January 5, 1872 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

January 5, 1872

To:  Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Nancy has not been feeling well lately, but appreciates the kindness of her landlord as well as her son Robert and his wife. She describes an unpleasant visit with Henry and Virginia. She talks about her sisters, Jane & Mary; Mary Crawford, who is planning a trip; and Prosper, who has just purchased a team of horses from his father-in-law for $300.

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Omro  January 5th, 1872

Dear daughter Sarah,

I take my pen in hand to write a few lines to you. I should have written sooner but I thought I would wait till after there[1] visit to your place. My health is quite poor at present. I havent ben very well since I came home. I am troble with the palpatation of the hart and dyspepsin[2] with it. I have no appatite to eat. I am now taking the vinegar bitters. I think I am fealing som better than I did and I hope they will help me so I can get my health again. Since I have ben so un well I have thought of you a grate deal. I thought if I could live with you or near you so you could take care of me when I am sick. I havent sufferd for the want care but it would be difernt have you with me. The old lady that I am a living with is very kind to me. Robert[3] and wife is kind. I am writeing with trimling hand. I hope if Henry[4] and Jenne[5] has ben to see you you have injoyd there visit. I was tretted well knoff by them only Jenne was not very sosabel. I had no chance to talk to Henry. He would come in eat his meals and then soon she would start from the tabel and then he would follow her till the next meal. One day I thought I would hed him out when he was a feeding the hogs and so I did and how mad she was. She call to him and he dident go and she diden speak to him that afternoon. She would not eat no supper and she went out doors and staid to the barn till he went out to where she was and staid som time coax her to come in and took the horse and buggy and whent out a rideing and next morning she peard a littel more social. O dear Sarah it was no viset for me. I never want to go again. You dont know how miserbel I felt while I staid there. Hiram[6] came there to tell me that I could not see Kate[7] nor Harry[8]. He and Henry said I had not better stop to Marshal if I dident go he would go with me to the next station so I whent on to Sister Janes[9] and found her well. Her sone Wallos Sunderland wife and three children was there and they have ben there for five months and they have looing for him. He has sent them monny and have promes to come but dont come. We whent to Sister Mary[10] in the afternoon. I staid with her that night. I feal sorra for Mary she is not very well and hast to sow for a living. Her daughter Kate husband[11] is well of but they are a bording but she sends her somethings but she mite send her more than she does but he is a Catholic. That makes the diferance. Mary Crawford[12] was packing up to start her journy but I dont know anything more about her. When you received this write soon and wite all of the perticulors. Prosper[13] bought a span of horses of his Father in law[14] and is to pay three hundred dollors when he can ern it. She is living with her folks. He bords her as pays them. They expect to have adition to there famly the first of April[15]. She went with him to where he was to work the two weeks ago. I havent space to write. How are Luke[16] gitting long with his farm afairs? Dous Ethen[17] do anything with couplin[18]?  From you mothe my love to you all.

[to] Sarah Keith

Nancy Betts

[The following was written on the first page above the date.] Write soon. Tell all about Ethen and the girls[19] and Sis[20] and Jimme[21]. My love to them all and Luke and your self. Your Mother


[1] Nancy seems to be referring to a visit by Henry and Virginia Crawford

[2] Indigestion

[3] Robert Crawford, Nancy Betts’ son

[4] Henry Clay Crawford, Nancy Betts’ son

[5] Virginia (Worley) Crawford, Nancy Betts’ daughter-in-law (Henry’s wife)

[6] Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy Betts’ son

[7] Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford, Nancy Betts’ daughter-in-law (Hiram’s wife)

[8] Harry A. Crawford, Nancy Betts’ grandson (Hiram & Kate’s son)

[9] Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin

[10] Mary (Comfort) Wickersham

[11] Felix H. O’Connor

[12] Believed to be her son Edwin Crawford’s widow

[13] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Nancy Betts’ son

[14] Joseph Steele

[15] Leo Ashton Crawford was born to Pros and Isabella (Steele) Crawford on April 16, 1872

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

[17] Ethan B. Keith, Luke and Sarah’s son

[18] Ethan was an inventor and had several patents related to coupling jacks. Perhaps this is some reference to that

[19] Luke and Sarah’s daughters, Nancy Keith and Hannah Keith

[20] Luke and Sarah’s youngest daughter, Louese Keith

[21] Luke and Sarah’s youngest son, James C. Keith

January 17, 1871 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

January 17, 1871

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Received a letter from Henry. They have been very sick. Jenny is not able to do much of anything and John, their oldest son, has had the fever this fall. Henry has been working at his trade making carriage wheels this winter. He says it has been very sickly in South Bend this year past. Poor Henry is having a hard time of it. John Worley, Jenny’s brother, has buried his wife. He said she died very happy. Received a letter and a Colorado paper from David announcing his marriage to Miss Amanda Thornton. Hopes he has got a good companion and they may enjoy each other’s comfort as long as they live. Received a letter from Hiram. He and his family enjoyed Christmas very much. Got letters from Robert, Prosper and Eugene. They are all well.

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Omro   January the 17 1871

My Dear Sarah,

I received your kind and welcom letter afew days ago. I was happy to heare from you and yours. I wish that Nancy[1] was here. I think Doctor Clap could help her. He has helpt a good meny difficult cases. It is very singular thing that your family has the ague[2] so much. I don’t remember when I lived with you of any one a having the ague. It seams to me that your family has ben afflicted more then any other famly around in that neighborhood. I wish Luke[3] could sell and get a way from there and get in a more healthily place. I received a letter from Henry[4]. He writes that they have ben sorely aflicked with sickness for months pasts. Jenne[5] is not abel to do much of anything and John[6], there olds son, has had the fever this fall. He dont get along very well. He is quite febel yet. Henry, he has been working at his trade a makeing Carriage wheels this winter. He sais it has ben very sickley in South Bend this year past. Poor Henry is lik your self. He is having a hard time of it. John Worly[7], so Henry sais, has buried his wife[*]. He said she dide very happy. He is Jennes youngest brother[8].

I received a letter and a Colorado paper from David[9] stateing his marrige with Miss Amanda Thornton[10]. All of that Peace the old Bach is marrige at last. I hope he has got a good companion and they may in joy each other society and take solled Comfort as long as they live.

I received a letter from Hiram[11]. He and his family had in joy Christmas very much. They had a present of a turkey for thear Dinner and they got lots of presents and Kit[12] got a half donzen of napkins rings. This is from him with lots of other things and Hite[13] got a nice pair of slippers from her and she received from her cousin, a young gentelman that is living in the city, a very beautiful round Lilly in wax set in a glass case worth twenty dollars and granma[14] got lots of things and little Harry[15] he got his stockings full of cande and nuts. It is to tedious to tell and name all of the articals they got. He sent me four dollars. I got a letter from Robert[16] and one from Eugean[17]. They both are well and like wise from Prosper[18]. He was well. Then I received from Emily Tomson, your Aunt Jane[19] hiard girl. She is a good writer. She writes for her. She sais sister Jane husband[20] is dead. He dide last June. Wallis[21] her son is aliving in Navada. She received a letter from him telling her that Mr Sunderlin died the beginning of that month. It was of consumption. Wallis is ago to move to Waukegan as soon as he can dispose of his properaty. Sister Mary Wickersham[22] is there. Ben there for severl months. Her health is good this winter. What was the matter of Mrs Jacobs[*]? I wish you would tell me in your next who is the man that married Adda Swadel. I hope thoes few lines will find you all in better health. Write soon as conveant. My love to you all. From your Mother.

So good night

Its is truely minets a past 9

Nancy B Betts

[to] S C Keith

P.S. I send one of Alice[23] letters to Nancy


[1] Nancy Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[2] 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”

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

[4] Henry Crawford, Nancy’s son

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

[6] John Crawford, Henry and Virginia’s eldest son, age 16

[7] John Worley, who was Virginia’s younger brother, lived with Henry & Virginia Crawford when they lived in Niles, Michigan, and worked as an apprentice wagon maker with Henry

[*] Alice (Alexander) Worley died at the age of 25

[8] Actually, Virginia’s youngest brother was Oscar Worley

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

[10] David married Amanda Thornton, December 21, 1870 in the Calvary Episcopal Church in Golden, Colorado

[11] Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy’s son

[12] Hiram’s wife, Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford

[13] Hiram’s nickname

[14] Kate’s maternal grandmother, Elizabeth McGrath, who was living with Hiram and Kate

[15] Harry Crawford, Hiram and Kate’s eldest child

[16] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[17] Eugene Crawford, Nancy’s grandson

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

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

[20] Peleg Sunderlin, who died May 31, 1870 in Carlin, Nevada

[21] Wallis Sunderlin, Jane’s son

[22] Nancy’s sister, Mary (Comfort) Wickersham

[*] A December 17 entry in Luke Keith’s diary mentions “Mrs Jacobs Died to day.” A search of FindAGrave.com shows that Julia A. Jacobs, age 38, wife of B. Jacobs, died December 17, 1870, and is buried in Galesburg City Cemetery, Galesburg, Michigan

[23] Alice Crawford, Nancy’s granddaughter

August 20, 1866 letter to Luke and Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

August 20, 1866  

To: Luke & Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Nancy Betts, Oshkosh, WI

Has arrived at their new home (apparently living with Prosper). Tells of purchases made and of not receiving some of her goods. Says Aunt Jane looks quite young and dresses young.

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Oshkosh August the 20 1866

Dear Luke and Sarah

I have arived to my place of Destination and now we are living in our new home. We have two rooms, one is a bed room. The gratest troble is now evything is so high but Prosper[1] thinks we will get along. I wish you both could step in and see how plesently we are situated. We tride to find a second handed stove. It was not to be found so we bought a new stove. It cost thirty dollors. I bought two bedsteds, one fallleaf tabel, one squar tabel, half a set wooden bottom chairs, one rocken chair like the one I had. It com to twenty five dollors. O Sarah how disapointed I was when I found in looking over my things that my hood had not com. I would not card any thing about it if I had the means to bye another. All of my things come safe but the large glass dish but I think I can mend it. Prosper talks of going to Dowagiac this fall or the first of winter for his things. Will take a _______ you. If he goes he will bring it. If he dont go then you can have it. I thank you both for the troble you had in packing my things and sending them to me. I thank Mrs Birdac(?) and her family for she did not charge me any thing. Tell Lousia[2] that I am much oblige to her but she had not ought to send the monny for I richly ode them for ther troble and more then that. You wanted to know how Aunt Jane[3] looks. Very natuaral. She looks quite young for her and dresses young. You know she all ways very dressy. I dont know as you can read this for I have ben baking and nothing to burn but pine wood and that is slabs and sclantling ana they quite damp. I have worked hard all day to keep fire and keep the stove hot enough to bake. Pros sais he will bye som hard wood to burn with it. Tell Ethen[4] and the girls[5] to write to me. I would be glad to received aletter from. We live most two miles from the Babest Church nearer Allgomo. Luke you know whare Lawyer lives on Oshkosh side of the brige in a cornner lot fine hous and door yard turn rite round to the north about a quarter of a mile on Allgomo Street on Main Street. Tell Jim[6] and Sis[7] I wonto see them.

(Written in the upper left hand corner of the first page) My furniture is the same that I had thear.

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

[2] Believe she is referring to her daughter-in-law, Louisa (McCann) Crawford, the wife of Robert Crawford

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

[4] Sarah and Luke’s son, Ethan Keith

[5] Sarah and Luke’s daughters, Nancy Keith and Hannah Keith

[6] Sarah and Luke’s son, James Keith

[7] Sarah and Luke’s daughter, Louese Keith

August 18, 1866 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Jr.

August 18, 1866

To: Sarah Keith 

From: Hiram Crawford, Chicago, IL

Had a visit from Robert and letter from David. Robert and Hiram paid Aunt Jane a visit and remained all evening. He was sorry that he didn’t have the time or means to visit Sarah or Henry. Robert wants Sarah to know that mother’s things have arived.

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Chicago           Aug 18st 1866

Dear Sister

I have just been the recipient of a nice little visit from brother Robert[1]. He arrived in town Wednesday and went back yesterday. I went up to Aunt Janes[2] with him and we both staid all night. He was very sorry that he couldn’t make you and Henry[3] a visit but he neither had the time or means. He came here on business and as soon as he got it done went back. He does not seem much older than when I saw him last and is stout and rugged. He wished me to write you that mothers[4] things came all right and that him and Pros[5] is settled and doing fine. Aunt Jane is in good health this summer better than she has been for years. Augusta has been up there visiting for three weeks. She came home with me this morning. I received a letter from David[6] last week. He was well and all right. This is all the Paper I have got and no Book store within a half mile. Let me hear how you are.

Your brother


[1] Brother, Robert Crawford

[2] Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin

[3] Brother, Henry Crawford

[4] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[5] Brother, Lucius Prosper Crawford

[6] Brother, David (D.C.) Crawford

October 17, 1851 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Crawford

October 17, 1851                  

To: Sarah Keith                               

From: Nancy Crawford, LaPorte, IN

Had a visit with Aunt Jane. Everyone was well except Frank Nelles’ wife, who was “confined with a young son.” They buried their 14-month-old daughter on September 1. Almira‘s husband died of cholera two months ago and Aunt Jane was in low spirits because of the cholera epidemic. Aunt Jane had lots of sewing to do and Nancy wished Sarah could live there as she could get as much sewing as she wanted. Robert said he would take Prosper in the Spring, and she sometimes wishes he would because she has a “grate trial with him,” but she would miss him. Henry left LaPorte September 17 for St. Louis. She is beginning to worry, as they haven’t heard from him yet. He hadn’t been able to work for 5-6 weeks because he had erysipelas on his hand and a fellon and boils. Edwin is going to Toledo for a new Engine — wanted to have Hiram as his fireman. Edwin is to have the greatest and the most splendid engine that runs. The name of the engine is the I. B. Parks (?), named after the president of the road. They moved to another house close to the depot (she is apparently living with Edwin). Edwin has always been kind to her, but Mary “has been quite clever since I came back.”


Laport October the 17 1851

Dear Sarah,

It is with plaseure i take my pen in hand to inform you of the viset i had with your Ant.[1] When I arive thear i found you relatives all well with the ecception of Frank Nelles wife.[2] She was confind with a young son all though she was quite smart. They beraed thear only Daughter the first of September a little girl fourteen months old. To my grate surprise i found Almira[3] thear a young widow. Her husband had ben ded two months and he dide with the Cholra and your Ant Jane was in low sperects for thear had ben so much Cholra a fue rods of her Door. She had felt quite alarmd for fear she wold have it herself. I saw a hous a fue rods of her door that the hole famly dide eccept two Children and thear it stands with the furniture all in it and they talk of burning it up. They was all glad to see me and i had a verry good viset. Your Ant wanted i shold stay with her this fall and winter and saw she has lots of sowing to do. I mad one coate wile i wase thear. She said it was made well. I wish you lived thear you cold git as much sowing as you wanted. It is a verry plesent location on high grown above the lake shore. I think Lukes[4] helth wold be better if he could injoy the Freach breeze of the Lake. I was gon little over two weeks. I returnd home the second day of October and found Mary[5] all alone with the ecception of a little molte citten that Ed[6] had brot home for her. Prosper[7] was out to play. It was half past eight in the eveing and Edwin dident git in till eleven. Dear Sarah wen i came home i found three letters that was directed to me. Ed had opend them all one from you and from Robert[8] and David[9] and sence i returned home i receive one from Hiram.[10] I was verry much plese to hear from you all and hear that you was weell but i am sorry hear that Luke helth is so poor. I wish he could find sumthem to help him. Sarah I dident want you to send me the dollar. I felt as tho you had paid it. You help me wen I moved. Robert saes he injoys life well with his companion[11] I hope they continyou so. He wrote that he wold take Prosper in the Spring. I somtimes wish he could take him now for I have a grate trial with him but wen I think of parting with him I feel bad. If he does go I hope he will do wright and be a good boy and Robert I think will be kind to him. I know he is under the protecting power that we all are and I feal to give him up in the hans of God. David roat about the monny Henry[12] ode him for the watch. Henry left Laport the 17 of Septeber for ST Loues. That what he told me. He said he wold write the next week after he gote thear but I have look with grate ankzity ever sence and havent receive no answer and I begen to be alarmd about him for fear that somthing has happen to him. He wanted to pay David but he had so little monny he could not spare it. He lost so much time. He had the arasiplus[13] on his hand and a fellon[14] and boils. He could not do any thing for five or six weeks. He said if his life wase spard he wold be back in two months and he wold send the monny. Hiram said in his letter he was a going out to live with Robert and he wold be a long hear the first of next month and stoped five days with us. Edwin is a going to toledo this week or next for a new Engine and he saide he wold like to have Hiram for his fireman if he could stan it. I dont want him to be a fireman without he wanted to. I would like to have him live whare i could see him wonce awile and Pa[15] may be disapointed if he stays. Ed is a got to be promoted. He is to have the graest and the most splendid Engin that runs over the road. The name of the Engin is I. B. Parks (sp?) named after the presedent of the road. We have moved in another hous near the depot and I have to live up stairs. It makes my work verry hard for me. Edwin has bout a good deal of second hand furniture all of it verry nice. He got it verry cheap. Thear part is furnish quite well. Mary folks[16] was out to see her wile I was gon. Her Father to[ld] them to pick out a block[17] to sute them and he wold send men on in the spring to bild them a hous of brick or a fram hous. She has been quite clever sence I came back. Ed has allways been kind to me. I have thought that I could not stanit it go up and down stars so often but it seams the back is filed for the burden. Mary said she could not do it. My helth is much better sence I returned home. I was verry sick on the boat a going out. They carred us by Wakegan[18] 25 miles to Recein[19] for i was so sick that i did not no wen they past by. The lake was verry rough and Dany was sick to. Sarah will you tell Hiram I wish he wold bring cloth and for Pros a coat. Clothing is so high hear. My love to you and Luke and the four children.[20]

This is from your fectunate Mother N B Crawford to Sarah Keath

[Following was written in the margin on the first page] PS Dear Sarah I wanto see you all verry much. I have a grate many things to tell you that I cant do with pen and paper. I hope you will answer this write away and write every particular. Give my respects to all inquiring frinds.

[1] Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin, Nancy’s sister, who was living in Waukegan, Illinois

[2] She may be referring to Selena (Myers) Nelles, wife of Francis Nelles who was the son of Jane (Comfort) and Jacob Nelles

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

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

[5] Mary Hamilton, who became Edwin Crawford’s second wife on January 6, 1854

[6] Edwin W. Crawford, Nancy’s son

[7] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Nancy’s son, who was about 9 years old

[8] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[9] David Crawford, also known as D.C., Nancy’s son

[10] Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy’s son

[11] Assume she is referring to Robert’s wife, Louisa (McCann) Crawford. At this time, it is unknown when they married

[12] Henry Clay Crawford, Nancy’s son

[13] Erysipelas is a bacterial infection of the skin, very similar to the “flesh eating bacteria” infection noted in recent years, and was one of the major causes of death in wars among wounded soldiers and hospitalized civilians in the days before disinfectants and hand washing

[14] A painful infection at the end of a finger or toe, near the nail

[15] Hiram Crawford Sr., Nancy’s husband

[16] Patrick and Rosanah (Perry) Hamilton

[17] Patrick Hamilton owned a tract of land consisting of eighty acres in the northeastern corner of the township of Pokagon. Upon a portion of this land the village of Dowagiac was platted and laid out. He laid out what was known as Hamilton’s First Addition to the Village of Dowagiac in the spring of 1849 which was quickly followed by Hamilton’s Second, Third and Fourth Additions. He has been referred to as the Father of Dowagiac

[18] Waukegan, Illinois

[19] Racine, Wisconsin

[20] This is a curious note: two of the children would be Lois and Henry, children of Luke by his first wife, Minerva Payson, and Ethan would be another, but Nancy wasn’t born until July of 1852, so the mention of four children is confusing