September 10, 1850 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Sr.

September 10, 1850              

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Hiram Crawford, Dowagiac, MI

Pros is sick, Edwin well. Louisa had a boy 2 weeks ago last Thursday and got a bad breast infection. Edwin tried to get a girl to help out but couldn’t find anyone. Robert stopped to see them. It is very sickly throughout the whole region but very few deaths.

This letter has been transcribed and posted as part of my Crawford/Comfort Family Letters blog site. It can be read here:


July 31, 1850 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Sr.

July 31, 1850

To: Sarah Keith, Comstock, MI

From: Hiram Crawford, Dowagiac, MI

Nancy Crawford went to see her sister Jane (Comfort) Nelles Sunderlin. Got seasick coming home and then she and Hiram were very sick for several days. Pros was also sick. Edwin & Louisa are well. Wants Robert to write if Sally sees him – they want to know the boys’ situation.

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

June 16, 1850 letter to Luke Keith from James Sprague Jr.

June 16, 1850

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: James Sprague, Jr., Pavilion, NY

Will have to give up buying the farm as he doesn’t have the means. Martha and the children would rather stay where they are, so they will stay there until they have an opportunity to sell. The body of Mr. Chilson, who drowned in the Genesee River, was found yesterday and buried today. There is a new species of fly that looks like a honeybee but is a size smaller. It is something they haven’t seen before.

Scan of 1850-06-16 James Sprague to Luke Keith

Pavilion June 16 1850[1]

We receved your letter dated June 8 which found us all well. In relation to the farm we shall have to give up buying it for the want of means. I should like to buy the farm if we could sell the shop. There is no chance to sell as we know of. Martha[2] & the children[3] think they had rather stay here then sell & come there. We had a chance to sell the farm last winter & dont know but we could now. I dont know as it would be best if I could. We can get a living here if we work all of the time. We will try to stay here untill we have an opportunity to sell & then we will buy if an oportunity offers to suit. We will make you no more trouble about the Farm. Wheat looks extrordinary well genarally Spring crops or backward but the prospects is good for good crops. Wheat is worth about $1.50 pr bush corn five shillings. Mr Chilson[4] that was drounded in the Genesee River was found yesterday and buried him to day. Charles Anderson has been to Rochester and bought him a farm. He starts back to morrow. I send this by him. Marion[5] rote to some of you the other day. I suppose she told you the news – there is a new species of Fly among us that is quite numerous. It loks considerable like the honey bee a sise smaller & more yellow. It is said by some to be the W__ole Fly. It is something we have not seen before.

James Sprague Jr.


[1] It appears that someone added “James Sprague, June 16-1858” on the envelope part of the letter; however, from the contents of the letter it is clear that it was written in 1850

[2] His wife, and Luke’s sister, Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague

[3] Assuming he is referring to his daughter and son-in-law, Marion and George Tomlinson, since she was his only living child and they all lived together

[4] A search of shows that Alva Chilson, aged 26, drowned in the Genesee River on November 8, 1849 and that his body wasn’t found until June 18, 1850. Since this letter is dated June 16, 1850 it would appear that his body was actually found on June 15

[5] His daughter, Marion (Sprague) Tomlinson

June 4, 1850 letter to Luke Keith from Sarah Crittenden

June 4, 1850

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Sarah Crittenden, Concord, MI

It has been five weeks since she left home and she is getting impatient to return but doesn’t have the money required to do so. She wants Luke to send her the money that Luke owes her father. She intends to leave in two weeks with her grandparents. Cornelia would like to have the bonnet that Jerusha wanted her to have.

Scan of 1850-06-04 Sarah Crittenden to Luke Keith

Concord June 4th 1850

Uncle Luke

It is nearly five weeks since I left home so that I am beging to be quite impatient about getting home back again but as I have no means to do so shall be obliged to call on you for the money that you owe father[1] the amount of which you will know better than I. I intended to have visited you before I left Michigan but as grandfather and grandmother[2] are agoing to leave in two weeks I think that I shall not be able to go and see you this time. That bonnet which Aunt Jerush[3] wished Cornelia[4] to have we should like this summer if ever. Dwight[5] I believe has writen to you in whose care to send it that is if you chose to send it. Give my love to Gertrude.[6] You must remember to come and see us if ever you come to York state. You will oblige me much by sending that money immediately that I may be ready to go home with Grand father.

Yours in haste

S. Crittenden[7]

[to] Luke Keith


[1] Henry Crittenden

[2] Jarius and Eunice (Sprague) Crittenden

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

[4] Sarah’s sister, Cornelia Crittenden

[5] Sarah’s cousin, Dwight Crittenden

[6] Luke’s daughter, Lois Gertrude Keith

[7] Sarah Crittenden

April 1, 1850 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Sr.

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Hiram Crawford Sr., Dowagiac, MI

Hiram is writing a brief letter to his daughter, Sarah, to let her know that they have arrived safely in Dowagiac and had settled in with their son, Edwin, although it is a little cramped. He goes on to describe the village and its prospects for growth along the Central Railroad line. He tells Sarah that “morals are low her but the place is new and good society will come in with the growth of the place.”

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

March 18, 1850 letter to Luke Keith from Lois Payson

March 18, 1850

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Lois Payson, Covington, NY

Hasn’t heard from him in ten months. Hopes his new wife will be a good mother to his kids. Thanks him for his invitation to come live with him. Includes a letter to Mr. Clapp asking him to pay her the money he owes her for the last four years. 

Scan of 1850-03-18 Lois Payson to Luke Keith

Covington March the 18″ 1850


Youre longe expected letter has arrived at last after waiting nearly ten months. I had concludeed that you had forgotten that there was such a being on earth. I was however verry glad to hear from you and learn that you were all alive and well. I suppose that I must make some allowances for your not writeing sooner as I perceive you have had other buisness to attend to, you tel me that you have got another wife.[1] I hope she may prove to be a good one. My desire is that she may have wisdom and patience to help you train up your Children[2] in the way they should be. I think it is an arduous task to be a step mother. I hope you will do youre part and the Children are so old now[3] I think they may be got a long with without much trouble. I do hope so in deede for they are verry dear to me. I want to see the Children verry much but have verry faint hopes that I ever shall but the subject is to painful to dwell upon and I will drop it. I am much obliged to you for youre invitation to come and live with you but that I could not do if I was ever so much disposed to for the want of money. How I have been disappointed a bout the Claps not geting that money for me every time I have hard from you for too yeares past it would be paid in the spring and the next time in the fall and so it has been ever since I left Michigan. My Friends here are verry kind but I now they think I mite as well use up my own propperty as to live at their expence. I have bee sick and lame and owe doctors bills and so on and so forth. I wish I could see the Clapps. They would hear something from me that they never heard from a woman. I shall write on this paper to Edwin.[4] I wish you to have him see it soon. Patty[5] designs to go to Mich in May if she is alive and well. She can tell you more than I can write. The harmonyville folks are all well at present and wish to be kindly rememberd to your self and Lady. They say they should like to have Harmony graced with a visit from your Lady and self and Children some time when you can make it convenient. Fances and Elly Sprague send their best love to Lois and Henry and want to see them very much. My respects to all pleas to write as often as you can for you now that I am always glad to hear from you. As I do not think of any thing more of importance I must bid you good by.

Youres as ever

Lois Payson[6]

Mr Clap

I am some what astonished that all most four years should pass a way and you pay no more attention to paying them notes. Luke tells me everry time he writes that he speaks to you verry often and that you promis verry fair and that is all. I think that living on promises is rather hard fare and I cant endure it any longer. It is not what I expected from you nor your Brother while I was in Michigan I was no more troubled a bout that money than I should have been had it been in my owne trunk when I left I expected the money in a few months. I think that a borrowed money debt ought to be considerd sacred and especially when borrowed of a woman. The last time I saw Rufus[7] what fare promises he made. He told me not to give my self any uneasiness about those notes for I should be paid ery cent. Luke says he has written to him but has receivd no answer and now Mr Clap I will tel you what I want you to do and I hope you will not disappoint me this time. Mrs Sprague Lukes sister will be in youre place some time in the month of May and I want you to make youre calculations to send me the money that is due to me by her when she returns for I am absolutely in want of it.

Youres Respectfuly

Lois Payson


[1] Luke married Sarah Crawford on November 14, 1849

[2] Lois and Henry Keith, Luke’s children by his first wife, Minerva Payson

[3] Lois was nine years old and Henry was six years old

[4] Edwin Clapp

[5] Luke’s sister, Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague

[6] It is believed that this is Minerva Payson’s mother, however efforts to verify this have proved unsuccessful

[7] Edwin Clapp’s father, Rufus Clapp

December 30, 1849 letter to Hiram and Sally Crawford from Louisa Sherwood and William Sherwood

December 30, 1849               

To: Hiram Crawford Sr. & Sally Crawford, Gulls Mills, MI

From: Louisa Sherwood & William Sherwood, Essex, MI

Louisa wants Hiram and family to move near them. Next part of letter is written to Sally. Writes that she is going to school for the first time since she left Canada. Wants to know if Sally is married or not. William Sherwood then writes the remainder of the letter. He was taken sick 3 years prior and unable to do anything since. Had to sell his farm as a consequence but has since bought another and the farm next to his is for sale. He also would like them to come and buy property near them. Mentions when they were neighbors in London (Canada).

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