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.”

 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


October 17, 1851 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Crawford

October 17, 1851                  

To: Sarah Keith                               

From: Nancy Crawford, LaPorte, IN

Had a visit with Aunt Jane. Everyone was well except Frank Nelles’ wife, who was “confined with a young son.” They buried their 14-month-old daughter on September 1. Almira‘s husband died of cholera two months ago and Aunt Jane was in low spirits because of the cholera epidemic. Aunt Jane had lots of sewing to do and Nancy wished Sarah could live there as she could get as much sewing as she wanted. Robert said he would take Prosper in the Spring, and she sometimes wishes he would because she has a “grate trial with him,” but she would miss him. Henry left LaPorte September 17 for St. Louis. She is beginning to worry, as they haven’t heard from him yet. He hadn’t been able to work for 5-6 weeks because he had erysipelas on his hand and a fellon and boils. Edwin is going to Toledo for a new Engine — wanted to have Hiram as his fireman. Edwin is to have the greatest and the most splendid engine that runs. The name of the engine is the I. B. Parks (?), named after the president of the road. They moved to another house close to the depot (she is apparently living with Edwin). Edwin has always been kind to her, but Mary “has been quite clever since I came back.”


Laport October the 17 1851

Dear Sarah,

It is with plaseure i take my pen in hand to inform you of the viset i had with your Ant.[1] When I arive thear i found you relatives all well with the ecception of Frank Nelles wife.[2] She was confind with a young son all though she was quite smart. They beraed thear only Daughter the first of September a little girl fourteen months old. To my grate surprise i found Almira[3] thear a young widow. Her husband had ben ded two months and he dide with the Cholra and your Ant Jane was in low sperects for thear had ben so much Cholra a fue rods of her Door. She had felt quite alarmd for fear she wold have it herself. I saw a hous a fue rods of her door that the hole famly dide eccept two Children and thear it stands with the furniture all in it and they talk of burning it up. They was all glad to see me and i had a verry good viset. Your Ant wanted i shold stay with her this fall and winter and saw she has lots of sowing to do. I mad one coate wile i wase thear. She said it was made well. I wish you lived thear you cold git as much sowing as you wanted. It is a verry plesent location on high grown above the lake shore. I think Lukes[4] helth wold be better if he could injoy the Freach breeze of the Lake. I was gon little over two weeks. I returnd home the second day of October and found Mary[5] all alone with the ecception of a little molte citten that Ed[6] had brot home for her. Prosper[7] was out to play. It was half past eight in the eveing and Edwin dident git in till eleven. Dear Sarah wen i came home i found three letters that was directed to me. Ed had opend them all one from you and from Robert[8] and David[9] and sence i returned home i receive one from Hiram.[10] I was verry much plese to hear from you all and hear that you was weell but i am sorry hear that Luke helth is so poor. I wish he could find sumthem to help him. Sarah I dident want you to send me the dollar. I felt as tho you had paid it. You help me wen I moved. Robert saes he injoys life well with his companion[11] I hope they continyou so. He wrote that he wold take Prosper in the Spring. I somtimes wish he could take him now for I have a grate trial with him but wen I think of parting with him I feel bad. If he does go I hope he will do wright and be a good boy and Robert I think will be kind to him. I know he is under the protecting power that we all are and I feal to give him up in the hans of God. David roat about the monny Henry[12] ode him for the watch. Henry left Laport the 17 of Septeber for ST Loues. That what he told me. He said he wold write the next week after he gote thear but I have look with grate ankzity ever sence and havent receive no answer and I begen to be alarmd about him for fear that somthing has happen to him. He wanted to pay David but he had so little monny he could not spare it. He lost so much time. He had the arasiplus[13] on his hand and a fellon[14] and boils. He could not do any thing for five or six weeks. He said if his life wase spard he wold be back in two months and he wold send the monny. Hiram said in his letter he was a going out to live with Robert and he wold be a long hear the first of next month and stoped five days with us. Edwin is a going to toledo this week or next for a new Engine and he saide he wold like to have Hiram for his fireman if he could stan it. I dont want him to be a fireman without he wanted to. I would like to have him live whare i could see him wonce awile and Pa[15] may be disapointed if he stays. Ed is a got to be promoted. He is to have the graest and the most splendid Engin that runs over the road. The name of the Engin is I. B. Parks (sp?) named after the presedent of the road. We have moved in another hous near the depot and I have to live up stairs. It makes my work verry hard for me. Edwin has bout a good deal of second hand furniture all of it verry nice. He got it verry cheap. Thear part is furnish quite well. Mary folks[16] was out to see her wile I was gon. Her Father to[ld] them to pick out a block[17] to sute them and he wold send men on in the spring to bild them a hous of brick or a fram hous. She has been quite clever sence I came back. Ed has allways been kind to me. I have thought that I could not stanit it go up and down stars so often but it seams the back is filed for the burden. Mary said she could not do it. My helth is much better sence I returned home. I was verry sick on the boat a going out. They carred us by Wakegan[18] 25 miles to Recein[19] for i was so sick that i did not no wen they past by. The lake was verry rough and Dany was sick to. Sarah will you tell Hiram I wish he wold bring cloth and for Pros a coat. Clothing is so high hear. My love to you and Luke and the four children.[20]

This is from your fectunate Mother N B Crawford to Sarah Keath

[Following was written in the margin on the first page] PS Dear Sarah I wanto see you all verry much. I have a grate many things to tell you that I cant do with pen and paper. I hope you will answer this write away and write every particular. Give my respects to all inquiring frinds.

[1] Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin, Nancy’s sister, who was living in Waukegan, Illinois

[2] She may be referring to Selena (Myers) Nelles, wife of Francis Nelles who was the son of Jane (Comfort) and Jacob Nelles

[3] Almira Nelles, Nancy’s niece, the daughter of Nancy’s sister, Jane (Comfort) and Jacob Nelles

[4] Charles Luke Keith Jr., Sarah’s husband, who went by the name of Luke

[5] Mary Hamilton, who became Edwin Crawford’s second wife on January 6, 1854

[6] Edwin W. Crawford, Nancy’s son

[7] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Nancy’s son, who was about 9 years old

[8] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[9] David Crawford, also known as D.C., Nancy’s son

[10] Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy’s son

[11] Assume she is referring to Robert’s wife, Louisa (McCann) Crawford. At this time, it is unknown when they married

[12] Henry Clay Crawford, Nancy’s son

[13] Erysipelas is a bacterial infection of the skin, very similar to the “flesh eating bacteria” infection noted in recent years, and was one of the major causes of death in wars among wounded soldiers and hospitalized civilians in the days before disinfectants and hand washing

[14] A painful infection at the end of a finger or toe, near the nail

[15] Hiram Crawford Sr., Nancy’s husband

[16] Patrick and Rosanah (Perry) Hamilton

[17] Patrick Hamilton owned a tract of land consisting of eighty acres in the northeastern corner of the township of Pokagon. Upon a portion of this land the village of Dowagiac was platted and laid out. He laid out what was known as Hamilton’s First Addition to the Village of Dowagiac in the spring of 1849 which was quickly followed by Hamilton’s Second, Third and Fourth Additions. He has been referred to as the Father of Dowagiac

[18] Waukegan, Illinois

[19] Racine, Wisconsin

[20] This is a curious note: two of the children would be Lois and Henry, children of Luke by his first wife, Minerva Payson, and Ethan would be another, but Nancy wasn’t born until July of 1852, so the mention of four children is confusing