June 24, 1912 letter to James Keith from Ethan Keith

June 24, 1912

To: James Keith, Shelbyville, MI

From: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

Is writing to give him Henry Keith’s address; doesn’t know what Ray Keith’s address is. Received the announcement of Winifred and Kirk Brouard’s marriage. Mr. Brouard seemed like a nice man. Uncle Hiram is visiting; will go to Uncle Henry’s tomorrow. Hiram has neuralgia in his right eye and kidney trouble. Lela Brown and Lou Mueller were married Saturday. “It’s quite a good deal for one to have two nephews in a week.”

Scan of 1912-06-24 – Ethan Keith to James Keith

Galesburg June 24, 1912

Dear Brother

I am agoing to write you this morning and answer your question. Am sorry I did not get to it last week, but I did not have a chance to breathe hardly. Henry’s[1] address is 507 E. Buffalo st Ithaca N.Y. I dont know what Ray’s[2] is. He is in Cal-. His business is in San Francisco but I think he boards in Oakland with his mother.[3] We rec’d the announcement of Winnie[4] and Mr Brouards[5] marriage friday. They and Marion called on us thursday A.m. We like Mr Brouard appearance. Seemed like a nice man. Hope they will get along nicely. It was not exactly a surprise to us for Mildred[6] said she guessed they intended to be married, and Marion phoned Hannah[7] tuesday that they were to be married Wed-. You and Cora[8] must begin to feel old. Uncle Hiram[9] is here goes to Uncle Henrys[10] tomorrow. He has neuralgia in his right eye. Has been sick since the first of May. Kidney trouble. I suppose Lela[11] and Lou Mueller[12] was married sat-. It’s quite a good deal for one to have two nephews in a week. Write when you have a chance. It’s little past time for Will so will stop.

Love to all from Ethan


[1] Henry Keith, his half-brother, the son of Charles Luke Keith Jr. and his first wife, Minerva Payson

[2] Henry’s son, Arthur Raymond Keith

[3] Florence (Stall) Keith

[4] Jim’s oldest daughter, Winifred Keith; Winifred and Kirk were married June 19, 1912

[5] Kirk Brouard

[6] Niece, daughter of his sister Louese (Keith) Harris

[7] Sister Hannah Keith Towne; she and Ethan lived together

[8] Jim’s wife, Cora (Meredith) Keith

[9] Hiram Crawford Jr., his mother’s brother

[10] Henry Crawford, his mother’s brother

[11] Niece, daughter of his sister, Nancy (Keith) Brown

[12] Lela Brown and Louis Mueller were married June 22, 1912

December 24, 1902 letter to Nancy Brown from Ethan Keith

December 24, 1902

To: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

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.

Scan of 1902-12-24 Ethan Keith to Nancy Brown

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


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. Lois was Nancy and Ethan’s half sister

[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 14, 1902 letter to Nancy Brown from Ethan Keith

November 14, 1902

To: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

From: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

Ethan is writing his sister describing the poor condition of their mother. He is having much difficulty caring for her as her condition fails.

Scan of 1902-11-14 Ethan Keith to Nancy Brown

Nov. 14. 1902.

Dear Sister,[1]

Fifty-three years ago now Pa[2] and Ma[3] were in Battle Creek on their wedding tour and now Pa is lying on the and Ma is in the wheel chair west side of the stove. She is coughing a good deal this P.m. For the last three or four days there has been quite a rattling in her throat when she breathed but has been worse to day. We have given her Hulls cough balsam and this P.m. have given her Shoops croup cure that you left here. Cant see that it does much if any good. Ma looks bad and is getting poor. It is getting to be an awful job to get her to bed. She seems to loose the use of her limbs. Last night after we got her in the bedroom I thought she would get down on the floor in spite of us. We had to drag her. She could not stand up or move her limbs. She is so heavy we cant lift her.[4]

We will be very glad if you can come. Ma would like you or Lou[5] here all the time but of course knows that cant be. I’ll be glad for your sake when you get moved. Will have to stop. Mrs Blake wants to go.

Love to all.


[The following was written sideways on the first page:]

H L Keith[6]
870 Castro St

[1] The envelope is addressed to Mrs. H. A. Brown

[2] Charles Luke Keith Jr.

[3] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[4] Sarah died just four days later on November 18, 1902

[5] Ethan’s sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[6] Ethan’s half-brother, Henry L. Keith

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