April 17, 1924 letter to Nancy Brown from Louese Harris

April 17, 1924

To: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

From: Louese Harris, Shelbyville, MI

Has been trying to write letters but there have been several interruptions as well as her neuritis which kept her from writing. Recounts various visitors they have had as well as the conditions they are suffering from and/or the trips they are taking or planning to take. Wishes Lela and the girls could come for a couple of weeks or that she could take the girls over their summer vacation to give Lela a break. Writes about the predicament Ethan and Hannah are in as far as not having the money or ability to fix up the old home.

Shelbyville Apr. 17-1924

Dear Sister:

I hope you’ve not given up hearing from me this week, but I’ve been writing to Aunt Kate[1] and for some reason every time I sat down to write some thing would happen so I’d have to stop, for instance last Fri. Mildred[2] and I had work done early after dinner. She wanted to sew and I to write and I’ll be jiggered if Stella did’nt come when I had only four lines written. Had’nt been here in four weeks, she staid until supper time. After that was over with and dishes washed I said, Now I’m going to write all the evening, had been at it less than ten minutes and Cora and Mr Kitchen[3] came – returned home Sun. eve. I was all in then and did not do a thing at writing until Tues. Some of the time the neuritis gets my right wrist and it is hard work to use my hand. Hannah[4] wrote me you had had a spell at it and was very bad. I hope you are all over it and wont have any more. Think you were all more or less afflicted, Bess[5] with lumbago, Lela[6] all used up, sick head ache, and in the midst of candy making. It’s a big problem for all but I dont see how Lela can hold out – if she has to go and see Lou[7] every week. I’m awfully sorry for him but it is worse for her. Too bad he is down again. Do the doctors account for it in any way and do they think he will get up again. I wish his uncle[8] would do what he ought to and give her a few thousand. I dont see how he can have the heart not to when he knows just how every thing is with her. Wish she and the children[9] could come down here for two weeks, and Bess too, you see I did’nt include you, but I know you’ll come any way, and Dorothy, Robert and Joe.[10] It is nice D. & J.[11] can have their home all ready to go right to housekeeping. I’d give a lot to see it. They must be in the 7th heaven these days. Fred & Mildred[12] start on their trip the 28th. She is very busy getting sewing done for Leone[13] & I, she only has to make a dress for her self tan colored silk krepe-de-chin. Guess I wrote you they’d go to Bourbon[14] by auto, Helen[15] lives there, then they’ll have it to use while they are there. Will go to Warsaw,[16] decoration day,[17] that was his home and where those who are gone are buried. Will come that way on return trip, and get auto – stop at Galesburg over night with Hannah & Ethan.[18] I’m going down to see them before the kids go. Yes our housecleaning has to be done too. The three rooms below papered. So you see we’ve got to hit the high spots before the last of May and now I can hardly hit the low. You know all about LaVernes[19] trip down home so theres no use writing about it. Last week we sent a box of vegetabls “mostly” to them.  They’ve not had an onion this winter. They[20] never said a word & I never thought, but it wont happen again. I’ll keep my thinking cap on. Hannah has said quite a good deal to me about a hat, and I wrote her I would see she had one. I could’nt go any where to get it until now even if I had’nt have been lame. The roads have been so bad in places, one got such awful jolts, which I can not stand. Now they are being repaired and are smoth & level once more, but it will be a week and a half before I can go and I know she will get fussed, but I can not imagine why she could’nt wear her last summers hat in case she had a chance to go out. This is the 6th summer for mine. I know hers is not as old as that.

Cora and Mr Kitchen came down (I just forgot I had mentioned it). Well it was partly to see about selling his place, but he is not going to. She is getting better and will not have an operation yet the swelling is there yet but much smaller. Thinks it will gradually be dissolved.

Roy[21] is in hospital with mumps. Has to stay there a month yet, and has been there three weeks. Cora is afraid he has had a set back of some kind, though says nothing about it.

Evening. Stella came at 4 oclock & shut me off. She had spent the day at Josies “listening in” a part of the time. They have a new radio, this is their second one. This is much nicer than the other. Every thing perfectly plain. She heard some very nice singing from Chicago, also other places. D[22] is getting crazy to have one, but I want a new kitchen, can go to the neighbors and “listen in.” Jim[23] has had another poor spell is not working out side of home, has to get up at a certain hour every night and fight for his breath until morning. The Star runs just the same – movies at Wayland four nights a week they average going two right along. Cora[24] is so lame. Wilma[25] has to give up her job at Hurds to help her mother, yet Cora can go to the shows, and then are not many days pass that she does not go some where. Will & Luella have bought the Hope place. Will move the cafe part back for a garage, raise the rest of the house and put a porch across front. Bert Hope has moved in with Ed Knapp on the farm and gone in to chicken business. Marian[?] Harris had her hair bobbed yesterday. She will be 46 in Aug. May be you know Will Clark[26] visited us in March – staid from Wed. until Sat noon. We had a nice visit. Cora brought me a lovely white hyacinth.

Sat. You know it was our wedding anniversary 42 yrs.[27] and Uncle Henrys[28] 91st birthday. Just think Aunt Kate planning a trip to Detroit in Aug. She wrote me she was getting ready. What would I give to possess the youthfulness she has.[29] She has me beaten to a finish. Ruby and her husband are going to move in to Mr Kitchens house next week. Then will buy Mrs Harding out when the time comes “if ever” she wants to sell. Mrs Harding is all used up over Leon’s marrying and the circumstances connected with it. She is nearly crazy some of the time. I dont know what she would do if she could’nt come to us with her trouble. Dont know whether I wrote you Doc[30] bought some Gun[?] marsh land. I dont know how much but he has six 6 acres of onions put in. Come down & we’ll go over and see them when they are out of the ground. I must write card to Carrie to night and begin letter to Hannah so will close. I hope you are feeling better and the girls too. Wish I could do something for you to help out. If we could keep Helen & Jean over every Sunday t’would be a little let-up of the tension for Lela. After school closes put them on the train in care of conductor and send them down. We’ll keep them as long as they’ll stay. Tell me when you write how much material Lela gets for their dresses. It is getting quite like spring, though we saw snow flakes Tues.  No the old back porch at home is just the same only getting worse. LaV–[31] says there is the Custer pile would do them so much good if Ethan would only think so. LaV– said she had to watch her step every time she went out there more than ever. Can’t think how it will be by middle of summer. Yes I’ll do as you said help pay Will or any one who can be hired to fix it and she also says, how can they stay there alone all other winter. And I say how can that house be left alone if they could be persuaded to come here and live for 4 or 5 mo’s. It’s a big problem.

Good Bye

Hope this wont make you sick. Hope to hear you the girls & Lou are better. Would Lou care for some honey. I’ll send some in a pail if Lela thinks he would like it.

Love to all

Lou

[1] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, the widow of Louese’s and Nancy’s Uncle Hiram Crawford

[2] Mildred (Harris) Cripe, Louese’s daughter

[3] Louese’s sister-in-law, Cora (Harris) Hogeboom Kitchen, and her second husband, John Nelson Kitchen

[4] Louese’s and Nancy’s sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne

[5] Nancy’s daughter, Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz

[6] Nancy’s daughter, Lela (Brown) Mueller

[7] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller, who suffered brain injuries when hit by a streetcar

[8] Charles August Ficke, who was a wealthy man

[9] Lela’s daughters, Helen and Eda “Jean” Mueller

[10] Bess’ children, Dorothy and Robert Recoschewitz, and Dorothy’s fiance, Joseph Langmayer; they married on May 29, 1924

[11] Dorothy & Joe

[12] Mildred married Fred Cripe on November 23, 1923

[13] Louese’s daughter (and Mildred’s sister), Leone Harris

[14] Bourbon, Indiana

[15] Mildred’s sister-in-law, Helen (Cripe) Tyrrell

[16] Warsaw, Indiana

[17] Civil War dead were honored on Decoration Day

[18] Louese’s and Nancy’s brother, Ethan Keith; Hannah & Ethan lived on the family farm where they all grew up

[19] Louese’s oldest daughter, LaVerne (Harris) Boyer

[20] Ethan and Hannah; both of them were aging and in poor health and money was hard to come by

[21] Roy Harris Hogeboom, Cora Kitchen’s son by her first husband, Aaron Hogeboom

[22] Louese’s husband, Daniel Harris, who was referred to as D.D. or D.

[23] Louese’s and Nancy’s brother, James Keith, who suffered from asthma

[24] James’ wife, Cora (Meredith) Keith

[25] Jim and Cora’s daughter, Wilma Keith

[26] The son of Louese’s and Nancy’s half-sister, Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner

[27] They were married April 12, 1882

[28] Henry Clay Crawford, Louese’s and Nancy’s uncle, was born April 12, 1833

[29] Aunt Kate was 83 years old

[30] Samuel “Doc” Boyer, who was married to Louese’s daughter, LaVerne

[31] Shorthand for LaVerne

April 7, 1924 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

April 7, 1924

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne

From: Nancy Brown

Nancy is writing about the tragic death of a friend, Harold Gibson, who had been killed in a car accident. Harold was coming home from work with his employer’s nephew in the car. The nephew wanted to drive but because he had been drinking, Harold refused. However, to save himself some trouble, he at last gave in. The nephew crossed onto the other side of road and smashed into a big car. Harold was killed and the two men in the other car were not expected to live. Harold was in World War I with the First from Illinois and went through every major battle. He said the best sleep he ever had was after days of fighting when he was so worn out he pushed the dead aside, laid down between them in blood and mud and slept like a baby for a number of hours, with bombs whistling over his head the whole time. Thought they might get a letter from Joe telling something about Lou as she supposed they went to see him yesterday, but nothing came. She thinks Dorothy will be married on the 29th of May but it hasn’t been finalized yet. She thinks they will be married at home with just family and a few friends as guests. It will be less expensive than going to Claude’s and having a larger wedding. Their apartment is almost finished; walls papered and floors varnished last week. It is new and their furniture is all new, so it will look nice. Even though they can’t be near Bess Nancy is glad they will be near her.

Monday April 7″ 1924

Dear brother and sister

If I had known the hens were laying I would tried and had the crate there but in your last letter Hannah you said they had laid three. I thought we would send it this week and it would be there plenty of time. If Robert[1] has time to get it this aftern will send tomor. I dont know why it was put back and under so much truck[2] last fall. Lela[3] has advertised her rooms again. Not one answer. That makes 40.00 in adds (not paid) rec’d no results. No one can understand it. We have not heard from Lou[4] since Lela was there Thursday so he is not able to write. Dorothy[5] had a letter from Wilma.[6] She wrote Ruby Curies husband had bought Mrs Hardings place. Its too bad. I’m sorry for Lou.[7] Harold Gibson[8]. I guess you know who he is. The ones that used to go to Mrs Ogdens[9] with Lizzie.[10] Mr Gibson spent his vacation three or four years ago in Shelbyville boarded at Jims.[11] Harold was going home from work (he is married[12] lives on Winnemac Ave north of us) last Wednesday in his car. His employers nephew[13] was with him. He wanted to drive but he had been drinking a little. Harold refused but at last to save trouble let him. He went zig zag and across on other side of road. Before H– could stop him or get the wheel smashed in to a big car. Two men in that. Killed Harold. The driver was only shook up good. The other two men are in hospital not expected to live. The driver in jail waiting the out come. He is only 19 is married has one child. Harold is 23[14] maried last October. He went to the world war with the first from Illinois went through evy one of the big battles. I think I told you he said the best sleep he ever had was after days of fighting at Chateau-Thierry when he was so worn out he pushed the dead aside laid down between them in blood and mud and slept like a baby for a number of hours the boms whisteling over his head all the time. After all of that to come home and be killed. He was ___ when the war closed but wanted to go right on into Berlin. They all take his death very hard. Lizzie & Will[15] move the 22nd. I cut the picture out of yesterdays paper. It made me feel homesick. I was back in the Burg[16] ___ ___ I said I could almost imagine it was taken in front of our house, the picket fence and and the men. I dont remember the medallions and the cars.

The Crooks family[17] are about all gone, guess Sarah[18] is the last. Of course there are a good many nieces & nephews. Postman just been here. Thought we might get a letter from Joe[19] telling something about Lou as I suppose they went to see him yesterday but nothing came. I think Dorothy[20] will be married the 29″ of May, not just decided yet and guess will have the families and a few girl and boy friends, be married at home. It will be less expensive than to go to Claudes[21] and have a larger wedding. Their appartment is about finished papered & floors varnished last week. That is new & their furniture is all new so thing will look nice. As long as they cant be near Bess[22] I’m glad they are so near us. Time to get lunch. Cold & windy this forenoon. Im writing to LaVerne.[23] I get so homesick to hear from them. Hope to hear from you soon.

With love,

Nan

Will send letter when we send crate.

[1] Robert Recoschewitz, Nancy’s grandson

[2] Under so much miscellaneous stuff

[3] Lela (Brown) Mueller, Nancy’s daughter. As a result of injuries sustained by her husband, Lou, in a street car accident, Lela tried to take in boarders to supplement their income

[4] Louis Mueller, Lela’s husband, who sustained a brain injury in the streetcar accident and was institutionalized

[5] Nancy’s granddaughter, Dorothy Recoschewitz

[6] Wilma Keith, the daughter of Nancy’s brother, James Keith

[7] Believe Nancy is referring to her sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[8] Charles Harold Gibson, Jr a friend of the family

[9] Amanda (Brown) Ogden, Lizzie’s mother (see next footnote)

[10] Nancy’s sister-in-law, Elizabeth (Ogden) Brown

[11] Nancy’s brother, James Keith

[12] He had been married less than a year to Margaret (Johnson) Gibson

[13] William B French

[14] While both this letter and a search at the homicide.northwestern.edu database listed his age as 23, the 1910 Census listed his age as 13, which would make him 27 when he died

[15] Lizzie’s husband and Nancy’s brother-in-law, Willis Brown

[16] Galesburg, Michigan, the family farm where Nancy grew up and where her brother and sister still lived

[17] This referred to Joseph Crooks, who died April 5, 1924. His sister, Minnie (Crooks) Crawford, had been married to Nancy’s cousin, Eugene Crawford, and she died January 25, 1921. See also the April 6, 1920 letter which had the obituary of Joseph and Minnie’s brother, Smyth Crooks

[18] Sarah (McCloskey) Searles was actually the half-sister of Joseph, Minnie and Smyth Crooks

[19] Joseph Langmayer, Dorothy Recoschewitz’s fiance

[20] Nancy’s granddaughter, Dorothy Recoschewitz, married Joseph Charles Langmayer on May 29th, 1924

[21] Claude Keith Brown, Nancy’s son. As it turned out Dorothy and Joe were married at Claude’s home in Wilmette, Illinois

[22] Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz, Nancy’s daughter

[23] Nancy’s niece, LaVerne (Harris) Boyer