February 29, 1924 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

February 29, 1924

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne, Kalamazoo, MI

From: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

Writes about Lou’s condition and how a recent visit from his sister Alice and his mother upset him so much that the nurse had to ask them to leave. Alice feels sorry for Lela and daughters, but not enough to help out financially. She earns $200.00 a month plus expenses and has no one depending on her. Since the Sissle girls left, Lela’s income is only $4.00 a week. Dorothy and Joe are to be married May 29 and they put a deposit down on an apartment but are hoping to find something more reasonable. Dorothy wants to work in the candy business which will be a big help to Lela and Bess. 


Feb 29 1924

2-50 P.M.

Dear brother and sister

It will be four years before we can write on the 29 of February. I think its 54 years today Saraetta[1] was married. At least she was married two years before I was. I have not heard from her since last spring, so I wrote her two weeks ago got an answer yesterday. If I send it you send it back as Will[2] will want to see it. Its warm and plesant out side “over head” as Marenus Caywood[3] said but mud and slush under foot. Lela[4] is down town to day attending to bills &c. I’d think the girl would go crazy. Alice[5] has been and gone. Came Sat went back last night. Telephoned two or three times wanted to come and see us but was so tired every day so felt it an imposition to come when Lela had so much to do. She was not urged to come. She went to Elgin[6] last Sunday got there about eleven. Lou[7] was not expecting her. Then about one Joe[8] and family with Mother Mueller[9] went. He was looking for them. It was too much for him. Alice got him all unstrung. Then Mrs Mueller just clung to him. They both cried and it got Lou so nervous the nurse told them they would have to go. Alice said she had to take right hold of her mother and scold her. I cant blame Mrs M–. Lou is her idol any way, and to see him where he is and his surroundings she could not help feeling as she did. Lela went Monday left him feeling all right – only so homesick. She goes again next Sunday and so does Mrs M– & Joes but he will be all right. Lela will plan to be there one hour or more before the others come. Mrs M– is going to give him the things he needs and wants. That will be a help to Lela. She expects to live with Joe. Uncle August[10] said he could give Joe $30.00 a month. Alice feels so sorry for Lela and the “poor dear little girls”[11] but she was not so sorry that she done any thing. She gets two hundred a month and all expenses, so that is clear to her and no one depending on her.

I had a long letter from Lou[12] and one from Leone.[13] Lou and Dorothy are married. I hope evry thing is all right. I have not heard from any of Jims.[14] Lou wrote their car cost sixteen hundred and fifty or that is what they sell for. Dorothy and Joe[15] expect to be married the 29 of May, three months from to day. They have made a small deposit on a four room appartment three blocks west from us, can see building from here. Rents have gone up so they will lose their deposit if they can do any better but they cant. All the family have been looking for six weeks. This is $77.50. Bess[16] has to pay $100.00. Dorothy has nearly all her bedding, table linens, silver, dishes, towels, bed and dining room furniture beside some other things. Joe had saved one thousand dollars. Gladys[17] is going to be married the 7 of June. Claude & Edas[18] 25 anniversary is the 15 of June. Dorothy wants to work in the candy if we need her. We all think its best she should so if either Bess or Lela were sick or had any reason for not working she could fill in. We dont get any roomers yet. Alice asked Bess if she could not suggest some thing she could do to to help. Bess said do any thing you could not miss it there is so much. Her in come has been $4.00 a week since the girls[19] left so you must know any thing would not come ____. I cant get Bessie M– out of my mind. I am awful sorry for her. I cant help feeling Carson[?] is to blame. He got her in his clutches. She of course worshiped him. Too bad she cant pass on. We sent Aunt Kate[20] and Mable Chaffee[21] some candy last week. I must stop and & get dinner. ____ said their visit was good but too short.




[1] Her husband Hank Brown’s cousin, Sarahetta (Calkins) Tilton

[2] Believe she is referring to her brother-in-law, Willis Brown

[3] A neighbor of Ethan and Hannah

[4] Her daughter, Lela (Brown) Mueller

[5] Lela’s sister-in-law, Alice Miller. Because of tensions with Germany during World War I, the German language was taken out of schools and persons with German names had a difficult time keeping, or getting, a job. On May 13, 1921, Alice legally changed the spelling of her last name to Miller

[6] Elgin State Mental Hospital, where Lela’s husband was institutionalized

[7] Louis Mueller

[8] Lou’s sister, Johanna (Mueller) Holmquist Langhorn

[9] Augusta (Ficke) Mueller

[10] Lou’s uncle, and Augusta’s brother, Charles August Ficke

[11] Lela’s and Lou’s daughters, Helen and Jean

[12] Her sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[13] Her niece, Leone Harris

[14] Her brother, James Keith

[15] Her niece, Dorothy Recoschewitz, and Joseph Langmayer

[16] Her daughter, Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz

[17] Edith Brown’s niece, Gladys Doyen, who was engaged to Charles Reed

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

[19] Edith and Hedwig Sissle, two of Lela’s boarders who moved out on January 10, 1924

[20] Katherine (Atcheson) Crawford, the widow of her uncle, Hiram Crawford Jr.

[21] Mabel (Chaffee) Williams, the granddaughter of Nancy’s uncle and aunt, Harvey and Alfleda (Starr) Keith

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