September 28, 1864 letter to Luke Keith from Sarah Keith

September 28, 1864

To: Luke Keith, Omro, WI

From: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

Sarah is giving Luke an update on how things are going at home while he is in Omro, Wisconsin. Jimmy has been sick. She thinks it is his teeth and worms and wishes Luke was home. If he can’t sell any more territory he should come home. Ethan was going to help Luke’s father with the sugar cane, husk the corn and potatoes but he was sick all night so he won’t be able to go. Has heard from several of her brothers and updates Luke regarding them.

Galesburg, Sep. 28 1864

Luke, I received your letter this evening, thought I would answer it right away and let you know how we were, before you left Omro.[1] We are all as well as usual except Jimey.[2] I dont know what does ail him. I think it must be his teeth and worms. He keeps a growing poor all the time, has no appetite, depends altogether on nursing. I think if I had weened him in the Spring he would not have got along this Summer very well. He has been so poorly of late I have whished a good many times you was home. The children wants I should tell Pa to come home. They are afraid they dont will forget how you look. I should like to have you come home, but you must use your own judgement about it. If you cant sell any more Teritoritry[3] now than to stay you had better come home than stay there any longer at present. Ethen[4] is a goining to your Father[5] tomorrow to help him take care of his sugar cane. I was inhops you would be at home to help him. He is very lame. He has hurt his leg whare it used to be sore. He wants Ethen to help him husk his corn and dig his potatoes. No frost yet. Had a letter from Hite[6] last week. He wanted fifty dollars. I expressed it to him. Dont hear from David.[7] Phil Cory sends no word home. Hite says the Chicago plattform is a dead letter whare he is.

Mother wants to know if Aunt Sarah[8] is a living yet. Does Robert[9] think of moveing to Minesota. I should like to see them before they went but that is impossible I expect.

Thursday morning. Rained the latter part of the night and morning, cold and unpleasent. Jimey is better this morning. Ethen has been sick all night, one of his old spells of the choler mor less. He will not be able to go over the river this week.

Pros[10] has a notion of studying medicine. He thought by going in a drug store it might be of some help to him. He gets ten dollars per month the same as he got at the creek. He said he could not stand it to work out doors. Thought it would be the thing he could do this winter. Byron[11] has his meat market in Mill’s old store. I went to the fair one day last week, regular jam, lots of folks. No great comfort to be taken at such a place. If dont think best to come home at present write when you leave Roberts.

I hope you are a feeling better. Biles are not verry pleasent but they are called healthy. This is from your wife.

Yours truly

S C Keith


[1] Omro, Wisconsin

[2] Their youngest son, James Clinton Keith

[3] Luke sold Ulmer’s Spring Bed Bottoms, which were a form of rubberized bedsprings

[4] Their oldest son, Ethan Keith

[5] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[6] Her brother, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[7] Her brother, David (D. C.) Crawford

[8] Sarah usually referred to her own parents as “Ma” and “Pa” and her in-laws as “Mother” and “Father,” so assume she is referring to Luke’s mother, Hannah (Willcutt) Keith, but it is unclear who “Aunt Sarah” is

[9] Her brother, Robert Crawford, where Luke is staying

[10] Her youngest brother, Lucius Prosper Crawford

[11] Byron Clark, the husband of Luke’s daughter, Lois Keith, by his first wife, Minerva Payson

September 21, 1864 letter to Luke Keith from Sarah Keith

September 21, 1864

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Omro, WI

From: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

Sarah is updating her husband, Luke, on the affairs of the farm while he is traveling in Wisconsin selling bed bottoms. Sarah visited Luke’s father to see how he was doing. “Father is a striping off the leaves and feeding them to the cattle. He said Ethan might have all he could pick.” Sarah’s Mother is looking for a letter from brother Robert, whom she is hoping will send her $20 dollars.

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Galesburg, Sep 21st 1864


It is Wednesdy morning. I have lots of work to do, tolow(?) a trying out doors and in the house to, besides all the rest of the chores to do. I find it makes quite a difference you not being here to do and look after things. Ethen[2] went to Mr Flanders last night. Is a going with Henry[3] to the State fare to day. I think some of going tomorrow with Byron[4]. We can get prety fair apples in the market for fifty cents. Jo thinks good winter apples can be got for twelve or fourteen shillings per bushel. Marsh hay is worth ten dollars per ton an the marsh Timothy 20 per ton. We had two bushels of early potatoes. The rains we have had with three weeks are a doing potatoes a greate deal of good. Some of ones have grown half. If the frost keeps off we will have a midling good crop. I was to your Fathers[5] yesterdy. He says his is a going well. The sorgum looks first rate. Father is a striping off the leaves and feeding them to the cattle. He said Ethen might have all he could pick. I shall try and have him go day after to morrow. It will so good to feed the cow night and mornings. I went up to Milfords yesterdy to see about some wood. He is a going to draw some Saturdy or Monday. Wesley and Dwight are home on a furlou. Dwight has got the bloddy dyentery. Is very bad. Will not be able to go back Saturday to Jackson. Byron thinks there is fifteen bushels of corn. James Waldern, is a mooveing a crossed the road in Mrs Smith,s house. I saw Maury the other day. He inquired about you, how you was a geting. Every one seemes to be anxious to know how you are a makeing it go with your bed bottoms. I hardly know what to tell. I make it as fair as I can. I wish you might do well. Maury says he has full as well as he expected what time he was gone he came home sick. He says when he goes out a gan he intends to stay in one place and get them introduced there. He thinks he could more territory by so doing. Roberts[6] folks had ought to have had a boy this time. Mothe[7] is a looking for a lette from Robert. She is in need of some money. She would like twenty dollars. When do you think you will be home? Lois[8] expects every day will be the next. We are all as well as usual. Hope you will keep well.

Yours truly

S C Keith 

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

[2] Ethan Keith, Luke and Sarah’s son

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

[4] Byron Clark, the husband of Luke’s daughter, Lois

[5] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[6] Robert Crawford, Sarah’s brother

[7] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

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

January 1861 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

Winter January 1861 

 To: Sarah Keith

 From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

 Blog Date: 07-08-2015/Updated 02-04-2017

 Nancy refers to some disagreement that Sarah seems to be having with her in-laws. She feels bad that Sarah’s family had to move in with Luke’s parents without a fair understanding. Tells Sarah about the poor health of her husband, Platt Betts. Robert has been gone lumbering all winter. Nancy had a visit from her sister, Mary Wickersham.

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Dear Sarah[1]

I feal bad to hear that you have move over to the old folks[2] without a fair understanding. It seames verry singular to me that they will stand out and not willing to do the right thing. If I was in Lukes[3] place I would have them decide what they should do and that purty soon. Now Sarah I want you to take care of your helth as much as you can and remember you have ben sick all summer and fall and if you should over work your self and any outher diseas set in it mite take you of verry sudden. We have ben to home all winter. Elder[4] health has ben so poor and the snow has ben so deep that we could not git out to meating and no whare else. We thought if we could step into your hous and see you all how glad we would bee. Roberts[5] folks hasent ben here sence last fall. He has ben in the woods all winter. Your Aunt Mary[6] has been here and made us a verry plesent visit. She injoyes very good now. Write soon and tell me what Ed[7] said when you and Eugean[8] got back. My love to you both and the children. Tell them I wold lik to see them. Dont let this be seen. It is about dark so good night. This is from your mother.

[to] Sarah C Keith       [from] Nancy B Betts

N B Pros[9] send his love to you and yours and Louis and Henry[10] and the children and so do I

S.K. N.B.B.


[1] This letter would have been written between 2-16-1858, when Nancy first wrote about Platt Betts, and 12-29-1861, the date of his death Based on December entries in Luke’s 1860 diary about moving from Galesburg, and the December 26th mention of sending a letter to Omro, it would appear that this letter was written in January 1861 in response to that letter

[2] Perhaps her in-laws, Sarah’s in-laws, Charles Luke Keith Sr. and Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

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

[4] Nancy’s husband, Platt Betts

[5] Nancy’s son, Robert Crawford

[6] Mary (Comfort) Wickersham, Nancy’s sister

[7] Edwin Crawford, Nancy’s son

[8] Eugene Crawford, Edwin’s son

[9] Nancy’s son, Lucius Prosper Crawford

[10] Lois and Henry were Charles Luke Keith Jr.’s children by his first wife, Minerva Payson


August 31, 1856 letter to Sarah Keith from Luke Keith

August 31, 1856

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Luke Keith, Omro, WI

He is still at Robert’s in Omro. He is feeling somewhat better and plans to leave Monday or Tuesday for Green Bay. Some of the men are going bear hunting and Robert has his hunting shirt done and “is a dancing around the floor.” Luke doesn’t feel well enough to go with them. Describes the area again and that they get their water from boring into the ground. When they get to water, it spouts up from 3 to 15 feet high. Says that Robert has a very good woman and their boy looks like Eugene and is as cross as ever Eugene was. Wants Sarah to tell Nancy and Ethan that he “will come home some time.”

Omro Aug 31st 1856

Sarah your letter was received Friday afternoon. I was glad to hear from home,[1] was sorry to hear that Father[2] had hurt his leg.[3] I am at Roberts[4] yet. I feel some better than I did when I wrote you before. I think I shall leave here monday or tuesday. I shal go to the bay and then I will write you a gan. I am glad you and the children are well. Pros[5] says he wants to see you the darndest ***[6] the other children. He wishes he could *** and nancy[7] sing pop goes the weasel *** enjoy themselves very well. Robert *** wishes you and the children *** got a very good woman.[8] She is not *** Lois[9] she wares short dresses and pant___ *** a little girl. Their boy[10] looks like Eugene[11] and is as cross as ever Jean[12] was. We have heard from David.[13] He is well. Hiram[14] is going out where Dade is in two weeks. Robert starts to morrow morning for the woods. There are six of them going up the woolf river a bear hunting. Bob has got his hunting shirt done and is a dancing around the floor. He wants I should go with them. I cant I dont feel stout enough for that. I like this country very well. There are some as farms about here as I ever saw in any country. They get their water by diging. They bore into the ground with a two inch auger from 20 to 75 feet. When they get to water it raises to the top of the ground, just spouts up from 3 to 15 feet high. I went to Osh Kosh friday saw James Sprague[15] Uncle Jesses[16] son. He showed me one that was —5 feet deep *** pipe some 4 feet above the top of *** and cold as any spring water *** crockery store. I will get around *** as I can. If I stop at Green bay or Mackinaw long enough to get a line from you I will write where to direct. I saw a man last evening, said he was some acquainted at the bay, said he knew one man there by the name of King.[17] He did not know what his given name was. I am comfortably well. Tell Nancy and Ethen[18] I will come home some time.

Yours as always

C. L. Keith

[to] Sarah C. Keith


[1] According to Luke’s 1856 diary, he was gone from home from August 11 through September 23. See the pages following the August 24, 1856 letter for a transcript of the entries during that time period

[2] Charles Luke Keith Sr., who also went by the name of Luke

[3] See August 24, 1856 letter

[4] Sarah’s brother, Robert Crawford

[5] Sarah’s brother, Lucius Prosper Crawford

[6] There is a large hole that runs through all the pages of the letter; *** indicates missing words

[7] Their daughter, Nancy Keith

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

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

[10] William Edwin Crawford, who was born August 23, 1855

[11] Eugene Crawford, Sarah’s nephew, the son of Sarah’s brother, Edwin Crawford

[12] Believe this is short for Eugene

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

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

[15] James G. Sprague and family were listed in the 1860 Census, living in Oshkosh

[16] Jesse Sprague was the uncle of Luke’s second wife, Jerusha (Crittenden) Keith; also, Jesse’s nephew, James Sprague Jr. (the son of Jesse’s brother James & Abiah [Carpenter] Sprague), was married to Luke’s sister, Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague

[17] Luke had an uncle and a cousin, both by the name of James King, that lived in De Pere, Wisconsin, which is in the Green Bay area

[18] Their son, Ethan Keith

August 24, 1856 letter to Luke Keith from Sarah Keith

August 24, 1856

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Omro, WI

From: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

Sarah is writing her husband, Luke, who is staying with her brother, Robert, in Omro, Wisconsin. She tells Luke that after he left his father fell in the barn, broke a bone in his leg and is having difficulty getting around. The children are well but they miss him. She would like him to bring the children gifts when he returns.

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Galesburg August 24th 1856

Luke[1] I received your letter yesterday to late to send one out by the mail. Your letter came to the Burg[2] Friday but I had not an oppertunity to send. I sent Henry[3] over Thursday to see if thare was a letter and it made him sick. I hope you are better. We all fell very anxious about you[4]. If you think of going farther dont leave Roberts[5] till you are well. I think if you dont feel very smart you had better come home. If you had some one to go with you I would not think so much about it. We are all as well as usuel. The next Thursday after you left your Father[6] fell down in the barn yard and hurt his leg very bad. One of the bones is broken below the knee. He could not get off of his bed for a week. He cant get around much now. The children have been well since you left. Ethan[7] says he thinks about Pa all the time, and Nancy[8] talks about you pretty much all the time. Nancy says I must tell Pa she wants to see him. For to or thre days after you left whenever we would ask Hannah[9] whare Pa was she would go to your Mothers[10] bedroom and we had to let her in before she would be satisfied.

Lasher had a 186 bushels of wheat. We expect to thrash this week. Cridlin has had two sisters a visiting him the past week. If you fetch Ethan and Nancy a present you must fetch Henry something too. Tell Hite[11] I want him to send me some present to remember him by. If you expect to stay long I want you to send me some postage stamps. We have had a letter from George.[12] He says Patty[13] is a coming the last of next month. Answer this as soon as you get it if you intend to stay.

My best wishes for your health and happiness.

Sarah C. Keith

[to] C. L. Keith

[1] The envelope is addressed to Charles L. Keith, Omro, Winnebago Co., Wis. Charles Luke Keith Jr. went by the name of Luke, as did his father, Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[2] Galesburg, Michigan

[3] Henry, age 13, Luke’s son by his first wife, Minerva Payson

[4] According to Luke’s 1856 diary, he was gone from home from August 11 through September 23. See following pages for a transcript of the entries during that time period

[5] Sarah’s brother, Robert Crawford

[6] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[7] Sarah and Luke’s son, age 5

[8] Sarah and Luke’s daughter, age 4

[9] Sarah and Luke’s daughter, age 11 months

[10] Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

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

[12] George Tomlinson, son-in-law of Luke’s sister, Martha

[13] Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague, Luke’s sister