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

January 3, 1924 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

January 3, 1924

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

This letter was Nancy’s first letter of the New Year. She is sending $5.00 and the girls are sending $5.00 of Nancy Keith money. Writes about the candy business; Edna has ordered 15 pounds in the last two and a half weeks.

Thursday Jan 3rd 1924

Dear brother and sister

My first letter of the new year. If I had one dollar for every letter I have sent home the first of the new year we could buy two horses. I am enclosing five dollars and the girls[1] are sending ” ” [five dollars] of Nancy Keith[2] money (your first installment hope it will get so they can do the same every week. I told Lela may be this was where your four million is coming from.) You can call part of it butter money or “candy” money just as you wish. I think of you all the time. This cold weather dont know how you stand it Ethan, when I think of the wood, no horse. While I know it makes the chores easier it is hard not having a horse. Lela is getting ready to go down town will mail this. We have not sent the candy yet, may tomor.  Not much doing with candy these days. Will make again tomor. The girls needed the rest. Lela spent New Years with Lou[3] or rather Monday. Alice[4] went with her. She only stayed about two hours. Lou felt awful bad not to come home. Lela says he seems all right. I would not be surprised if he did come home, dont know when. How are your teeth Hannah. I think of their aching all the time. Try to think they are not. Alice gave Lela & Lou each 10.00 and the children[5] 2.50 each. Jessie[6] just phoned, had a letter from her mother[7] this A.M. she is sailing arond feels fine. She had better stay where she is for it would be ____ for her here. Marian[8] and family still there. I disipated[?] New Years night. Mrs Laff invited the remnants of our old club to see the old year out & the New Year in. When it started the first year we were here there was five tables now only three. I went with Wills folks. Did not get back to Wills till “three oclock in the morning.” Will brought me home Tuesday none of us went away to dinner. Jean[9] has not been to school this week. I am afraid she has pin worms the way she looks and acts. Jessie says to give her sage tea. A few lines from Edna,[10] has ordered two more pounds of candy. That makes fifteen pounds they have ordered in about two & one half weeks. This goes to California. Lela is ready to go so must stop. Wish I could come and stay a few days. I want to write to Mildred[11] but cant find her address. Seems to me its 1024 N. Edward but I’m not sure.

Good-bye with love

Nan

[1] Her daughters, Lela (Brown) Mueller and Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz

[2] The girl’s candy business

[3] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller, who had been admitted to a sanitarium

[4] Lou’s sister, Alice Mueller

[5] Eda “Jean” and Helen Mueller

[6] Jessie (Crawford) Eck, Nancy’s cousin

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

[8] Marian (Eck) Meiss, Jessie’s daughter

[9] Lela’s daughter, Eda “Jean” Mueller

[10] Edna (Crawford) Henry Tullar, the daughter of Nancy’s Uncle Robert Crawford

[11] Mildred Harris, the daughter of Nancy’s sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

June 21, 1923 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

June 21, 1923

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

Another update on Lou’s condition. He wants to come home but they could not take care of him. The Ravenswood Manor Association has offered to pay Lela $150.00 for collecting dues from the membership. She will have to go door to door, but can do it in her own time, but Nancy doesn’t know where she will find the time to do so.

Tuesday June 21- 23
3-40 P.M.

Dear ones at home

Seems as if we dont know any thing about you. Have wished a good many times we knew if Lou[1] was there. Such hot weather. I think of you Ethan working out in the hot sun drinking hot tea and so tired. I was not intending to write till tomor, but Lela[2] just got a letter from Dr Wern[?] (Lous[3] doctor). It has about used Lela up and of course I am more or less nervous. He said Lou had two convulsions Tuesday and this morning between three and five oclock had _____ but has come out of them but left him in a weakened dazed condition. He wants she should come up there as he wishes to have a talk with her. She will go tomow morning. Bess[4] or Claude[5] will go with her. She feels bad. Every letter she has had from Lou, only a few lines at a time, but he wants she should come and get him but that cant be. We could never take care of him and he could not have the treatments he needs. We feel like a funeral all the time. Dont or cant make any plans but let each day take care of itself. The Ravenswood Manor association of which Lela & Lou are members have offered her the business of collecting the dues. Has to go from house to house here in the Manor. Will let her take her own time, do as much or little as she can when she can. She will get one hundred and fifty dollars for doing it. Of course she has axcepted it. None of us can see when she will find time to go out. I was going to send crate yesterday then it rained so hard Martha[6] could not take it and now she wont have time as Mr and Mrs Eckles[7] are coming here to supper. This Manor Association takes care of the park ways, keeps shrubry, trees and lawns in fine condition. I wish you could all see how pretty it looks. Its like a big park, nice lawns, shubbry & trees and the flowers. We have four large rose bushes. There are hundreds of flowers and birds. So many others have the same beside so many Peonies, all colors, and all kinds of flowers. Our quince tree is full of fruit but no garden. Lou thinks he made and has as fine a garden as ever was he tried to. The morning he went away he called me to come to the back door and told me to see how even the rows of every thing was and so free from weeds. Showed how much more he knew and understood gardening than any one else. Said in about five days we could have all the beans we could eat and our neighbors culd to. Not a thing out there but weeds and a few radishes, but he saw them all right.

Friday 3.45. As you see this did not get finished last night. Mr & Mrs Eckels came but the empty crate went. The girls went on ten A.M. car this morning, dont know when they will be home. Train leaves Milwaukee every hour, takes two hours to make the trip. They wont be home before eleven or twelve. Will let you know Monday how they found and left Lou. Did you get the last money order 15.00 I think you ought to have had it last Saturday. Hannah I wish I could hear your rheumatism was better. I think about you and Ethan evry minite. If I dont write of any thing. June[?] phoned. She is going to have Uncle Henry, Virginia[8] and myself over for lunch before Aunt Kate[9] goes. I think she will ask Clara.[10] I have planed to go home the 30th but Lela wants I should wait a little longer till we know a little better how Lou is. Hope this finds you all feeling better.

Nan

[1] This could be referring to their sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

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

[3] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller, who had to be admitted to a sanitarium

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

[5] Nancy’s son, Claude Brown

[6] Martha Lueder, one of Lela’s boarders

[7] Lela’s next door neighbors

[8] Henry and Virginia (Worley) Crawford, their uncle and aunt

[9] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford

[10] Henry and Virginia’s daughter, Clara (Crawford) Hopkins Hammatt

June 8, 1923 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

June 8, 1923

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

They are all upset about Lou having to go to the sanitarium but it is a relief as they had to watch and worry all the time. They have been very busy with candy orders.

1923-06-08A1923-06-08B1923-06-08C1923-06-08D1923-06-08E

June 8th 1923
4-10-P.M.

Dear brother and sister

Cant write much. We had orders come in for candy. We are all so upset over Lous[1] going away and work all over the house in such condition. Thought _____ not to try to make candy to day but orders have come in so that Bess[2] and Carrie came about one oclock to make more. They will be here for dinner, also Hedwig. She has a hard cold and is home to day. That makes three extra I was not planing on. Lela[3] has been all in, could not even get the children ready for school but she finnally phoned Dr Roberts. Has been over to see him and looks and feels so much better. They took Lou yesterday, left here about 9-20. He was anxious to go. They had dinner at Waukegan. He ate hearty and enjoyed that. Was pretty tired when they got to their stopping place. He is assigned to St. Mary of the Hills. Lela says very pretty quiet and so clean. After they had been there about ten minutes the Dr told his nurse to take him to his room. They gave him a bath put him to bed then Lela was the only one who saw him. She said he looked so restful and quiet. Tears came to his eyes when she left but he was all right and willing she should go. Lela felt discouraged. Dr said he would not say what he thought for at least a week. Will keep him in bed and watch & examine him in every way. It seems hard to say it but its a relief for we dont have to watch and worry all the time. No one but Bess knows what a winter and spring it has been. We all began getting afraid. He got so he was careless about every thing. Would use the wash basin instead of toilet when he made water. Talked every thing to any body. Dr Statz[?] is sure he can be helped if he can be made to follow instructions.

Will B is bad off goes to Hospital Monday for two operations, piles & hernia. Let us know if you get crate. We sent it by a mail box Wednesday. I put 2 cucumbers[?] in. Will enclose money order for 15.00. I guess up to date.

My diner needs seeing to. A card from Lou.[4] Told me Aunt Kate[5] was going to see Blanche.[6] Train car was on the bum[?]. Hope it will be so they can go down Sunday. I could talk a mile if I was there.

Love to all

Nan

[1] Nancy’s son-in-law, Louis Mueller, who had to be admitted to a sanitarium

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

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

[4] Their sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[5] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, their Uncle Hiram Crawford’s wife

[6] Aunt Kate’s daughter, Blanche (Crawford) Hessey

Nancy Keith Candies

24

Nancy Keith Candies

Lela (Brown) Mueller and her sister, Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz, needed a way to support their families.  Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller, had been hit by a streetcar and sustained a brain injury. As a result he would have seizures and wasn’t able to work. They took in boarders which helped bring in some money, but it wasn’t enough. Bess’ husband, Julius Recoschewitz, was a musician and played in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but it wasn’t enough to cover their living expenses. The sisters decided to open a Tea Room near the downtown area. They found a place which had equipment – chairs, tables, etc. They didn’t know why the previous owner left it all, but it was exactly what they were looking for. They were given keys to the place and so they went in and cleaned everything so that it would be ready for business when the deal was consumated. On the day of closing they went to the store to look over the place and make sure everything was in order, but were shocked to find that the place had been emptied of all the furniture and equipment. Since they hadn’t signed any papers they were able to get out of the deal.

Bess enjoyed cooking and one of her specialties was candy. Lela and Bess decided to make candy for Christmas. Their brother, Claude Brown, told them to make as much candy as possible and he would buy anything left over to give to his friends. He also told people they could order the candy. All of the candy sold and Lela and Bess didn’t have any left for themselves. And so Nancy Keith Candies was born. Originally the name of the business was Nancy Lee Candies but it was changed to Nancy Keith Candies using their mother’s maiden name.

Most of the time the candy was made in the basement at Lela’s home, although sometimes Bess would make the fondant at her house, jump on the streetcar and bring it to Lela’s home to flavor, mold and dip. Otherwise the cooking of the fondant was done on the first floor and then carried up to the third floor to flavor, mold, dip and pack. Orders started coming in so Claude gave Lela and Bess money to fix up the basement. They cleaned and painted it and put in two doors so the heat of cooking wouldn’t interfere with the dipping. Claude also bought them a candy-cooking stove and a marble slab which was used to pour the fondant on. After the fondant cooled to the proper temperature they would work the batch (spade) to the point where it could be flavored and then molded into balls ready to be dipped in chocolate.

The business took off and while they continued to make the candy at Lela’s home, they opened a store at 1123 Argyle in Chicago. As the business grew they moved it to 1021 Argyle and finally to 5240 Sheridan Road. Various family members worked in the business and it thrived. Bess died in 1950 and her daughter, Dorothy (Brown) Recoschewitz, and Lela (at this time she was 72 years old) continued running the business. In about 1953 Lela and Dorothy decided to close the store.

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February 23, 1923 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

February 23, 1923

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

Writes how she has been muddled for over a week and at times things seem to be a blank. Reports on how the candy business is going. Claude is giving the girls money so they can fix up the basement and buy a stove and marble slab to make it easier for them.

Friday P.M.[1]
Feb 23rd 1923

Dear brother and sister

Every thing is at sixes and sevens or I am at least. Cant think how to even spell. I have been terribly muddled for over a week. Cant tell how only every thing seems to be a blank at times. Its so slippery out. I have not dared to go out to get a stamp and send the Argus[2] money. Lela[3] is going down town about three. If she has time will see to it if not I’ll get it as soon as I possibly can. I had a nice letter from Ina to day. Said she was going to write to you and Lou.[4] She had a nice long letter from Walter thanking us for the candy. He addressed it “Nancy Lee Cholate Co.”[5]

I wrote Aunt Jennie[6] a long letter to day it got return was returned. I took the address from the Argus.  Hedwig has been home sick all the week. Guess its the flue all right. Aunt Kate[7] only sits up about half the time. Has bronchial phenomonia asthma. Water[8] writes the medicine his father[9] is taking is helping him they think. I wrote Jim the first of week to see if he got the coat. Have not heard a word. None of them have written one word about the candy from Jims. I wish they would let me know about the coat. I think it ought to be worth a post card. Its a good warm coat. Claude[10] paid one hundred and ten dollars. Of course its worn some but not ragged. I sent it had it insured so it dont cost them one cent. When I sent it I wrote a letter and asked some of them to let me know if they got it. I wont bother Lou to let me know. It dont make any one feel like spending much time or money. Bess[11] has been home three days this week coming again ____ afternoon. To day is Carrie Svensens birthday 42 same age as Bess. Bess has fixed her up a nice box of candy. Claude is going to let the girls have money to fix up about half the basement get them a large stove and marble slab. Then they can make in one batch as much fondant as they have to now in in one batch as it takes them to make five now and much easier for them. They will make fondant in basement, mould and dip and pack in attic. Claude has been awful good to the girls and Lou.[12] The girls appreciate it too.

I could talk if I could see you. I told Lela this morning if the children[13] had two weeks vacation this spring and you were both well enough I take them and go home for the two weeks then make my visit later but she says  they only have one week. She has gone and forgot my letter but I’ll certainly send Argus money next week. How much did Will charge you.

With love

Nan

[1] Written upside down in front of the word “Friday” was the word “Quarantine”

[2] Believe she is referring to a newspaper

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

[4] Nancy’s sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[5] See the following page for information on the candy business

[6] Virginia (Worley) Crawford, her Uncle Henry Crawford’s wife

[7] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, her Uncle Hiram Crawford’s wife

[8] Believe she is referring to her nephew, Walter Keith

[9] Nancy’s brother, Jim Keith, who had asthma

[10] Nancy’s son, Claude Brown

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

[12] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller. Lou had previously been hit by a streetcar and sustained a brain injury. As a result he would have seizures. Lela was able to care for him at home in the beginning but later had to admit him to Elgin State Hospital where he remained until his death in 1942

[13] Lela’s daughter, Helen and Eda “Jean” Mueller

September 5, 1921 letter to Nancy Brown from Lela Mueller

September 5, 1921[1]

To: Nancy Brown, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Lela Mueller, Chicago, IL

She tried to keep Lou from going to Davenport, but he was so anxious to go and to take Jean that she thought it might be good for him to go. Wrote about Mr. Dee getting married and how he told her how much it meant to him to have lived with them the past year.

Monday 5 P.M.

Dear Ones All:[2]

I feel as though I could draw a long breath for once. Have hustled all day but the washing is done and a good deal of the ironing, the house in pretty good shape and things ready for school to-morrow morning. It has been a strenous week for every one I guess.

I did quite a bit of sewing last week, made Jean[3] a black suit, bloomers and top in on piece, also her net dress, a pair of panties and finished her coat, then forgot to send her coat but she hasn’t needed it. Her net dress looks real pretty. I bought a light blue silk slip for her to wear under it. Got her a pretty little shirred blue lawn hat, and black suede oxfords – or rather got brown (on sale) and had them dyed. It almost broke her heart when they came home black but she got over it. She looked cute and happy as a lark when she went. Lou[4] wasn’t himself[5] and I tried to have him not go, but he seemed to want to and was so anxious to have Jean go, otherwise I should have kept her home but when I saw how he felt I thought it might be better for him to have her to take up his mind. He wired as soon as they got there, said every thing was fine and mother[6] met them.

Joe, Bob and Anna[7] expected to drive there Sun. and return Monday. Was sorry about that, but they didn’t want mother to know they were coming.

Dorothy[8] came up Fri night and is still here. She and Helen[9] have gone to the train to meet Lou and Jean. Joe[10] is coming up after supper and they are going to a show and then home. He was up last night.

I took Jean to the 11 A.M. train then went over and had lunch with Aunt Lizzie.[11] After that I shopped, got home at 5, just as Mr Dee[12] was getting into the taxi. He seemed to feel very badly about leaving, he filled up 2 or 3 times Friday eve. and said he couldnt show his feelings but they were deep. Also said “and I love those children.” He told me Friday A.M. that so many thot he was a confirmed bachelor and he said I thot so too; “but after living in the environment I have the past year I feel different.” He says “You dont know what it meant to me when those children would run to the corner to meet me, and the few evenings I staid home to hear their chatter, play the victrola and then tap on my door with a dish of pop corn. I made up my mind then that I wasn’t getting what I should out of life. His brother came for some of his things Fri eve, and he said you never will know how much my brother appreciated the home he had here and the nice things he always had to say about all of you. Mr Dee said all the men at the office knew Helen and Jean.

I have told a whole lot that wont interest any one but you, but I know you will be interested. He wanted me to remember him to you and he said he had become so attached to you, thought you were one of the finest “old” ladies he had ever known. Helen said my Grandma is not an old lady – she she said it right from the shoulder. We dont know where they were married, I mean the address, but were married at her home, and went from there to the Edgewater Beach Hotel. They are going to board this winter over on N. Washtenaw, near Lawrence. Said he was so glad they could stay here in Ravenswood Manor. He is near where he lived before he came here. I said you’ll feel you’re back home. He said this is all home to me. He went all over the time he came here to see the room, the first time he met Lou, said he never felt the least bit strange, said we had always done so many nice things for him.

Burn this up – It sounds foolish to any one who doesnt know him.

I looked every where for a hat for you but didnt find any thing. Can you fix yours as Bess[13] said. If not we are planning to go down town Thurs. A.M. and will try and get one then. I sent you a waist. If you dont like it return it to me. I thought it would be prettier with your sweater than a flat front, and the material is fine and pretty. If you want I’ll send a lace to put around the collar, cuffs and frill. [Written in the margin: blue waist sold wholsale for 500]

Dorothy, Martha[14] Helen and I went out to the farm Sat. with Uncle Will[15] and Aunt Lizzie, came back Sunday night. Brought in a big basket of beans. Uncle Wills folks have lots of cucumbers and tomatoes gave us some of those. We didn’t rest very good. Would have done us more good to have staid home and loafed and we could as we had no meals to get except as we pleased.

When I wrote last week I was so broken up over Lou’s being sick and so much to do. I dont think I even mentioned receiving the pillow cases napkins and the candy and nuts. Every thing was lovely and the children enjoyed their candy. They kept it up on the pantry shelf, and broke off a little at a time. We took all the nuts, I mean all that werent eaten and put them into some fudge – it was certainly good. Dodo[16] made it Sat so we took it out to the farm. Uncle Will enjoyed it too.

Bess has her money and mine for the eggs – 2 crates – 900 and will send it Tuesday – to-morrow is that right.

Sadie Crawford[17] is married again.

I wont write about the Davenport[18] trip till the next time – will not seal this till they phone they are here and if Mother came with them.

Mrs Leuders has been here most of the day. When she came said Helen and Louise were coming in the afternoon, but when she saw how busy we were she phoned them not to come.

One day Jean was talking about Michigan and said I wis I could go to Auntie Ethans[19] house and see the child cow.

I’m enclosing Aunt Kates[20] letter. When your beef is gone let us know and we’ll get more if we can. We’ll pay for this.

Lou just phoned. Mother didn’t come. Said he felt all right. We must get supper – rarebit.

Lots of love to all.

Lela

[1] The postmark on the envelope is September 6, 1921

[2] Nancy lived with Lela and Lou, but was visiting her brother and sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne and Ethan Keith, in Galesburg, Michigan

[3] Her daughter, Eda Jean Mueller

[4] Her husband, Louis Mueller

[5] Lou had previously been hit by a streetcar and sustained a brain injury. As a result he would have seizures. Lela was able to care for him at home in the beginning but later had to admit him to Elgin State Hospital where he remained until his death in 1942

[6] Lou’s mother, Augusta (Ficke) Mueller

[7] Believe this is Lou’s sister, Johanna (Mueller) Holmquist Langhorn and her daughter, Anna Holmquist, but at this time do not know who Bob is; Bob was Johanna’s second husband, Robert Langhorn (updated 3-14-2016)

[8] Her niece, Dorothy Recoschewitz

[9] Her daughter, Helen Mueller

[10] Joseph Langmayer, Dorothy’s future husband

[11] Elizabeth (Ogden) Brown

[12] Mr. Dee was one of Lela and Lou’s boarders

[13] Her sister, Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz

[14] Martha Lueder who was staying with Lela and Lou. Don’t know much about her other than that for some reason her mother wasn’t able to care for her at that point. It is unknown how old she was

[15] Her uncle, Willis Brown

[16] Dorothy’s nickname

[17] Sarah (Ruddy) Crawford Anderson. Sarah was the widow of Byron Crawford who was the son of Lucius Prosper “Pros” Crawford, Nancy’s uncle. Sarah (Sadie) married Orvis Anderson on July 19, 1921

[18] Davenport, Iowa, where Lou’s mother lived

[19] Nancy’s sister and brother, Hannah (Keith) Towne, who was referred to as Auntie, and Ethan Keith

[20] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, the widow of Nancy’s uncle, Hiram Crawford Jr.

September 3, 1921 letter to Nancy Brown from Kate Crawford

September 3, 1921

To: Nancy Brown

From: Kate Crawford, Lake Mills, WI

Kate describes events prior to her trip to Wisconsin and her arrival at Erinside Beach at Lake Mills, Wisconsin.

 

1921-09-031921-09-03B1921-09-03C

Erinside Beach
Lake Mills, Wis

Sept 3d 1921

Dear Nan

Your letter reached me in due season and I was glad to hear from you. I was surprised when I went over to Lelas[1] to find you gone.[2] I had a pleasant time there. Lela was so good and kind and thoughtful. It made J-[3] & I both feel good. I went to Rosehill[4] Friday morning, then to the Drs & had the spot burned out of my cheek, then started for here Saturday at 2 oclock. Stayed in Milwaukee 2 hours, reached here at 830. Stayed with a lovely old lady for four days. She boarded us & roomed us & fed us up beautifully for $10.00. Then the 1st we came here. The cottage was untidy looking and as we had nothing much to fix it up with, the outlook was poor, but a neighbor loaned me 4 strips of matting and a rug and 2 quilts and we went down, took 2 pails & brooms, washed the porch walls & floor & screen, put down the matting, moved the furniture around, made up our cots. A lady sent us a beautiful bunch of gladiolas, a bottle of berries, a glass of jelly, a pan of apples & a pan of grapes, tomatoes & cucumbers & doughnuts, so we have started on our way. Leroy is going to give us a chicken for to morrow. K-[5] floated in on us yesterday aft, found a way across country. Will go to C-[6] Monday Noon to be ready for work Tuesday morning. I had a letter from Aunt Laura[7] to night. She is living in San Francisco. Her address is 176 Belvidere St.

The first night I was here I cried all night. Many sad memories met me, but God in his infinite grace sustained me and comforted me. I think often of you and have made so many years. The girls went down town tonight to get some things for over Labor Day. It is a gala time every Saturday night, the band plays & all the towns people & surrounding country meet & exchange greetings & do their trading. Remember me to H- & E-[8] & love to yourself.

Girls send love & I must close as it is bed time.

Aunt Kate

Write when you can.

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

[2] Nancy lived with Lela and Lou, but was visiting her brother and sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne and Ethan Keith, in Galesburg, Michigan

[3] Kate’s daughter, Jessie (Crawford) Eck

[4] Rosehill Cemetery, where Kate’s husband, Hiram Crawford Jr., was buried. Hiram died in Chicago December 2, 1920

[5] Believe she is referring to her granddaughter, Katherine Eck

[6] Chicago, Illinois

[7] Laura (Hands) Crawford, the widow of Lucius Prosper Crawford; Pros was the younger brother of Kate’s husband, Hiram

[8] Nancy’s sister and brother, Hannah (Keith) Towne and Ethan Keith

August 29, 1921 letter to Nancy Brown from Lela Mueller

August 29, 1921                               

To: Nancy Brown, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Lela Mueller, Chicago, IL

Mr. Dee is getting married and has packed his trunks, given the kids lost of stuff and gave her and Lou a photo of himself in uniform. Aunt Kate had a hard substance removed from her face. Harry didn’t call her while she was at Lela’s and Lela doesn’t know where Kate and Jessie will go when they return from Lake Mills. Lou had another spell and had to come home. Mr. Bonnet told Claude that Lou couldn’t even talk when he left the office. Lou has slept all day and Lela doesn’t know what to do for him.

Monday 6 P.M.

Dear Ones All:[1]

Will start a letter now and finish it to-morrow. Dinner is all ready but “getting” done – have a baked chicken, fresh corn, cut off the cobs, cucumber. Next week we wont have to eat at all if we dont want to. It will seem good in one way and in another way I’m awfully sorry. We never can get another Mr Dee,[2] and I’m not going to give meals to any one even if I rent the room, at least I dont intend to.

Mr Dee packed his trunks yesterday, gave the kids[3] lots of stuff and gave us an elegant photo of himself, head and shoulders, in uniform. They are coming over to dinner soon after they are married. We are anxious to see the bride. The kids dont seem to care much about his going, but Martha[4] is some blue.

Received your card this A.M. thanks for the napkins, Edie[5] sent me 3 and is going to do my table cloth after decoration Day.

Aunt Kate[6] and Jessie[7] got here about 3 oclock Friday. Aunt Kate came from Oak Park that morning to Rose Hill, watered the grave,[8] then went down town and did several things, then to the Dr. (alone) and had her face taken care of. He took out a hard substance like stone, very small. Harry[9] didn’t call her up while she was here, and when they come back I dont know what they are going to do. They cant go there and Aunt Kate won’t go to Marions,[10] says she will never eat at Jacks table, and I cant have them here. I think they ought to have some one looking for them, but I suppose they’ll trust to luck. Jessie told me 2 or 3 times how much she thot of me. Aunt Kate said I ought to feel honored as there were very few people she cared for. I think they would have staid here till the first if I had asked them, as they cant have the cottage.

Tues. Eve.

We received your letter and the napkins to-day much obliged. I was washing so put them in – they look so nice.

Lou[11] came home about 10 oclock this morning, another spell.[12] Mr Bonnet[13] told Claude[14] he couldn’t talk when he left the office. We fixed a bed on the porch and another in the dining room, as I was washing and it would make so much running for me. He has slept all day and is still sleeping only when I rouse him. I dont think he suffers as much as before – but seems dazed. I wish I knew what to do. Claude was just here says he’s got to let go somewhere.

I wont attempt to answer your letter to-night or write much more. Dont think I’ll let Jean go to Davenport[15] even if Lou goes. I dont know as he would be able to take care of her. I know he wouldnt if he should have a spell. I hate to disappoint mother[16] but may have to. Claude said he thought he shouldn’t go.

Want Martha to mail this so will say good-night.

Lots of love to all

Lela

[1] Lela was writing to her mother who was apparently visiting her brother and sister

[2] Mr. Dee was one of Lela and Lou’s boarders

[3] Lela’s daughters, Helen and Jean Mueller

[4] Martha Lueder, another boarder

[5] Lela’s sister-in-law, Edith (Neumaier) Brown

[6] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford. Kate was the widow of Hiram Crawford Jr., who was the brother of Lela’s grandmother, Sarah (Comfort) Crawford

[7] Kate’s daughter, Jessie (Crawford) Eck

[8] Kate’s husband, Hiram, was buried at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago

[9] Kate’s son, Harry Crawford

[10] Jessie’s daughter, Marian (Eck) Meiss

[11] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller

[12] Lou had previously been hit by a streetcar and sustained a brain injury. As a result he would have seizures. Lela was able to care for him at home in the beginning but later had to admit him to Elgin State Hospital where he remained until his death in 1942

[13] Lou worked as an accountant at Bonnet-Brown; Arthur Bonnet and Claude Brown were partners

[14] Claude Brown was Lela’s brother

[15] Davenport, Iowa, where Lou’s mother lived

[16] Lou’s mother, Augusta (Ficke) Mueller

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