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

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May 17, 1901 letter to Sarah Keith from Nancy Brown

May 17, 1901

To: Sarah Keith

From: Nancy Brown

Nancy is concerned about her husband Hank’s health. Tuesday he had gone downtown to fix a camera shutter. He had not been home two hours before she had to send for a doctor. He has been vomiting and his stomach and bowel have been very painful and sensitive. Nancy is worried that it might be appendicitis. He has had some fever and has not been dressed since Tuesday and not been able to sit up until this morning. The doctor has been there five times in the past three days.

1901-05-17 1901-05-17B 1901-05-17C 1901-05-17D 1901-05-17E 1901-05-17F 1901-05-17G 1901-05-17H

Friday 1-30-P.M.[1]

Dear ones all

Will write a little while resting my feet. Lela[2] has been working down town since Monday. Hank[3] is sick but I guess now he is going to get along all right. He is very nervous and has suffered lots. I have or at least could been a little fearful of appidencitis (I dont know as thats right). He has vomited so much & his bowels & stomach so painful & sensative and it has been impossible to get a movement of the bowels till about ten mintes ago they moved a little. So we know there is an _____________. Dr has been here five times in three days. Was here about an hour ago & is coming again to night. He says if we can get a thorough movement he will be all right and we are a going to. He has some fever. Has not been dressed since Tuesday or able to sit up any till this morning. He felt better, got up and dressed and went down town to get a shutter fixed. He was doing that when taken sick so they have been without a penny plate holder & shutter all the week over here.[4] Its his own invention and no one could fix it but him self or under his instructions. So he went to see the man & tell him. Was to have it for Sunday. He had not been home two hours before we had to send for Dr. Now I wont let him go again if we have to lock him up but he worried so over the shutter & got so nervous he could not get well any way. We have good help at both gallerys and if he dont go to work too soon it may do him a little good. We got a letter from Dr[5] this A.M. also from Bess[6] & Mildred[7]. Dr is having so many trials cant come now but will come back with Julius[8] if he is better. Julius goes to Mich Monday. Has to be back Sat night. Was to play Sunday. We got terribly worried and excited here over Lois[9] though we thought every one at home must be very good as no one wrote. If Will Holmes[10] had went and seen Will Clark[11] and told them how it was that Ina[12] was sent for he never would have gone without looking in to it more but all he knew was what I told him and all I knew was that Lois was sick & they had sent for Ina. So when he got a message that his mother was very sick & had sent for him of course he thought it was for him. Its too bad for he has been with out work so much they did not feel able to go unless nessary. Its too bad that any one will work them selves up to such a pitch that they are _______ on any one & others have to suffer for it. Did the vegatables keep fresh enough so you could eat them? Bess writes of the dutch cheese, how good it is. If you want to send any any time we will pay charges.

Dont worry over Hank. If he dont get along all right we will let you know but he is going too. I want to tell you how cute Mother[13] is. Will[14] came down yesterday and asked her to go home with him if he would come for her to day as Hank was sick and with Lela gone it would make one less. She put on a long face & all he or I could do or say she would not go. Was not well enough so of course that ended it. In the afternoon I washed out a nyhtress & some things for Hank but as I was ready to clean thing up she wanted her dress washed. I told her I was too tired and had so much to do I could not. She said she had made up her mind to go to Wills & her dress was too dirty to wear so I said if thats it I will wash it so “het” more watter & done that. After it was done & dried and in the house she told me she did not calculate to go but wanted her dress washed. If she had been a child I guess I would “shake her boots off” but as it was I could not do a thing. I told her it could have gone to the wash and saved me that much but she said she did not care she wanted it done then. Hank is asleep and feels a good deal better than he did. Will let you know Tuesday how he is. Must write a few lines to Bess.

With love from Nan

Uncle Hi[15] and Mirian[16] came on Sunday. Brough Aunt Amandas letter[17], also paper. Guess he feels pretty bad. It is too bad Uncle D.C.[18] had to go for he was not an old man and as Uncle Hi said guessed his family needed him. I wonder if his life was ruined. There were _____________over there to Uncle His.

Nan

7 P.M. Hank is feeling some better. Has had a good movement of the bowels. It has left him quite week but he thinks he will be all right now.

[1] The postmark on the envelope is 5-17-1901

[2] Nancy’s daughter, Lela Brown

[3] Nancy’s husband, Henry Brown

[4] Hank was a photographer

[5] Possibly referring to Samuel “Doc” Boyer, who was at one time Lela Brown’s fiance

[6] Nancy’s daughter, Bess Brown

[7] Nancy’s niece, Mildred Harris

[8] Julius Recoschewitz, Bess Brown’s boyfriend, was a concert violinist

[9] Nancy’s half sister, Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner

[10] Husband of Lois’ daughter, Ina

[11] Will Clark, Lois’ son from her first marriage to Byron Clark

[12] Ina (Skinner) Holmes, Lois’ daughter from her second marriage to Adelbert Skinner

[13] Hank’s mother, Matilda (Allen) Brown

[14] Hank’s brother, Willis Brown

[15] Nancy’s uncle, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[16] Marian Eck, Hiram’s granddaughter

[17] Nancy’s aunt, Amanda (Thornton) Crawford, wife of D.C. Crawford

[18] David (D.C.) Crawford, who died unexpectedly on May 1, 1901