September 5, 1870 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

September 5, 1870

To: Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Nancy received a letter from David last week. He said he had not received a letter from any of his folks. He would like to hear from Sarah. She also received one from Hiram. Prosper came home a few weeks ago. He had a cold and was very sick, although he is better now. She also received a letter from Henry. The family has been sick, including himself and Jenny. He was very bad last spring and Jenny was sick all winter and all summer and is just now getting better. Nancy is thinking of visiting Hiram. Henry says he wanted to see them all very much. He would like her to come and stay with them awhile. She would like to go but doesn’t want to stay long. Wants to see Henry and all of his family as well as Sarah and her family and Hiram and his family. Received a letter from Alice Crawford, James’ daughter. She would like to hear from her aunts, uncles and cousins.

Scan of 1870-09-05 Nancy Betts to Sarah Keith

Omro  Sept 5 1870

Dear Sarah,

You kind and wellcom letter came to hand a few days ago. I was glad to hear from you all. I have ben looking for a letter from you this sam time. I am sorra to hear that all have ben so flicked with sickness. I hope you all will get your healths again. Where is Ethen[1] now? You did not say anything about him and Sis[2]. Tell Jimme[3] that granma would like to see him very much and all of you. I received a letter from David[4] last week. He was well. He said he had not received a letter from any of his folks but me. He would like to hear from you and yours. I received one from Hiram[5]. He said they whare all quite well. The old lady[6] hasent got home yet. I dont bleve she is a coming home. Prosper[7] came home a few weekes ago. He took a cold and was very unwell. He is better now so he can work. Robert[8] has got quite well. He can do all the work he can get to do. It is hard to get work to do. There is so meny that wants work and cant get it. His famly is well as usual. I received one from Henry[9] the other day. He sais they have ben sick, himself and Jenna[10]. He was very bad last spring. He thought he was a going in the quick consumption. He got relief at last. Jenna was sick all winter and all summer, gest agetting better so she thinks of makeing Hiram and wife[11] a visit. He said he wanted to see us all very much. He wish I could come and stay with them awile. I would like to go and stay and make a visit but I dont wanto stay a grate while. I do want to see him very much and all of his famly and all of you and Hiram and famly. O Sarah I wish I could step in and see you and famly. If I had the monny to go and com back I should do it. I pict up a littel adversing thrown in at the door. I pic it up and read it though[t] I would it put in the letter and send it to you. Perhaps you have the same there. If she that is Nancy[12] was I mean was withe me, I should get it for her. I wanto make the trial it mite help her. Your father[13] was a grate hand to try those paten medicines and he beleived there was more virture in those syrups then there was in th Dr medicines.

This is the second letter I have written to day. I am so nervis that I cant write ver well. I wish you and Luke[14] could com here and see us. We all would be glad to see you. It would do you both good to travel. It all ways done me heep of good. My health is quite good at present. Write soon as convent. I received a letter from Alice N Crawford[15] your brother James[16] daughter. She wants to hear from her Aunts and uncels and cousans. She inquired about Nancy. She said she hope she was well. She said if I would send Nancy adress she would write to to her so I will. When you write to me again remember Pros in your but dont let him know that I said anything. The boys dident say anything about him ether. He thought it was singler Glen Haven grant co. I hope these few lines will find you all. I received a letter from Eugene[17]. He was well. He said he got a letter from Eathen. My love to you all. Kiss Jimme and Sis for me.

From your mother

N B Betts

[to] S C Keith


[1] Ethan Keith, Sarah’s son

[2] Louese Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[3] James Keith, Sarah’s son

[4] David (D.C.) Crawford, Nancy’s son

[5] Hiram Crawford, Jr., Nancy’s son

[6] Hiram’s wife Katherine’s grandmother, Elizabeth McGrath, who had been living with them

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

[8] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[9] Henry Crawford, Nancy’s son

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

[11] Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford

[12] Nancy Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[13] Hiram Crawford Sr.

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

[15] Her granddaughter

[16] James Crawford died December 15, 1858, just seven weeks after his wife Ann died. At the time of their deaths, Alice was 5 and her brother, Rollin, was 3

[17] Eugene Crawford, Nancy’s grandson

September 1, 1852 letter to Luke Keith from Sarah Keith

September 1, 1852                

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr.             

From: Sarah Keith, Dowagiac, MI

Sarah’s father is still alive but they don’t expect him to live much longer. He wants to live until David gets there. Edwin contracted cholera in Chicago and came home. They thought he was going to die also, but it appears he will pull through.

Scan of 1852-09-01 Sarah Keith to Luke Keith

Dowagiac        Sep the 1, 1852

Dear Husband

Wednesday morning 9 oclock I can say I have a Father[1] yet in the land of the living but probably before this reaches you he will in the spirit world. To look at him and hear him breathe it does not seem possable according to human observation for him to live the day out. The Doctors gave him up last night. O the trying sene to stand by the dying bed of a dear parent.[2] David[3] is not here. We expect him this afternoon. Pa is very anxious to live till he comes. Edwin[4] is very sick. The Docters says he must have the best of attendence or he cannot get well. He was attacted with the colery in Chicago. He came home as soon as possible Sunday. They hadnt any hopes of him. If he had not have had a strong constitution he could not have lived. Father being in the situation he is has had a bad effect on him. This morning he took to vomiting & purging again we have stoped it on him and hope for the best. Mother[5] is about crazy. I have not slept any since I come here worth mentioning. My hand trembles so I can scarcly write. I feel very anxious about you and the children.[6] I do hope you will keep well. Kiss babe[7] for me. I will write again in a few days.

Sarah C Keith


[1] Hiram Crawford Sr., Sarah’s father

[2] Hiram died the next day, September 2, 1852

[3] David (D.C.) Crawford, Sarah’s brother

[4] Edwin Crawford, Sarah’s brother

[5] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford

[6] Lois and Henry Keith, Luke’s children by his first wife, Minerva Payson, and Ethan and Nancy, Luke & Sarah’s children

[7] Sarah’s daughter, Nancy Catherine Keith, was born July 9, 1852

August 30, 1852 letter to Luke Keith from S.H.D. Vaughn

August 30, 1852                    

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Galesburg, MI

From: S. H. D. Vaughn, Dowagiac, MI

Sarah’s father is very sick and her mother wants her to come “by the first cars.” Edwin is also very sick.

Sca of 1852-08-30 S.H.D. Vaughn to Luke Keith

Aug 30th 1852

J W Cothren[1]

Dear Sir

Will you send this letter to Mr Charley Luke Keth as soon as recieved and oblige the parties

Mr & Mrs Keith

Your father (Mr Crawford[2]) is very sick and Mrs Crawford[3] is anxious to have her daughter come and see them by the first cars if possible. We hope that he will get well but his case is a critical one. Edwin[4] is also here sick but improving. I presume that she would also be glad to see any of the other children that could come out.

Yours in haste

S. H. D. Vaun[5]

[to] Mr Charles Luke Keith


[1] The envelope is addressed to J. W. Cothren, Freight Agent, Galesburg, Mich, with the notation “Haste without fail if possible”

[2] Hiram Crawford Sr., Sarah’s father

[3] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford, Sarah’s mother

[4] Edwin Crawford, Hiram & Nancy’s son

[5] From History of Cass County, Michigan (1882): “In the summer of 1851, a Baptist Church was organized under the labors of the Rev. S. H. D. Vaughn.”

September 16, 1851 letter to Almira Nelles from Nancy & Hiram Crawford Sr.

September 16, 1851

To: Almira Nelles

From: Nancy & Hiram Crawford, Dowagiac, MI

Edwin is working on the “Engine,” Louisa is boarding at Marshall with her baby, and Sarah has a little 7-month-old boy. Robert is still in Wisconsin but she hasn’t heard from James. Said she wrote to “our folks in Canada” but hasn’t heard from them. Describes Dowagiac. Expects Sally and Louisa to visit. Asks Jane, if she receives news from California, to inquire if there is such a name as James H. Crawford there and to let them know as soon as possible.

Scan of 1851-09-16 Nancy & Hiram Crawford to Almira Nelles

Dowagiac September 16th 1851

Dear Niece[1] Once more I take my pen in hand to inform you that our healths is all very good eccept myself which has not been very good the last three or four weeks. I have not answered your letter as soon as you expected I should. I suppose it is beause I could not find anything to write about and because my health as I said before has not been very good. Edwin[2] is working on the Engine and Louesa[3] is boarding at Marshall [Michigan] with her baby.[4] Sally[5] has got a fine little boy[6] about 7 months old. Robbert[7] is still in Wisconsin and we had a letter from him last June. He was doing well then. We have not heard from James[8] yet. We expect Sally and Louesa out here to make us a visit and I should like to have your mother[9] or yourself or your sister[10] or both of you to come out and visit with Sally and Louesa. I have written to our folks in Canada and have not heard from them since last fall. This is a fine and thriving little Village. It is quite sick around here though. This little Village contains two taverns four dry good stores two groceries and one Drug store. It has one school house which answers for a school and meeting house to the Baptist and the Congregsionalest are fixing for to build a church a piece for them. Then there is a number of dwelling houses. There is a large grist mill going up besiges many other wonders of the grat Dowagiac City. Give my love to your mother and brothers  and sisters.

and believe to be your Affectionate Aunt

[to] Almira Nellis        Nancy B Crawford

NB Sally and Louesa will be here the last part of this month or the first of next. Jane if you recieve any news from Californ[11] let us know and if you write back to them ask them to inquire if there is any such a name as James H Crawford[12] there is let us know as soon as possible.

Your Sister

Nancy B Crawford

NB Almira answer this letter as soon as you can.

Your Aunt

Nancy B Crawford

[The following portion seems to have been written by Hiram Crawford[13]]

Dear Neice

You will excuse you aunt for not answering your letter sooner as she had nothing particular to write, but I could not put off any longer as I am anxious to hear from you all. Since I last wrote our healths have been as good as usual. We are living alone in Edwins house, his wife and child is living at Marshall and he is on an Engine running from Marshall to Detroit.

Sally has got a son 7 months old and was well when last heard from. Robert is in Wisconsin yet. We are looking for him home daily. James we have not hears from our anxiety is great about him.

We have had no news from Canada notwithstanding I have written several times. There is some sickness here prncipaley among the new comers. It is much heathier than last year. Our Village is growing fast. Some twenty or thirty buildings have gone up this season. In addition the Baptist and Congregation are each intending to erect meeting houses within a year.

Jane if you have any news from your Husband & children write. Should you write to them have them enquire for James H Crawford. Answer this letter Almira and come out one and all and see us as soon as [letter ends here, however the following paragraph was written upside down after this.]

Large subscripions have been raised for the building of two meeting houses, one by the Baptists and the other by the Congregationalists.


[1] Almira is the daughter of Nancy’s sister, Jane (Comfort) and Jacob Nelles

[2] Edwin W. Crawford, Nancy’s son, worked as an engineer for the local railroad

[3] Louisa (Hall) Crawford, Edwin’s first wife

[4] Eugene Crawford

[5] Sarah (Crawford) Keith, Nancy’s daughter

[6] Ethan Keith

[7] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[8] James H. Crawford, Nancy’s son

[9] Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin

[10] Almira had two sisters, both born to Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin and her second husband, Peleg Sunderlin: Jane Sunderlin (born in approximately 1840) and Louisa Sunderlin (born in 1846)

[11] Jane’s husband, Peleg Sunderlin, as well as two of her sons, Wallis Sunderlin and Henry Nelles, were apparently bitten by gold fever as they were all working as miners in Empire Canion, El Dorado, California, in 1850

[12] James may have been a sailor for a time. See description of his travels in letter dated May 23, 1856

[13] Nancy’s husband

September 10, 1850 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Sr.

September 10, 1850              

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Hiram Crawford, Dowagiac, MI

Pros is sick, Edwin well. Louisa had a boy 2 weeks ago last Thursday and got a bad breast infection. Edwin tried to get a girl to help out but couldn’t find anyone. Robert stopped to see them. It is very sickly throughout the whole region but very few deaths.

Scan of 1850-09-10 Hiram Crawford to Sarah Keith

Dogwhack[1]     September 10th 1850

Dear Sally[2]

I embrace the opportunity of a wet forenoon to write you a few lines and let you know our present situation. To begin your Mother[3] is at present able to be about the house an your Father[4] likewise is able to be on the track. How long he will be so is quite uncertain. Pross[5] is well with the exception of having the Ague[6] now and then. Edwin’s[7] health is good at present but Louisa[8] is bad enough off. She had a boy[9] two weeks ago last Thursday and got a long the first week uncommon fast when she took a violent cold followed by fever and than ague in the breast. She has suffered a great deal of pain and is unable to sit up as yet, her breast has broke in three places and we are in hopes that she will get better now that her inflamation is gone down. Mother has been up and down two or three times since Louise been sick from overdoing. Edwin could not get a girl he hunted three or four days far and near but every house had some sick and he could get none so that Mother had to do more than she was able and Louise too in trying to help along brought her present misfortune on.

When are you coming out to see us? It is unnecessary to say how glad we would be to see you. We shall look for you utill you come. If any thing occurs that you cant come in this month write and let us know as we are anxious to hear from you if we cant have the satisfaction to see you. Robert[10] stoped here two days he was quite unwell but was anxious to go on. We are looking for a letter from him. It is verry sickly throughout this whole region of country but verry few deaths. I hope these lines will find you and Luke[11] and children[12] well. If you do not come out soon write as Mother is getting uneasy and says she must see the children soon.

Farewell — H Crawford

Dogwhack September 11 1850


[1] Dowagiac, Michigan

[2] Sarah (Crawford) Keith. Early letters refer to her as Sally, as does her marriage certificate; however, in later years she is referred to as Sarah

[3] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford

[4] Hiram Crawford

[5] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Sarah’s brother, who went by the name of Pros

[6] A form of malaria characterized by stages of chills, fever, and sweating. Popularly, the disease was known as “fever and ague,” “chill fever,” and “the shakes”

[7] Edwin Crawford, Sarah’s brother

[8] Edwin’s wife, Louisa (Hall) Crawford

[9] Eugene L. Crawford

[10] Robert Crawford, Sarah’s brother

[11] Charles Luke Keith Jr., Sarah’s husband, who went by the name of Luke

[12] Lois and Henry Keith, Luke’s children by his first wife, Minerva Payson

July 31, 1850 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Sr.

July 31, 1850

To: Sarah Keith, Comstock, MI

From: Hiram Crawford, Dowagiac, MI

Nancy Crawford went to see her sister Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin. Got seasick coming home and then she and Hiram were very sick for several days. Pros was also sick. Edwin & Louisa are well. Wants Robert to write if Sally sees him – they want to know the boys’ situation.

Scan of 1850-07-31 Hiram Crawford to Sarah Keith

Dowagiac        July 31st 1850

Dear Sally[1]

We send our love to you & Luke[2] and let you know that we are alive though far from being well. Your Mother[3] has been to see Aunt Jane.[4] Found them all well, staid a week. Started home got sea sick crossing the Lake came home and was taken down the third day and was verry sick for several days but is now able to be up most of the time and I trust will ultimately recover her health. Your poor old dad too has had a touch of the Chill Feaver but has been free from it these two days, but I am weak and my hand trembles as you see. Pross[5] too comes in for a share as he is up and down with the ague[6] – yet I trust through the Goodness of God we shall all recover our health. At any rate it is wisdom in us to submit without murmuring to what ever affliction is laid on us.

I would have written to you before but did not wish to afflict you by letting you know how sick your Mother was.

It is quite sickly in this place Edwin[7] & Louisa[8] are well. I take the opportunity of sending this by our old Friend and neighbor W. Hurst (?) who is now here so the postage is saved. Tell Robert[9] to write if you see him. I want to know the situation of the boys at Yorkville.[10] I fear there is something wrong going on there. Oh I am tired, Dear Sally & Luke. We bid you goodby

Your Father & Mother


[1] Sarah (Crawford) Keith, Hiram and Nancy Crawford’s daughter. Early letters refer to her as Sally, as does her marriage certificate; however, in later years she is referred to as Sarah

[2] Charles Luke Keith Jr., Sarah’s husband, who was referred to as Luke

[3] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford

[4] Nancy’s sister, Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin

[5] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Sarah’s brother, who was referred to as Pros

[6] A form of malaria characterized by stages of chills, fever, and sweating. Popularly, the disease was known as “fever and ague,” “chill fever,” and “the shakes”

[7] Edwin Crawford, Sarah’s brother

[8] Edwin Crawford’s first wife, Louisa (Hall) Crawford

[9] Robert Crawford, Sarah’s brother

[10] Yorkville was a small town north of Galesburg, Michigan on Gull Lake

April 1, 1850 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Sr.

April 1, 1850

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Hiram Crawford Sr., Dowagiac, MI

Hiram is writing a brief letter to his daughter, Sarah, to let her know that they have arrived safely in Dowagiac and had settled in with their son, Edwin, although it is a little cramped. He goes on to describe the village and its prospects for growth along the Central Railroad line. He tells Sarah that “morals are low her but the place is new and good society will come in with the growth of the place.”

Scan of 1850-04-01 Hiram Crawford to Sarah Keith

Dowagiac April 1st 1850

Dear Daughter

We are well. We got here with our household goods safe although L and Hiram[1] had rather a tough time of it. We are as comfortably situated as we expected. We are in with Edwin[2] a leettle crowded with our goods but otherwise room enough. Edwin has got as pleasent a situation as is in this place. The Village itself is a handsome situation as can be well found, high and dry with every prospect of being one of the first villages on the line of the Central Railroad.[3] The country is rich and productive around it. There has been an immense quantity of grain and other produce sent from this station the past winter and even now hundreds of bushels of grain and potatoes are brought in dayly to be sent off. You see how my hand trembles. I am in a great hurry two this morning so you must excuse me from writing a long letter. Write as soon as you can. Let us know how the boys get along, ours here are as contented as pigs. Mother[4] is we[ll?] contented living here. The only drawback to it is being seperated from you and the boys and also her religious privilages in Galesburg. Morals are low her but the place is new and good society will come in with the growth of the place. But my time is up so your Parents say God bless you our dear child and your Husband[5] for your sake and his own.

Compliments to all  

Hiram Crawford


[1] Lucius Prosper & Hiram, Jr., Hiram’s two youngest children

[2] Edwin W. Crawford, Hiram’s son

[3] Dowagiac was platted when the Michigan Central came through in 1848 to establish a route from Detroit to Niles, Michigan; the village was incorporated in 1858, growing to becoming a city in 1877

[4] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford  

[5] Charles Luke Keith Jr.