April 7, 1924 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

April 7, 1924

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne

From: Nancy Brown

Nancy is writing about the tragic death of a friend, Harold Gibson, who had been killed in a car accident. Harold was coming home from work with his employer’s nephew in the car. The nephew wanted to drive but because he had been drinking, Harold refused. However, to save himself some trouble, he at last gave in. The nephew crossed onto the other side of road and smashed into a big car. Harold was killed and the two men in the other car were not expected to live. Harold was in World War I with the First from Illinois and went through every major battle. He said the best sleep he ever had was after days of fighting when he was so worn out he pushed the dead aside, laid down between them in blood and mud and slept like a baby for a number of hours, with bombs whistling over his head the whole time. Thought they might get a letter from Joe telling something about Lou as she supposed they went to see him yesterday, but nothing came. She thinks Dorothy will be married on the 29th of May but it hasn’t been finalized yet. She thinks they will be married at home with just family and a few friends as guests. It will be less expensive than going to Claude’s and having a larger wedding. Their apartment is almost finished; walls papered and floors varnished last week. It is new and their furniture is all new, so it will look nice. Even though they can’t be near Bess Nancy is glad they will be near her.

Monday April 7″ 1924

Dear brother and sister

If I had known the hens were laying I would tried and had the crate there but in your last letter Hannah you said they had laid three. I thought we would send it this week and it would be there plenty of time. If Robert[1] has time to get it this aftern will send tomor. I dont know why it was put back and under so much truck[2] last fall. Lela[3] has advertised her rooms again. Not one answer. That makes 40.00 in adds (not paid) rec’d no results. No one can understand it. We have not heard from Lou[4] since Lela was there Thursday so he is not able to write. Dorothy[5] had a letter from Wilma.[6] She wrote Ruby Curies husband had bought Mrs Hardings place. Its too bad. I’m sorry for Lou.[7] Harold Gibson[8]. I guess you know who he is. The ones that used to go to Mrs Ogdens[9] with Lizzie.[10] Mr Gibson spent his vacation three or four years ago in Shelbyville boarded at Jims.[11] Harold was going home from work (he is married[12] lives on Winnemac Ave north of us) last Wednesday in his car. His employers nephew[13] was with him. He wanted to drive but he had been drinking a little. Harold refused but at last to save trouble let him. He went zig zag and across on other side of road. Before H– could stop him or get the wheel smashed in to a big car. Two men in that. Killed Harold. The driver was only shook up good. The other two men are in hospital not expected to live. The driver in jail waiting the out come. He is only 19 is married has one child. Harold is 23[14] maried last October. He went to the world war with the first from Illinois went through evy one of the big battles. I think I told you he said the best sleep he ever had was after days of fighting at Chateau-Thierry when he was so worn out he pushed the dead aside laid down between them in blood and mud and slept like a baby for a number of hours the boms whisteling over his head all the time. After all of that to come home and be killed. He was ___ when the war closed but wanted to go right on into Berlin. They all take his death very hard. Lizzie & Will[15] move the 22nd. I cut the picture out of yesterdays paper. It made me feel homesick. I was back in the Burg[16] ___ ___ I said I could almost imagine it was taken in front of our house, the picket fence and and the men. I dont remember the medallions and the cars.

The Crooks family[17] are about all gone, guess Sarah[18] is the last. Of course there are a good many nieces & nephews. Postman just been here. Thought we might get a letter from Joe[19] telling something about Lou as I suppose they went to see him yesterday but nothing came. I think Dorothy[20] will be married the 29″ of May, not just decided yet and guess will have the families and a few girl and boy friends, be married at home. It will be less expensive than to go to Claudes[21] and have a larger wedding. Their appartment is about finished papered & floors varnished last week. That is new & their furniture is all new so thing will look nice. As long as they cant be near Bess[22] I’m glad they are so near us. Time to get lunch. Cold & windy this forenoon. Im writing to LaVerne.[23] I get so homesick to hear from them. Hope to hear from you soon.

With love,

Nan

Will send letter when we send crate.

[1] Robert Recoschewitz, Nancy’s grandson

[2] Under so much miscellaneous stuff

[3] Lela (Brown) Mueller, Nancy’s daughter. As a result of injuries sustained by her husband, Lou, in a street car accident, Lela tried to take in boarders to supplement their income

[4] Louis Mueller, Lela’s husband, who sustained a brain injury in the streetcar accident and was institutionalized

[5] Nancy’s granddaughter, Dorothy Recoschewitz

[6] Wilma Keith, the daughter of Nancy’s brother, James Keith

[7] Believe Nancy is referring to her sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[8] Charles Harold Gibson, Jr a friend of the family

[9] Amanda (Brown) Ogden, Lizzie’s mother (see next footnote)

[10] Nancy’s sister-in-law, Elizabeth (Ogden) Brown

[11] Nancy’s brother, James Keith

[12] He had been married less than a year to Margaret (Johnson) Gibson

[13] William B French

[14] While both this letter and a search at the homicide.northwestern.edu database listed his age as 23, the 1910 Census listed his age as 13, which would make him 27 when he died

[15] Lizzie’s husband and Nancy’s brother-in-law, Willis Brown

[16] Galesburg, Michigan, the family farm where Nancy grew up and where her brother and sister still lived

[17] This referred to Joseph Crooks, who died April 5, 1924. His sister, Minnie (Crooks) Crawford, had been married to Nancy’s cousin, Eugene Crawford, and she died January 25, 1921. See also the April 6, 1920 letter which had the obituary of Joseph and Minnie’s brother, Smyth Crooks

[18] Sarah (McCloskey) Searles was actually the half-sister of Joseph, Minnie and Smyth Crooks

[19] Joseph Langmayer, Dorothy Recoschewitz’s fiance

[20] Nancy’s granddaughter, Dorothy Recoschewitz, married Joseph Charles Langmayer on May 29th, 1924

[21] Claude Keith Brown, Nancy’s son. As it turned out Dorothy and Joe were married at Claude’s home in Wilmette, Illinois

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

[23] Nancy’s niece, LaVerne (Harris) Boyer

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September 5, 1921 letter to Nancy Brown from Lela Mueller

September 5, 1921[1]

To: Nancy Brown, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Lela Mueller, Chicago, IL

She tried to keep Lou from going to Davenport, but he was so anxious to go and to take Jean that she thought it might be good for him to go. Wrote about Mr. Dee getting married and how he told her how much it meant to him to have lived with them the past year.

Monday 5 P.M.

Dear Ones All:[2]

I feel as though I could draw a long breath for once. Have hustled all day but the washing is done and a good deal of the ironing, the house in pretty good shape and things ready for school to-morrow morning. It has been a strenous week for every one I guess.

I did quite a bit of sewing last week, made Jean[3] a black suit, bloomers and top in on piece, also her net dress, a pair of panties and finished her coat, then forgot to send her coat but she hasn’t needed it. Her net dress looks real pretty. I bought a light blue silk slip for her to wear under it. Got her a pretty little shirred blue lawn hat, and black suede oxfords – or rather got brown (on sale) and had them dyed. It almost broke her heart when they came home black but she got over it. She looked cute and happy as a lark when she went. Lou[4] wasn’t himself[5] and I tried to have him not go, but he seemed to want to and was so anxious to have Jean go, otherwise I should have kept her home but when I saw how he felt I thought it might be better for him to have her to take up his mind. He wired as soon as they got there, said every thing was fine and mother[6] met them.

Joe, Bob and Anna[7] expected to drive there Sun. and return Monday. Was sorry about that, but they didn’t want mother to know they were coming.

Dorothy[8] came up Fri night and is still here. She and Helen[9] have gone to the train to meet Lou and Jean. Joe[10] is coming up after supper and they are going to a show and then home. He was up last night.

I took Jean to the 11 A.M. train then went over and had lunch with Aunt Lizzie.[11] After that I shopped, got home at 5, just as Mr Dee[12] was getting into the taxi. He seemed to feel very badly about leaving, he filled up 2 or 3 times Friday eve. and said he couldnt show his feelings but they were deep. Also said “and I love those children.” He told me Friday A.M. that so many thot he was a confirmed bachelor and he said I thot so too; “but after living in the environment I have the past year I feel different.” He says “You dont know what it meant to me when those children would run to the corner to meet me, and the few evenings I staid home to hear their chatter, play the victrola and then tap on my door with a dish of pop corn. I made up my mind then that I wasn’t getting what I should out of life. His brother came for some of his things Fri eve, and he said you never will know how much my brother appreciated the home he had here and the nice things he always had to say about all of you. Mr Dee said all the men at the office knew Helen and Jean.

I have told a whole lot that wont interest any one but you, but I know you will be interested. He wanted me to remember him to you and he said he had become so attached to you, thought you were one of the finest “old” ladies he had ever known. Helen said my Grandma is not an old lady – she she said it right from the shoulder. We dont know where they were married, I mean the address, but were married at her home, and went from there to the Edgewater Beach Hotel. They are going to board this winter over on N. Washtenaw, near Lawrence. Said he was so glad they could stay here in Ravenswood Manor. He is near where he lived before he came here. I said you’ll feel you’re back home. He said this is all home to me. He went all over the time he came here to see the room, the first time he met Lou, said he never felt the least bit strange, said we had always done so many nice things for him.

Burn this up – It sounds foolish to any one who doesnt know him.

I looked every where for a hat for you but didnt find any thing. Can you fix yours as Bess[13] said. If not we are planning to go down town Thurs. A.M. and will try and get one then. I sent you a waist. If you dont like it return it to me. I thought it would be prettier with your sweater than a flat front, and the material is fine and pretty. If you want I’ll send a lace to put around the collar, cuffs and frill. [Written in the margin: blue waist sold wholsale for 500]

Dorothy, Martha[14] Helen and I went out to the farm Sat. with Uncle Will[15] and Aunt Lizzie, came back Sunday night. Brought in a big basket of beans. Uncle Wills folks have lots of cucumbers and tomatoes gave us some of those. We didn’t rest very good. Would have done us more good to have staid home and loafed and we could as we had no meals to get except as we pleased.

When I wrote last week I was so broken up over Lou’s being sick and so much to do. I dont think I even mentioned receiving the pillow cases napkins and the candy and nuts. Every thing was lovely and the children enjoyed their candy. They kept it up on the pantry shelf, and broke off a little at a time. We took all the nuts, I mean all that werent eaten and put them into some fudge – it was certainly good. Dodo[16] made it Sat so we took it out to the farm. Uncle Will enjoyed it too.

Bess has her money and mine for the eggs – 2 crates – 900 and will send it Tuesday – to-morrow is that right.

Sadie Crawford[17] is married again.

I wont write about the Davenport[18] trip till the next time – will not seal this till they phone they are here and if Mother came with them.

Mrs Leuders has been here most of the day. When she came said Helen and Louise were coming in the afternoon, but when she saw how busy we were she phoned them not to come.

One day Jean was talking about Michigan and said I wis I could go to Auntie Ethans[19] house and see the child cow.

I’m enclosing Aunt Kates[20] letter. When your beef is gone let us know and we’ll get more if we can. We’ll pay for this.

Lou just phoned. Mother didn’t come. Said he felt all right. We must get supper – rarebit.

Lots of love to all.

Lela

[1] The postmark on the envelope is September 6, 1921

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

[3] Her daughter, Eda Jean Mueller

[4] Her husband, Louis Mueller

[5] 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

[6] Lou’s mother, Augusta (Ficke) Mueller

[7] Believe this is Lou’s sister, Johanna (Mueller) Holmquist Langhorn and her daughter, Anna Holmquist, but at this time do not know who Bob is; Bob was Johanna’s second husband, Robert Langhorn (updated 3-14-2016)

[8] Her niece, Dorothy Recoschewitz

[9] Her daughter, Helen Mueller

[10] Joseph Langmayer, Dorothy’s future husband

[11] Elizabeth (Ogden) Brown

[12] Mr. Dee was one of Lela and Lou’s boarders

[13] Her sister, Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz

[14] 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

[15] Her uncle, Willis Brown

[16] Dorothy’s nickname

[17] Sarah (Ruddy) Crawford Anderson. Sarah was the widow of Byron Crawford who was the son of Lucius Prosper “Pros” Crawford, Nancy’s uncle. Sarah (Sadie) married Orvis Anderson on July 19, 1921

[18] Davenport, Iowa, where Lou’s mother lived

[19] Nancy’s sister and brother, Hannah (Keith) Towne, who was referred to as Auntie, and Ethan Keith

[20] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, the widow of Nancy’s uncle, Hiram Crawford Jr.

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

October 19, 1920 letter to Nancy Brown from Lela Mueller

October 19, 1920[1]

To: Nancy Brown

From: Lela Mueller

Writes about Jean telling them she was the smartest one in class but the teacher “doesn’t know it.” Also sent some of Helen’s school papers and wrote about how they learn to read. Lou made root beer. June was still there and will stay until Aunt Lizzie is sent for.

1920-10-19A1920-10-19B1920-10-19C 

Tues. Eve.

Dear Mamma,

Yours received to-day. I’ve just made Helen[2] a dress out of Edie’s[3] old green cloth coat – a slip over – it measure 26 in from shoulder seam – but if you’re making a wash dress I dont think 28″ would be too long – and 26 for Jean,[4] but maybe you better not stitch the hem in till you get home.[5]

To night at dinner Jean says “Daddy do you know who is the smartest one in my room?” Lou says “no, who is?” She says “I am.” Lou says “Did the teacher say so?” Jean says “No, she doesnt know it?”

I’m sending the papers Helen brought home from school. They learn to read by the sound and family – The “at” family

at                   in
cat etc           pin
bat                 tin etc
pat                 sin
                      win

the the sounds – as sh – wh ch etc. I wish you would save these sheets.

I wrote to Aunt Kate[6] and told her to come over here a few days next week. Jessie[7] was at Bessies[8] again yesterday for lunch, said she expected her mother almost any day.

Lou[9] has been making root beer to-night. Now he is up in the attic working. Seems to feel pretty good.

June[10] is still here. Will stay until Aunt Lizzie[11] is sent for. Ruth[12] sent me a very pretty umbrella to-day.

I’m going down town to-morrow to get underwear for Helen & Jean. Must get busy. Mrs Richee isnt coming till Friday.

Lots of love

Lela          

[1] While there is no date on this letter, Lela writes that “June is still here. Will stay until Aunt Lizzie is sent for” which most likely pertains to the birth of June’s half-sister, Doris, who was born on November 3, 1920; see also November 2, 1920 letter which also mentions June staying with Lela

[2] Lela’s daughter, Helen Mueller

[3] Edith (Neumaier) Brown, the wife of Lela’s brother, Claude Brown

[4] Lela’s daughter, Eda “Jean” Mueller

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

[6] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, the wife of Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy’s uncle

[7] Jessie (Crawford) Eck, Kate’s daughter

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

[9] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller

[10] June Brown, granddaughter of Elizabeth and Willis Brown

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

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