March 6, 1862 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

March 6, 1862

To: Sarah Keith 

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Has been sick with bronchitis, dyspepsia, and liver complaint since Platt’s death. Is anxious to hear from Sarah since she wrote telling her about his death. Prosper had to quit school to stay with her. She expects Louisa and the children in about two weeks to stay with her awhile. Elder willed her the farm and all the personal property for her lifetime and “after I am don with it the girls is to have five hundred dollars of it to be divided between them.” Robert was appointed administrator. Aunt Mary lives with her daughter in Oshkosh and her son-in-law enlisted in the war. Coufee(?) enlisted and Gen. William Willcox is captain of the company.

Scan of 1862-03-06 Nancy Betts to Sarah Keith

March the 6 [1862][1]

Dear Sarah

Through the goodness of God I have strenth yet to write a few lines to you though quite weake. I have ben sick ever sence the Elder[2] Death with the Bronchitis Dyspepsia[3] and Liver complaint. I am taking Docter Janes medicines now but they dont help me as they did som years ago but I am sloly recoving. I have writting to you the perticulars of Elders Death but have not received no answer. O how I look for a answer from you. If I could ben whare you was or you hear so you cold take care of me how glad I would bee. O what a gloomy winter this has ben to me. Prosper[4] is with me he had to leave the school to stay withe me. I expect Loesia[5] and the children hear in bout tow weeks to stay with me a wile. Elder made a will and willd me the Farm my life time and likewise all the personal property and after I am don with it the girls[6] is to have five hundred dollares of it to be devied between them. He aponted Robert[7] Administrator. He has ben to the woods and has not don much about it yet. As soon as he come out he sais he will atend to it. Aunt Mary[8] is aliving with her Daugher[9] at Oshkosh. Her son in law[10] has enlisted in the war. Coufee has enlisted and gen William Willcox is Captain of the Company. No more at present. My love to yourself Luke[11] and the children. Write soon.

This is from your mother

[to] S C Keith

N B Betts

[1] As Platt Betts died in December 1861, this would appear to have been written in 1862

[2] Nancy’s second husband, Platt Betts

[3] Indigestion

[4] Nancy’s son, Prosper Crawford

[5] Nancy’s daughter-in-law, Louisa (McCann) Crawford (Robert Crawford’s wife)

[6] According to the February 16, 1858 letter, Elder Betts had a granddaughter named Maria Park and according to his Will the other granddaughter was named Harriet Glover

[7] Nancy’s son, Robert Crawford

[8] Nancy’s sister, Mary (Comfort) Wickersham

[9] Angeline (Wickersham) Lacey

[10] Alonzo Lacey

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

January 1, 1862 letter to Sarah Keith from Robert Crawford

January 1, 1862

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Robert Crawford, Omro, WI

Tells Sarah about the death of their stepfather, Platt Betts, from heart disease.

Scan of 1862-01-01 Robert Crawford to Sarah Keith

Omro   Jan. 1” 1862

Dear Sister

It is with feelings of sincere regret that I announce to you, the Death of Our Venerable Step-Father Elder Betts[1]. He died last Sunday morning of the Heart Disease or Appoplexy[2]. The circumstance is as follows. He went to Bed the Night previous not feeling very well and remarked to Mother[3] that he had some Pain in his Stomach. Along in the night he got up and took some Camphor, went to Bed again and thought perhaps he would feel better. Mother did not feel very well herself that night and was up occasionally. Mother askt him if she had not better call Pros[4], and build up a fire. He said not that perhaps he would feel easier soon. By this time it was getting along towards morning. He complained of being cold and wanted Mother to lay up close to him to get him warm. Mother fell asleep as it were and when she awoke she heard him give two or three long breaths. She called to him him. He did not answer, sprung out of bed and called Pros. He lit a lamp and went to the bed. He gave one gasp and was no more.

Dear Sister you can imagine Mothers feelings. She almost went crazy no one there but her and Pros. I was up in the Pinery with my Family at the time. I came down and attended the Funeral. Father Betts left a Will bequeathing to Mother the use of the Property as long as she lived and then five hundred Dollars to his Grand Daughter[5]. I was out to Mothers to day she is quite well but very lonesome. Pros was going to school here but he has taken his books to Mothers and going to stay with her.

I shall write to Edwin[6] this evening and request him to inform Henry[7].

Myself and Louise[8] and the children[9] are all well. Give my respects to Brother Luke[10] and love to you all. Write to Mother and us soon.

From your affectionate Br

R Crawford

[1] Platt Betts

[2] Paralysis due to stroke

[3] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[4] Brother, Lucius Prosper Crawford

[5] Maria Park. It also appears that Platt Betts had at least one other granddaughter (see 3-6-1862 letter)

[6] Brother, Edwin Crawford

[7] Brother, Henry Crawford

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

[9] William, Edna and Catherine Crawford

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

October 11, 1861 letter to Sarah Keith from Platt & Nancy Betts

October 11, 1861

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Platt & Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Platt Betts writes the first part of the letter. Mentions David, Robert & Prosper. Henry’s wife had a boy 9 weeks old when he wrote. Wishes Luke would get a home by them. Added a kitchen to their house this summer. Nancy wrote the rest of the letter and said that Hiram had written and how much it troubled her that he had gone to war. She hadn’t heard from David in over five months. At that time he talked of going to New Mexico. She was afraid he had “exposed himself to the hostel Indians.” Said Louisa said Sarah should call the baby “Allus (Alice?). I say put Louisa to it.” She wants Sarah to tell the children grandma wants to see them and they must take good care of the baby. Mentions Aunt Linda and Aunt Walls.

Scan of 1861-10-11 Platt & Nancy Betts to Sarah Keith

Omro   11 Oct 1861

Dear Daughter Sarah

We received yours of the 17th of August, and should have replyed to it before this but for the want of Change to pay Postage. We have nothing but shin plasters[1] for chang here. Your mothers[2] helth is not as good as usual for her but able to keep about her work. My helth is good as might bee Expected for a man of my age.[3] Prosper[4] received a letter from Hiram[5] a short time past he was well then. We have Received nothing from David[6] for a long time. Roberts[7] family, and Prospers helth good as usual. Mother received a letter from Henry[8] they was well at that date. His wife[9] has another Boy[10] 9 weeks old when he wrote. Pleas write often. We wish Luke[11] would come out here and get him a home. We had 100 bushel of wheat for our part about two thirds of a crop. 7 bushel of apples potatoes verry poore, hay light. We have built us a kitchen to our hous this sumer. We lost our heffer last Saturday night. That leaves us but one cow and she is farrow.

We send our love & Respects to you all.

P Betts

N B Betts

Dear Sarah I received tow letters from Hiram. He was pleas with his situation at present but you dont know the trouble of mind it has made me his a going to the war[12]. It is about five months seance we have heard from David. He talk of going to new Mexico but if he went he wold let us know but that has ben the last but I am afrade he has exposed himself to the Hostel Indians but in all my troubles about them I feal to give them up in the hans of God. I know he is abel to take care of them. I feal to to put my trust in God and wanto feal reconcile to his will knowing that he can do noth rong. I was glad to hear that your health was better and that you had got along with your trouble so well. Louise[13] sais you must call your baby[14] Allus I say put Louisa to it. We wist you could live near us. Tell the children granma wants to see them and they must take good care of the baby. Remember me to Lous[15] and her husband[16] and Henry[17]. I have written to Edwin[18] but have received no answer as yet. Henry sais you dont write to him. Do write him a good letter. Give my love and respects to Aunt Linda[19] and Aunt Walls and all inquiring frings. My best love to you Luke and the Children. This is from your mother

to S C Keith

N B Betts

[1] Unsecured paper money

[2] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[3] He was about 80 years old, having been born around 1763

[4] Sarah’s brother, Lucius Prosper Crawford

[5] Sarah’s brother, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[6] Sarah’s brother, David (D.C.) Crawford. In spring, lured by “Pikes Peak Gold Fever,” David left Michigan, toiling behind a mule train, which reached Denver in May

[7] Sarah’s brother, Robert Crawford

[8] Sarah’s brother, Henry Crawford

[9] Virginia (Worley) Crawford

[10] See Hiram Crawford’s 4-6-1862 letter stating that Henry’s baby had died

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

[12] On July 22, 1861 Hiram volunteered to fight for the Union as a member of the Indiana 20th Regiment Infantry

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

[14] Sarah’s daughter, Louese Jerusha Keith, born July 3, 1861

[15] Sarah’s stepdaughter, Lois Keith

[16] Byron Clark

[17] Sarah’s stepson, Henry Keith

[18] Sarah’s brother, Edwin Crawford

[19] An entry in Charles Luke Keith Jr.’s diary notes that “Aunt Linda Hobbs died on March 13, 1874. Perhaps this is the Aunt Linda mentioned in this letter. The relationship, if any, is unclear at this time.

January 1861 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

January 1861

To: Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

She feels bad that Sarah’s family had to move in with Luke’s parents without a fair understanding. Tells Sarah about the poor health of her husband, Platt Betts. Robert has been gone lumbering all winter. Nancy had a visit from her sister, Mary Wickersham.

Scan of 1861-01-00 Nancy Betts to Sarah Keith

Dear Sarah[1]

I feal bad to hear that you have move over to the old folks[2] without a fair understanding. It seames verry singular to me that they will stand out and not willing to do the right thing. If I was in Lukes[3] place I would have them decide what they should do and that purty soon. Now Sarah I want you to take care of your helth as much as you can and remember you have ben sick all summer and fall and if you should over work your self and any outher diseas set in it mite take you of verry sudden. We have ben to home all winter. Elder[4] health has ben so poor and the snow has ben so deep that we could not git out to meating and no whare else. We thought if we could step into your hous and see you all how glad we would bee. Roberts[5] folks hasent ben here sence last fall. He has ben in the woods all winter. Your Aunt Mary[6] has been here and made us a verry plesent visit. She injoyes very good now. Write soon and tell me what Ed[7] said when you and Eugean[8] got back. My love to you both and the children. Tell them I wold lik to see them. Dont let this be seen. It is about dark so good night. This is from your mother.

[to] Sarah C Keith       [from] Nancy B Betts

N B Pros[9] send his love to you and yours and Louis and Henry[10] and the children and so do I

S.K. N.B.B.


[1] Based on December entries in Luke’s 1860 diary about moving from Galesburg, and the December 26th mention of sending a letter to Omro, it would appear that this letter was written in January 1861 in response to that letter

[2] Sarah’s in-laws, Charles Luke Keith Sr. and Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

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

[4] Nancy’s husband, Platt Betts

[5] Nancy’s son, Robert Crawford

[6] Mary (Comfort) Wickersham, Nancy’s sister

[7] Edwin Crawford, Nancy’s son

[8] Eugene Crawford, Edwin’s son

[9] Nancy’s son, Lucius Prosper Crawford

[10] Lois and Henry were Charles Luke Keith Jr.’s children by his first wife, Minerva Payson

December 16, 1860 letter to Sarah Keith from Platt & Nancy Betts

December 16, 1860

To: Sarah Keith  

From: Platt & Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Enjoyed their visit with them. Wants them to sell and come out by them to live. Have been sick for four weeks and had to get Prosper to come and take care of them. Received a letter from Hiram who said in his letter that “Helen, my women, sends her love to you.” They didn’t know what he meant and want to know if Sarah knows anything about his being married. Have not seen Aunt Mary. She has moved to some other place in the city.

Scan of 1860-12-16 Platt & Nancy Betts to Sarah Keith

Omro 16 Dec 1860

Dear Daughter Sarah

We received your letter after you arived home. Was verry glad to hear from you and your family but was sorry the ague continued. Hope you are well before this time. My helth is rather poore but I am gaining. I have ben quite sick for four weeks past. Was confined to the hous a part of that time not able to do the chores. We had to get Prosper[1] to come and take care of us. He is with us yet and going to school this winter. Mother[2] has ben quite unwell and verry lame with pain in her side and back. She sent and got two bottles of Dr. Robacks blood purifier which has helped her verry much. The pain is nearly removed from her side. She is more comfortable at present. The man I

[at this point one fourth of the letter has been cut out]

sold the five acres too

me my Note and

from all incumbrance

as far as we know, Pro

date, Maria’s helth

boy are good as usu

they left this place

left here last week wed

conclude we are here

I have nothing specia

prosperity of Religion

when you left. We are wishing you to sell and come out here and locate. It would be plesent for us at least to have you in Our Neighbourhood where we could see you often. We enjoyed the visit with you and Luke[3] Extreamly well all except your sickness. We was sorry you could not Enjoy your helth. Give our love to Eathen[4] & the girls[5]. We have had a letter from Hiram[6], he said he was well. Sent his likeness to us a true picture of him, and says Helen my women sends her love to you. We know not what he ment. If you know any thing about his being Married pleas let us know in you next letter. We have not ben to see Aunt Mary[7] yet but have heard from her. She has moved to some other place in the City. She was well the last we heard from her. Pleas write soon and let us know of your helths & where you are &c. We send our love & respects to Luke and all Enquiring friends

P Betts

(N) B Betts

[1] Sarah’s youngest brother, Lucius Prosper Crawford

[2] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

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

[4] Sarah’s son, Ethan Keith

[5] Sarah’s daughters, Nancy and Hannah Keith

[6] Sarah’s brother, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[7] Nancy’s sister, Mary (Comfort) Wickersham

April 17, 1860 letter to Sarah Keith from Platt & Nancy Betts

April 17, 1860 

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Platt & Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Want to know if Sarah is coming for a visit. Nancy had a bad cold but took Jane’s medicine and is better. David was there for New Years. Henry wrote them a while back saying he was thinking of moving to Niles. Edwin wrote that (Henry?) had already moved. Edwin has a new son. Thanked them for the likenesses (pictures). Robert’s family returned from the woods. Aunt Mary came for a visit, then went to Robert’s. Next she’ll go to Oshkosh and then to her daughter’s in St. Louis. Rev. Betts preaches in the neighborhood every Sabbath.

Scan of 1860-04-17 Platt & Nancy Betts to Sarah Keith

Omro   17 April 1860

Dear Daughter Sarah

We have ben looking for a line from you for some time, and hope you will answer this as soon as you receive it. We would like to know if you are calculating to make us a visit this spring. Our helths are as good as might be Expected. Mother[1] has ben troubled with a hard Cold this winter past but She is geting better now. She is taking Janes medicin and expects to receive benifit from it. David[2] has made us visit last new years. We had a line from Henry[3] a short time past saying he was about moving to Niles. Edwins[4] letter he stated he had moved. Edwin has an addition to his family a soon[5] they wer well when he wrote to us. Edwin See Hiram[6] at Chicago he is enjoying good helth. Roberts[7] family have returned from the woods with good helth. We thank you for those likenesses you sent us. Mother sayes they look as natulal as life. Aunt Mary[8] has made us a visit last week, she is now at Roberts visiting. She expects to stop at Oshkosh a spell and then go to her Daughters[9] in St. Lewes. The church in Omro ar prospering. I am preaching in Our Neighbourhood every Sabbath.

We send our Love & Respects to Luke[10] and you and all the Children

P Betts N B Betts

NB give my love and respects to all my old frinds and Louis[11] also

N B B[12]

[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Sarah’s brother, David (D.C.) Crawford

[3] Sarah’s brother, Henry Crawford

[4] Sarah’s brother, Edwin Crawford

[5] Probably Emmett Crawford

[6] Sarah’s brother, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[7] Sarah’s brother, Robert Crawford

[8] Nancy’s sister, Mary (Comfort) Wickersham

[9] Angeline (Wickersham) Lacey

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

[11] Sarah’s stepdaughter, Lois Keith

[12] The letter itself was written by Platt Betts, but the last sentence is in Nancy Betts’ handwriting

July 26, 1858 letter to Luke Keith from David (D. C.) Crawford

July 26, 1858

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: David (D. C.) Crawford, LaCrosse, WI

David is writing his brother-in-law to thank him for sending along the local Galesburg paper. He also mentions that his business in LaCrosse looks promising, particularly since the Milwaukee & LaCrosse Railroad will extend to LaCrosse in the next couple of months, which will serve as the railroad terminus for some time. David traveled to Black River Falls on a business matter. On his return he passed through beautiful sections of farming country which have a prospect of a plentiful harvest. David received a letter from Mother. Her recent remarriage seems to suit her. She apparently had a difficult time getting along with her son Robert’s wife when they were all living under the same roof.

Scan of 1858-07-26 D C Crawford to Luke Keith

LaCrosse July 26th _____[1]

Mr L C Keith, Galesburgh, MI

Dear Sir

Your welcome favor came duly to hand and was perused with interest. Galesburgh and inhabitants apparently is about the same as in Days of Yore except a few necessary changes which would naturally occur such as matrimonial alliances &c.[2] Your health I was glad to hear was improving. I think the West would agree with you much better. Mine is (par excellence) no fault to find. Our business is very good and prospects much better this Fall as the Milwaukee and LaCrosse Rail Road will reach this point in about two Weeks (months) and terminate here. For the present the Iron Horse will soon be bowing its Head over the Banks of the Broad Mississippi and then there will be fun (Hurrah for __emont). As regards the agricultural interests in this vicinity is very flattering. I understand Crops looking well and prospects of a plentiful harvest. I was up to Black River Falls some fifty miles above here where we had a small store conducted by Mr Stanley[3] for a short time and was doing well. I had a journeyman to assist me here but having enough for three to attend to at Home consequently had to close that up. I passed through beautiful sections of Farming Country with Glowing Fields of Grain and far as my experience would teach me everything looked finally finely especially Wheat and Oats. Corn rather delinquent. Your Watch please send that in most any morning Rep[?] free of Charge (regular Watch makers) the Best the City affords (so say the Journals). Should be glad to see you up this way some time perhaps would not suit you at all though (tell Sarah).[4] I received A letter from Mother[5] the other Day. She seems to be well contented. She seems to enjoy herself better since putting on the Bridle robe. The (Old Elder[6]) just suits her I guess). She can go to meeting all the time if she choses. Well, I am glad of it. Nothing suites me better. She had lots of trouble before. Her and Lousea[7] did not Hitch exactly living under the same roof. Louise is A Good Girl though (I liked her much). Please remember me to all and answer soon again.

To Luke


[1] D. C.’s handwriting is hard to decipher and so could not make out the date. Someone had written 1857 on the envelope; however, the mention of his mother’s recent marriage, which was November 8, 1857, would place this letter in 1858

[2] Et cetera

[3] David was in partnership with George Stanley selling watches, clocks and jewelry (see business card, the back of which reads “Compliments of the Firm, D. C. C.”)

[4] Sarah (Crawford) Keith, Luke’s wife, and D. C.’s sister

[5] Nancy Comfort (Crawford) Betts

[6] Nancy’s husband, Platt Betts

[7] Louisa (McCann) Crawford, his brother Robert’s wife

February 16, 1858 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Crawford Betts

February 16, 1858 

To: Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Crawford Betts, Omro, WI

Talks about her home which she shares with her new husband, Elder Platt Betts, and his granddaughter, Maria Park.

Scan of 1858-02-16 Nancy Betts to Sarah Keith

Omro February 16th, 1858

Dear Sarah

Som time has relaps sence I have written to you but now I seat my self, pen in hand to let you know how I am gitting along. My health is verry good at present and has been all the winter. Your letter com to hand three weeks ago and I was glad to hear from you and that your self and family whear all well. Robert[1] & his wife and child[2] & the boys[3] are all well. The Methodist are holding a protracted meeting at our school hous, and are gitting up quite an excitement. What it will amount too time & eternity will disclose.

I am much pleased with my home and feel contented. I have a kind companion[4] and one that trise to make home plesent. My family is smol. It consist of three, his granddaughter, a plesent young lady about twenty. Her name is Maria Park. We live about four miles from Omro Village. Our farm is located in a plesant farming community. Our hous is rather small for two families but we mak out to get along comfortable thus far.

The Baptist Church in Omro are prospering. We are favoured with the gifts of Elder E. Thomas. We should be much grattified to have a visit from you [the letter is torn at this point]

The Elder joines with me in sending our love and respects to you and Luke[5] and the children and all inquireing friends.

This is from your mother to her daughter Sarah C Keith

Nancy B Betts

PS if money was plenty we would come and see you but necessity compels us to stay at home for the presant soo write often. Yours truely.


[1] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[2] Louisa (McCann) Crawford and William Edwin Crawford

[3] Believe she is referring to Prosper and Eugene. As of 1-3-1857 both boys were living with her, but it would appear that since her recent marriage (see next paragraph) the two boys are living with Robert

[4] Nancy’s new husband, Elder Platt Betts. They were married November 8, 1857

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