September 25, 1849 letter to Charles Luke Keith Jr. from Joel James

September 25, 1849

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr.

From: Joel W. James, Charlestown, OH

He was at Uncle Jason’s for 3 weeks because of his wife’s illness. She had the ague on the way to Michigan. Joel was 33 years old yesterday. Mother wants him to tell Aunt Hannah about John’s affairs. She was opposed to John’s and Catherine’s match up. Catherine was determined to have John and did everything in her power to get him. She has apparently left him. Sends regards to Aunt Lydia. Wants to know how Uncle Warren is. Wants Luke to find out if Catherine intends to come back because John wants to know. Joel lives in Garretts­ville, Ohio, but is staying at his father’s in Charlestown to help him shingle the house.

Scan of 1849-09-25 Joel James to Charles Luke Keith Jr

Charlestown Sept 25 / 49

Respected Friend

It being a rainy morning so that I could not attend meeting: I thought I could spend some time vary agreeably in writing you a few lines. Altho passing twice through your town I did not have the plasure of calling upon you: The first time I should have stoped but for my hurry and the expectation that I should call on my return. Having anticipated much pleasure in making all my friends a viset I was doomed to be disapointed, having taken a Ticket at Millwaukee for Detroit thinking that I could get a permit to stop; But I was disappointed so that I could not without some 8 or 10 dollars expense which I was then not able to do. If life and health is spared I intend to make you a call next summer; My health is not vary good. I have the Ague[1] occasionaly which is not vary agreeable. Father[2] and Mother[3] and all the family are as well as comon; It is a general time of health in these parts. There is but little fruit here this season. Wheat come in poor it was badly hurt by the rust; corn & Potatoes look well. 11 Oclock and it continues to rain. It is probably the beginning of the live storme as we call it. I like to have forgotten to say that I was at Uncle Jason,s[4] some three weeks on account of the ill health of my Wife[5]; she had the Ague before we started and every other day on the way to Michigan. On that account and for some other reasons I thought best to sell my Horse and Carriage and make use of other menes that we might accelerate our journey. We found Uncle Jason him and family well. We found Uncle Jason him as cheerful as ever full of life and glee. But old Time with his Locomotive powers is a conveying us along one and all to that bourne from whence no travellor returnes. Yesterday I was 33 years old; surely our life is but a vapor which appears for a little while and then vanisheth away.

Mother wants I should write a wourd for har to Aunt Hannah.[6] Time and trouble is makeing an impression upon har which is plain to be seen. It regards Johns[7] affars. She has been blamed vary little by those who were best acquainted with the circumstances: she was strongly opposed to the match and said everything that could be said in opposition to it but all to no avail. Catharine was determined to have John and she accomplished har end. And I say it understandingly and knowing what I say that Catharine never would of had John had she not made use of every means in har power to have accomplished it; even by saying that har hapiness presant and future depended upon it. Yet for all this Mother will pass it all by say nomore if she will come back and do as she should do. But I hope that John will act the man so much that he will not go for har until she is willing to return. Not to live in the house with Father and Mother I do not say; for John has a house engagued until he can build which he will do as soon as Catharine will assist him. John has property and has not put it out of his hands as Aunt Electa[8] has reported. And he can make a home comfortable and who is to blame for Catharines not enjoying it. And who is to blame for har presant circumstances no one but har self all this is true and can be proven if necessary. Mother sends her respects to Uncle Luke[9] Aunt Hannah Aunt Lydia[10] and all the Relatives and friends. Give my respects to all who inquire after me. This from your friend; Joel W. James[11]

Luke Keith Jr.[12]

I wish you would write on the reception of this, and write all the perticulars; write how Uncle Warren[13] and family are a getting along; ascertain and write whether Catharine intends to come back to the place and Oblige John for he wants to know.

My residence is in Garrettsville. I am in Charlestown now at Fathers helping Shingle over the house.

No more at presant. J. W. James

P.S. Direct your letters to Garrettsville Portage Co. Ohio

[1] Chills and fever

[2] Aaron James

[3] Irena (Willcutt) James

[4] Jason Wolcott, Irena’s brother (many Willcutts changed the spelling of their last name to Wolcott)

[5] Lucy (Tilden) James

[6] Luke’s mother, Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

[7] Joel’s brother, John James

[8] Their uncle Warren Willcutt’s wife, Electa (Damon) Willcutt

[9] Luke’s father, Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[10] Presume he is referring to their aunt Lydia (Willcutt) Turner

[11] Luke’s mother, Hannah (Willcutt) Keith, and Joel’s mother, Irena (Willcutt) James, were sisters

[12] Charles Luke Keith Jr. went by the name of Luke as did his father, Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[13] Warren, Irena, Jason, Hannah and Lydia were all sons and daughters of Jesse Willcutt and Katherine Beal

April 29, 1849 letter to Charles Luke Keith Jr. from Sarah Crittenden

April 29, 1849                                   

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr, Galesburg, MI

From: Sarah Crittenden, Covington, NY

Was waiting for Henry to write, but he is in poor health, as is Aunt Lois and Clarissa. Aunt Lois lent all her money to a man and lost it. She hopes that Luke will send her some. Was sorry to hear of Jerusha’s death, but it was not unexpected. Guy Sprague died leaving two children.

Scan of 1849-04-29 Sarah Crittenden to Charles Luke Keith Jr

Covington Apr th 29 1849


I have waited a long time for Henry[1] to answer your letter but it is such a chore for him to write that he says he cannot write. His health is poor is not able to work any but I am in hopes he will be better when it comes warm weather. Pauls[2] wife[3] and I went to Stafford last week found Aunt Louis[4] very unwell. Her health has been very poor all winter. She was in low spirits. She had lent what money she had here and the man had failed and she had lost it so it had left her with out any thing and she feels very bad. She is in hopes you will collect some for her there and send her. She is very anxious you should. I hope you will for I feel very sorry for her. I also found Clarissa[5] poorly. She has a bad cough and I fear she will go the way of the rest. It was meloncoly news when we read of Jerushas[6] death but it was not unexpected although we had hoped she might recover. I think you must be very lonely. You wrote you would be glad to have Henry and I come up to Michigan this spring but times go hard with us and we can not afford it though I should be very glad to. The friends at Pavilion are well. Julia is gone. She died in December 11 months after _____. The little boy has gone to live with Mrs Dodge Julias sister. It is now evening since I wrote the above. Marion and George[7] have been here and say they have heard from you and hear you was comeing down this summer. Give my respects to your father[8] and mother[9] and when you come we can tell you all the news. It is getting late so I must close.

We have just heard of the death of Guy Sprague.[10] Left too children. No more at present. Good evening.

Sarah Crittenden


[1] Sarah’s husband, Henry Crittenden

[2] Paul Sprague, Henry’s first cousin

[3] Lydia Sprague, Paul’s wife

[4] Possibly Lois (Sprague) Mears, sister of Henry’s mother, Eunice (Sprague) Crittenden; however, it could be the mother of Luke’s first wife Minerva (Payson) Keith whose first name is believed to be Lois, as there seems to be a connection between the Sprague and Payson families; investigation continues

[5] Henry’s sister, Clarissa (Crittenden) English

[6] Luke’s second wife, Jerusha (Crittenden) Keith, who died September 23, 1848

[7] Luke’s niece, Marion (Sprague) and her husband, George Tomlinson

[8] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[9] Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

[10] The U.S. Census Mortality Schedule for 1850 lists Guy C Sprague, living in Middlebury, New York, married, age 36, with a date of death of April 1850. Guy Sprague and Henry Crittenden were first cousins

August 16, 1848 letter to Charles Luke Keith Jr. from Henry Crittenden

August 16, 1848

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Galesburg, MI

From: Henry Crittenden, Covington, NY

He sent the castings and skeins to Luke yesterday and gives an accounting of his expenses for doing that. Sarah has recovered from her fall from the wagon. They are anxious to hear how Jerusha is.

Scan of 1848-08-16 Henry Crittenden to Charles Luke Keith Jr

Covington  August 16th 1848

Dear Sir

I have sent the castings and skeins to you yesterday by the railroad to Galesburg from Attica directed to Luke Keith.

The Axels cast at 5 cts per lb                        $5.65
The Boxes and Skeins                                      4.00
I shall have to charge for going to Att.       1.00
I have to hire a horse & waggon                  10.65
and Cr. to you in cash                                    $6.00
Leaving a balance in my favour of                4.65

Which you may forward to me as soon as it may be convenient for you to do so and you will oblige yours &c.

You promised to write to some of us before this. My health is better than when I was at your place. I am some encouraged. Do not know but I may take another trip on the lakes as far as Cleveland this fall. Do not know certain yet. Sarahs[1] health _____ she has entirely recovered from her fall from the waggon. I have Miss Pasons own words to write. She says she would like to see some of your handwriting once more. She wishes you to say something about a certain Note. I could not tell whether or not you said anything to me or not. If you did I have entirely forgotten everything about it. You must write the old lady something. She feels anxious to hear from you all verry.

We have not heard from you directly since I left but once indirectly that was by the way of D. Smith. Mr Hall of pavillion saw David some where and he said Jerusha[2] remained just as when I was there. You scarcely know or think how anxious we are to learn something about her health. Do write something soon and relieve this anxiety with us all.

Our friends and neighbours ____ all in good health healthy generally in this vicinity.

Some pollitical news we go free Soil measures Martin Vanburen is the man for York States for president and Mr Adams for the vice and we will Screw Slavery out of the land. _____ more nonsence to write what did Davis Smith say because I did not go see him. _____ he say any thing about the waggon any thing about the pay for it & write soon. It is a great trouble for me to write. I can scarcely write my hand trembles bad. I do not know if you can read this scrall.



[1] Henry’s wife, Sarah (Curtis) Crittenden

[2] Luke’s second wife, Jerusha (Crittenden) Keith; Jerusha was Henry’s sister

[3] Between a rather large hole and portions of the paper having been torn off, transcription was difficult; however, it appears that the letter was written by Henry Crittenden