June 27, 1876 letter to Luke & Sarah Keith from Louese Keith

June 27, 1876

To: Luke & Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Louese Keith, Chicago, IL

Louese is writing her parents about an accident three weeks earlier in which she was burned by heated dish water as it was being hoisted from the basement in the home of Kate & Hiram Crawford, her aunt and uncle. She had not placed the pail properly on the hoist and it tipped over when it hit the ceiling as she was raising it. Although her face was burned, Aunt Kate treated the burns and now three weeks later there is little evidence of the accident. Uncle Hiram decided to redesign the hoist so that it can be raised from above to avoid future injury.

Dont read this before Grandma.[1]

Chicago June 27th 1876

Mr & Mrs. C. L. Keith

How is Aunt Alfleda[2] and Grandma,

Dear Pa and Ma

I recieved your letters a week ago yesterday and expected to have answered them before but have put it off until now. Aunt Kate and Uncle Hi[3] have gone out this evening, Jessie and Harry[4] have just gone to bed and as it is not very late I thought it would be a good chance to write. The weather has been fearful warm until to day which has been a little cooler. Aunt Kate and Mrs Squires went into the Country to Mr Marwoods to day to pick cherries. They got back about five Oclock and got a few cherries. I suppose Nancy[5] has written about me getting burned. It was a pretty narrow escape and if you have not heard I will tell you. It was three weeks ago this morning I went down in the basement to get the dish water before I went to school. I put it on the dummy[6] but did not set the pan on far enough so that when it went up it hit the floor and the water came down on me. I was very near to the front gate before I knew any thing and how I got out of the basement is more than I know but I run up stairs to Aunt Kate and she put some Cosmoline[7] on my face right away and covered it with batting and if I know my self it burned for the next two hours like fun.[8] My face was burned to a blister and it broke four times and the hair has come out on that the left side considerable but it is all well now and it left no scar but as Uncle Hi says a good rich color. No one would know that I had ever been burned now. Uncle Hi said that I was the last one that would get burned to death so he bought and iron rod about fifteen inches long and fastened in the top of the dummy as you see by the picture so we pull it up instead of pushing it so if the water gets spilled it will not burn any body. This is a picture of the dummy the three sides shelves in the dummy and it slides up and down in those two those sides that you see.


Well I will have to say a word or two to Jim[9] and Ethan[10] so (Good Night).

School was out last friday we had a big time it com– the last of sept.

James and Ethan

Dear Brothers,

I recieved your kind letters and was glad to hear from you but should’t wonder if you had given up ever recieving any answers, but here she goes. Gene[11] was up here last Saturday night. It was the first time that I have seen him since we went to the exposition building and that was seven weeks ago. He is running a North Clark St car now. He puts in his 13 hours a day so he does not have much time to run around. Lincoln park is on that street. I some expect to go to the park Saturday. Am going to a conversation meeting any way at the church. Ethan has Gene ever answered your letters. He told me the night that we went to the concert that he should not blame you if you never spoke to him again but he said that he run the car nights and when day time come he was so sleepy that he kept putting it off until he thought it was two late. I told him that you would not get mad at that that you knew him too well. He said that he knew it but he had used you mean. Now dont tell Grandma this for she will write to him and dont you write this to him or ever tell him of it for I dont want him to know that I told you of it. Now besure and dont tell him or Grandma. I did not say any thing to him about it Saturday night but I know that he thinks you are offended but for lands sake dont tell him that I’ve ever said a word. Aunt Kates hat or the price of it was seven dollars[12] and the price of mine six and a half. They are both real handsome and Ma how I wish you had one. Write soon. Good night.

How is Ma’s leg.

Louese Keith

Membr of Lincoln School


[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Alfleda (Starr) Keith, the widow of Luke’s brother Harvey Keith; Alfleda was living with Luke & Sarah

[3] Hiram & Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford Jr., Sarah’s brother and sister-in-law

[4] Hiram & Katherine’s children

[5] Nancy (Keith) Brown, Louese’s sister

[6] A hoist, similar to a dumbwaiter, that used rope and pulleys to lift heavy items from the basement to the first floor of homes

[7] Cosmoline was commonly used in the storage and preservation of some firearms. According to The Homeeopathic Domestic Physician, by Konstantin Hering (B. Jain Publishers, 1993), “Cosmoline or vaseline are excellent applications in burns.”

[8] The Oxford Dictionary gives its meaning as “vigorously or quickly”

[9] James Keith, Louese’s younger brother

[10] Ethan Keith, Louese’s older brother

[11] Eugene Crawford, Louese’s cousin, the son of Edwin & Louisa (Hall) Crawford

[12] Seven dollars in 1876 equals $165.00 in 2018 dollars

September 21, 1873 letter to Nancy Betts from Sarah Keith

September 21, 1873

To:  Nancy Betts

From: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

Speaks of Hannah and Underwood not making up. Lucy Milham had a baby girl. Sarah thinks Lucy’s husband is a shiftless man. Thinks Lois’ husband, Del Skinner, is a good man. Eugene was there two weeks ago and he was well. She doesn’t think Mary has done the fair thing by him, but guess he will come out all right.

1873-09-21 1873-09-21B

Galesburg, Sep 21st 1873

My Dear Mother[1]

I received your very welcome letter last week, was glad to hear from you once more. I had been looking for a letter from you some time, it seemed a long while since I heard from you. I think a great many times what a privilege it is and one we ought to apreciate that we can corispond with our friends, (though separated by thousands of miles). Through the medium of the pen we can go to our friends for sympathy in our afliction and also to rejoice with us when we have cause for rejoicing. Our State Fair has been held at Grand Rappids this last week. Ethen[2] and Hannah[3] went last Tuesday. Expect them tomorrow. Mr Planks folks lives there. They wanted the children should come and stay with them during the Fair. Nancy[4] lives forty miles from them. Ethen expects to go and see her. Nancy does not write she is homesick, but I guess she would like to look in and see us all. Jane Nouge has not been expected to lieve the past three. I went and stayed all day with her last Tuesday. Deacon and Mrs Mason are quite smart. Mrs M wished to be remembered to you. Mary Lewis has got a little girl. I have got my carpet down in the front room. It looks very well. We have let a man and his wife by the name Hawley have our two south roomes. He is a going to work our place (also Aunt Pattys[5] and Aunt Katys[6]) on shares. It is a going to crunch us some for room, but I am willing to do most any way for the sake of having something done. Hannah and Underwood[7] has not made up. He has been here twice this summer. She keeps out of his way.

Lucy Milham[8] has got another baby a little girl[9]. Her health is quite good. Poor Lucy. She has lots of trouble. She has got one of the most shiftless men[10] I ever saw, a great stout healthy man as he is. Lois[11] and Dell[12] were here to day. They were quite well. I think Lois has got a good man. He seemes to think everything of her. He is a very industrious man and a good calculator, keeps his farm up in good order.

I have not felt very well the past week have had a bad cold had to work pretty hard, have been lower than usual. Eugene[13] was here two weeks ago. He was well. Think he has got a pretty chance. Dont think Mary[14] has done the fare thing by him. Guess he will come out all right. I must close and leave room for Jimmie[15]. My love to you Mother and all the rest. Please write whenever you can.


Monday morning September 22, 1873

Mrs. N. B. Betts

Dear Grandma

I thought I would write you a few lines. I am husking corn for Mr Brown[16] for 8 cents a bushel. It is vacation now. i expect to go to Dowagiac before school commences again. I shall have to stop for it is sprinkling and I have got to get the beans in write soon.

From Jimmy

[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Sarah’s son, Ethan Keith

[3] Sarah’s daughter, Hannah Keith

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

[5] Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague, sister of Sarah’s husband Luke

[6] Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee, sister of Sarah’s husband Luke

[7] Hannah had been engaged to Eberly Underwood

[8] Daughter of George and Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee

[9] Catherine Samantha “Kitty” Milham was born September 2, 1873

[10] Lucy’s husband, Martin Milham

[11] Sarah’s step-daughter. Lois was the daughter of Luke and Minerva (Payson) Keith

[12] Adelbert Skinner was Lois’ second husband

[13] Son of Sarah’s brother Edwin Crawford

[14] Eugene’s stepmother, Mary (Hamilton) Crawford

[15] Sarah’s youngest son, James Keith

[16] Ambrose Brown, Nancy (Keith) Brown’s father-in-law

January 3, 1867 letter to Nancy Keith from Nancy Betts

January 3, 1867

To: Nancy Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Nancy Betts, Waukegan, IL

Nancy Betts is writing a short note to her granddaughter to thank her for the present of edging. She had been suffering from a severe cold, but is feeling better. She is sorry to hear that Elder Sell is moving. She goes on to say that she is going to Omro at the end of the following week, that she had been in Chicago visiting her son, Hiram, and that she had received a letter from her son, David. She also sends directions for some sort of needlework and the colors to use.

Waukegan[1] Janry 3rd/67

My dear Grand daughter

I received your letter with your nice presant of edging and am very much obliged for it. It is very pretty. I have been suffering with a very severe cold but am better now. I was sorry to hear that Elder Sell[2] was going away and also that his daughter Jenny is so unwell. Also that your Aunt Katy[3] had such a sore throat but hope it will not be any thing serious.

I expect to go to Omro[4] next week so you will please address my letters there. I have been to Chicago and saw your Uncle Hiram,[5] he was well. I have also had a letter from your Uncle David[6] and he was well. he was You must kiss Sis and Jimmy[7] for me and give my love to all. Write again for it always does my heart good to hear from you and accept the best love of

Your affectionate

Grandmother N. B. Betts

[On an attached card was the following]
Five rowes of each
Black, one of sammon [salmon?] chinchilla & white, five of blue, one of sammon black & white, five of red, one of sammon chinchilla & white, five of green, one of chinchilla sammon & black
12.5 of white
Shetland, Wool


[1] It appears she was visiting her sister, Mary (Comfort) Wickersham, who lived in Waukegan, Illinois

[2] Jeremiah Sell, a Baptist Minister in Comstock, Michigan

[3] Catharine (Keith) Bradley Lee

[4] Omro, Wisconsin, where she had lived, and where her son, Robert Crawford, lived

[5] Her son, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[6] Her son, David (D. C.) Crawford

[7] Nancy’s younger sister and brother, Louese and James Keith