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

July 26, 1858 letter to Luke Keith from David (D. C.) Crawford

July 26, 1858

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: David (D. C.) Crawford, LaCrosse, WI

David is writing his brother-in-law to thank him for sending along the local Galesburg paper. He also mentions that his business in LaCrosse looks promising, particularly since the Milwaukee & LaCrosse Railroad will extend to LaCrosse in the next couple of months, which will serve as the railroad terminus for some time. David traveled to Black River Falls on a business matter. On his return he passed through beautiful sections of farming country which have a prospect of a plentiful harvest. David received a letter from Mother. Her recent remarriage seems to suit her. She apparently had a difficult time getting along with her son Robert’s wife when they were all living under the same roof.

Scan of 1858-07-26 D C Crawford to Luke Keith

LaCrosse July 26th _____[1]

Mr L C Keith, Galesburgh, MI

Dear Sir

Your welcome favor came duly to hand and was perused with interest. Galesburgh and inhabitants apparently is about the same as in Days of Yore except a few necessary changes which would naturally occur such as matrimonial alliances &c.[2] Your health I was glad to hear was improving. I think the West would agree with you much better. Mine is (par excellence) no fault to find. Our business is very good and prospects much better this Fall as the Milwaukee and LaCrosse Rail Road will reach this point in about two Weeks (months) and terminate here. For the present the Iron Horse will soon be bowing its Head over the Banks of the Broad Mississippi and then there will be fun (Hurrah for __emont). As regards the agricultural interests in this vicinity is very flattering. I understand Crops looking well and prospects of a plentiful harvest. I was up to Black River Falls some fifty miles above here where we had a small store conducted by Mr Stanley[3] for a short time and was doing well. I had a journeyman to assist me here but having enough for three to attend to at Home consequently had to close that up. I passed through beautiful sections of Farming Country with Glowing Fields of Grain and far as my experience would teach me everything looked finally finely especially Wheat and Oats. Corn rather delinquent. Your Watch please send that in most any morning Rep[?] free of Charge (regular Watch makers) the Best the City affords (so say the Journals). Should be glad to see you up this way some time perhaps would not suit you at all though (tell Sarah).[4] I received A letter from Mother[5] the other Day. She seems to be well contented. She seems to enjoy herself better since putting on the Bridle robe. The (Old Elder[6]) just suits her I guess). She can go to meeting all the time if she choses. Well, I am glad of it. Nothing suites me better. She had lots of trouble before. Her and Lousea[7] did not Hitch exactly living under the same roof. Louise is A Good Girl though (I liked her much). Please remember me to all and answer soon again.

To Luke


[1] D. C.’s handwriting is hard to decipher and so could not make out the date. Someone had written 1857 on the envelope; however, the mention of his mother’s recent marriage, which was November 8, 1857, would place this letter in 1858

[2] Et cetera

[3] David was in partnership with George Stanley selling watches, clocks and jewelry (see business card, the back of which reads “Compliments of the Firm, D. C. C.”)

[4] Sarah (Crawford) Keith, Luke’s wife, and D. C.’s sister

[5] Nancy Comfort (Crawford) Betts

[6] Nancy’s husband, Platt Betts

[7] Louisa (McCann) Crawford, his brother Robert’s wife