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 (Atcheson) 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

November 22, 1901 letter to James Keith from Ethan Keith

November 22, 1901

To: James Keith, Chicago, IL

From: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

Hannah does her sewing work from 7:00 in the morning until 9:00 or later at night. Ethan thinks it is too much for her and worries that she just can’t keep at that pace. She only earns $1.00 per day. Their father sings most of the time and as he is in the same room where Hannah does her sewing, it annoys her. Ethan wishes Nancy and the girls could have stayed at 736 as it was home to them and close to the gallery.

Scan of 1901-11-22 Ethan Keith to James Keith

Galesburg, Mich. Nov 22, 1901

Dear Brother

Will begin a letter to you this evening but probably will not finish it as it is most time to go to bed. The alarm will call me at 4.45 Am. (fast time) and I’ll have to get right out for I am working in and around a dressmaking shop. Hannah[1] is crowded with work. She is ready to go to sewing at seven most every morning and works until nine or after in the evening. It is too much for her. She cant always hold out at such a gait. If she was reasenably paid for her work but she does’nt make a dollar a day for her time. Pa[2] and Ma[3] are usually well. Pa has a great hobby for singing. Some of the time it is a tune and then it wont be any thing but he is at it most of the time. It annoys Hannah for he is in the room where she is sewing most of the time. Will Barber and I have worked at the pump part of two days this week. It had got a hole rusted through the pipe somewhere so it pumped sand. We pulled the pipe up and found the hole down most to the point. Have got it so it works all right to night. Nancy[4] writes you are having boils and muscular rheumatism. Seems as if it is’nt one thing its another. It’s too bad and very discouraging to have to be sick so much. Mrs Streater[5] is sick had a light stroke of paralysis. Harry[6] said this morning she was better physically, but was worse mentally. Clara Clark[7] is pretty bad off. Is troubled with gall stones, suffers a great deal. Has been sick over ten weeks. Charley[8] wrote his mother[9] Wednesday that he and Edna[10] sat up with her the night before. They had to fan her a good deal of the time she was so weak. A month yesterday I came from Chicago. Seems more like three of them. I enjoyed the trip and visits if they were short. Would liked very much to have staid longer. Wish Nancy and the girls[11] could have staid at 736.[12] That had got to be like home to them, and then they were so pleasantly situated, and handy to the gallery.[13] She sent me a Heurst Chicago American[14] this week cuts, and write up of the elevated road collision. They were fortunate in not getting some of the cars off on the ground. Have not heard from Charley Eck[15] since he went from here week last Monday. We all liked him. Too bad he has such poor health.[16] The protolacea[17] Winnie[18] set in the tin can has just died. Will close for lack of news. Love to Cora,[19] children[20] and yourself.

Your brother Ethan

——-

[1] Their sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne

[2] Charles Luke Keith Jr., who was 88 years old

[3] Sarah (Crawford) Keith, who was 80 years old

[4] Their sister, Nancy (Keith) Brown

[5] Neighbor, Laura (Rawson) Streator

[6] Laura Streator’s son, Henry “Harry” Streator

[7] Clara (Youngs) Clark was the wife of Charles Clark, the son of Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner and her first husband, Byron Clark. Lois was Ethan and Jim’s half-sister, the daughter of Charles Luke Keith Jr. and his first wife, Minerva Payson

[8] Charles Clark

[9] Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner

[10] Charles and Clara Clark’s daughter

[11] Nancy’s daughters, Lela and Bess Brown

[12] Nancy’s husband, Henry Brown, died May 22, 1901 and the family moved from 736 North Hoyne Avenue in Chicago. By October of 1902 she was living at 200 Evergreen Avenue in Chicago

[13] Henry Brown was a photographer and according to the 1899-1900 Chicago City Directory had a gallery at 749 Robey Street and at 574 Lincoln Avenue. Bess continued working at the gallery for awhile, but whether it was to try to make a go of it, to take care of unfinished business, or to sell the business is unknown

[14] Hearst’s Chicago American newspaper

[15] Charles Eck was the husband of Jessie Crawford, who was Ethan and Jim’s first cousin. Jessie was the daughter of Hiram Crawford Jr., their mother’s brother

[16] Charles Eck died May 23, 1904, just shy of his and Jessie’s 6th wedding anniversary

[17] Portulacea, a succulent plant, possibly a jade plant

[18] Jim’s oldest daughter, Winifred Keith

[19] Jim’s wife, Cora (Meredith) Keith

[20] Winifred (9 years old) and Walter (almost 4 years old)

(This post was updated on 03-21-2021)