Luke Keith’s diary entries from January 1 – February 6, 1859

To read the entire diary and/or to see the scans of the diary, previous footnotes, tags of people mentioned, click here.

Jan 1 – Cold 28 Abz[1] Rainy. Went over to Fathers.[2] No snow.

Jan 2 – Cloudy 30 Abz. At home all day.

Jan 3 – Cloudy 29 Abz. Jo Sherman here. Father Brot Nancy[3] home. Lasher[4] drawed load wood. Bot this Book 38¢.[5]

Jan 4 – Cold 25 Abz. Worked in shop on violin. Barlow got his violin. Bot ½ lb yarn 44¢.

Jan 5 – Pleasant 31 Abz. Worked in shop. Paid Tax 4.29 Georges tax 10.66. Bot 30 lbs flour 82¢.

Jan 6 – Cloudy 22 Abz. Went over to Taylors to the mill. Bot ½ lb yarn 50¢ one lb ratas[6] 10¢. Elder Sills here & prayed for Two Sarahs.

Jan 7 – Snow 20 Abz. Worked in shop on sleigh. Cold snowey day. Bot screws 30¢ one lb candles 14. Sent letter to N. B. Betts[7] 3¢.

Jan 8 – Cold 3 Blz[8] 4 or 5 inches snow. Finished fathers sleigh. Bot darning needle.

Jan 9 – Cold 4 Blz. At home all day. Cold.

Jan 10 – Pleasant 10 Blz. Painted Fathers sleigh. A. Sumner at the shop. Flanders here with his bobs.

Jan 11 – Cloudy 21 Abz. Painted Fathers sleigh. Jesse Earl here. Bot 54 lbs bran 32¢ one box matches 6¢.

Jan 12 – Cloudy 36 Abz. Lasher came over and killed my pig weighed 252 lbs.

Jan 13 – Cloudy 37 Abz. Repaired wheel for Wightman. Rainy night. Nationals in town to night.

Jan 14 – Cloudy 37 Abz very muddy. Mrs Bennet here & Bennet to dinner. Rainy afternoon snowed in the night. Anna Fries[9] died to night Ae 16 years.

Jan 15 – Cloudy 30 Abz. Covered cistern. Bot salt candles. Got stove hearth mended.

Jan 16 – Pleasant 26 Abz some snow snowed some. Anna Fries buried to day.

Jan 17 – Cloudy 22 Abz. Went up to Yorks. Father got his sleigh.

Jan 18 – Pleasant 17 Abz. Went over to Lashers got pig. Sent letter to Abiah Sprague.[10] Sarah[11] went to Watts.

Jan 19 – Pleasant 29 Abz. Went over to Byingtons. Oatman moved his house. Took tea to Deyoes.

Jan 20 – Cloudy 42 Abz. Went over to Fathers took hannah.[12] Rained some.

Jan 21 – Cloudy 25 Abz. Sawed wood. Sarah came home. Filed saw for Mr Smith.

Jan 22 – Snows 3 Abz. Went over to Fathers after hannah. Mrs Frary here. Wesley[13] here in Evening.

Jan 23 – Pleasant 1 Abz. At home. Wrote letter to King[14] & D Crawford.[15]

Jan 24 – Pleasant 17 Abz. Worked in shop some. Bot 26½ lbs flour 77¢ ½ lb Tea 31¢. Wesley got corn 6 bushels 56¢ pr bushel. Sent letter to King one to D Crawford.

Jan 25 – Cloudy 31 Abz not much snow. Rimmed wheel for A. McLary. Calvin Streator here to day.

Jan 26 – Pleasant 22 Abz. Sawed out one pair bob runners. Flanders here. Ralph got his gloves. Calvin here.

Jan 27 – Snows like fun 32 Abz rained & snowed all day. Worked on McLarys Ex.

Jan 28 – Cloudy 32 Abz. Finished McLarys Ex. Bot G. string. Received letter from Mrs M. Keith one from N. B. Betts two for Lois.[16]

Jan 29 – Cloudy 24 Abz. Went up to Yorks Jo[17] brot me home. Father & Mother[18] here. Got Buck Wheat & meal from the mill. Bot 50 lbs bran 30¢. Cal Streator got his violin 50¢. Lasher paid me 50¢.

Jan 30 – Pleasant but cloudy 23 Abz. At home all day. Sarah went to church. All well as usual.

Jan 31 – Sun shines no snow 13 Abz. Worked round house & Barn. D. Lamkins here Wesley here in evening. Bent hoops for violin. Race[19] run over. Mr Gero very sick.

Feb 1 – Sun shines Pleasant 30 Abz. Went over the river after my Heifer could not get her. Made axhelve[20] for C. C. Johnson. Mrs Watts here. Barlow gave me an E. string. Went to Barlows.

Feb 2 – Snows some 31 Abz. Made axhelve for Wesley. Mary an Keith[21] came here. Johnson got helve.

Feb 3 – 24 Abz. Filed saw for Joseph Lee.[22] T. Ford brot some flour. Wm McLary brot sleigh.

Feb 4 – Snows 16 Abz. Worked in shop sawed out bob knees. Blocked out foot for T. Sherman. Recd letter from Canada. Some sleighing. Bot one lb candles 16¢ letter 10¢.

Feb 5 – Snows some 12 Abz snowey day. Worked in shop some sawed out gearing and neaps[23] one for Byington.

Feb 6 – Pleasant 11 Abz. Sun shines. At home all day. Sarah went to church. Ed & Mary Childs here to Tea. Snow most gone.

[1] Above zero

[2] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[3] His daughter, Nancy Keith

[4] While “Lasher” is referenced repeatedly in Luke’s diaries and also in letters to Luke from Charles Cridland, the only evidence found regarding his first name, Joseph, was a receipt in the back of Luke’s 1858 diary dated December 6, 1858 for the payment of Comstock real estate taxes

[5] This appears to be Luke’s symbol for “cents.” It was actually written as a quarter of a round circle slanting upwards to the right (see scan of diary entry)

[6] Saleratus; sodium or potassium bicarbonate used as a leavening agent; baking soda

[7] His mother-in-law, Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[8] Below zero

[9] A search of FindAGrave.com reveals that Anna H. Freese died January 15, 1859 and is buried in the Galesburg City Cemetery, Galesburg, Michigan

[10] Abiah was the cousin of Jerusha (Crittenden) Keith, Luke’s second wife

[11] His third wife, Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[12] His daughter, Hannah Keith

[13] His brother, John Wesley Keith who, according to the family Bible, was adopted

[14] Most likely James S. King, his maternal first cousin

[15] His brother-in-law, David “D.C.” Crawford

[16] His daughter, Lois (Keith) Clark, by his first wife, Minerva Payson. Lois married Byron Clark on March 17, 1859; it is curious that Luke didn’t enter that in his diary

[17] Joseph York, the husband of Luke’s niece, Helen (Bradley) York

[18] Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

[19] An artificial channel or bed of a stream leading water to or from a point where its energy is utilized, such as a mill or a mining claim

[20] An axe handle

[21] Mary Ann (Batey) Keith, the wife of his nephew, James “Oscar” Keith

[22] His nephew

[23] The pole, or tongue, of a cart

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