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 (Atchinson) 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

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January 3, 1924 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

January 3, 1924

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

This letter was Nancy’s first letter of the New Year. She is sending $5.00 and the girls are sending $5.00 of Nancy Keith money. Writes about the candy business; Edna has ordered 15 pounds in the last two and a half weeks.

Thursday Jan 3rd 1924

Dear brother and sister

My first letter of the new year. If I had one dollar for every letter I have sent home the first of the new year we could buy two horses. I am enclosing five dollars and the girls[1] are sending ” ” [five dollars] of Nancy Keith[2] money (your first installment hope it will get so they can do the same every week. I told Lela may be this was where your four million is coming from.) You can call part of it butter money or “candy” money just as you wish. I think of you all the time. This cold weather dont know how you stand it Ethan, when I think of the wood, no horse. While I know it makes the chores easier it is hard not having a horse. Lela is getting ready to go down town will mail this. We have not sent the candy yet, may tomor.  Not much doing with candy these days. Will make again tomor. The girls needed the rest. Lela spent New Years with Lou[3] or rather Monday. Alice[4] went with her. She only stayed about two hours. Lou felt awful bad not to come home. Lela says he seems all right. I would not be surprised if he did come home, dont know when. How are your teeth Hannah. I think of their aching all the time. Try to think they are not. Alice gave Lela & Lou each 10.00 and the children[5] 2.50 each. Jessie[6] just phoned, had a letter from her mother[7] this A.M. she is sailing arond feels fine. She had better stay where she is for it would be ____ for her here. Marian[8] and family still there. I disipated[?] New Years night. Mrs Laff invited the remnants of our old club to see the old year out & the New Year in. When it started the first year we were here there was five tables now only three. I went with Wills folks. Did not get back to Wills till “three oclock in the morning.” Will brought me home Tuesday none of us went away to dinner. Jean[9] has not been to school this week. I am afraid she has pin worms the way she looks and acts. Jessie says to give her sage tea. A few lines from Edna,[10] has ordered two more pounds of candy. That makes fifteen pounds they have ordered in about two & one half weeks. This goes to California. Lela is ready to go so must stop. Wish I could come and stay a few days. I want to write to Mildred[11] but cant find her address. Seems to me its 1024 N. Edward but I’m not sure.

Good-bye with love

Nan

[1] Her daughters, Lela (Brown) Mueller and Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz

[2] The girl’s candy business

[3] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller, who had been admitted to a sanitarium

[4] Lou’s sister, Alice Mueller

[5] Eda “Jean” and Helen Mueller

[6] Jessie (Crawford) Eck, Nancy’s cousin

[7] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, the widow of Nancy’s Uncle Hiram Crawford

[8] Marian (Eck) Meiss, Jessie’s daughter

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

[10] Edna (Crawford) Henry Tullar, the daughter of Nancy’s Uncle Robert Crawford

[11] Mildred Harris, the daughter of Nancy’s sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

June 7, 1921 letter to Nancy Brown from Hannah Towne

June 7, 1921

To: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

From: Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

Hannah’s arm and hand are very lame and she hasn’t slept very well the last two nights. Ethan has so much work to do. He has planted, and four of their hens’ eggs started hatching yesterday. There are 21 little chickens and still more that haven’t hatched yet. Uncle Henry was worried about her and Ethan and came out to see them. Clara and her husband have rented a house on the lake in Evanston for three months and Henry and Virginia will go with them.

Tuesday 8:3- A.M. June 7-1921

Dear Sister

My arm is so lame and hand too that I cant write very good. Have’nt slept very good for two nights it aches so bad. Thought I could’nt use it at all when I got up but it is limbered up some now. Haveing it in hot dish water helped it some. Ethen[1] churned yesterday. I put it in a crock thinking he would have to take it to the burg[2] this A.M. It is so cool and the butter came hard and is hard now that he will send it to Chicago to day. He has got so much to do “all at once” that he hates to take the time to go to the burg. He is fixing a place for the little chickens. He had four hens setting and the chickens commenced to hatch yesterday. He finished planting the corn Saturday. After I get the dinner work did up Friday I laid down. Had’nt been there long when an auto drove in. I looked out and saw uncle Henry.[3] Mr Frank McClory brought him over. He got to worrying about Ethen and I so concluded to come and see us, stay over night. He is the most considerate of any old person that I know of and some young. He said he knew Ethen would be so busy that he could get over here some way with out bothering him, and he got a lunch in Kal- so not to make me any extra work. He told Ethen not to stop his work keep right on planting. All he wanted was to come and see how we were. He gave me $1.00. When he was here in the spring he brought Ethen a good pair of pants and suspenders and something else I cant think what. He took them to the cleaners and had them cleaned and pressed. I have got take them in a bit around the waist. Now he is agoing to send him a coat and pair of pants. He says if Clara[4] was like him she would fix us up here in good shape. I told him she did’nt know any thing about us. Dont tell that to any one only you and the girls are to know it. He went home Sat- P.M. He was looking fine and not one bit childish – mind is clear. Clara and husband[5] have rented a house or cottage at Evanston on the lake for three months, go the middle of this month. He and Virginia[6] go with them. They have all the help that is needed in doors and out.

Carrie had the operation yesterdy A.M. “ten oclock” by fast time. Got through it all right. Mrs Lerner[?] came Sunday. She and Ida went with Carrie Sunday P.M. when ___ took her to the Hospital. Then they went with the Dr yesterdy morning. Mrs Lerner staid with Ida until last night. Mrs Newberrie stays with Ida nights. She works for Nellie. Dr Balch performed the operation. Took the gall bladder and a string of stones the worst kind – “rough.” I dont know what else. Ida told me that over the phone. I hope she will be better after this.

Ethen just came in and said he had got 21 chickens on the barn floor. They are penned in. They aren’t all hatched yet but so many are out. Wish Helen and Jean[7] could see them. I am going out after a while.

Hope you keep on going and that Helen will get along all right. It is a good time for them to have the ___. I had too much company last week. Have been all in and more so now. If I can be alone will get to feeling better I hope. There is sweeping and mopping to do but I cant do it now. I dread Aunt Jennie[8] – so hard to talk to her. Ethens stomach is so weak and I would think it would be. I may send a card last of week.

Love

H[9]

——-

[1] Hannah’s brother, Ethan Keith, who she lived with

[2] Galesburg, Michigan

[3] Henry Crawford, brother of Hannah’s mother, Sarah (Comfort) Crawford

[4] Henry’s daughter, Clara (Crawford) Hopkins Hammatt

[5] William Hammatt

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

[7] Nancy’s grandchildren, Helen and Jean Mueller

[8] Virginia (Worley) Crawford

[9] Hannah (Keith) Towne

April 25, 1921 letter to Nancy Brown from Hannah Towne

April 25, 1921

To: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

From: Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

This is the seventeenth anniversary of their father’s death. She thinks that Eda has a cancer of the colon and hopes that the treatments will destroy it. Uncle Henry came for a visit and “can do all he said he did.” The money that Nancy sent apparently was stolen from the envelope. She had a very strenuous week and was kind of nervous. She didn’t sit up much on Saturday and was doing only what had to be done.

Monday 1:37 P.M. Apr 25 – 1921

Dear ones all –

This is the seventeenth anniversary of Pa’s[1] going a way. You have made a mistake about aunt Jule.[2] Bess[3] was 40 last Feb and she was born the Feb 1881 before aunt Jule went in Apr.[4] aunt Alfleda[5] went to Oscars[6] the 22nd the day she passed away. Ethan[7] and I talked about it that day. Seventeen years has gone quick in a way. Lots has happened in the time. I read in the paper three or four weeks ago that _____ wed [to] “I know who she married but cant think” has a baby. If I remember right it is a boy. When you first wrote about Eda[8] and said there was a stoppage of the large colon I said to Ethan it looks like a cancer to me. Then when you wrote she was agoing to take the medicine treatments I thought so more than ever. I believe the doctors know but are agoing to try and distroy it and I hope they will what ever it is. Dont let she or Claude[9] know what I have written. Clara[10] is the one who dont know what Uncle Henry[11] does. “Did she put his rubbers on.” A man as smart as he is and take a trip crooked trip from S.B. to G. and stop off at Kal-[12] and get is lunch so not to make me any trouble can do all he said he did. He wiped my dishes that morning – there were a lot of them and I was pretty _____ over the _____. It had been a very strenuous week week for me. I know I did’nt sit up much Saturday. I was kind of nervous as you will see by my letter. I wrote about Pa then aunt Jule and then Pa again. The reason I am writing this letter is. Your letter came to day but no money. It was registered so I think we will get the money all right. It has been opened in the end about two thirds of the way. Then did Lou[13] seal it with some red sealing wax? I will put in envelope in this and show you just how for it was opened and where the wax was. He wrote in the back

Mrs L. A. Mueller
4445 N. Francisco Ave.
Chicago, Ill.

Some one opened the letter and took the money out and we think sealed it. Mr Carr[?] spoke about its being torn on the end so I took the letters out so he could see there was no money. He will take the envelope and letter to morrow to Sam Faltz. Ethan has been waiting for the money for the C______issors papers have got to go to Hollender right off will have to go to morrow. He has’nt got but a little money and he dont know but he will have to give H- some but if he has to and dont have enough H- will have to wait until he goes again. I have just read this over and it will worrie you the way I have written it because you have’nt sent it before but we have’nt needed it before and to day was soon enough. You or one no one else is to blame for the money being taken only the one who did it. So dont let it worrie you because you did’nt send it last week. The way my head is I cant think how to write and have it sound all right. (My nervousness[?] is all right)

I did the washing last week a few pieces at a time so now I have been a lady laying around and doing just what has to be done. I dont see how Bess can do our washing with all she has to do. I wont have to send clothes until next week and she wont have to wash them before the week after and I will send as few as I can. Wish we could of seen Dorothy.[14] I know she looked nice. Let me know when the Orchestra comes to Kal-. I told Ethan I hoped we would have some fresh butter milk for J[15] if he comes up here.

Love

H[16]

[1] Hannah’s and Nancy’s father, Charles Luke Keith Jr.

[2] Julia Ann Allen, the sister of Matilda (Allen) Brown who was the mother of Nancy’s husband, Henry Brown

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

[4] Julia Ann Allen died April 22, 1881 in Comstock, Michigan

[5] Alfleda (Starr) Keith was married to Harvey Keith, Charles Luke Keith Jr.’s brother

[6] Alfleda’s son, James Oscar Keith

[7] Hannah’s and Nancy’s brother

[8] Nancy’s daughter-in-law, Edith (Neumaier) Brown

[9] Nancy’s son, Claude Brown

[10] Clara (Crawford) Hopkins Hammatt, Hannah’s and Nancy’s cousin (daughter of Henry Clay Crawford)

[11] Henry Clay Crawford (age 88), the brother of Hannah’s and Nancy’s mother, Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[12] South Bend, Indiana, to Galesburg, Michigan, and Kalamazoo, Michigan

[13] Louis Mueller, Nancy’s son-in-law

[14] Dorothy Recoschewitz, Bess’ daughter

[15] Julius Recoschewitz, Bess’ husband, who played second violin with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

[16] Hannah (Keith) Towne. Hannah’s handwriting is hard to decipher and we may have made some assumptions that are not correct

December 1, 1920 letter to Nancy Brown from Ethan Keith

December 1, 1920 

To: Nancy Brown

From: Ethan Keith, Kalamazoo, MI

Ethan has received word from his sister of his Uncle Hiram’s death. He is expressing sadness that “… we will not see him again in this life. It’s hard to think of. He has always been so good to all of us. I am very sorry for Aunt Kate, and the children.” Hiram’s death followed closely those of Uncle Pros and Aunt Virginia, both of whom died during the year. Hannah has been sick and suffers from lack of appetite.


Kalamazoo, Dec 1. 1920.
8.15 P.m.

Dear Sister and all,

I have just been using the battery. Hannah[1] used it before I did, and Lou[2] is using now so should think there ought to be some lightning around here now. Thought I had better tell you I sent two bushels of Green Mountain potatoes to you to day. You know they are a later and harder potato than the Hebrons are not quite as tender. If you all like them, and would care for any more, will send as many more when the weather is favorable. Remember they are paid for.

So Uncle Hiram[3] is gone, and we will not see him again in this life. I’ts hard to think of. He has always been so good to all of us. I am very sorry for Aunt Kate,[4] and the children they will miss him so much. He followed Uncle Pross[5] and Aunt Virginia[6] pretty close. I would not be surprised to hear Uncle Henry[7] had gone any time.

Hannah says tell you she will write to you as soon as she can. She has been pretty sick since she had that chill. Does not improve very fast. If she could eat but she has no appetite. Lou[8] has written the Dr. and perhaps he will be able to do something for it. I hope Lou[9] is improving but I believe he has got to be careful and not overdo.

LaVerne[10] and Louese expect to come down friday P.m. and stay until Sunday, expect she is agoing to do something in the front part of the house.

I have twenty shocks tied into bundles ready to draw in and that will leave twenty-four in the field. Dont know when I will get the twenty-four in for I will have so much to husk out before there would be room in the barn for them.

Will stop and go to bed. Give our sympathy to Aunt Kate and family.

Love to all,

Ethan.

[1] Ethan’s and Nancy’s sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne

[2] Ethan’s and Nancy’s sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[3] Hiram Crawford Jr. died November 29, 1920 in Chicago, Illinois

[4] Hiram’s wife, Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford

[5] Their uncle, Lucius Prosper Crawford, who died in Berkeley, California on March 4, 1920

[6] Their uncle Henry Clay Crawford’s wife, Virginia (Worley) Crawford, who died July 18, 1920 in South Bend, Indiana

[7] Their uncle, Henry Clay Crawford

[8] Believe he is referring to their sister Louese

[9] Believe this is referring to Louis Mueller, Nancy’s son-in-law, who was hit by a streetcar and suffered brain damage

[10] LaVerne (Harris) Boyer, sister Louese’s daughter

November 14, 1917 letter to Nancy Brown from Ethan Keith

November 14, 1917

To: Nancy Brown

From: Ethan Keith, Kalamazoo, MI

Ethan is writing about the year’s potato crop. Also mentions that their record player broke. It was 68 years ago that their parents were married.

68 years ago to day Luke Keith and Sally Crawford[1] rode behind “Old Doll” to Battle Creek on a wedding trip, and Sally carried a parasol. That was before the cantenment.

Kalamazoo, Mich. Nov 14, 1917.

Dear Sister,

Hannah[2] says I will have to write you about the potatoes. I dont know what to say, but will tell you what we have got. I wish you could have had the potatoes that Peake sold in Kal- for us. They were nice to eat and looked nice. He got the top of the market Kent was paying $1.00. and he got $1.25. He dug them before the hard freeze. So many of the potatoes are frosted people will have a lot of trouble with them, they wont be good, and lots of them will rot. Some of ours were touched a little. I have not sorted them yet. Could not do it when I dug them for I had to get them in the cellar as soon as I could, for I was afraid they would all be frozen. Our potatoes are quite scabby. Will have to sort them pretty close. Will have to sell what I call Hunters New Yorkers, and some of Rowlands New Yorkers. Dont know as you know what they are. The Rowlands were what we used while you was here. Dont know how I would get them to freight house unless I could hire the Peake’s to take them. Will look them over as soon as I can and find out what I have got then if Jim[3] does not send you any perhaps I can if you want them. Of course what there are more than we need I want to sell.

We are not listening to the little records any more. Over a week ago I was playing one, and the thing made an awful noise and stopped playing. Have not had a chance to take it apart but think it has stripped coggs on one of the gear wheels, dont think the spring is broken. I have been afraid of the coggs for some time they have run a good while. Daisy and Fannie are standing together for the first tonight in the stanchions.[4] I hope you are having a let up from that torment. I think the Witch Hazel did relieve me, but I was not bad. Tell Helen[5] Auntie[6] and I would like to see her.

Love to all. Ethan.

[1] Ethan and Nancy’s parents, Charles Luke Keith Jr. and Sarah Crawford, married on November 18, 1849. Early records refer to Sarah as Sally, as does their marriage certificate; however, in later years she is referred to as Sarah

[2] Ethan and Nancy’s sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne

[3] Ethan and Nancy’s brother, James Keith

[4] A frame that holds the head of a cow in place, especially to facilitate milking

[5] Nancy’s granddaughter, Helen Mueller

[6] Hannah was very often referred to as Auntie

April 24, 1903 letter to Nancy Brown from Ethan Keith

April 24, 1903

To: Nancy Brown

From: Ethan Keith

Ethan has received word of his Uncle Robert’s death from his Uncle Henry and is expressing sadness that “our folks are all leaving us.” He and his sister Hannah have been sick with colds, as has their father who has also been suffering from a severe headache. Ethan also mentioned that his Uncle Hiram’s job may be tenuous and if lost would cause considerable distress.

Galesburg, Mich.

Apr. 24, 1903
7.32 P.m.

Dear Sister

Will write a little but you wont get it this week. Neither will Lou[1] get one I dont believe. I have written to Jessie[2] this P.m. She wanted to know what advertising rates were in the Argus. Thought of putting in an ointment ad. Dont let her know that I have said anything about. Perhaps she would’nt care. She wrote particulars about Uncle Robert.[3] I received a letter from Uncle Henry[4] and in it was a letter from Lulu[5] to him. I cant make it seem as though he had gone. Does seem as though our folks were all leaving us. It almost seems as though we were living in another world. Things look so different. Ill think of something I would like to have or do, and the next thought will be what does it amount to. It wont last but a little while. That is not the right way to feel, but somehow it is a very easy matter to do so.

Will Ridler went to the nursery last Monday and Mr. Paul sent the tree by him. I went Tuesday A.m. and set it out. I mixed two wheelbarrow loads of chip, and fine burn yard manure, and carried up there and set it in. Put in a peck of potatoes. There were a nice lot of roots and I dont see why it wont live. Its a nice tree and a little larger than the other. Its called a Cut Leaf Maple. The clover has come up quite thick but it is just as full of yellow deck as it can be. Think it will have to be cut out and I dont know as one cutting will kill it. I think the deck seed must have been in the muck that we got of Rice. The Hyderanga seems to be alive.

David Morrisson was buried in the first lot east of Dee[6] & Lou’s so it may be they bought their lot just in time. Hannah[7] and I have both been about sick to day with colds and I think Pa[8] has just a slight cold. He has had quite a head ache. H–[9] expected Clara (Wilkins) Townsend and husband here to day but they did not come. Has rained most all day and that may be why they did not come. Mrs Blake, or Carrie, have not been here to day because she expected them. Will Barber and Ida both have hard colds.

I am sorry for Uncle Hi.[10] Dont know what they would do if he should loose his position with that Co. His eyes are bad and how can he do any more work than he has been doing. They need rest instead of more work. About Chappell. I received the letter from Earl Apr. 1st and if I dont hear from him pretty soon will go and see him. Will enclose a copy of his letter.

I have Mrs. Sweezy’s still ready for her. It is one inch large in diameter than mine. I tried it to see how well it worked and it distilled three pints in an hour. Hannah says if her hat costs more than two dollars let her know. Will copy Earls letter on other side of this sheet.

Love to all

Ethan

The office substantially repeated their first action in the matter. Mr. Chappel was in Wash recently and intended to take the matter up personally with the ex-owner, as it seems to us that the patents cited are not pertinent references, but he was called away before having opportunity to do so. I will take the case up, and feel confident that your claim should be allowed substantially as presented.

[1] Their sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[2] Presumably their cousin, Jessie (Crawford) Eck

[3] Robert Crawford, who died April 13, 1903

[4] Henry Clay Crawford

[5] Robert’s daughter, Lulu (Crawford) Witte

[6] Louese’s husband, Daniel D. Harris, who was commonly referred to as D. or D.D.

[7] Their sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne

[8] Their father, Charles Luke Keith Jr.

[9] Hannah

[10] Their uncle, Hiram Crawford Jr.

December 26, 1902 letter to Nancy Brown from Robert Crawford

December 26, 1902

To: Nancy Brown

From: Robert Crawford, Shell Rock, IA

Robert is writing about his last visit with his sister in October and about Ethan and Hannah’s devotion to their parents. He is staying with his daughter Lizzie and her husband, Jay Smith, through the Christmas holidays and then spending the winter with his other daughter, Lulu, in Oelwein, Iowa.

Shell Rock             Dec 26″ 1902

Mrs Nancy Brown
Chicago, Ill

Dear Niece

I suppose you are waiting for me to write you and I should have sooner but my eyes has been very bad. I cannot read or write but little but I wrote to Leila[1] quite a while ago as you were in Mich then you came there when your Mother[2] died, Nancy, and see her pass away very quietly I think without much suffering. Dear Old Sarah. She had enough of that before. I realized Nancy your mother could not stay much longer here when I was there last. I thought she could not pass away so soon or I would not have come away at the time I did. I expressed my self quite freely Nancy in regard to Ethen[3] & Hannah[4] devotion to your Ma & Pa[5] and how they had taken care of their parents so long and faithfully that was good and kind for them to do it and I think Nancy you or Lou[6] would have done the same if placed in the same position they were. I know Nancy my sisters children always thought kindly of their parents and loved them. I am here at Shell Rock to visit Lizzie and Jay her hubby and Paul their son[7] and spend Christmas with them. They are well. I intend to stay here till a week from tomorrow and then return to Oelwein and stay with Lulu[8] this winter. I intend to come to Chicago in the Spring some time & will visit you then. I rec’d a letter recently from your Uncle Hiram[9] saying that he had not heard from Mich by letter since he came away from there. Also that Charly Eck[10] his son in law was very poorly and hardly expected to recover. Excuse me now Nancy for my eyes are giving out and write me here at Shell Rock Iowa. Lizzie & Family join with me in love & regards to you & yours. Nancy I did not hear from Leila yet. I will write to Bessie[11] next.

Your Uncle Robert

Robt Crawford

My address when at Lulu is Oelwein Iowa Box 280

[1] Lela Brown, Nancy’s daughter

[2] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[3] Nancy’s brother, Ethan Keith

[4] Nancy’s sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne

[5] Charles Luke Keith Jr.

[6] Nancy’s sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[7] His daughter, Lizzie, and her husband and son, Jay and Paul Smith

[8] Lulu (Crawford) Witte, Robert’s daughter

[9] Robert’s brother and Nancy’s uncle, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[10] Charley Eck was married to Hiram’s daughter Jessie Blanche (Crawford) Eck

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

December 24, 1902 letter to Nancy Brown from Ethan Keith

December 24, 1902

To: Nancy Brown

From: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

Ethan is writing his sister about their Christmas, which has been empty without their mother. Pa seems to have her on his mind much of the time and wishes they could have both died at the same time. He was sorry that Lela couldn’t join them for Christmas.

Galesburg, Mich.

Dec 24, 1902.
8.10 P.m.

Dear Sister,

This is the first Christmas eve that we have ever known that Ma[1] was not with us. How we would like to see her. There are so many things to keep reminding us of her. I dont want to forget her but it is hard to keep thinking. It was a sad time for us last friday evening and Sunday was a hard day. Will Clark[2] came over and staid a couple of hours. Ma is on Pa’s[3] mind most of the time I think. He will take a long breath or say something about her every once in a while. I went over to see Geo Monday eve and Hannah[4] said Pa talked a good deal about Ma and cried. Said as he has before that no one could say but she had done her part here. Said he always hoped Ma would live as long as he. She asked if he had rather went first. He said no, but wished they could have went together. Pa sleeps as well as I expected he would. Two nights he has come out to my bed and looked at me to see if I was there. Think he was afraid I had gone up stairs.

We received your letter yesterday containing the money order. Were not very much disappointed to hear that Lela[5] could not come christmas for it didn’t seem to me that business[6] had been as good as she would want it to be for her to come. I am sorry. We would have been very glad if she could have come. Hope it wont be a very great while before she can.

Christmas night. 7.20. Will try and finish this tonight. Well the first christmas is about drawing to a close. Ma has not wished us a Merry Christmas (as we know of) something she never failed to do. Hannah sent by Mrs Blake last night to get us some oysters for to day, so our dinner was got in a hurry. We would not have wanted a big dinner if we could have had it. Mrs Blake and Carrie both sewed. Yesterday and to day have both been pretty rough, snowed, and wind has blown so hard that it made the snow fly. Carrie has walked over both mornings. She has been doing first rate lately Hannah says. Mrs John Allen sent her dress skirt and a note over tuesday told Hannah she had ruined her dress.  She did not know how to loose it. A nice dress in their family meant a good deal. She wrote quite a letter. You can imagine Hannahs condition after reading it and ever since. She had to go to the Burg[7] that evening to see the lady. Got Mrs Struble to stay with Pa. Mrs Allen was nice but she is bound not to be satisfied, I guess. She did not get an invitation to the wedding and has been disappointed about going to Hastings and Grand Rapids a visiting so probably has got to act out Windy some way. I must write a little to Lou[8] so will close.

Love to all

Ethan

No letter from Henry[9] yet

[1] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[2] Will Clark, Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner’s son from her first marriage to Byron Clark

[3] Charles Luke Keith Jr.

[4] Hannah (Keith) Towne, Ethan and Nancy’s widowed sister. Both Ethan and Hannah lived at home with their parents

[5] Lela Brown, Nancy’s daughter

[6] After Nancy’s husband, Hank Brown, died in 1901, Lela and her sister, Bess Recoschewitz, appear to have helped with the operation of the family photographic business

[7] Galesburg, Michigan

[8] Nancy and Ethan’s sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[9] Nancy and Ethan’s half-brother, son of Charles Luke and Minerva (Payson) Keith

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.

1901-11-22A

1901-11-22A

1901-11-22B

1901-11-22B

1901-11-22C

1901-11-22C

1901-11-22-env

1901-11-22-env

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 is sick had a light stroke of paralysis. Harry said this morning she was better physically, but was worse mentally. Clara Clark[5] is pretty bad off. Is troubled with gall stones, suffers a great deal. Has been sick over ten weeks. Charley[6] wrote his mother[7] Wednesday that he and Edna[8] 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[9] could have staid at 736.[10] That had got to be like home to them, and then they were so pleasantly situated, and handy to the gallery.[11] She sent me a Heurst Chicago American 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[12] since he went from here week last Monday. We all liked him. Too bad he has such poor health.[13] The protolacea[14] Winnie[15] set in the tin can has just died. Will close for lack of news. Love to Cora,[16] children[17] and yourself.

Your brother Ethan

[1] Ethan’s and Jim’s sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne

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

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

[4] Ethan’s and Jim’s sister, Nancy (Keith) Brown

[5] 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’s and Jim’s half-sister, the daughter of Charles Luke Keith Jr. and his first wife, Minerva Payson

[6] Charles Clark

[7] Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner

[8] Charles and Clara Clark’s daughter

[9] Nancy (Keith) Brown’s daughters, Lela and Bess Brown

[10] Nancy’s husband, Henry Brown, died May 22, 1901 and the family moved from 736 North Hoyne Avenue in Chicago, Illinois

[11] Henry Brown was a photographer and according to the 1899-1900 Chicago City Directory had a store at 749 Robey Street and/or 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

[12] Charles Eck was the husband of Jessie Crawford, who was Ethan’s and Jim’s first cousin. Jessie was the daughter of Hiram Crawford Jr., the brother of Ethan’s and Jim’s mother, Sarah (Crawford) Keith

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

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

[15] Jim’s oldest daughter, Winifred Keith

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

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

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