September 11, 1873 letter to Sarah Keith from Katherine Crawford

September 11, 1873

To:  Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Katherine Crawford, Chicago, IL

Since they bought the house they won’t be able to make a visit to Michigan. Eugene spent two nights with them. Their son, Harry, looks just like him. Henry and Johnny visited them. Hasn’t seen Jenny since before the fire. Sorry to hear Nancy is down on her luck and wants to know where they’re living. Their children are well; the baby is almost 11 months old.

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Chicago, Illinois

Sept 11th, 1873, Thursday


Dear Sister,

I have long promised myself I would write to you, but have never got about it untill now. I hope you will not think I have forgotten you by my seeming neglect. We promised ourselves a treat in the shape of a visit to your place this fall if it had not been for buying this place. I do not know when it will happen now. I hope you are all well and enjoying good health. We like our home very much. When we first moved in we all took heavy colds. Grandmother[*] was very ill. Indeed, some days I had very little hopes of her recovery, but she has rallied and is feeling pretty smart. Although she has not regained her usual strength.

Hiram[1] had a letter from Mother[2] a few days ago. She was feeling pretty smart. Eugene[3] spent two nights with us – he is a nice boy. Our Harry[4] is the perfect picture of him. Henry[5] and Johnny[6] were over the first of June. Johnny is a very pretty boy. I like his appearance very much. I have not seen Jenny[7] since before the fire[8]. I was sorry to hear Nancy[9] had such poor luck, however she must not be discouraged. Where are they living? Tell Luke[10] I do wish I could come and roll on his grass and eat some of those nice apples & potatoes. Our children keep well. Baby[11] is almost eleven months old but has no teeth yet. I will send you one of her pictures.

Remember us all kindly to the children & I hope sometime soon to see you all.

Good night.

Kate E. Crawford

396 Dayton St

Chicago, Illinois

[written at top of first page] Please answer soon.



[*] Elizabeth McGrath

[1] Hiram Crawford Jr., Kate’s husband

[2] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[3] Hiram’s nephew, Eugene Crawford, the son of Edwin and Louisa (Hall) Crawford

[4] Harry Crawford, Hiram and Kate’s oldest child

[5] Henry Clay Crawford, Hiram’s brother

[6] John H. Crawford, Henry’s oldest son

[7] Virginia (Worley) Crawford, Henry’s wife

[8] The Great Chicago Fire, which started Oct 8, 1871 and burned through the 9th. As many as 300 people were believed killed and 90,000 left homeless with damages totaling $200 million

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

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

[11] Jessie B. Crawford, Hiram and Kate’s second child

January 17, 1871 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

January 17, 1871

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Received a letter from Henry. They have been very sick. Jenny is not able to do much of anything and John, their oldest son, has had the fever this fall. Henry has been working at his trade making carriage wheels this winter. He says it has been very sickly in South Bend this year past. Poor Henry is having a hard time of it. John Worley, Jenny’s brother, has buried his wife. He said she died very happy. Received a letter and a Colorado paper from David announcing his marriage to Miss Amanda Thornton. Hopes he has got a good companion and they may enjoy each other’s comfort as long as they live. Received a letter from Hiram. He and his family enjoyed Christmas very much. Got letters from Robert, Prosper and Eugene. They are all well.

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Omro   January the 17 1871

My Dear Sarah,

I received your kind and welcom letter afew days ago. I was happy to heare from you and yours. I wish that Nancy[1] was here. I think Doctor Clap could help her. He has helpt a good meny difficult cases. It is very singular thing that your family has the ague[2] so much. I don’t remember when I lived with you of any one a having the ague. It seams to me that your family has ben afflicted more then any other famly around in that neighborhood. I wish Luke[3] could sell and get a way from there and get in a more healthily place. I received a letter from Henry[4]. He writes that they have ben sorely aflicked with sickness for months pasts. Jenne[5] is not abel to do much of anything and John[6], there olds son, has had the fever this fall. He dont get along very well. He is quite febel yet. Henry, he has been working at his trade a makeing Carriage wheels this winter. He sais it has ben very sickley in South Bend this year past. Poor Henry is lik your self. He is having a hard time of it. John Worly[7], so Henry sais, has buried his wife[*]. He said she dide very happy. He is Jennes youngest brother[8].

I received a letter and a Colorado paper from David[9] stateing his marrige with Miss Amanda Thornton[10]. All of that Peace the old Bach is marrige at last. I hope he has got a good companion and they may in joy each other society and take solled Comfort as long as they live.

I received a letter from Hiram[11]. He and his family had in joy Christmas very much. They had a present of a turkey for thear Dinner and they got lots of presents and Kit[12] got a half donzen of napkins rings. This is from him with lots of other things and Hite[13] got a nice pair of slippers from her and she received from her cousin, a young gentelman that is living in the city, a very beautiful round Lilly in wax set in a glass case worth twenty dollars and granma[14] got lots of things and little Harry[15] he got his stockings full of cande and nuts. It is to tedious to tell and name all of the articals they got. He sent me four dollars. I got a letter from Robert[16] and one from Eugean[17]. They both are well and like wise from Prosper[18]. He was well. Then I received from Emily Tomson, your Aunt Jane[19] hiard girl. She is a good writer. She writes for her. She sais sister Jane husband[20] is dead. He dide last June. Wallis[21] her son is aliving in Navada. She received a letter from him telling her that Mr Sunderlin died the beginning of that month. It was of consumption. Wallis is ago to move to Waukegan as soon as he can dispose of his properaty. Sister Mary Wickersham[22] is there. Ben there for severl months. Her health is good this winter. What was the matter of Mrs Jacobs[*]? I wish you would tell me in your next who is the man that married Adda Swadel. I hope thoes few lines will find you all in better health. Write soon as conveant. My love to you all. From your Mother.

So good night

Its is truely minets a past 9

Nancy B Betts

[to] S C Keith

P.S. I send one of Alice[23] letters to Nancy


[1] Nancy Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[2] A form of malaria characterized by stages of chills, fever, and sweating. Popularly, the disease was known as “fever and ague,” “chill fever,” and “the shakes”

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

[4] Henry Crawford, Nancy’s son

[5] Henry’s wife, Virginia (Worley) Crawford

[6] John Crawford, Henry and Virginia’s eldest son, age 16

[7] John Worley, who was Virginia’s younger brother, lived with Henry & Virginia Crawford when they lived in Niles, Michigan, and worked as an apprentice wagon maker with Henry

[*] Alice (Alexander) Worley died at the age of 25

[8] Actually, Virginia’s youngest brother was Oscar Worley

[9] David (D.C.) Crawford, Nancy’s son

[10] David married Amanda Thornton, December 21, 1870 in the Calvary Episcopal Church in Golden, Colorado

[11] Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy’s son

[12] Hiram’s wife, Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford

[13] Hiram’s nickname

[14] Kate’s maternal grandmother, Elizabeth McGrath, who was living with Hiram and Kate

[15] Harry Crawford, Hiram and Kate’s eldest child

[16] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[17] Eugene Crawford, Nancy’s grandson

[18] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Nancy’s youngest son

[19] Nancy’s sister, Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin

[20] Peleg Sunderlin, who died May 31, 1870 in Carlin, Nevada

[21] Wallis Sunderlin, Jane’s son

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

[*] A December 17 entry in Luke Keith’s diary mentions “Mrs Jacobs Died to day.” A search of shows that Julia A. Jacobs, age 38, wife of B. Jacobs, died December 17, 1870, and is buried in Galesburg City Cemetery, Galesburg, Michigan

[23] Alice Crawford, Nancy’s granddaughter

September 5, 1870 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

September 5, 1870

To: Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Nancy received a letter from David last week. He said he had not received a letter from any of his folks. He would like to hear from Sarah. She also received one from Hiram. Prosper came home a few weeks ago. He had a cold and was very sick, although he is better now. She also received a letter from Henry. The family has been sick, including himself and Jenny. He was very bad last spring and Jenny was sick all winter and all summer and is just now getting better. Nancy is thinking of visiting Hiram. Henry says he wanted to see them all very much. He would like her to come and stay with them awhile. She would like to go but doesn’t want to stay long. Wants to see Henry and all of his family as well as Sarah and her family and Hiram and his family. Received a letter from Alice Crawford, James’ daughter. She would like to hear from her aunts, uncles and cousins.

Omro  Sept 5 1870

Dear Sarah,

You kind and wellcom letter came to hand a few days ago. I was glad to hear from you all. I have ben looking for a letter from you this sam time. I am sorra to hear that all have ben so flicked with sickness. I hope you all will get your healths again. Where is Ethen[1] now? You did not say anything about him and Sis[2]. Tell Jimme[3] that granma would like to see him very much and all of you. I received a letter from David[4] last week. He was well. He said he had not received a letter from any of his folks but me. He would like to hear from you and yours. I received one from Hiram[5]. He said they whare all quite well. The old lady[6] hasent got home yet. I dont bleve she is a coming home. Prosper[7] came home a few weekes ago. He took a cold and was very unwell. He is better now so he can work. Robert[8] has got quite well. He can do all the work he can get to do. It is hard to get work to do. There is so meny that wants work and cant get it. His famly is well as usual. I received one from Henry[9] the other day. He sais they have ben sick, himself and Jenna[10]. He was very bad last spring. He thought he was a going in the quick consumption. He got relief at last. Jenna was sick all winter and all summer, gest agetting better so she thinks of makeing Hiram and wife[11] a visit. He said he wanted to see us all very much. He wish I could come and stay with them awile. I would like to go and stay and make a visit but I dont wanto stay a grate while. I do want to see him very much and all of his famly and all of you and Hiram and famly. O Sarah I wish I could step in and see you and famly. If I had the monny to go and com back I should do it. I pict up a littel adversing thrown in at the door. I pic it up and read it though[t] I would it put in the letter and send it to you. Perhaps you have the same there. If she that is Nancy[12] was I mean was withe me, I should get it for her. I wanto make the trial it mite help her. Your father[13] was a grate hand to try those paten medicines and he beleived there was more virture in those syrups then there was in th Dr medicines.

This is the second letter I have written to day. I am so nervis that I cant write ver well. I wish you and Luke[14] could com here and see us. We all would be glad to see you. It would do you both good to travel. It all ways done me heep of good. My health is quite good at present. Write soon as convent. I received a letter from Alice N Crawford[15] your brother James[16] daughter. She wants to hear from her Aunts and uncels and cousans. She inquired about Nancy. She said she hope she was well. She said if I would send Nancy adress she would write to to her so I will. When you write to me again remember Pros in your but dont let him know that I said anything. The boys dident say anything about him ether. He thought it was singler Glen Haven grant co. I hope these few lines will find you all. I received a letter from Eugene[17]. He was well. He said he got a letter from Eathen. My love to you all. Kiss Jimme and Sis for me.

From your mother

N B Betts

[to] S C Keith


[1] Ethan Keith, Sarah’s son

[2] Louese Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[3] James Keith, Sarah’s son

[4] David (D.C.) Crawford, Nancy’s son

[5] Hiram Crawford, Jr., Nancy’s son

[6] Hiram’s wife Katherine’s grandmother, Elizabeth McGrath, who had been living with them

[7] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Nancy’s youngest son

[8] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[9] Henry Crawford, Nancy’s son

[10] Virginia (Worley) Crawford, Henry’s wife

[11] Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford

[12] Nancy Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[13] Hiram Crawford Sr.

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

[15] Her granddaughter

[16] James Crawford died December 15, 1858, just seven weeks after his wife Ann died. At the time of their deaths, Alice was 5 and her brother, Rollin, was 3

[17] Eugene Crawford, Nancy’s grandson

September 27, 1868 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Jr.

September 27, 1868

To: Sarah Keith 

From: Hiram Crawford, Chicago, IL

Mentions Kate, also his mother’s visit with Henry and Mary. Hoped that Henry was making money out of his roofing – it would be refreshing to see a Crawford make money and keep it. David had written that he had made and lost three fortunes since he had been “in that country.”

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Sept 27” 1868

Dear Sister,

Your very unexpected but welcome letter of the 15th inst.[1] was received all right. Sarah I had really forgotten all about owing you a letter. Though I had answered yours long time ago. Told Kate[2] I thought you must be mistaken and she like all good and obedent wives said she guesses not. That in the matter of corresponding she had as soon believe you as me and a little sooner. I guess she knows me. —I am sorry to learn that Mother[3] has been poorly and am glad that she is getting around all right. Also am pleased to know that her short visits at Henry’s[4] and Mary’s[5] was pleasant and agreeable. I have not heard from Henry since he was here. I think sometime in July. I suppose he has been making money out of his Roofing. At least I hope so. I would like to see a Crawford make mony and keep it. It would be refreshing.

I haven’t heard from David[6] in sometime. He wrote me that he had made and lost three fortunes since he had been in that country and was going for another one. Good for him. I hope he will make it and keep it. I am expecting a little to see him along here this fall, just for the simple reason that he has not said anything about it in his letters. I trust Luke[7] has come out all right. Chicago is tolerable sickly this fall, principally Billious[8] fevers and congestive chills. The weather is very cold and wet this month. Have had to have a fire most of the time. The principal topic of interest here is politics. Our Tanner demonstrations are immense. Ten thousand torches in a line is a sight worth seeing[9]. The people of Galesburg[10] ought to insist on Bill & Lucinda staying there as the place would probably sink if they should go. Kate says she would like to get into your Mrs K melon patch. She would make it look sick, of course I wouldn’t eat any. Kate and Grandma[11] joins in love to Mother, yourself and family.

Your Brother


P.S. I wish when Mother came back you wold send those framed Pictures of mine. And don’t wait a year or two before you write again.

H. Crawford

430 North Clark St

Chicago, Ill


[1] Instant, meaning of the present month

[2] Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford, Hiram’s wife.

[3] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[4] Henry Clay Crawford, Hiram’s brother

[5] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford, Edwin’s widow and Hiram’s sister-in-law

[6] David Caleb (D.C.) Crawford, Hiram’s brother

[7] Luke Keith, Sarah’s husband

[8] Typhoid, malaria, hepatitis or elevated temperature and bile emesis

[9] Republican Ulysses S. Grant, who ran against Democrat Horatio Seymour in the 1868 presidential election, was the son of a tanner and while he worked in the tannery occasionally as a child, he swore that as an adult, he would never do so. Noted in A History of Chicago, Volume II: From Town to City 1848-1871 by Bessie Louise Pierce, was the following: “The campaign was enlivened by Tanner Clubs patterned after the Wide Awakes of the early ‘sixties (the Wide Awakes were a youth organization and, later, a paramilitary organization cultivated by the Republican Party during the 1860 presidential election in the United States). By September, enthusiastic young Republicans lighted the streets in their torchlight parades to demonstrate their will to put the ‘Tanner” in the White House.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, the first Tanner club of torchlight soldiers was organized in Chicago on July 24, 1868. The name ‘Tanner’ took like wildfire; 1,000 Tanner clubs sprang up within two weeks, and within two months there were fully 10,000 Tanner companies.*

The name Tanner came from the fact that General Ulysses S. Grant had worked for a time as a tanner as a young man and that he had been able to “tan” the secessionist rebels who in the Civil War had taken up arms to destroy the nation. Their intent was to increase voter turnout on election day by marching in torchlight parades dressed in uniforms reminiscent of the Union armies.

A typical duty of the torchlight soldiers in every city was to march to the local railroad station to meet visiting political celebrities and escort them to their hotel. A delegation of the most prestigious local dignitaries would join in meeting the celebrity and the combined procession then marched through the city streets to the hotel. The celebrity customarily made a brief speech, thanking and complimenting his escort, then retired to change his clothes, have dinner, and confer with local party personalities before the evening political meeting.*

Later when the speaker was ready to proceed to the meeting place, the torchlight soldiers paraded through such major streets of the city as the political meeting managers had time for. Military bands, fireworks, bonfires, and booming cannon added heightened excitement to the occasion. Once arrived at the county courthouse square or meeting hall where the speakers were to give their orations, the appearance of the torchlight soldiers in their colorful uniforms, their cheering, their singing and their patriotically impressive presence added to the political excitement of the evening.*

Probably the highest ceremonial honor torchlight soldiers could confer on a visiting celebrity was to form two lines and permit him to “pass through.”*

(*Excerpts taken from “Torchlight Soldiers: A Wisconsin View of the Torchlight Parades of the Republican Party ‘Tanners’ and the Democratic Party ‘White Boys in Blue’” by Charles D. Goff, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh)

[10] Galesburg, Michigan, Sarah and Luke’s home

[11] Kate’s grandmother, Elizabeth McGrath

August 1, 1868 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

August 1, 1868

To: Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Betts, Chicago, IL

Arrived at Hiram’s on Thursday. Hiram and his wife Kitty met her. Her grandmother lives with them. Hite and Kitty send their regards. Expects to go visit son Henry and then Mary and then to Sarah’s. Prosper has complained of poor health this spring and the first of summer. Robert is up at the Boom weighing logs. He boards and gets over three dollars a day. He comes home every Saturday and goes back on Sunday. His children are well. Louisa is a good deal better than she was two weeks ago. One of her sisters is with them part of the time. She looks very bad.

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Chicago August the 1, 1868

Dear daughter,

I received your kind letter over a weeke a go and was glad to hear from you but thought I would not answer it till after I arived at Hiram[1] in Chicago. I rived thear a thursday eveing at the Depot, met Hiram and Kitty[2] his wife redy to receive me. We took the Street Car and went home. Found her old grand Mother[*] aliving withe them, seventy two year old. She is a considerbel healp to Kate. Prosper[3] has complaind of poor health this spring and the frist of the summer. He is a working in the harvest fild now a complaines of fealing a goodeal better. I hope he will keep so. Robert[4] is up to the Boom[5] a scailing [weighing] logs. He is bourded and gets over three dollors a day. He come home evry Satterday and goes back a Sunday. The children is well. Lousia[6] is a goodeal better then she was two weekes ago. She and her littel girls does the most of her work. One of her sisters is with apart of the time. She lookes very bad. Two weke ago we had exstream hot wether. Grate menny was sunstruck in difernt places. It is quite cool and plesenter now after the thunder showers it has cleard of plesent. I expct to viset Agusto the firs of the next weeke and I think the last of the weeke to go to son Herys[7] and then to Mayes[8] and then to your place. When I get redy to go to Galesburg[9] I will drop you a line to meet me at the station. The perticulars I will tell you when I see you. Tell Jimme and Sis [10] that gramma is a coming to see them. My love to all. Your Mother

Nancy B Betts

[to] Sarah C Keith

NB Hite and Kitt sends thear regards to you all NB Betts


[1] Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy’s son

[2] Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford, Hiram’s wife

[*] Katherine’s maternal grandmother, Elizabeth McGrath

[3] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Nancy’s youngest son

[4] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[5] There were as many as five companies running logs down the Wolf River in Wisconsin which were then sorted and weighed at Bay Boom and sent to saw mills in Oshkosh.

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

[7] Henry Clay Crawford, Nancy’s son

[8] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford, widow of Nancy’s son, Edwin

[9] Galesburg, Michigan, where Sarah and Luke Keith lived

[10] Sarah’s two youngest children