December 24, 1902 letter to Nancy Brown from Ethan Keith

December 24, 1902

To: Nancy Brown

From: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

Ethan is writing his sister about their Christmas, which has been empty without their mother. Pa seems to have her on his mind much of the time and wishes they could have both died at the same time. He was sorry that Lela couldn’t join them for Christmas.

This letter was originally posted to the Crawford/Comfort Family Letters blogsite. Click here to read the letter.

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Obituary for Sarah (Crawford) Keith


December 26, 1821 – November 18, 1902

Keith, Sarah Crawford


From an unknown newspaper clipping.

Keith, Sarah - Obituary

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November 17, 1902 letter to Sarah Keith from Edna Allen

November 17, 1902

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Edna Allen, Kalamazoo, MI

Edna is writing her Aunt, who unfortunately died on the 18th, before the letter arrived. Edna is updating Sarah on her family. She was in Wisconsin, but missed seeing Uncle Robert, although she has received a letter from him. She saw in the paper that Hiram had been in Galesburg visiting.

This letter was originally posted to the Crawford/Comfort Family Letters blogsite. Click here to read the letter.

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November 14, 1902 letter to Nancy Brown from Ethan Keith

November 14, 1902

To: Nancy Brown

From: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

Ethan is writing his sister describing the poor condition of their mother. He is having much difficulty caring for her as her condition fails.

This letter was originally posted to the Crawford/Comfort Family Letters blogsite. Click here to read the letter.

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November 14, 1902 letter to James Keith from Robert Crawford

November 14, 1902


To: James Keith, Shelbyville, MI


From: Robert Crawford, Neenah, WI


After visiting relatives in Shelbyville, Robert went to Chicago with his nephew, Ethan, to visit his niece, Nancy, and his brother, Hiram, before returning home in Neenah, Wisconsin. He received a letter from his sister, Sarah, who was getting weaker and was gradually failing when he saw her. He was planning to spend the winter with his daughter, Lulu, and her family in Oelwein, Iowa. Heard about the marriages of Cora’s sister, Josephine, and also his niece, Bess, to Julius.

This letter was originally posted to the Crawford/Comfort Family Letters blogsite. Click here to read the letter.

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October 29, 1902 letter to Nancy Brown from Ethan Keith

October 29, 1902

To: Nancy Brown

From: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

Is writing after returning from a visit and thanks them for everything. He went to Kalamazoo on Monday to sign the patent papers which will be sent to Washington right away.

Scan of 1902-10-29 Ethan Keith to Nancy Brown

Galesburg, Mich.
Oct– 29, 1902.
4.35 P.m.

Dear Sister,

I intended to have begun a letter you earlier but did not find a stopping place in my work before. Have been gathering apples. I arrived at Galesburg Sunday night at 12.20. We were one hour going to Hammond. Will Holmes[1] came on to the train soon after I got there, rode out to Pullman. There was a very thin crowd on the train there must a good many staid in Chicago. I did not sleep any coming home. Bert Kingsley and the Comings boys kept me company from Michigan City. Felt pretty old Monday but would go again. I enjoyed the trip. I saw you all, and know where you live, and how you look. Am very much obliged to you and the girls[2] for what you done for me. Went to Kal–[3] Monday and signed the patent papers[4] and paid them the last of the $45.00. Said they would send the papers to Washington right away. Finished digging potatoes yesterday have got 24½ bushels in the cellar and there are not more than two bushels that are too small to eat. They are real nice and we feel pretty good over them. Hannah[5] says she wont write to Jim[6] about the drum. I told her she had better let it go and not have any trouble so I will send it to him unless you had rather I would not. Ma[7] keeps about the same is just as thirsty as she has been.

Will have to close and do chores.

Love to all



[1] The husband of their half-niece, Ina (Skinner) Holmes

[2] Nancy’s daughters, Lela and Bess Brown

[3] Kalamazoo, Michigan

[4] He was an inventor and had several patents

[5] Their sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne

[6] Their brother, James Keith

[7] Their mother, Sarah (Crawford) Keith

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October 29, 1902 letter to Louese Harris from Robert Crawford

October 29, 1902

To: Louese Harris, Shelbyville, MI

From: Robert Crawford, Milwaukee, WI

Robert arrived in Chicago Sunday on the excursion train with Ethan after visiting Sarah. They had a very enjoyable trip and found Uncle Hi and his sister Nancy there at the Central Depot. All were well except Charley Eck who was in very poor condition. “Your Mother is in a very poor condition and gradually failing.”

This letter was originally posted to the Crawford/Comfort Family Letters blogsite. Click here to read the letter.

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October 20, 1902 letter to Sarah Keith from Louese Harris

October 20, 1902

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Louese Harris, Shelbyville, MI 

Inquires into her mother’s health and writes about her husband D’s health. Received a letter from Ernest Whitings who wanted to work in D’s store during the coming winter. Writes about Cora and Aaron and how disagreeable Aaron is. Aaron thinks she should go to the hospital, but Cora wants Nancy to come take care of her (presumably when she has her baby).

Scan of 1902-10-20 Louese Harris to Sarah Keith

Shelbyville Oct 20/1902

Dear Ones All–

I will write a short letter this afternoon and then write again Friday. I rec’d Ma’s[1] letter this morning. She did not say what the Dr said about her. Does she have as much fever as she had last week. And what is he giving her? D[2] went again this morning. Floyd[3] took him to Hopkins for the 8.25 train. He wished to be there to roll call as he was’nt last Monday morning. He came home on noon train Sat. Is feeling lots better. Says he has had a good chance to rest & has improved it though he sweats more or less nights. He is better of that too. I think the Doctors medicine will bring him out all right with the rest he is getting. D said tell Uncle Robert[4] that if he could be here next week he would be in town to visit with him. D had so much to do that he said it hardly seemed as if he had seen him. Mr. Whittacres folks live two miles west of Allegan. D wants me to drive over to Allegan Friday. Then we go & stay all night at Mr. W–s and come home Sat. May be I will if I can get me work done I have planned for this week & the weather is good. That is the reason I did not go after him Sat. He phoned to me Friday eve to wait an other week. Rec’d a letter from Cora[5] today. Said Hannah[6] was going to Mrs G–s some day this week & if she knew when she was there she would go down to see her. Heard from Nancy[7] Sat. Things as usual there. She has trouble but she should be thankful it is not disgraces. There are any amount of people who would be glad to exchange places with her. How did Dell[8] get along with the store while Will[9] was gone.

Jim[10] made me quite a call Friday afternoon. It is seldom we get a chance to visit. He has an indian working for him this week. Same one that was there when Uncle R– was. D rec’d a letter from Ernest Whitings asking him to let him work in the store[11] this winter. I guess D will hire him. He thinks Ernest would be good help. He is competent ambitious & particular early riser etc. I am willing though he will have to be here all the time but he makes him self very agreeable. Then perhaps Jay[12] will take the hint & stay north. Ernest says his face is nearly healed — is improving very fast. Dont tell any one what Ive written for D may change his mind but he thought this morning he would write him a favorable letter. If he comes I shall fix up the Doctors[13] room for him.

How is Pa[14] & did he remember his birthday[15] and does he think to take his medicine. Write me Ma just how you are. It will not be long before I can go home. I have got to write to Cora[16] to night. She is going to write to Nancy & ask her to come & take care of her so I’m going to head her off for Nancy can’t come. When “ [Nancy] was here she said if she had nothing to hold her she would go & take care of Cora. So I told Cora, like a goose, and now she is going to write on the strength of that. Cora is awfully uneasy. She dont know what she is going to do and I presume Aaron[17] dont console her very much for he thinks she ought to be willing to go to the Hospital. She says so he must be bothered. I feel sorry for her but she ought to have thought of this last Jan. I tried to impress it on her mind & have her wait an other year until they had money enough to cover such expenses at any reasonable cost.[18] I guess probably Mrs G– has as much use for Aaron as D & I have. His last visit here disgusted us completely. He kept Cora waiting upon him all the time.[19]

I must stop and begin another letter. Tell Uncle R– to write to me when he gets to his destination & settled down.

Love to all

Do hope you are all feeling better



[1] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[2] Her husband, Daniel D. Harris, who was known as D. or D.D.

[3] Her son

[4] Her mother’s brother, Robert Crawford

[5] This could be referring to D’s sister, Cora (Harris) Hogeboom, or Cora (Meredith) Keith, her brother Jim’s wife

[6] Her sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne. Hannah was a seamstress and would often stay at people’s homes while she made clothes for them

[7] Her sister, Nancy (Keith) Brown

[8] Adelbert Skinner, who was married to her half-sister, Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner

[9] Believe she is referring to William Clark, who was Lois’s son by her first husband, Byron Clark

[10] Her brother, James Keith

[11] D was the owner of the general store in Shelbyville, Michigan

[12] Believe she is referring to D’s brother. The Harris family also had a store in Phoenix, Michigan, and perhaps Louese is hoping he would go there to help out

[13] Samuel Boyer who had previously boarded with Louese & D. He was referred to as Doc and was engaged to Nancy’s daughter, Lela Brown

[14] Charles Luke Keith Jr., who was known as Luke

[15] Luke turned 89 on October 15

[16] D’s sister, Cora (Harris) Hogeboom

[17] Cora’s husband, Aaron Hogeboom

[18] Cora and Aaron were married January 15, 1902 and their daughter, Doris Louise Hogeboom, was born December 26, 1902, so presume this was all in reference to the upcoming birth

[19] Aaron died April 27, 1904 of tuberculosis. Perhaps he was ill at that time without knowing the seriousness of it or perhaps that was just his nature

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October 12, 1902 letter to Sarah Keith from Harriet Plank

October 12, 1902

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Harriet Plank, Grand Rapids, MI

Harriet Plank is writing Sarah about a visit from Jim Keith and inquiring about the welfare of Sarah’s family. She had greatly enjoyed his visit and hoped that he and his family would come again.

Scan of 1902-10-12 Harriet Plank to Sarah Keith

Grand Rapids Oct 12 1902

My Dear Friend Mrs Kieth & all

I have been talking of writing to you for a long long time. Have said to Carrie[1] I will certainly write to Mrs Kieth this week but the weeks have passed & no letter to my dear friend. The time seems to go so fast & being so lame I get around so slow it takes me so long to do what little I have to do. We had a very pleasant call from Jim.[2] Was very glad to see him & hear from you all. He spoke while here about an excursion the next Sabbath & said he & wife[3] might come & see us as it was dificult to get away on Week day & we intended to tell him when he left to be sure & come & see us but when he left it sliped our minds & we boath spoke of it & we were very sorry. We were visiting so fast what little time he was here that we did not think of it until he had gone & we did not know but that he might think we did not care to have him & family come but no so. We would been very glad to have them come. We were sorry to hear that Dell Skinner[4] was so poorly & hope he is better. Feel anxious to hear how he is & dear friend I think of you so often in your great affliction & confinement, your limbs being so painfull & bad & so cripled with rheumatism. O how thankfull those aught to be that can get out & arround & feel comfortable & you seem so patient with it all. Jim said that Hannah[5] was rushed as much as ever, dear girl. I hope she will not always have to work so hard but that she will get well enough off to have a rest after a while but I know while you are a working for others it is hard to favor your self. This is what Carrie often says. O how I wish I could feel that I did not have to tody to others. I think I would enjoy such a feeling. But I tell her I suppose we aught to be thankfull we have health to do what is necessary that we should do. This has seemed like a strange summer. I hardly know where it has gone. My sister was with me over four weeks.

Did Nancy[6] ever get the letter I wrote her after Henrys[7] death? Remember us in love to her & family. I soften think of you all & would like so much to see you. I suppose Ethan[8] is as busy as ever thinking out things & doing. How Mary[9] did enjoy that visit with him & Hannah & all & I often think what a pleasant visit we had. Jim said his Father[10] seemed quite well for one of his age. Your friends here are all well & I think I would be if my rheumatism did not trouble me so much. I do not get out much of any. Now dear friend do not wait as I have for I do wanto hear from you so much. Remember us in love to Louis[11] & __ell & all other friends, Mrs Yoard encluded & accept a large share for your selves.

Carrie wishes to be remembered in love to you all & as ever I remain your old & cincere friend.

Mrs H Plank


[1] Harriet’s daughter, Caroline Plank

[2] Sarah’s son, James Keith

[3] Cora (Meredith) Keith

[4] Adelbert Skinner, who was the husband of Lois Keith, daughter of Sarah’s husband, Charles Luke Keith Jr., by his first wife, Minerva Payson

[5] Sarah’s daughter, Hannah (Keith) Towne, who was a seamstress

[6] Sarah’s daughter, Nancy (Keith) Brown

[7] Nancy’s husband, Henry Brown, who died May 22, 1901

[8] Sarah’s son, Ethan Keith, who was an inventor

[9] Harriet’s daughter, Mary (Plank) Skeels

[10] Sarah’s husband, Charles Luke Keith Jr., who would turn 89 on October 15

[11] Family and friends very often spelled Lois’ name this way

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October 9, 1902 letter to Sarah Keith from Angelina Lacey

October 9, 1902


To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI


From: Angelina Lacey, Flushing, MI


Angelina was 64 last March 9. She went to Toronto last summer and saw Dr. Andrew Comfort and his wife. He is about 81. Dr. John is not well. Nancy keeps his house and Hannah stays with them in the winters. She remembers when Sarah and Aunt Nancy came to visit when she was very young and her mother lived at Grimsby.

This letter was originally posted to the Crawford/Comfort Family Letters blogsite. Click here to read the letter.

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