Resignation of Hiram Crawford Jr.

From the July 22, 1889 Chicago Herald:

Hiram Crawford Has Resigned

President Yerkes Loses his North Side Car Line’s Secretary and Treasurer

Hiram Crawford, after twenty-three years of active service as employee, stockholder and officer of the North Chicago Street Railroad Company has retired. He handed his retirement to President Yerkes on the 1st of July and since then his old duties as secretary and treasurer have been performed by W. D. Meeker, who was promoted from the position of assistant. Mr. Crawford’s connection with the street car company dates back as far as 1865, when he entered its service as a conductor, immediately after his return from the battle fields of the south. He collected fares for two years and then was promoted to the position of receiver. In the fall of 1877 he succeeded H. N. Townes as secretary and treasurer, and he continued to perform the functions of that important office until ill health compelled him to retire from active service. Mr. Crawford will retain his stock in the company, and will probably officiate in the capacity of director both for the North and West Side roads, but for several months to come he will spend most of his time in searching for recreation and amusement. His retirement from the office of the North Side company, where he has probably met and become known to half the people of the North Side, will be a source of regret to all his friends. During the twenty-three years that he was manager and treasurer he probably handled as much money as any man in Chicago. In fact he did little else besides count money from the time he took off his coat in the morning until he donned it again in the evening. He sat within a fortification of green paper all the time. It was no uncommon sight to see him carrying an armful of bills in and out of the company vault just as a small boy carrying an armload of wood. Mr. Crawford all through the Turner-Rehm management, and when President Yerkes took hold four years ago he was promptly tendered his old position, with the understanding that he could have it as long as he pleased. His retirement was only by [President Yerkes with] protest.

February 4, 1874 letter to Sarah Keith from Pros Crawford

February 4, 1874

To:  Sarah Keith

From: Prosper Crawford, Shawano, WI

At the present Prosper is living in a shanty among the Pines about seventy miles from Winneconne (home) and four miles from Shawano. His business is to scale the loads, keeping account of the same and the company books. The total number of feet rafted last season amounted to 213 million. This year the highest estimate is 80 million. This great reduction owes partly to the money panic and partly to the depletion of the pinerys in this section of county. It is estimated that in three years the pine on the Wolf River and its tributaries will be exhausted and in twelve years all the Pine this side the Rocky Mountains. Many lumbermen are now looking to Puget Sound as their next place “of rendesvou.” David wrote news of Hiram’s promotion to the office of secretary and treasurer of his company. Has heard but very little of Henry of late. “Don’t write to him, not but that I think of him, but the Worleys are a terror.” Thinks it a very unfortunate circumstance “when Cupid dart did pierce their heart since it killed not a single Worley and almost used up a Crawford good boy but in hard luck.”

1874-02-04 1874-02-04B 1874-02-04C 1874-02-04D

Shawano Wis

Feb 4th 1874

Dear Sister

About five moments ago the thought came to my minde that I would write you letter and concluded I would act upon it before the spell lost its grip. I have thought many times that I did wrong in not writing to the only sister if I neglected the numerous Brother and so if you please this may be considered significant of penitence and a strong desire to learn of you and all of my connection in your locality. At the present writing I am in the shanty among the Pines a point on the earths surface about seventy miles from Winnecon (Home) and four miles from Shawano. It is noon. The men are eating their dinner. There are about forty men of us and it takes a world of Pork and Beans to satisfy the stomach of a lumberman. I asure you I wish Luke[1] was here. I think I could interest him showing him the wonders of the woods. We have thirty four Horses and ten Oxen. The Oxen are used to load the sleds only. The sleds are seven feet in width. The largest load hauled scaled four thousand feet. The largest log masuered (1480 feet). If you should see one of our mountain loads of logs standing in the streets of Galesburg you would declair that no pair of Horses could budg it and in fact they could not unless their mussels had been gradualy hardened to the work. Our Horses weigh from twelve to fifteen Hundred apiece with mussels like iron. Now and then one dies from over work but then no matter they say he hadnt ought to be a Horse. These Horses have to move their loads twelve miles every day with the return trip making twenty four or six miles travel per day. My buisiness is to scale the loads keeping account of the same and the company books. This is all I do. Last winter I worked very hard which affected my health some. This winter I go very light on the mussel. The total number of feet rafted last seson amounted to the large number of two hundred and thirteen million. This year the highest estimates place it at eighty million. This great reduction is owing partly to the money panic and partly to the depletion of the pinerys in this section of county. It is estimated by good judges that about three years will nearly exhaust the pine here on the Woolf and its tributaries and twelve years all the Pine this side the rocky mountains. Many lumbermen are now looking forward to Puget Sound as their next place of rendesvou.[2]

Well I have written much that I thought perhaps might interest Luke, if not you, knowing his propensity for a pine tree and camp life. I reccolect well of him the strong desire he had to visit work in the Pinery when here which I believe he never did.

I suppose mother[3] has written you of the surprise David[4] made her. I am sorry that I could not have been at home and seen him. It was a great disappointment. My wife[5] was out to her Fathers[6] who was not very well at the time and she did not get to see him. He left word for my Boys[7] picture which I suppose you would like to have which favor I shall in time be most happy to confer on all my relatives. My only excuse now is the money Panic[8] which on the whole I dont seem to notice much since the disease struck me very early in life (Perry Davises pain killer dont seem to have aney effect on it) and dont seem to abate in the least. I would write to you more particulers respecting myself and Family but suppose that Mother posts you, however we live in Winnecon. Have purchased a Home there. Have prospered in the past year. Cannot do as well the coming season but if I keep my health will finish paying for my place. My wife says she would be glad to make your acquaintance. She think from what she has heard that she would like you very much. I tell that would not be singular since every body does. She writes me that David brought the news of Hirams[9] promotion to the office of secretary and Treasury of the road[10]. Well I am glad. Hiram is worthy. Eighteen hundred a year sings well. Success in this world is a great thing since so many fail. I have heard but very little of Henry[11] of late. I dont write to him, not but that I think of him, but the Worleys[12] are a terror to me and though I may never tell him so still I think it a very unfortunate circumstance when Cupid dart did pierce their heart since it killed not a single Worley and almost used up a Crawford good boy but in hard luck. You dont wanto read this to any body but Luke since no one can appreciate it as well. Perhaps Henry he is satisfied. Well then I shall not complain. Well Sarah tim is passing. Allready grey hairs are putting in their appearance in my Black head and am reminded now in the thirty first year of my pilgrimage on earth that changes are constantly taking place that must eventually end in the dissolution of body and mind. Am I prepaired, you say? Well, I believe in Spiritualism which means much that is good to me and the human race a place for all that they may eventuely work out their own selvation. Much I could say about this but space forbids. Write me at Winnecon as soon as you get this and oblige your affectionate Brother

L P Crawford

Write me about Eugene[13], Ethan, Henry Keith, Nancy, Hannah[14] and all. I want to hear how all all.

I have written very fast. If you can make out to read this I will try and write a worse one next time.


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

[2] There are records with the Bureau of Land Management showing that two tracts of land were sold to Lucius P. Crawford near Port Angeles, Washington, in 1891 and 1894

[3] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[4] David Caleb (D.C.) Crawford, Prosper’s brother

[5] Isabella (Steele) Crawford

[6] Joseph A C Steele

[7] Leo Ashton Crawford, who was born April 16, 1872

[8] In the fall of 1873, Jay Gould & Company, a government bond agent and backer of Northern Pacific Railroad construction, failed causing a number of Wall Street failures and forcing the Stock Exchange to close

[9] Hiram Crawford Jr., Pros’ brother

[10] North Chicago City Railway Company

[11] Henry Clay Crawford, Pros’ brother

[12] Henry’s wife was Virginia Worley. Her family settled in La Porte, Indiana, in the 1830s having moved from Amherst County, Virginia. Virginia Worley had seven brothers and sisters, one of whom, John Worley, worked as an apprentice for Henry

[13] Eugene Crawford, the son of Edwin and Louesa (Hall) Crawford

[14] Sarah’s children, Ethan, Nancy and Hannah Keith; Henry Keith was her stepson, the son of Luke and Minerva (Payson) Keith

May 14, 1873 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Jr.

May 14, 1873

To:  Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Hiram Crawford Jr., Chicago, IL

The Chicago City Railway is testing the Car Starter and is very pleased with it. It will be given a very thorough trial and if it proves to be what it claims to be they will put it on the cars. He has bargained for a house and lot. The house is to be finished so they can take possession by the first of June – price $3,200.00; $500.00 down and the rest in monthly payments of $25.00.

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Chicago     May 14th 1873

Dear Sister

I was much pleased to receive your letter to learn that you were all as well as usual and I presume correspondingly happy. I think that I would have written you before but Kate[1] has been saying for the last month that she was agoing to write you, and for fear that you might be surfeited with Chicago news I have held off until now.

In regard to that Car Starter[2] I know that the Chicago City Railway[3] tested it and seemed to be very much pleased with and as I understand at the time intended to adopt it on their Line. Mr. Turner President of this company went over there inspected it and thought it to be a pretty good thing. Said he would wait until they had given it a thorough trial and if it proved to be what it claimed and looked to be he would put it on his cars. I have no doubt but that a Car Starter which would combine Economy, simplicity and utility would sell but as the “proof of the Pudding is in the eating of it” so this invention would have to stand a practical every day test and that at the expense of the owner.

By looking at the Calendar I notice that it is about the middle of May but it is in reality a cold dreary March day. Hot stoves and overcoats being about the most comfortable things you can imagine. It having been demonstrated beyond a doubt that we are not to have any Spring this year the interesting question now is whether we will have any Summer.

I have been investing a little in real estate. Have bargained for a House and Lot. The house to be finished so we can take posession by the 1st of June – price $3200.00. I pay $500.00 down and the rest in monthly payments of twenty five dollars not upwards. It will take me quite a number of years but when it is done we have a home.

We are all well. The Baby[4] is fat as butter. Kate joins in love to all.

Your Brother

H. Crawford

430 N. Clark St


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

[2] Believed to be one of Sarah’s son Ethan Keith’s inventions

[3] Hiram’s place of employment (see Prosper’s letter of February 4, 1874, wherein he states that Hiram was promoted to secretary and treasury of the road)

[4] Hiram’s daughter, Jessie Blanche Crawford, who was born October 18, 1872

November 13, 1872 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Jr.

November 13, 1872

To:  Sarah Keith

From: Hiram Crawford Jr., Chicago, IL

Glad to hear that Sarah’s family was comparatively well, that Mr. Brown’s health had improved and that he and Nancy had married. Received a visit from Eugene, who was on his way to visit Mary Crawford, his stepmother, and was hoping for work in Detroit. Announces the birth of a daughter, Jessie Blanche. Describes his son Harry as being “as fat as a pig.” Goes on to describe an “Epizootic” epidemic that has killed 270 horses and has affected the operation of the city’s horse cars and omnibuses. His company has been operating with steam engines after approval from the city council. The company is losing $550 per day.

1872-11-13 1872-11-13B 1872-11-13C 1872-11-13D

Chicago Nov 13th 1872

Dear Sister

I received your kind letter today and read it with mingled feelings of pleasure and shame. Pleasure at receiving the letter and the knowledge that you were all in the land of the living and comparatively well ‑ and shame that it reminded me of my short comings in the way of correspondence. I suppose I will have to lay it to the cares and troubles of an increasing family. I presume I cannot give you any information upon that subject.

The last letter I received from Mother[1] was to the effect that Nancy[2] was to have been married at such a date providing Mr Brown[3] recoverd from his sickness. I am very happy to learn that he did and that the consumation of their wishes was at last reached[4]. May they live long and happy &c &c &c.

I received a visit of a couple days duration, from Eugene[5], about two weeks ago. He was on his way to Mary’s[6] hoping through some influence to get a situation in a business House in Detroit. He seems to know what he is about ‑ I believe he intends to visit you soon.

Four weeks next Friday morning there arrived at our House, 289 Sedgwick St, a young lady supposed to be a niece of yours but having no name. So we took pity upon her and have called her “Jessie Blanche[7]“.  You see we went out of the family to name the Boy so we thought we would not show any partiality toward the Girl. She has a remarkable voice. Also a nose, two eyes, a mouth, and not much of any hair. In fact looks and acts about as much like any other baby as any thing I ever saw.

Kate[8] is up and around but don’t regain her strength very fast.

The Old Lady[9] is as livily as any woman of between eighty and a hundred summers could expect to be. Upon her and myself falls the heft of the work. Harry[10] is as fat as a Pig, and takes a good deal of Stock in his Sister.

The Epizootic[11] struck the Horses of this city two weeks next Friday and has reighened supreme ever since. Thursday night we[12] hadn’t a sick Horse and within thirty six hours we hadn’t a well one in the whole two hundred and Seventy (270). Every Horse car and omnibus in the City was hauled off Nov 2 and will resume to any great extent before next Monday. The great wholesale houses and Express companies have procured oxen, and in that way have done part of their business. This company operates a Line outside of the City Limits with small steam engines called Dummies. The Common Council gave us permission to run there inside the Limits, so we are operating our Main Line with Steam, a train of five cars leaving every hour. The companies losses foot up to about $550.00 per day. I am happy to say that my Salary is not affected by it.

There is great excitement here on account of the great Boston fire. The people are trying to repay to some extent the generous donations which Boston heaped upon us a little over a year ago.

I recollect of you asking me about my politics and I thought I told you. I have been for Grant[13] from the start and gave him a square vote. Love to all.

Your Brother

H. Crawford


[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

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

[3] Henry Ambrose Brown

[4] Henry Brown and Nancy Keith were married October 5, 1872

[5] Hiram’s nephew, Eugene Crawford, who was the son of Edwin and Louisa (Hall) Crawford

[6] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford, Eugene’s stepmother, who was Edwin’s second wife

[7] Jessie Blanche Crawford was born October 18, 1872

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

[9] Katherine’s grandmother, Elizabeth McGrath, who lived with them

[10] Harry A. Crawford, Hiram’s eldest child

[11] An epidemic animal disease

[12] The North Chicago City Railway Company, where Hiram worked

[13] As Hiram served during the Civil War, it is assumed that his loyalties laid with General Grant for the upcoming Presidential election

1871 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Jr.

Winter 1871

To:  Sarah Keith

From: Hiram Crawford Jr., Chicago, IL

Hiram is writing Sarah to tell her that his family is well and that he is glad to hear that Nancy is feeling better. They are experiencing a major snow storm and the company is having difficulty keeping the trolley cars running.


Dear Sister,

I have written to Mother[1] about all the news. Will only say that we are all well and are being visited with a N East Snow Storm. It is about all we can do to keep the cars[2] running. Am glad to hear that Nancy[3] is feeling better. Enclosed please find Nine dollars (9). Love to all.

Your Brother

H Crawford


[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Hiram worked for the North Chicago City Railway Company

[3] Nancy Keith, Sarah’s daughter. While the letter is not dated, because of the reference to Nancy feeling better it is believed to have been written in February of 1871 as previous letters refer to Nancy being sick

February 27, 1868 letter to Sarah Keith from Pros Crawford

February 27, 1868

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Prosper Crawford, Chicago, IL

Describes his employment as a conductor on the “horse cars” through the streets of Chicago. Prosper has been staying at Hiram’s with “our new sister” since having been taken sick and has had good care. He describes her as a pretty smart little woman and thinks she makes Hiram a good wife. She speaks in high terms of appreciation of a letter Sarah wrote to Hiram since his marriage in which some good advice was given. Mother is set on moving to Chicago to live. Prosper has given her little or no encouragement and is concerned about their ability to pay the rents that are in Chicago and live as well as she would like. He thinks she is much better off where she is. Robert intends to move with his family up on the Chippewa sometime this spring. Wants to know where Henry is and why he doesn’t write. He wrote to Mary yesterday.

1868-02-27 1868-02-27B 1868-02-27C 1868-02-27D 1868-02-27env

Address 444 Sedgwick St


Chicago           Feb 27’’ 1868

Dear Sister,

You dinna ken[1] how many times I have thought write to you this winter but realy have just set about it. If there is aney one trait of character peculiar to our Family it is this carelessness about writing commencing at the head growing worse and worse as it approaches the foot (thats me) and now as I am a sort of a reformatary character I propose to stop it and that to by example, so here goes.

I presume you have been informed ere this that I have been employed this winter in conducting a hors car through the streets of Chicago[2], yes and it has been very trying to my health. The cold and exposure connected with the irregularity of meals and sleep attending this buisiness makes it severe on one whose health is no better than mine. In the summer season it is better in some respects and in others it is not. In the place of cold we have clouds of dust following the cars, which is almost suffocating, so I am informed. But if I could only have my meals and sleep regular I could stand it pretty well. As it is, I shall be obliged to seek some other employment as soon as spring opens and buisiness takes a start. About two weeks ago I contracted a severe cold which threw me into the Fever, since which time I have done nothing and suffered a great deal. However, I am gradualy gaining my strength and am in hopes to be able soon to take my Car. I have been stop at Hiram’s[3] with our new sister[4] since I was taken sick and have had good care. She is a pretty smart little woman. She makes Hiram a good wife. She speakes in high terms of appreciation of a letter you wrote to Hiram since his marriage in which you gave some good advice. Mother[5] has set her cap on coming here to live and I hardly know why. I have given her little or no encouragment. In a letter recently received from her she inquires very earnestly what I intend to do and whether she will sell off any of her furnurture or not. Now the fact is, Sarah, we cannot live here and pay the rents that are exacted and live as well as she would like. Hirams salary exceeds mine a considerable and he lays up little or nothing and if I should be taken sick what then. And besides she would not be contented to live here one month. She could not associate with those whom she would like even in her own Church for here unlike places of less magnitude, wealth seems to be the criterion of fellowship and christianity. She is much better off where she is and I have written a very mild yet decicive letter (covering one sheet of fools cap) which I think will disabuse her mind of the idea of coming to Chicago. It is my intention to do as well for her as I can. I only wish she posessed more contentment of spirit. Robert[6] intends to move with his Family up on the Chippewain[7] sometime this Spring. It is a lumbering country. Of course I am in hopes the change will result well. Tis a fact he never can make anything in Omro. What does Luke[8] think of the impeachment[9] My old hats swinging in the air. I suppose my Friend over the river is is is, well I hope she is and done well. Where is Henry[10]? Why don’t he write? I wrote to Mary[11] yesterday. I should like to make you a visit O so much. Give my love to my little nieces and Ethen[12] Jimmie[13]. I suppose they wear long dresses and have baux [beaus].

Your affectionate Bro

L.P. Crawford

[At the top of the first page the following was written:] Write soon Sarah and let me know how you get along in the world.


P.S. Hi’s[14] wife sends her love to you.


[1] Scottish term meaning don’t know

[2] Pros’s brother Hiram was employed with the North Chicago City Railway Company and it is assumed from Nancy Betts’ December 9, 1867 letter that Hiram was able to secure employment for Pros with his company

[3] Hiram Crawford Jr., Pros’ older brother

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

[5] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[6] Robert Crawford, Pros’ older brother

[7] The pine lumber industry in the Chippewa Valley flourished in the last half of the 1800’s. Shortly before 1850, landlookers or scouts penetrated the virgin forest of the middle Chippewa and its tributaries searching for pine groves. The vast majority of the logs in the Chippewa Valley were cut in the winter. The trees were felled by axes and cut up by cross-cut saws, and the logs were hauled directly to the river banks on go-devils or placed on large sleds and moved up to six miles over logging roads. Upon the arrival of spring with melting snow and rains, the colorful and dangerous log drives began. The brightly clad drivers broke the rollways, releasing the logs which had been piled along the banks. Using pike poles and riding either in the bateau (a special boat) or on the logs themselves, the drivers strove to keep the logs moving in mid-stream. At times they had to stand waist deep in the cold water to dislodge “hung up” logs. The wanigan, a supply boat, provided food for the five daily meals

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

[9] Presumably the impeachment of Andrew Johnson

[10] Henry C. Crawford, Pros’ older brother

[11] Pros’ sister-in-law and Edwin Crawford’s wife

[12] Sarah Keith’s son

[13] Sarah Keith’s son

[14] A nickname for Hiram