June 21, 1923 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

June 21, 1923

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

Another update on Lou’s condition. He wants to come home but they could not take care of him. The Ravenswood Manor Association has offered to pay Lela $150.00 for collecting dues from the membership. She will have to go door to door, but can do it in her own time, but Nancy doesn’t know where she will find the time to do so.

Tuesday June 21- 23
3-40 P.M.

Dear ones at home

Seems as if we dont know any thing about you. Have wished a good many times we knew if Lou[1] was there. Such hot weather. I think of you Ethan working out in the hot sun drinking hot tea and so tired. I was not intending to write till tomor, but Lela[2] just got a letter from Dr Wern[?] (Lous[3] doctor). It has about used Lela up and of course I am more or less nervous. He said Lou had two convulsions Tuesday and this morning between three and five oclock had _____ but has come out of them but left him in a weakened dazed condition. He wants she should come up there as he wishes to have a talk with her. She will go tomow morning. Bess[4] or Claude[5] will go with her. She feels bad. Every letter she has had from Lou, only a few lines at a time, but he wants she should come and get him but that cant be. We could never take care of him and he could not have the treatments he needs. We feel like a funeral all the time. Dont or cant make any plans but let each day take care of itself. The Ravenswood Manor association of which Lela & Lou are members have offered her the business of collecting the dues. Has to go from house to house here in the Manor. Will let her take her own time, do as much or little as she can when she can. She will get one hundred and fifty dollars for doing it. Of course she has axcepted it. None of us can see when she will find time to go out. I was going to send crate yesterday then it rained so hard Martha[6] could not take it and now she wont have time as Mr and Mrs Eckles[7] are coming here to supper. This Manor Association takes care of the park ways, keeps shrubry, trees and lawns in fine condition. I wish you could all see how pretty it looks. Its like a big park, nice lawns, shubbry & trees and the flowers. We have four large rose bushes. There are hundreds of flowers and birds. So many others have the same beside so many Peonies, all colors, and all kinds of flowers. Our quince tree is full of fruit but no garden. Lou thinks he made and has as fine a garden as ever was he tried to. The morning he went away he called me to come to the back door and told me to see how even the rows of every thing was and so free from weeds. Showed how much more he knew and understood gardening than any one else. Said in about five days we could have all the beans we could eat and our neighbors culd to. Not a thing out there but weeds and a few radishes, but he saw them all right.

Friday 3.45. As you see this did not get finished last night. Mr & Mrs Eckels came but the empty crate went. The girls went on ten A.M. car this morning, dont know when they will be home. Train leaves Milwaukee every hour, takes two hours to make the trip. They wont be home before eleven or twelve. Will let you know Monday how they found and left Lou. Did you get the last money order 15.00 I think you ought to have had it last Saturday. Hannah I wish I could hear your rheumatism was better. I think about you and Ethan evry minite. If I dont write of any thing. June[?] phoned. She is going to have Uncle Henry, Virginia[8] and myself over for lunch before Aunt Kate[9] goes. I think she will ask Clara.[10] I have planed to go home the 30th but Lela wants I should wait a little longer till we know a little better how Lou is. Hope this finds you all feeling better.



[1] This could be referring to their sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

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

[3] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller, who had to be admitted to a sanitarium

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

[5] Nancy’s son, Claude Brown

[6] Martha Lueder, one of Lela’s boarders

[7] Lela’s next door neighbors

[8] Henry and Virginia (Worley) Crawford, their uncle and aunt

[9] Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford

[10] Henry and Virginia’s daughter, Clara (Crawford) Hopkins Hammatt

December 1, 1920 letter to Nancy Brown from Ethan Keith

December 1, 1920 

To: Nancy Brown

From: Ethan Keith, Kalamazoo, MI

Ethan has received word from his sister of his Uncle Hiram’s death. He is expressing sadness that “… we will not see him again in this life. It’s hard to think of. He has always been so good to all of us. I am very sorry for Aunt Kate, and the children.” Hiram’s death followed closely those of Uncle Pros and Aunt Virginia, both of whom died during the year. Hannah has been sick and suffers from lack of appetite.

Kalamazoo, Dec 1. 1920.
8.15 P.m.

Dear Sister and all,

I have just been using the battery. Hannah[1] used it before I did, and Lou[2] is using now so should think there ought to be some lightning around here now. Thought I had better tell you I sent two bushels of Green Mountain potatoes to you to day. You know they are a later and harder potato than the Hebrons are not quite as tender. If you all like them, and would care for any more, will send as many more when the weather is favorable. Remember they are paid for.

So Uncle Hiram[3] is gone, and we will not see him again in this life. I’ts hard to think of. He has always been so good to all of us. I am very sorry for Aunt Kate,[4] and the children they will miss him so much. He followed Uncle Pross[5] and Aunt Virginia[6] pretty close. I would not be surprised to hear Uncle Henry[7] had gone any time.

Hannah says tell you she will write to you as soon as she can. She has been pretty sick since she had that chill. Does not improve very fast. If she could eat but she has no appetite. Lou[8] has written the Dr. and perhaps he will be able to do something for it. I hope Lou[9] is improving but I believe he has got to be careful and not overdo.

LaVerne[10] and Louese expect to come down friday P.m. and stay until Sunday, expect she is agoing to do something in the front part of the house.

I have twenty shocks tied into bundles ready to draw in and that will leave twenty-four in the field. Dont know when I will get the twenty-four in for I will have so much to husk out before there would be room in the barn for them.

Will stop and go to bed. Give our sympathy to Aunt Kate and family.

Love to all,



[1] Ethan’s and Nancy’s sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne

[2] Ethan’s and Nancy’s sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[3] Hiram Crawford Jr. died November 29, 1920 in Chicago, Illinois

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

[5] Their uncle, Lucius Prosper Crawford, who died in Berkeley, California on March 4, 1920

[6] Their uncle Henry Clay Crawford’s wife, Virginia (Worley) Crawford, who died July 18, 1920 in South Bend, Indiana

[7] Their uncle, Henry Clay Crawford

[8] Believe he is referring to their sister Louese

[9] Believe this is referring to Louis Mueller, Nancy’s son-in-law, who was hit by a streetcar and suffered brain damage

[10] LaVerne (Harris) Boyer, sister Louese’s daughter

Obituary of Virginia (Worley) Crawford

Virginia died July 19, 1920. Her obituary was in the July 20, 1920 South Bend News-Times.

Crawford, Virginia - Obituary

Crawford, Virginia – Obituary

February 13, 1874 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

February 13, 1874

To:  Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Nancy has been in Oshkosh getting her teeth fixed and visiting old friends. Had one letter from D.C. after he returned home. He had a pleasant visit with Sarah and family. After he left Sarah’s place he traveled to Mary’s and found Eugene there. They went on to Henry’s who was tickled to see him. Henry writes that he had a good visit with D.C. and how surprised he was to see him. On opening the letter she found a post office order for five dollars. Doesn’t know whether Jenny knows any thing about it. Henry had news about all of his children but said nothing about his wife. Robert came home last week. He suffers from rheumatism much of the time. Louisa and the children are well. Has not seen Bell in two or three weeks. Doesn’t know whether Prosper has come home from the woods. She was looking for him in the middle of this month.  

1874-02-13 1874-02-13B

Omro     Feb 13th 1874

My Dear Sarah

I take my pen in to answer to your kind letter that I received a short time a go. I should have written to you alittel soonner but I have ben from home most a week to Oshkosh to get my teeth mended and to viset some of my old friends. My teeth cost me most four dollors and a half all to 20 cents and going on the Exspress one dollor more. I feal that I must have my teeth fixt if it takes all that I have. I received aletter from Hiram[1] a short time a go. They where all well only the baba[2]. It had a hard cold. I had one letter from DC[3] after he returnd home. That was some time last month. I am lookin for aletter from him. He wrote that he had a plesent visit with you all and after he left your place he arived at Maryes[4] and found Eugene[5] there and they went to Henrys[6] and H was tickeld all most to peases to see him. He had a good viset with them. I am alooking for a letter from him now. I received aletter from Henry to day. He writes that he had a good viset with DC and how surprisd he was to see him and on oping the letter I found a post office order for five dollors. It com very exceptabel. I dont know wether Jenne[7] knowes any thing about it or not. He did not say any thing about her. He told me about all of the children but said nothing about his wife. Robert[8] came home las week. He comeplaind of not fealing very well. He is troble with rheumatism very much at times. Lousea[9] and children is well. We have not seen Bell[10] in two or three weeks. We dont know wether Prosper[11] has come home from the woods or not. She was looking for him home the middel of this month. I am fealing better again. I feal that God is merciful and kind to me in sparing my life to this time and giving me reasabel good health and I feal that he provids for me alltho I feal that I am unworthey of all his merseys and kindness to me. The Methest is a holding a protracted meeting in this place. I went last night.

There seemes to be a goodeal of inerst. There is a man gone to Lecter to night in Omro to exspose Spiritualism and yesterday Victora Woodhull hand bills was sent round to let the peopel know that free love is the best docktrin that can be oferd to the Publick. It is to be next week, fifty cents for admitance. It is quite healthy here this winter. We are having good sleighing and a pleasent mild winter. Eugene wrote to me sence his uncel DC left. He said he had a plesent viset with him and told of old Mrs Mac Conol Death, that her son Frank had marred a mean girl and he turnd his Mother out of doors[12]. She went to her daughtters and dide brokenharted. Write soon. My love to yourself and all of your famly. I think of you often. I wish that you could come and see me. I wanto see you very much.

From your mother

N B Betts


[1] Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy’s son

[2] Jessie Blanche Crawford

[3] David Caleb (D.C.) Crawford, Nancy’s son

[4] Mary (Hamilton) Crawford, widow of Nancy’s son Edwin Crawford

[5] Her grandson, Eugene Crawford, Edwin’s son by his first wife Louisa (Hall) Crawford

[6] Henry Clay Crawford, Nancy’s son

[7] Virginia (Worley) Crawford, Henry’s wife

[8] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

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

[10] Isabella (Steele) Crawford, Pros’ wife

[11] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Nancy’s youngest son

[12] The 1860 Atlas shows the McConnell family living next to Edwin Crawford and both Mary McConnell and Franklin McConnell are listed in the 1860 Census in Dowagiac, Michigan. Further research shows that Mary (Ameigh) McConnell died September 18, 1873 in Silver Creek, Cass County, Michigan; her cemetery headstone spells her maiden name as Ameigh while her death certificate spells her father’s last name as Amah and her mother’s as Ama. Her son, Franklin McConnell married Elizabeth Barnett on June 23, 1872. It was previously thought that Mary had two daughters, S. Helen and Amy; however, Sarah Helen McConnell, who was listed as living with Mary and her husband, Breese McConnell, in the 1860 census, was actually the daughter of Cyrus (Breese’s brother) and Rebecca (Ameigh – thought to be Mary’s sister) McConnell (she is also listed in their household in the 1860 census). So it appears Mary spent her last days living with her daughter, Amy (McConnell) McKnight

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

March 10, 1873 letter to Sarah Keith from Henry Crawford

March 10, 1873

To:  Sarah Keith

From: Henry Crawford, Mishawaka, IN

Left the railroad shop because he is not able to work. He’s now working in Mishawaka, but doesn’t know how long he will stay there. Wagon making is heavy work for him. He did not let mother know as he did not want to make her uneasy. Virginia’s health has been very good this winter, the baby is hearty and stout. He has been walking some four months and can say almost any thing they tell him. Virginia is at LaPorte.

1873-03-10 1873-03-10B 1873-03-10C

Mishawaka     March 10th, 1873[1]

Sister Sarah

You have I presume been loocking for a letter from me for some time. I have received letters from all of our folks this winter but have not answered one of them before yesterday and that was to Mother[2]. I wrote to her first and shall continue to do so till I get them all answered for it is a hard taske for me to write. You will wonder why. I will answer I have not beene able to do but a verry little worke this winter. My health is or has not beene verry good this Winter.

I left the Rail Road shop because I was not able to work and last weeke was the first I have Worked of any consequence. Since I am now to worke in Mishawaka at my traid I dont know how long I will stay here. I will not be able to worke at Waggon making I dont think for it is to heavy worke for me. I did not write to mother the same that I have written to you for I thought it mite make her uneasy. Virginia[3] heath has been verry good this winter, the Baby[4] harty and stout. He has walked some four months and can say a most any thing we tell him. Virginia is at Laport. I go home Sadurday Evening on the train. It dont cost me any thing a wride for I know nearly all the Boyse. As I have written about all I can think of I will now close by sending our Love to yourselfe and family. I have not seene you Sarah in a long time and I would like to come and se you but I cant nowe. I hope Luke[5] health is better than it was for it is a great item with me and I suppos it is some so with him. Good By.

From your Brother

H. C. Crawford

P.S. Write as sone as convienyont

Excuse all mistakes and bad spelling

H. C. Crawford

[1] The date of this letter was not given. However, there is a reference to a baby boy. Henry’s youngest son, George Edward Crawford, was born July 26, 1872 so it would appear the letter was written in 1873

[2] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[3] Virginia (Worley) Crawford, Henry’s wife

[4] This is believed to be George Edward Crawford

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

January 5, 1872 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

January 5, 1872

To:  Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Nancy has not been feeling well lately, but appreciates the kindness of her landlord as well as her son Robert and his wife. She describes an unpleasant visit with Henry and Virginia. She talks about her sisters, Jane & Mary; Mary Crawford, who is planning a trip; and Prosper, who has just purchased a team of horses from his father-in-law for $300.

1872-01-05 1872-01-05B 1872-01-05C 1872-01-05D 1872-01-05env

Omro  January 5th, 1872

Dear daughter Sarah,

I take my pen in hand to write a few lines to you. I should have written sooner but I thought I would wait till after there[1] visit to your place. My health is quite poor at present. I havent ben very well since I came home. I am troble with the palpatation of the hart and dyspepsin[2] with it. I have no appatite to eat. I am now taking the vinegar bitters. I think I am fealing som better than I did and I hope they will help me so I can get my health again. Since I have ben so un well I have thought of you a grate deal. I thought if I could live with you or near you so you could take care of me when I am sick. I havent sufferd for the want care but it would be difernt have you with me. The old lady that I am a living with is very kind to me. Robert[3] and wife is kind. I am writeing with trimling hand. I hope if Henry[4] and Jenne[5] has ben to see you you have injoyd there visit. I was tretted well knoff by them only Jenne was not very sosabel. I had no chance to talk to Henry. He would come in eat his meals and then soon she would start from the tabel and then he would follow her till the next meal. One day I thought I would hed him out when he was a feeding the hogs and so I did and how mad she was. She call to him and he dident go and she diden speak to him that afternoon. She would not eat no supper and she went out doors and staid to the barn till he went out to where she was and staid som time coax her to come in and took the horse and buggy and whent out a rideing and next morning she peard a littel more social. O dear Sarah it was no viset for me. I never want to go again. You dont know how miserbel I felt while I staid there. Hiram[6] came there to tell me that I could not see Kate[7] nor Harry[8]. He and Henry said I had not better stop to Marshal if I dident go he would go with me to the next station so I whent on to Sister Janes[9] and found her well. Her sone Wallos Sunderland wife and three children was there and they have ben there for five months and they have looing for him. He has sent them monny and have promes to come but dont come. We whent to Sister Mary[10] in the afternoon. I staid with her that night. I feal sorra for Mary she is not very well and hast to sow for a living. Her daughter Kate husband[11] is well of but they are a bording but she sends her somethings but she mite send her more than she does but he is a Catholic. That makes the diferance. Mary Crawford[12] was packing up to start her journy but I dont know anything more about her. When you received this write soon and wite all of the perticulors. Prosper[13] bought a span of horses of his Father in law[14] and is to pay three hundred dollors when he can ern it. She is living with her folks. He bords her as pays them. They expect to have adition to there famly the first of April[15]. She went with him to where he was to work the two weeks ago. I havent space to write. How are Luke[16] gitting long with his farm afairs? Dous Ethen[17] do anything with couplin[18]?  From you mothe my love to you all.

[to] Sarah Keith

Nancy Betts

[The following was written on the first page above the date.] Write soon. Tell all about Ethen and the girls[19] and Sis[20] and Jimme[21]. My love to them all and Luke and your self. Your Mother


[1] Nancy seems to be referring to a visit by Henry and Virginia Crawford

[2] Indigestion

[3] Robert Crawford, Nancy Betts’ son

[4] Henry Clay Crawford, Nancy Betts’ son

[5] Virginia (Worley) Crawford, Nancy Betts’ daughter-in-law (Henry’s wife)

[6] Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy Betts’ son

[7] Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford, Nancy Betts’ daughter-in-law (Hiram’s wife)

[8] Harry A. Crawford, Nancy Betts’ grandson (Hiram & Kate’s son)

[9] Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin

[10] Mary (Comfort) Wickersham

[11] Felix H. O’Connor

[12] Believed to be her son Edwin Crawford’s widow

[13] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Nancy Betts’ son

[14] Joseph Steele

[15] Leo Ashton Crawford was born to Pros and Isabella (Steele) Crawford on April 16, 1872

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

[17] Ethan B. Keith, Luke and Sarah’s son

[18] Ethan was an inventor and had several patents related to coupling jacks. Perhaps this is some reference to that

[19] Luke and Sarah’s daughters, Nancy Keith and Hannah Keith

[20] Luke and Sarah’s youngest daughter, Louese Keith

[21] Luke and Sarah’s youngest son, James C. Keith

May 11, 1871 letter to Sarah Keith from Henry Crawford

May 11, 1871

To:  Sarah Keith

From: Henry Crawford, North Ceres, IN

The children have all had the measles this winter, five at one time and all very sick. Virginia has also been very sick. In the past four weeks she has been up but not very strong. He has a contract making wheels for the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Co. making two hundred sets per week. Henry employs nine hands.

1871-05-11 1871-05-11B 1871-05-11C 1871-05-11D 1871-05-11env

South Bend, May 11th [1871[1]]

Dear Sister,

I will acknowledge that I have not been verry Brotherly In not writing to you before. I will or I can safely say that you have been remembered by me at least once a day for the past year. Your letter was a welcom letter to me. I was glad to hear from you & to know you are all as well as you are at the present time. As I have heard from you in a round about way, I am aware you have sorely afflicted with sickness. I hope your Childeren are all well. I think I can simpathise with you for I believe we have had our share in the past six months. The Childeren have all had the Measles this winter, five at one time & verry sick. Virginia[2] has been verry sickly. In the past four weekes she is so as to be up but not very strong. These trials is hard to bare but if we believe thar are for our good, it makes the burden light.

I have a contract making wheels for the Studbaker Brothers Manufacturing Co[3]. I am making two hundred set per weeke. I employ nine Hands. Thare is over three hudred men employd. It takes Eight Thousand dollers to pay off every two weekes. I will send Luke[4] a paper that will tell you more than I can write. The Boys[5] are with me in the shop. They are almost men.

We would like to make you a viset or we would like to have you viset us. I think if we all keep well this summer Virginia & the Boys will supprise you some time in July. It will bee almost imposable for me to get away. I think Luke would fat on the ribs some if he could see how we make a Waggon every fifteen minuts. Luke, come to South Bend. Bring the whole family. It will do you all good. Sarah, I would like to have a chat with you. I would say things to you in a better light than I can write you. We unite in our Love to you all. Com & see us.

Good By you Brother.

H. C. Crawford

Excuse poor spelling for I presume I have made (Lots) of mistakes.


[1] The year of this letter is not given, however, it is believed that it was written sometime between 1870 to 1872. Prior to 1870 Henry and family were living in Niles, Michigan. His letter refers to all five children having the measles at the same time. Henry’s sixth child, George E. Crawford, was born July 26, 1872. In addition Henry’s description of the level of activity at Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Co. generally corresponds with the growth of the company in the early 1870s (see below)

[2] Virginia (Worley) Crawford, Henry’s wife

[3] In 1852 the Studebaker brothers built their first small business. It was a blacksmith shop located in the heart of South Bend but soon they began building farm wagons and the business grew slowly until the Civil War. Over the years the company’s name changed several times. The Civil War’s demand for wagons, ambulances, etc. put a strain on Stubebaker’s production and they began to look for labor outside of the city. They also moved their manufacturing facilities to the southwest end of town, encompassing an area between Western Avenue and Sample Street, and Main Street to Walnut Street. By the 1870’s the westward migration required sturdy covered wagons and farm wagons and Studebaker was a major manufacturer with sales offices all throughout the West. The need for more workers caused the company to go overseas to find a workforce. Many who came were German or Polish. The company continued to make farm wagons until shortly after 1900 when they began to make automobiles. For more detail on the Studebaker Company see the following web site:                                  http://studebaker100.com/stu/Pg1/index.html

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

[5] Henry’s two eldest sons, John H. and Robert Clement (Clem), who were both in their mid teens

January 17, 1871 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

January 17, 1871

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Received a letter from Henry. They have been very sick. Jenny is not able to do much of anything and John, their oldest son, has had the fever this fall. Henry has been working at his trade making carriage wheels this winter. He says it has been very sickly in South Bend this year past. Poor Henry is having a hard time of it. John Worley, Jenny’s brother, has buried his wife. He said she died very happy. Received a letter and a Colorado paper from David announcing his marriage to Miss Amanda Thornton. Hopes he has got a good companion and they may enjoy each other’s comfort as long as they live. Received a letter from Hiram. He and his family enjoyed Christmas very much. Got letters from Robert, Prosper and Eugene. They are all well.

1871-01-17 1871-01-17B 1871-01-17C 1871-01-17D 1871-01-17env

Omro   January the 17 1871

My Dear Sarah,

I received your kind and welcom letter afew days ago. I was happy to heare from you and yours. I wish that Nancy[1] was here. I think Doctor Clap could help her. He has helpt a good meny difficult cases. It is very singular thing that your family has the ague[2] so much. I don’t remember when I lived with you of any one a having the ague. It seams to me that your family has ben afflicted more then any other famly around in that neighborhood. I wish Luke[3] could sell and get a way from there and get in a more healthily place. I received a letter from Henry[4]. He writes that they have ben sorely aflicked with sickness for months pasts. Jenne[5] is not abel to do much of anything and John[6], there olds son, has had the fever this fall. He dont get along very well. He is quite febel yet. Henry, he has been working at his trade a makeing Carriage wheels this winter. He sais it has ben very sickley in South Bend this year past. Poor Henry is lik your self. He is having a hard time of it. John Worly[7], so Henry sais, has buried his wife[*]. He said she dide very happy. He is Jennes youngest brother[8].

I received a letter and a Colorado paper from David[9] stateing his marrige with Miss Amanda Thornton[10]. All of that Peace the old Bach is marrige at last. I hope he has got a good companion and they may in joy each other society and take solled Comfort as long as they live.

I received a letter from Hiram[11]. He and his family had in joy Christmas very much. They had a present of a turkey for thear Dinner and they got lots of presents and Kit[12] got a half donzen of napkins rings. This is from him with lots of other things and Hite[13] got a nice pair of slippers from her and she received from her cousin, a young gentelman that is living in the city, a very beautiful round Lilly in wax set in a glass case worth twenty dollars and granma[14] got lots of things and little Harry[15] he got his stockings full of cande and nuts. It is to tedious to tell and name all of the articals they got. He sent me four dollars. I got a letter from Robert[16] and one from Eugean[17]. They both are well and like wise from Prosper[18]. He was well. Then I received from Emily Tomson, your Aunt Jane[19] hiard girl. She is a good writer. She writes for her. She sais sister Jane husband[20] is dead. He dide last June. Wallis[21] her son is aliving in Navada. She received a letter from him telling her that Mr Sunderlin died the beginning of that month. It was of consumption. Wallis is ago to move to Waukegan as soon as he can dispose of his properaty. Sister Mary Wickersham[22] is there. Ben there for severl months. Her health is good this winter. What was the matter of Mrs Jacobs[*]? I wish you would tell me in your next who is the man that married Adda Swadel. I hope thoes few lines will find you all in better health. Write soon as conveant. My love to you all. From your Mother.

So good night

Its is truely minets a past 9

Nancy B Betts

[to] S C Keith

P.S. I send one of Alice[23] letters to Nancy


[1] Nancy Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[2] A form of malaria characterized by stages of chills, fever, and sweating. Popularly, the disease was known as “fever and ague,” “chill fever,” and “the shakes”

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

[4] Henry Crawford, Nancy’s son

[5] Henry’s wife, Virginia (Worley) Crawford

[6] John Crawford, Henry and Virginia’s eldest son, age 16

[7] John Worley, who was Virginia’s younger brother, lived with Henry & Virginia Crawford when they lived in Niles, Michigan, and worked as an apprentice wagon maker with Henry

[*] Alice (Alexander) Worley died at the age of 25

[8] Actually, Virginia’s youngest brother was Oscar Worley

[9] David (D.C.) Crawford, Nancy’s son

[10] David married Amanda Thornton, December 21, 1870 in the Calvary Episcopal Church in Golden, Colorado

[11] Hiram Crawford Jr., Nancy’s son

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

[13] Hiram’s nickname

[14] Kate’s maternal grandmother, Elizabeth McGrath, who was living with Hiram and Kate

[15] Harry Crawford, Hiram and Kate’s eldest child

[16] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[17] Eugene Crawford, Nancy’s grandson

[18] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Nancy’s youngest son

[19] Nancy’s sister, Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin

[20] Peleg Sunderlin, who died May 31, 1870 in Carlin, Nevada

[21] Wallis Sunderlin, Jane’s son

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

[*] A December 17 entry in Luke Keith’s diary mentions “Mrs Jacobs Died to day.” A search of FindAGrave.com shows that Julia A. Jacobs, age 38, wife of B. Jacobs, died December 17, 1870, and is buried in Galesburg City Cemetery, Galesburg, Michigan

[23] Alice Crawford, Nancy’s granddaughter

September 5, 1870 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Betts

September 5, 1870

To: Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Betts, Omro, WI

Nancy received a letter from David last week. He said he had not received a letter from any of his folks. He would like to hear from Sarah. She also received one from Hiram. Prosper came home a few weeks ago. He had a cold and was very sick, although he is better now. She also received a letter from Henry. The family has been sick, including himself and Jenny. He was very bad last spring and Jenny was sick all winter and all summer and is just now getting better. Nancy is thinking of visiting Hiram. Henry says he wanted to see them all very much. He would like her to come and stay with them awhile. She would like to go but doesn’t want to stay long. Wants to see Henry and all of his family as well as Sarah and her family and Hiram and his family. Received a letter from Alice Crawford, James’ daughter. She would like to hear from her aunts, uncles and cousins.

Omro  Sept 5 1870

Dear Sarah,

You kind and wellcom letter came to hand a few days ago. I was glad to hear from you all. I have ben looking for a letter from you this sam time. I am sorra to hear that all have ben so flicked with sickness. I hope you all will get your healths again. Where is Ethen[1] now? You did not say anything about him and Sis[2]. Tell Jimme[3] that granma would like to see him very much and all of you. I received a letter from David[4] last week. He was well. He said he had not received a letter from any of his folks but me. He would like to hear from you and yours. I received one from Hiram[5]. He said they whare all quite well. The old lady[6] hasent got home yet. I dont bleve she is a coming home. Prosper[7] came home a few weekes ago. He took a cold and was very unwell. He is better now so he can work. Robert[8] has got quite well. He can do all the work he can get to do. It is hard to get work to do. There is so meny that wants work and cant get it. His famly is well as usual. I received one from Henry[9] the other day. He sais they have ben sick, himself and Jenna[10]. He was very bad last spring. He thought he was a going in the quick consumption. He got relief at last. Jenna was sick all winter and all summer, gest agetting better so she thinks of makeing Hiram and wife[11] a visit. He said he wanted to see us all very much. He wish I could come and stay with them awile. I would like to go and stay and make a visit but I dont wanto stay a grate while. I do want to see him very much and all of his famly and all of you and Hiram and famly. O Sarah I wish I could step in and see you and famly. If I had the monny to go and com back I should do it. I pict up a littel adversing thrown in at the door. I pic it up and read it though[t] I would it put in the letter and send it to you. Perhaps you have the same there. If she that is Nancy[12] was I mean was withe me, I should get it for her. I wanto make the trial it mite help her. Your father[13] was a grate hand to try those paten medicines and he beleived there was more virture in those syrups then there was in th Dr medicines.

This is the second letter I have written to day. I am so nervis that I cant write ver well. I wish you and Luke[14] could com here and see us. We all would be glad to see you. It would do you both good to travel. It all ways done me heep of good. My health is quite good at present. Write soon as convent. I received a letter from Alice N Crawford[15] your brother James[16] daughter. She wants to hear from her Aunts and uncels and cousans. She inquired about Nancy. She said she hope she was well. She said if I would send Nancy adress she would write to to her so I will. When you write to me again remember Pros in your but dont let him know that I said anything. The boys dident say anything about him ether. He thought it was singler Glen Haven grant co. I hope these few lines will find you all. I received a letter from Eugene[17]. He was well. He said he got a letter from Eathen. My love to you all. Kiss Jimme and Sis for me.

From your mother

N B Betts

[to] S C Keith


[1] Ethan Keith, Sarah’s son

[2] Louese Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[3] James Keith, Sarah’s son

[4] David (D.C.) Crawford, Nancy’s son

[5] Hiram Crawford, Jr., Nancy’s son

[6] Hiram’s wife Katherine’s grandmother, Elizabeth McGrath, who had been living with them

[7] Lucius Prosper Crawford, Nancy’s youngest son

[8] Robert Crawford, Nancy’s son

[9] Henry Crawford, Nancy’s son

[10] Virginia (Worley) Crawford, Henry’s wife

[11] Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford

[12] Nancy Keith, Sarah’s daughter

[13] Hiram Crawford Sr.

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

[15] Her granddaughter

[16] James Crawford died December 15, 1858, just seven weeks after his wife Ann died. At the time of their deaths, Alice was 5 and her brother, Rollin, was 3

[17] Eugene Crawford, Nancy’s grandson

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