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 11, 1924 letter to Nancy Brown from Louese Harris

April 11, 1924

To: Nancy Brown

From: Louese Harris, Shelbyville, MI

She has trouble doing things and mornings are the only time she is free from lameness and pain. Mildred is hustling to get the spring sewing and house cleaning done before she and Fred take a three-week vacation. Aunt Kate is piecing a quilt for Blanche and is planning a trip to Detroit in August. Louese is amazed that a woman her age wants to do so much traveling alone. Jim is suffering from asthma again and can’t lie down or work.

Shelbyville Apr. 11-1924

Dear Sister:

I am writing this card to let you know I do not owe you a letter, but it’s alright. I know you are busy as well as my self and it is most impossible to do any thing out side of housework and every thing that goes with it. If I could only move swift but it’s no use. To day some of the time I was’nt sure whether I could keep my feet moving or not to morrow may or will be better. Only when I first get up in the morning am I the most free from lameness & pain. Mildred[1] hustles all the time trying to get our spring sewing done. Then the house cleaning before she & Fred[2] have their vacation the very last of May. Have their passes now, going to his sisters at Bourbon Ind. with auto so can have it to use while there. From there go to Washington D.C. – dont know where next but expect to be gone three weeks. The roads are settled now so Fred goes to & from work with car, leaves home at 2.15 P.M. returns at 11.30 eve. A letter from Aunt Kate[3] last week asking me for silk pieces she is piecing quilt for Blanche.[4] I could not get at it to pick up more for her until this week, sent them to day. Now I have to write a letter. Sent card last Mon telling her I’d rec’d hers. She writes as if she thought Fred was not working. I can’t understand it as he has’nt missed a day since he came here. She’s planning on a trip to Detroit in Aug. will visit us and the folks at home of course. Can you imagine a woman of her age[5] wanting to do so much traveling and alone. Jim[6] has been having asthma again. Can’t lie down – can’t work. The Star runs just the same. No Mrs Harding has not sold and is not going to. A partial bargain made but she had’nt told Ruby & ____ they could have it & now she has sent word they can’t. Ruby has a baby boy two weeks old. Dorothy does not go out unless after dark. She looks like seven mos. Evry one thinks six or seven. Mrs H- feels just awful. She looks very bad and is pretty near a nervous wreck. Every body feels sorry for her. LaVerne[7] rec’d your letter and will ans. soon. I will too. Very sorry for you all.

Love to all

Lou

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

[2] Mildred’s husband, Fred Cripe

[3] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, widow of Louese’s and Nancy’s Uncle Hiram Crawford Jr.

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

[5] Kate was 83 years old

[6] Louese’s and Nancy’s brother, James Keith

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

April 24, 1882 letter to Sarah Keith from Louese Harris

April 24, 1882

To: Sarah Keith

From: Louese Harris, Phoenix, MI

 Louese Harris is describing their trip to their new home in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by way of Chicago, shortly after her marriage to Daniel (D.D.) Harris.

1882-04-24 1882-04-24B 1882-04-24C 1882-04-24D

Phoenix Apr 24/82

Dear Ma

After leaving Galesburg[1] arrived at Kal[2] waited for the express came through to Chicago. Found no one at the depot. Went up to Uncle Hi’s[3], found them expecting us. Rec’d the postal that afternoon. They were very much surprised to hear that we could not stay longer than Wed eve. Jess Lil & Ida Hudson spent the afternoon with me. Ida & I called on Carrie Stray. Walt came down after work & he & Jess stayed to tea then went to the depot with us. Will & Joe Hayward called a few moments.

Got my album it was all right. Uncle Hi invited D[4] to go to dinner with him that day so he did not get back to see the girls until four o’clock. Did not see Uncle Pros[5] or any of his family. He is running on the cable now. Aunt Bell[6] & the children[7] are going to Omro to live in their house they own there. (We rec’d no presents there) Aunt Kate[8] said if I had told them just when I was going to be married[9] they would have sent me something. We left Chicago Wed eve at 9.5. arrived at Ishpeming the next after noon at 2.30. Put up at the Nelson house which affords first class accommodations. It is a nicer looking building than any hotels in Kal.

Ishpeming is a pleasant place & lively. Left there Friday morn at 8 o’clock. Arrived to L’anse just before noon. Had to stay there until Sat morning then took the stage for Houghton. We were from 8 in the morning until 6 at night getting through. Of all the roads I ever saw those were the worst. The wheels were into the mud up to the hubs half of the time. If it was’nt mud it was water or sand. Thought we’d tip over every minute. Part of the time we would ride around rocks where it would be right straight up on one side & down hundreds of ft. on the other. I’d think of home when we come to such places. Well we got through all right. Staid at Hancock over night. Han– & Houghton are beautiful places. The river only divides them. There are as nice residences there as they have in Kal on their prettiest street and it is so full of business every one is on the go. Left Hancock yesterday morning by rail road. Arrived at Calumet at 1.30 then came over there by stage. Part of the way we rode over fearful large snow drifts then again the road would be bare. There is scarcely no snow here at Phoenix only a few spots on the cliffs. We got here yesterday after one I believe. Of course they were all glad to see us. Can’t tell how I’ll like the Brockways but think I’ll like Albert & Mrs Scott. We have a room up stairs in Mrs Scott’s house. I’ve been over to the store twice to day. They have a nice store frame building & a good stock of goods. Brock– house is furnished quite well but no upholstered furniture excepting a couch & lounging chair. They keep a girl. She has done my washing to day. The boys turned up last night to let us know that they would be on hand to night so I expect we’ll have a homing. I’m going home with Bess Farwell to get away from it. Do not know whether D will come up or not. My trunk looks very bad. They knocked a hole in the top of it & it is banged up all over. Does not look very much like my trunk.

Sallie (Mrs Scott) gave me a silk tidy[10] this morning. It is real pretty. Will tell you how it is made in my next. Hav’nt been homesick yet but know I shall be[11]. Good Bye. Write soon

[1] Louese’s husband, D.D. Harris, was a merchant and they were moving up to Phoenix, Michigan, to clerk a store in that area

[2] Kalamazoo, Michigan

[3] Hiram Crawford Jr.

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

[5] Lucius Prosper Crawford

[6] Pros’ wife, Isabella (Steele) Crawford

[7] Leo, Byron, Ernest and Albert Crawford

[8] Hiram’s wife, Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford

[9] They were married April 12, 1882

[10] A tidy could be either a decorative protective covering for the arms or headrest of a chair or a receptacle that holds odds and ends (as sewing materials)

[11] Apparently Louese cried every night and after just 18 months, they moved back to Shelbyville where D.D. opened a general store and also served as postmaster

Spring 1879 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Brown

Spring 1879

To:  Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

Haven’t seen much of Hiram and Kate, who appear to be rather unfriendly lately. Uncle Hi did stop in to see Nancy a couple of times while she was sick. Aunt Kate kept Louese out of school and now if she goes back in the fall she will have to repeat the year. Lou does not want to go back to the country as she likes city life. Uncle Pros stopped in and read some of Aunt Bell’s letters to Nancy. If Pros stays, he will send for his family in a couple of months.

1879 Spring A 1879 Spring B

Undated[1]

Ma I haint a going to write any more to you about Ant Kate[2] for I think you have enough to worry about.  Will answer your questions in this. I have not seen her since the night we were there in Febuary. We both[3] asked them to come & see us. She did not say any thing. Uncle Hi[4] said they would. I think it is her more than him. Hank[5] says he is friendly at the office.[6] He has only been in four or five times never to have his over coat off. Was in twice when I was sick. Have not seen him since only to pass. They dont say any thing to Lou[7] about going home but Ant Kate tells Hary[8] evry day or two she is going to send him in the country this sumer for he is so ugly she cant stand it with him. Lou dont want him to go with her and I pitty you if he does. Louese does not go to school. Dont think she will any more before fall. Ant Kate did not keep her out on accont of scarlet fever. It was only so she could gad about. That was only an excuse. Lou dont never want to go any more. She is so behind she will have to go one class lower than when she came. That is in with small scholars. She said to day if she thought she should have to go back in the contry to live she could not stand it. She likes city life better than I. Mr Brown lives near them. He is going to New Orleans to spend the sumer. Starts tomorrow night. He has relatives living in Canada. He told her if she would go home he would wait till Mondy for her and pay her fair and then he would go to Canada in stead of south. I am glad he is going for she is hot foot after him and he stands right up to her but probly he only goes with her just to have some one to go with. I guess she takes petty well but of course he can get a girl that has a very diffrent chance in society from her. He is only 17. Lou gets in some petty big words once in a while and a little French and German. She can put on more style than all the rest of us put to gether. Hannah[9] Mrs Coffren wants you to send that wrap pattern. She did not offer to pay for it. She knows the least of any one I ever saw than any one that calls them selves smart. Send it to me.

Uncle Pross[10] was down here the other day. He read me Aunt Bells[11] letters. She writes a good letter. It seems as if I would like her. She wants to come here awful bad. As soon as he thinks out for certain that he is going to keep that place he will send for them[12] so if he stayes where he is they will probly be here in a couple of months at any rate and I shall be glad. They will be about five miles from here but I can go with Hank to the _________ and then with Uncle Pross so it wont cost any thing and only takes about three quarters of an hour to go out so you see the distance wont be much. Tell Hannah I have not seen those shawls as this advertisement came out Saturday. Of course the more she can pay the nicer the shawl. I will do the best I can. If she wants it now have her send as soon as possible & I can get before they are ______ silk like my hat.

[unsigned, but the handwriting is that of Nancy Keith Brown]

[1] Believe this letter was written in the spring of 1879 as it refers to Louese not going to school. Louese stayed with Hiram and Kate while attending school in 1878. The letter also refers to Nancy being sick. Sarah Keith wrote to her husband Luke on December 9 and 10, 1878 advising that she would stay until the 15th. As the letters were postmarked in Paw Paw and Lawton, respectively, which is where Hank and Nancy lived, it is possible that Sarah was helping to care for Nancy and her family while Nancy was sick

[2] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, wife of Nancy’s Uncle Hiram Crawford Jr.

[3] Nancy and her husband, Henry Brown

[4] Nancy’s uncle, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[5] Nancy’s husband, Henry Brown

[6] Both Henry and Pros worked on the Chicago streetcars

[7] Nancy’s sister, Louese Keith

[8] Hiram and Kate’s son, Harry Crawford

[9] Nancy’s sister, Hannah Keith

[10] Nancy’s uncle, Lucius Prosper Crawford

[11] Pros’ wife, Isabella (Steele) Crawford

[12] Belle and their four sons, Leo, Byron, Ernest and Albert

November 13, 1878 letter to Nancy Brown from Edna Crawford

November 13, 1878

To:  Nancy Brown

From: Edna Crawford, Omro, WI

Edna is home cooking and caring for her mother, whose health is very poor. Louisa is suffering from sores on her foot and has not walked for five weeks.

1878-11-13 1878-11-13B 1878-11-13C 1878-11-13D

Omro Nov. 13 1878

Dear Cousin N[1]

Your nice long letter was recd & must tell you it was quite a surprise party to me to get your letter for I had given up all hope of ever hearing from you. Thought you had gone back on your Wis. cousin. Oh N I am so mad to think that fellow had to wait until I had gone before coming but then he come under my wish bone so of course it will be allright. In time he will go back on his other girl or she on him.

Well I am home again & it don’t seem possible that six or seven weeks ago I was away out in Mich. or Ind. I have written Lou[2] since I come home but have not heard from her yet but I know her failing so shan’t look for a letter until she get ready to write. I almost fell in love with her. She has a very pleasant house to live in. It is so nice to live with our aunts & uncles. They are so thoughtful & generous to their neices especially Chicago ones[3].

Mother[4] is very poorly. Her foot has the worst sore I ever saw. She has not walked for five weeks or steped on her foot[5]. Father[6] is not at home now. Will be gone three or four weeks. Will[7] goes away next week. Kit[8] is going up north on a visit to Ma’s sisters & they have elected me chief cook. Don’t you pity me?

Well how is Grandma?[9] All settled I presume. I suppose her granddaughter Hannah[10] stays with her most of the time. You know she was so lonesome without her when she was away to Chicago.

Mr. Allen[11] my cousin I didn’t see him but half a day. They came Monday night at ______ oclock & he went away the next afternoon. He got a nice carriage in the forenoon & took us all around the city. I think he & Edna[12] make a very good couple. They both think a great deal of themselves.

I have had one letter from Uncle D.C.[13] since they got home they were all well when he wrote. As to the pictures the neg have been taken to Chicago but we are going to send for some as soon as we can get the artist address.

How is Jim[14]? Is he at home now? Are you going to stay at home this winter?

Now don’t so long before writing again & make up your mind to come & see us as soon as possible. Yes Mr ____ knew me too well I guess. Love to all the folks. Write soon.

Your Cousin

Ed[15]

[1] Nancy (Keith) Brown

[2] Louese Keith, Nancy’s sister

[3] Presumed to be Hiram and Katherine Crawford

[4] Louisa (McCann) Crawford

[5] It is possible that Louisa was suffering from diabetes

[6] Robert Crawford

[7] William Crawford, Edna’s brother

[8] Edna’s younger sister, Katherine Crawford

[9] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts. She has apparently left Wisconsin and moved to Michigan to live with her daughter, Sarah

[10] Hannah Keith, Nancy’s sister

[11] Oscar Allen Jr., the husband of Edna Alice Crawford

[12] Edna Alice (Crawford) Allen, Edwin and Mary Crawford’s daughter

[13] David Caleb (D.C.) Crawford

[14] James Keith, Nancy’s brother

[15] Edna Crawford, Robert and Louisa’s daughter

August 24, 1878 letter to Hannah Keith from Louese Keith

August 24, 1878

To:  Hannah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Louese Keith, Chicago, IL

A general discussion about Louese’s wardrobe. Aunt Bell has gone to Wisconsin.

1878-08-24 1878-08-24B 1878-08-24C 1878-08-24D 1878-08-24E 1878-08-24F 1878-08-24x

Chicago     Aug 24/78

Miss Hannah Keith

Business Letter

Dear Sister

As this is Saturday Evening and the house is quiet I will take my pen in hand to address a few lines to you. Aunt Kate & Uncle Hi[1] have gone to Choir meeting & the children are in bed so you see there is nothing to hinder me from doing so. Of course, you observed at the beginning of this letter that it was a “business” that prompted me to write as soon as this. The door bell has rung.

Sunday Afternoon. I went down & opened the door. The caller was Maurice. He had been here about 5 minutes when Misses Jessie & Lillie Murphy, John Perry & Walter Pritkin came. “They staid until the gentleman & lady came home.” Walter Pritkin’s sister made a birthday surprise party for him a week ago last Monday Evening. I went, enjoyed my self hugely. The dress I wore was muslin made with elbow sleeves & of course with my arms painted & Aunt Kates bracelets on I looked fine. Uncle Hi gave me a dollar to get my ribbons with. I got six yards of red. The dress looks fine (trimmed in embroidery ruffles & tucks). It is only overskirt & basque. Of course that is all very fine but when a person has not got a pair of drawers to wear it is not quite so fine. Uncle Hi & Jessie[2] are going to Galesburg next month & if Ma[3] can scare up a yard & a half of something to make me a pair of drawers I wish she would do so. Then if you have got an old pair of corset that you have thrown in the rag bag please wash them & send the two articles by Uncle Hi. My flannel drawers I wore out before the winter was over & I have worn the other ones every since then. I can take one pair & mend the other then wear them til you send me the new ones & I will wear those until I come home. Gloves are something else but I can get along with them. Aunt Kate has not got me a pair since March & their being light of course they are not fit to be seen. She has had 4 pair that I know of but then it is not to be wondered at as she has got a bay window in front of her which will open in Dec. Then perhaps things will be different but I doubt it. She is as cross as a bear & wont do a thing. I have to do all the work & then sit down & run the machine (she has got a new one) & make her babys clothes. She says that she wants twins. I asked her who would take care of them. She said you, of course. I will learn you to change them & wash their squares. I told her that I did not know how & I would not learn. She said all right (hope she will remember it).

Now Hannah I have written this to you while you are at Nancys[4] so that Ma will not see it for it will make her feel bad & she has enough to think of now. Dont you tell grandma[5] about Aunt K’s condition[6] until after Uncle Hi has been there for she would speak of it & of course he would tell his wife just as soon as he got back then she would take my head right off. If you & Nancy think best to let Ma see this (& Lois[7] excuse me for leaving you out) tell her not to say a word to Uncle Hi about my clothes for the letter she wrote to him last winder made a stiff breeze here although I have never said any thing about it before. I will tell you all about it at some future day.

Aunt Bell[8] as gone to Wis. I helped her the last three days she was here. I have not seen Gene[9] in two weeks but will see him as soon as possible & ask him. Ed Smiths Father was killed in New York a week ago last Wed. Was buried one week ago to day.

Now remember corset & drawers if you possibly can send them to me. Aunt Kate is a sight worth seeing (better come up & see the show).

[Unsigned, but it is Louese Keith’s handwriting]


[1] Hiram and Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford

[2] Jessie Crawford, Hiram and Kate’s second child

[3] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

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

[5] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[6] Kate was pregnant with her youngest child, Blanche, who was born in 1879

[7] Louese’s stepsister Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner, daughter of Charles Luke Keith Jr. by his first wife, Minerva Payson

[8] Isabella (Steele) Crawford, wife of Louese’s uncle Lucius Prosper Crawford

[9] Louese’s cousin, Eugene Crawford, son of Louese’s uncle Edwin Crawford

June 10, 1878 letter to Hannah Keith from Louese Keith

June 10, 1878

To:  Hannah Keith

From: Louese Keith, Chicago, IL

A general discussion about Louese’s wardrobe.

Chicago     June 10, [1878?][1]

Dear Sister Hannah

I recieved Mas[2] letter two weeks ago to day. Thought then that I would sit right down & write to you but something happened to prevent me from doing so at the time. So I kept putting it off thinking well when night comes I will write but then the boys & girls would come for me to go some where & of course I would not think of writing or any thing else as long as I was going (on a tear) so I have made up my mind that if you ever hear from me I will have to take time to write to you and as I am going to the dressmakers this morning I take this opportunity of writing so that I can mail it to day. Uncle Hi[3] rec’d a letter from Grandma[4] last Saturday saying that Aunt Patty[5] was at our house. Give her my love & tell her she must not leave until I get there to see her. Also that you looked for me home most any day now. Well I can not say positively when I will leave Chicago. Miss Kemper, the dressmaker, is sick & can do no work for me until next week but as I have got considerable sewing to do yet in the way of underclothes & calico dresses I presume she will have my other things done by the time I am through with my work so she will not detain me. There is one thing I would like & that is to be in C–[6] until after the 4th for us young folks will have a high time then if nothing happens & they are all very anxious that I should stay until then (say nothing to Uncle Hi about it). Now Hannah I am going to talk trunk again. Tell Ma that I do not know what to do. The trunk I have will not hold one quarter of my things & if I go to South Bend & Dowagiac I will have to have a larger trunk any way so now what shall I do? I do not want Ma to say any thing to Uncle Hi about it because he is getting me lots of things now & is so good that it would be mean to ask him for any thing. She spoke of borrowing Aunt Kates[7] trunk but she has got her furs & winter clothes packed away in there so I would not want to ask her for it. Ma said that I could take yours if there was any way of getting it to me. Now I do not know as you could do this but if there was any one coming here from the Burg[8] could’nt you send it by them. I just speak of this but I do not know as it could be done.

[Unsigned, but it is Louese Keith’s handwriting]

[1] This is believed to have been written while Louese was living with Hiram and Kate Crawford in 1878

[2] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[3] Hiram Crawford Jr.

[4] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[5] Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague, sister of Louese’s father Charles Luke Keith Jr.

[6] Chicago, Illinois

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

[8] Galesburg, Michigan

February 21, 1878 letter to Nancy Brown from Louese Keith

February 21, 1878

To:  Nancy Brown

From: Louese Keith

Louese is describing life in the Hiram Crawford household as well as the challenges of maintaining an appropriate wardrobe with limited resources.

1878-02-21 1878-02-21B 1878-02-21C 1878-02-21D

Thursday Morning [February] 21 [1878?][1]

Dear Sister — And Family

As I have got all the work done I will take an hour now and answer your letter that I rec’d week before last. Well to begin with Harry and Jessie[2] are down stairs in the kitchen raising ____. Aunt Kate[3] is in the back parlor lying on the couch (and of course most dead) but is going to prayer meeting this afternoon, and I am up stairs in my room sitting by the east window (writing to you) but if I could only see you I could tell you in 5 minutes what it will take me an hour to write but as I can not I must be satisfied with the pen. Ma[4] wrote to me last week and asked me about my clothes and told me to write to you all about them and she would see the letter. (I suppose the reason she wanted me to do that was so that Grandma[5] would not know any thing about it.) I wrote to Ma 4 weeks ago all about them and how Aunt Kate was but after I read the letter a second time I threw it in the stove for I knew she could not help me any and it would not make her feel any better, but as she has asked me to let her know I will do so. I will say, “to commence with” that she has never given me a thing since I came back “with the exceptions of what I got Christmas” and I dont hear any thing more about dress or any thing else and my cashmere sack looks ridiculous. The silk is all worn thread bare. It had commenced to wear off when Ma was here so you can imagine what it is now. Ma asked about my shoes. No they have’nt got me any but I had 75 cts and Uncle Hi[6] gave me 25 so the next time I went down town I got me a pair of $1.00 shoes but it was the next two or three days after Ma left & I have had to wear them every since then and they are pretty bad now, but I wear my rubbers when I go out so they are not seen. Now dont think by this that she is ugly & cross for she is not but is pleasing, hears me recite my lessons and seems to want me to go out and have the young folks come here but I cant go very much longer unless something turns up (about the size of a binder). There is one thing that grinds me pretty bad and that is I have every bit of the work to do. She does’nt lift her hand to do a single thing excepting to make some fried cakes and sweep the parlors once a week. Making her bed and emptying her slops is something she dont pretend to do. But she is gone every afternoon nearly and then the worst of it is when Uncle Hi comes home at night. He has to carry her up stairs almost and she will carry the idea to him that she has been to work. She has got a new black cashmere trimmed in silk and a new cloak $7.00 a yard trimmed in $3.00 silk & her brother sent her a $10.00 hat, Jessie a set of furs with cap and lots of little things but then she has them just the same. I will tell you on an other piece of paper what is all or will be the rage here this summer.

They are going to wear black & white plaided gingham or such goods as that plaid of Jules that she has trimmed in silk. I saw the pattern of one made for girls “from 14 to 18 yrs” the other day. The back is just like a breton polonaise like that picture in Hannahs[7] book that she made my overskirt by. The front is out loose like a wrapper. On the bottom of the front is a double box plaited ruffle about a foot wide. It opens in front way down to the ruffle and there is plaiting about an inch wide goes down in front. A collarette is made for the neck just like the one to my old dress only not quite as high. The sleeves are trimmed with plaiting 3 inches wide and the pockets have plaiting across the top. It is just as pretty as can be and only takes 8 yds for it is not a long dress. If Aunt Kate would only get me one I would not ask for another one (short any way).

Still if I got it I dont know how it could be made unless she would let me go up to Aunt Bell’s[8] & use her machine & that I dont think she wold let me do so I must be contented.

Dont let any one see this besides our folks.

Eugene[9] started of Mich last Tuesday. Will be at your place before long.

Harry Jessie & I went out to Graceland[10] Saturday. It is only the second time I have been there & Aunt Kate has’nt been there but once & Aunt Bell feels awful. She told me Saturday that if you only lived on Clark Street it would be all she would ask for she would have some place to go to then. So Nancy you was not treated any worse than Aunt Bell is now.

Well I must close.

Love to all.

Lou

I rec’d a handsome box valentine the 14th. Write soon.


[1] This letter appears to be written in 1878, when Louese was staying with Hiram and Kate Crawford

[2] Harry and Jessie Crawford, Hiram and Kate’s children

[3] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, Hiram’s wife

[4] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[5] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[6] Hiram Crawford Jr.

[7] Hannah Keith, Louese’s sister

[8] Isabella (Steele) Crawford, wife of Louese’s uncle, Prosper Crawford

[9] Louese’s cousin, Eugene Crawford, son of Lousese’s uncle, Edwin Crawford

[10] Perhaps she is referring to Graceland Cemetery which is located at 4001 North Clark Street in Chicago

April 6, 1877 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford

April 6, 1877

To:  Sarah Keith

From: Hiram Crawford Jr., Chicago, IL

Henry and family are well and Louese Keith, who was living in Chicago with Hiram and Kate, weighs 139 pounds. “Gaining on her mother aint she.” Sends $4.00.

1877-04-06

Chicago, Apr 6, 1877[1]

My Dear Sister

I have written to Mother[2] about evrything of information concerning things around here. Henry[3] and family are well and Louisa[4] weighs one hundred & thirty nine pounds (139). Gaining on her mother aint she. Enclosed find four (4) dolls[5].

Affectionately Your Bro

H. Crawford

[1] On North Chicago City Railway Company stationary showing V. C. Turner as President and H. Crawford as Treasurer

[2] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[3] Henry Clay Crawford, Hiram’s brother

[4] Sarah’s daughter, Louese Keith. It appears from this letter and the next three letters from Louese that she was living for a time with Hiram and Kate Crawford and helping with the care of their two children

[5] Dollars

November 29, 1876 letter to Luke Keith from Nancy Brown

November 29, 1876

To:  Luke Keith

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

Arrived at Chicago Friday evening. Hank got on at 22nd Street and rode down to the depot. They stayed one night in Dowagiac. Edna came with them. They all went up to Uncle Hi’s and stayed Friday night. Saturday morning Louese came down to help get them get settled. She stayed until Sunday night. Eugene, Edna & Uncle Hi were all there Sunday. Gene was there almost all day. Edna went home Monday afternoon. Enclosed Martin Keith’s death notice.

1876-11-29 1876-11-29B 1876-11-29C

Chicago, Illinois

Nov 29, 1876

Dear Pa

We arrived at Chicago Friday Evening as we expected. Hank[1] got on at 22nd Street and rode down to the depot with us. We stayed one night in Dowagiac. Edna[2] came here with us. We all went up to Uncle His[3] and stayed Friday night. Saturday morning Louese[4] came down here with us to help get settled. She stayed untill Sunday night. Eugene[5] Edna & Uncle Hi were all here Sunday. Gene was here most all day. Edna went home Monday afternoon. Saturday she got herself a silk velvet cloak. Paid $85.00 for it and a dress for $38.00. She is going to Detroit this winter to study painting. Uncle His folks are all well. Louese has not changed any, only perhaps a little larger. I like it here quite well. Street cars pass here constantly. Hank passes here every 42 minutes. He went to work this morning at six worked till half after twelve then off till four thirty five. Went on then and works till after eleven. Then tomorrow works from six in the morning till six at night. Has an hours nooning. Has tomorrow night to himself and next forenoon, then goes on and works till nearly midnight and so on. I dont like to have him gone so much nights but he has to be so we must stand it. We have been invited out to dinner tomorrow but dont think we shall go for Louese said perhaps she would come down. There is going to be a surprise party for one of the clerks in the office tomorrow night. We have had an invitation. There was quite a fire Monday night on the corner of Canal & Madison Streets. There were eight persons burned to death.

Thursday Eve Dec 7th

You will see I began this aweek ago and am just finishing it. I rec’d your postal Tuesday. We had a letter from home the other day. Ma[6] said they had not got any letter from you so you see it is probly in the office at the Burg. Ethen[7] has had two severe attacks of the P. Aunt Fleda[8] has been very sick. When we came to unpack our goods we found only a few of our dishes so we had to send for them. Our letter laid in the office abut a week so the things did not come till to day. Fathers[9] folks have killed their hogs so they send us lots of meat – sausage and two chickens. I like it here real well. Claude[10] is quite worrisome a good deal of the time. He talks of you all evey day. He calls you grandpa Bill. Think he means bill horse. He will put his wagon and wheal behind a chair and then go to your picture and tell you he has put bill in the barn. He talks to that a good many times a day just as if it was you. He talks quite a good deal more than when we came from home. He is writting to you now sits in his high chair here by the table. It was Hanks night off last night so he and Claude and I were going to hear Moody[11] and Sanky[12] but he worked for an other man and so George (the young fellow that roomed with Hank) went with us. He boards here. I dont think they are any smarter than common people. I like Sankys singing better than Moodies preaching. George is going to be married next Tuesday. He seems like a nice young man. Neither smokes, drinks, chews or sweres and is most always home by six or a little after. He has gone to his fathers to night at Evanston  twelve miles from here. He says there is a family lives there by the name of Keith. I thought it might be Almer. I seen the death of Martin Keith. Will send it to you[13]. Dont know as it is any of our folks. Write wen you can. Our love to all. I am going to ______ home tonight.

Nancy

[1] Henry Brown, Nancy’s husband

[2] Nancy’s cousin, Edna Crawford, the daughter of Edwin & Mary (Hamilton) Crawford

[3] Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy’s uncle

[4] Louese Keith, Nancy’s sister

[5] Nancy’s cousin, Eugene Crawford, Edna’s half brother, the son of Edwin & Laura (Hall) Crawford

[6] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[7] Ethan Keith, Nancy’s brother

[8] Nancy’s aunt, Alfleda (Starr) Keith

[9] Henry’s father, Ambrose Brown

[10] Claude Brown, Nancy’s son

[11] Dwight L. Moody, the American evangelist and founder of Moody Bible Institute

[12] Ira Sankey, who worked with D. L. Moody

[13] MARTIN KEITH. At about 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon, an old gentleman 76 years of age, named Martin Keith, residing at No. 981 Indiana avenue, got aboard of a Cottage Grove avenue car at the corner of Twentieth and State streets, and after riding a short distance fell suddenly dead in the car. He was carried into a drug-store at 472 State street, and attended by Dr. Kishlein, but he was already past all medical skill. Heart disease is the supposed cause. Deceased was the father of the Keith brothers doing business in this city. (Chicago Daily Tribune, 12-3-1876)

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