November 17, 1902 letter to Sarah Keith from Edna Allen

(This post was updated on 09-21-2021)

November 17, 1902

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Edna Allen, Kalamazoo, MI

Edna is writing her Aunt, who unfortunately died on the 18th, before the letter arrived. Edna is updating Sarah on her family. She was in Wisconsin, but missed seeing Uncle Robert, although she has received a letter from him. She saw in the paper that Hiram had been in Galesburg visiting.

Scan of 1902-11-17 Edna Allen to Sarah Keith

[Postmarked November 17th, 1902][1]

Dear Aunt Sarah,

Doubtless you will be much surprised to hear from me as I have been silent so long. You have often been in my thoughts and I have promised myself meny times to run down and spend the day with you. But my health is not very good and I go very little. Mrs Mills, boards here where Madge[2] & I are boarding so I often inquire of Mrs Dr McBeth as she visits the Mill’s. We are living in Kalamazoo since we left Sycamore. Madge finished school 2 years ago. I hear that Nancy[3] has lost her Husband[4] and that her two daughters[5] are married. She must feel quite alone in the world. Henry was a good Husband and Father. How is Hannah[6] and the rest of the family? Madge and I were in Wisconsin a few weeks last year. I did not see Uncle Robert[7] but got a nice long letter from him. I saw by the paper a few weeks ago that Uncle Hiram[8] was in Galesburg. I have been in Dowagiac some since my return from Sycamore. It’s grown to be a delightful place to live in. I had about live there as here. Emmet[9] is quite well. His mind is worse[10] I think but his general health seems to be about the same. I am here alone tonight. I wish you might step on and we would have a good old fashion talk. Madge is up to her Grandma’s.[11] She expects to stay untill Monday. She thinks a great deal of them and they of her. Her Father[12] is in South Carolina. Jolley Allen[13] wife[14] has seperated from her husband and he is South. She and her two Children[15] are living in Jackson. The youngest son, Glen[16] his wife[17] seperated from him a year ago last November. She has gone to her home in Peoria, Ill. She was a beautiful woman. Judge Macklivanes daughter, she had a little daughter but it died two years ago. They all had the same trouble that I had with O.M.[18] There is but one boy left that is living with his wife. Its strange they can not behave when they have good wives, don’t you think so? Mr Allen[19] is building several stone houses for rent. Mrs Allen[20] health is much better than it has been for several years. Mr. Allen is in very poor health. I guess I must close this letter as its quite late and I am very tired. I wish you could come and see me sometime. After a while I may run down Saturday night and stay untill Monday but I will write you the day before so you can meet me at the Depot. I should like to see you all so much. It would give me much pleasure. My love to you and the family. I remain your affectionate neice.[21]

Edna Crawford Allen
415 South West Street

P.S. Please excuse paper


[1] While the letter itself was not dated, the envelope was postmarked November 17, 1902

[2] Her daughter, Madge Allen

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

[4] Henry Brown died May 22, 1901 at the age of 51

[5] Edna was under the impression that both of Nancy’s daughters were married, however Nancy’s daughter, Lela Mae Brown, was engaged to Samuel Boyer. Nancy’s youngest daughter, Bess Rae Brown, married Julius Recoschewitz November 6, 1902. Edna probably had heard about the marriage of Josephine Meredith to Fred Dean (see the November 14, 1902 letter to James Keith) and confused the two girls

[6] Sarah’s daughter, Hannah (Keith) Towne

[7] Sarah’s brother, Robert Crawford

[8] Sarah’s brother, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[9] Emmett Patrick Crawford, Edna’s younger brother

[10] The 1880 census listed Emmett as “insane” and his uncle Emmett Hamilton’s probate records referenced Emmett as being a resident at the Asylum for the Insane in Kalamazoo; however, in later years he was able to live either with Edna or near her

[11] Her mother-in-law, Hannah (Smith) Allen

[12] Oscar M. Allen Jr. He and Edna were divorced

[13] Oscar’s brother

[14] Lizzie (Merriman) Allen

[15] Ralph and Duane Allen

[16] Oscar’s brother

[17] Priscilla McIlvaine

[18] Oscar’s nickname

[19] Oscar’s father, Oscar M. Allen Sr.

[20] Oscar’s mother, Hannah (Smith) Allen

[21] Edna’s father, Edwin Crawford, was Sarah’s brother

February 16, 1902 letter to Sarah Keith from Amanda Crawford

February 16, 1902

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Amanda Crawford, Golden, CO

Ida and Harold are both well. She has not been very well this winter. Had to work so much harder than ever before and misses her darling husband so much. Ida is engaged to a young student attending the university there and works in her office of County Superintendent of Schools. Everybody says she makes a good officer.

Scan of 1902-02-16 Amanda Crawford to Sarah Keith

Golden, Feb 16th 1902[1]

My dear Sister Sarah,

I recieved your dear letter and was very glad to hear from you. Ida and Harold[2] are both well. I have not been very well this winter, have been miserable nearly all the time. I have had to work so much harder than I ever did before and at my age,[3] it comes rather hard on me. I miss my darling husband[4] so much. Yes, I can sympathize with poor Nancy[5] and know how she suffers. Isent is strange that her husband and mine died so near and in appearently the same manner. I have thought of it so many times and they were such dear good husbands.

Our children of course are dear to us, but they soon have lives of their own and then if Father is gone, Mother is alone.

Harold is a nice good boy and loves his mother dearly. He is such a comfort to me. Ida is engaged to a young student[6] attending the university here and of course her attention is taken up with him. She is in her office of County Superintendent[7] and she makes a good officer so every body says. Sarah, I recieved a letter from brother Robert,[8] but I could not make out the address. Will you please send it to me so that I may write him. I am sorry that I have not done so before this. I want to answer all the good letters that I have recieved. Am slow but try to be sure about that anyway.

Give my love to all of your family. You know I may not remember all their names and tell Nancy that her Aunt knows more than any one else how lonely her life is. Am glad to hear from you at anytime you can write me. With love to yourself.

I am your sister Amanda[9]


[1] The stationery and envelope had a black border, which was used when there had been a death in the family

[2] Amanda’s children

[3] Amanda was 50 at the writing of this letter

[4] Amanda’s husband and Sarah’s brother, David Caleb “D.C.” Crawford, died May 1, 1901 at the age of 65

[5] Sarah’s daughter, Nancy (Keith) Brown, whose husband, Henry Brown, died May 22, 1901 at the age of 50

[6] This may be referring to Jack Kelly, whom Ida married May 14, 1904

[7] Ida was the County Superintendent of Schools for Jefferson County, Colorado

[8] Robert Crawford, Amanda’s brother-in-law and Sarah’s brother

[9] Amanda (Thornton) Crawford

(This post was updated on 05-15-2021)

May 17, 1901 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Brown

May 17, 1901

To: Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Brown

Nancy is concerned about her husband Hank’s health. Tuesday he had gone downtown to fix a camera shutter. He had not been home two hours before she had to send for a doctor. He has been vomiting and his stomach and bowel have been very painful and sensitive. Nancy is worried that it might be appendicitis. He has had some fever and has not been dressed since Tuesday and not been able to sit up until this morning. The doctor has been there five times in the past three days.

Scan of 1901-05-17 Nancy Brown to Keith Family

Friday 1-30-P.M.[1]

Dear ones all

Will write a little while resting my feet. Lela[2] has been working down town since Monday. Hank[3] is sick but I guess now he is going to get along all right. He is very nervous and has suffered lots. I have or at least could been a little fearful of appidencitis (I dont know as thats right). He has vomited so much & his bowels & stomach so painful & sensative and it has been impossible to get a movement of the bowels till about ten mintes ago they moved a little. So we know there is an _____________. Dr has been here five times in three days. Was here about an hour ago & is coming again to night. He says if we can get a thorough movement he will be all right and we are a going to. He has some fever. Has not been dressed since Tuesday or able to sit up any till this morning. He felt better, got up and dressed and went down town to get a shutter fixed. He was doing that when taken sick so they have been without a penny plate holder & shutter all the week over here.[4] Its his own invention and no one could fix it but him self or under his instructions. So he went to see the man & tell him. Was to have it for Sunday. He had not been home two hours before we had to send for Dr. Now I wont let him go again if we have to lock him up but he worried so over the shutter & got so nervous he could not get well any way. We have good help at both gallerys and if he dont go to work too soon it may do him a little good.

We got a letter from Dr[5] this A.M. also from Bess[6] & Mildred.[7] Dr is having so many trials cant come now but will come back with Julius[8] if he is better. Julius goes to Mich Monday. Has to be back Sat night. Was to play Sunday. We got terribly worried and excited here over Lois[9] though we thought every one at home must be very good as no one wrote. If Will Holmes[10] had went and seen Will Clark[11] and told them how it was that Ina[12] was sent for he never would have gone without looking in to it more but all he knew was what I told him and all I knew was that Lois was sick & they had sent for Ina. So when he got a message that his mother was very sick & had sent for him of course he thought it was for him. Its too bad for he has been with out work so much they did not feel able to go unless nessary. Its too bad that any one will work them selves up to such a pitch that they are _______ on any one & others have to suffer for it. Did the vegatables keep fresh enough so you could eat them? Bess writes of the dutch cheese, how good it is. If you want to send any any time we will pay charges.

Dont worry over Hank. If he dont get along all right we will let you know but he is going too. I want to tell you how cute Mother[13] is. Will[14] came down yesterday and asked her to go home with him if he would come for her to day as Hank was sick and with Lela gone it would make one less. She put on a long face & all he or I could do or say she would not go. Was not well enough so of course that ended it. In the afternoon I washed out a nyhtress & some things for Hank but as I was ready to clean thing up she wanted her dress washed. I told her I was too tired and had so much to do I could not. She said she had made up her mind to go to Wills & her dress was too dirty to wear so I said if thats it I will wash it so “het” more watter & done that. After it was done & dried and in the house she told me she did not calculate to go but wanted her dress washed. If she had been a child I guess I would “shake her boots off” but as it was I could not do a thing. I told her it could have gone to the wash and saved me that much but she said she did not care she wanted it done then. Hank is asleep and feels a good deal better than he did. Will let you know Tuesday how he is. Must write a few lines to Bess.

With love from Nan

Uncle Hi[15] and Mirian[16] came on Sunday. Brough Aunt Amandas letter,[17] also paper. Guess he feels pretty bad. It is too bad Uncle D.C.[18] had to go for he was not an old man and as Uncle Hi said guessed his family needed him. I wonder if his life was ruined. There were _____ over there to Uncle His.


7 P.M. Hank is feeling some better. Has had a good movement of the bowels. It has left him quite week but he thinks he will be all right now.


[1] While no date was written, the postmark on the envelope is 5-17-1901

[2] Nancy’s daughter, Lela Brown

[3] Nancy’s husband, Henry Brown

[4] Hank was a photographer

[5] Possibly referring to Samuel “Doc” Boyer, who at the time was Lela Brown’s fiancé

[6] Nancy’s daughter, Bess Brown

[7] Nancy’s niece, Mildred Harris

[8] Julius Recoschewitz, Bess Brown’s boyfriend, was a concert violinist

[9] Nancy’s half sister, Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner

[10] Husband of Lois’ daughter, Ina

[11] Will Clark, Lois’ son from her first marriage to Byron Clark

[12] Ina (Skinner) Holmes, Lois’ daughter from her second marriage to Adelbert Skinner

[13] Hank’s mother, Matilda (Allen) Brown

[14] Hank’s brother, Willis Brown

[15] Nancy’s uncle, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[16] Marian Eck, Hiram’s granddaughter

[17] Nancy’s aunt, Amanda (Thornton) Crawford, wife of D.C. Crawford

[18] David (D.C.) Crawford, who died unexpectedly on May 1, 1901

(This post was updated on 2-18-2021)

September 30, 1878 letter to Hannah Keith from Edna Crawford

September 30, 1878

To:  Hannah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Edna Crawford, Dowagiac, MI

Edna recounts a conversation she had with her grandmother regarding a general review of Omro and its inhabitants, Hannah, Aunt Jenny, the room and lastly her cousin Edna’s wedding. They had a very quiet wedding, with only Uncle D.C., Aunt Amanda & Grandma attending. Uncle Henry and wife did not come. Emmett is in the asylum and has been since the 13th of August.

1878-09-30 1878-09-30B 1878-09-30C 1878-09-30D 1878-09-30env 1878-09-30envB

Dowagaic, Sept 30, 1878

Dear Cousin

I promised you I would write yesterday but Grandma[1] was entertaining me so you know how much time I had to myself. We have had a general review of the Omro subject & inhabitants. Hannah, Aunt Jennie[2], the room and lastly Edna’s[3] wedding, how she talked pretty freely to the bridegroom but then she told him she was his grandmother &c but then you know how it is yourself. Well I landed all right in Dowagaic[4] Saturday afternoon & was met at Depot by my aunties namely Mary[5] & Amanda[6] & of course I soon made inquires conserning my cousins[7] & found they had gone to Detroit on their wedding tour but they would be home Monday. That is today, so I shall have a chance to show my good clothes after all.

They had a very quiet wedding, no one here except Uncle D.C.[8] Aunt Amanda & Grandma. Uncle Henry[9] & wife did not come. As near as I can find out the wedding was very much hurried because there was another fellow after Edna & Mr Allen was going off & didn’t like to leave her to the tender mercies of her mother & the other fellow. She did not have her wedding dress done, so was married in a brown silk that she had & wore her navy blue silk for a traveling dress. Aunt Mary seems quite reconciled to the match now.

Emmett[10] is in the asylum & has been since the 13 of Aug. Uncle D.C. has not started for Colorado yet. That is all we know. Aunt A. had a telegram from him. Edna did not have any presents.

Everything is very quiet here now but I expect we will have a grand time before we leave. I see Grandma is fixing for it. She was up before daylight out making calls & I know she got snubbed somewhere for she has been crosser than an old bear all the morning.

Things don’t quite come up to my expectations but thats not to be wondered at. Any one that has been used to everything so much nicer, of course it would be hard to come down to common living.

Hannah if you & I had of come to the wedding, & worn our common clothes, I dont believe the bride would have felt out of place at all but then I dont feel bad because we didn’t come. Tell Henry[11] Aunt Amanda wants him to keep the first negative he took of her. They are well pleased with the pictures.

If you can read this you will do better than I can. Please burn this for if anyone should see it they might take me at what I have said not what I mean.

Grandma is paddling up stairs to see who I have been writing to, so I must close. Love to all. Write soon.

Your cousin


[Written on the back of the envelope]:                                              

Rec’d Oct 2nd 1878

From Edna Crawford

Omro, Wisconsin



[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

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

[3] Edna Crawford, the daughter of Mary and Edwin Crawford

[4] Dowagiac, Michigan

[5] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford, Edwin’s wife

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

[7] Edna Alice Crawford and Oscar Allen Jr. were married in Dowagiac on September 25, 1878

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

[9] Henry Clay Crawford

[10] Edna’s brother, Emmett Patrick Crawford

[11] Henry Brown, Nancy (Keith) Brown’s husband and Hannah’s brother-in-law

[12] Edna Crawford, daughter of Robert and Louisa (McCann) Crawford

Spring 1877 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Brown

Spring 1877  

To: Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

Haven’t seen much of Hiram and Kate, who appear to be rather unfriendly lately. Uncle Hi did stop in to see Nancy a couple of times while she was sick. Aunt Kate kept Louese out of school and now if she goes back in the fall she will have to repeat the year. Lou does not want to go back to the country as she likes city life. Uncle Pros stopped in and read some of Aunt Bell’s letters to Nancy. he will send for his family in a couple of months. 


Ma I haint a going to write any more to you about Ant Kate[2] for I think you have enough to worry about. Will answer your questions in this. I have not seen her since the night we were there in Febuary. We both[3] asked them to come & see us. She did not say any thing. Uncle Hi[4] said they would. I think it is her more than him. Hank[5] says he is friendly at the office.[6] He has only been in four or five times never to have his over coat off. Was in twice when I was sick. Have not seen him since only to pass. They dont say any thing to Lou[7] about going home but Ant Kate tells Hary[8] evry day or two she is going to send him in the country this sumer for he is so ugly she cant stand it with him. Lou dont want him to go with her and I pitty you if he does. Louese does not go to school. Dont think she will any more before fall. Ant Kate did not keep her out on accont of scarlet fever. It was only so she could gad about. That was only an excuse. Lou dont never want to go any more. She is so behind she will have to go one class lower than when she came. That is in with small scholars. She said to day if she thought she should have to go back in the contry to live she could not stand it. She likes city life better than I. Mr Brown lives near them. He is going to New Orleans to spend the sumer. Starts tomorrow night. He has relatives living in Canada. He told her if she would go home he would wait till Mondy for her and pay her fair and then he would go to Canada in stead of south. I am glad he is going for she is hot foot after him and he stands right up to her but probly he only goes with her just to have some one to go with. I guess she takes petty well but of course he can get a girl that has a very diffrent chance in society from her. He is only 17. Lou gets in some petty big words once in a while and a little French and German. She can put on more style than all the rest of us put to gether. Hannah[9] Mrs Coffren wants you to send that wrap pattern. She did not offer to pay for it. She knows the least of any one I ever saw than any one that calls them selves smart. Send it to me.

Uncle Pross[10] was down here the other day. He read me Aunt Bells[11] letters. She writes a good letter. It seems as if I would like her. She wants to come here awful bad. As soon as he thinks out for certain that he is going to keep that place he will send for them[12] so if he stayes where he is they will probly be here in a couple of months at any rate and I shall be glad. They will be about five miles from here but I can go with Hank to the _________ and then with Uncle Pross so it wont cost any thing and only takes about three quarters of an hour to go out so you see the distance wont be much. Tell Hannah I have not seen those shawls as this advertisement came out Saturday. Of course the more she can pay the nicer the shawl. I will do the best I can. If she wants it now have her send as soon as possible & I can get before they are ______ silk like my hat.

[unsigned, but the handwriting is that of Nancy Keith Brown]


[1] Believe this letter was written in the spring of 1877 as it refers to Louese not going to school. Louese stayed with Hiram and Kate while attending school in Chicago

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

[3] Nancy and her husband, Henry Brown

[4] Nancy’s uncle, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[5] Nancy’s husband, Henry Brown

[6] Both Henry and Hiram worked on the Chicago streetcars

[7] Nancy’s sister, Louese Keith

[8] Hiram and Kate’s son, Harry Crawford

[9] Nancy’s sister, Hannah Keith

[10] Nancy’s uncle, Lucius Prosper Crawford

[11] Pros’ wife, Isabella (Steele) Crawford

[12] Belle and their four sons, Leo, Byron, Ernest and Albert

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.

September 3, 1876 letter to Sarah & Luke Keith from Nancy & Henry Brown

September 3, 1876

To:  Sarah & Luke Keith

From: Nancy & Henry Brown, Lawton, MI

Hank and Nancy have been struggling to make ends meet and have decided to move to Chicago where Hank will be able to find work. They have sold their cow and are thinking about selling their pig. They are currently $30 in debt. Hank believes that he will be able to double his income living in Chicago.

1876-09-03 1876-09-03B

Lawton, Michigan

September 3rd 1876

Dear ones at home

How do you all do to day. Claude[1] is not very well. His teeth are bothering him some. The rest are well as usual.

Grandma[2] left here yesterday for Dowagiac. She was feeling quite smart. Hank[3] goes to Chicago a week from tomorow morning. Grandma is going to wait and go with him. We hate to have him go awful bad and he dreads to go just as bad but cant do any better. He did not hear from that other man and we had got to do something and that was all the way we see opened for him. We will stay here a spell and if Hannah[4] dont have much to do we will fix things a little and come home and make a visit. I expect we will be lonesome and home sick and Claude will miss him to. Hank is going to work in the gallery till Wednesday night then move the things down here so that will stop a dollor a weeks rent. If we did not owe any thing we could stay here but it takes all we can earn to live and a little more and we owe abut thirty dollars here and you know that must be paid. Hank sold the cow. Could not get but $35.00 for her. We dont know how to get along without her _________ is going to sell the pig. I tell him it seemed as if we had just got to living with plenty of room in doors and out and a cow and a pig and now we must break up but I suppose it is all for the best. If we all keep well we ought not to grumble. He has bought him the cloth for two shirts. Will send you a piece. Paid $1.25 per yard. It takes a little over three yds. He thought they would be warmer that his white ones and he can save the price of them in washing in a little while.[5]

Monday morning

I will try and write a little this morning. We are well as usual. The girls have got most done washing. I have commenced tearing up this morning. I am going to pack up the most of the things in the gallery. I dont take in on an average over 4.00 per week here and I shall have $7.50 per week left after paying my board & washing in Chicago so I calculate that I will do at least twice as well to go there and maybe I can strike something better but dont expect it. Well I must close as I am in a hurry this morning so good by.

Henry Brown

[1] Nancy’s son, Claude Brown

[2] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[3] Nancy’s husband, Henry Brown

[4] Nancy’s sister, Hannah Keith

[5] Unsigned, but it is Nancy (Keith) Brown’s handwriting

May 2, 1876 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Brown

May 2, 1876

To:  Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Brown, Lawton, MI

Nancy is writing about a bonnet that she has made for her mother. There is also some discussion about Hannah’s need for money and that Grandma is traveling through Lawton, but is not planning to stop. Nancy is concerned that her Grandma is getting old and that Nancy shall never get a good picture of her now.

1876-05-02 1876-05-02B

From H. A. Brown’s

Photograph Gallery.

Lawton, Mich,

SPECIALTIES. PHOTOGRAPHS And AMBROTYPES, FRAMES AND CASES, Copying and Finishing, In Oil, Water Colors, and India Ink, Picture Cord, Screw Eyes, Glass, Backing, etc, &c.

Lawton, May 2nd 1876

Tuesday morning,

Ma I want you to go over to Marys to morrow morning and get me some patterns and send them to me in the afternoon. Pa[1] says he will take you to the burg. Now I will tell you what patterns I want: an over skirt, a plain Polonaise, a sock pattern for the street for cashmere, you know what I mean, like that one of Nellies. Tell her I want the latest style patterns.

Ma I have done the best I could with your bonnet. We thought the black would look better than the black and white. The frame and Turquoise cost .80. Am afraid you wont like the frame but it was the largest I could get. The bonnet wants to show about an inch of the hair in front. You can put the strings on where it will fit you best. May be the strings wont cover up where the braid and turquoise is joined. If it dont you can fix it. When you lay it down lay it on the crown and then it wont muss so easy. That tie isnt very nice but thought you could wear it or not just as you liked. Now I want you to rite and let me know how you like your bonnet or I shall think you dont like it and when you hear from Sis[2] or Grandma[3] comes write right back and tell us something of Sis. I am most getting out of paitence with her. Hannah[4] says she knew how bad she needed her money and if she dont send it she dont want we should ask her for it a gain. We feel real bad to think Grandma is going right by us & not stop. It seems as if she might stop one night any way, and then we could get a negative of her. She is getting old and I am afraid we shall never get a good picture of her now.

Good bye. Write soon.


Hannah says tell you to keep your bonnet in the box.

[1] Charles Luke Keith Jr.

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

[3] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

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

January 20, 1873 letter to Sarah Keith from D.C. Crawford

January 20, 1873

To:  Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: D.C. Crawford, Golden City, CO

Pleased to receive photographs of Luke and Hannah and is looking forward to receiving ones of Mr. and Mrs. Brown. Mentions his correspondence with Mother and that he would like to visit but that circumstances do not permit travel. Describes his general state of affairs and society in Colorado. Mentioned a letter from Hiram announcing the birth of a daughter.

Scan of 1873-01-20 D.C. Crawford to Sarah Keith

Golden     Jan. 20” 1873[1]

My Dear Sister

Your welcome letter came duly to hand. I assure you we were glad to hear from by letter and receive Photograph of Luke[2] & my good looking Miss Hannah[3] and now you have an artist[4] in the Family. I hope you will not put it off long in sending us yours as well as writing Mr. and Mrs. Brown[5] to send theirs. I am anxious to see how or what changes old Father time has wrought on you these twenty (20) year since last we met or thereabouts. Mother[6] and I correspond regularly and I am delighted with her youthful appearance judging from her letters. She tells me she keep now and then a Bottle of (high something-Name) Medicine that keeps out her pains & aches and generally when I hear from her she is feeling better or not quite as well as she has been, but I do think our Dear Mother holds her own remarkably well and we all ought as far as in our Power to administer to several Necessities at the longest. She cannot possibly remain with us long. I would like to pay her a visit as well as you & Family but my circumstances forbids even the thought of it at present. I am making a living and am comfortable, but it takes my every moment that can be spared from sleep to do it. I am a worker in my particular calling and if Providence spares my life and I have no unusual bad luck I think I can make some money more than just a living after a while. My life has been rather an eventful one but still I have been blessed with friends both male & female and generally had a good time so to speak. Sociably I have always mingled with the best of the People Wherever I have lived at and its so to day. My Family & I moves in the best society in the place when we do go but do not go much. Our Society although you will no doubt be surprised to hear it compares with any you would meet anywhere in the States. Formerly we had a Transient Population consisting of Roughs & doubtful characters both Men & Women but the country has become to warm for them and to a certain extent have left for more congenial climes.

I think Luke looks quite natural, holds up well. And I am glad to see him look so well. Have Ethen[7] send his Photograph. Amanda[8] as well as myself are very anxious to have all of your Photographs and I hope you will not delay in sending them will you? Hiram[9] wrote me a short time ago announcing Birth of Daughter[10] at their House. Nice little Family. I have thrown(?) up the springe(?). The Boy starts out in a hurry. Time enough yet for us to show our colors. Just wait and we will see what can be done out here where the “air is light.” Let me hear from you soon again. Amanda joins in much love & good wishes to you all. Thanking you for Photographs.

Your Bro

“D.C.” Crawford

[1] The return address on the envelope is Crawford & Boyd, Real Estate Agents & Brokers, Fire and Life Insurance Agents, Golden City, Colorado

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

[3] Hannah Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[4] Nancy’s husband, Henry Brown, who was a photographer

[5] Henry and Nancy Brown, Sarah’s daughter and son-in-law

[6] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[7] Ethan Keith, Sarah’s son

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

[9] Hiram Crawford Jr., D.C.’s brother

[10] Jessie Blanche Crawford was born October 18, 1872

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