her a few thousand. I dont see how he can have the heart not to when he knows just how every thing is with her. Wish she and the children[9] could come down here for two weeks, and Bess too, you see I did’nt include you, but I know you’ll come any way, and Dorothy, Robert and Joe.[10] It is nice D. & J.[11] can have their home all ready to go right to housekeeping. I’d give a lot to see it. They must be in the 7th heaven these days. Fred & Mildred[12] start on their trip the 28th. She is very busy getting sewing done for Leone[13] & I, she only has to make a dress for her self tan colored silk krepe-de-chin. Guess I wrote you they’d go to Bourbon[14] by auto, Helen[15] lives there, then they’ll have it to use while they are there. Will go to Warsaw,[16] decoration day,[17] that was his home and where those who are gone are buried. Will come that way on return trip, and get auto – stop at Galesburg over night with Hannah & Ethan.[18] I’m going down to see them before the kids go. Yes our housecleaning has to be done too. The three rooms below papered. So you see we’ve got to hit the high spots before the last of May and now I can hardly hit the low. You know all about LaVernes[19] trip down home so theres no use writing about it. Last week we sent a box of vegetabls “mostly” to them.  They’ve not had an onion this winter. They[20] never said a word & I never thought, but it wont happen again. I’ll keep my thinking cap on. Hannah has said quite a good deal to me about a hat, and I wrote her I would see she had one. I could’nt go any where to get it until now even if I had’nt have been lame. The roads have been so bad in places, one got such awful jolts, which I can not stand. Now they are being repaired and are smoth & level once more, but it will be a week and a half before I can go and I know she will get fussed, but I can not imagine why she could’nt wear her last summers hat in case she had a chance to go out. This is the 6th summer for mine. I know hers is not as old as that.

Cora and Mr Kitchen came down (I just forgot I had mentioned it). Well it was partly to see about selling his place, but he is not going to. She is getting better and will not have an operation yet the swelling is there yet but much smaller. Thinks it will gradually be dissolved.

Roy[21] is in hospital with mumps. Has to stay there a month yet, and has been there three weeks. Cora is afraid he has had a set back of some kind, though says nothing about it.

Evening. Stella came at 4 oclock & shut me off. She had spent the day at Josies “listening in” a part of the time. They have a new radio, this is their second one. This is much nicer than the other. Every thing perfectly plain. She heard some very nice singing from Chicago, also other places. D[22] is getting crazy to have one, but I want a new kitchen, can go to the neighbors and “listen in.” Jim[23] has had another poor spell is not working out side of home, has to get up at a certain hour every night and fight for his breath until morning. The Star runs just the same – movies at Wayland four nights a week they average going two right along. Cora[24] is so lame. Wilma[25] has to give up her job at Hurds to help her mother, yet Cora can go to the shows, and then are not many days pass that she does not go some where. Will & Luella have bought the Hope place. Will move the cafe part back for a garage, raise the rest of the house and put a porch across front. Bert Hope has moved in with Ed Knapp on the farm and gone in to chicken business. Marian[?] Harris had her hair bobbed yesterday. She will be 46 in Aug. May be you know Will Clark[26] visited us in March – staid from Wed. until Sat noon. We had a nice visit. Cora brought me a lovely white hyacinth.

Sat. You know it was our wedding anniversary 42 yrs.[27] and Uncle Henrys[28] 91st birthday. Just think Aunt Kate planning a trip to Detroit in Aug. She wrote me she was getting ready. What would I give to possess the youthfulness she has.[29] She has me beaten to a finish. Ruby and her husband are going to move in to Mr Kitchens house next week. Then will buy Mrs Harding out when the time comes “if ever” she wants to sell. Mrs Harding is all used up over Leon’s marrying and the circumstances connected with it. She is nearly crazy some of the time. I dont know what she would do if she could’nt come to us with her trouble. Dont know whether I wrote you Doc[30] bought some Gun[?] marsh land. I dont know how much but he has six 6 acres of onions put in. Come down & we’ll go over and see them when they are out of the ground. I must write card to Carrie to night and begin letter to Hannah so will close. I hope you are feeling better and the girls too. Wish I could do something for you to help out. If we could keep Helen & Jean over every Sunday t’would be a little let-up of the tension for Lela. After school closes put them on the train in care of conductor and send them down. We’ll keep them as long as they’ll stay. Tell me when you write how much material Lela gets for their dresses. It is getting quite like spring, though we saw snow flakes Tues.  No the old back porch at home is just the same only getting worse. LaV–[31] says there is the Custer pile would do them so much good if Ethan would only think so. LaV– said she had to watch her step every time she went out there more than ever. Can’t think how it will be by middle of summer. Yes I’ll do as you said help pay Will or any one who can be hired to fix it and she also says, how can they stay there alone all other winter. And I say how can that house be left alone if they could be persuaded to come here and live for 4 or 5 mo’s. It’s a big problem.

Good Bye

Hope this wont make you sick. Hope to hear you the girls & Lou are better. Would Lou care for some honey. I’ll send some in a pail if Lela thinks he would like it.

Love to all

Lou

[1] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, the widow of Louese’s and Nancy’s Uncle Hiram Crawford

[2] Mildred (Harris) Cripe, Louese’s daughter

[3] Louese’s sister-in-law, Cora (Harris) Hogeboom Kitchen, and her second husband, John Nelson Kitchen

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

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

[6] Nancy’s daughter, Lela (Brown) Mueller

[7] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller, who suffered brain injuries when hit by a streetcar

[8] Charles August Ficke, who was a wealthy man

[9] Lela’s daughters, Helen and Eda “Jean” Mueller

[10] Bess’ children, Dorothy and Robert Recoschewitz, and Dorothy’s fiance, Joseph Langmayer; they married on May 29, 1924

[11] Dorothy & Joe

[12] Mildred married Fred Cripe on November 23, 1923

[13] Louese’s daughter (and Mildred’s sister), Leone Harris

[14] Bourbon, Indiana

[15] Mildred’s sister-in-law, Helen (Cripe) Tyrrell

[16] Warsaw, Indiana

[17] Civil War dead were honored on Decoration Day

[18] Louese’s and Nancy’s brother, Ethan Keith; Hannah & Ethan lived on the family farm where they all grew up

[19] Louese’s oldest daughter, LaVerne (Harris) Boyer

[20] Ethan and Hannah; both of them were aging and in poor health and money was hard to come by

[21] Roy Harris Hogeboom, Cora Kitchen’s son by her first husband, Aaron Hogeboom

[22] Louese’s husband, Daniel Harris, who was referred to as D.D. or D.

[23] Louese’s and Nancy’s brother, James Keith, who suffered from asthma

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

[25] Jim and Cora’s daughter, Wilma Keith

[26] The son of Louese’s and Nancy’s half-sister, Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner

[27] They were married April 12, 1882

[28] Henry Clay Crawford, Louese’s and Nancy’s uncle, was born April 12, 1833

[29] Aunt Kate was 83 years old

[30] Samuel “Doc” Boyer, who was married to Louese’s daughter, LaVerne

[31] Shorthand for LaVerne

June 8, 1923 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

June 8, 1923

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

They are all upset about Lou having to go to the sanitarium but it is a relief as they had to watch and worry all the time. They have been very busy with candy orders.

1923-06-08A1923-06-08B1923-06-08C1923-06-08D1923-06-08E

June 8th 1923
4-10-P.M.

Dear brother and sister

Cant write much. We had orders come in for candy. We are all so upset over Lous[1] going away and work all over the house in such condition. Thought _____ not to try to make candy to day but orders have come in so that Bess[2] and Carrie came about one oclock to make more. They will be here for dinner, also Hedwig. She has a hard cold and is home to day. That makes three extra I was not planing on. Lela[3] has been all in, could not even get the children ready for school but she finnally phoned Dr Roberts. Has been over to see him and looks and feels so much better. They took Lou yesterday, left here about 9-20. He was anxious to go. They had dinner at Waukegan. He ate hearty and enjoyed that. Was pretty tired when they got to their stopping place. He is assigned to St. Mary of the Hills. Lela says very pretty quiet and so clean. After they had been there about ten minutes the Dr told his nurse to take him to his room. They gave him a bath put him to bed then Lela was the only one who saw him. She said he looked so restful and quiet. Tears came to his eyes when she left but he was all right and willing she should go. Lela felt discouraged. Dr said he would not say what he thought for at least a week. Will keep him in bed and watch & examine him in every way. It seems hard to say it but its a relief for we dont have to watch and worry all the time. No one but Bess knows what a winter and spring it has been. We all began getting afraid. He got so he was careless about every thing. Would use the wash basin instead of toilet when he made water. Talked every thing to any body. Dr Statz[?] is sure he can be helped if he can be made to follow instructions.

Will B is bad off goes to Hospital Monday for two operations, piles & hernia. Let us know if you get crate. We sent it by a mail box Wednesday. I put 2 cucumbers[?] in. Will enclose money order for 15.00. I guess up to date.

My diner needs seeing to. A card from Lou.[4] Told me Aunt Kate[5] was going to see Blanche.[6] Train car was on the bum[?]. Hope it will be so they can go down Sunday. I could talk a mile if I was there.

Love to all

Nan

[1] Nancy’s son-in-law, Louis Mueller, who had to be admitted to a sanitarium

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

[3] Nancy’s daughter, Lela (Brown) Mueller

[4] Their sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[5] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, their Uncle Hiram Crawford’s wife

[6] Aunt Kate’s daughter, Blanche (Crawford) Hessey

March 27, 1923 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

March 27, 1923

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

Nancy is sending some vegetables and eggs. The girls are busy every minute. Bess goes home late at night which worries Nancy.

Tuesday 5-15-[1]

Dear brother & sister.

Time for me to start dinner. Martha[2] has just gone with the crate. There are a few little things in the egg boxes, not much, but the vegetable boy came this A.M. I got a few beans & head of lettuce, the carton eggs one ____ cocoa nut. Intended sending to kinds but did not have them so they could be packed. The three girls are hustleing every minite. I hate to have Bess[3] go home so late at night. Has to change cars once, some times wait quite a time for car. Wish I knew how you both are. Aunt Kate[4] is better so she went down town last week. Gladys Doyen came to Claudes[5] to day for two or three weeks visit. Hope you both feel better

Love

Nan

[1] Believe this is referencing the time as the envelope is postmarked March 27, 1923

[2] Martha Lueder, one of her daughter Lela’s boarders

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

[4] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, her Uncle Hiram Crawford’s wife

[5] Nancy’s son, Claude Brown

Nancy Keith Candies

24

Nancy Keith Candies

Lela (Brown) Mueller and her sister, Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz, needed a way to support their families.  Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller, had been hit by a streetcar and sustained a brain injury. As a result he would have seizures and wasn’t able to work. They took in boarders which helped bring in some money, but it wasn’t enough. Bess’ husband, Julius Recoschewitz, was a musician and played in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but it wasn’t enough to cover their living expenses. The sisters decided to open a Tea Room near the downtown area. They found a place which had equipment – chairs, tables, etc. They didn’t know why the previous owner left it all, but it was exactly what they were looking for. They were given keys to the place and so they went in and cleaned everything so that it would be ready for business when the deal was consumated. On the day of closing they went to the store to look over the place and make sure everything was in order, but were shocked to find that the place had been emptied of all the furniture and equipment. Since they hadn’t signed any papers they were able to get out of the deal.

Bess enjoyed cooking and one of her specialties was candy. Lela and Bess decided to make candy for Christmas. Their brother, Claude Brown, told them to make as much candy as possible and he would buy anything left over to give to his friends. He also told people they could order the candy. All of the candy sold and Lela and Bess didn’t have any left for themselves. And so Nancy Keith Candies was born. Originally the name of the business was Nancy Lee Candies but it was changed to Nancy Keith Candies using their mother’s maiden name.

Most of the time the candy was made in the basement at Lela’s home, although sometimes Bess would make the fondant at her house, jump on the streetcar and bring it to Lela’s home to flavor, mold and dip. Otherwise the cooking of the fondant was done on the first floor and then carried up to the third floor to flavor, mold, dip and pack. Orders started coming in so Claude gave Lela and Bess money to fix up the basement. They cleaned and painted it and put in two doors so the heat of cooking wouldn’t interfere with the dipping. Claude also bought them a candy-cooking stove and a marble slab which was used to pour the fondant on. After the fondant cooled to the proper temperature they would work the batch (spade) to the point where it could be flavored and then molded into balls ready to be dipped in chocolate.

The business took off and while they continued to make the candy at Lela’s home, they opened a store at 1123 Argyle in Chicago. As the business grew they moved it to 1021 Argyle and finally to 5240 Sheridan Road. Various family members worked in the business and it thrived. Bess died in 1950 and her daughter, Dorothy (Brown) Recoschewitz, and Lela (at this time she was 72 years old) continued running the business. In about 1953 Lela and Dorothy decided to close the store.

25-001

 

February 23, 1923 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

February 23, 1923

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

Writes how she has been muddled for over a week and at times things seem to be a blank. Reports on how the candy business is going. Claude is giving the girls money so they can fix up the basement and buy a stove and marble slab to make it easier for them.

Friday P.M.[1]
Feb 23rd 1923

Dear brother and sister

Every thing is at sixes and sevens or I am at least. Cant think how to even spell. I have been terribly muddled for over a week. Cant tell how only every thing seems to be a blank at times. Its so slippery out. I have not dared to go out to get a stamp and send the Argus[2] money. Lela[3] is going down town about three. If she has time will see to it if not I’ll get it as soon as I possibly can. I had a nice letter from Ina to day. Said she was going to write to you and Lou.[4] She had a nice long letter from Walter thanking us for the candy. He addressed it “Nancy Lee Cholate Co.”[5]

I wrote Aunt Jennie[6] a long letter to day it got return was returned. I took the address from the Argus.  Hedwig has been home sick all the week. Guess its the flue all right. Aunt Kate[7] only sits up about half the time. Has bronchial phenomonia asthma. Water[8] writes the medicine his father[9] is taking is helping him they think. I wrote Jim the first of week to see if he got the coat. Have not heard a word. None of them have written one word about the candy from Jims. I wish they would let me know about the coat. I think it ought to be worth a post card. Its a good warm coat. Claude[10] paid one hundred and ten dollars. Of course its worn some but not ragged. I sent it had it insured so it dont cost them one cent. When I sent it I wrote a letter and asked some of them to let me know if they got it. I wont bother Lou to let me know. It dont make any one feel like spending much time or money. Bess[11] has been home three days this week coming again ____ afternoon. To day is Carrie Svensens birthday 42 same age as Bess. Bess has fixed her up a nice box of candy. Claude is going to let the girls have money to fix up about half the basement get them a large stove and marble slab. Then they can make in one batch as much fondant as they have to now in in one batch as it takes them to make five now and much easier for them. They will make fondant in basement, mould and dip and pack in attic. Claude has been awful good to the girls and Lou.[12] The girls appreciate it too.

I could talk if I could see you. I told Lela this morning if the children[13] had two weeks vacation this spring and you were both well enough I take them and go home for the two weeks then make my visit later but she says  they only have one week. She has gone and forgot my letter but I’ll certainly send Argus money next week. How much did Will charge you.

With love

Nan

[1] Written upside down in front of the word “Friday” was the word “Quarantine”

[2] Believe she is referring to a newspaper

[3] Nancy’s daughter, Lela (Brown) Mueller

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

[5] See the following page for information on the candy business

[6] Virginia (Worley) Crawford, her Uncle Henry Crawford’s wife

[7] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, her Uncle Hiram Crawford’s wife

[8] Believe she is referring to her nephew, Walter Keith

[9] Nancy’s brother, Jim Keith, who had asthma

[10] Nancy’s son, Claude Brown

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

[12] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller. Lou had previously been hit by a streetcar and sustained a brain injury. As a result he would have seizures. Lela was able to care for him at home in the beginning but later had to admit him to Elgin State Hospital where he remained until his death in 1942

[13] Lela’s daughter, Helen and Eda “Jean” Mueller

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.

Love

H[16]

[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

November 2, 1920 letter to Nancy Brown from Lela Mueller

November 2, 1920

To: Nancy Brown, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Lela Mueller, Chicago, IL

Aunt Lizzie expected to take June to St. Louis but Lida fell and sprained her ankle so they won’t go. Had a “queer deal” from Harry Crawford. They placed an order for coal with him but when Lela called to confirm she was told he didn’t work there any more. Bess made a very cute cake, shaped round like a pumpkin, for the children’s Halloween party. Wrote details about the party. Helen wanted to play a song on the piano like one of her friends but told Lela, “I havent got her voice and this isnt the tune she plays and I cant remember her words.”

 

Tues. Eve.

Dear Ones All –

I’ll start a letter this evening but wont finish it till to-morrow as I’m tired and sleepy. Mrs Geezy was here this forenoon so we were busy all morning, then I had to go and vote. As soon as Martha[1] got home and had lunch I took the 3 kids[2] down town – left them at Fields’ play room while I shopped. We didn’t get home till after six. I got the 3 children each a pair of golf gloves, had to pay 1.25. Also got Helen and Jean each a sweater – Helen’s pink with turquoise blue trim to match a tam o shanter Mother Mueller[3] made her, and a turquoise blue with tan trim for Jean. Got my self a beaver (pressed) hat – perfectly plain – sort of sailor – but rolled rim.

We were going to Aunt Lizzies[4] to-morrow for the day but she just phoned. The furnace is being fixed so we wont go till Thurs. or Fri. Esther[5] goes to Rockford Sunday to stay. Aunt Lizzie expected to take June to St Louis this week but Lida[6] fell down stairs and sprained her ankle so they wont go. Perry[7] may go to Rockford to work for Ray[8] – if so June will stay here till they are settled.

We got a queer deal from Harry Crawford.[9] I wrote you what he said. Last week Lou[10] called him and told him we were out of coal – must have something to-day sure. He said he would take care of us. This morning to be sure I called Mr Chatum[?] and asked for Harry. He said he wasnt with them yet and didnt know when he would be as they had no business for him to take care of, so I told him about our order. Said he hadnt heard about it. I said probably he is taking care of us thro the Edgewater Coal then. He said I hardly think so as he hasnt been with them for some time.

Bess[11] made the cutest cake for our party – made it round like a pumpkin, made a stem out of flour and colored it green, covered the cake with mocha then marked the ridges and put paper eyes, nose and mouth. It was a dandy. Lida Fick (2nd house south of here) invited Martha there Sunday to a party. She had a little green costume, then I used the crepe pumpkins we had for decorations and put around the bottom and neck of her dress, and she wore the cap I made for our party. She looked cute and is pretty.

Must go to bed.

You’ll see by the enclosed where I found the spelling of the word.

Our party wasnt very large, but guess the children had just as good a time.

Ruth Atkins had another invitation that day. Mrs Eiden felt it would be too much for her mother to get Katherine and Jane ready so I didnt invite Junior Bittman. I’ll wait and have Mrs Bittman over when you get home.[12] She said she fell in love with you and the blue coverlid[13] the day she came to look at the house.

So June, Katherine Cody Martha, Helen, Helen and Jean were all we had. Then Martha and Helen had to leave at 3:30 for another party so it left the 4, but they had a good time. Bess, Aunt Lizzie and Ruth[14] were here. I had cold roast ham, scalloped potatoes, lima beans, fruit salad, olives, coffee, sandwiches and cake ice cream. We grown ups ate in the kitchen. They came for a 1 oclock lunch. Mr Dee[15] wasnt home Sat. Mon. or to-night. We like him just as much as ever. Also like Martha just as well. She is so nice to the children and they like her so much. You’ll have to put barbed wire around your bench when you get home as they play there every day – dress and undress their dolls. Martha too. She takes her doll to bed every night I guess as I often find it in the morning. When they go to the store she and Jean put their dolls in the little go-cart and Helen takes an express wagon Mrs Richee gave them.

The other Evening Helen went to the piano and says “mama this is the way Katherine Eiden sings only I havent got her voice and this isnt the tune she plays and I cant remember her words.”

Wed. 5 P.M.

I wont have time to write more and send to-day so will close and let Martha mail it when she goes to see her mother.

I have your things packed ready to send – dress, hat scarf and outing flannel sacque. They are in the egg crate so as soon as you get it send the crate to Uncle D.[16] Thought they wouldn’t crush in that. Will have insured for 40 or 50 dollars.

Lots of love to all. Will finish this in next. I’ve been working on my coat all day and have got to keep at it as I need it to wear.

[1] Martha Lueder who was staying with Lela and Lou. Don’t know much about her other than that for some reason her mother wasn’t able to care for her at that point. It is unknown how old she was

[2] Helen and Jean Mueller, Lela’s daughters, and June Brown, who was also staying with Lela and Lou (see footnote #1 in October 19, 1920 letter)

[3] Lela’s mother-in-law, Augusta (Ficke) Mueller

[4] Elizabeth (Ogden) Brown, wife of Willis Brown, who was the brother of Nancy’s husband, Henry Brown

[5] Esther (Carlson) Brown, wife of Lizzie and Will Brown’s son, Ray Brown

[6] Lida (Reno) Brown, second wife of Lizzie and Will Brown’s son, Perry Brown

[7] Ray Brown, Lizzie and Will Brown’s son

[8] Perry Brown, Lizzie and Will Brown’s son

[9] The grandson of Kate and Hiram Crawford; Hiram was Nancy’s uncle

[10] Louis Mueller, Lela’s husband

[11] Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz, Lela’s sister

[12] Nancy lived with Lela and Lou, but was visiting her brother and sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne and Ethan Keith, in Galesburg, Michigan

[13] A bedspread

[14] Ruth (Brown) Kroscher, Elizabeth and Willis Brown’s daughter

[15] One of Lee and Lou’s boarders

[16] D. Harris, husband of Nancy’s sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

November 17, 1902 letter to Sarah Keith from Edna Allen

November 17, 1902

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Edna Allen, Kalamazoo, MI

Edna is writing her Aunt, who unfortunately died on the 18th and probably never received the letter. 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.

[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 are living in Jackson. The youngest son, Glen[15] his wife 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.[16] 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[17] is building several stone houses for rent. Mrs Allen[18] 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.[19]

Edna Crawford Allen
415 South West Street
Kalamazoo

P.S. Please excuse paper

[1] Unfortunately Sarah died November 18th and never received this letter (see obituary next page)

[2] Madge Allen, Edna’s daughter

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

[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 her daughter, Lela Mae Brown, didn’t marry Louis Mueller until 1912. Nancy’s 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] Hannah (Keith) Towne, Sarah’s daughter

[7] Robert Crawford, Sarah’s brother

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

[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 paternal grandmother, Hannah (Smith) Allen

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

[13] Oscar’s brother

[14] Lizzie (Merriman) Allen

[15] Oscar’s brother

[16] Oscar’s nickname

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

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

[19] 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.

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

July 18, 1901 letter to Louese Harris from Sarah Keith

July 18, 1901

To: Louese Harris

From: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

Sarah is writing her daughter with general news about the family and the weather. Sarah’s niece Lulu (Robert’s daughter) was married today. The weather has been extremely hot and dry. The corn and potatoes are suffering for want of water. A neighbor’s barn was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.  Henry C visited and brought two bottles of spirit, a product that he is selling for all kinds of skin diseases. He sells it to barbers and thought it might help heals the sores on Sarah’s legs.

1901-07-18 1901-07-18B 1901-07-18C 1901-07-18D 1901-07-18E

Galesburg July 18 1901

Dear Lou

How do you all stand this hot weather. We do because we have to. Lulu Crawford[1] is married today. Pretty warm to have much finery on. Thursday three p.m. Ethen[2] took Hannah[3] to Gallushas the forenoon for an all day visit. We had Monday and yesterday two terrific electric storms. We did not get rain enough to lay the dust. We need rain bad. Corn and potatoes are suffering for the want of it. Charley Wilson, whose farm is across from Jane Blasses, had his barn struck by lightning and burned his out buildings and crops. All went up in the flames. Ethen says buildings were in first class order. We saw the fire from here. Yesterday day about four oclock, when Henry C— was here he left me two bottles of (spirit) he called it. It is what he is selling. It is manufactured at South Bend, by a chemist that has been to work at it five years. Thinks now he has it perfected. Is sending it out. It is for all skin deseases. Sells it to Barbers to put it on the face after shaving. He wanted I should try it on my legs. He thought it cure them. I have used it most two weeks. Ethen says they look better and the sores are closeing up. I have thought about D[4] – wish he had some to put on his leg. Henry thought he would be here in four or five weeks. I asked him what he asked a bottle. He said it did not make any difference. I could have it. Your pa[5] thinks he never saw such hot weather. It does effect him. Got a letter from Jim[6]. He said Cora[7] and Children[8] would be at Kal[9], next tuesday. He wanted Ethen to meet them. He will. They will come home with him.

Hannah is making her self Lois[10] and Jen Sherwood white waists, a cluster of pleats then incertain. Look very pretty. Lois furnished the goods for Hannah and hers, and H– makes them. We have been alone this week it seems good I thought this morning you were here. Got a letter from Nancie[11] Sat eve. She spoke about coming. I did not understand when. Said she could not stay but two weeks. Claude[12] and Edie[13] would stay whilst she was gone. I feel very sorry for her but she has a great deal to be thankful for. Her children are good to her and has some meanes to help herself with. Dont know how much she will have by the time they all get through bleeding her. I hope she will look out for them. Presume Julius[14] thinks thare will be some thing for Bess[15] and he will have to look after her interest. Seemes Bessie would see whare she was drifting with the sallery he gets to be in debt. Nothing to keep house with. What or how can he support a wife. You see if Bess keeps well, she will have to look out for the family. She will have to work in a gallery same as she does now. I wish she had never seen him[16]. Nancie said Mrs Brown[17] did not sit up near all the. Should think this hot weather would use her up.

How about the Drs[18] small pox patients. How does he manage to disinfect himself before he comes home? Of course he will take all precaution nessary. Does D get along without his crutches? Hope his leg is getting better. To bad that he should be so afflicted. So much to do. It must worry him. I asked Ottie F– how Ettie Ralph[19] was getting along. She said first rate but she did not know what ailed her. I think she knew but was told not to tell. You know Mrs Ralph[20] said here if any of her folks had an opperation it would never be known so I thought I would let her know I knew it. I think it is that cancer she had. Well, I have written if you can make it out you will do well. You and yours have a mother.

Best wishes, Mother

[1] Lulu Crawford, daughter of Sarah’s brother Robert Crawford married Edward Witte

[2] Ethan Keith, Sarah’s son

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

[4] Daniel D. Harris (known as D), Louese’s husband

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

[6] James Keith, Sarah’s youngest son

[7] Cora (Meredith) Keith, Jim’s wife

[8] Mary “Winifred” and Walter Keith

[9] Kalamazoo, Michigan

[10] Sarah’s stepdaughter (Luke’s daughter by his first wife, Minerva Payson)

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

[12] Claude Brown, Nancy’s son

[13] Edith (Neumaier) Brown, Claude’s wife

[14] Julius Recoschewitz, Nancy’s daughter Bess’ boyfriend

[15] Bess Brown, Nancy’s daughter

[16] Julius was a concert violinist but also a drug addict. While Bess probably was not aware of that at the time, she did tell family members that Julius seemed to be able to put a spell on her and make her do things against her will. She asked them to help her get away from his influence

[17] Matilda (Allen) Brown, Nancy’s mother-in-law

[18] Believe she is referring to Samuel “Doc” Boyer, who was Nancy’s daughter Lela’s fiance; he was boarding either with Louese & D Harris or with D’s sister, Cora (Harris) & Aaron Hogeboom

[19] Elsie “Ettie” Ralph, D Harris’ cousin

[20] Emaline (Stone) Ralph, D Harris’ aunt