Nancy Brown’s diary entry from April 22, 1924


Tuesday Apr 22nd [19]24 – Will and Lizzie[12] moved to Elmherst.[13]

Charl Scott Towne[14] died to day. Operated on yesterday for absess of gall bladder. Apr 22 – 1924.


[12] Her brother-in-law and his wife, Willis and Elizabeth (Ogden) Brown

[13] Elmhurst, Illinois

[14] 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. Charles was the nephew of Nancy’s sister Hannah’s late husband, Charles D. Towne


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April 17, 1924 letter to Nancy Brown from Louese Harris

April 17, 1924

To: Nancy Brown, Chicago, IL

From: Louese Harris, Shelbyville, MI

Has been trying to write letters but there have been several interruptions as well as her neuritis which kept her from writing. Recounts various visitors they have had as well as the conditions they are suffering from and/or the trips they are taking or planning to take. Wishes Lela and the girls could come for a couple of weeks or that she could take the girls over their summer vacation to give Lela a break. Writes about the predicament Ethan and Hannah are in as far as not having the money or ability to fix up the old home.

Shelbyville Apr. 17-1924

Dear Sister:

I hope you’ve not given up hearing from me this week, but I’ve been writing to Aunt Kate[1] and for some reason every time I sat down to write some thing would happen so I’d have to stop, for instance last Fri. Mildred[2] and I had work done early after dinner. She wanted to sew and I to write and I’ll be jiggered if Stella did’nt come when I had only four lines written. Had’nt been here in four weeks, she staid until supper time. After that was over with and dishes washed I said, Now I’m going to write all the evening, had been at it less than ten minutes and Cora and Mr Kitchen[3] came – returned home Sun. eve. I was all in then and did not do a thing at writing until Tues. Some of the time the neuritis gets my right wrist and it is hard work to use my hand. Hannah[4] wrote me you had had a spell at it and was very bad. I hope you are all over it and wont have any more. Think you were all more or less afflicted, Bess[5] with lumbago, Lela[6] all used up, sick head ache, and in the midst of candy making. It’s a big problem for all but I dont see how Lela can hold out – if she has to go and see Lou[7] every week. I’m awfully sorry for him but it is worse for her. Too bad he is down again. Do the doctors account for it in any way and do they think he will get up again. I wish his uncle[8] would do what he ought to and give her a few thousand. I dont see how he can have the heart not to when he knows just how every thing is with her. Wish she and the children[9] could come down here for two weeks, and Bess too, you see I did’nt include you, but I know you’ll come any way, and Dorothy, Robert and Joe.[10] It is nice D. & J.[11] can have their home all ready to go right to housekeeping. I’d give a lot to see it. They must be in the 7th heaven these days. Fred & Mildred[12] start on their trip the 28th. She is very busy getting sewing done for Leone[13] & I, she only has to make a dress for her self tan colored silk krepe-de-chin. Guess I wrote you they’d go to Bourbon[14] by auto, Helen[15] lives there, then they’ll have it to use while they are there. Will go to Warsaw,[16] decoration day,[17] that was his home and where those who are gone are buried. Will come that way on return trip, and get auto – stop at Galesburg over night with Hannah & Ethan.[18] I’m going down to see them before the kids go. Yes our housecleaning has to be done too. The three rooms below papered. So you see we’ve got to hit the high spots before the last of May and now I can hardly hit the low. You know all about LaVernes[19] trip down home so theres no use writing about it. Last week we sent a box of vegetabls “mostly” to them. They’ve not had an onion this winter. They[20] never said a word & I never thought, but it wont happen again. I’ll keep my thinking cap on. Hannah has said quite a good deal to me about a hat, and I wrote her I would see she had one. I could’nt go any where to get it until now even if I had’nt have been lame. The roads have been so bad in places, one got such awful jolts, which I can not stand. Now they are being repaired and are smoth & level once more, but it will be a week and a half before I can go and I know she will get fussed, but I can not imagine why she could’nt wear her last summers hat in case she had a chance to go out. This is the 6th summer for mine. I know hers is not as old as that.

Cora and Mr Kitchen came down (I just forgot I had mentioned it). Well it was partly to see about selling his place, but he is not going to. She is getting better and will not have an operation yet the swelling is there yet but much smaller. Thinks it will gradually be dissolved.

Roy[21] is in hospital with mumps. Has to stay there a month yet, and has been there three weeks. Cora is afraid he has had a set back of some kind, though says nothing about it.

Evening. Stella came at 4 oclock & shut me off. She had spent the day at Josies “listening in” a part of the time. They have a new radio, this is their second one. This is much nicer than the other. Every thing perfectly plain. She heard some very nice singing from Chicago, also other places. D[22] is getting crazy to have one, but I want a new kitchen, can go to the neighbors and “listen in.” Jim[23] has had another poor spell is not working out side of home, has to get up at a certain hour every night and fight for his breath until morning. The Star runs just the same – movies at Wayland four nights a week they average going two right along. Cora[24] is so lame. Wilma[25] has to give up her job at Hurds to help her mother, yet Cora can go to the shows, and then are not many days pass that she does not go some where. Will & Luella have bought the Hope place. Will move the cafe part back for a garage, raise the rest of the house and put a porch across front. Bert Hope has moved in with Ed Knapp on the farm and gone in to chicken business. Marian[?] Harris had her hair bobbed yesterday. She will be 46 in Aug. May be you know Will Clark[26] visited us in March – staid from Wed. until Sat noon. We had a nice visit. Cora brought me a lovely white hyacinth.

Sat. You know it was our wedding anniversary 42 yrs.[27] and Uncle Henrys[28] 91st birthday. Just think Aunt Kate planning a trip to Detroit in Aug. She wrote me she was getting ready. What would I give to possess the youthfulness she has.[29] She has me beaten to a finish. Ruby and her husband are going to move in to Mr Kitchens house next week. Then will buy Mrs Harding out when the time comes “if ever” she wants to sell. Mrs Harding is all used up over Leon’s marrying and the circumstances connected with it. She is nearly crazy some of the time. I dont know what she would do if she could’nt come to us with her trouble. Dont know whether I wrote you Doc[30] bought some Gun[?] marsh land. I dont know how much but he has six 6 acres of onions put in. Come down & we’ll go over and see them when they are out of the ground. I must write card to Carrie to night and begin letter to Hannah so will close. I hope you are feeling better and the girls too. Wish I could do something for you to help out. If we could keep Helen & Jean over every Sunday t’would be a little let-up of the tension for Lela. After school closes put them on the train in care of conductor and send them down. We’ll keep them as long as they’ll stay. Tell me when you write how much material Lela gets for their dresses. It is getting quite like spring, though we saw snow flakes Tues. No the old back porch at home is just the same only getting worse. LaV–[31] says there is the Custer pile would do them so much good if Ethan would only think so. LaV– said she had to watch her step every time she went out there more than ever. Can’t think how it will be by middle of summer. Yes I’ll do as you said help pay Will or any one who can be hired to fix it and she also says, how can they stay there alone all other winter. And I say how can that house be left alone if they could be persuaded to come here and live for 4 or 5 mo’s. It’s a big problem.

Good Bye

Hope this wont make you sick. Hope to hear you the girls & Lou are better. Would Lou care for some honey. I’ll send some in a pail if Lela thinks he would like it.

Love to all



[1] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, the widow of Louese’s and Nancy’s Uncle Hiram Crawford

[2] Mildred (Harris) Cripe, Louese’s daughter

[3] Louese’s sister-in-law, Cora (Harris) Hogeboom Kitchen, and her second husband, John Nelson Kitchen

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

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

[6] Nancy’s daughter, Lela (Brown) Mueller

[7] Lela’s husband, Louis Mueller, who suffered brain injuries when hit by a streetcar

[8] Charles August Ficke, who was a wealthy man

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

[10] Bess’ children, Dorothy and Robert Recoschewitz, and Dorothy’s fiance, Joseph Langmayer; they married on May 29, 1924

[11] Dorothy & Joe

[12] Mildred married Fred Cripe on November 23, 1923

[13] Louese’s daughter (and Mildred’s sister), Leone Harris

[14] Bourbon, Indiana

[15] Mildred’s sister-in-law, Helen (Cripe) Tyrrell

[16] Warsaw, Indiana

[17] Civil War dead were honored on Decoration Day

[18] Louese’s and Nancy’s brother, Ethan Keith; Hannah & Ethan lived on the family farm where they all grew up

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

[20] Ethan and Hannah; both of them were aging and in poor health and money was hard to come by

[21] Roy Harris Hogeboom, Cora Kitchen’s son by her first husband, Aaron Hogeboom

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

[23] Louese’s and Nancy’s brother, James Keith, who suffered from asthma

[24] James’ wife, Cora (Meredith) Keith

[25] Jim and Cora’s daughter, Wilma Keith

[26] The son of Louese’s and Nancy’s half-sister, Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner

[27] They were married April 12, 1882

[28] Henry Clay Crawford, Louese’s and Nancy’s uncle, was born April 12, 1833

[29] Aunt Kate was 83 years old

[30] Samuel “Doc” Boyer, who was married to Louese’s daughter, LaVerne

[31] Shorthand for LaVerne

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April 11, 1924 letter to Nancy Brown from Louese Harris

April 11, 1924

To: Nancy Brown

From: Louese Harris, Shelbyville, MI

She has trouble doing things and mornings are the only time she is free from lameness and pain. Mildred is hustling to get the spring sewing and house cleaning done before she and Fred take a three-week vacation. Aunt Kate is piecing a quilt for Blanche and is planning a trip to Detroit in August. Louese is amazed that a woman her age wants to do so much traveling alone. Jim is suffering from asthma again and can’t lie down or work.

This letter was originally posted to the Crawford/Comfort Family Letters blog and can be read here.

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April 7, 1924 letter to Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne from Nancy Brown

April 7, 1924

To: Ethan Keith & Hannah Towne

From: Nancy Brown

Nancy is writing about the tragic death of a friend, Harold Gibson, who had been killed in a car accident. Harold was coming home from work with his employer’s nephew in the car. The nephew wanted to drive but because he had been drinking, Harold refused. However, to save himself some trouble, he at last gave in. The nephew crossed onto the other side of road and smashed into a big car. Harold was killed and the two men in the other car were not expected to live. Harold was in World War I with the First from Illinois and went through every major battle. He said the best sleep he ever had was after days of fighting when he was so worn out he pushed the dead aside, laid down between them in blood and mud and slept like a baby for a number of hours, with bombs whistling over his head the whole time. Thought they might get a letter from Joe telling something about Lou as she supposed they went to see him yesterday, but nothing came. She thinks Dorothy will be married on the 29th of May but it hasn’t been finalized yet. She thinks they will be married at home with just family and a few friends as guests. It will be less expensive than going to Claude’s and having a larger wedding. Their apartment is almost finished; walls papered and floors varnished last week. It is new and their furniture is all new, so it will look nice. Even though they can’t be near Bess Nancy is glad they will be near her.

This letter was originally posted to the Crawford/Comfort Family Letters blog and can be read here.

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April 6, 1924 letter to Nancy Brown from Hannah Towne

April 6, 1924

To: Nancy Brown

From: Hannah Towne

More news about Carrie Barber; she was taken to the hospital and is to have an operation tomorrow morning for gall stones. There is so much work for herself and Ethan to do and neither one of them is in good health. She writes that she would jump in the river if she lived closer to it.

Sunday Apr 6 – 1924

Dear sister and all

It is now 25 to five and no one been here to day. Sunshine bright but a cold wind. Too bad Lou[1] is worse if there was any possible chance of his getting well. Think Alice[2] a very strange person. Cant she see money is needed every where. Think I would drop her if Lou goes. Trouble in so many places. Carrie[3] was taken to the Hospital this afternoon. Rogers took her. Operation to morrow morning at 9 oclock. That is for gall stones. In ten days they operate on the left side for adhesions. Mrs Lerner is with Ida[4] – came about noon to day. Will go to Hospital with her. Mrs will stay with her nights. A hard place for Ida and C-. Carrie wants you to write to her. Put Bronson Hospital on envelope. I have written to Marion to day. Will send her card to you and Lous[5] letter. Dont let them know it for you see F & M[6] are agoing to take a trip. Dont know as they would care but I dont want it to come from me. They are the ones to write to you. You remember you wanted me to send her letter. I am glad they are agoing to take the trip. Hope J & D-[7] can some day. Think Katherine[8] gave Dorothy a nice shower. Glad you sent Mabels letter. Ida called me after she got your letter said they had got a nice long letter from you and they were so glad. Said it made Carrie feel better. She said the second time it was such a good letter. The candy is the best they ever ate nothing like it. I am agoing to wash again in the morning as it takes me all the fore noon. I get so tired and my legs and feet pain me so it is all I can do to get a round. Not much to Ethen[9] and I. He has raked yard two days such a lot of leaves. Not half done yet.  How in sixty the work will ever be done is more then I can tell and every thing in such condition. Poor health and no money. The hens dont lay worth a cent. No I have’nt got a hat and dont see how I can but I have’nt a thing to wear on my head. I would jump in to the river some time if I lived nearer to it. I dont want any one to come here only our own folks and some of them I dont want to come just because we look so. If I were well could do some things that would make it look better in the house – do a little painting etc. but it is all I can do to do just as little as I can. Pumping water is killing. I wake up in the night and the pump is a night mare to me. I’ll be glad when Lou can come then I’ll have some one to talk to. I rec’d Dorothys good letter was glad to get it. Of course she dont expect me to answer it. I have got to write to Lou so must get at it. If you dont get a card from me the last of week you will know I am to busy to write. Am sewing a little. Good bye



“Hope to hear good news in your next letter.”

Sent Marions back.


[1] Nancy’s son-in-law, Louis Mueller

[2] Lou’s sister, Alice Miller

[3] A neighbor, Carrie Barber

[4] Carrie’s mother, Ida Barber-Howe

[5] Their sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[6] Their niece and nephew-in-law, Mildred (Harris) & Fred Cripe

[7] Nancy’s granddaughter, Dorothy Recoschewitz, and her fiance, Joseph Langmayer

[8] Believe this is Dorothy’s step/half-sister, Kathryn (Brouty) Thornton

[9] Their brother, Ethan Keith

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April 3, 1924 letter to Hannah Towne & Ethan Keith from Louese Harris

April 3, 1924

To: Hannah Towne & Ethan Keith

From: Louese Harris, Shelbyville, MI

Louese is filling in her sister and brother on family and neighborhood news. Mildred and Fred will be going on their wedding trip the last part of May and will be gone three weeks. Dorothy and Joe have postponed their visit to visit so that Mildred will be home when they come.

Shelbyville Apr. 3- 1924

Dear Sister & Bro:

4.15 P.M. Will write a while before I have to get supper and must nearly finish my letter to night as there is no such thing as writing forenoons, too much doing. Have to take some thing every day and moving as slow as I have to it keeps me going. I do considerable sitting down but that dont work with every thing.

LaV–[1] arrived yesterday noon with Fred & Mildred.[2] They went down on 8 oclock met her at corner Portage & Main. She came over to the house just to let me know how you folks were and then went home. Carol[3] had dinner all ready. They were just going to sit down when she got there. She was up last eve and told me all about her visit with you so I got it while it was fresh in her mind. I’m glad she could go and stay a few days and I hope the roads will soon be so I can go.

Since Monday Mildred has been taking Fred to his work in afternoon. Tues. eve Floyd[4] went with her after him. Last eve Carol went leave here a quarter to eleven. They have to stop on plank road ½ mile from station and wait for him, cross road is so bad, but he thought he’d try it out to day and if “makes the grade” she wont have to go any more. The girls took Tony[5] with them last night, so they felt perfectly safe. F– & M–[6] are going on their wedding trip the last of May, have their passes now. Will go to Indiana & visit his aunt and sister first, go there with auto so they will have that to use while there. Want to go to cemetery decoration day then there are lots of places and frieds of his he wants her to see and the car will be very convenient to have. From there they go to Washington D.C. and other points. They are studying the map looking up places of interest etc. Expect to have three weeks vacation. But I’m going home to see you before they go. I’m glad Dorothy and Joe[7] have postponed their visit here at that time for I want Mildred at home when they come and she wants to be. Of course LaV– told you it was a sure thing with Dorothy Harding.[8] She is going to “Boston” though. It is very noticeable. Looks like 7 mos too bad but she dont act as if she cared.[9] Mrs Harding[10] does, and looks as if she would collapse, but she feels terrible too over selling this house. She has’nt told them for certain she would but Leon[11] is so determined she shall I’m afraid he will carry his point. Adrienna and Roy[12] own a double house. ” ” [Adrienna] wants her mother to buy half of it. Mrs H might as well be in a “pandora box” as to live so close to A– & family. I rec’d a letter from Roy last Fri. he is in the hospital having mumps, has them on both sides is getting along alright. Clyde Pierce Ida Kitchens[13] boy is on his way to China. He enlisted at the time Roy did and was sick in hospital at the time he should have had his furlough, so he did not have a chance to come home. I should think Ida would be crazy. D[14] was down to see Mr Olin Tues. He and his wife just returned from Florida the day before. Stella told me about Mrs Carrens[?] death probably Jake will stay with Linn now just as he has and they probably wont go to Florida before an other fall.

Fri 2 Oclock P.M.

Must finish this up. Leone[15] has just been over after it so shall have to make another trip. A fine day. We have two windows open and fire as low as we can run it with out it’s going out. The bees are very friendly and numerous, have to watch out when we go out of doors. I’m about all in to day, joints sore and ache and no pep. But you two know how that goes as well as I, yes better. D & Floyd not feeling very extra good. If D would take a few more estates to over see, handle the business etc they might feel better. One thing the coal season is nearly over with. A letter from Aunt Kate[16] last Tues. She wants me to send her some silk pieces. I can’t get at it before next week. I’ve worked all day, so has Mildred and we have got to keep at this.

P.M. She finish ironing and I’ve got to make fried cakes if there is any such thing in the books.

Lets you two D & I go on a vacation and stay the rest of the summer. Would’nt it be fun & Jim[17] would like to go too & Nancy[18] I think.

Do you know if the candy business[19] is flouishing as much as usual. I’m sorry for all of them and I dont see how Nancy stands it. Well I must close.

LaV– said neither of you felt real good but you had to work too hard. Glad you have a good home. I’m anxious to see it. Hope you get this to morrow. Use the Vapo rub on your neuritis & throat, both of you.

Good Bye

With Love



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

[2] Louese’s daughter and son-in-law, Mildred (Harris) & Fred Cripe

[3] LaVerne’s daughter, Carol Boyer

[4] Louese’s son, Floyd Harris

[5] Believe this was their dog

[6] Fred & Mildred

[7] Dorothy Recoschewitz & Joseph Langmayer; Dorothy was the granddaughter of Louese, Hannah & Ethan’s sister, Nancy (Keith) Brown, and she and Joe were going to be married May 29, 1924

[8] Dorothy (Adams) Harding

[9] Dorothy married Leon Harding February 25, 1924

[10] Jessie (Carruthers) Harding

[11] Jessie’s son, Leon Harding

[12] Jessie’s daughter and son-in-law, Adrienne (Harding) & Roy Bronson

[13] Ida (Kitchen) Pierce was Louese’s niece

[14] Louese’s husband, Daniel Harris

[15] Louese’s daughter, Leone Harris

[16] Katherine (Atchinson) Crawford, the widow of their mother’s brother, Hiram Crawford

[17] Their brother, James Keith

[18] Their sister, Nancy (Keith) Brown

[19] Nancy Keith Candies

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April 2, 1924 letter to Lela Mueller from Nancy Brown

April 2, 1924

To: Lela Mueller

From: Nancy Brown

Nancy and her granddaughter, Jean, are staying at her sister’s and brother’s home. Her sister, Louese, wants them to come to Shelbyville for a visit which would mean Jean would lose a week of school. Jean doesn’t want to go; she says she came to Michigan to see Auntie and Uncle Ethan and didn’t expect she had to go anywhere else. Jean is having a grand time helping Ethan with the farm animals and picking vegetables. Updates Lela on Carrie Barber’s operation and the problems she is having in recovering.

April 2nd 24

Dear ones all

Before I forget it Lela did you or Helen[1] find my pen. I dont know where I left my things, but I had that and my box of writting paper on my bench may be the pen is in box. If not it must be on bench. If you have not found it I wish you would look and if you do put it away for me. We expect Jims[2] folks down for Sunday. A letter from Aunt Lou.[3] She wants us to come up there. Says Fred and Mildred[4] will come for us. Now tell me just just what you think. I thought if we went up there Tuesday then home Friday. Of course it will keep Jean[5] out of school a week, so I’ll do as you say. Let me know Monday. Jean dont want to go, says she just came to Michigan to see Auntie and Uncle Ethan.[6] Did not expect she had to go to Shelbyville & any where. She is having a grand time out with Ethan all the time feeding chickens rubbing Daisy & Maud with curry comb. She gathered 21 eggs yesterday. They drew truck[7] all day. To day they draw fertalizer. Dont send her any more clothes. Bess[8] are you going to use your old _____. If not they have a dandy place here for it. Mrs Salon has just come. Dorothy[9] they want I should thank you for the asparagras first they have had & they certainly enjoyed it. I wondered if you went to Elgin yesterday Lela, and how you found Lou.[10] What if any thing was decided on Tuesday night. Carrie[11] is in bad shape. An abcess has formed where the stitches were taken. She vomits which is very bad for her. They are so discouraged. I have not been over will if I can if we go to Aunt Lous. I’ll let you know from there about our coming home. Will also write to Claude.[12] If Saterday will be better for him than Friday let us know. I suppose I will have to leave on the morning train get there between 12 & 1. I thought may be Claude & Eda[13] would be going away Sat. and Joe[14] would be working. Have you sent crate. I cant come home till I get a check.

Time for Mr Carr. This must do for all.

With love from



[1] Lela’s daughter, Helen Mueller

[2] Her brother, James Keith, and his family

[3] Her sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[4] Her niece and niece’s husband, Mildred (Harris) & Fred Cripe

[5] Her granddaughter, Eda “Jean” Mueller

[6] Her sister and brother, Hannah (Keith) Towne & Ethan Keith

[7] Vegetables raised to be sold at market

[8] Her daughter, Bess (Brown) Recoschewitz

[9] Bess’ daughter, Dorothy Recoschewitz

[10] Lela’s husband, who was a patient at Elgin State Mental Hospital

[11] Carrie Barber; see March 20, 1924 letter

[12] Her son, Claude Brown

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

[14] Her grandson-in-law, Joseph Langmayer

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