May 6, 1855 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

May 6, 1855

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

Pavilion           6th May 1855

Mr. Lasher started for Michigan May 1st and expected to take the boat to Detroit, but ice has prevented that. George isn’t sure he will reach Michigan in time to get his crops planted so would appreciate any help Luke can give him.

1855-05-06 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

C. L. Keith, Esq.

As I wrote you a week ago my man Lasher started for Mich May 1. I had a line from him from Dunkirk at which place he expected to take the boat but the ice prevented – he had started for Erie – this was on the morning of the 4th. If he can go from Erie he is now in Detroit. If he has to go to Cleveland I dont know when he will reach Mich. I would not had him start only we received accts published that Boats have made regular trips from Dunkirk for 2 weeks. I suppose the storm drove the ice back.

His delay will make him worse & worse off as to spring crops. What you can get done to help him along I want you should. I would be glad to have him helped. I want you should consult with him and advise as tho you owned the land. I shall write him soon. We are all well. Plowing for planting.

Monday morning. Aunt Patty[1] is astir. Cold – Evry thing is my favor.

G. Tomlinson


[1] George’s mother-in-law, and Luke’s sister, Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague

Agreement Between Luke Keith and Charles Cridland

Undated agreement between Charles Cridland and Luke Keith wherein Charles has sold his house and land to Luke; however, Charles will retain possession of the house and the part of the land already occupied as a nursery and garden, for a term of three years starting May 1, 1855. Charles will pay Luke $5.00 to build a fence to protect the nursery from cattle.  No one other than Charles and his own family may use the house.

Scan of 1855-05-01 Agreement Between Cridland and Keith

Agreement between Luke Keith and Charles R. Cridland concerning the House and Land sold by the latter to the former, and now occupied by him. Charles R Cridland is to have the use and possession of the House and so much of the Land as is now occupied by him as a nursery and garden &c for the term of three years from the first day of May next 1855, and is to pay the taxes on the whole property sold by him to Luke Keith, and to have the privilege of taking away all the fruit trees, Shrubs flowes and other things growing thereon, and also any temporary buildings he may hereafter erect for his use and convenience during his occupancy of the premises, and he is to take away any trees or things which may be standing thereon to the detriment of the land, and the said Luke Keith is to put up and sustain a good fence on the west line of the nursery to enclose the premises occupied by C R Cridland from damage by Cattle &c for which the latter agrees to pay him the sum of five dollars, and the said C. R Cridland is to use the house only for the convenience of his own family and not to rent the same to any other person or use except the one now occupied by him.

Charles R. Cridland

April 29, 1855 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

April 29, 1855

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

Mr. Lasher, the man who is renting the farm, has been detained for a week because of ice in Buffalo Harbor, and George is asking Luke to get someone to draw out the manure on the orchard and plow it to make it ready for Mr. Lasher as it is important to get things planted so they will have food to get them through next winter.

Scan of 1855-04-29 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion           April 29, 1855

L. C. Keith

The man who has is going on to my place has been detained for a week past by the ice in the harbor of Buffalo. He is now calculating to start Tuesday next. He is going to take a team with him. Will drive to Buffalo take the boat to Detroit, send his wife by the cars and drive his team himself. It will be late when he gets there. It is highly important that he has something planted to keep him through next winter. If your father[1] has got along with his work so he possibly can I want he should draw out the manure on the orchard & plow it if possible & Mr Lasher, that is his name, will do as much for him. If your father cant do it all if he can do any thing have him do it. Try Oscar & see if he will change ____ so – or any body else. Lasher is a worker & is anxious to have things started in season. He would have been there by this time nearly had the lake been open. He wants to buy a good cow, make some inquiries for me. He has one horse, I have bot another so he will have a strong team. Could we be certain of finding a team then he would have left his horse with me & bot them. If the lake keeps froze up all the spring it will be a mistake that he did not go by the R.R. & run the risk of getting a team. He has the farm for 5 years. I furnish half the seed & he has half of what is raised delivers my half harvested & threshed on the premises. I furnish one horse or give him the use of the worth of a horse for the time. I am confident he can do well if he will. Try to get things started if you possibly can. I should have written before but expected he would start any day.

We are all well. No news that I think of.

Have you got any chopping done or have that timber? Lasher will plow for any one that will help him or do any thing else as he will be behind the light house some days. If you cant see to this send this line to your father or Oscar or both. Are you coming down to Attica?

Horace Bradly will die some time – report fixes the time as probaby near at hand.

Geo. Tomlinson

If Mrs. Lasher go from Detroit by the cars she will need taking care of 2 or 3 days.


[1] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

April 8, 1855 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

April 8, 1855

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

He has made a conditional bargain for the land for five years. If Luke has not already rented the house out, or if he has and can get out of the deal honorably he should do so as the man wants the whole farm.

Scan of 1855-04-08 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion           April 8, 1855

L. C. Keith, Esq.

Yours of 2nd inst came to me last night. You say nothing about money. I sent you a draft for $200 about the 20th of March. Have you received it?

I think you offer the house & orchard cheap enough. I had a chance to let the whole farm the other day. If I had not told you to let it & had I not expected you had done so I should let him have it.

Have you done any thing with the timber? I am afraid some of those long sticks will spoil if they are not hewed this spring.

April 11.

I have made a conditional bargain for that land for 5 years. Now if you have not let out the land or rented the house or so far agreed as to how to back out if you do not let it go you need not for I have agreed to let a man have it, if it is not disposed of when you receive this. If you have rented or bargained it away so you cant get out of it honorably let it go but if you cant, it must go as you have agreed.

The man I have agreed with will go on it as soon as I hear from you and if it is not disposed of before you get this. He wants the whole farm – well your half. I ____ half the seed & furnish one horse or the price of one horse. 5 years without int.

You will see this is better than to rent the house and orchard to one man & other lots to others. Again I say back out of no trades, but if you have not traded hold on.

If Sam has the house I want he should fence the bottom land & chop up what wood is down any how.

As soon as I hear from you I will write again. If Sam has it I will tell what work I will give him. Perhaps I will have 8 or 10 acres of those high brush cut.

Write as soon as you get this. Dont sleep first. This man is waiting to know. Have your letter Mailed Direct.

All well.

Geo. Tomlinson

P.S. Tell Grand Mother[1] those small matters of pictures shall be attended to when I am out of busness.


[1] Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

March 12, 1855 Summons for Jury Duty

March 12, 1855

To: Luke Keith

From: Sheriff Benjamin Orcutt

A summons for jury duty.

Scan of 1855-03-12 Jury Duty Summons to Luke Keith

C L Keith Esq

Dear Sir

You have been drawn as one of the Pettit Jurors for the next term of the Circuit Court for the County of Kalamazoo.

You are hereby Notified to Appear at the Court House in the village of Kalamazoo on Tuesday the 27th day of March A.D 1855 at ten o clock in the forenoon of said day.

Sheriffs Office March 12th 1855

Benj F Orcutt

March 9, 1855 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

March 9, 1855

To: Luke Keith

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

The bargain he had with his cousin to go in with on the land has fallen through. He then gives explicit directions on what he would like Luke to do as far as planting, what to do with the timber and manure, and the possibility of building a barn.

Scan of 1855-03-09 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion           March 9, 1855

C. L. Keith, Esq.

The bargain I made with my cousin for going on to that land has fell through. He backed out of the contract & I thought best to let him go for what he will fetch.

I now want to let out the land to some one. The deacon[1] suggests that Oscar has team enough to put in what land wants to be put into wheat & perhaps spring crops. See him & see how he feels about it. He has written to me to by that point of land. I shall write him in a few days. I would let out the house for a year to some small family or the house & land to the same person.

I want what wood you have chopped down cut into & cords as we have before talkd.

What will you ask to put up a barn as you proposed before you sold? I think you might turn some of your accts into labor.

I want a barn put up the next summer if I can get it & turn the wheat to pay for it so far as it will go. If you cant tend to the barn busniss consult some mechanic & find what they will take timber that is there, plank &c and find evry thing else necessary to put up a barn after the plan you proposed and compelte it. If I dont get a barn built I want the timber hewed so it will not spoil & piled up so it will not warp or rot.

If you can attend to putting up a barn I had rather you would If it can be done so as not to cost too much.

I will sell the farm for $3,000 you may offer it for sail for that price but in the mean time may let it as I have suggested above. I dont care much about selling it – had rather keep it if I can get some good man to work it.

I want the manure drawn on the orchard & planted to corn to be followed by wheat & seeded down. That eight acre lot most of the wheat lot put into corn or plowed & sown to wheat & that 12 acre lot plowed & put into wheat.

If Oscar wants to take it I rather he would – If not some other one.

Write the prospects. Where are those men that you wrote about wanting to take the land?

We are all well. The Deacon has gone to Attica to get his teeth fixed.

James Arteys wife was buried a few days ago. Aunt Lois is as well as usual. She talks of going to Mich to live with Paul.


Geo. Tomlinson[2]


[1] George’s father-in-law, James Sprague Jr.

[2] Not much is known about the people mentioned in this letter; research continues

February 21, 1855 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

February 21, 1855

To: Luke Keith

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

Is sending a note against Charles Anderson for $100.00 for the farm. Aunt Patty wants to know if and when Lois is coming.

Scan of 1855-02-21 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion           Feb. 21, 1855

C. L. Keith, Esq.

Enclosed please find a note against Charles Anderson for $100 on which is due the principal and int. at 10 per ct from date. If your Father[1] wants more I will send it. I think there is a poor sight for wood chopping just now. If you can get any one to chop handily do so if not let it go. My cousin takes possession the first of April so I am not so particular about it. When I see him again I will learn his calculations & advise you.

Do you have any offer for the place? Aunt Patty[2] says ask Luke if Lois[3] is coming down here this spring and have him write right off. If she is coming she wants to know it – if not she wants to know – she adds have her come without fail.

We are totally well. Marian[4] is a little out of health, but is now getting better – will be around again in a few days we think.

What do you mean by saying “Hellens Walter is dead”? who is or wasWalter“?

Write about Lois the same day you get this so say Aunt Patty.

We are having fair winter weather – good sleighing.


Geo. Tomlinson


[1] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[2] George’s mother-in-law, Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague

[3] Lois Keith, Luke’s daughter by his first wife, Minerva Payson

[4] George’s wife, Marion (Sprague) Tomlinson

February 1, 1855 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

February 1, 1955

To: Luke Keith

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

George and his cousin have agreed to rent Luke’s farm for ten years. His cousin has a farm and so won’t be able to get there before August. Aunt Patty wants Lois to come and stay with her for at least a year if not longer.

Scan of 1855-02-01 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion           Feb. 1. 1855

L. C. Keith

I have agreed with my cousin to go on to your farm if you have not sold it or bargained it away. If you have made no sale – take down the board – If all goes as I expect the farm is let for 10 years.

It may be considered strange that I dont hear any thing from you. Have you got the draft? What have you done about chopping? Can any one be got to get out the manure in the spring & plant the orchard to corn & potatoes on shares and cut the grass? Ask Oscar about it & see if he is in a condition to do it?

My Cousin has a farm on his hands here and thinks he cant get there before the first of Aug. – Have you written to me since I left? If you can get inclination on time to write call in and tell Ethan what to say. We are all well – Having winter in good earnest – roads full of snow &c.

Aunt Patty[1] hasnt called more than once because Lois[2] did not come home with me. She says tell Luke to have her ready & the first chance have her come along. I suppose she means the first chance for company. I shall look out and if I find any one going that way shall send for her – so be ready.

Aunt Patty says tell Lois to make calculations to stay a year if not longer & maybe more. I have not time to write.

Write in answer to this before you sleep.

Geo. Tomlinson


[1] George’s mother-in-law, Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague

[2] Lois Keith, Luke’s daughter by his first wife, Minerva Payson

February 19, 1954 letter to Ambrose & Matilda Brown from Julia Allen

February 19, 1854

To: Ambrose and Matilda Brown

From: Julia Allen

Mostly an account of their neighbor Jacob Brown’s suicide. His mother found him hanging in the barn. Rachel is herself again.

Scan of 1854-02-19 Julia Allen to Ambrose & Matilda Brown

February 19th 1854

I now take my pen to try to write to you again Ambrose, and Matilda, and Henry.[1] I have not took a notion to right before and now there is strange things to write about. Jacob Brown[2] is dead. He hung himself yesterday in their Barn, in the stable by his Horse. His mother[3] found him first. He went out in the morning with some grain in a dish to feed the fowls and was gone so long that his mother went to see what was the matter and there she found him dead. She run in to Ben Millers room and Ben was off to work so his wife run over two Sids[4] and he was gone out to the ______ mills. Then she went to Grangers and he was gone too so she went to Van Slikes. They was some of them at home so she got some help at last. Albert Pratt[5] had started to come here after some straw. He met Ikey(?) Wilson somewhere along by Charles Carpenters. He told him to hurry along for there was a man hung in Browns Barn. When he got there Granger and Vanslike was there too. They thought it wasn’t best to take him down till they sent for a Coroner but Albert persuaded them to take him down and carry him in the house. The blood was runing out of his nose and mouth too I think he said. Albert said he never had such feelings in his life after they got him down. The wind come up off from his stomach. He said he couldn’t help but think that he was comeing to life again. He took his linen to hang himself with. Albert says that his feet wasn’t more than three inches from the floor. He says he could reached the manger just as well as not if he had tried. Jim was up there towards night. He says that the old lady is most crazy. She says she had warning enough but didn’t think of any danger. She said that he had been to the Barn the most of two days this last week when she knew that there wasn’t any thing for him to do. She asked him what he had been at. He told her he had been busy. Friday evening he took the Bible and began turning the leaves. He begun at the fore side and turned clear through the book. One day he went up stairs and whilst he was up there she heard him make a strange noise. She tried to look up by the stove pipe but she couldn’t see anything was the matter. He come down pretty soon after that didn’t say any thing about it. Father[6] and Jim went up there today. Daniel Grandin was Coroner. Albert was one of the jurymen and Jim was one. I didn’t hear who the others was. Merryman was the doctor. Jim & Albert come hear when they got through. Mary[7] asked what they made out. They sayed they had made out that it was self murder and that was all that could be made of it. Father said there was no use of all that expence for nothing either. They had got him laid out before they come away. He had on his Cap and gloves, and he had on his overshoes over his Boots. The doctor said that his neck wasn’t broke it was bent over to one side considerable. Jim says he looks very natural now. They found some writing in his pocket. It said that such money belonged to Reynolds at Pultneyville. They searched all over the Barn to try to some other writing or something else, but they couldn’t find any thing. Albert says that they didn’t look amongst the tin in his Cart but it is no ways likely that he would left any thing there. Ward says that he heard someone twiting him about the Chains up to the Ridge the other day to Election. He is to be buried Tuesday at ten oclock, the meeting at the Methodist house to the Ridge, 22nd and he is buried there by Parsonses. His Father was buried there by Wards School house. Granger told Father it was so wet there that they didn’t like to bury there any more. Jim was in here Monday evening. He says that writing was in his trunk up stairs and not in his pocket and it was wrote in this way. You will find so many dollars in such a purse that belongs to _____ Anman at Pultneyville. Randolph Reynolds partner, Jim didn’t remember his name. It seems now that Ben Millers wife tells that she seen Jake go in the Barn and fasten the door on the outside after him. About half past eight in the morning, and about nine oclock, she heard the horse a makeing such a fuss but she thought Jake was cleaning out the stable. They think that he had hung himself then, and the horse new something was wrong. She said the horse whinerd and made a terrible fuss, but she didn’t think of any danger then you now. And then Mrs. Brown went in the Barn to feed the fowls about eleven oclock and didn’t see any thing of him, then after noon she went to look for him and found him dead. She screamed so hard that Bens wife heard her. She helped her in the house, and then went to Sids and to Grangers. They was to home there and Minerva went to Van Slikes and told them. He must hung there about five hours Jim says. Olin says he must of done it to get rid of trouble, and he has certainly now I think.

23rd The first day of February Father bought two Calves of a Pulman, and Cal and Major drove them home. Father went to Tomas Harbertsons and got Ruth Fuller and her boy to work for us. We got my bed down that evening for me to sleep in after thist a spell. Thursday Ruth ironed after we got the work done up. I went to kniting whilst. After dinner she was sick and went to bed. She didn’t get up to eat any supper. Friday she got up and dressed Mother.[8] We made pies in the morning. Jim was drawing out wood for us and Father broke through the ice. He had to come in and put on dry cloths. Mary come down in the afternoon. Saraetta[9] & Frank pieced bedquilt. They made some noise when they played. Ruth begun a bedquilt for me pieced in sawteeth. It is out of Mothers dark calico dress, and my light one, that one that was so darnd mean about hooking up, you know, Till.[10] Saturday we got the work done pretty quick. Ruth put some pockets in a couple of aprons for Mother. I finished the other stocking of Fathers. Pauline and Sarah come here about eleven oclock, staid till after supper and then we went up to Jims and staid all night Sunday when Moll got her work done up we went down there all of us. Ruth didn’t fetch her things when she come. We told her we was most sorry that we spoke to her about comeing now Mother had got so smart. She said that needn’t make any odds. She said she didn’t see as she could stay unless she could get a place for her girl, so I believe they concluded for Moll to take Laurie and Ruth to work here, or try it a spell. After we eat in the afternoon Jim and Moll and I and Sarahetta went and took Pauline and Sarah home. It snowed. Monday they went down after Laurie, and Ruths things. Afternoon Borodail and Tindle Calhoun was here to borrow money. I don’t know how much they got. Tuesday we washed. Ruth seen to the dinner she baked beans. Father went to the Ridge. He got a letter from Sarah. They was as usual. She was very sentimental about things. Wednesday Ruth cut out some shirts for Cal. She said she would make them, but she had got so much to fix for Laurie to get her ready to go to Jims. I told her I would make them, so I asked Mother if I could go to Jims. She said yes. Just then father come in. He said Mary told me to tell you to come up there and stay all night so I put out. Thursday Jim and Father went down to Blosses, and Father bought a new milch cow. They brought the calf home and then killed it. That was _____ Friday I helped Moll iron and she fried some cakes. We got dinner early and then we went down home and I fixd(?) up and we stopt for Pauline and then we went to Phebes a visiting after so long a time. Pheb she took care of Jeddy[11] whilst we went a trading. I bought a Deloine dress one and ten a yard and some cloth for a quilt border, and a money purse, and some darning needles. Moll she got some notions. Dan says that they shall come to see you when they get out west. Pheb says if they board next summer she shall come and stay a week with you. They are a comeing to Otsego in the County of Alegan. Jim come after us. In the evening we made to visit to Parsonses. When I got home there was two little girls in my bed so I had to go in the north bed room to sleep. I didn’t get warm till morning. Saturday I didn’t get up till they had got most done eating. The girls was basket pedlers. I didn’t do much of the work. I finished Cals shirts. Laura hemed the flaps to one. Mother was real smart Sunday. Sid and Sammy[12] was here and eat with us. He don’t talk one word yet. Moll and Jim was here in the evening. Laura went home with them to live a spell. Monday Ruth washed. I have got cold a real old he one. Father went to the Ridge. He got some hard soap, and some Pictens. Mother is catching cold. Cal went to school. Frank he plays horse as much as ever Henry did, and talks more. I heard father tell him he would give him a dollar if he wouldn’t talk so much. John was in here. He said he was going to start for the west tuesday. He is a going to take Cape.[13] I thought he needn’t fret himself about Cape. I wondered Till if you would tell him what you said you would. Moll said no, I hoped yes. Tuesday we had fowls. Ruth made a Potpie and baked bread. I didn’t do anything but make the beds, then I to mending fathers jacket. Our colds no better very fast. Ruth is another Dr. Fuller. She said I must make a sling so i made a half a glass full and asked her if it was right. Now go long to bed she says and I’ll fix some. So she made ever so much more red hot. Wednesday I didn’t help do any of the house work. I worked on my dress shirt some. Jim and Father went to some kind of election. Moll come here. Laura went to school. Mother is hoarse. Thursday I didn’t do much. Ruth does the work firstrate. If it wasn’t for her boy we couldn’t have any one that would do better. Friday she ironed. I didn’t iron but a few things and we had a big wash. Mr Crum drove a steer here and father give him fourteen dollars for him. Ruth cut out my dress and worked some on it. Mother is some better. They have got a new medicine to Pultneyville. It is called Chloride de Calcium, or water from the Artesian well Canada. It is found in the solid rock 550 feet. Ruth is takeing it for the salt rheum. It cures every thing. She has us take it every time she does. She says if I take it it will cure them spells. I tell her it won’t. Well she says your to blame if you don’t try it, so I spose I must. Saturday we churned three pounds and a half of butter. Sid started to go to mill and fetched your letter. I read it loud. There says I now i guess i shall go out there a great deal. Oh, Father says I _____ for a chance for you to go the other day. Where says I. With Dan and Pheb, he said. They was a going to start the first of May, and he thought it would be a good time to come in the spring. I seen through him. He thought I would be ready to come back in the fall. He didn’t say it though. He took Mother up to Jims, and then he took Ruth down to her Fathers. She was a going there to make a visit the next day after father went after her to Toms. He took the Acordien down to Albert Todd to tune up right. He lives there by his Fathers. Father went to Higginses and got me some worsted for to work the roses to my quilt, and to Renyolds and got a bottle of that water. It was a dollar a bottle, quart bottles. We take one spoonfull of the water and put in one quart of pure water, take three times a day. It is as strong as salts. Then Moll says, it tastes bad. Sunday Molls folks was here. Olin was here a spell. He had been to Joy to see a patient. Father and Jim was up to Browns you know. Monday I didn’t work I was lazy. Tuesday father and Jim went to the funerel. There was a great many there more than could get in the house. Father seen Tom Herbertson. He wanted to know if we would spare Ruth till next week. His wife had the measles and they her to do the work. He told him yes. It seems he went after her mother the same day that she went home. He found Ruth there and took her so she won’t get that visit made yet. We have still times this week. Wednesday Sid bought 22 bushels of wheat of Father give 2 dollars a bushel. He is haveing it floured I believe. Thursday Charley Boradaile was here after some oats. Olin rode as far as the gate and then he went to see his patient. Mother asked how his patient was. He was comfortable. And there was the fish pedlar here. He took a chops and he let us have three dozen perch. What a trade. And Balch was here to see if he could get a load of straw, and bert Wells was here after straw. All come at once. Friday, when I got the ironing done I went up to Molls to have her show me a little about my dress. I found her on the bed about sick with a cold. Laura was ironing. Moll got up and combed my hair and by that time I had a bit of the desperit suss (?) and had to go to bed too so I didn’t do one stitch of work. Moll said she wasn’t a going to work so we poped corn and had quite a time. Saturday, Balch came after his load of straw and Jim drawed a load for Albert. Jim said that they didn’t have a mouthfull of fodder hardly besides the straw he took. Charley went to Joy and found your letter for us, But his father got home before he did. He says that he wrote to you after he bought Calf went home to make a visit so father and Mother and me was alone. I milked the new cow. Sunday, Jim and Moll and I went to Johns to see the folks. Rachel said she was sorry when John told that he had bought but she says she will try and make the best of it. John says you was real homesick Till, but you mustn’t be. Father says that I had better come out with Johns folks when they move and comfort up Tildy a little. Now if you think it will comfort you any I’ll come, But I think it will be poor comfort, yes I do.

Monday, Sid and Sammy was here. They come to fetch the bags home. He says that wheat isn’t but 14 shillings a bushel now so father hit the nail on the head once. Cal come home this forenoon. Jim is drawing logs to mill. It rained and snowed a little so that it made a crust, and they can slip around with sleighs a little, but we haven’t had any sleighing this winter. Father hurt his foot some today. A stick fell on it. Tuesday, Mother is some sick at her stomach she says. Ben Atwater was here after some oats for Boradaile. Moll is here this afternoon. Sid said yesterday that Doc and Jane Granger started for the west last week. Father said if we had knew it I could went with them then so it seems that he wants me to go the first chance. Till, you wrote that Ambrose said you and Henry might come next fall. Now if you will come and stay all winter if mother lives till then I will come with Johns folks or else with Dan and Pheb and stay till you can come. Ruth hasn’t got back here yet.

Julia Allen

Tuesday evening. I was going to try to finish this letter. We are all as well as common except Colds. Jim has got a lame wrist, but it is geting better. Jedy is not as fleshy as he was in the summer. We weighed him this afternoon and he weighs 19 pounds. Now Matilda I thank you a great many times for them things. Sarahetta makes a great fuss about sleeping with Laurie. She says that she breathes at her, and Laurie wakes her and tells stories for her, and yet she does not like to sleep with her. Johns folks are all pleased about going to the west. Father says he thinks Rachel is not verry well pleased. Rachel laughs at John some about giving more for his land in Michigan than he got for this here. And now about Uncle Stephens[14] folks. We have heard often enough, but have all forgotten whear it is. Matilda Julia is in a great quandary about going west. She says she does not feel right about going and leaving Mother. If there should any thing happen she should never forgive herself for leaving and I tell her to go. Perhaps it will be for the best. I think they would be glad to have some good help when she gets back.


Mary M Calkins


[1] Ambrose and Matilda’s son, Henry Brown

[2] According to the 1850 Census records, Jacob Brown was a neighbor of Matilda’s and Julia’s brother, Sidney

[3] Mercy Brown

[4] Julia’s brother, Sidney Allen

[5] Husband of Emily LeRoy (daughter of Julia’s aunt, Phebe Pearsall and Stephen LeRoy)

[6] Jedediah Allen

[7] Julia’s sister, Mary (Allen) Calkins

[8] Mary (Pearsall) Allen

[9] Sarahetta Calkins, daughter of Julia’s sister, Mary (Allen) Calkins

[10] Nickname for Matilda

[11] Mary’s son, Jedediah Calkins

[12] Sidney Allen’s son

[13] Ambrose and Matilda’s dog, Caper; see footnote #17 from December 1, 1853 letter

[14] Stephen LeRoy, husband of Phoebe Pearsall, who was Julia’s aunt

December 1, 1853 letter to Matilda Brown from Julia Allen

December 1, 1853

To: Matilda Brown

From: Julia Allen and Mary Calkins

This letter was updated on February 21, 2022 to make small corrections and add some tags

A day-by-day accounting of the family’s goings-on. On the 18th, her mother lost the use of her limbs entirely. By the 20th she could walk but not without holding on to something. John Todd and Thomas Fish’s daughter were married on the 28th. On the 30th she reports that her sister-in-law Rachel is “raveing crazy.”

Scan of 1853-12-01 Julia Allen to Matilda Brown

December 1st There has been two men here from Marion[1] to try to get the farm to work, but father[2] told them James[3] was a going to work it, if he couldn’t sell it. Father has been to the Ridge[4] he bought some saleratus[5], and two chamber mugs for seventy. Now after writing that, Peter called in just Candle light, and Father give him the hogs heads & feet, and he took the tails.

2nd Father has been over to the Blacksmiths, and got the money for the Apples, they had. John[6] was here he fetched my Acordion Book. Sidney[7] brought it down there, and Charley King brought it to his house, so I have got it now. Sidney has killed a beef today and so has John.

2nd Father bought some fore quarter of beef of Sidney. John fetched it here for him. I went to Jims and took the Acordion.

3rd We went down to Alberts, I carried the Music along and then we had quite a concert. James come brought me home to night.

4th We washed and boiled mince meat. They got a letter from Sarah[8] after I went away Saturday John fetched from the Ridge. Father brought it home from Johns just now and then I read it whilst i was eating an Apple. They are all well there.

5th There is a going to be a great Meeting over to the School House next Wensday & Thursday, the Christians has it. Doctor Ostrom, and Wife, has come here to night to stay with us. They are a going to the great meeting over here.

6th I thought that i would get a chance to go over with them so slick, but they said they shouldn’t come back here, so my bread was all dough again, my luck though. Father has been over to Jane Pulvers[9] – after his coat. She didn’t charge but six shillings[10] for mending it.

7th It is very pleasant weather here now. Peter went by here & Father got him to help cut down some straw. Sidney come after the Bier to cary the hogs on he is going to kill tomorrow. Uncle Bert and Alferd has stoped here to stay all night, started for Lyons.[11]

8th Johns Brother Stanton come here this morning just as we got done eating for Father to sign a subscription paper for another Meeting House over to Joy. He signed but i dont know how much. Enoch Granger said that the Women of their Society had got up a sewing Society the proceeds to go towards a carpet for their church, and they wasn’t going to have every boddy runing in with there dirty feet. Father had a writing drawn up for them to sign before he paid them. Enoch said he would fifty for his part, but when they come to see the writing there was one Clause that said the Sucsessors in Office, and they wouldn’t sign it, so Father didn’t pay. Jane, and Cornelia, and her Aunt come here a visiting. Jane stay on a spell.

9th James & Mary[12] has come they got a letter from Margaret.[13] Jane and I has been over to Johns I thought Moll would stay all night but when we come back she had gone off, she is to bad.

10th It was so pleasant that we went up to the other House. Whilst we was gone Jane’s Father & Mother come after her.

11th I have made emptyings & baked bread. Father has been to the Ridge got some pepper, and nutmegs, and the News Papers.

13th I see that I have made a mistake in the days of the month but this is right now I believe. I had to go to bed before breakfast so Father would go after Mrs Creeck to wash. She was gone but she is a comeing tomorrow. Charles[14] came after the sheep. Father was gone to the Blacksmiths, so he staid here an hour and a half I guess. There was a man come just noon to look at the Pigs and Cattle, and just as we got done eating Bill Fowler come. Father asked him to eat he said no but he walked up to the table and took a piece of pie just as if he had been to home now. Mother[15] has complained more to day than she has before in ten days. There has been twenty different people here to eat in two weeks. That suits Mother. Well it is enough to kill any one off to stay here as we do most always.

14th Mrs Creek has been here and washed. Mrs Miller has been here a visiting. She is almost blind of her left eye. It come blind all at once. She says she can see a light spot as large as her thumb nail and that is all. Mrs Creek says her Jane is real smart and she has got such a good man to.

15th Father has been to the Ridge he got a stick of salve & some sugar. He has been over to the Blacksmiths too to day. I have mended Cals coat & Pants, and bound Mothers shoes over to the heels. I have got my old woollen dress made over new.

16th John has been over after the candle rods. They didnt have good luck with the moulds. Mother has got the sorest arm that I ever knew her to have where she burnt it. She says her head feels better. I am makeing netting for a living now.

17th It is nasty fogy weather as ever was I guess. We have had about a dosen Indian Summers this winter. James come to go to Van Marters Vendue,[16] and Mary has come here. If she hadn’t she would got a scolding I’ll bet a cent. It is raining to night.

18th We have got lots of snow this morning. It is drifted some Father says. Mother says she never felt so bad as she does now. It seems as though she had lost the use of her limbs entirely. She can’t get up out of the chair alone nor walk alone either.

19th We have washed and just as we got done Jim come up with part of a sleigh load of oats so Moll had to go home. Mother feels better to day but she cant walk any better. Jeddy[17] had on short cloths, and shoes and stockings, looks funny. John was over here he had been over to Holleys and they had a letter from John Holley. He wrote that himself and Father & Mother lived on the old place yet and was doing well. Lucys and Janes and Ruths familys was all well. Martha died in 1851 with the Consumption. She left three Children.

20th Mother isn’t any better she dont walk one step without holding on to something. Sidney was here a few minuets. Till[18] you said i mustent be mad at them because you went off[19] but i be, and i shall, and i will be.

21st They have Deddicated the new Meeting House to day. John was over here. He says that he and Schult has drawn writings this morning, so he is sure he has sold now. Mother is very sorry for it.

22nd They have had meeting to day again to the new meeting house. James has moved up to the other house to day again. John and Albert and Wallace helped him move. Father went down and brought Mary and the children in the Cutter. They staid here all night with us.

23rd Mary has mixed the bread, and fried cakes, and helped do up all the work and now when Jim and Cal gets back from the Ridge we are a going up to the other house to work. Well now it is night and i have got back they have got to liveing.

24th There has not been any school to day. Cal has had his boots mended. Father has been over to Johns. They was a greasing their harness. Rach[20] was up stairs to work. Mother is pretty well to day but I guess that she never will walk alone any more. We tell her she may as well laugh as cry about it. James had been to the Ridge, and wonder of wonders he has got a letter from Ambrose,[21] dated the 15th of december. You wrote you was all well but you didn’t write what Tille and Henry[22] was a doing, so now I won’t tell you what I am a doing cause you see I hain’t a writing. Well any way I won’t tell you what Frisk done to day.

25th It is Christmas but not a merry one here. I have been up to Jims a writing and I do hope you will get what we have wrote for I am sure we could not think of it all again in two months time there is such a mess of it. John was over a few minutes. Mother asked him if they was all well to home. He said yes. He said he had been over to the meeting house to meeting this afternoon. There is to be preaching every Sabbath at two oclock. He says they have got a very nice meeting house. They have got a sofa in the Pulpit, and three chairs that cost three dollars and a half apiece, and a centre table, and eight lamps, and the aisles is all carpted not in the Pulpit and all in front of the Pulpit and it is very nice, very.

26th Father had the colic or something else last night. I got him some Wintergreen drops before i went to bed and then got up once and warmed some cloths and got him some pills to take. I wanted Cal to go after the Doctor but Father said no he couldn’t do any good, so I went to bed most scart to fitses. This morning i wanted to dress Mother. No he could. He felt well enough only some sore. Sid was here. He had been to Johns. He said Rach hadn’t slept much last night. No wonder I said _______ _________

27th Mary had been down here to day whilst Jim was gone to Lyons. He took Caper[23] out to Armses[24] but Lawson was gone off south somewhers. If he concluded to take to go west and take the dog Charley would let Jim know. Mother has felt pretty smart today, but yesterday she got cold in her head and she felt very bad with it.

28th I have been up to help Moll some about her Carpet. Five breadths just reaches from north to south but it lacks ever so much the other way. She says never mind when they get rich they will build to suit the carpet they will so they will. Mother staid alone while Father come up to Jims and whilst he helped Jim unload the last load of hay and then I rode home too.

29 Wells has been here and borrowed 15 dollars & Jake Andrews has been here beging for the Cooper at the Center. Father give one dollar and John J Allen come this afternoon. He had been to a wedding last night. John Todd and Miss Fish,[25] Thomas Fishes daughter was married.

30th Father has been to the Ridge John I rode down with him. He got some coffee for John. He carried it in for him. Rachel is raveing crazy. They have got her in the recess and got it boarded up. I don’t know how long it has been so. Uncle Stephen[26] has come to see us. He says he has got tiered of waiting for Phebe[27] to come. She is down to Johns yet he says.

31st Father and Uncle Stephen has been over to Johns. They say that Rach talks all the time. Uncle Stephen says it sounds to him just like somebody a reading. They did not see Rachel. It seems he has got it boarded up tight and a door to fasten on the outside of it. Sidney was in there yesterday and she took hold of him and would tore his coat off, but John boxed her ears[28] so she stopt. Wensday morning whilst John was gone to take the children over to school she burnt up a vest, and a pair of mittens and some Books. When he got in the house she had got some Cloths and Papers piled on the stove and the bottom ones was all on fire. If he had staid a very few minuets longer the house would been on fire. Father says the floor was burnt some, where John throwed the things off the Stove. Mary has come to stay all night and help me cook the old Gobler tomorrow. I wish you was here to help eat him. They think they can’t wait for me to get maried you know. Never mind. Albert Pratt[29] said he would let me have their old Rooster.

This from Julia Ann Allen, to A. M. H. Brown[30], good bye.

[The following portion was written by Julia’s sister, Mary (Allen) Calkins]

Friday evening January 6th, 1854. Julia said last Sunday, that I must finish this letter and start it on, and it is now 7 oclock and i have just got the baby[31] to sleep. It is the first time i have had to write any. This week, and my last week mending is not done yet. Julia received a letter this week, on wednesday that you wrote, the 6 of Nov, and we received one from Ambrose 2 weeks since, and we started one wrapper full on the next Monday. Rachel is herself again[32] and the rest of us are all well as common. Sarahetta[33] has got the saltrheum[34] and she scratches so much i have to put gloves on her hands nights, and to night when i put them on she says Mother, i will act naughty and you know the sound, I had to box her ears. i staid to Fathers Wednesday night. Julia went to Orin Parsonses to a paty. She said there was not but a few their, only about 64 eat supper. Julia and Judith Ann was here last evening.

Now Matilda you need not make any excuses about writing or spelling. We can read all you can write, and we want you to write if you are pleased with the west, or if you are homesick or not, every one of you, and which way the road runs, and which way the shanty stands, and how many windows, and doors, it has got and if the sun rises in the East, West, North, or South to you, and we want to know 500 other things that we never shall know, and so you must write every thing you can think of and more too, and please write if you got all your things safe their. I am very much in hopes of geting the rest of those missing letters, now that Julia has got hers. Julia says that she will not go any where again, it makes so much trouble. Jim took Caper back to Abraham, W and he wants to keep him untill you can get him. How did he get away from you. Write what Henry says & does.

Good bye Marys love to all if it will be acceptable.

[The following was written upside down between the lines]

Sarahetta wants me to read Aunt Matildas letter to her every day. Jedediah can’t but just wear them shoes that you gave him. Tell Henry for me to eat a quart of beech nuts.


[1] Marion, New York, which was about 20 miles southwest of their home in Sodus, New York

[2] Jedediah Allen

[3] James Calkins, who was married to their sister, Mary Allen

[4] While the residents of the Village of Sodus referred to the town as Sodus, those living on the outskirts referred to it as The Ridge

[5] Before baking powder was common, the only leaveners were wild yeasts and sour dough starters, frothy egg whites and the unreliable early baking soda, or “saleratus.” It had to be mixed with an acidic ingredient, usually sour milk or buttermilk, to make the soda active

[6] Their brother, John Allen

[7] Their brother, Sidney Allen

[8] Their sister, Sarah (Allen) Lunn

[9] Neighbor, the wife of Henry Pulver

[10] Coin of Colonial America, varying from about 12¢ to 16¢

[11] Lyons, New York, which was about 15 miles south of Sodus

[12] See footnote #3

[13] Their sister, Margaret (Allen) Stinehart

[14] Their brother, Charles Allen

[15] Mary (Pearsall) Allen

[16] A public sale, or auction

[17] Jedediah Calkins, son of James & Mary (Allen) Calkins, born June 12, 1853

[18] Nickname for Matilda; sometimes also referred to as Tildy

[19] Matilda and her husband and son had just moved to Michigan

[20] Their sister-in-law (John’s wife), Rachel (Waters) Allen

[21] Matilda’s husband, Ambrose Brown

[22] Ambrose & Matilda’s son, Henry Brown

[23] Ambrose and Matilda’s German Shepherd dog which accompanied them on the move from New York to Michigan. According to a note from Granddaughter Lela (Brown) Mueller to her cousin, Warren Atkins, “They brought their Shepard dog with them. He disappeared very soon, was gone several days, came back in the night with sore bleeding feet. Later they had a letter from Sodus that the dog came back but they couldn’t keep him. They never knew how he made the trip as they came by wagon.”

[24] Ambrose Brown’s sister, Cynthia, and her husband, William E. Arms

[25] Helen Fish

[26] Stephen LeRoy, husband of their Aunt Phoebe

[27] Phoebe (Pearsall) LeRoy

[28] To box the ears is to hit someone across the side of the head with either a flat or cupped hand which is a very dangerous action as it can burst the eardrum

[29] The husband of Emily (LeRoy) Pratt, the daughter of Stephen & Phoebe (Pearsall) LeRoy

[30] A[mbrose], M[atilda] and H[enry]

[31] Jedediah Calkins

[32] It is interesting that Rachel was “raveing crazy” one day and then just a week later was “herself again.” While there are probably a dozen possible reasons for this behavior, one possibility is that Rachel ingested ergot-contaminated food. Ergot is caused by a fungus which affects cereal grasses. The affected grain contains potent chemicals, including lysergic acid, from which LSD is made, and can produce delusions and hallucinations in a person eating the contaminated grain. It has been suggested that there was an ergot contamination of rye crops during the period leading up to the Salem Witch Trials which explains the “crazy” behavior of the accused witches

[33] Mary’s daughter, Saretta Calkins

[34] Eczema