March 23, 1920 letter to Nancy Brown from Louese Harris

March 23, 1920

To: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

From: Louese Harris, Shelbyville, MI

Have been sick with the flu and have not been able to keep up with their work. Now the sitting room ceiling needs to have the plaster torn down and then replastered, which she just dreads. She would rather sell and build a new house which would mean a lot of work, but they wouldn’t have to live in the mess as they do now. Inquires about Lou’s shingles and about Lela and Lou moving to their new house. Is concerned about Hannah’s health and ability to do her work. Cora Kitchen hid $54.00 under her mattress and now it is missing. It’s strange that Mate Ford died so soon after her husband did.


Shelbyville Mar. 23-1920

Dear Sister:

I dont know whether I owe you a letter or not but guess it makes no difference. I’m thinking of you folks a whole lot these days and wonder how you are making it, hope you and the children[1] are at Claudes[2] or Bessies[3] – as I said before you could not help settle and better for you to be away from it. I hope Lela[4] wont get sick or Lou[5] any more. Too bad they had to move before they wanted to, though they wont care when they get to living again & that it is over with. I expect we have to be in another mix up this spring, as soon as we can take the ‘base burner’ out. We have to have the sitting room plaster on ceiling torn off & of course replastered. It is all loose in middle and as it cant be patched up with out being noticeable it all has to come off. Such a muss. Mildred[6] & I dread it. The same thing had to be done 11 yrs ago this spring and since then we’ve had dining room ceiling done. I told D.[7] I’d rather sell & build a new house which would mean a lot of work but we would’nt have to live right in the muss as we do now. We have no cleaning done yet, being sick has set up back with a lot of work. And then would be no use of doing any thing down stairs or even up until after the plastering is done. The “flu” dont leave a person in very good shape physically. I’ll be glad when we dont have to dope. Mildred is taking Cod Liver Oil Ext so she is feeling more like work – but has a pain in her left side so much of the time but it will probably wear off after a while. Leone[8] & I are taking Hanlons medicine. Well how are you are coming. Are you getting your strength back. And has it effected your kidneys. How is Lou’s shingles and is Bess all right again, hope the children are well once more. They wont have to have chicken pox again. If they are out at the new house how do they like it. And Mate[9] is gone, is’nt it strange she went so soon after he did. I saw her when I was home in Nov. She spent the afternoon there of the day I arrived. Hannah[10] invited her down to eat Thanksgiving dinner with us but Lauras[?] daughter at Kal[11] was coming after her to spend the day with them so she did not come to eat with H & E[12] until Xmas. Mate was feeling real bad because she never had been to Oak Grove[13] since she took Charlie[14] there, Henry[15] having no time to take her. Hannah says, Well Charlie is’nt there any way, he is with you and now dont care any thing about it. So she probably has’nt been until yesterday when her body was placed in the vault. I suppose now that Tom[16] & Henry will have to fight it out in regard to settling up affairs. But I do hope Tom dont get the best of Henry. If Jennie stays may be she will play peace maker. Hannah feels pretty well broken up I think over Mates going. She wrote me if she went to the funeral Henry was coming down after her. I wrote back that it seemed to me under the circumstances it would be better for her not to go but may be I’m wrong. She is about all in which you probably know.

I’ve vibrated and done every thing I could all winter to keep them from having the “flu” and now she is sick and it is not the “flu” either but just a nervous break down which is enough. I wrote Ethan a ‘personal’ letter yesterday asking him to tell me just how Hannah is. She wrote me she could just drag round & that was all. I dont know by that whether she is only able to get what they have to have to eat or if she is keeping her sewing & work all up and working in misery & with great difficulty. I’ve just glanced over this page. One might think that I thought I had them on my shoulders but I dont mean it that way. I know you’ve done all you could and the girls included to make life as easy as possible for them but this is the idea. I would tried to do my share. If Hannah is really not well enough to wait on her self & Ethan, that is do her ordinary house work, I hope he’ll tell me and Mildred or I will go down there, if it is _____ work wont move very fast some of the time and I can’t get up at 4 oclock. I wrote her last Fri. that if she was so worn out to cut out the sewing – sleep an hour longer mornings – and some during the day, lay round & rest for a month. It would be better for her than than to work until she dropped, then not be able for six months to wait on her self. Now if you think I’m wrong I want you to tell me. It is not because we dont want to go there or not willing to do all we can for her – but you can’t come – you’re not well enough and just now Mildred & I are not very frisky. That is enough so to rush things but I can do what has to be done to exist & M could go one better. She’d have to send the heavy underwear & some pieces to the laundry but either one of us would do that to our own expence. I think one of us will go to G[17] any way in ten days or two weeks but if I hear from Ethan & he says Hannah is in a serious condition we wont wait but go by Sat.

Wilma[18] has just been in for a half hour, it is evening – I was alone & thought I’d get this letter finished. Mildred went down to LaVerne’s[19] on an errand so I’m alone now, is 8 oclock. Leone will be coming soon. I wont stay alone very long in the eve. Doris[20] came down last Fri. stays until next Sun. School vacation. Roy[21] came Sat. night returned to G.R.[22] Sun ” [night]. You really would not know Roy to see him at a distance. He measures 5. ft. 10 weighs 160 lbs., had a nice new suit of clothes, a dandy over coat, hat, shoes, etc. and in appearance is a man. He is 16 to day. Gets 50. cts an hour at the Spring works and earns considerable working over time. Mr Kitchen[23] is one of the night watchmen there. $120.00 a month. Cora[24] give up her job week before last but may have another one by this time. She worked at the Swiss American K___ing Mills, was put on piece work which she did not like & quit. Last Fri. fore noon she discovered that $54.00 she had placed in her bed under the mattress for safe keeping was gone. Neither Mr K– or the children knew she had it. Was saving up to buy her own & Doris’s spring clothes with and two weeks before she lost $200 so she feels pretty blue I guess. But she has always been careless & is now. There was a $5.00 bill & jewelry in the dresser drawer (her mother’s[25] ” [jewelry]) close by the bed but had’nt been disturbed. They are not careful about locking the doors. Roy said he hoped it would teach her a lesson so she’d take her money with her & not hide it in the bed – the very place one would look first for any such. Think I wrote you of Jims[26] new job. He has three shifts, this week works from 8 A.M. until 4 P.M. one is a night shift. They say he likes it first rate, is not hard work, lots of electricity buzzing round but is not dangerous as he does not come in contact with it. I hav’nt been down to Marians[27] since Christmas day. She called here when we ‘M. & I’ were coming down with “flu.” She has’nt been well this winter. I think washing is one thing that uses her up. She was not used to it and then probably she has other things to contend with. If you could see her you’d wonder how she ever lives with him. Josie & Fred[28] move in to the big house Apr. 1st. John & Susie[29] are already moved in with Josie & Fred. Though they have a good many things moved over here too. Mrs Day vacated sitting room & parlor so they could move things out to make room for John & Susie. They have a wonderful baby.[30] Floyd[31] was over there Sun. says it is pretty & very cute. Looks like Susie. They’ve never taken her out among people – wont go to Marians until they can run the auto. Wont ride over R.R. with her for fear she will be exposed to some disease. Well she has never been sick. Susie is just like Belle a regular stay at home & I would’nt wonder if she had her mothers number of children. We are having our first “horse radish.” I’m going to cook some beans and send a basin of baked ” [beans] & some h.r. home. I hav’nt heard from them to day. Hope Hannah is better. And I hope you are too, and all the rest well.

Write soon.

A letter to Leone from Minnie[32] this week, says she has been very sick with “flu.” I’ll address this to the new place as you may possibly be there but you’ll be there get it any way.

[1] Most likely Nancy’s granddaughters, Helen and Eda “Jean” Mueller

[2] Nancy’s son, Claude Brown

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

[4] Nancy’s daughter, Lela (Brown) Mueller. Nancy lived with Lela’s family

[5] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller

[6] Louese’s daughter, Mildred Harris

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

[8] Louese’s daughter, Leone Harris

[9] Believe this is Mary Ann Ford

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

[11] Kalamazoo, Michigan

[12] Hannah and their brother, Ethan Keith

[13] Oak Grove Cemetery

[14] Mate’s husband, Charles Ford

[15] Mate & Charlie’s son, Henry Ford

[16] Mate & Charlie’s son, Thomas Ford

[17] Galesburg, Michigan

[18] Louese’s and Nancy’s niece, Wilma Keith, the daughter of their brother, James Keith

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

[20] Doris Hogeboom, daughter of Cora (Harris) by her first husband, Aaron Hogeboom

[21] Roy Hogeboom, son of Cora (Harris) by her first husband, Aaron Hogeboom

[22] Grand Rapids, Michigan

[23] John Kitchen, second husband of Cora (Harris)

[24] Louese’s sister-in-law, Cora (Harris) Hogeboom Kitchen

[25] Adaline (Ralph) Harris

[26] Louese’s and Nancy’s brother, James Keith

[27] Perhaps she is referring to Marion (Meredith) Rice, who was the sister of Cora (Meredith) Keith, who was married to James Keith

[28] Josephine (Meredith) and Fred Dean; Josephine was the sister of Cora (Meredith) Keith, who was married to James Keith

[29] John and Sarah (Noble) Meredith; John was the brother of Cora (Meredith) Keith, who was married to James Keith

[30] Believe she is referring to Margaret Meredith

[31] Louese’s son, Floyd Harris

[32] Minnie (Crooks) Crawford, who was the widow of Louese’s and Nancy’s cousin, Eugene Crawford

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3 Responses to March 23, 1920 letter to Nancy Brown from Louese Harris

  1. Judi says:

    So enjoy reading these, Barb. A labor of love for you for sure.


  2. Barb Triphahn says:

    Thanks, Judi. Glad you’re enjoying them.


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