July 1, 1924 letter to Nancy Brown from Hannah Towne

July 1, 1924

To: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

From: Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

Her teeth are a little better but they “grumble and are sore all the time.” She needs new teeth, but doesn’t have the money, or a way to get into Kalamazoo, to get new ones. The only money they have coming in is from the egg and butter money, and a little from sewing, and now that the hens are shut in, they aren’t laying. Ethan has so much work to do and he can’t get Maude to cultivate, so they need a new horse and no money to pay for one. Neither she nor Ethan are able to do all that has to be done. Three of the “old residents” were buried in the past two weeks.

Tuesday 6:55 P.M. July 1-1924 – Hanks[1] 74 birthday

Dear Sister and all –

I have had two nice days only cold. Ethan[2] will finish planting the late potatoes to morrow then the corn has to be cultivated. Garden full of weeds. Will write this before I forget it. You asked about the suit you sent if I had given it to Mrs Salon- “No.” Am awaiting for LaVerne[3] to come down and see if she wants it. If she dont will give it to Mrs S. I gave the black skirt and waist to her. She expects Louese[4] home the 18th. I do hope that Dr will help Jim.[5] About Ma’s[6] chair,[7] I dont know how it could be gotten up there if he could use it and I dont believe Cora[8] or the girls would want it around. Of course it would’nt be taken care of – the wheels has to be on or the chair would be on the floor. I am sorry for Jim not to have a chair to lean his head against. Lou[9] wrote that he can lie down most of the night now. I think the Candy business is on the gain from what you wrote. Too bad someone cant let them have money to start in on a big scale. The crate came – the candy is so good. Now about my teeth. They are a little better for a day or two – face is swollen some – but they grumble and are sore all the time. Eda[10] said if I get some teeth and they would pay for them. “I could’nt go and have teeth made and not have the money.” I could write to Walter Dewey and see what he would make them for then let you know or Claude.[11] The next thing is getting to Kal–.[12] If Fred and Mildred[13] comes to Kal to live then she could come and take me to Kal– do the running. If you think it all right to let them get teeth for me I will do my part for it dont seem as if I can stand it like this much longer. Such a time as I had all last winter. Mr Olin[?] at the burg is a good dentist. He is over the bank and I could’nt go up those steps. Tell me what you think about me writing to Walter and find out his prices. I cant go and see him so would have to write. Geo Youmans[14] was buried a week last Sunday. Friday Dell Clapp[15] – yesterday Elida Zinn.[16] Three old residents. Geo worth $2400 & 520. Pretty good. I did a big wash Monday but gave out so had to finish this morning. I dont know what ails me but cant stand much but work all the time.

Up at 4:30 Wed A.M. Clothes sprinkled or a part of them will iron when I get dinner. About the eggs – have nine doz –  hens dont lay but a few since shut up. Shall E–[17] send what he has – then he said it will be the last unless they pick up. It is too bad for we have no in come only from eggs and what little butter I can sell and from the sewing and that is mighty little. It is a blue time here – Maude[18] wont cultivate and E- cant make her. Now it is to get a horse of Mr B – and he dreads to ask for it. And no money to pay for the use of it. Well this is the last year of farming for if Ethan can manage to get through with it this year he will do better than I am afraid he will. He cant sleep just on account of the work so behind and he no strength to do it. There will be some way out of it but it is worse than death to know how the way it will be. We would like to have Jack & Edna[19] stop here but just cant. Neither of us able to do all that would have to be done. Edna must be a lot better. The Blake boys are in for it again and I guess they will be taken care of now. Ina Schuyler[20] staid here Friday night. I can see an improvement but she is far from well. Can see a little better but not much. She is at Hazels[21] yet. We dont get your letter any more until Mondays. Crazy time upsets evry thing. I hope the girls can hold out and get started in big then it wont be so hard for them. I must get busy.

Good bye

Love H


[1] Nancy’s husband, Henry “Hank” Brown; he was born in 1850 and died May 22, 1901

[2] Their brother, Ethan Keith

[3] Their niece, LaVerne (Harris) Boyer

[4] Their sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[5] Their brother, James Keith, who suffered from severe asthma

[6] Their mother, Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[7] Sarah had a wheelchair in her later years and it appears this is the chair Hannah is referring to

[8] Jim’s wife, Cora (Meredith) Keith

[9] Louese Harris

[10] Nancy’s daughter-in-law, Edith (Neumaier) Brown

[11] Nancy’s son, Claude Brown

[12] Kalamazoo, Michigan

[13] Their niece and her husband, Mildred (Harris) & Fred Cripe

[14] Oak Grove Cemetery (Galesburg, Michigan) records show that Harriet Clapp died June 24, 1924 in Detroit, Michigan

[15] Oak Grove Cemetery (Galesburg, Michigan) records show that George Youmans died June 20, 1924

[16] Oak Grove Cemetery (Galesburg, Michigan) records show that Elida (Towsley) Zinn died June 26, 1924

[17] Ethan

[18] Ethan’s horse

[19] Jackson & Edna Irene (Crawford) Tullar; Edna was their maternal first cousin

[20] Neighbor, Ina (Snyder) Schuyler; see November 11, 1923 letter

[21] Neighbor, Hazel (Beaumont) Schuyler; Hazel’s husband, Allen, was the nephew of Ina’s husband, William

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June 24, 1924 letter to Nancy Brown from Hannah Towne

June 24, 1924

To: Nancy Brown

From: Hannah Towne

General news about the neighbors.

Tuesday 8:20 A.M. June 24 – 1924

Dear sister and all –

It is raining hard and has most all night – dont know when Ethen[1] can cultivate or get the late potatoes in, or how the farmers can do haying, a lot of it cut the rains just spoil it. When time when Harry was over he said he had rather fire his money in bonds than in a farm and I think the same. Rains wont hurt the bonds. I did out a little washing yesterday – was agoing to do the washing to day but rain had put a stop to it. I worked down cellar a while but it hard to tell where to begin. If I could have my way a ton or two of the stuff down there would go in Alapacas ashpile. The coal dust is all over every thing black as night like “Chicago.” To day I have to push my self and Ethen feels the same. Am sorry you dont get to feeling better. Why dont you go and see Dr Garvey. When Claude[2] comes home he will take you. I am sorry for you all to have to have such a man in the house. Am sorry about the candy business and so in hopes by this year the girls[3] would begin to realise a lot of money from it. I guess Carrie[4] is getting better. Ethen says we dont know just how she is. One day last week I called up. Ida[5] was out so Carrie answered – first she has talked with me – her voice was just as strong would not thought she was sick. George and Bess live in the farm this summer. He is working it him self – has a tractor. Bess making butter. Their address is Kalamazoo – R #4. Mr Carr goes through to Portage St. after he turnes and comes this way going west. Am glad Jean[6] dont forget us. Jim[7] is on my mind all the time. Will send Lous[8] three last letters or one is a card. If we only had an auto would go and see him.[9] I am afraid he wont last much longer – dont see how he can. I cant send Mildreds[10] letter – sending Lous cant get any more in envelope. Mildred said when Harlow and Marion[11] came home they passed Jims but did not stop and say good bye or see how he was. M– and children were at Shelbyville a week and Harlow went after them. They staid at Jims 4 nights so M– knew how bad he off he is. Yes the Streators entertained. You remember he told me I could’nt have Sunday company. What I write dont even write to Ida or anyone. They cant tell me any thing and I be hanged if Ill tell them. The ladies were roomers she had. Ethel tell this she was there. The girls wanted to know if they did’nt have jazz music. The lady said yes so she played and the girls danced and cut up and had a good time. I dont know but she danced too. I hope she did. They went to the cemetery decoration day in the morning. She did like the way he arraigned the flowers and told him so. He said he liked it. Ethel said it tickled her to hear them. Now he did’nt enjoy the way those girls did but I am glad he had to stand it. I say fight every day right over at that house. Not very many go there so I hear. Addie says they have never seen them but the once she said he told A I that they called there one eve – but no one at home. Addie said they did’nt leave their cards so did not know it until he told Ai “not up to date.” I’ll bet ____ is no ____ scratch. I dont see their names in the Gazette. He knows he has been out here. We have never phoned. Ida told me Carrie had rec’d such a nice letter from Dorothy.[12] The Kal– P.O. is going on fast time. I must get busy. If you can remember the butter is churned in morning then at night E– makes it in the roll to fit the pail then sets it where it will be cool all night then never does it up and and put in pail until just before Mr Carr comes the next morning. Think Dorothy got a nice lot of presents.

Love H–


[1] Their brother, Ethan Keith

[2] Nancy’s son, Claude Brown

[3] Nancy’s daughters, Lela (Brown) Mueller and Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz

[4] Neighbor, Carrie Barber

[5] Carrie’s mother, Ida Barber

[6] Nancy’s granddaughter, Eda “Jean” Mueller

[7] Their brother, James Keith

[8] Their sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[9] Presume she is referring to their brother, Jim, who suffered from severe asthma

[10] Their niece, and Louese’s daughter, Mildred (Harris) Cripe

[11] Harlow & Marion (Meredith) Rice; Marion’s sister, Cora, was James Keith’s wife

[12] Nancy’s granddaughter, Dorothy (Recoschewitz) Langmayer

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May 22, 1924 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

May 22, 1924

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

Describes Dorothy’s wedding dress that Bess is making. Claude and Eda will give the wedding. She and Dorothy are going to the flat tomorrow and the children will be up there for lunch. Jean talks a lot about being in Michigan and is going back. Lou wrote Lela to come get him and said he had found out how he could get away. She was to bring a box of candy to give to the man who would be with Lou. He also wrote to Claude and said he would need a car as he was coming home. He had a scheme for the candy business and then all he and Lela would have to do would be take the money and let others do the work.

At Bessies

May 22nd 24

Dear brother and sister

It dont seem as if I had been home yet, going to Wills[1] Thursday home Saterday, then came down here that evening. Claude[2] took me home last evening. Later Joe[3] brought Bess[4] and Dorothy[5] up to get candy that had to be delivered. It was so cold, the girls[6] decided I should come back, this weather and no fire for weeks in the house makes it so cold. I said I could stand it if the rest could. We had to wear our coats all the time. Julius[7] is in Michigan went Monday, comes home next Sunday. Is in Annarbor[?] now has been to Kazoo[8] & Lansing. Next week plays in Evenston[9] for May Festival then is through till fall. Bess is working on Dorothys dress[10] what time she gets. I will send sample, its very prettey. Katheryn Willette is going to stand up with her, her dress is a pretty shade of green. The front panel in Dorothys dress has eight folds down the front, three inches wide. The dark is wrong side of good, the light the right side. The flowers are silk roses in pastel shades, blue, green, white, yellow, lavender, pink, with silver and gold leaves. Slippers white satin, silver trimed. They are Katies.[11] She let Dodo[12] have them to _____, as she did not care for them only to be maried in, and they are quite expensive. Claude and Eda[13] give the wedding. I’ll write all about it when its over. Dorothy and I are going over to flat tomow spend the day, as their furniture is coming out and she is going to have a man come and clean windows. The children[14] are coming up to have lunch with us. Dorothy is so nervous, is home sick now, dont want to leave Bess. She got so could not sleep, twitched, hard head ache all the time, so Bess sent her to a practicioner. Is feeling some better, absent treatment to day, pesent tomow. None of the neighbours know how she is. The cord on waist to her dress is the wrong side of goods. Ethan do you remember if you mailed the letter I gave you, the day you went to the Burg.[15] Dorothy never got it, so she did now know Caroline thought of coming or about the little clover dishes. She is awful glad to have them. Will write you as soon as she can. Will have to wait now till they come there to get them. Jean[16] talks a lot about being there with you and is going back. Is so sorry Daisy did not find the little calf while she was there. You can send eggs when you can. We will take butter if it keeps cold. We pay 42 now. Will send some more beans so you can have them fixed up with cream. Nothing decided yet about Mrs Wei__en, girls want to go it alone, if they can, then it will all be theirs. Its terrible about Jim,[17] seems as if I will go wild thinking how he is. I wrote him to day, see if he could come here, see what that would do for him. Lizzie[18] and Will want he should come there for a while. This might not be change enough, but it used to help him to come from here to Mich. Lou[19] sent Lela a special delivery this week, wanting she should come and get him Thursday. Said he had found how he could get away. She was to be at big gate at such a time, have a box of candy to give to a man who would be there with him. She wrote and told him she could not come, and he must stay till the Dr said he could then there would be a way for him to come. He also wrote to Claude. Told him the time had come for him to get an Automobile for hire as he was coming home. Had promised Lela she would not do any thing but rest for three months. He said he would do as she wanted. He had a wonderful scheme worked out for the candy business that he would have to attend to him self, so he and Lela would go out every day with the car, till he got his scheme to work, then all they would have to do would be to take the money, let others do the work. Did not mention Bess in any way. He and Lela was the whole push.

Tuesday Friday p.m.

Dorothy and I came over to her flat 9-30, their bed room furniture and living room rug have been delivered. A man is here cleaning windows &c,[20] begins to look like living, has her dining room chairs & two living room chairs to come yet this afternoon, so we wont get away before five. I am going home.[21] She will go with me. Bess and Robert[22] are there. Its so cold, rained all day. I am sitting with my coat on. Can hardly hold the pen my hands are so cold. Helen and Jean were here to lunch with us. We brought it from Bessies. Had white & brown bread and butter, cold boiled eggs, cheese, cucumber pickles, cookies & water. Dorothy is only a short way from their school, right on their way home. Dorothy says they can come every day, when she gets to living here. They will want to all right, but Lela wont let them. Eda said Harold[23] was dispointed not getting in the candy business, but there realy is not business enough yet to warrant so many salrys. May be can when fall. I dont think it looks real promising for Carries being well very soon. I am so sorry for them. We are going to send them an announcement, but it dont call for a present from any one. My paper is about full so I have to stop. I want to write to Lou[24] tonight. Are you going to keep the calf a while and is the pump fixed. I think Dean done well not to go right home. That check was made out for ___ ___ ___ I looked for when home but Lela did not get around to send it so you got it.

With love



[1] Her brother-in-law, Willis Brown

[2] Her son, Claude Brown

[3] Joseph Langmayer, Dorothy’s fiance

[4] Her daughter, Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz

[5] Bess’ daughter, Dorothy Recoschewitz

[6] Her daughters, Bess, and Lela (Brown) Mueller

[7] Bess’ husband, Julius Recoschewitz

[8] Kalamazoo, Michigan

[9] Evanston, Illinois

[10] Wedding dress; her and Joe’s upcoming marriage on May 29, 1924

[11] Dorothy’s stepsister, Kathryn (Brouty) Thornton

[12] Dorothy’s nickname

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

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

[15] Galesburg, Michigan

[16] Lela’s daughter, who had been visiting Ethan and Hannah earlier in the month

[17] Their brother, James Clinton Keith, who suffered from severe asthma

[18] Will’s wife, Elizabeth (Ogden) Brown

[19] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller, who was confined to Elgin Mental Hospital

[20] Etc.

[21] She lived with Lela’s family

[22] Bess’ son, Robert Recoschewitz

[23] Harold Doyen, Eda’s nephew

[24] Their sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

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May 12, 1924 letter to Nancy Brown from Hannah Towne

May 12, 1924

To: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

From: Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

Recalls the recent visit Nancy and others made to Michigan and how lonesome she is now. Writes a great deal about a visit that Addie Fullerton made to Harry and went into great detail about all the changes that had been made and that he was “a d—n f—l to let Ella’s, Mabel’s and Nellie’s pictures go out of the parlor.”

Monday 8:25 P.M. May 12 [1924]

Dear Sister and all-

Pretty late to write a letter but could’nt get to it before. A week ago to night you and Jean[1] were here – also Geo[2] and Bess[3] – Frank & Till[4] called to night suppose you are in Chicago. We wished you could of been here yesterday. It was most awful lonesome Tuesday. Ethen[5] hardly in the house only to eat. It seems most every day I can hear Jean. I did a lot of work last week so that helped out. I got the ironing all done – had a lot of clothes that you did not know of. Finished Mrs Rices up, got mending done – I jumped right in. Have washed to day to help out on next week. We did not go to Georges. It rained hard Wed- & Thursday. I expect it seemed good to get home and see the girls – and Jean to see them all and tell Helen[6] all about Michigan. I know the chickens and Daisy miss her, and I know Ethen and I do. The crate came as you know for it must be in Chicgo now. Ethen plows the garden to morrow with Frank & Fred.[7] Guess he will have to plow the corn ground. I dont see how he ever stand it and then all the rest of the work. He thinks the cod Liver oil is working his stomach a little stronger, for several nights he has’nt had to eat in the night. He wont ask Will[8] to help fix the pumps. Will knows they have got to be fixed for he has talked about it. I asked him if he did’nt think Robert Schram could help him. Of course he has got to be paid. It is enough to make any one turn in side out. Yesterday about nine oclock Mrs Roof called and asked us over to dinner said Barney would come after us. We went had a very nice time and good dinner. She said they would take us for a ride some Sunday. We hate to get in like that for one cant do any thing for them. Ida and Carrie[9] are getting along. If it dont rain to morrow the doctor wants Carrie to sit out on the porch a while and let the sun shine on her. Geo Knowels[10] passed a way yesterday funeral to morrow. Oll Milham[11] passed away Friday – buried to day. He lived at Benton Harber. Grant & Mary went. He was 82 years old. Dean got out of the barn yesterday, went as far as John Strubels, and turned in there. They caught him. Will didn’t have to go very far after him. Addie Fullerton called me one day last week wanted to know if I had called on Harry. I said no. She said he called up Sunday eve and wanted them to come over, so they and the Andersons went as you know. She said the house dont look like the same one, only two small pictures on the wall in parlor. A very handsome piano, two very nice chairs up holstered in gray plush and davenport the same. I understood her to say the chairs were Elephant style, and the rocker that was Mabels. A very pretty small stand with handsome lamp on – that is all in that room. In the den is the stand that was in the parlor – a very handsome lamp on that – the book case and one large chair. Mabels picture is in there. In sitting room the other davenport, victrola and one or two chairs. In his bed room is Ellas & Nellies pictures on the wall and Nellies dresser – and a small table or stand. Bed stands same as it has. The dining room same as it has been only the table has only a center piece on it. The kitchen the same only a small round table with oil cloth doillies on. They eat on that. Every thing shone – even the lady. She had an elegent gown on – white satin – hair white done up with french knot or roll – a great talker, good conversationalists, “can you pronounce it,” told all about their trip then she played the victrola. Harry says you see some one Else does the playing now. He was very quiet did’nt do much talking. He and Addie were in the den a lone a few minites, he said he thought everything would be all right. I thought it sounded as if they might fight some time. The lady said her mother died seven weeks before her husband did. She had lost her mind – would’nt it be a joke if the two Streators should loose theirs. I’ll bet she is _____ and he is a d—n f—l to let Ellas Mabels and Nellies pictures go out of the parlor. Addie says she is good looking and she is’nt ____ tell just about it, is about my size. She said they might have some more new furniture before I go there. She thinks he will bring her over to see me. Their names was’nt mentioned yesterday at Mr Roofs, I was glad of it I dont believes they have called on them. I must go to bed and finish this in the morning.

Tuesday 7:55 A.M.

Not very shiny this morning. Hope it wont rain so E– cant plow the garden. This is a terrible letter writing and all but my arm and hand was so stiff and lame last night and it is worse this morning. Hope we will hear from you to day or to morrow. Do you think Lou[12] will get down here before Mildred[13] goes on the trip. I must get busy.

Good bye – Love to all



[1] Nancy’s granddaughter, Eda “Jean” Mueller

[2] George Neumaier

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

[4] Frank & Matilda (Neumaier) Doyen

[5] Their brother, Ethan Keith

[6] Nancy’s granddaughter, Helen Mueller

[7] Fred Cripe, the husband of their niece, Mildred (Harris) Cripe

[8] Their nephew, Will Clark, the son of their half-sister, Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner

[9] Her neighbor, Ida (Barber) Howe, and her daughter, Carrie. Ida married Eugene Howe in 1882; however, the 1900 census shows Ida as a widow and she and their children were living with her father. All subsequent census records list her and her children with the surname of Barber

[10] George M. Knowles of Battle Creek, Michigan

[11] Oliver Milham of Lake Township, Michigan

[12] Their sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[13] Their niece, Mildred (Harris) Cripe

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May 7, 1924 letter to Jean Mueller from Lela Mueller

May 7, 1924

To: Jean Mueller

From: Lela Mueller

Lela is writing to her daughter, Jean, who is visiting relatives in Michigan. She was going to go shopping with her other daughter, Helen, but Helen started crying because she missed Jean so much, and Lela finally had to leave her at home while she went to the bank.

Wed. P.M.[1]

My dear Ejlen:[2]

Seems like you’ve been gone a month, just three in the house, seems very lonesome. I have to sleep with Helen.[3] Saturday after we got home from down town we had an early supper and then we got ready to go up on Lawrence Ave and get Helen some pumps, and what do you suppose. After Helen got her hat and coat on she began to cry for Jeannie and keep it up for over an hour. She would think she had stopped and would wash and put powder on to cover up her red nose and eyes – and then she’d start all over. I had to go to the bank so I finally left her crying. I walked up and back so was gone an hour. When I got home Daddy[4] had gone for a walk so she was alone, sat up in her room cutting out movie stars and had stopped crying.

June[5] was here all day Sunday and staid all night. I went to the store. They were still awake when I got home, 11:45 and had to come down and have lunch.

Am glad you are having such a good time, help all you can – and be real good. Hope Auntie[6] and Uncle Ethan[7] will both be lots better when you are ready to come home. If not Aunt Bess[8] better try and get some one there to help for a time.

Aunt Carrie[9] goes to the Hospital the Monday after Mothers Day. The Dr says its the only thing for her to-day. She asked him if she would have to stay in bed and he said you’ll be sick enough to be glad to stay in bed. He also told Carrie that Mary was in just as good condition as she was fifteen years ago.

I have to go the dentists with Helen now and then at 8:30 with my self. Hope to have six teeth out.

Expect Bob[10] to make caramels this eve. He is learning to drive now, began yesterday.

Must close –

With lots of love to every one.


Aunt Al[11] wants you to visit her you will wont you?


[1] The letter is undated, but from the May 12, 1924 letter it would appear to have been written May 7, 1924

[2] Her daughter, Eda “Jean” Mueller, who was 8 years old; she was with her aunt, Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz, and grandmother, Nancy (Keith) Brown, visiting Nancy’s brother, Ethan Keith, and sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne, in Galesburg, Michigan

[3] Her daughter, Helen Mueller, who was 10 years old

[4] Her husband, Louis Mueller, who was apparently living at home temporarily. Due to a brain injury he was institutionalized at Elgin Mental Hospital but did occasionally live with the family for short periods of time

[5] Believe this to be June Brown, age 7, granddaughter of Willis Brown, Lela’s uncle

[6] Hannah (Keith) Towne

[7] Ethan Keith

[8] Her sister, Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz

[9] There are several Carrie’s that are mentioned in the letters, but it is unclear which Carrie this refers to

[10] Her nephew, Robert Recoschewitz

[11] Her sister-in-law, Alice Miller (in 1921, because of discrimination against people of German descent during and following World War I, she had her name legally changed from Mueller to Miller)

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May 6, 1924 letter to Dorothy Rocoschewitz, Joseph Langmayer & Robert Recoschewitz

May 6, 1924

To: Dorothy Recoschewitz, Joe Langmayer & Bob Recoschewitz

From: Bess Recoschewitz

Was waiting for Alice and Carrie & Will to arrive. Auntie wanted things to be just so for company. She didn’t think Alice was any smarter than she was and didn’t like to be flattered so much. Alice was glad to see everyone as she was homesick. Has been doing a lot of cleaning. Wants to know how Bob is getting along with driving and wants him to write. They can show the letter to Lela but better not show it to Lou on account of what she said about Alice.

Tuesday 3. P.M.[1]

My dear Dodo Joe & Bob[2]                   

We[3] are dolled up waiting for Alice[4] and I guess Carrie & Will.[5] If they couldn’t bring her she said she would come on the interurban. I hope they bring her otherwise I’m afraid she will stay for supper and thats going to make a load of work, change everthing. Its made a lot of extra work just having them call. Auntie[6] worries so that things wont be just so, and of course it means to give up so much time that I’d like to put to other use. There is so much to be done and everything goes so slow.

Got your letter this morning.

Wed 9 A.M.

Got this far yesterday when I stopped to do some things for Auntie & didnt get at it again. We waited until quarter of five & no company, so hustled & got supper on the table. At just 5.10 Carrie, Will, George[7] & Alice drove in. We were just ready to sit down. Only Alice stayed, the rest drove on to the lake. Got back about 9.30 stayed until after 10.

I had to chace Jean[8] & Alice to the woods, put on another table cloth get out best dishes & pratically get another supper. Auntie sort of went to pieces for a few minutes but said she was so glad I took it so good natured & cool. Well I was glad I impressed her that way. I told Uncle Ethan[9] she didn’t know the half of it. The whole afternoon & evening shot. Alice seems tickled to death to see us & of course she would be with Jean & I guess she’s pretty homesick. She brought apples, oranges, cinnamon rolls & nut bread with her. Thinks its wonderful here & is going to come again this week, have Mildred, Elizabeth or some one bring her. They both like her but Auntie decided this morning that she wasn’t any smarter[10] than she is and she dont like to be flattered so much. I think Auntie is better than when I got here, but I don’t dare say it.

Jean is having a dandy time & she certainly is good & not one but bit of trouble, keeps her things picked up. She was is going to the woods tonight with Hazels children: Al Arvis & Forrest. About going home I’ll let you know as soon as I hear from Shelby[11] unless they can get me I’m not going to try to go. Its too much all around. We some expect them today & Mildred & Fred[12] will be up one day. I might go to Kal[13] with them & then to Shelby. I’m cleaning the kitchen & well room & poarch to day. Have nearly everthing on the poarch now so I don’t care if we don’t have company.

Auntie got quite a kick out of your letter so did I. How is Bob getting along with the driving. Tell him the address here. Would like to have him write.

Now I’ve got to get busy. Write as often as you can. Let Aunt Lela[14] see this but Uncle Lou[15] better not on account of what I’ve said about Alice. You’ll all understand.

With load of love



[1] The letter is undated, but from other letters concerning the same subjects, it would appear to have been written May 6, 1924

[2] Bess’ daughter, Dorothy Recoschewitz; Dorothy’s fiance, Joseph Langmayer (they were married May 29, 1924); and Bess’ son, Robert Recoschewitz

[3] Bess was spending some time in Galesburg, Michigan, with her aunt and uncle; her niece, Eda “Jean” Mueller, was with her

[4] Alice Miller, who was a sister of Louis Mueller, who was Bess’ brother-in-law

[5] William and Caroline (Neumaier) Pendleton

[6] Hannah (Keith) Towne

[7] George Neumaier, Will and Carrie’s son

[8] Eda “Jean” Mueller, Bess’ niece

[9] Ethan Keith

[10] Alice was a Dean of Women at Illinois Wesleyan University (1922-1924) and then at the University of Wisconsin at Madison (1924-1926). As a teacher, she taught German and French and during the summer months she served as a guide for her college students on tours of Europe

[11] Shelbyville, Michigan, where some of the relatives lived

[12] Bess’ cousin, Mildred (Harris) Cripe, and her husband (they were married November 28, 1923)

[13] Kalamazoo, Michigan

[14] Bess’ sister, Lela (Brown) Mueller

[15] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller

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April 25, 1924 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

April 25, 1924

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne

From: Nancy Brown

It was a shock to hear that Charl was gone. She was sorry for Cora and also Helen, who will miss him more than Cora. If Ras was better he could do more for her. Claude & Eda are taking her, Lela and the children to Crystal Lake, where he is going to build a house. They will stay overnight in a hotel and are going so that Lela can have a break. The girls have worked so hard early and late for over a year. Regular customers come to house almost every day to buy the candy. The Christmas trade was a little over $800.00, January and February fell off, March was $450.00, and this month will be about $500.00, but there is so little profit. They have four places in the loop and a number outside: the Orrington Hotel in Evanston, the Sherman downtown, Golfmore at Grand Beach and the Windmere Hotel downtown. The girls only use the best ingredients and people say that after eating their candy they can taste the starch and other substitutes that others use.


Friday 11 A.M.

April 25″ 1924

Dear brother and sister

I just got my paper and pen to write you when I looked up and saw the postman coming so waited, he brought us your letters. Yes, we will give 30 (30) for eggs, only wish it was more that we could give. Too bad you dont have them to sell when they are high. Of course we dont use many then but some we would. Its a shame about the crates. They are all three new ones. Glad you are sending more we are not quite out. Lela[1] thinks Lou[2] was a little better in some ways. He begs and cries so to come home. Said he cried all the time she was there & she had to cry too, but thinks it does her good. She never does any. Has said so many times if she only could she thought it would be a relief.

It certainly was some shock to hear Charl[3] had gone. As you say I am sorry for Cora[4], also Helen[5]. She will miss him more than Cora will. Now if Ras[6] were only better, but he cant do much for her. I have always thought I would see him some time. Yesterday was so nice and plesent & warm, this morning cold raw wind and raining. Claude and Eda[7] are taking Lela the children[8] and I to Crystal Lake tomow, come back Sunday afternoon. Its about 35 or 40 miles. Claude is going to build there. We stay to the hotel. We are going just to get Lela away. She goes so she is almost over board some times. Only place she goes it is Elgin. Dorothy and Robert[9] are coming up to stay while we are gone. Joe[10] will come Sunday of course for dinner. Dorothy has tried to get Louise and see if she would come and stay. They would take her back Sunday evening. Could not get an answer to the call last night. She has never heard one thing from Louise. Its a shame she neglects her mother so. She could get her a hat and one or two dresses ready made. I mean work dresses. I have that light wite shirt and jacket. Do you suppose she would wear that. I’ll put it in the crate then she can see if she would care for it. Dorothy is going to try again and see if she can get Louise. No, she wont be invited to the wedding. Was not planing on anyone out side the two families, but Ruth and the boys[11] want to come. They will send out announcement cards. Dodo[12] said if the Michigan folks could come she would like to have them, but so long as they cant thought to just have the few. Leone[13] thought she might come to see us this spring. I wish she could happen along at that time. Fred and Mildred[14] leave the day before she is married.[15]

Now about the candy. The girls[16] have worked so hard early and late for over a year. Not much in it so far but work for them, but its growing and it goes in more homes than I can begin to tell. They are working all the time. We have regular customers. Take from 2 to 5 lbs evry Sunday. Not a day but some come to buy it at the house. Evry one who has had any say it spoiled them for any others. Robert comes here from school evry day, delivers the rest of the day beside the pounds that he takes to P.P. station. Our Xmas trade was a little over eight hundred dollars. Jan & Feb. of course fell off, but fairly good. March over four hundred & fifty. This month will be at least five ” ” [hundred], but there is so little profit. I guess we are the only ones in the city that dont use some substitute, some artifical something, Parafline to hold it up &c. People say after eating ours it tastes so pure, can taste the starch & other substitins in other candy. We use the best cane sugar, reel butter & cream. Our caramels is the best cream that can be bought from any milk man, our choclate the best. Dealers sell us that. So many tell us we ought to get at least 1.50 a pound others say 2.00, but we cant do that till we get a store. The L–[17] gave us one order now it remains to be seen how well they sell, but of course they wont push them as they would if we advertised. Claude & Robert took the first down this morning, twelve (12) hundred bars. Out of that number the girls make less than 20.00. Of course we have to give them a good comision, but its a good add for us any way. We have the bars in four places in the loop[18] and a number out side. Both the candies & bars in the finest (new) Hotel (the Orrington) in Evanston, the Sherman house down town, the Gulfmore at Grand Beach want them after the fifteenth of May. The Windmere Hotel down town has them, all new places, none doing any thing big, but all seem to think they will as soon as they can get them started good. If we only had a few thousand to branch out with. When I know how the girls work and the amount of candy the girls sell it seems as if they ought to have more out of it. What we need is more help. We have Carrie and our dipper and Robert. He dont get any thing but work & car fare. Claude helps in big orders when he can. It takes the profit to deliver the way we have to. We will have to have a car some day. I’ve just phoned Bess.[19] Dorothy got Louise this morning. She is coming over tomow. Said she seemed real pleased. If you want to you can send this to Lou.[20] It will save me writting about the candy. I presume they wants to know some thing of how its going. If we can live long enough we can all have some thing out of it. I dont know how many have spoken of the name, say it means so much more than other names. I dont know why. You know I never liked the name of Nancy but always did Keith. They say the two names seem to go to and belong to gether. That is before they know what or whose name it is. My paper is full. Must get busy any way.

With love to all



[1] Her daughter, Lela (Brown) Mueller

[2] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller, who was confined to Elgin State Mental Hospital after suffering brain damage from being hit by a streetcar

[3] Charles Wood Scott Towne. Charles was the son of Joseph & Eunice (Wood) Scott. In 1870, at the age of 2, Charles and his mother were living with her parents. Around 1871, Eunice married Erasmus Towne and Charles took the name of Towne

[4] Charles’ second wife, Cora (McKeller) Towne

[5] Charles’ daughter, Helen Towne, by his first wife, Mabel Edna (Waite) Towne

[6] Charles’ stepfather, Erasmus Towne

[7] Her son and daughter-in-law, Claude & Edith (Neumaier) Brown

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

[9] Her grandchildren, Dorothy and Robert Recoschewitz

[10] Dorothy’s fiance, Joseph Langmayer

[11] Believe she is referring to her niece and nephews, Ruth (Brown) Kroscher and Ray, Perry and Charles Brown

[12] Dorothy’s nickname

[13] Her niece, Leone Harris

[14] Her niece and her husband, Mildred (Harris) & Fred Cripe

[15] Dorothy & Joe married May 29, 1924

[16] Her daughters, Lela and Bess, who started Nancy Keith Candies

[17] The elevated train station

[18] Downtown Chicago

[19] Her daughter, Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz

[20] Nancy’s, Ethan’s & Hannah’s sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

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