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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