Ulmer’s Spring Bed Bottom


July 26, 1864 letter to Sarah Keith from Luke Keith

July 26, 1864

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Charles Luke Keith Jr., De Pere, WI

Luke is in De Pere, Wisconsin, south of Green Bay where he is trying to sell bed bottoms. Robert accompanied him as far as Oshkosh, where they had dinner with Aunt Mary.

1864-07-26 1864-07-26B 1864-07-26env

Depere July 26, 1864


I went to Depere Friday 22d. Robert[1] went to Oshkosh with me. We went to his Aunt Marys[2], took dinner. She went home with him. I put in one bottom[3] in Oshkosh. Took the cars[4] at eight in evening, got to Depere at eleven. Could not get any place to stop in Depere. Went out to Bernells, got there about one oclock in the night. Found King[5] there. They wer all well. I dont feel first rate but keep around. King wants to buy Fond Dulac County and what bottoms I have with me. I have twelve here. I told him what he could have it for. He has not told me yet whether he will take it or not. He likes them very well. I guess he will go into it. He says if he does he shall go in to make something out of it. He says there is mony in it. All the trouble would be would be to make them think they wanted them. He figures close. I wish you could get them magazines back. Perhaps you could get Mr. Bachelder to send them. He can find the number of the office some where in them. Direct to E. M. Stratton No. New York City. I have not ordered them, dont want them. I did not think he would send them without the money in advance as that has always been his way of doing business. I hope you are all well. Roberts folks wer well. You write me soon if you have any thing you wish to write as I may not be here long. I must be a doing when I can. I will let you know when I leave here and where to direct your letters. If you want some mony I will send you some. If I make a trade with King he will pay some down in Green Backs. The most of the money here is Wisconsin.

Have you had any new potatoes yet? Did you have any pees? Save some for seed if you can. If you get out of wheat perhaps Truman could pay that. When he does I wish he would take it to the mill and get it weighed out. Has Mary gone yet? How is Lysander Beach? Tell D. K. Rogers Ira is all right and has good beer(?).

Yours &c

C. L. Keith

[1] Robert Crawford, Sarah’s brother

[2] Presumably Mary (Comfort) Wickersham

[3] At one point, Luke spent quite a bit of time on the road selling “bed bottoms”, a form of rubberized bedsprings

[4] Train

[5] Luke’s cousin, James S. King

August 31, 1856 letter to Sarah Keith from Luke Keith

August 31, 1856

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Luke Keith, Omro, WI

He is still at Robert’s in Omro. He is feeling somewhat better and plans to leave Monday or Tuesday for Green Bay. Some of the men are going bear hunting and Robert has his hunting shirt done and “is a dancing around the floor.” Luke doesn’t feel well enough to go with them. Describes the area again and that they get their water from boring into the ground. When they get to water, it spouts up from 3 to 15 feet high. Says that Robert has a very good woman and their boy looks like Eugene and is as cross as ever Eugene was. Wants Sarah to tell Nancy and Ethan that he “will come home some time.”

Omro Aug 31st 1856

Sarah your letter was received Friday afternoon. I was glad to hear from home,[1] was sorry to hear that Father[2] had hurt his leg.[3] I am at Roberts[4] yet. I feel some better than I did when I wrote you before. I think I shall leave here monday or tuesday. I shal go to the bay and then I will write you a gan. I am glad you and the children are well. Pros[5] says he wants to see you the darndest ***[6] the other children. He wishes he could *** and nancy[7] sing pop goes the weasel *** enjoy themselves very well. Robert *** wishes you and the children *** got a very good woman.[8] She is not *** Lois[9] she wares short dresses and pant___ *** a little girl. Their boy[10] looks like Eugene[11] and is as cross as ever Jean[12] was. We have heard from David.[13] He is well. Hiram[14] is going out where Dade is in two weeks. Robert starts to morrow morning for the woods. There are six of them going up the woolf river a bear hunting. Bob has got his hunting shirt done and is a dancing around the floor. He wants I should go with them. I cant I dont feel stout enough for that. I like this country very well. There are some as farms about here as I ever saw in any country. They get their water by diging. They bore into the ground with a two inch auger from 20 to 75 feet. When they get to water it raises to the top of the ground, just spouts up from 3 to 15 feet high. I went to Osh Kosh friday saw James Sprague[15] Uncle Jesses[16] son. He showed me one that was —5 feet deep *** pipe some 4 feet above the top of *** and cold as any spring water *** crockery store. I will get around *** as I can. If I stop at Green bay or Mackinaw long enough to get a line from you I will write where to direct. I saw a man last evening, said he was some acquainted at the bay, said he knew one man there by the name of King.[17] He did not know what his given name was. I am comfortably well. Tell Nancy and Ethen[18] I will come home some time.

Yours as always

C. L. Keith

[to] Sarah C. Keith


[1] According to Luke’s 1856 diary, he was gone from home from August 11 through September 23. See the pages following the August 24, 1856 letter for a transcript of the entries during that time period

[2] Charles Luke Keith Sr., who also went by the name of Luke

[3] See August 24, 1856 letter

[4] Sarah’s brother, Robert Crawford

[5] Sarah’s brother, Lucius Prosper Crawford

[6] There is a large hole that runs through all the pages of the letter; *** indicates missing words

[7] Their daughter, Nancy Keith

[8] Robert’s wife, Louisa (McCann) Crawford

[9] Lois (Keith) Clark, Luke’s daughter by his first wife, Minerva (Payson) Keith

[10] William Edwin Crawford, who was born August 23, 1855

[11] Eugene Crawford, Sarah’s nephew, the son of Sarah’s brother, Edwin Crawford

[12] Believe this is short for Eugene

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

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

[15] James G. Sprague and family were listed in the 1860 Census, living in Oshkosh

[16] Jesse Sprague was the uncle of Luke’s second wife, Jerusha (Crittenden) Keith; also, Jesse’s nephew, James Sprague Jr. (the son of Jesse’s brother James & Abiah [Carpenter] Sprague), was married to Luke’s sister, Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague

[17] Luke had an uncle and a cousin, both by the name of James King, that lived in De Pere, Wisconsin, which is in the Green Bay area

[18] Their son, Ethan Keith