September 16, 1851 letter to Almira Nelles from Nancy & Hiram Crawford Sr.

September 16, 1851

To: Almira Nelles

From: Nancy & Hiram Crawford, Dowagiac, MI

Edwin is working on the “Engine,” Louisa is boarding at Marshall with her baby, and Sarah has a little 7-month-old boy. Robert is still in Wisconsin but she hasn’t heard from James. Said she wrote to “our folks in Canada” but hasn’t heard from them. Describes Dowagiac. Expects Sally and Louisa to visit. Asks Jane, if she receives news from California, to inquire if there is such a name as James H. Crawford there and to let them know as soon as possible.

Scan of 1851-09-16 Nancy & Hiram Crawford to Almira Nelles

Dowagiac September 16th 1851

Dear Niece[1] Once more I take my pen in hand to inform you that our healths is all very good eccept myself which has not been very good the last three or four weeks. I have not answered your letter as soon as you expected I should. I suppose it is beause I could not find anything to write about and because my health as I said before has not been very good. Edwin[2] is working on the Engine and Louesa[3] is boarding at Marshall [Michigan] with her baby.[4] Sally[5] has got a fine little boy[6] about 7 months old. Robbert[7] is still in Wisconsin and we had a letter from him last June. He was doing well then. We have not heard from James[8] yet. We expect Sally and Louesa out here to make us a visit and I should like to have your mother[9] or yourself or your sister[10] or both of you to come out and visit with Sally and Louesa. I have written to our folks in Canada and have not heard from them since last fall. This is a fine and thriving little Village. It is quite sick around here though. This little Village contains two taverns four dry good stores two groceries and one Drug store. It has one school house which answers for a school and meeting house to the Baptist and the Congregsionalest are fixing for to build a church a piece for them. Then there is a number of dwelling houses. There is a large grist mill going up besiges many other wonders of the grat Dowagiac City. Give my love to your mother and brothers  and sisters.

and believe to be your Affectionate Aunt

[to] Almira Nellis        Nancy B Crawford

NB Sally and Louesa will be here the last part of this month or the first of next. Jane if you recieve any news from Californ[11] let us know and if you write back to them ask them to inquire if there is any such a name as James H Crawford[12] there is let us know as soon as possible.

Your Sister

Nancy B Crawford

NB Almira answer this letter as soon as you can.

Your Aunt

Nancy B Crawford

[The following portion seems to have been written by Hiram Crawford[13]]

Dear Neice

You will excuse you aunt for not answering your letter sooner as she had nothing particular to write, but I could not put off any longer as I am anxious to hear from you all. Since I last wrote our healths have been as good as usual. We are living alone in Edwins house, his wife and child is living at Marshall and he is on an Engine running from Marshall to Detroit.

Sally has got a son 7 months old and was well when last heard from. Robert is in Wisconsin yet. We are looking for him home daily. James we have not hears from our anxiety is great about him.

We have had no news from Canada notwithstanding I have written several times. There is some sickness here prncipaley among the new comers. It is much heathier than last year. Our Village is growing fast. Some twenty or thirty buildings have gone up this season. In addition the Baptist and Congregation are each intending to erect meeting houses within a year.

Jane if you have any news from your Husband & children write. Should you write to them have them enquire for James H Crawford. Answer this letter Almira and come out one and all and see us as soon as [letter ends here, however the following paragraph was written upside down after this.]

Large subscripions have been raised for the building of two meeting houses, one by the Baptists and the other by the Congregationalists.


[1] Almira is the daughter of Nancy’s sister, Jane (Comfort) and Jacob Nelles

[2] Edwin W. Crawford, Nancy’s son, worked as an engineer for the local railroad

[3] Louisa (Hall) Crawford, Edwin’s first wife

[4] Eugene Crawford

[5] Sarah (Crawford) Keith, Nancy’s daughter

[6] Ethan Keith

[7] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[8] James H. Crawford, Nancy’s son

[9] Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin

[10] Almira had two sisters, both born to Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin and her second husband, Peleg Sunderlin: Jane Sunderlin (born in approximately 1840) and Louisa Sunderlin (born in 1846)

[11] Jane’s husband, Peleg Sunderlin, as well as two of her sons, Wallis Sunderlin and Henry Nelles, were apparently bitten by gold fever as they were all working as miners in Empire Canion, El Dorado, California, in 1850

[12] James may have been a sailor for a time. See description of his travels in letter dated May 23, 1856

[13] Nancy’s husband

April 1, 1850 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Sr.

April 1, 1850

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Hiram Crawford Sr., Dowagiac, MI

Hiram is writing a brief letter to his daughter, Sarah, to let her know that they have arrived safely in Dowagiac and had settled in with their son, Edwin, although it is a little cramped. He goes on to describe the village and its prospects for growth along the Central Railroad line. He tells Sarah that “morals are low her but the place is new and good society will come in with the growth of the place.”

Scan of 1850-04-01 Hiram Crawford to Sarah Keith

Dowagiac April 1st 1850

Dear Daughter

We are well. We got here with our household goods safe although L and Hiram[1] had rather a tough time of it. We are as comfortably situated as we expected. We are in with Edwin[2] a leettle crowded with our goods but otherwise room enough. Edwin has got as pleasent a situation as is in this place. The Village itself is a handsome situation as can be well found, high and dry with every prospect of being one of the first villages on the line of the Central Railroad.[3] The country is rich and productive around it. There has been an immense quantity of grain and other produce sent from this station the past winter and even now hundreds of bushels of grain and potatoes are brought in dayly to be sent off. You see how my hand trembles. I am in a great hurry two this morning so you must excuse me from writing a long letter. Write as soon as you can. Let us know how the boys get along, ours here are as contented as pigs. Mother[4] is we[ll?] contented living here. The only drawback to it is being seperated from you and the boys and also her religious privilages in Galesburg. Morals are low her but the place is new and good society will come in with the growth of the place. But my time is up so your Parents say God bless you our dear child and your Husband[5] for your sake and his own.

Compliments to all  

Hiram Crawford


[1] Lucius Prosper & Hiram, Jr., Hiram’s two youngest children

[2] Edwin W. Crawford, Hiram’s son

[3] Dowagiac was platted when the Michigan Central came through in 1848 to establish a route from Detroit to Niles, Michigan; the village was incorporated in 1858, growing to becoming a city in 1877

[4] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford  

[5] Charles Luke Keith Jr.