May 22, 1882 letter to Nancy Betts from Henry Crawford

May 22, 1882

To: Nancy Betts

From: Henry Crawford, Auburn, NY

Henry is writing his mother to learn more about the details of Mary Crawford’s death.


Auburn, N.Y.[1] May 22, 1882

Dear Mother

A few lines to you. The reason of my delay in sending you money before is that I had some obligation to meat that I could not put off. I wrote you two weeks sinse requesting you to tell me about Mary Crawford[2] death as I suppos you was thare at the furnerell. Not hearing from you I was afraid you must be sick. I hope that is not so & that this will find you well. Jinne[3], our youngest, has had the meeseles but she is getting better to day. The rest of the family all well. We have had a cold spring, every thing about one month behind time. I send you order for four doller. My love to you & all the family.

Your affectionate Son

H C Crawford

63 Clark St. ______

[1] Sometime in early 1881 Henry moved to Auburn, New York where he was superintendent of the E. B. Clapp Wagon Company, but returned to South Bend after two years to become superintendent of the Coquillard Wagon works

[2] The widow of Henry’s brother, Edwin W. Crawford. Mary (Hamilton) Crawford was his second wife

[3] Virginia W. Crawford, Henry’s youngest child

May 18, 1882 letter to Sarah Keith from D.C. Crawford

May 18, 1882

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: D.C. Crawford, Fairplay, CO

D.C. writes that he had received a telegram from Edna Allen that her mother had died. He is concerned about Edna’s ability to handle her new responsibilities and doesn’t think that her husband will be of any help.

1882-05-18 1882-05-18B 1882-05-18env

D.C. Crawford,                                                 W. S. Lafferty,
CLERK.                                                           DEPUTY.
County Clerk and Register of Deeds.

Fairplay, May 18” 1882

Dear Sister

I have been failing to write to you daily for sometime. I know I am neglectful and will try and be more prompt if possible.

Dear Mother[1] wrote me in answer to one I wrote her. At that time I was quite busy and hearing through her that you were usually well. I of course allowed my memory to fail me. I receivd a telegram from Edna[2] that her mother[3] was no more. Oh, how will she do now poor girl. She was one of the many poor girls that never appreciated home and an indulgent mother. Our poor “Job.”[4] What will ever become of him?

If this man Allen[5] was a business man and trusty it would not be so bad but now Edna has the whole responsibility upon her and is she equal to the emergency? I think not. Now Eugene[6] is a good business man. I should think she would call him to her assistence and thereby do a kindly and sisterly act. Eugene is her half brother. She is able & he is poor. I hope she will. Cannot you have some influence with her in this matter? This man Allen is rather a fast man if such & such are true. I hope he has become more in harmony with good society of late. We are all usually well and send love to you one & all. Please say to Mother will write soon & hope she is well for her. Love to her.

Your Broth

D C Crawford

Please excuse this writing & after reading it destroy it as maybe I have said to much about Allen.


[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Edna (Crawford) Allen, daughter of Edwin and Mary (Hamilton) Crawford

[3] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford died April 24, 1882 in Dowagiac, Michigan

[4] Believe D.C. is referring to Edna’s half-brother, Eugene

[5] Edna’s husband, Oscar Allen

[6] Eugene Crawford, son of Edwin and his first wife, Louisa (Hall) Crawford

Death Notice of Mary (Hamilton) Crawford

Mary (Hamilton) Crawford died April 24, 1882 in Dowagiac, Cass County, Michigan. The following was from the April 27, 1882 Cassopolis Vigilante.

Crawford, Mary - Death Notice

Mrs. Mary Crawford, of this city, died this afternoon.

(Further down is an earlier entry.) Mr. Emmett Hamilton was to have started for Dakota last week but will defer his journey till his sister, Mrs. Crawford, is better.

September 30, 1878 letter to Hannah Keith from Edna Crawford

September 30, 1878

To:  Hannah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Edna Crawford, Dowagiac, MI

Edna recounts a conversation she had with her grandmother regarding a general review of Omro and its inhabitants, Hannah, Aunt Jenny, the room and lastly her cousin Edna’s wedding. They had a very quiet wedding, with only Uncle D.C., Aunt Amanda & Grandma attending. Uncle Henry and wife did not come. Emmett is in the asylum and has been since the 13th of August.

1878-09-30 1878-09-30B 1878-09-30C 1878-09-30D 1878-09-30env 1878-09-30envB

Dowagaic, Sept 30, 1878

Dear Cousin

I promised you I would write yesterday but Grandma[1] was entertaining me so you know how much time I had to myself. We have had a general review of the Omro subject & inhabitants. Hannah, Aunt Jennie[2], the room and lastly Edna’s[3] wedding, how she talked pretty freely to the bridegroom but then she told him she was his grandmother &c but then you know how it is yourself. Well I landed all right in Dowagaic[4] Saturday afternoon & was met at Depot by my aunties namely Mary[5] & Amanda[6] & of course I soon made inquires conserning my cousins[7] & found they had gone to Detroit on their wedding tour but they would be home Monday. That is today, so I shall have a chance to show my good clothes after all.

They had a very quiet wedding, no one here except Uncle D.C.[8] Aunt Amanda & Grandma. Uncle Henry[9] & wife did not come. As near as I can find out the wedding was very much hurried because there was another fellow after Edna & Mr Allen was going off & didn’t like to leave her to the tender mercies of her mother & the other fellow. She did not have her wedding dress done, so was married in a brown silk that she had & wore her navy blue silk for a traveling dress. Aunt Mary seems quite reconciled to the match now.

Emmett[10] is in the asylum & has been since the 13 of Aug. Uncle D.C. has not started for Colorado yet. That is all we know. Aunt A. had a telegram from him. Edna did not have any presents.

Everything is very quiet here now but I expect we will have a grand time before we leave. I see Grandma is fixing for it. She was up before daylight out making calls & I know she got snubbed somewhere for she has been crosser than an old bear all the morning.

Things don’t quite come up to my expectations but thats not to be wondered at. Any one that has been used to everything so much nicer, of course it would be hard to come down to common living.

Hannah if you & I had of come to the wedding, & worn our common clothes, I dont believe the bride would have felt out of place at all but then I dont feel bad because we didn’t come. Tell Henry[11] Aunt Amanda wants him to keep the first negative he took of her. They are well pleased with the pictures.

If you can read this you will do better than I can. Please burn this for if anyone should see it they might take me at what I have said not what I mean.

Grandma is paddling up stairs to see who I have been writing to, so I must close. Love to all. Write soon.

Your cousin


[Written on the back of the envelope]:                                              

Rec’d Oct 2nd 1878

From Edna Crawford

Omro, Wisconsin



[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

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

[3] Edna Crawford, the daughter of Mary and Edwin Crawford

[4] Dowagiac, Michigan

[5] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford, Edwin’s wife

[6] Amanda (Thornton) Crawford, D.C. Crawford’s wife

[7] Edna Alice Crawford and Oscar Allen Jr. were married in Dowagiac on September 25, 1878

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

[9] Henry Clay Crawford

[10] Edna’s brother, Emmett Patrick Crawford

[11] Henry Brown, Nancy (Keith) Brown’s husband and Hannah’s brother-in-law

[12] Edna Crawford, daughter of Robert and Louisa (McCann) Crawford

February 13, 1874 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

February 13, 1874

To:  Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Nancy has been in Oshkosh getting her teeth fixed and visiting old friends. Had one letter from D.C. after he returned home. He had a pleasant visit with Sarah and family. After he left Sarah’s place he traveled to Mary’s and found Eugene there. They went on to Henry’s who was tickled to see him. Henry writes that he had a good visit with D.C. and how surprised he was to see him. On opening the letter she found a post office order for five dollars. Doesn’t know whether Jenny knows any thing about it. Henry had news about all of his children but said nothing about his wife. Robert came home last week. He suffers from rheumatism much of the time. Louisa and the children are well. Has not seen Bell in two or three weeks. Doesn’t know whether Prosper has come home from the woods. She was looking for him in the middle of this month.  

1874-02-13 1874-02-13B

Omro     Feb 13th 1874

My Dear Sarah

I take my pen in to answer to your kind letter that I received a short time a go. I should have written to you alittel soonner but I have ben from home most a week to Oshkosh to get my teeth mended and to viset some of my old friends. My teeth cost me most four dollors and a half all to 20 cents and going on the Exspress one dollor more. I feal that I must have my teeth fixt if it takes all that I have. I received aletter from Hiram[1] a short time a go. They where all well only the baba[2]. It had a hard cold. I had one letter from DC[3] after he returnd home. That was some time last month. I am lookin for aletter from him. He wrote that he had a plesent visit with you all and after he left your place he arived at Maryes[4] and found Eugene[5] there and they went to Henrys[6] and H was tickeld all most to peases to see him. He had a good viset with them. I am alooking for a letter from him now. I received aletter from Henry to day. He writes that he had a good viset with DC and how surprisd he was to see him and on oping the letter I found a post office order for five dollors. It com very exceptabel. I dont know wether Jenne[7] knowes any thing about it or not. He did not say any thing about her. He told me about all of the children but said nothing about his wife. Robert[8] came home las week. He comeplaind of not fealing very well. He is troble with rheumatism very much at times. Lousea[9] and children is well. We have not seen Bell[10] in two or three weeks. We dont know wether Prosper[11] has come home from the woods or not. She was looking for him home the middel of this month. I am fealing better again. I feal that God is merciful and kind to me in sparing my life to this time and giving me reasabel good health and I feal that he provids for me alltho I feal that I am unworthey of all his merseys and kindness to me. The Methest is a holding a protracted meeting in this place. I went last night.

There seemes to be a goodeal of inerst. There is a man gone to Lecter to night in Omro to exspose Spiritualism and yesterday Victora Woodhull hand bills was sent round to let the peopel know that free love is the best docktrin that can be oferd to the Publick. It is to be next week, fifty cents for admitance. It is quite healthy here this winter. We are having good sleighing and a pleasent mild winter. Eugene wrote to me sence his uncel DC left. He said he had a plesent viset with him and told of old Mrs Mac Conol Death, that her son Frank had marred a mean girl and he turnd his Mother out of doors[12]. She went to her daughtters and dide brokenharted. Write soon. My love to yourself and all of your famly. I think of you often. I wish that you could come and see me. I wanto see you very much.

From your mother

N B Betts


[1] Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy’s son

[2] Jessie Blanche Crawford

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

[4] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford, widow of Nancy’s son Edwin Crawford

[5] Her grandson, Eugene Crawford, Edwin’s son by his first wife Louisa (Hall) Crawford

[6] Henry Clay Crawford, Nancy’s son

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

[8] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

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

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

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

[12] The 1860 Atlas shows the McConnell family living next to Edwin Crawford and both Mary McConnell and Franklin McConnell are listed in the 1860 Census in Dowagiac, Michigan. Further research shows that Mary (Ameigh) McConnell died September 18, 1873 in Silver Creek, Cass County, Michigan; her cemetery headstone spells her maiden name as Ameigh while her death certificate spells her father’s last name as Amah and her mother’s as Ama. Her son, Franklin McConnell married Elizabeth Barnett on June 23, 1872. It was previously thought that Mary had two daughters, S. Helen and Amy; however, Sarah Helen McConnell, who was listed as living with Mary and her husband, Breese McConnell, in the 1860 census, was actually the daughter of Cyrus (Breese’s brother) and Rebecca (Ameigh – thought to be Mary’s sister) McConnell (she is also listed in their household in the 1860 census). So it appears Mary spent her last days living with her daughter, Amy (McConnell) McKnight

September 21, 1873 letter to Nancy Betts from Sarah Keith

September 21, 1873

To:  Nancy Betts

From: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

Speaks of Hannah and Underwood not making up. Lucy Milham had a baby girl. Sarah thinks Lucy’s husband is a shiftless man. Thinks Lois’ husband, Del Skinner, is a good man. Eugene was there two weeks ago and he was well. She doesn’t think Mary has done the fair thing by him, but guess he will come out all right.

Scan of 1873-09-21 Sarah Keith to Nancy Betts

Galesburg, Sep 21st 1873

My Dear Mother[1]

I received your very welcome letter last week, was glad to hear from you once more. I had been looking for a letter from you some time, it seemed a long while since I heard from you. I think a great many times what a privilege it is and one we ought to apreciate that we can corispond with our friends, (though separated by thousands of miles). Through the medium of the pen we can go to our friends for sympathy in our afliction and also to rejoice with us when we have cause for rejoicing. Our State Fair has been held at Grand Rappids this last week. Ethen[2] and Hannah[3] went last Tuesday. Expect them tomorrow. Mr Planks folks lives there. They wanted the children should come and stay with them during the Fair. Nancy[4] lives forty miles from them. Ethen expects to go and see her. Nancy does not write she is homesick, but I guess she would like to look in and see us all. Jane Nouge has not been expected to lieve the past three. I went and stayed all day with her last Tuesday. Deacon and Mrs Mason are quite smart. Mrs M wished to be remembered to you. Mary Lewis has got a little girl. I have got my carpet down in the front room. It looks very well. We have let a man and his wife by the name Hawley have our two south roomes. He is a going to work our place (also Aunt Pattys[5] and Aunt Katys[6]) on shares. It is a going to crunch us some for room, but I am willing to do most any way for the sake of having something done. Hannah and Underwood[7] has not made up. He has been here twice this summer. She keeps out of his way.

Lucy Milham[8] has got another baby a little girl[9]. Her health is quite good. Poor Lucy. She has lots of trouble. She has got one of the most shiftless men[10] I ever saw, a great stout healthy man as he is. Lois[11] and Dell[12] were here to day. They were quite well. I think Lois has got a good man. He seemes to think everything of her. He is a very industrious man and a good calculator, keeps his farm up in good order.

I have not felt very well the past week have had a bad cold had to work pretty hard, have been lower than usual. Eugene[13] was here two weeks ago. He was well. Think he has got a pretty chance. Dont think Mary[14] has done the fare thing by him. Guess he will come out all right. I must close and leave room for Jimmie[15]. My love to you Mother and all the rest. Please write whenever you can.


Monday morning September 22, 1873

Mrs. N. B. Betts

Dear Grandma

I thought I would write you a few lines. I am husking corn for Mr Brown[16] for 8 cents a bushel. It is vacation now. i expect to go to Dowagiac before school commences again. I shall have to stop for it is sprinkling and I have got to get the beans in write soon.

From Jimmy


[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Sarah’s son, Ethan Keith

[3] Sarah’s daughter, Hannah Keith

[4] Sarah’s daughter, Nancy (Keith) Brown

[5] Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague, sister of Sarah’s husband Luke

[6] Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee, sister of Sarah’s husband Luke

[7] Hannah had been engaged to Eberly Underwood

[8] Daughter of George and Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee

[9] Catherine Samantha “Kitty” Milham was born September 2, 1873

[10] Lucy’s husband, Martin Milham

[11] Sarah’s step-daughter. Lois was the daughter of Luke and Minerva (Payson) Keith

[12] Adelbert Skinner was Lois’ second husband

[13] Son of Sarah’s brother Edwin Crawford

[14] Eugene’s stepmother, Mary (Hamilton) Crawford

[15] Sarah’s youngest son, James Keith

[16] Ambrose Brown, Nancy (Keith) Brown’s father-in-law

May 2, 1872 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

May 2, 1872

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Nancy is writing her daughter, Sarah, about her state of health which is presently poor. She is complaining about indigestion and heart palpitations that are causing her to sleep poorly. She has received a letter from her grandson, Eugene Crawford, who has finished some academic courses and received his diploma. He also mentioned that his sister, Edna, is attending Notre Dame. Nancy has also been visited by her son, Prosper, who has been spending the spring driving logs. He and his wife had their first son on April 16th. The baby is doing well. She has also heard from her sons Robert, Henry and David, but has not heard from Hiram lately. She hopes that Sarah and her family are all well.  

Scan of 1872-05-02 Nancy Betts to Sarah Keith

Omro  May 2th 1872

Dear daughter Sarah

I take my pen in hand to a dress a few lines to you to let you know how I be. My health is quite poor at present. I have the Dyspepsia and the palpitation of the heart. It trobles me so that I cant sleep much. I have ben taking the Vinegar Bitters for some time and thought they whare helping me for I was a goodeal better than I had ben for weekes but they have faild. O I do wish you could come out and see me. I often think of you and wish we could live near together. I received aletter from Eugene L Crawford.[1] He writes that he has got through his Coures and has got is Diaploma. He sais he has received aletter from Edna Crawford[2] and she sais she is atending school at Notra Dame four miles from South Bend. She writes that her mother[3] is quite sick and wants Eugene to come home. He sais he wont go for there is nothen for him to do. We expect him home in a week or two. Prosper[4] was here to day. His health is quite poor at present. He has ben on the Drive[5] and his work has been to hard for him. The river is so low it is hard work to get the logs down. His wife[6] has a young son[7] two weeks old last tuseday. It was born the 16 of April. She is very smart and the child is well. It has ben very dry and cold wether but a few dayes a go we had a blessed good rain. It rain a few hours and some vegation has put forth rapped. Lousia[8] and the children is well. She had letter from Robert[9] and he is well. I received a letter from Henry,[10] himself and famly was well. He writes there hired girl dide the 6 of April. She was a Polon[?]. She was the best hired girl that I ever see for work neetness. I received one from David[11] last month. He writes that his wife[12] lost her mother.[13] She whent to Utah for her health and she dide[14] thear. They where well. I have not heard from Hiram[15] lately. I wish I was well. I hope thease few lines will find you all well and injoying good health. My love to you all my Dear Sarah. Write soon when you receive this. From your affectionate Mother.

S C Keith         N B Betts

NB   Give my love to Mrs Burdis when you her and all inquireing frinds.

You Mother


[1] Her grandson, Eugene Leslie Crawford

[2] Her granddaughter and Eugene’s half-sister

[3] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford

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

[5] Driving is a means of moving logs downstream using the current of the river

[6] Isabella (Steele) Crawford

[7] Leo Ashton Crawford

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

[9] Her son, Robert Crawford

[10] Her son, Henry Clay Crawford

[11] Her son, David Caleb (“D. C.”) Crawford

[12] Amanda (Thornton) Crawford

[13] Hannah (Heaton) Thornton Jones

[14] While the headstone has a death date of April 1, 1876, the April 3, 1872 edition of the Colorado Transcript has the following: JONES – At Wellsville, Utah, on March 31, of bronchitis, Mrs. Hannah Jones, aged 48 years, wife of G. W. Jones, of this place. Deceased had been a resident of Golden since its settlement, but was visiting Utah for her health. She was the mother of our esteemed friend, Mrs. D. C. Crawford. Her death is mourned by a large circle of friends.

[15] Her son, Hiram Crawford Jr.

November 27, 1871 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

November 27, 1871

To:  Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Arrived at Robert’s last Wednesday morning and has rented two rooms for fifty cents a week. Found Bell at Robert’s. When Bell found that Nancy had rented she was very indignant and said she thought it would be cheaper for them if Nancy were to board. Pros had gone to Oshkosh. He met Eugene and stopped overnight with him. Mary gave Eugene only one hundred dollars. When Prosper returned, Nancy told him about Bell’s comments. He did not like it very much. He thought she was rather “faster than she ought to be.” Since his marriage, Prosper has gone deeply into debt. The remainder of the letter talks about a visit to Chicago and seems to be describing the clean up after the Great Chicago Fire.

Scan of 1871-11-27 Nancy Betts to Sarah Keith

Omro Novem 27th 1871

Dear daughter Sarah

I rived home to Roberts[1] last wendsday morning. I met Rob a bout eightteen miles from home between Bernett and Rushlake on tuesday night. The cars was behind time and when we come to the Depot the Omabu[2] was gon so I stop with Mrs Henderson over night and in morning Robert came after me with horse and waggon and sence I have rented tow rooms for fifty cents a week ove Mrs Small a plesent old lady near Roberts. When I came to R, I found Bell[3] there. Pros[4] had gon to Oshkosh. I did not see him till the next day. He seen Eugene[5] and stop overnight with him. Mary[6] gave him only one hundred dollors[7]. I havent seen him yet. Prosper had come and got my houshold steff and and apears they had talk over what would be best for me to do and then they could keep my things. Lousia[8] had ask Mrs Small if I could have the hous before I came hom and so the next day I whent to see about it and she was very much pleas about it and said I mite have it for fifty cents a week. When Bell found that I reted she was very indignant about it and said she thought it would be cheaper for them for me to bourd. Said a goodeal that was not becoming for her that had nothen when she came in our famly and she a stranger to to me for I have had but very littel arguments with her. She never ment that I should live with them but she ment to have my things any how. Robert and Lousia thinks she is a gitting on the pants as fast as posabel. If I could see you I wanto tell you wen he came to Roberts. The first chanch I had I told him and talk with a bout it. He did not like very much. He thought she was rather faster than she ought to be. He has whent in debt very deep. He has taking Steel farm to work on Shars and has bought his horses for three hundred dollors and has bought a stove and chairs and I dont know how menny others things. I told him if they could live where I could live with them they mite have my things. He rather made fun of it. I dont expect he will do much for me for he cant git any thing with out he goes in dept for it. I pitty him from my very hart. He wont take no advice. Robert has advise him not to go in dept and not to take the horses but he dont take no adfice, goes right a long and we think he hears to them. I did not stay long with Mary. They where a cleaning the hous and waching bed closes. It is a getting dark that I cant see to write very good. Henry[9] is a doing well. They have a hous full of evry thing. When I write a gain I will tell you more about Henrys folks. I did not see Kate[10] nor Harry[11]. We rote to Hite[*] that I was a going out thear so he came to Henry _________ and he came with me to the Chicago Depot and Kate was a living eight miles from there. Hiram came to the next Depot and Henry paid my way fair through. Her, Kates, Father[12] sent her one hundred and thirty dollors and Hery sent thirty[13]. I did not stay long with my sisters for Jane[14] had a quite famly and Mary[15] had evry thing to bye. They wonted me to stay longer but I was anxous to com home and found them all well. I have not ben very well. You must excus all of my bad spelling and misstakes. It will pussel you some to read it. I am so tired I cant set comfortabel in my chair. Now Sarah write if you are abel to when you git this. You must excue me for not writing before. I have felt very uneasy a bout you and your famly. Write all of the perticulars. I would have written more perticular if I wasent so tired. This is second letter I have written to day and my pen is very poor. I hope these few lines will find you all in good health.

You mother

[to] S. C. Keith

[from] N. B. Betts

[at bottom of fourth page] My love to you and famly.


[1] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[2] Omnibus

[3] Isabella (Steele) Crawford was the wife of Lucius Prosper Crawford

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

[5] Eugene Crawford, Nancy’s grandson

[6] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford, Nancy’s son Edwin’s widow, and Eugene’s step-mother

[7] This is either regarding the settlement of the estate of Mary’s father, Patrick Hamilton, or help given Eugene following the Great Chicago Fire

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

[9] Henry Clay Crawford, Nancy’s son

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

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

[*] Her son, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[12] Robert Atcheson

[13] Nancy seems to be writing about the state of affairs following the Great Chicago Fire, which started Oct 8th, 1871 and burned through the 9th. As many as 300 people were believed killed and 90,000 left homeless with damage totaling $200 million

[14] Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin

[15] Mary (Comfort) Wickersham

October 12, 1870 letter to Sarah Keith from Pros Crawford

October 12, 1870

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Prosper Crawford, Omro, WI

Making arrangements to go in the pinery this winter. Expects to be on the Peshtigo River north of Green Bay. His job will be at the landing tending the scale and keeping records for thirty dollars per month. Robert expects to manage a concern for McArthur in Minnesota near Lake Superior where Eugene is working (and has been the past four months). Uncle Pat Hamilton died the 27th of August. No letters from Mary. Prosper heard from another source that Pat Hamilton willed all his property to Mary and her brother Emmett, “who in all probability will not live another year.”

Scan of 1870-10-12 Prosper Crawford to Sarah Keith

 Omro   October 12th/70

Dear Sister,

I received your letter bearing Date Oct 2, and was happy to hear from you. Am glad to know you are not particular as to which owes the letter, but I think I wrote you last. And now I am going to be promt once in my life if I fail ever after and give you a short history of thing in general and myself in particular. Of course you wont expect me to write very legibly for it is so seldom I write that an attempt almost results in a failure. My health has been very good the past year. Still there has been times when I was obliged to lay by from my work a day or two but as a general thing have been blessed with health. Mother[1] has likewise enjoyed unusual good health for one that has passed through the hardships she has. I think she holds out remarkably[2]. What a comfort it is to those who after living a life long of trial and suffring are in the evening of their existence crowned with this priceless boon.

I am allready making arraignments to go in the pinery this winter. I expect to go in on the Peshtigo river north of Green Bay. This company expect to put in three million feet of Pine. My business will be at the landing takeing the Scale and keeping acct of the same for which I get thirty Dollars per month. It will be an easy job and I am quite anxious to secure it. I shall know in a few Days. Robert[3] expects to manag a concern for McArthur in Minnesota near Lake Superior where Eugene[4] is at work (and has been the past four months). Verily the past year has wrought a wondrous change in the physical ability of that man. No longer can he wade the cold watters of the pine laden wolf (river) in spring time or at any time expose his person to the inclement weather. That time has past. Nature has sumed up with him on this point. Should he be careless at aney time he is gently reminded by sharp pains in his joints or a contraction of his mussels in the hip which by the way naturaly makes him holler out O. Och. Nature is a strict accountant. She never makes a single mistake or misses a single thing and if we run in debt to her in the way of violating the laws of health we must pay the penelty which would be added loss to us always, were it not for the rich experience that it sometimes brings to us.

I am sorry to learn that your Family have been so sorely afflicted with disease. It must be a heavy burden for you to bear the care of the whole upon you. I suppose you would be sick to if you had time. Never mind, your turn will come, you will not be overlooked. The present diseased condition of your Family, the difficulty in rearing them to their present stand point, must have furnished you with abundant material for serious reflection as to the cause. Climate alone could not produce these results for other Families in your vicinity have grown up comparatively healthy and robust. It is a habit with some to charge God with their ailments and losses and say that if such is a special visitation of his Providence but away with such libelous utterances for they are false. However he has instituted laws that are fixed and unvarying, the obedience of which brings us health happiness. But so long as we remain in stolid ignorance of these laws what can we expect but that which we experience every day of our lives in some form namely pain, premature decay, discord, death. It is a statistical fact that one half of all the children born die before they reach the age of seven. This one half of the tenderest and fairest of humanities flowers are niped in the bud of their existence. Should this be? What think you? The inadaption or unfitness of parties in the married life and the consequent transmission of inharmonious qualities of mind and body to that of their children is said to be the prolific sourse of disease. Would that it were my mission to assist as a teacher in the matters of reform. It seems as though my happiness would be complete but I must rest satisfied in a humbler sphere of action and try and reform or correct the mistakes of my life, my view not only of the pleasure it brings here but its relation to a glorious future which crowns the efforts of all who live true to their best intentions of right. I sincerely hope that some agency may be pointed out to you that may be applied with beneficial effect as a health restoration. There is Nancy[5] who possesses much natural taste and refinement so as this is her nature who loves music and all those things that tend to elevate and develop character. And Hannah[6], may I never forget her fun loving rollicking nature who sees everything in a ridiculous sense. Verily we need all such characters to chase the shadows from this suffering, saddened world. And Ethen[7], who possesses inventive genus. His work should not be laborious. Farming is distastful to him. His mussels do not relish the harsh exercise. Give him the opportunity and his success is certain. Sarah, pleas to pardon the foregoing. I have written as I thought without aney particular arraingement as I do not write very often. Perhaps you can stand it but if you cant write me and I will try and do better next time. How is Luke[8]? Has he forgot me? How I would like to see you all again, but the thought of Mich makes me sick. My respects to Streeter[9], may he never want for a watch for every thief needs one.

Uncle Pat Hamilton[10] died the 27th August. We received a local from Dowagiac announcing the fact. No letters from Mary[11]. I heard from another source that he willed his property all to Mary and her brother Emmett[12], who in all probability will not live another year. Eugene[13] is working near Lake Superior in Minn. He is steady and all right. But enough this time. Write soon. Mother sends love.

Your affectionate Bro.

L.P. Crawford

PS Nancy dont break the box until I see you


[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] At the time of this letter Nancy was 68 years of age

[3] Robert Crawford, Pros’ older brother

[4] Eugene Crawford, Pros’ nephew (the son of his deceased brother Edwin Crawford and his first wife, Louisa Hall)

[5] Nancy Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[6] Hannah Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[7] Ethan Keith, Sarah’s son

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

[9] This is believed to have been Marius O. Streator, a neighbor of Luke and Sarah Keith

[10] Father-in-law of Pros’ late brother, Edwin Crawford

[11] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford, Edwin’s widow and Pros’ sister-in-law

[12] Emmett Hamilton. In spite of Pros’ prediction, Emmett lived another 12 years; he died on August 16, 1882

April 23, 1868 letter to Sarah Keith from Pros Crawford

Last sentence updated on 02-11-2017

April 23, 1868 

To: Sarah Keith

From: Prosper Crawford, Omro, WI

Pros left Chicago about five weeks ago in rather poor health. The irregularity of meals and sleep was too much for him. He concluded that it did not pay for a poor man to be sick in Chicago. Mother was anxious for him to come home or else she wanted to move there to Chicago. He found Mother in poor health and rather despondent. She had been suffering from palpitations of the heart and nervousness, which reduced her strength. Soon she would not be able to do her own work. She was not very happy and his work called him away from home much of the time. He wished she had some company, someone to assist her, someone to care for her in the house. He thinks about marriage but is fearful of his ability to support another in his present circumstances.

Scan of 1868-04-23 Prosper Crawford to Sarah Keith

Omro   April 23’’ 1868

Dear Sister Sarah,

I received your very welcom letter Dated Apr 2nd and wa pleased to hear from you and yours. I expected to hear from you while in Chicago but did not untill I arrived home. I left Chicago about five weeks since in rather poor health. The irregularity of meals and sleep was too much for me. I could not stand it. Aside from that I liked my buisiness well and could do it as well as aney of them. Along the latter part of February I was attacked with the bilious Fever[1] which laid me on my back about two weeks and cost me about forty Dollars. I concluded it did not pay for a poor man to be sick in Chicago. Mother[2] was anxious that I should come home or else she wanted to move there. I concluded I could not pay the rent and live decent on my salary. So I came home about five weeks since during which time I have been working (when I fell able) on the Farm of a Friend about one mile distant from Omro, but I dont seem to get strength very fast. I found Mother in poor health and rather despondent. She has been attacted with palpitation of the heart and nervousness of late which reduces her strength. The time is fast approaching when she will not be able to do her own work if she fails as she has within the past year. She is not very happy. My buisiness calls me away from home most of the time. I have no trade to depend on. Consequently I have to depend on days work when I can do the best. I wish she had some company, some one to assist her, some one to care for her in the House. I have thought sometimes that I would marry but am fearful of results, that is I doubt my ability to support another in my present circumstances[3]. I desire to obtain a few broad acres if possible before that event takes place. Now, Sarah, I have not written the above wishing to give you any trouble but inasmuch as we are alike interested in the welfair of Mother it is but just that I recite the facts. I am happy to learn that you have bought a Farm. Though it is small it will give you a home an independence a feeling of reliance and this can be bought for no paltry sum. How is Luke[4]? Is he able to work? How I would like to see him and some others I know off in Michigan. While I was in Chicago, some afternoons when I was off duty I would get to thinking of Friends living in Mich and strold off down to the Depot M.C.R.R.[5] and O how many times I was tempted to step aboard and turn my back to Chicago. But it would not do. I wish you could have made us a visit. Mother would have enjoyed it so much. Well I suppos my little Nieces are not little according to your accounts, however. We had a fine snow last night and I just wish that Hannah[6] was here. I would accept the challenge to wash my face. And Nancy[7] to has grown strong. I suppose Ethen[8] thinks he could hold me a hard one on a take down. Well you tell him to keep right on whittling and perhaps he may invent something that can do it[9]. If he does he certainly will make a pile (on the ground).

Robert[10] is on the river working for twenty shillings[11] per day. His path is up a steep hill. You spoke of Lucy[12] as if she had not done well. Do you realy think so? That would be bad[13]. Write soon.

Your affectionate Bro

L.P. Crawford

You will not have to wait six months to hear from me this time. Henry[14] is running an engine. Did he not learn to be a telegraph operator? I have received a letter from Mary[15] since I came home. She is now living with her Father[16]. The property question is settled in xxxxxxx her favor now that step marm[17] is gone to Glory.

[1] Typhoid, malaria, hepatitis or elevated temperature and bile emesis

[2] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[3] At this time, Pros was about 26 years old

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

[5] Michigan Central Railroad, which operated passenger trains between Chicago and Detroit

[6] Hannah Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[7] Nancy Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[8] Ethan Keith, Sarah’s son

[9] Ethan was an inventor in later years and it appears from this letter that he must have been a tinkerer from an early age

[10] Robert Crawford, Pros’ older brother

[11] A shilling was worth about 12¢ to 16¢, so 20 shillings a day would be equal to $2.40 to $3.20 for a day’s wages

[12] Presumably Lucy Lee, the daughter of Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee who was Luke’s sister

[13] This might be a reference to Lucy’s marriage on February 26, 1868 to Martin Milham, who was described as a “shiftless man” (see September 21, 1873 letter)

[14] Presume he is referring to Henry Keith, Luke’s son by his first wife, Minerva Payson

[15] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford, brother Edwin Crawford’s second wife

[16] Patrick Hamilton

[17] Lovina (Taylor) Hamilton

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