April 7, 1924 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

April 7, 1924

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne

From: Nancy Brown

Nancy is writing about the tragic death of a friend, Harold Gibson, who had been killed in a car accident. Harold was coming home from work with his employer’s nephew in the car. The nephew wanted to drive but because he had been drinking, Harold refused. However, to save himself some trouble, he at last gave in. The nephew crossed onto the other side of road and smashed into a big car. Harold was killed and the two men in the other car were not expected to live. Harold was in World War I with the First from Illinois and went through every major battle. He said the best sleep he ever had was after days of fighting when he was so worn out he pushed the dead aside, laid down between them in blood and mud and slept like a baby for a number of hours, with bombs whistling over his head the whole time. Thought they might get a letter from Joe telling something about Lou as she supposed they went to see him yesterday, but nothing came. She thinks Dorothy will be married on the 29th of May but it hasn’t been finalized yet. She thinks they will be married at home with just family and a few friends as guests. It will be less expensive than going to Claude’s and having a larger wedding. Their apartment is almost finished; walls papered and floors varnished last week. It is new and their furniture is all new, so it will look nice. Even though they can’t be near Bess Nancy is glad they will be near her.

Monday April 7″ 1924

Dear brother and sister

If I had known the hens were laying I would tried and had the crate there but in your last letter Hannah you said they had laid three. I thought we would send it this week and it would be there plenty of time. If Robert[1] has time to get it this aftern will send tomor. I dont know why it was put back and under so much truck[2] last fall. Lela[3] has advertised her rooms again. Not one answer. That makes 40.00 in adds (not paid) rec’d no results. No one can understand it. We have not heard from Lou[4] since Lela was there Thursday so he is not able to write. Dorothy[5] had a letter from Wilma.[6] She wrote Ruby Curies husband had bought Mrs Hardings place. Its too bad. I’m sorry for Lou.[7] Harold Gibson[8]. I guess you know who he is. The ones that used to go to Mrs Ogdens[9] with Lizzie.[10] Mr Gibson spent his vacation three or four years ago in Shelbyville boarded at Jims.[11] Harold was going home from work (he is married[12] lives on Winnemac Ave north of us) last Wednesday in his car. His employers nephew[13] was with him. He wanted to drive but he had been drinking a little. Harold refused but at last to save trouble let him. He went zig zag and across on other side of road. Before H– could stop him or get the wheel smashed in to a big car. Two men in that. Killed Harold. The driver was only shook up good. The other two men are in hospital not expected to live. The driver in jail waiting the out come. He is only 19 is married has one child. Harold is 23[14] maried last October. He went to the world war with the first from Illinois went through evy one of the big battles. I think I told you he said the best sleep he ever had was after days of fighting at Chateau-Thierry when he was so worn out he pushed the dead aside laid down between them in blood and mud and slept like a baby for a number of hours the boms whisteling over his head all the time. After all of that to come home and be killed. He was ___ when the war closed but wanted to go right on into Berlin. They all take his death very hard. Lizzie & Will[15] move the 22nd. I cut the picture out of yesterdays paper. It made me feel homesick. I was back in the Burg[16] ___ ___ I said I could almost imagine it was taken in front of our house, the picket fence and and the men. I dont remember the medallions and the cars.

The Crooks family[17] are about all gone, guess Sarah[18] is the last. Of course there are a good many nieces & nephews. Postman just been here. Thought we might get a letter from Joe[19] telling something about Lou as I suppose they went to see him yesterday but nothing came. I think Dorothy[20] will be married the 29″ of May, not just decided yet and guess will have the families and a few girl and boy friends, be married at home. It will be less expensive than to go to Claudes[21] and have a larger wedding. Their appartment is about finished papered & floors varnished last week. That is new & their furniture is all new so thing will look nice. As long as they cant be near Bess[22] I’m glad they are so near us. Time to get lunch. Cold & windy this forenoon. Im writing to LaVerne.[23] I get so homesick to hear from them. Hope to hear from you soon.

With love,

Nan

Will send letter when we send crate.

[1] Robert Recoschewitz, Nancy’s grandson

[2] Under so much miscellaneous stuff

[3] Lela (Brown) Mueller, Nancy’s daughter. As a result of injuries sustained by her husband, Lou, in a street car accident, Lela tried to take in boarders to supplement their income

[4] Louis Mueller, Lela’s husband, who sustained a brain injury in the streetcar accident and was institutionalized

[5] Nancy’s granddaughter, Dorothy Recoschewitz

[6] Wilma Keith, the daughter of Nancy’s brother, James Keith

[7] Believe Nancy is referring to her sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[8] Charles Harold Gibson, Jr a friend of the family

[9] Amanda (Brown) Ogden, Lizzie’s mother (see next footnote)

[10] Nancy’s sister-in-law, Elizabeth (Ogden) Brown

[11] Nancy’s brother, James Keith

[12] He had been married less than a year to Margaret (Johnson) Gibson

[13] William B French

[14] While both this letter and a search at the homicide.northwestern.edu database listed his age as 23, the 1910 Census listed his age as 13, which would make him 27 when he died

[15] Lizzie’s husband and Nancy’s brother-in-law, Willis Brown

[16] Galesburg, Michigan, the family farm where Nancy grew up and where her brother and sister still lived

[17] This referred to Joseph Crooks, who died April 5, 1924. His sister, Minnie (Crooks) Crawford, had been married to Nancy’s cousin, Eugene Crawford, and she died January 25, 1921. See also the April 6, 1920 letter which had the obituary of Joseph and Minnie’s brother, Smyth Crooks

[18] Sarah (McCloskey) Searles was actually the half-sister of Joseph, Minnie and Smyth Crooks

[19] Joseph Langmayer, Dorothy Recoschewitz’s fiance

[20] Nancy’s granddaughter, Dorothy Recoschewitz, married Joseph Charles Langmayer on May 29th, 1924

[21] Claude Keith Brown, Nancy’s son. As it turned out Dorothy and Joe were married at Claude’s home in Wilmette, Illinois

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

[23] Nancy’s niece, LaVerne (Harris) Boyer

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April 6, 1920 letter to James Keith from Minnie Crawford

April 6, 1920

To: James Keith, Shelbyville, MI

From: Minnie Crawford, Chicago, IL

Tells of her brother Smyth Crooks’ death and funeral and encloses the newspaper clipping of his obituary. Also mentions that her sister Sarah’s husband died about six weeks earlier.

Chicago[1]

Dear Jim[2]

I am writing you a few lines tonight. I have just got home from my brothers funeral (Smyth’s[3]). He died last Friday morning and was buried today. A wonderfull Masonic funeral! I feel very badly about it. He and I were pretty close. Sarahs[4] husband[5] died about six weeks ago. I found him dead and believe me if you seen my hair it is whiter then yours since then. Tell Cora[6] that if it was warm I would hike out there to see her but I guess I will have to waite for awhile. Give my love to every one fondest to Cora.

Lovingly

Minnie Crawford

[1] While there is no date on the letter, the accompanying newspaper notice states that the funeral was to be held on April 6, 1920

[2] Minnie’s husband, Eugene Crawford, and James Keith were first cousins

[3] Smyth Crooks, who died April 3, 1920

[4] Minnie’s sister, Sarah (Crooks) Searles

[5] Edward Searles; he died February 6, 1920

[6] Jim’s wife, Cora (Meredith) Keith