The Alphadelphia Association


The Alphadelphia Association

The Alphadelphia Association was established in Galesburg, Michigan, in 1844. A German, Dr. H. R. Schetterly, was the leader. Three thousand acres of land were purchased, and a large mansion was built. At one time probably 300 members were admitted. The common property was valued at $43,897.21 in 1846. It was disbanded in 1848.

Two of the primary founders were the Rev. Richard Thornton, and the Rev. James Billings, both Universalist preachers. They published the Association’s paper, the Alphadelphia Tocsin, from 1844 to 1846.

The association was founded on the principles set forth by French socialist Charles Fourier which combined a belief in the possibilities of scientific evolution and social progress and the sense that ridding the world of evil would inaugurate a “reign of Social Harmony” that would hasten, according to the members of such groups as Alphadelphia, the coming millennium or the thousand year reign of Christ on earth.

The constitution for Alphadelphia was drawn up in December 1843 by a small group of individuals from various Michigan counties. These same selected members for a site committee to search out a suitable location for their home. Some partially cultivated acreage in Kalamazoo County seemed ideal for their purposes. The land was cut across by the Kalamazoo River and close by the anticipated completion of the Michigan Central Railroad tracks. Those who owned land on the site were encouraged to join the organization.

In the spring of 1844 a barracks for living quarters was built. There would also soon be a saw mill for the timber on the land, a blacksmith shop, and a printing office. From this latter office, the Alphadelphia members printed the Alphadelphia Tocsin and a journal, the Primitive Expounder.

Alphadelphia lasted but four years and really flourished only for one year until 1845. Some members left because of poor economic conditions and their sense that they could better themselves elsewhere. Internal dissensions also tore at the organization with charges of mismanagement and the shortage of cash to do business and to pay taxes. Alphadelphia ceased functioning, according to their records, in 1848.

More information on the Alphadelphia Association can be seen here.

Luke Keith’s diary entries from April 13 – May 26, 1857

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

Apr 13 – 34 Above zero snows some. Fred Left to day. Lois went over to Lashers. Fred paid me 2 Dollars. Mended my gloves. Snowey very muddy.

Apr 14 – 35 Above zero snows. Mended my mittens. Very bad weather. Lasher traded horses with Eldred gave 15 Dollars.

Apr 15 – 22 Above zero snows about three inches on the ground ice in the watter pail. Bot wood 2.94 cts 5 lbs butter of Flanders one sack Flour of Babcock $1.75 cts.

Apr 16 – 30 Above zero snows cold. Got some nitric acid. Flanders pulled stumps. Brot me some hay. Two chains mended at Bennets. G. Matthews left.

Apr 17 – 26 Above zero. Lamkins drawed my wood. Mended wagon for bush 75 cts paid 25 cts. Got link in large chain hook on small chain.

Apr 18 – 29 Above zero snows like fun about 2 inches deep morning stormy day.

Apr 19 – 37 Above zero snow on the ground cleared of pleasant after noon good sap weather.

Apr 20 – Got shingles of Rogers. Pleasant 31 Above zero froze quite hard. Worked in shop made reach for A. Brown[33] 50 cts. Sent a letter to G. Tomlinson. 5 candles 25.

Apr 21 – Pleasant 30 Above zero. Made Axletree for A. Lamkins wagon $2.00. Snowed some in the Evening.

Apr 22 – Pleasant 33 Above. Went up to Yorks and down to Oscars loaded load of goods Oscar moved Mary[34] come over to our house.

Apr 23 – Pleasant 30 A. Mary An here. Made H. Potts dash. Mary An left for Paw Paw.

Apr 24 – 31 Above Pleasant. Pots paid me 18 cts. Worked in the shop. Flanders Paid me 20 Dollars.

Apr 25 – 40 Above zero cloudy. Went over the river and got some eggs. Catharine Harriet and Uncle Warren[35] came over. 60 Above at noon.

Apr 26 – Rainy 41 Above. Toot and Lois here.

Apr 27 – 33 A. snows very little Pleasant after noon. Uncle Warren here to dinner. Worked in the shop on Claps bugy boddy.

Apr 28 – 30 A Pleasant. Worked on Claps boddy. Harvey & Oscar here. Got a letter from Pros Crawford.[36] Calope in town.

Apr 29 – Pleasant 38 A. Harvey here this morning. Went over the river with Sarah and children. Circus at Kalamazoo.

Apr 30 – 56 Above Pleasant. Went over to cooks and __unyons to look at some cows. Got Fathers wagon ___ moved his things.

May 1 – 56 Rainy. Mary Brown here. Went over to Cridlands got some sedar an Lilack trees. Bot a lot of sedars.

May 2 – Pleasant 34 Above. Got my sedars and pines and set them out. Lois came home from Lashers. Got half lb Tea 25 cts.

May 3 – Pleasant 32 Ab morning. Sarah gone to church. Marked Stetsins Box of Shugar. White tailed hen commenced setting on 13 Eggs. Went up to Gull with Cridland.

May 4 – 50 Above cloudy. Went over to Cridlands got some Lilack and Siberian crab. Carried Lois and young ones over. Made a reach for Mr. Watts 50 cts. Rainy day.

May 5 – 36 Abz[37] some rain some snow. Put in one felly[38] for Dea White 38 cts. Commenced corn plants. Watts paid 50 cts.

May 6 – 37 Abz Pleasant. Went over to Byingtons got 22 feet white wood boards. Got two Hubs turned. Mended wagon for D. Beach 38 cts.

May 7 – Pleasant 49 Abz. Worked in shop on Claps buggy boddy. Got cotage Beadstead of Pond on Byingtons Ate $5.00.

May 8 – Pleasant 37 Abz at 4 afternoon 86. Fired my stumps. Commenced putting on my hubs[?] on my violin. Warm night.

May 9 – Pleasant 70 Abz morning About 2 oclock we had a terrible Hail storm brok lots of glass round town blowed over some fence for me. Got my watch.

May 10 – Cloudy rather cool 40 Abz. Dol 23 years old to Day. Went over to Fathers. Got two Pine trees on Harveys old place. Went over and got Mrs Cridland.

May 11 – Pleasant 28 Abz. Mrs Crid left this morning. Went over and got Early potatoes & two bushels wheat of Father 10/- Flanders Brot two bushels wheat 10/- six lbs Butter. Got Journal of Alphadelphia.[39] Sold Cory som potatoes 1/-.

May 12 – Pleasant 36 Abz. Made a reach for poopy Watts tightened a box for H. Potts. Cridland left in the evening. Gave me a basket. Let Wiseman have some Early potatoes.

May 13 – Pleasant 39 Abz. Worked in shop on Claps seats. Pots paid 50 cts. Bot Hannah[40] 1 pr shoes 4/- 9 cts. Rainy afternoon. Extracted tooth for Wightmans boy.

May 14 – Rainy 44 Abz rather dark. Worked in shop some. Went over to Fathers. Got wheel barrow wheel of Cridland. Moses Mix came in town. Brainard & V. M. Tuttle came.

May 15 – Rainy 46 Abz. Finished Clapps seats. 50 Abz at night. Sold D. Johnson some potatoes 25 cts. Got flour of A Lamkins $2.00 56 lbs.

May 16 – Pleasant 32 Abz morning. Made my Wheelbarrow. Got 4 bushels Flour Bot 6 & ¼ lbs Fish 44 cts Bot 1 lb nails 5 cts. Lois & Henry[41] at home.

May 17 – Pleasant 34 Abz. At home. Sarah went to church. Nancy[42] went over to Fathers with Lois. East wind.

May 18 – Pleasant 40 Abz East wind. Wheeled ashes on my garden. Took Clapps Buggy down to the shop.

May 19 – Pleasant 45 Abz East wind. Wheeled ashes & chip manure on the garden. Fathers heifer came in.

May 20 – Pleasant 34 Abz some wind. Went over the river. Left dol in pasture. Commenced taking down my stable.

May 21 – Pleasant 35 Abz. Moved my stable and corn. Let Father have _____ bushels. 72 Abz after noon. Mrs. Wiseman here. Harriet and Edith here.

May 22 – Pleasant 42 Abz. Wesley[43] & Lasher plowed my garden. Some folks are planting corn.

May 23 – Pleasant 54 Abz. Worked in shop on cornplanter. Bot hoe 62½ cts. E. M. clap Paid me eight Dollars cash three Dollars yet due to be paid in Shugar 1/- per lb.

May 24 – Pleasant 68 Abz some wind. Went over to Fathers and saw my cow & calf.

May 25 – Pleasant 60 Abz morning. Finished cornplanter. John Crittenden[44] came. Had a fine shower evening.

May 26 – Cloudy some rain 58 Abz morning. Went over and got Dol. She started for concord this morning half past nine. Got one thill of ____. Got my cow home. Bot pail 75 cts.


[33] Ambrose Brown, Ballou Brown’s son

[34] Oscar’s wife, Mary Ann (Batey) Keith

[35] Warren Wolcott

[36] His brother-in-law, Lucius Prosper Crawford

[37] Above zero

[38] Felly or felloe is the rim of a wheel supported by spokes

[39] The Alphadelphia Association; more More information on the Alphadelphia Association can be seen here.

[40] His daughter, who was not quite two years old

[41] His son by his first wife, Minerva (Payson) Keith

[42] His daughter, not quite five years old

[43] Believe he is referring to his adopted brother, Wesley Keith

[44] The brother of his second wife, Jerusha (Crittenden) Keith


May 23, 1847 letter to Charles Luke Keith Jr. from Harvey Keith

May 23, 1847

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Pavilion, NY

From: Harvey Keith, Comstock, MI

Jane Earl died Friday morning. The sore on Alfleda’s foot has pretty much healed. She has not done a day’s work since February. He is going to be working in the flowery mill. Galesburgh is growing. Alonzo Matthews sold his farm to Mr. Percival and it has been laid out into village lots. They have sold all south of the railroad and some north. Frank Clark is going to put up a brick tavern. Marion Wilcut married Mr. Rice from Illinois last Sunday. Harvey’s son Ruel lived only five weeks.

Scan of 1847-05-23 Harvey Keith to Charles Luke Keith Jr

Comstock, May 23rd /47 Sunday afternoon[1]

I have been trying ever since I got your last letter to get time to write but something happens every Sunday so that I could not get time. I have been to work all the forenoon and ought to be this after part ‑ we are generally enjoying good health here now. Jane Earl has been sick this sometime. She died at Charles Whitcombs Friday morning. Alfleda[2] has begun to step on her foot again. She has not done a days work since the first of Feb. The sore is pretty much healed up. I am to work in Galesburgh this summer on a flowery mill Ford Mills & Batt ar building for two run of stone. I get 10/- cash & my Board. Galesburgh is coming up this summer. Alonzo Mathews has sold his farm to Mr Percival. Has had it laid out into village lots. Has sold all south of the Rail Road and some north. Frank Clark is going to put up a brick tavern house in front of the old log house. He gave $.100 for the lot to build on. Henry D was down last Monday. He is the same old Henry. We have had a verry Backward Spring. People have not got their planting done yet. Father[3] ploughed his ground last fall & has got it planted. He has planted fifteen acres. It rains here about half of the time. Wheat looks verry well this Spring. Westly[4] wants to know what kind of a cake mother[5] wants. She says if he sends it she wants it sweetened but if he brings it she will take it without sweetning. Henrys health is verry good this sprig. Jo live in the old log house. Mr. Tubbs and Jake are in the other. Mead has gone to Ingham County. Crid & Taylor stay in the Manshion[6] yet. I have been building a hog power for Crid this spring. Alphadelphia[7] remains the same a usual. Ford has been trying to get his place back but has not brought it about yet. He offerd $.6.000 Stock for it and wanted the buildigs moved back on to it again and we wont stand that no how ‑ we had better set fire to the building than try to move them for the will hardly stand where they are. We have sold the square timber & old lumber to Mart and Nelson for about $1.80. Marion Wilcut[8] was married last Sunday to a Mr Rice[9] from Illinois. He came here last fall. They are going to start for the west in a few days. Groves goes with them. Uncle warren[10] is to work with me on the mill. Ezekiel was to have started last Thursday for the far west. Have not heard whether he has gone or not. Aunt Salina live with James on the widdow Earls place. Marquis Lee[11] has just been here. They are going to start tomorrow. The boys feel like death to go away. Mark says he had rather die. You mentioned in your last something about going into business when you get back. If I should go in with you I think we could do better here than at the Burgh for this reason. Here we could keep cows horses hogs & sheep if we wanted to but over thare we should have every thing to buy. We can get all the work to do here that we could do & we could do no more any whar else. I have Been down to Joes. He says tell Luke heis tinding Juliette this summer. He has got a pen built & keeps him shut up all the time. You said you had forgotten the name Alfleda hat laid up for the boy. We calld him Ruel but he lived only five weeks.[12] You say that when you come back you come double.[13] I should like to know in what way you in tend to double up. I have heard of animils doubling up and sticking their nose in their …. A. T. Jones[14] lives with Mr. Wells down below Lees. I saw him last Sunday. His health is about the same. Cathurnce[15] & family are well. Aunt Rhoda[16] has gone to Gull to live. There is a prospect of plenty of fruit this season. Wheat is slling at Battlecreek for $.100 in cash. Father is going to cary his there about 50 bushels.

Write when you get readdy. Our respects to all. Tell James to write som day.

Yours When you get it

Harvey Keith


[1] The letter was folded in such a way that it made its own envelope. It was addressed to C. L. Keith, Pavilion, Genessee Co., N York. Charles Luke Keith Jr. went by the name of Luke as did his father, Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[2] Harvey’s wife, Alfleda (Starr) Keith

[3] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[4] Luke and Harvey’s adopted brother, John Wesley Keith

[5] Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

[6] Most likely referring to the Alphadelphia Association mansion

[7] See next page following for a brief description of the Alphadelphia Association

[8] Luke’s and Harvey’s first cousin, Marion Willcutt, daughter of Warren Willcutt and Electa Damon

[9] Elijah Rice

[10] Warren Willcutt

[11] Luke’s and Harvey’s cousin, Marquis La Fayette Lee, son of Charles and Rhoda (Keith) Lee

[12] Ruel was born March 6, 1844 and died in April 1844

[13] Luke married Jerusha Crittenden on July 25, 1847 so perhaps this is what he was referring to

[14] Have not been able to establish a blood relationship between A. T. (or A. F.) Jones and the Keiths. The 5-27-1838 letter suggests that he is living with Aunt Lydia, the 6-24-1838 letter from A. T. Jones says his is living with “Grandmother,” and the 5-23-1847 letter says that “A. T. Jones lives with Mr. Wells down below Lees.” A search of the census records shows an Asa F. Jones is living with Harvey Keith in 1850

[15] Luke’s and Harvey’s sister, Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee

[16] Luke’s & Harvey’s paternal aunt, Rhoda (Keith) Lee

December 13, 1846 letter to Charles Luke Keith Jr. from Harvey Keith

December 13, 1846

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Pavilion, NY

From: Harvey Keith, Comstock, MI

Gives a brief account of what has been going on since Luke left. There have been some deaths and some marriages. Smallpox has broken out in the area. Was to Flanders and saw Henry. He “wants to see you Louis Grandma Payson.” There was a meeting of the Alphadelphia Association and some want to divide the land.

Scan of 1846-12-13 Harvey Keith to Charles Luke Keith Jr

Comstock Dec 13th/46

You will discover by this that I am in Mich. We got your letter yestrdy which found us all in very good health. Father[1] has been unwell a few days back with a bad cold but has got pretty much over it now. I got home the third day of Nov about eight oclock in the morney just in time to vote. We have had first rate weather for business this fall but I have not done any thing but rig up a place for my cattle mud up my house &c. I am going tomorrow to work on Cooleys mill up at Dibbles place. I will give you a short history of what has takes place in this part since you left.[2] There has been some deaths & some marriages. Eli Clintons wife & her twin brothers are all dead. Dict Harrises wife Died the day before I came home. Hannah Low is married to Silas Low. Widdow Whitcom is married to Braddock Baley and moved up to his place.

We are having in this place what the Doctors call the small pox. Lyman Bacon & family have been to Indiania on a visit this fall came home three weeks ago on their way home stop’d at Charls Galligans staid all night. He was then braking out with the disorder gave gave it to two of the children one of Charles & one of his Brothers that lives in the house with him. There is none others got it yet. Bacon did not know what was the matter with him.

You wanted to know how the old cow gets along. She has not got a calf yet dont think she will have before Feb. Mother[3] & Wes[4] made a bet before he left. She says he must get the biscuit ready. He bet she would give milk by the first of Dec. Mother says tell Wes he must write to them and let them know what he is doing.

I have been down to Flanders.[5] Henry[6] says he wants to see you Louis[7] Grandma Payson.[8] He has had the ague considerable this fall by spells. He is having it now. Flanders says he has not got any pay from those demands you left. I want you should make a pattern for the axletree to my waggon and bring with you if you come home in the spring. John Earl was here to day. Says he wishes you wer here to build him a waaggon. They have not got their works to going yet. They cant get their Engine. It was to have bee here the middle of Oct. Their boiler has got here. They have a grist mill saw mill & Distilery all to go by one Engine. David Smith has bot Capt Thayers place on the Indian field the place that Ruel Starr[9] first bot. I have not seen him. R. S. Clapp has not got back nor I dont know when he is coming back. Alphadelphia[10] remains about the same. We had a meeting the other day. Some were for dividing the land according to the stock others not. Ransom thinks that Bond a good one. He says he is not going to divide his farm but is in favour of wating a while longer pay up the Vandewalker Mortgage and then put that Bond into the mill and see what they can make out of it. But for my part I am willing or would rather have ten acres. I know it was mine and to have it lay along in this way for a number of years. Crid lives in the old printing office cooks and eats his own Bread and Diner. Cooks it all on the _____ stove. Father has been down in the woods to day. They are all well. I have not been there since I got home. You say you have sold your knife for fifteen shilings. I dont think you got pay for making it. I keep mine yet.

You say that Mr Starrs family are all well but Orson. We did not know that he was in that part of the country. I saw him the fore part of Sept said he was going to the coppe contry to spend the winter. Write to me let me know how long he has been thare and whether he went to the copper mines. I dont think of any thing more to write this time. Give our respects to all the friends in Pavillion.

Yours When you get it

Harvey Keith


[1] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[2] After Luke’s wife, Minerva (Payson) Keith died on August 29, 1843, it appears as though he traveled back to Pavilion, New York, once or twice. His daughter, Lois, was living with her grandmother there until he could get settled again. It is also possible that he was courting his second wife, Jerusha Crittenden, at this point

[3] Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

[4] John Wesley Keith; Bible records indicate that he was adopted

[5] After Charles Luke Keith Jr.’s first wife, Minerva (Payson) Keith, died, Joseph & Amanda (Hobbs) Flanders took in their children, Henry and Lois Keith. From letters from that time, it would appear that Lois was then sent to Minerva’s parents while Henry lived with the Flanders family. According to Carol Boyer, the Flanders raised Henry even after Luke married his third wife, Sarah (Crawford) Keith. They wanted to adopt Henry but Luke said no; however, it looks like he lived with them throughout his youth. This seems to be corroborated by the 1860 census showing “Henry L Flanders,” who I believe was actually Henry L. Keith, age 16, living with Joseph & Amanda. From a picture album, written above Mary Flanders’ picture, it was written: Mary & Edwin Flanders raised Lois & Henry after their mother Minerva died until Luke married Jerusha Crittenden. However, Edwin Flanders was born 10-7-1837 and Henry was born 8-20-1843, so that is obviously wrong

[6] Luke’s son, who was about 3-1/2 years old

[7] Luke’s daughter, was was about 6-1/2 years old

[8] Research continues as to “Grandma Payson”

[9] Harvey was married to Alfleda Starr so perhaps this is one of her relatives

[10] The Alphadelphia Association. See page following the May 23, 1847 letter for a brief description of the Alphadelphia Association

August 19, 1844 letter to Charles Luke & Hannah Keith Sr. from Matthew Keith

August 19, 1844

To: Charles Luke & Hannah Keith Sr, Covington, NY

From: Matthew Keith, Winfield, NY

Received their letter and would have been glad to meet them at Covington, but cannot because money is very tight. They have received word that his wife’s oldest brother is not well and that they should come see him. If they do, they shall go in September and be gone about 15 days. He has had to pay out $250.00 in 18 months and he has lost a debt of $280.00 in Illinois. He has given away his Michigan land to his children. Has looked at the constitution of the Alphadelphia Association and is a little afraid of it, but would like Luke to send him the papers when it gets in operation.

Scan of 1844-08-19 Matthew Keith to Luke & Hannah Keith

Winfield[1] August the 19th 1844

Dear Brother and Sister[2]

I once more take my pen to let know how we do. We are waneing out Pretty fast. My own health has Been very poor for a month past. I feel almost worn out. I received your letter in due time and was glad to hear that are well. I should Been exceeding glad to have accepted your invitation to meet you at Coventon.[3] Money is very hard for me to get. If I had your letter three days sooner I should have come. Miss Keiths[4] Oldest brother Jarvis [or family?] is quite low. They have sent for to come and see him. I sent word only three days Before I got your letter. It is not certain that we shall go. If we do we shall go the first of Sept and Be gone about 15 days. I should have Been exceeding glad to had you and your wife made us a visit. I do not mutch think I shall ever see you again. Time grow Darker every day. We had laid out next summer to have come to michigan. I have had to pay two hundred and fifty dollars in about 18 months. I had it to live and it must be paid soon. I have just heard that I have lost a Debt in Illinois of 280 dollars which I expected was safe and was looking for the money or apart of it every day to help me out of my troubles but it is gone for ever. I have given away My Michigan lands to my children in order to get rid of that trouble 7 lots I have one yet. Our friends have one. All well as usual. I looked at your constitution[5] not as mutch as I mean to do. I am alittle afraid of it but I hope you will Prosper in it. Give our Best love to Esqr Spouge[6] and family and to sister Lee[7] and your children. When you get home send me some of your papers when they get in opperation.


Matthew Keith

to Luke and Hannah Keith


[1] The back of the letter, which was folded so as to make its own envelope, shows “Winfield N.Y. Aug 19,” and is addressed to “Luke Keith, Coventon, Genesee County N.Y., Pavillion Post Office”

[2] Charles Luke Keith Sr., who went by the name of Luke, and Hannah Willcutt.

[3] Covington, New York. Luke and Hannah were living in Michigan at the time of this writing, but it appears that they were visiting relations in New York

[4] His wife, Lucretia (Jepson) Keith

[5] The Alphadelphia Association. See page following the May 23, 1847 letter for a brief description of the Alphadelphia Association

[6] James Sprague, husband of Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague, Luke and Hannah’s daughter

[7] Luke’s and Matthew’s sister Rhoda (Keith) Lee

August 4, 1844 letter to R. S. Clapp from Charles Luke Keith Jr.

August 4, 1844

To: R. S. Clapp

From: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Stafford, NY

It appears that Mr. Clapp is anxious to have the payment of his note put off a short time. Mother has thought of putting her money in the Association, but thinks they are not doing very well.

Scan of 1844-08-04 Charles Luke Keith Jr to R S Clapp

Stafford August 4th 1844

Mr. R. S. Clapp

Sir your letter of the 27th Date Came to hand on friday last. You Appear to be Anxious to have the payment of your note put off a short time. Mother[1] has Thought some of putting her money in to the Association[2] as soon as she gets home again but as we have not heard any thing about the Association she thinks some times they are not doing very well or we should heard something about it. The president Told me when I left home he would let me know how they prospered. I have not heard The first word from him just as Expected Whig .. Whig- .. Whig—

As for the money, you can have it som six or Eight months. She Thinks she would not like to put it off any longer if she should ever get back to Michigan & the Association should prosper she thinks her money would gain her as much or more then ____ any other place she could put it.

We shall probably if our healths _____ be Home next month. We are all rather Home sick want to get back to Michigan.

There are a great many Old gals down here that would like to Emigrate to Michigan. I think you have best come this way in stead of going south &c &c and so on.

By Order of Mrs Payson I Send You This

You Can Have The Money Till The first of March 1845 if not longer

Yours &c

C. L. Keith

R. S. Clapp

Stafford Aug 4th 1844


[1] Believe he is referring to his then mother-in-law, Mrs. Payson

[2] The Alphadelphia Association; see the post following the May 23, 1847 letter for a brief description of the Alphadelphia Association

March 10, 1844 letter to Charles Luke Keith Jr. from J. C. Sprague

March 10, 1844

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Galesburg, MI

From: J. C. Sprague, Covington, NY

Speaks of Aunt Lois and also of Uncle Elijah. Reports that Luke’s daughter Lois is doing well and that the deacon’s place would be the best place for her to stay until Luke settles again, but her grandmother doesn’t want to let her go. 

Scan of 1844-03-10 J C Sprague to Charles Luke Keith Jr

March 10, 1844[1]

Mr L C Keith

Dear Sir

Aunt Lois[2] left a request for me to write to you when she left here for Stafford[3]. I was not at home at the time. Aunts health was rather poor. When she left your little girl[4] was well and in good order that is to say fat. We think her a prety smart wolverine. The Deacons folks want her to live with them verry much but her Grand ma is so afraid she will cry that she cannot have her out of her sight one moment.

If I were allowed to express my opinion I would say of all the places I know the Deacons is the best for your child untill you settle again.

Aunt wants you to write by Mr Starr and let her know whether you calculate to come down this spring and stay through the season or not and wants you to fetch her umbrella and also Uncle Elijahs Portrait if you can conveniently. Gertrude says you must come as quick as you can and fetch Bub[5] with you. Our friends are all weel except my wife. Her health is rather poor.

The Deacon wideawake about Fouierism[6]. He calculates to get in to the Assosiation at Clarkson or yours at Kalamazoo.[7] He is going down as soon as the Travelling will admit. I wate untill we get our here. I have no news to write. My wife unites with me in our best wishes to you and also to your Brothers[8] and Fathers[9] families and to all enquireing friend if any.

Your affectionately

J. C. Sprague[10]


[1] The date was inadvertently cut off during the scan process (10-7-2017: the letter has been rescanned showing the date)

[2] Possibly Lois (Sprague) Mears

[3] Stafford, New York

[4] Luke’s daughter, Lois Keith, who was born August 16, 1840. Lois’ mother, Minerva (Payson) Keith, died August 29, 1843 and she was living with her grandmother temporarily

[5] Believe he is referring to Luke’s son (Lois’ brother), who was born August 20, 1843, and was being cared for by Joseph & Amanda (Hobbs) Flanders

[6] French socialist Charles Fourier, whose principles were the basis of the Alphadelphia Association

[7] The Alphadelphia Association; see the post following the May 23, 1847 letter for a brief description of the Alphadelphia Association

[8] Harvey Keith and John Wesley Keith

[9] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[10] It is unclear at this time if this is James Sprague Jr. or somebody else

(This post was updated on 03-38-2021)

May 27, 1838 letter to Charles Luke Keith Jr. from Harvey Keith

May 27, 1838

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Pavilion, NY

From: Harvey Keith, Comstock, MI 

Will give Luke one bushel of potatoes and one pig, Alfleda will give him a hen and roosteScr, and Oscar will give him his steers if he comes to Michigan. Mother says Luke can live with them and Father will help him if he will come to farm in Michigan rather than work his trade in Covington. Father built a barn for himself. As for Galesburg, they are to work at the race this summer. Supposes A. T. Jones is living with Aunt Lydia.

Scan of 1838-05-27 Harvey Keith to Charles Luke Keith Jr

Comstock        May 27th 1838

Dear Sir[1]

I received a letter from you a few days since. I was glad to heare that your health was good. We are all in good health in this place. We have had a verry backward spring so far. It is cold enough to day to want great coat and mittens if we go out of doors. The people in this county have just finished planting whis is about ten days later than we planted last season. You say that you are getting homesick to come to michigan. I think it is a verry pious notion. You wanted to know what I would give you to come here. I will tell you I will give you one bushel of potatoes one pig – Alfleda[2] says she will give you a hen and rooster. Oscar[3] says he will give you his steers. He has got a verry fine pair of yearlings. I am farming a little, work a trade a little. I have put up mr Tubbs barn this spring. For the want of lumbr we neglected it last season. I have got ten acres broke and in to grain on the south side of Road. I have got a hired man this summer. Father[4] has one. Mother[5] says you may live with her if you come to michigan. Father says if you want to come here and go to farming he will give you a good chance so that you can make mor than you will to stay in covington and work at your trade[6]. I think it will be better for you to go to farming if you dont make any mor it will be better for your health. Father is building a barn for himself this summer. As for Galesburgh it is not doing much. They are to work at the race[7] some this summer. Their is but verry little building goingon. Mr wiseman has sold his place. Their is a stor kept their now. They are building a store on the corners east of Reynold. It is to be fild in two weeks and I hope if may for their is nothing in any of the other stores that any body wants such as tea and other groceries. We have been without tea in this place for about three months and I tell you what it is their is some sour looking faces among the women.

I saw Jesse Turner[8] the day after I got your letter. He say he wants the waggon and thinks he will send for it by Osmond Smith about the first of July. Osmond is at Otsego with R. Crane and is going to New York for goods. He wants all that is necessary about the waggon and that of the best kind and not be extravigant. Jesse has had a letter from Alvan[9] this spring. He has lost his wife. Nancy is going down with Osmond and is going to fetch Alvan and family to Michigan. I suppose you know your own business best but my advise is not to send the waggon without the money. Jesse is considerably in debt. I suppose A. F. Jones[10] is livin with Aunt Lydia[11]. Sylvia White live with Jesse down to the pinery. Emeline live to martins but I think she will go to mr Tubbs soon to live with Nelson. We have had a Universatist Preacher here this spring. He preachd at the schoolhouse on the priarie. His name was Richard Thornton[12]. Jame wrote in his litter that they ware having their social meeting. What do you think they will amount to. They are going on in the same path of the orthodoks. They ar going step by step till they will have their protracted meeting and make as much nois as any of them.

Give my respects to all the people in Covington that I know any thing about.

Yours &c H Keith

May 29th 1838

Orren Starr came her this afternoon and I send this by him. I have it ritten to send by the mail


[1] The letter was folded in such a way that it made its own envelope. It was addressed to Luke Keith Jr., Pavilion, Genessee Co., N York. Charles Luke Keith Jr. went by the name of Luke as did his father, Charles Luke Keith Sr. Harvey and Luke were brothers

[2] Harvey’s wife, Alfleda (Starr) Keith

[3] Perhaps Harvey’s son, James Oscar Keith, who is about six years old

[4] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[5] Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

[6] Luke was a wagon maker

[7] A channel for the water flowing to or from a water wheel is called a mill race, or simply a race

[8] Luke’s and Harvey’s first cousin, son of Asa and Lydia (Willcutt) Turner

[9] Brother of Jesse Turner

[10] Have not been able to establish a blood relationship between A. T. (or A. F.) Jones and the Keiths. The 5-27-1838 letter suggests that he is living with Aunt Lydia, the 6-24-1838 letter from A. T. Jones says his is living with “Grandmother,” and the 5-23-1847 letter says that “A. T. Jones lives with Mr. Wells down below Lees.” A search of the census records shows an Asa F. Jones living with Harvey Keith in 1850

[11] Lydia (Willcutt) Turner, Luke’s and Harvey’s maternal aunt

[12] One of the proponents of the Alphadelphia Association (see brief description following the 5-23-1847 letter)