March 6, 1884 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Jr.

March 6, 1884

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Hiram Crawford Jr., Chicago, IL

Sent $75 and talks of sending some “Balm of Gilead … which may amuse” their mother. Also mentions Ethan being sick all season and Eugene being sick since the first of the year – possibly from lead poisoning while working in the mines.

1884-03-06 1884-03-06B 1884-03-06C 1884-03-06env

V.C. Turner, Pres’t. H. Crawford, Treas.
North Chicago City Railway Co.
Office, 430 North Clark Street,

Chicago, Mar 6th 1884

My Dear Sister,

Your letter was received today and agreeable to request will enclose you Post Office Order for Seventy five dollars. The balance, of course, you can have when you want it.

I think I fully appreciate the misery and suffering you endure and wish that there was some way in which you could be relieved. I have at last found her[1] Balm of Gilead and will send it this afternoon, which may amuse her for a little while. Will also write her. As you suggest I will consult some Physician, although I know that his answer will be that its simply the dying out of her vital powers on account of age, but perhaps something may be done to relieve her suffering.

I guess, Sarah, that this is one of the crosses which Kate[2] talks about, which is apportioned off for you to bear. I hope it wont be so heavy as to completely crush you. I am glad that Henry[3] visited you, and that everything was so pleasant. After what happened I was afraid he would not want to come.

If the weather was pleasant and warm, I think Ethan[4] would get along faster. This season of the year is against anybody getting well and in favor of everybody getting sick. However, I think he is doing as well as could be expected under the circumstances.

I heard through Minnie[5] brother that Eugene[6] had been quite sick much of the time since the first of the year. He didnt let her know anything about it until she got home. I believe his sickness was caused by lead poisoning while in the mine.

Love to Mother and all.

Affectionately your Brother,

H. Crawford

I have made the PO Order payable to Mrs Sarah C Keith. You must sign it as above. HC


[1] Their mother, Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

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

[3] Henry Crawford, Hiram’s and Sarah’s brother

[4] Sarah’s son, Ethan Keith

[5] Minnie (Crooks) Crawford, Eugene Crawford’s wife

[6] The son of Hiram’s and Sarah’s brother, Edwin Crawford. There is a reference in a letter dated 6/12/1879 from Edna Crawford to Eugene’s work in the mines in Leadville, Colorado

May 18, 1882 letter to Sarah Keith from D.C. Crawford

May 18, 1882

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: D.C. Crawford, Fairplay, CO

D.C. writes that he had received a telegram from Edna Allen that her mother had died. He is concerned about Edna’s ability to handle her new responsibilities and doesn’t think that her husband will be of any help.

1882-05-18 1882-05-18B 1882-05-18env

D.C. Crawford,                                                 W. S. Lafferty,
CLERK.                                                           DEPUTY.
County Clerk and Register of Deeds.

Fairplay, May 18” 1882

Dear Sister

I have been failing to write to you daily for sometime. I know I am neglectful and will try and be more prompt if possible.

Dear Mother[1] wrote me in answer to one I wrote her. At that time I was quite busy and hearing through her that you were usually well. I of course allowed my memory to fail me. I receivd a telegram from Edna[2] that her mother[3] was no more. Oh, how will she do now poor girl. She was one of the many poor girls that never appreciated home and an indulgent mother. Our poor “Job.”[4] What will ever become of him?

If this man Allen[5] was a business man and trusty it would not be so bad but now Edna has the whole responsibility upon her and is she equal to the emergency? I think not. Now Eugene[6] is a good business man. I should think she would call him to her assistence and thereby do a kindly and sisterly act. Eugene is her half brother. She is able & he is poor. I hope she will. Cannot you have some influence with her in this matter? This man Allen is rather a fast man if such & such are true. I hope he has become more in harmony with good society of late. We are all usually well and send love to you one & all. Please say to Mother will write soon & hope she is well for her. Love to her.

Your Broth

D C Crawford

Please excuse this writing & after reading it destroy it as maybe I have said to much about Allen.


[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Edna (Crawford) Allen, daughter of Edwin and Mary (Hamilton) Crawford

[3] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford died April 24, 1882 in Dowagiac, Michigan

[4] Believe D.C. is referring to Edna’s half-brother, Eugene

[5] Edna’s husband, Oscar Allen

[6] Eugene Crawford, son of Edwin and his first wife, Louisa (Hall) Crawford

March 15, 1881 letter to Sarah Keith from D.C. Crawford

March 15, 1881

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: D.C. Crawford, Alma, CO

D.C. writes that he is extremely busy with operations in several districts and headquarters in Alma. He is expecting to run for County Clerk in the fall. He is glad to hear that Mother is living with Sarah. Amanda and Ida are living in Golden and Eugene’s wife is in Chicago. Eugene is prospecting in Gunnison County.

1881-03-15 1881-03-15B 1881-03-15env

Alma Mch 15th 1881

Dear Sister

I am almost ashamed to write you yet I know my letter will be welcome. I am one of the busiest mortels living. I am in the Mining and Brokerage business operating in sevral Districts but make my head quarters here. I am expecting to engage in Politics this fall by running for County Clerk and Recorder of this County of Park. The office is worth some $6000.00 per year. If I get it I can hold it for four (4) years at least.

I am so glad Mother[1] is with you and I will do all in my power to assist you both. Please write me how you all are commencing with Luke[2]. We are all quite well. Amanda[3] & Ida[4] are in the Valley at Golden & Denver visiting until May. Eugene[5] wife[6] is in Chicago & my wifes sister[7] that has lived with us for several years returned to her home in Utah Territory at Telluride[8]. Her Father[9] moved there several years a go.

Eugene is prospecting and working some mines this Spring. He expects to engage in some business at or in Gunssin Co in this State commencing about May 1st.

Ida is attending school this winter for the first time. If she lives will be 8 years old in May next.

Please write soon. With love to you all not forgetting our Mother.

From your Brother

“D C” Crawford


[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

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

[3] Amanda (Thornton) Crawford, D.C.’s wife

[4] Ida Crawford, D.C.’s daughter

[5] Eugene Crawford, the son of D.C. and Sarah’s late brother Edwin

[6] Minnie (Crooks) Crawford

[7] Sarah (Thornton) Jameson

[8] The city appears to be Telluride, although Telluride was in Colorado, not Utah Territory

[9] Christopher Thornton

June 12, 1879 letter to Hannah Keith from Edna Crawford

This is an updated version of the letter that was originally posted on 10-28-2015

June 12, 1879                 

To: Hannah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Edna Crawford, Omro, WI

Edna writes about her responsibilities at home with housework and caring for her mother. Louisa had been doing better, but yesterday she was trying to walk with her crutches when she slipped and fell and hurt herself quite badly. Eugene is in Leadville, Colorado working with Uncle D.C.

Omro June 12, 1879

Dear Cousin

You long letter was recd. some time ago & I have commenced to ans. it twice but some thing happening did not finish. We have been having real warm weather & with it company – first some young ladies from Oshkosh & lastly Mr. Birkelund[1] from Chicago. You know how hard it is to do house work without a mother to go a head especially when you have company & I had to be in school & do what I could mornings and nights but they have all gone & we are to rest until Saturday, when there is some more coming to stay over Sunday. Mother[2] has been feeling pretty well until yesterday. She was trying to walk with her crutches when she slipped & fell and hurt her quite badly.

I had a letter from Eugene[3]. He is in Leadvill with Uncle D.C.[4] Likes it very much. Say if he makes a hundred thousand will be out to see us this fall. Do you expect him?

I have two week more of school and then a long vacation. How I do wish I could come and see you all or you were coming to to see us.

Edna[5] was going to be awful smart when she was first married. Wouldn’t catch her in any such fix &c, but they are always the first ones.[6] Are you going to stay with her? I would have good pay for it if I did. How are all of your folks,[7] Henry, Nancy, babies and all?[8] Father and Will[9] are both away to work.

I don’t think I shall ever give my Auntie Bell[10] a chance to speak to me again. I wish she would come up here this summer. I would make her visit as pleasant as she did mine. You know you & I can do such things.

I suppose there isn’t any the rest of them as ugly as we. How does Grandma[11] get along? Is she moved yet?

Yes, you and I will visit our rich sisters & cousin, be old maids[12] and take care of the young ones. Goodby. Love to all.


Write soon.


[1] Believe she is referring to her future brother-in-law. Ormand Birkland married her sister, Katherine Sarah “Kit” Crawford, on August 18, 1880

[2] Louisa (McCann) Crawford. According to the 1880 census, Louisa had consumption and was “unable to attend to normal business or duties” as she was “maimed, crippled, bedridden, or otherwise disabled”

[3] Her cousin, Eugene Crawford, son of their late uncle, Edwin Crawford, and his first wife, Louesa Hall

[4] David Caleb (D.C.) Crawford

[5] Edna Alice (Crawford) Allen, daughter of their late uncle, Edwin Crawford, and his second wife, Mary Hamilton. Edna Alice married Oscar M. Allen Jr. on September 25, 1878

[6] Edna Alice was pregnant with her daughter, Madge Allen

[7] Charles Luke Jr. & Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[8] Hannah’s sister, brother-in-law, and their children, Nancy (Keith) & Henry Brown, Claude and Lela

[9] Robert Crawford and his son (Edna Irene’s brother), William Crawford

[10] Isabella (Steele) Crawford, wife of their uncle, Lucius Prosper “Pros” Crawford

[11] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[12] Edna Irene was approximately 20 years old and Hannah 24 years old at the writing of this letter. Edna Irene married Emmett Henry on May 15, 1880 and Hannah married Charles Towne on September 21, 1891

[13] Edna Irene Crawford

February 21, 1878 letter to Nancy Brown from Louese Keith

February 21, 1878

To:  Nancy Brown

From: Louese Keith

Louese is describing life in the Hiram Crawford household as well as the challenges of maintaining an appropriate wardrobe with limited resources.

1878-02-21 1878-02-21B 1878-02-21C 1878-02-21D

Thursday Morning [February] 21 [1878?][1]

Dear Sister — And Family

As I have got all the work done I will take an hour now and answer your letter that I rec’d week before last. Well to begin with Harry and Jessie[2] are down stairs in the kitchen raising ____. Aunt Kate[3] is in the back parlor lying on the couch (and of course most dead) but is going to prayer meeting this afternoon, and I am up stairs in my room sitting by the east window (writing to you) but if I could only see you I could tell you in 5 minutes what it will take me an hour to write but as I can not I must be satisfied with the pen. Ma[4] wrote to me last week and asked me about my clothes and told me to write to you all about them and she would see the letter. (I suppose the reason she wanted me to do that was so that Grandma[5] would not know any thing about it.) I wrote to Ma 4 weeks ago all about them and how Aunt Kate was but after I read the letter a second time I threw it in the stove for I knew she could not help me any and it would not make her feel any better, but as she has asked me to let her know I will do so. I will say, “to commence with” that she has never given me a thing since I came back “with the exceptions of what I got Christmas” and I dont hear any thing more about dress or any thing else and my cashmere sack looks ridiculous. The silk is all worn thread bare. It had commenced to wear off when Ma was here so you can imagine what it is now. Ma asked about my shoes. No they have’nt got me any but I had 75 cts and Uncle Hi[6] gave me 25 so the next time I went down town I got me a pair of $1.00 shoes but it was the next two or three days after Ma left & I have had to wear them every since then and they are pretty bad now, but I wear my rubbers when I go out so they are not seen. Now dont think by this that she is ugly & cross for she is not but is pleasing, hears me recite my lessons and seems to want me to go out and have the young folks come here but I cant go very much longer unless something turns up (about the size of a binder). There is one thing that grinds me pretty bad and that is I have every bit of the work to do. She does’nt lift her hand to do a single thing excepting to make some fried cakes and sweep the parlors once a week. Making her bed and emptying her slops is something she dont pretend to do. But she is gone every afternoon nearly and then the worst of it is when Uncle Hi comes home at night. He has to carry her up stairs almost and she will carry the idea to him that she has been to work. She has got a new black cashmere trimmed in silk and a new cloak $7.00 a yard trimmed in $3.00 silk & her brother sent her a $10.00 hat, Jessie a set of furs with cap and lots of little things but then she has them just the same. I will tell you on an other piece of paper what is all or will be the rage here this summer.

They are going to wear black & white plaided gingham or such goods as that plaid of Jules that she has trimmed in silk. I saw the pattern of one made for girls “from 14 to 18 yrs” the other day. The back is just like a breton polonaise like that picture in Hannahs[7] book that she made my overskirt by. The front is out loose like a wrapper. On the bottom of the front is a double box plaited ruffle about a foot wide. It opens in front way down to the ruffle and there is plaiting about an inch wide goes down in front. A collarette is made for the neck just like the one to my old dress only not quite as high. The sleeves are trimmed with plaiting 3 inches wide and the pockets have plaiting across the top. It is just as pretty as can be and only takes 8 yds for it is not a long dress. If Aunt Kate would only get me one I would not ask for another one (short any way).

Still if I got it I dont know how it could be made unless she would let me go up to Aunt Bell’s[8] & use her machine & that I dont think she wold let me do so I must be contented.

Dont let any one see this besides our folks.

Eugene[9] started of Mich last Tuesday. Will be at your place before long.

Harry, Jessie & I went out to Graceland[10] Saturday. It is only the second time I have been there & Aunt Kate has’nt been there but once & Aunt Bell feels awful. She told me Saturday that if you only lived on Clark Street it would be all she would ask for she would have some place to go to then. So Nancy you was not treated any worse than Aunt Bell is now.

Well I must close.

Love to all.


I rec’d a handsome box valentine the 14th. Write soon.


[1] This letter appears to be written in 1878, when Louese was staying with her uncle and aunt, Hiram and Kate Crawford

[2] Harry and Jessie Crawford, Hiram and Kate’s children

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

[4] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[5] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[6] Hiram’s nickname

[7] Hannah Keith, Louese’s sister

[8] Isabella (Steele) Crawford, wife of Louese’s uncle, Prosper Crawford

[9] Louese’s cousin, Eugene Crawford, son of Lousese’s uncle, Edwin Crawford

[10] Perhaps she is referring to Graceland Cemetery which is located at 4001 North Clark Street in Chicago

November 29, 1876 letter to Luke Keith from Nancy Brown

November 29, 1876

To:  Luke Keith

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

Arrived at Chicago Friday evening. Hank got on at 22nd Street and rode down to the depot. They stayed one night in Dowagiac. Edna came with them. They all went up to Uncle Hi’s and stayed Friday night. Saturday morning Louese came down to help get them get settled. She stayed until Sunday night. Eugene, Edna & Uncle Hi were all there Sunday. Gene was there almost all day. Edna went home Monday afternoon. Enclosed Martin Keith’s death notice.

1876-11-29 1876-11-29B 1876-11-29C

Chicago, Illinois

Nov 29, 1876

Dear Pa

We arrived at Chicago Friday Evening as we expected. Hank[1] got on at 22nd Street and rode down to the depot with us. We stayed one night in Dowagiac. Edna[2] came here with us. We all went up to Uncle His[3] and stayed Friday night. Saturday morning Louese[4] came down here with us to help get settled. She stayed untill Sunday night. Eugene[5] Edna & Uncle Hi were all here Sunday. Gene was here most all day. Edna went home Monday afternoon. Saturday she got herself a silk velvet cloak. Paid $85.00 for it and a dress for $38.00. She is going to Detroit this winter to study painting. Uncle His folks are all well. Louese has not changed any, only perhaps a little larger. I like it here quite well. Street cars pass here constantly. Hank passes here every 42 minutes. He went to work this morning at six worked till half after twelve then off till four thirty five. Went on then and works till after eleven. Then tomorrow works from six in the morning till six at night. Has an hours nooning. Has tomorrow night to himself and next forenoon, then goes on and works till nearly midnight and so on. I dont like to have him gone so much nights but he has to be so we must stand it. We have been invited out to dinner tomorrow but dont think we shall go for Louese said perhaps she would come down. There is going to be a surprise party for one of the clerks in the office tomorrow night. We have had an invitation. There was quite a fire Monday night on the corner of Canal & Madison Streets. There were eight persons burned to death.

Thursday Eve Dec 7th

You will see I began this aweek ago and am just finishing it. I rec’d your postal Tuesday. We had a letter from home the other day. Ma[6] said they had not got any letter from you so you see it is probly in the office at the Burg. Ethen[7] has had two severe attacks of the P. Aunt Fleda[8] has been very sick. When we came to unpack our goods we found only a few of our dishes so we had to send for them. Our letter laid in the office abut a week so the things did not come till to day. Fathers[9] folks have killed their hogs so they send us lots of meat – sausage and two chickens. I like it here real well. Claude[10] is quite worrisome a good deal of the time. He talks of you all evey day. He calls you grandpa Bill. Think he means bill horse. He will put his wagon and wheal behind a chair and then go to your picture and tell you he has put bill in the barn. He talks to that a good many times a day just as if it was you. He talks quite a good deal more than when we came from home. He is writting to you now sits in his high chair here by the table. It was Hanks night off last night so he and Claude and I were going to hear Moody[11] and Sanky[12] but he worked for an other man and so George (the young fellow that roomed with Hank) went with us. He boards here. I dont think they are any smarter than common people. I like Sankys singing better than Moodies preaching. George is going to be married next Tuesday. He seems like a nice young man. Neither smokes, drinks, chews or sweres and is most always home by six or a little after. He has gone to his fathers to night at Evanston  twelve miles from here. He says there is a family lives there by the name of Keith. I thought it might be Almer. I seen the death of Martin Keith. Will send it to you[13]. Dont know as it is any of our folks. Write wen you can. Our love to all. I am going to ______ home tonight.


[1] Henry Brown, Nancy’s husband

[2] Nancy’s cousin, Edna Crawford, the daughter of Edwin & Mary (Hamilton) Crawford

[3] Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy’s uncle

[4] Louese Keith, Nancy’s sister

[5] Nancy’s cousin, Eugene Crawford, Edna’s half brother, the son of Edwin & Laura (Hall) Crawford

[6] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[7] Ethan Keith, Nancy’s brother

[8] Nancy’s aunt, Alfleda (Starr) Keith

[9] Henry’s father, Ambrose Brown

[10] Claude Brown, Nancy’s son

[11] Dwight L. Moody, the American evangelist and founder of Moody Bible Institute

[12] Ira Sankey, who worked with D. L. Moody

[13] MARTIN KEITH. At about 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon, an old gentleman 76 years of age, named Martin Keith, residing at No. 981 Indiana avenue, got aboard of a Cottage Grove avenue car at the corner of Twentieth and State streets, and after riding a short distance fell suddenly dead in the car. He was carried into a drug-store at 472 State street, and attended by Dr. Kishlein, but he was already past all medical skill. Heart disease is the supposed cause. Deceased was the father of the Keith brothers doing business in this city. (Chicago Daily Tribune, 12-3-1876)

September 7, 1876 letter to Sarah & Luke Keith from Henry Brown

September 7, 1876

To:  Sarah & Luke Keith 

From: Henry Brown, Lawton, MI

Hank describes his plans for Chicago and his new job as a conductor on the street cars. He seems to be somewhat bittersweet about this move, but is hoping that the change will provide happiness for his family, although he is not sure. He also gives Luke his recipe for varnish.

1876-09-07A 1876-09-07B

Lawton Mich

Sept. 7/76

Dear ones at home

Nancy[1] and Hannah[2] are abed and Claude[3] is asleep so I will try and write a few lines. We received two letters from Ma[4] to day. Sorry to hear that Eugene[5] is sick. Guess Aunt Kate[6] will think her trouble is not at an end if Eugene is taken there and Grandma[7] stayes there too. I expect to start for Chicago next Wednesday morning. Did calculate to go Monday but cant on account of weather being so cloudy. I am going on the street cars as conductor and if I can get a job at Photographing I will take it or any thing else that will pay better than it (railing) does. I shall moove out there if I can rent rooms to suit us for $10 or $12 per month and I think we can at leaste. I could when I was there before and if we can do that we can do better than to stay here and do twice as much work as we have for the last 2 years or more and it is getting worse and worse every day. We talk some of takeing boarders. If we do Hannah will go with us if she wants to and if we dont do that and she wants to go and sew she can do so and I think it would pay her. But dont make any calculations on what we are going to do as we cant tell until after I get there and see what is what.

Now I will tell Pa[8] what that Varnish is made of before I foget it. “Alcohol 5 oz White” Shelac 1 oz Sandarac l/4 oz. Dissolve Shelac in Alcolol. Then filter and add Sandarac. Filter again and you have a varnish that will varnish any thing. If you neglect to filter it you will not find it very good!!

Friday morning five o’clock. I am up got a fire built and called the girls now I will try and finish this letter. I am packing the things at the Gallery and shall moove them down here and then if we go to Chicago I shall have to store them some where. Maybe I will send them home if you can find a place to put them. It is not very pleasant to think about but thank God there will be a change in about 50 years with us and that change will probly come a great deal sooner with you than us. I hope in the next world we can have some of the sweets as well as the bitter but dont suppose we will. I dont care a darn for myself but those that are counting on me is the ones I pity. I would gladly work myself to death if it would or could possibly make others happy. Well I guess I have went it about long enough so will close hopeing that this will find you as well as it leaves us. We are all as well as usual. Nancy & Hannah will probly be home about middle of October.


Henry Brown


[1] Henry’s wife, Nancy (Keith) Brown

[2] Nancy’s sister, Hannah Keith

[3] Henry and Nancy’s son, Claude Brown

[4] Nancy’s mother, Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[5] Nancy’s cousin, Eugene Crawford. Eugene was the son of Edwin Crawford, Nancy’s uncle

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

[7] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[8] Nancy’s father, Charles Luke Keith Jr.

August 14, 1876 letter to Sarah Keith from Louese Keith

August 14, 1876

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Louese Keith, Chicago, IL

Louese is writing her mother, Sarah Keith, and describing her adventures over the previous four weeks which have included trips to Graceland Cemetery, Lincoln Park, a visit to the city water works and a nearby Catholic church, a tour of the tunnel under the Chicago River and an ice cream festival at the church (which she got into for free).

Chicago  Aug 14th 1876

Mrs Sarah Keith

Dear Ma

Tuesday evening. You see by this that I commenced this last night but I was so sleepy that I have put it off until now so will try my luck at it. Now I will tell you where I have been since I wrote to you last. Four weeks ago last Saturday Aunt Kate,[1] the children[2] and I went out to Graceland Cemetery. We took a City limits car[3] and rode down to the dummy (that is a car run by an engine) and that took us to Graceland. I can not tell any thing about. They have Sofas, chairs and marble dogs on every lot mostly to have it look as near like a home as possible. When we enter the grounds we go through kind of a church and every time a funeral possession passes through the bell tolls. I dont know how they afford to die in that little country town (Galesburg)  after all if it is so little I would not mind it if I could get off from the train when it stops there to morrow but dont expect to very soon. I see that I have run on further that I expect so will go back. After we left Graceland we went on came back and went over on the South side got home at six. The next Monday Jessie and I went to Lincoln Park. We saw Gene.[4] He wanted us to get on his car but he had got to run up to the limits and it was so late then that we would not have time so we came home about 7 Oclock. That week a Saturday we went down to the water works, went to the top of the tower. We could see all over the City. It was splendid. I counted over 300 steps. All the water that is used in the City has to go clear to the top of this tower. It is forced by 4 of the largest and nicest engines in the world. If Ethan[5] could see them he would not have any dyspepsia or any thing else. They shine just like silver and gold. The steam is all in the basement so that it does not touch the engines. When we came back we stopped in a catholic church. It was just magnificent. The alter was marble and gold but I can not tell any thing about it with a pen. The next week Tuesday Aunt Kate, Jessie and I went down and took a Cly borne avenue car and went down to the bridge, got off and went through the tunnel on the South side. We went down two short flights of stairs to get in to the tunnel. There is about 3 ft of earth between the tunnel and river. We could hear the boats going over us. You better believe I was glad to get out. Then we took a car and went on to the west side. When we had went about 12 miles we got a dish of Ice cream and came home. The next Thursday I went to an Ice cream festival at the church. The fee was __5 cts but Mrs Smith the door tender let me in for nothing. Mrs Hollis treated me. Her husband is Superintendent of the Sunday school. We are going to have a picnic next week. I am going. We are going to take the street cars and go some where. We are in for a good time. Write soon.


Grandma[6] Mr Brown wants to know how you get along. We would like to see you out here first rate.

Aunt Alfleda[7] how do you stand this warm weather.


[1] Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford

[2] Kate’s children, Harry and Jessie Crawford

[3] Streetcar or trolley

[4] Eugene Crawford, Louese’s cousin

[5] Her brother, Ethan Keith

[6] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[7] Alfleda (Starr) Keith, the widow of Luke’s brother Harvey Keith; Alfleda was living with Luke & Sarah Keith

June 27, 1876 letter to Luke & Sarah Keith from Louese Keith

June 27, 1876

To: Luke & Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Louese Keith, Chicago, IL

Louese is writing her parents about an accident three weeks earlier in which she was burned by heated dish water as it was being hoisted from the basement in the home of Kate & Hiram Crawford, her aunt and uncle. She had not placed the pail properly on the hoist and it tipped over when it hit the ceiling as she was raising it. Although her face was burned, Aunt Kate treated the burns and now three weeks later there is little evidence of the accident. Uncle Hiram decided to redesign the hoist so that it can be raised from above to avoid future injury.

Dont read this before Grandma.[1]

Chicago June 27th 1876

Mr & Mrs. C. L. Keith

How is Aunt Alfleda[2] and Grandma,

Dear Pa and Ma

I recieved your letters a week ago yesterday and expected to have answered them before but have put it off until now. Aunt Kate and Uncle Hi[3] have gone out this evening, Jessie and Harry[4] have just gone to bed and as it is not very late I thought it would be a good chance to write. The weather has been fearful warm until to day which has been a little cooler. Aunt Kate and Mrs Squires went into the Country to Mr Marwoods to day to pick cherries. They got back about five Oclock and got a few cherries. I suppose Nancy[5] has written about me getting burned. It was a pretty narrow escape and if you have not heard I will tell you. It was three weeks ago this morning I went down in the basement to get the dish water before I went to school. I put it on the dummy[6] but did not set the pan on far enough so that when it went up it hit the floor and the water came down on me. I was very near to the front gate before I knew any thing and how I got out of the basement is more than I know but I run up stairs to Aunt Kate and she put some Cosmoline[7] on my face right away and covered it with batting and if I know my self it burned for the next two hours like fun.[8] My face was burned to a blister and it broke four times and the hair has come out on that the left side considerable but it is all well now and it left no scar but as Uncle Hi says a good rich color. No one would know that I had ever been burned now. Uncle Hi said that I was the last one that would get burned to death so he bought and iron rod about fifteen inches long and fastened in the top of the dummy as you see by the picture so we pull it up instead of pushing it so if the water gets spilled it will not burn any body. This is a picture of the dummy the three sides shelves in the dummy and it slides up and down in those two those sides that you see.


Well I will have to say a word or two to Jim[9] and Ethan[10] so (Good Night).

School was out last friday we had a big time it com– the last of sept.

James and Ethan

Dear Brothers,

I recieved your kind letters and was glad to hear from you but should’t wonder if you had given up ever recieving any answers, but here she goes. Gene[11] was up here last Saturday night. It was the first time that I have seen him since we went to the exposition building and that was seven weeks ago. He is running a North Clark St car now. He puts in his 13 hours a day so he does not have much time to run around. Lincoln park is on that street. I some expect to go to the park Saturday. Am going to a conversation meeting any way at the church. Ethan has Gene ever answered your letters. He told me the night that we went to the concert that he should not blame you if you never spoke to him again but he said that he run the car nights and when day time come he was so sleepy that he kept putting it off until he thought it was two late. I told him that you would not get mad at that that you knew him too well. He said that he knew it but he had used you mean. Now dont tell Grandma this for she will write to him and dont you write this to him or ever tell him of it for I dont want him to know that I told you of it. Now besure and dont tell him or Grandma. I did not say any thing to him about it Saturday night but I know that he thinks you are offended but for lands sake dont tell him that I’ve ever said a word. Aunt Kates hat or the price of it was seven dollars[12] and the price of mine six and a half. They are both real handsome and Ma how I wish you had one. Write soon. Good night.

How is Ma’s leg.

Louese Keith

Membr of Lincoln School


[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Alfleda (Starr) Keith, the widow of Luke’s brother Harvey Keith; Alfleda was living with Luke & Sarah

[3] Hiram & Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford Jr., Sarah’s brother and sister-in-law

[4] Hiram & Katherine’s children

[5] Nancy (Keith) Brown, Louese’s sister

[6] A hoist, similar to a dumbwaiter, that used rope and pulleys to lift heavy items from the basement to the first floor of homes

[7] Cosmoline was commonly used in the storage and preservation of some firearms. According to The Homeeopathic Domestic Physician, by Konstantin Hering (B. Jain Publishers, 1993), “Cosmoline or vaseline are excellent applications in burns.”

[8] The Oxford Dictionary gives its meaning as “vigorously or quickly”

[9] James Keith, Louese’s younger brother

[10] Ethan Keith, Louese’s older brother

[11] Eugene Crawford, Louese’s cousin, the son of Edwin & Louisa (Hall) Crawford

[12] Seven dollars in 1876 equals $165.00 in 2018 dollars

February 11, 1875 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

February 11, 1875

To:  Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Had a great snowstorm last week. The snow drifted ten feet in Oshkosh and they sent to Ripon for the snowplow and engine. It piled four or five feet high on the porch. It has been real Canada weather. Robert is in the woods and will be till next month. Louisa was in last evening; her health is not very good. Prosper wrote last month that they were all well. His wife and children are with him. He has rented a room or two from an old farmer. His work is scaling logs. Eugene is working on the streetcars. He doesn’t like it very much. Says he will leave as soon as he can get another job.

1875-02-11 1875-02-11B 1875-02-11C 1875-02-11D

Omro Feb the 11 1875

My Dear Daughter

I received your kind and wellcom letter this week a Tuesday and was glad to hear from you all and from Nancy[1]. I am glad that Nancy has got a long with her trobles so far. I hope she will git up well and have good health and her babe[2] may live and be well and healthy. We have had a grate snow storm last week. The snow drifted in som places they say ten feet in Oshkosh. They sent to Rippen for the snow plow and Engin to drive through. It pild on our Porch four or five feet high. It has ben extrem cold wether. It was real Canada wether. Last week I was very un well. I had caught a very hard cold. It seand to me that I never had such a hard cold before but through the goodness of kind Providence I am giting better of it. I was so un well and had to get up in the mornings and build my firs. I thought som times I could not stand it. Robert[3] is in the woods yet and will be till next month some time. Lousea[4] was in last eveing (her health is not very good) to let me know that she had received letter from Robert. He and his son Wille was well. He has so large Camp of men it makes him so much cair it make him feal some times that he would like to get out of it.  I havent heard from Prosper[5] sence last month. He wrote me a letter then and I answers it. They were all well. He has his wife and children[6] withe him. He has hired a room or two of a old farmer. They took a knoff things to do while they stay. His work is a scailing logs. They expect to be at there home next month. I dont remember the name of the place where he is at work. I look for his letter but could not find it. I havent hear from Hiram[7] this month. Hiram wrote to me last month that Kitt[8] had furs that her brother had sent to his granmother. She would like to send them to me if I would have them so I wrote to him and told him I would received and thank her to so they have and I have receive them. They com by exspress. They are nice furs. They are all well. Eugene[9] is on the street cars. He dont like it, the bissness, very much. He sais he will leave as soon as he can get a nother place.  He sais he dont get time to write. You write a good letter to him and tell him to be carrful of him self and advise not to go far a way. I am afrade he has lost all he has put in the firm. And dont say any thing to any one about it but your own famly. I feal sorra for he has no Fathe nor Mother[10] to go to. Direct the same as Hirams, 430 North Clark St. I received a letter from your Aunt Jimia Comfort[11]. Thay was all well as useal but brother[12] head trobles him very much. I havent room to tell you the perticulars. I wish Ethen[13] could come out here and maby his health would be better. We all like to see him.

I thank you for your likeness. I think it is a good likeness of you. It looks jest like you. My love to your self and famly. Write soon a gain. If I could see you I could tell you a goodeal.

From you Mother N B Betts

I dont expect that I can go to mishigan but if the boys would all put in thear visits I mite go but I dont know as they will but if you can com I wish you would.



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

[2] Claude Keith Brown who was born January 23, 1875. Nancy had twin boys on May 30, 1873; one was stillborn and the other only lived two hours

[3] Nancy’s son, Robert Crawford

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

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

[6] Isabella (Steele) Crawford and their two sons, Leo and Byron

[7] Nancy’s son, Hiram Crawford Jr.

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

[9] Nancy’s grandson, Eugene Crawford

[10] His mother, Louisa (Hall) died sometime before 1854 and his father, Edwin Crawford, died in 1866

[11] Jemima (Wilcox) Comfort; wife of Nancy’s brother Francis Comfort

[12] Francis Comfort (see also Nancy’s letter of March 18, 1872, which also mentions Frank’s head pain)

[13] Sarah’s son, Ethan Keith

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