December 26, 1861 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Jr.

December 26, 1861

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Hiram Crawford Jr., Fort Monroe, Old Point Comfort, Hampton, VA

Hiram is wishing Sarah a Merry Christmas and happy birthday, which is the same day as his. He describes his Christmas and birthday celebration as well as his efforts to track down his brother, David, who is living in Colorado. He received a letter from a Henry L. who he thinks was Henry Keith, but is not sure. Also he thinks that his Regiment may join with General Burnside in an attack on Norfolk, VA.

Scan of 1861-12-26 Hiram Crawford to Sarah Keith

Fortress Monroe Dec 26/61


Dear Sister[1]

I wish you Merry Christmas for yesterday, And to day receive my congratulations[2] that you have arrived at this your (I have forgotten the number) Birthday, as I hope, in the enjoyment of health and happiness. As for me, I don’t know as my Birthday[3] ever arrived and found me in better health and in A more contented frame of mind.

I had A good time yesterday. It being Christmas and in one of my birthday, I concluded to celebrate both events one day. Accordingly about A week before, I commenced getting the materiel for A grand dinner (got an old Negro Woman to do the cooking who by the way done it up brown) and with such success that at 2 Oclock Christmas we (my mess, 5 sergt) sat down to as good Dinner as we ever did. Amongst the most prominent articles on the Table was A couple of large Turkeys, stuffed with Oysters. They took down any thing in that line that I ever saw.

Nothing was done here Christmas but eat drink and be merry.

About two weeks ago I received A letter, Post Marked Galesburgh and comeing from A person calling himself Henry L. By the tenor of it I supposed it was Henry Keith[4] and answer it as such, but as he did not say A word about You, Luke, Lois or any of his folks I am still in some doubts. I was very much pleased to hear from him and hope he will keep it up. I have received two letters from Prosper[5] the last very lately. He was in the enjoyment of good health, is attending school and says he is A good steady Boy and is learning fast. Mother[6] and Fathers[7] healths were good.

I have written to and received A Letter from George Stanley[8] at La Crosse, Wis. concerning the whereabouts of David.[9] He writes me that the last Letter he received from David was about four months ago, but had heard from him still later by persons comeing from there. They report that he was mining on A claim in Company with A fellow by the name of Buckskin Joe.[10] They report him fat & hearty and doing well. I join my hopes with yours that he will come around all right.

Everything is quiet here at present. General Burnsides expedition is getting here peperatory to making A demonstration it is supposed against Norfolk. If it does this Regiment will go with it. We are in great hopes that it will for we are rusty for a fight. The Regmt is in good health and spirits and dont care a snap[?] whether mixes in or not. Give my love to Luke[11] and the Children also to Lois & Byron.[12] Answer and oblige.

Your Brother

Hiram Crawford


[1] Hiram’s older sister

[2] Sarah’s birthday was December 26th; she turned 40

[3] Hiram’s birthday was also December 26th; he turned 24

[4] Henry Keith was Sarah’s stepson

[5] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Hiram’s youngest brother, who was 18

[6] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[7] Platt Betts, Nancy’s 2nd husband, whom she married in 1857

[8] Hiram’s brother David was in business with George Stanley from 1856 to 1860.  In 1860 David traveled west and settled in Colorado, which was a territory until 1876

[9] David (D. C.) Crawford

[10] Buckskin Joe, was Joseph Higginbottom, an early trapper and prospector in the territory. Little is known for certain about Higginbottom. Some accounts refer to him as an African-American; some accounts say that he was the one who first discovered gold in the vicinity of Park County, Colorado

[11] Luke Keith, Sarah’s husband

[12] Lois (Keith) Clark and Bryon Clark, Sarah’s stepdaughter & son-in-law