June 1, 1858 letter to Luke Keith from Charles Cridland

June 1, 1858

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Charles R. Cridland, Delaware, KS

Writes with instructions for sending his stove but tells him to wait until he hears from him to send it as money is tight at the moment. The weather has been cold and wet and it took six weeks for some of the early corn to come up. There has been so much rain that “I calculate to have about a dozen chickens drowned every Sunday night.” Uncle Sam’s oxen and mules have kept the prairie grass down, but they are a nuisance. Thousands of them have come through on their way to Utah and the men are more of a nuisance than the cattle. The rest of the letter deals with land warrants in Kansas.

Scan of 1858-06-01 Charles Cridland to Luke Keith

Delaware June 1, 1858

Friend Luke,

I am in receipt of yours of May 17. I thought from your long silence, that my last could not have reach’d you until Wallace Earl came here and brought word from Taylor that my things were moved to Galesburg. I wrote you that I thought the Stove would come best without being packed, as I see all the Stoves do come unpacked, and there is perhaps less danger of being broken, than when tumbled over and over in a box. But you can use your own judgement about it, if you do box it, do be sure to fill the box tight so that it cannot fall and break when the box is rolled over, if you box it, send a good box if you have to buy a new one. If I pay freight on a box I should like one that will be of value, when it gets here. Good pine boxes are very useful for many things. I think myself if you pack the kettles & things and pipe in a box the stove could come safe unpacked. You had better take the brooms of Mills. You can trade them for some thing you want and credit me with it and when you have got through with me I will pay you whatever I may owe you. I do not want you to send the things just yet. I am rather in a tight place just now. I ran out of handles and have been expecting to receive a lot from Cinncinite for the past two weeks, and until they come, I shall be short of money, as the freight on them will be considerable. I will send you a line, as soon as the way is clear, but I don’t want to borrow money again. I would wait a little longer first. Wallace Earl left his trunk at my house and I got a line from him a few days since he has hired out to work for some man near Lawrence. Times are as tight in Kansas now as anywhere. The immigration this spring has been principaly of men who wanted work and consequence has been that wages have got very low here as the great scarcity of money has prevented many from building this summer but for all that Leavenworth is as busy a place as you will find in a ride of a thousand miles. Brooms are down to two dollars a dozen, but they command cash a good deal easier than in Mich. I have been some how very shiftless and miserable this spring. We have had a cold wet disagreeable windy time. I believe it took some of the early corn six weeks to come up and when it did come, it looked just as though it had the yellow fever, and has’nt quite made up its mind to live through it, but things look better now, and we have had so much rain, that I calculate to have about a dozen chickens drowned every Sunday night. On an average the grass on the prairie will soon be fit to mow, where Uncle Sams oxen and mules have not kept it down but we have such thousands of them that come here to start for Utah that they are a complete nuisance and the men are worse than the cattle. I am not working any land this summer. I have got much as I can do at broom making and a neighbour has planted five acres for me to make on shares. I though as I was situated I could do better so than to rent land. I should like as many as a peck of June potatoes if you could get them for me. I do not hear of any earlier kind than the Mishaunocks[?].

I heard from a man who owns a claim near to mine a few days since, that there was still some good quarter sections unclaimed in that neighbourhood, but I could not tell if there are now. Land warrants cannot be located in Kansas until after the public sales which were to have come off on the 5 July, but I am told they have been postponed till some time in the fall, but actual settlers can enter their lands and pay in warrants at any time before the sale. If Rogers’s idea is that he would give a settler 40 acres of land for his chance, he would be laughd at here. I suppose I could find a thousand men in Kansas who would furnish me a warrant for a hundred & sixty acres, and give me 80 acres – of it. At the land offices at Lecompton[1] they have any amount of warrants to furnish setters with to locate for the halves or they offer to lend them and take for a year on big interest, about 50 per cent – and take security on the land. There is a very poor chance here for a man to locate a warrant without actual settlement, as the good land is pretty much all settled on, except now and then a lot on the prairie which is missed or overlooked. After the prairies are burnt over, the section lines can be found without much trouble, but when the grass is growing, the corner stones are so many of them covered up by weeds and grass that lots are missed. Settlers are careful not to build their cabins too near together lest they should get two on the same lot, and sometimes they get so far apart that they find when they get to know where the lines are, that there is a vacant lot between them in this way [a drawing was inserted]. I am now writing in sight of a lot worth 20 dollars an acre which was missed in this way or it would have been settled on, but it was not discovered till a few days before the sale, and then one of the settlers had a brother living with him who put up a cabin before any body else knew it and secured the claim to himself. There has been a good deal of _____ and some blood shed, followed from folks getting two on one lot and both trying to hold it, and so they are careful now not to get too near each other without they are certain where the line is. There is of course no trouble then, and there is no little rascality carried on in moving or hiding the corner stones on purpose by men who wish to reserve lots for their friends who have not come on yet, as a good many land hunters would pass on rather than settle where they cannot be sure of not getting on to some other man’s claim.

I am going up to my claim as soon as the handles arrive and I can make a lot of Brooms, as I intend to take a lot of Brooms to Lawrence on my way, and if Rogers wants me look out for a claim for him and will give 40 acres to have it located after the sales, I will see what can be done, but there is no speculation to be made on such terms as you seem to think. If the good land in the neighbourhood is all taken up, I might travel for a week before I could one find one. Besides my own time (and I should not want to tramp from morning till night every day for nothing) there would be not less than a dollar to a dollar and a half a day cash out in expenses. When I found a claim that I thought would answer I must tramp to the land office 60 miles or more. I might be detained a day or two there _____ and then have to tramp home. It would cost at least five dollars for fees at the office, so you see there is nothing to be made at that rate. All there would be in it, I should turn my labor into land by spending perhaps twenty dollars in Cash and the land would be worth double what it cost in a short time I do not doubt. I suppose it is (any good land) worth three or four dollars an acre as soon as it is entered, but there is another side to the story which ought to be told for the especial benefit of Speculaters, like Rogers. I will locate his warrants on the next quarter section to mine and not ask him 40 acres. I will do it for Five dollars in Cash besides the fees at the Office. If he dont want it I calculate if I live long enough to get it for 25 cents an acre, there is plenty of such land in Kansas to be got, and I expect there will be many a warrant sent to here to be located by land agents who will go to the Office and lay them on the best locations they can find without going to see the land. After the owner has paid 25 or 30 dollars for locating he will fancy he has made a good operation until he goes to see or offers it for sale. He will then find out that his particular quarter sections sits astraddle on a bare lime bluff stone bluff and if he should attempt to climb to the top of it he will have a beautiful and enchanting view of the prairie lying around, but he will be apt to come to the conclusion that he will never get another warrant located without seeing the land. I expect there will be some speculators terribly bitter if they buy land without going at the Sales without going to see it. The good land is mostly settled now, but the country is very much broken up by lime stone bluffs which are of very little value now. When the country gets old and men have time to pick up the stone and fence them in with stone wall they will make excellent sheep pasture, and be valuable as additions to the farms on the prairie adjoining them, but they are not fit to make farms of stone, consequently nobody settles on them. If Rogers wants me to do anything for him he must let me know immediately as to I may be ready to go on to my claim by the time I can get answer and I do not know how long I may stay there. I have got a warrant to locate for another man, and I expect to look round the neighbourhood a good deal before I return. My claim is one mile north of the southern line of Franklin County so you can see by map where it is. The quarter section east of mine is unsettled, yet according to the last I heard, it is better land than mine and the stage road which runs from Lawrence to Hyatt runs across it. I took the one I did because I chose to be on the bluff side on account of an orchard and being sheltered more from the wind. I am expecting to settle my claim for the halves. I have not made any engagement yet. I will locate Rodgers warrant for the quarter after the sales, if I can find land that I think he would be satisfied with. If I cannot, I am willing to give him the same chance as others if he wants to that is I will give him half of my claim that I have settled on. I will do the same for you if you want. I want you to understand distinctly that if he wants me to locate his warrant he must send it on. I don’t want to spend my strength in looking into land for a man and then have him come to the conclusion that he don’t want it or any thing of that kind. Land agents don’t work for nothing in this country.

The bluff I am on is better than common. It is sand stone and good for building and not so steep as some. It rises about as steep as the field south of Jesse Earls, and there is good deep soil almost to the top, and then blocks of Stone big enough for a sled load.

Your friend

Chas R Cridland


[1] At the time, Lecompton was the capital of the Kansas Territory

March 1, 1858 letter to Luke Keith from Charles Cridland

March 1, 1858

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Charles R. Cridland, Delaware, KS

Writes that he has received the money from Mr. Taylor but that he is getting tired of waiting for his Michigan affairs to be settled. He wants his things boxed up and sent along with the cook stove (although he wants Luke to make some modifications prior to sending it). After looking for weeks he has found land he likes and has built a house on it. He writes that he is a “city” because all it takes in the country to be one is a cabin with a barrel of whiskey and a keg of tobacco. Although he is anxious for his things he wants Luke to hold off sending them until the freight charges on the river become cheaper. He would like some top onions, June potatoes and the stand and looking glass along with a handful of the China Creeper.

Scan of 1858-03-01 Charles Cridland to Luke Keith

Delaware Mar 1, 1858

Friend Luke,

I received yours of [blank space] with Mr Taylors note and the money enclosed all right. It appears after all the Cook Stove is not disposed of yet. I am getting tired of this and I want to bring my matters in Mich to a conclusion. I wish you would get the Stove and apparatus to Galesburg, and if the move ables can be put in the oven and the doors made fast with wire so that there will be no danger of their coming open, do so. if not I want you to get a box big enough to hold my books & things and the Stove things if they can not be safe in the oven and the Stove pipe. Get a quire or two of paper and wrap the things up well and put them inside the pipe and the boiler to save room. I should like to have the bottom taken out of the old boiler and a new bottom straight like a pail put in. You can get it done cheaper in Galesburg than I can here. I want it done because it is so handy to dip corn in when I make brooms. I mean the old copper boiler. I dont remember now what I left but I do not want you to send all that trash. Send the books and papers and the boot trees and the box of glass and any thing which you think will be useful to me and worth paying 3 cents a pound freight on. There is a clevis and the round plane. Be sure to send that and a few of those bolts with nuts on, the washboard and the Rolling pin.

I have been out most 4 weeks through this cold spell hunting up a quarter section of land and have got one that suits me well and have built a house upon it on the mail road 45 miles south of Lawrence with two cities in sight (a city in the country a is a place where there is a cabin, with a barrel of whiskey and a keg of tobacco in it perhaps a few other notions). Since I made my claim the Legislative have located the Capitol in that County so I am in town and could not take less than a thousand dollars. We are having very changeable weather here now summer one day and winter the next.

I want you to get those things pack’d and ready but do not send them until I write again. I want to wait until the freight comes down on the river. There have been so many boats up this winter with goods that I think the freight will soon be down to 50 cents a hund. But let me know as soon as you get them pack’d and tell what the box and boiler cost and I will send you the pay when I send you word to forward them. Tell Mr Taylor, if he can send me a few top onions, and some June potatoes, for that stand and looking glass I should like. They would fill up the chinks and would not cost much for freight, and be sure that you get a handful of the roots of the China creeper, and wrap them up well that they do not freeze. Get it at Taylors.

C R Cridland

January 14, 1858 letter to Luke Keith from Charles Cridland

January 14, 1858

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Charles R. Cridland, Delaware, KS

He is astonished that Lyman Earl should pretend to have any claim against him. He has written a letter to Mr. Taylor relating the whole matter which he would like Luke to read. The goods that Luke sent in September finally arrived. Writes about the weather in Kansas and the crops.

Scan of 1858-01-14 Charles Cridland to Luke Keith

Delaware Jan 14, 1858.

Friend Luke

Let Taylor read this

I got yours of Dec 21 yesterday. I had written to you a few days before, which of course you had not recd, but I hope it has got to you by this. I am astonished that Ly Earle[1] should pretend to have any claim against me any further than the apple trees which he can have.

I have written to Mr Taylor which I enclose to you as I wish you to read it. I have related the whole matter between Earle and myself and am willing to qualify that it is a true statement of the case. All I want you to do in the matter is to take these papers to Taylor and have him read them and send the money he has to me, or hand it to you and you will take the trouble to see that is such as will do to send or get it changed. But I suppose that any money that is good in Michigan is good here. I shall have to sell it for gold as paper will not pay what I owe, and I should like such as is as near par I can get it. Paper goes in town for trade, but in the country but few people will take it and I borrowed the gold to pay the freight with. When I went to vote on ‘lection day I heard that the things you sent had come. The boat finally made another trip and delivered the cargo. The charges were $6.80. If they could have come in Sept they would not have cost half as much. It seems strange that in the dryest season the river is the fullest, but now when streams are full in other places, the it is so low that navigation is very difficult, and consequently freights are high. We have had no such weather here as you tell of. We had one cold night in Nov when the Therm got down to 16 above zero. It is very dry and the bottom of my spring is as dry as a powder horn. Almost all the rain that has fallen in Kansas fell on my corn when I was cutting it in Oct. I think if it could rain in Kansas it might snow, but it dont know how to do either. It is exceedingly strange to me. What rain does come always falls on the same day of the week, it never rains between monday and saturday. The middle of the week is always fair. On Saturday and Sunday it rains now and then just a sprinkle.

Your friend

C R Cridland

The potatoes you sent were part frozen. I suppose they were some extra good kind. Wish you would let me know what you call them. The few small potatoes I brought with me yielded so well that I had some to sell. Corn and potatoes will grow here and do well without any rain, but oats and peas want rain and I think there are no better Apples in the world than grows within ten miles of here. The kind I call neverfail is the main crop. They are a splendid apple keeping all winter but they are worth a dollar a bushel now on the other side of the river. They have been 50 to 75 cents. I have had a pretty hard row to hoe in Kansas, but I dont feel like giving out a bit. As soon as I can get squared up a little I am going to hunt up some land. Some of my neighbors are out looking for places and when they come back I shall learn from them where to get a good locality.


I was a good deal prejudised against land without timber but I find it a great deal easier to buy fence than it would be to clear timber land, so I have taken a prairie claim, but there is a good quary of sand stone on it enough to build all a man would want.


[1] Lyman Earl

[2] Adieu; French for goodbye

December 28, 1857 letter to Luke Keith from Charles R. Cridland

December 28, 1857

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Charles R. Cridland, Delaware, KS

He is quite disappointed because the goods that Luke sent only made it as far as Lexington but wasn’t able to go any further because ice closed the river, so now he probably won’t get them until spring. His brother was able to send him a machine from Ohio. He hasn’t made any brooms yet as he is waiting for a barrel, which his neighbor promised to get him, to hold water to dip the corn in. His wife is upset because she hasn’t received her rolling pin, washboard, and other things.

Scan of 1857-12-28 Charles Cridland to Luke Keith

Delaware December 28. 57

Dear Sir

I received a letter from you dated Oct 12th in which you stated that you should send the things you had been getting for me in the course of the week. I wrote to you in reply, and requested you to try to do some thing for me in relation to disposing of the stove and furniture I left in Michigan. I have been much disappointed in not hearing anything from you.

The things you sent me met with the same fate which I have so much dreaded, and which I did my best to caution you against but I have no doubt you did the best you could for me, and so it can’t be helped. I wish you had sent me a line at the time you shipd them, for then I should have written to St Louis to have them attended to, but as I did not hear from you, I thought perhaps you did not make out to send them so soon as you expected. I have written to St Louis and find that they were shipd from there on the 12th November and got so far up the river as Lexington when they met the ice and were unable to proceed any further, so the Boat unloaded her cargo at that place, and made haste back lest she should be cought frozen up in the river. So I can not get them until the river opens up in the spring. The river was closed only about a week when the weather changed & it has been open ever since, and a good many boats have since come through from St Louis. Had my things been shipd a few days earlier or later I should perhaps have got them, in order to be sure. My Brother in Ohio had suggested to me that if I could not do better, he would send me a machine from there, and in order to be sure, I advised him to do so. He shipd it on the 12th Nov. and it came to hand about a week ago with _____, twine, wire and 200 handles, but I had given up in despair any idea of its getting here, and I had hunted up a dutchman in Leavenworth who had a foot lathe, and got a band and roller turned and had commenced to get up a machine myself. When I happened to be in Leavenworth and was told that a boat had come up in the night and had something for me, I went on to the Levee and found sure enough it had come at last.

It appears to be an excellent machine. It works with a foot wheel, which is geared to the roller with a band and it is made expressly for brooms which are made with twine and wire both. It cost 20 dollars, and 15 doll freight. The bill of what you sent is $6.10. I am getting dreadful in debt. I had to borrow the money to pay the freight and have not earned but about 8 dollars since I have been here, so I am a good deal behind hand. I have not made any brooms, for a neighbor of mine who promised to get me a barrel to hold water to dip the corn in, did not go to town as he expected last tuesday, but I hope I shall get to work pretty soon now.

As I did not hear from you I supposed perhaps you wrote and enclosed your letter in the box, and as I can not get that till spring I hope you will write as soon as you can. Every time I hear from my wife, she wants to know what has become of her washboard & rolling pin, and things, and I tell her that I have made inquiry several times about them, but some how or other I can not hear any thing about them. I do not know, but you will find her on hand with a pocket full of rocks, some day when you are not looking for her, for she says she means to come and see her old neighbors in Michigan, though she don’t say a word about coming to Kansas. Let me hear from you and let me know what I owe you.

Since the middle of Nov (when we had a cold spell) the weather has been very mild, frost at night sometimes, but warm, and dry. We have had no snow to tell of but once about an inch on the 20th Nov. I was threshing beans yesterday out of doors with out my coat. I like Kansas pretty well yet. I hope you all are well and am your friend

Charles R Cridland

Please let me know what there is in the box and how many handles, if you counted, and what I can get handles for in Galesburg now and in March.

September 2, 1857 letter to Luke Keith from Charles R. Cridland

September 2, 1857

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Charles R. Cridland, Delaware, KS

Is disappointed that he has not heard back from Luke. His corn is ready to cut and he should start making brooms in a week or two, but he doesn’t have the machine and the handles. Writes about his trees that he left in the nursery and what could be done with them and more instructions regarding the broom machine. He has been ailing from the ague and is taking quinine & whiskey as a cure. He is getting better but not able to work yet.

Scan of 1857-09-02 Charles Cridland to Luke Keith

Delaware R J. Sept. 2. 1857

Dear Friend

I rec’d your letter yesterday and was much disappointed at its contents, that you did not more fully inform me of my business in Mich – I wrote to Taylor on the 30th June requesting him to see if he could sell the stuff I left or a part of it to Loren[?] Clark (as he wanted it) and have him pay me in soft wood lumber at Clarks Mill. I told him you would make a bargain with them to turn part of it into handles and take their pay in lumber and that if done it must be done very soon. Shortly afterwards I wrote to you requesting you to enquire about it and to assist me if possible in the matter and to write to me any way and let me know if anything could be done or not and you do not say a word about it. My corn is almost ready to cut and I should be making up brooms in a week or two if I had the machine and the handles. I trust you will write me immediately and let me know about it all. Now about the Machine. I gave very definite instructions to Squire Bristol what I would do about it and I cannot understand the proposition you make now. I told Bristol I would take the machine if Wan would take his pay out of the trees that were left standing in the nursery and I would not be particular about the price, but you do not say when he expects to take the trees nor what he asks for the machine. I do not know how many trees there are left & whether they would pay him or not and I am not disposed to pay any money, and it is too late now to parley about it as I must have a machine immediately if I have to make such an one as I can get up myself, and I do not know that I can find timber this side the rocky mountains fit to make one of as there is no time to be lost. I tell you what you must do. You must see Wan and make the best bargain you can with him. It is not likely the trees in the nursery will be of any value to me and you may turn them part or all of them out to him, cherry trees, everything there is if he will take them. And if You must try hard to do that first, and if that will not do, then you must pay him the balance out of what Squire Bristol has of mine. The Squire promised to send me a list of the number of the trees and the parts he got of me, but he has not done it and therefore I cannot give any very definite direction about them. I do not expect to get any of the trees sent to me the Squire has. The expense and the risk I find it too great. I have lost all those I brought in the Spring and I do not think it best to try again, so you will make a dicker with him somehow, and it must be done soon to be of any use. I would rather have one sent the middle of Sept than a wagon load the middle of October. It would be ten to one that it would be at St Louis till next May, so he must fix up Clark’s and let me have that. I think you had better take it to pieces and box it up in a high box. Perhaps a boot box would hold it, and you could fill it up with some of the things you have of mine. I wish you would get me the irons and make me a lever for a lever press. I could fix the rest of it if I had the proper irons and the lever, and if you could make a pattern for a jaw and get me a pair cast at Kalamazoo, I should like it. I have I am taking Quinine and Whiskey to cure the Ague and am getting better, but I am not able to work any yet.

Charles R. Cridland[1]


[1] While the letter is unsigned, from previous and subsequent letters it has been determined that the writer was Charles R. Cridland

July 28, 1857 letter to Luke Keith from Charles R. Cridland

July  28, 1857[1]

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Charles R. Cridland, Delaware, KS

Is writing this letter because he forgot to include some things in his last letter. He is looking for his duck bill garden hoe and also sends instructions on how to mail the map he left behind and asks Luke to check if there is anything at the P.O. for him. He wants John Lay to send the Tribune to him in the future as he wants to see what is going on in all parts of Kansas. He wants Luke to see Mr. Bristol about the Broom Machine and whether he could get it. He gives numerous instructions (along with a diagram) on how he wants parts for the machine adjusted to be like Clark’s. He will pay Luke for his trouble and the freight.

Scan of 1857-07-28 Charles Cridland to Luke Keith

Delaware R J July 28[?]. 1857.

Friend Luke

Before I got through my last letter I found I had forgot several things which I could not get in and that I must write again to finish – in the first place I left my duck bill garden hoe behind which I want you to find. Perhaps Taylor has got it. The map I left you must get a large envelope at John Lay’s and fold it and send by mail. You must enquire if there has been anything come to the P O for me. You must see about the tribune. If John has got them send them by mail post paid and pay John the postage and tell him to send mail them to me in future. I have paid one quarter pay him for the rest of the year. If you have not got the dollars of _____ I will send you the money. I have got a little money now. Most of all I want you to see Bristol about the Broom Machine. He will tell you about it if he could not get it. I want you to get me the two rollers made the one for the handle to go through and the back roller. I want the back roller the whole length of the machine having a bearing in the middle on the middle top rail like this: [at this point he inserted drawings]. You know I should like you to get me the two top cross rails. I think I can manage the rest myself instead of having the broom roller fixed on the top like the old one I want it like Clark’s in this way the rails _____ made [another drawing] the end hollowed to let the roller in and a strap of iron to keep it in its place. Have the distance the broom roller shorter by 4 or 6 inches than the old one between the bearings. there is no use in having it so long and the twine roller need not be more than 12 or 15 in. It makes the machine take up a deal more room than necessary and is no better. The cross rails must be longer because they project over in front as I have figured. Get me the two rollers and the two cross rails. I should you to attend to as soon as you can, and to send me what handles you have at the same time unless there is a prospect of getting more handles in the way I have written about before. Tie the handles 50 in a bunch at each end with good twine and you can tie them the rollers and rails up with some of them I think. And I want the freight to be paid to Chicago at 32 cents a 100 as that will save me paying about 5 per cent a week for advancing. They charged me about a dollar on my things for advancing the pay for about two weeks. They charge about as much for taking them into the warehouse[?] at Leavenworth as they do for bringing[?] them up the river 600 or 700 miles from St. Louis. Have the hole bored in the roller about right you know how and get the old roller and see the size where the band goes on with the screw in. I bought the band with me, and can fit it on if you dont get the roller too small. But before you send write to me and tell how much you will want to pay out for your trouble and the freight and I will send it to you.

Your friend

Charles R Cridland

I am so near Kansas I dont know any thing much about it. I want the tribune to see what’s going on there.

Put this note in the P.O. for Bristol and then you will see him when he comes to town.


[1] The actual day that the letter was written is hard to read but appears to be July 28, 1857

July 21, 1857 letter to Luke Keith from Charles Cridland

July 21, 1857

To: Luke Keith

From:  Charles R. Cridland, Delaware, KS

Thanks him for sending the money but before he got it the goods came and he had to pawn his watch to pay the bill. Most of his trees were dead and the ones that lived died soon after due to dry weather. The roses and other garden items did much better. A rat chewed up all the hay in the box and worried him “well to death,” but he found a trap and caught it. He has never had better looking broom corn nor so much of it. The “kind of half southerners” who live there know nothing about cows and milk them using only one hand and a tin cup. The women churn all their milk and sell the buttermilk to campers to mix with their bread. He wants the handles before fall and hopes Luke can make some arrangement to help him get them because he is very hard up.

Scan of 1857-07-21 Charles Cridland to Luke Keith

Delaware[1] R. J.[2] July 21. 1857

Dear Friend

I got a letter yesterday from my wife in which she tells me she had written to you about the 10 doll[ar]s! Do women always run before they are sent.  I guess they do, if the fit takes them – well never mind. The money came all right and I am much indebted to you for the trouble you took, though it was all trouble for nothing. I found when I got here the bill I left with you was just as good as any here, and when my goods came I had not the money to get them and finally pawned my watch for 10 dollars and had to take gold and then had to pay the bill at a discount to pay gold back, where if I had had the paper at first it would have paid the transport as well as the gold. My trees were pretty much dead as I expected, and we have had such dry weather here that a good many which lived out near the bottom have died since. Whether any of them will live through the summer is uncertain. The roses and other things of the garden have done much better and I shall save some of most kinds of them. A pesky rat had made a nest in the box and chewed all the hay up fine, and knaw’d the harness, and since he got here has worried me well to death until I found out a few days ago where there was a trap and I have cotch’d the scamp. We have had quite cool weather here for the season until last tuesday when it got up to 93. Since then it has been very warm and on saturday it was 104 in the shade all the afternoon. I like it here very much so far. The soil could not please me better. I have no fear of having to haul dung while I live. I think the summers here are very dry. We have but two showers since I came here but the land seems to hold moisture much better than in Michigan and corn is doing first rate. I never had better looking broom corn[3] than I have now nor so much of it but it has been too dry in garden and I have had no peas until about a week ago. I have now peas and beans in abundance. The bottom of near the creeks are full of first rate smooth gooseberries. You can get any quantity of them. One of my neighbors has carried half a bushel at a time to town to sell, and there are plenty of wild plums and crab apples, and a good place to swim. I go in 3 or 4 times a week. If you take a notion to come out here you had better get off the boat at Delaware and you can walk straight to my cabin. Ask the way to the fording place[?] on the military road on the nine[?] mile creek and if you miss me on the way there the folks who live in the cabin at the ford will put you on the track back. I am only about 1½ miles from Delaware but there is no inhabited house between me and them and you will not be apt to find me till you get to the main road. Mechanics get good wages here and you could do first rate at your trade at a place in the country, but rents are very high in town and board too. But it does not cost much more to live in the country than in Mich. These kind of half southerners who live here know nothing about cows. They never have a stool and they milk with one hand into a tin cup until they get tired of stooping or they allow they’ve got milk enough. They eat milk a great deal but make very little butter or else butter would not be so high here, for there are plenty of cows and feed as high as your knee, and cows 5 to 10 dolls cheaper than with you. They bring stock from Texas and Arkansas and evry where else here. There were 300 beef oxen herding round my cabin a few days ago. The man told me they cost him 17 dols a head in Texas. They sold ’em to the govt at 70 dols a yoke. Butter was 50 cents a lb when I came, it is now 25. The women round here churn all their milk and then sell the butter milk to campers at 25 cents a gallon to mix their bread with. I had to write to Taylor and told him to let you know I had got the money. I suppose you have seen my letter. I wish you would tend to that business a little. I expect he is very busy and will be slow about writing and I am very anxious to have what can be done, done before fall as I shall want the handles. If he has not sold any of the things and cannot make the arrangement I wrote about I wish you would try to do something to help me about getting them for me for I am very hard up. Please write to me as soon as you can.

I want you to inquire of John Lay or of Lockhart what Dr Stetson’s post office address is now.

C R Cridland


[1] According to History of the State of Kansas: Containing a Full Account of its Growth From an Uninhabited Territory to a Wealthy and Important State (A. T. Andreas, 1883, p. 458), Delaware City was formed in the summer of 1854 and was soon a prosperous and growing town. By 1883, however, there were only a few houses and about sixty people living there

[2] What these initials, which appear to be R. J., mean is unknown at this time

[3] The stalks of broom corn, the tops of which grow in fan-shaped blooms, were used to make brooms. These grass-like plants are not true corn plants and do not produce ears of corn for consumption. It generally took one ton of broom corn to produce 80 to 100 brooms

June 24, 1857 letter to Luke Keith from Mrs. Charles Cridland

June 24, 1857

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Mrs. C. R. Cridland, Cleveland, OH

Charles has not received the money owed him by Luke’s father or Mrs. Mills. Charles needs to pay transportation fees on his goods and needs his things from the boxes. She is sending a stamp and hopes Luke will answer immediately. She asks to be remembered to Luke’s wife, brother and children.

Scan of 1857-06-24 Mrs Charles Cridland to Luke Keith

Cleveland June 24th, 1857

Mr Luke Keith

Sir, I rec’d a letter from Charles today in which he said, that he had not got the ten Dollars from your father yet. He said that there was a Dollar from Mrs Willard L. Mills. If you will be so kind as to send the Eleven Dollars to me. If your father[1] will not exchang the bill, I will get it exchanged and pay the difference myself. Charles had been to considerable expense and needs it to pay transportation on his goods, they have been delayed so long on the road that his trees are worthless yet. He needs his bedding and other things in the boxes or else I would advise him to let them go. I will send a stamp and if you will answer immedately it will add another to the many obligations which we are under to yourself, and Mrs Keith.[2] Remember me to her, your brother[3] and children.[4] We reached home safely, and are now very well.

I am Yours Respectfully

Mrs C. R. Cridland

[to] Mr L Keith
Galesburg Mich


[1] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[2] Luke’s wife, Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[3] His adopted brother, John “Wesley” Keith

[4] Lois and Henry (by his first wife, Minerva Payson), and Ethan, Nancy and Hannah (by his third wife, Sarah Crawford)

May 26, 1857 letter to Luke Keith from Charles Cridland

May 26, 1857

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Charles Cridland, Leavenworth City, KT

As he traveled to Chicago, St. Louis and then to Leavenworth City he had many difficulties along the way. Misled in Chicago by a man named Whitford who told him there was a second class car on the train, it turned out it was a first class train and was told by the conductor to pay for first class or get off. He got off only to find that his baggage remained on the first class train. After several wait times and delays, he finally got on the right train only to have several mix-ups and fears of losing all his belongings including his trees. The only brooms there were made by the slaves whose masters allowed them to make a few to sell for themselves for pocket money. Everybody was civil and polite and did not show any symptoms of the Border Ruffian Spirit. He found the lower class people ignorant and the Capitalists very uncaring about land development although they were the only ones who could afford to pay the asking price and have the funds to fence it. He saw over a hundred mules but very few horses and described the land as very beautiful. Due to the slowness of transportation up the river he believed that his trees would be dead before they got there. He determined that dairying and land speculation would be profitable things to pursue due to good pasture, ample water and a new village called Doniphan. He asked Luke to send money immediately as he is running low on funds.

Scan of 1857-05-26 Charles Cridland to Luke Keith

Leavenworth City, KT.[1] May 26/1857

Friend Luke,

I arrived here in about five days after starting. I could have got here sooner had I hav not laid over one day in Chicago and part of a day St Louis. I was detained in Chicago through Whitfords Stupidity. He told me there was a second class car in the train at Midnight. When the train came in they put my baggage aboard in a hurry. I could not see any car I thought was second class, but there was no time to make enquiry and I got aboard. The conductor told me I could not go on that train. He said there never was a second class car on that train. He didn’t care what Whitford told me I must pay first class fare or get off. I wouldnt pay any more so I had to get off at Kaloo.[2] The next train which had the second class on met with some detention east, so I had to wait at Kaloo till day. When I got to Chicago owing to my baggage being ahead of me it was so covered up with other baggage, they could not find it and I began to fear it was gone somewhere. At last I espied one article and I stuck to it until it was all found, but in the mean time the train to St Louis was gone and left me behind so I had to wait. It took me some time to hunt up my boxes with the trees. They told me at the station they had been forwarded but I took pains to look for them and found them there yet. I got them started to the St Louis Station and found it was too late for them to go that day. There was nothing waiting there but my things and they assured me they would go the next day. As it was pretty dear staying at Chicago, I went on without them. I went to the Consignee at St Louis who promised at to attend to forwaring them immediately and I went on to get a place for them. I landed here because I thought I should be more likely to find a place to set them. I was much disappoted to find so little land plowed here. The people here are all so full of money they do not seem to think of doing any thing toward improving the Land, indeed it requires such an enormous outlay to fence it. I do not see how it is ever going to be done. Land about the City within a mile runs as high as a thousand dollars an acre and where I now write six miles from the City it is called worth 30 to 50 dollars with not half wood enough on it to put a fence round it. I think the country is very beautiful, very superior to Illinois as there is no flat prairies here and the bluffs are not so high as to be bad to plow or to travel. The roads are excellent and every gentle rise you make presents you with a beautiful prospect. There are several fields being fenced in between here & the city. They pay $32.50 per thousand on the Wharf for Cotton wood timber. There are just about trees enough here to stand for shade trees. You can see trees every where, but not one that ought to be cut down. I found a place here to plant my trees, but I did not bring any broom corn seed and the first time I went into Missouri I got seed which I thought was good, but it turned out poor on careful examination. I had to go there again and I have traveled three days and stopped at every house. There are no brooms made here only by the slaves whose masters allow them to make a few to sell for themselves for pocket money. I did not find a free state man, but every body was civil and polite to me and did not show any symptoms of the Border Ruffian[3] Spirit. Among the lower class I found them pretty ignorant. At one place where I stayed the woman told she couldnt live where there was a Queen she was sure for she would never give up to divide every thing she had to the King and Queen. One young fellow asked me how they could get along in Michn without mules and niggers. He didn’t see who could do the work. I have seen a hundred mules at a time here, but not many horses. The navigation up the river is pretty tedious and I am afraid my trees will be entirely dead before they get here. I think this must be a healthy country. There are no low places that I have seen yet. Mechanics wages are high and they ought to be. Board is seven dollars a week. I had to pay 1.50 for several days. Verbenas grow wild here on the lime stone bluffs, so I am sure the winters are milder than they are in Michigan. There is scarcely a squatter living here. They were generally poor people who had no money to pay for their land when it was sold, and so they sold out their claims for 2 or 3 hundred dollars and moved on further to squat again. Indeed it takes so much to make fence here that the land is of no value only to Capitalists who can expend thousands of dollars upon it. I know of no business here so profitable as dairying. Cows are as cheap as with you. There is an unlimited range of good pasture plenty of water and butter sells readily at 50 cents a pound. I have not seen a bit in the territory. The few people who make it eat it up themselves pretty much. The Missourians are doing big business bringing their produce here to sell. Speculation is at a great pitch. I heard one man telling of another on the boat, who boasted that he could go ashore while the boat stopped to take wood and make a thousand dollars buying and selling lots and be in time to get aboard before she started. I was in one Land office where an Irishman was enquiring the price of Shares in Doniphan (a new village) the agent paid $400. These are up a hundred since you was in here before. I have several lots there I consider worth a thousand dollars a lot. I thought I wouldn’t pay any thing so I walked out. I paid a man six dollars for a days work with his horses plowing for me. He said he could make 8 or 10 dollars a day hauling goods to Lawrence.

I presume you have got that money made right. You can send me Michigan or any good money[4] you can get handy. Please to get it registered at the office. I am getting short of funds already. Write immediately.

Your friend

C. R. Cridland


[1] Believe this referred to Leavenworth City, Kansas Territory; the City of Leavenworth was founded in 1854 largely to support Fort Leavenworth, but quickly became the springboard to the west.  The settlement was the first official town in Kansas

[2] Kalamazoo, Michigan

[3] Citizens of western Missouri who endeavored to establish slavery in Kansas Territory

[4] During the Free Banking Era, lax federal and state banking laws permitted virtually anyone to open a bank and issue currency – states, cities, counties, private banks, railroads, stores, churches and individuals – as long as that bank could satisfy a minimal set of conditions.  The bank notes were of all different sizes, shapes, and designs, as well as denominations – 25¢, $1.00, $2.00, $3.00, as well as the denominations we use today. During that time period, consumers could not be sure that merchants would accept their paper money, and approximately one-third of all paper money during the Free Banking Era was estimated to be counterfeit. These bank notes are now known as “broken bank notes”