April 17, 1924 letter to Nancy Brown from Louese Harris

April 17, 1924

To: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

From: Louese Harris, Shelbyville, MI

Has been trying to write letters but there have been several interruptions as well as her neuritis which kept her from writing. Recounts various visitors they have had as well as the conditions they are suffering from and/or the trips they are taking or planning to take. Wishes Lela and the girls could come for a couple of weeks or that she could take the girls over their summer vacation to give Lela a break. Writes about the predicament Ethan and Hannah are in as far as not having the money or ability to fix up the old home.

Shelbyville Apr. 17-1924

Dear Sister:

I hope you’ve not given up hearing from me this week, but I’ve been writing to Aunt Kate[1] and for some reason every time I sat down to write some thing would happen so I’d have to stop, for instance last Fri. Mildred[2] and I had work done early after dinner. She wanted to sew and I to write and I’ll be jiggered if Stella did’nt come when I had only four lines written. Had’nt been here in four weeks, she staid until supper time. After that was over with and dishes washed I said, Now I’m going to write all the evening, had been at it less than ten minutes and Cora and Mr Kitchen[3] came – returned home Sun. eve. I was all in then and did not do a thing at writing until Tues. Some of the time the neuritis gets my right wrist and it is hard work to use my hand. Hannah[4] wrote me you had had a spell at it and was very bad. I hope you are all over it and wont have any more. Think you were all more or less afflicted, Bess[5] with lumbago, Lela[6] all used up, sick head ache, and in the midst of candy making. It’s a big problem for all but I dont see how Lela can hold out – if she has to go and see Lou[7] every week. I’m awfully sorry for him but it is worse for her. Too bad he is down again. Do the doctors account for it in any way and do they think he will get up again. I wish his uncle[8] would do what he ought to and give her a few thousand. I dont see how he can have the heart not to when he knows just how every thing is with her. Wish she and the children[9] could come down here for two weeks, and Bess too, you see I did’nt include you, but I know you’ll come any way, and Dorothy, Robert and Joe.[10] It is nice D. & J.[11] can have their home all ready to go right to housekeeping. I’d give a lot to see it. They must be in the 7th heaven these days. Fred & Mildred[12] start on their trip the 28th. She is very busy getting sewing done for Leone[13] & I, she only has to make a dress for her self tan colored silk krepe-de-chin. Guess I wrote you they’d go to Bourbon[14] by auto, Helen[15] lives there, then they’ll have it to use while they are there. Will go to Warsaw,[16] decoration day,[17] that was his home and where those who are gone are buried. Will come that way on return trip, and get auto – stop at Galesburg over night with Hannah & Ethan.[18] I’m going down to see them before the kids go. Yes our housecleaning has to be done too. The three rooms below papered. So you see we’ve got to hit the high spots before the last of May and now I can hardly hit the low. You know all about LaVernes[19] trip down home so theres no use writing about it. Last week we sent a box of vegetabls “mostly” to them.  They’ve not had an onion this winter. They[20] never said a word & I never thought, but it wont happen again. I’ll keep my thinking cap on. Hannah has said quite a good deal to me about a hat, and I wrote her I would see she had one. I could’nt go any where to get it until now even if I had’nt have been lame. The roads have been so bad in places, one got such awful jolts, which I can not stand. Now they are being repaired and are smoth & level once more, but it will be a week and a half before I can go and I know she will get fussed, but I can not imagine why she could’nt wear her last summers hat in case she had a chance to go out. This is the 6th summer for mine. I know hers is not as old as that.

Cora and Mr Kitchen came down (I just forgot I had mentioned it). Well it was partly to see about selling his place, but he is not going to. She is getting better and will not have an operation yet the swelling is there yet but much smaller. Thinks it will gradually be dissolved.

Roy[21] is in hospital with mumps. Has to stay there a month yet, and has been there three weeks. Cora is afraid he has had a set back of some kind, though says nothing about it.

Evening. Stella came at 4 oclock & shut me off. She had spent the day at Josies “listening in” a part of the time. They have a new radio, this is their second one. This is much nicer than the other. Every thing perfectly plain. She heard some very nice singing from Chicago, also other places. D[22] is getting crazy to have one, but I want a new kitchen, can go to the neighbors and “listen in.” Jim[23] has had another poor spell is not working out side of home, has to get up at a certain hour every night and fight for his breath until morning. The Star runs just the same – movies at Wayland four nights a week they average going two right along. Cora[24] is so lame. Wilma[25] has to give up her job at Hurds to help her mother, yet Cora can go to the shows, and then are not many days pass that she does not go some where. Will & Luella have bought the Hope place. Will move the cafe part back for a garage, raise the rest of the house and put a porch across front. Bert Hope has moved in with Ed Knapp on the farm and gone in to chicken business. Marian[?] Harris had her hair bobbed yesterday. She will be 46 in Aug. May be you know Will Clark[26] visited us in March – staid from Wed. until Sat noon. We had a nice visit. Cora brought me a lovely white hyacinth.

Sat. You know it was our wedding anniversary 42 yrs.[27] and Uncle Henrys[28] 91st birthday. Just think Aunt Kate planning a trip to Detroit in Aug. She wrote me she was getting ready. What would I give to possess the youthfulness she has.[29] She has me beaten to a finish. Ruby and her husband are going to move in to Mr Kitchens house next week. Then will buy Mrs Harding out when the time comes “if ever” she wants to sell. Mrs Harding is all used up over Leon’s marrying and the circumstances connected with it. She is nearly crazy some of the time. I dont know what she would do if she could’nt come to us with her trouble. Dont know whether I wrote you Doc[30] bought some Gun[?] marsh land. I dont know how much but he has six 6 acres of onions put in. Come down & we’ll go over and see them when they are out of the ground. I must write card to Carrie to night and begin letter to Hannah so will close. I hope you are feeling better and the girls too. Wish I could do something for you to help out. If we could keep Helen & Jean over every Sunday t’would be a little let-up of the tension for Lela. After school closes put them on the train in care of conductor and send them down. We’ll keep them as long as they’ll stay. Tell me when you write how much material Lela gets for their dresses. It is getting quite like spring, though we saw snow flakes Tues.  No the old back porch at home is just the same only getting worse. LaV–[31] says there is the Custer pile would do them so much good if Ethan would only think so. LaV– said she had to watch her step every time she went out there more than ever. Can’t think how it will be by middle of summer. Yes I’ll do as you said help pay Will or any one who can be hired to fix it and she also says, how can they stay there alone all other winter. And I say how can that house be left alone if they could be persuaded to come here and live for 4 or 5 mo’s. It’s a big problem.

Good Bye

Hope this wont make you sick. Hope to hear you the girls & Lou are better. Would Lou care for some honey. I’ll send some in a pail if Lela thinks he would like it.

Love to all

Lou

[1] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, the widow of Louese’s and Nancy’s Uncle Hiram Crawford

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

[3] Louese’s sister-in-law, Cora (Harris) Hogeboom Kitchen, and her second husband, John Nelson Kitchen

[4] Louese’s and Nancy’s sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne

[5] Nancy’s daughter, Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz

[6] Nancy’s daughter, Lela (Brown) Mueller

[7] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller, who suffered brain injuries when hit by a streetcar

[8] Charles August Ficke, who was a wealthy man

[9] Lela’s daughters, Helen and Eda “Jean” Mueller

[10] Bess’ children, Dorothy and Robert Recoschewitz, and Dorothy’s fiance, Joseph Langmayer; they married on May 29, 1924

[11] Dorothy & Joe

[12] Mildred married Fred Cripe on November 23, 1923

[13] Louese’s daughter (and Mildred’s sister), Leone Harris

[14] Bourbon, Indiana

[15] Mildred’s sister-in-law, Helen (Cripe) Tyrrell

[16] Warsaw, Indiana

[17] Civil War dead were honored on Decoration Day

[18] Louese’s and Nancy’s brother, Ethan Keith; Hannah & Ethan lived on the family farm where they all grew up

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

[20] Ethan and Hannah; both of them were aging and in poor health and money was hard to come by

[21] Roy Harris Hogeboom, Cora Kitchen’s son by her first husband, Aaron Hogeboom

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

[23] Louese’s and Nancy’s brother, James Keith, who suffered from asthma

[24] James’ wife, Cora (Meredith) Keith

[25] Jim and Cora’s daughter, Wilma Keith

[26] The son of Louese’s and Nancy’s half-sister, Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner

[27] They were married April 12, 1882

[28] Henry Clay Crawford, Louese’s and Nancy’s uncle, was born April 12, 1833

[29] Aunt Kate was 83 years old

[30] Samuel “Doc” Boyer, who was married to Louese’s daughter, LaVerne

[31] Shorthand for LaVerne

July 18, 1901 letter to Louese Harris from Sarah Keith

July 18, 1901

To: Louese Harris

From: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

Sarah is writing her daughter with general news about the family and the weather. Sarah’s niece Lulu (Robert’s daughter) was married today. The weather has been extremely hot and dry. The corn and potatoes are suffering for want of water. A neighbor’s barn was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.  Henry C visited and brought two bottles of spirit, a product that he is selling for all kinds of skin diseases. He sells it to barbers and thought it might help heals the sores on Sarah’s legs.

1901-07-18 1901-07-18B 1901-07-18C 1901-07-18D 1901-07-18E

Galesburg July 18 1901

Dear Lou

How do you all stand this hot weather. We do because we have to. Lulu Crawford[1] is married today. Pretty warm to have much finery on. Thursday three p.m. Ethen[2] took Hannah[3] to Gallushas the forenoon for an all day visit. We had Monday and yesterday two terrific electric storms. We did not get rain enough to lay the dust. We need rain bad. Corn and potatoes are suffering for the want of it. Charley Wilson, whose farm is across from Jane Blasses, had his barn struck by lightning and burned his out buildings and crops. All went up in the flames. Ethen says buildings were in first class order. We saw the fire from here. Yesterday day about four oclock, when Henry C— was here he left me two bottles of (spirit) he called it. It is what he is selling. It is manufactured at South Bend, by a chemist that has been to work at it five years. Thinks now he has it perfected. Is sending it out. It is for all skin deseases. Sells it to Barbers to put it on the face after shaving. He wanted I should try it on my legs. He thought it cure them. I have used it most two weeks. Ethen says they look better and the sores are closeing up. I have thought about D[4] – wish he had some to put on his leg. Henry thought he would be here in four or five weeks. I asked him what he asked a bottle. He said it did not make any difference. I could have it. Your pa[5] thinks he never saw such hot weather. It does effect him. Got a letter from Jim[6]. He said Cora[7] and Children[8] would be at Kal[9], next tuesday. He wanted Ethen to meet them. He will. They will come home with him.

Hannah is making her self Lois[10] and Jen Sherwood white waists, a cluster of pleats then incertain. Look very pretty. Lois furnished the goods for Hannah and hers, and H– makes them. We have been alone this week it seems good I thought this morning you were here. Got a letter from Nancie[11] Sat eve. She spoke about coming. I did not understand when. Said she could not stay but two weeks. Claude[12] and Edie[13] would stay whilst she was gone. I feel very sorry for her but she has a great deal to be thankful for. Her children are good to her and has some meanes to help herself with. Dont know how much she will have by the time they all get through bleeding her. I hope she will look out for them. Presume Julius[14] thinks thare will be some thing for Bess[15] and he will have to look after her interest. Seemes Bessie would see whare she was drifting with the sallery he gets to be in debt. Nothing to keep house with. What or how can he support a wife. You see if Bess keeps well, she will have to look out for the family. She will have to work in a gallery same as she does now. I wish she had never seen him[16]. Nancie said Mrs Brown[17] did not sit up near all the. Should think this hot weather would use her up.

How about the Drs[18] small pox patients. How does he manage to disinfect himself before he comes home? Of course he will take all precaution nessary. Does D get along without his crutches? Hope his leg is getting better. To bad that he should be so afflicted. So much to do. It must worry him. I asked Ottie F– how Ettie Ralph[19] was getting along. She said first rate but she did not know what ailed her. I think she knew but was told not to tell. You know Mrs Ralph[20] said here if any of her folks had an opperation it would never be known so I thought I would let her know I knew it. I think it is that cancer she had. Well, I have written if you can make it out you will do well. You and yours have a mother.

Best wishes, Mother

[1] Lulu Crawford, daughter of Sarah’s brother Robert Crawford married Edward Witte

[2] Ethan Keith, Sarah’s son

[3] Hannah (Keith) Towne, Sarah’s daughter

[4] Daniel D. Harris (known as D), Louese’s husband

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

[6] James Keith, Sarah’s youngest son

[7] Cora (Meredith) Keith, Jim’s wife

[8] Mary “Winifred” and Walter Keith

[9] Kalamazoo, Michigan

[10] Sarah’s stepdaughter (Luke’s daughter by his first wife, Minerva Payson)

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

[12] Claude Brown, Nancy’s son

[13] Edith (Neumaier) Brown, Claude’s wife

[14] Julius Recoschewitz, Nancy’s daughter Bess’ boyfriend

[15] Bess Brown, Nancy’s daughter

[16] Julius was a concert violinist but also a drug addict. While Bess probably was not aware of that at the time, she did tell family members that Julius seemed to be able to put a spell on her and make her do things against her will. She asked them to help her get away from his influence

[17] Matilda (Allen) Brown, Nancy’s mother-in-law

[18] Believe she is referring to Samuel “Doc” Boyer, who was Nancy’s daughter Lela’s fiance; he was boarding either with Louese & D Harris or with D’s sister, Cora (Harris) & Aaron Hogeboom

[19] Elsie “Ettie” Ralph, D Harris’ cousin

[20] Emaline (Stone) Ralph, D Harris’ aunt