August 23, 1859 letter to Luke Keith from William Tomlinson

August 23, 1859

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: William Tomlinson, Colon, MI

He is not in a position to make a payment this coming fall on the land he bought of Luke, but he has a span of five-year-old Bay geldings he can give him if they can agree on their worth.

Scan of 1859-08-23 William Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Colon August 23, 1859

Mr. Keith


I receved a letter from George Tomlinson[1] a Short time Since Stating that he had Sent my Notes and Scromtons[?] to you to make a payment on the Land he Bought of you. I wish to say to you that I am Not in a condition to meet them in cash this fall. But I have property that I will turn out to you untill you are Satiesfied if it is any thing reasonable. I consist in horses harnesses & buggies or farm implements. I have a span of nice dark Bay 5 yearold Geldings that I will let you have providing we can agree on their worth. If you think you can use any such property to you or _____ I will drive out my young horses and let you see them at the time of the National horse Show at Kalamazoo on the 11 to the 14 of October. Please inform me of your wants and necessities in this matter imediately.

Respectifully yours

William Tomlinson

Colon St. Joseph County Michigan


[1] George was married to Luke’s niece, Marion (Sprague) Tomlinson. The relationship between George and William is unknown at this time

March 24, 1859 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

March 24, 1859

To: Luke Keith

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

Noah backed out of the trade because he wasn’t satisfied with the survey. He wanted it chained out; he wasn’t willing to take the U.S. survey. Would like Luke to put up a Farm For Sale board. They don’t expect Dan Sprague to live much longer. Old Squire Brooks was buried and his daughter, Mrs. Mathews, died March 27th.

Scan of 1859-03-24 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion March 24/59

C. L. Keith Esq

Uncle Noah[1] has backed out of the trade – a thing I did not expect – he is not satisfied with the survey of the land. He wanted it chained out – so he would know just the number of rods the deed calls for. He is not willing to take the United States survey. So I have that land on hand. Does Lasher[2] keep up the fences as he agreed? I suspect not. If you should see any one either in Kalamazoo or your place that wants to trade any goods in whole or in part for that land, hit into him – or any one wanting it on time – sell it. Perhaps you had better put up a board “Farm for sale.” Dont you want enough of the land to come to what I am owing you? We are well as usual. Mother[3] is rather down this winter she is troubled with her hand. Dan Sprague[4] is hard up – it is thought he will live but a few weeks at longest. He had an attack of rheumatism in the chest – which has run him into the consumption – he looks hard. Old Squire Brooks was buried one day this week. He bled from the lungs – dropt away suddenly. His daughter Mrs Mathews died a few weeks ago.

March 27. All well. Fine spring weather.


Geo. Tomlinson


[1] Noah Starr. George’s wife, Marion (Sprague) Tomlinson, and Noah’s daughter-in-law, Emma (Sprague) Starr, were first cousins

[2] See footnote #2 of the February 6, 1859 letter

[3] His mother-in-law, Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague, who was Luke’s sister

[4] His wife Marion’s uncle. He died just a week later on March 31, 1859

February 6, 1859 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

February 6, 1859

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

Has negotiated a trade with Uncle Noah Starr for the land. Wants Luke to get a chain and measure it out in metes and bounds. Aunt Patty thinks it strange that none of her friends have written her since she left. She thinks Luke was glad to get rid of her and won’t write for fear she will come again. Uncle Myron Douglass was buried February 3rd.

Scan of 1859-02-06 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion Feb. 6, 1859

C. L. Keith Esq

I have partly negotiated a trade with Uncle Noah Starr[1] for that land – can trade if I am a mind to – the land I git is not worth over 2000$. Now what I want to know is can that land be sold for more than that amt.? I want to do the best I can with it. I am not able to keep it in its present shape. It pays nothing as you know. Is there any sale for land?

2nd Have you ever chained it out so you know there is what the deed calls for? Uncle Noah wants metes and bounds & a deed for 116 acres omitting the words “more or less.” Can you give me a plan of it with the distances in rods marked on each line? Like this: [there is then a simple drawing]. Also the directions. If you dont know can you get a chain & measure it? I should like to have this done without delay – so I can consummate the trade at once – if there is no prospect of doing better. I suppose the farm is running down pretty fast and I am afraid it will run down faster than land will raise in value.

I have had several nibbles for trade but nothing that comes to a focus till now. I want to get the farm off my hands to the best advantage as soon as possible.

3d How much is there due on that note you hold against me? I must try and pay you up some day.

4th I wish you would call upon Lasher[2] & find out how he thinks the acct. stands between us – get his bills if he has any – I suppose I may as well say we are square as any other way.

You must not say any thing of any trades for I have learned that a trade is not a trade till the writings are made – there may be forty slips besides I may think it not best to trade when I hear from you.

5th Write as soon as possible.

So much for business.

We are all well – get along first rate for lazy folks. Aunt Patty[3] thinks it strange that some of her friends dont write. She has heard nothing from them since she left. She thinks you were so glad to get rid of her that you wont write for fear you she will go again or else you have all gone to salt lake.

Uncle Myron Douglass[4] was buried Feb 3.


Geo. Tomlinson


[1] George’s wife, Marion (Sprague) Tomlinson, and Noah Starr’s daughter-in-law, Emma (Sprague) Starr, were first cousins

[2] 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

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

[4] A search of indicates that Myron Douglass died February 12, 1859 and is buried in Jug City Cemetery in Genessee County, New York; however, since George writes that Myron was buried on February 3, and since the headstone is broken and worn, it would appear that Myron died February 2. Myron Douglass’ relationship to either George or Luke is unknown at this time

April 12, 1857 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

April 12, 1855

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

Has written three times and received no reply. Mother is anxious to hear how her folks are. Wants to know if Luke has succeeded in selling their farm.

Scan of 1857-04-12 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion Apil 12 1857

C. L. Keith Esq

I have writen you three times have recevd no reply. I write a line to say that mother[1] is anxious to hear how her folks[2] are. We are all well — hav our grief as well as a christian faith calls us to do. We know it is all right yet cannot avoid wishing it otherwise.

Monday morning. It is a pleasant morning. I am full of business.

How do you succeed in selling our farm.

Write without fail soon.


G. Tomlinson[3]


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

[2] Charles Luke Keith Sr. and Hannah Willcutt

[3] George Tomlinson was married to Luke’s niece, Marion Sprague

October 3, 1856 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

October 3, 1856

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

All are well here except Frank has the summer complaint. Getting along as well as when Patty was here. He’s thinking of selling the farm. If anyone inquires, he will take $23 per acres. If Lasher is willing to leave he will let him have whatever he can get over $23 per acre. Doesn’t want to build a barn if selling. Business is good at the store. Maybe Marion will write.

Scan of 1856-10-03 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion Oct. 3. 1856.

C. L. Keith, Esq.

Your line was not rec’d till yesterday. We are all well except Frank[1] has the summer complaint[2] somewhat – not very bad but we have not been able to check it. I dont see but we get along as well as when Aunt Patty[3] was here.

Libby says she cant stay with us only this week – dont know who we shall get. The Gentleman[4] has been _____ – has had the blues teribly – dirty wool, dull machines, cold weather & low water till within a few days & a great many other little devils to numeruous to mention.

On the whole I think if an opportunity offers we had best sell our farm.

You may say to men enquiring for land it is for sale – it has cost me to this date $23.80 per acre. I will take 23$. If those men want it I will let them have it – I shall want enough down to secure the sale & will give some time on the remainder. I think that fair good property if one could be there to see it. I want the means in my business or I would not care to sell. I shall not sell unless Lasher is willing to leave. I will let him have what he can get more than 23$ per acre – if he sells it this fall.

What is he doing about a barn. I dont want to build if I make a sale.

How are the horses?

Have you reserved that security?

I dont think of any thing new.

The Dea.[5] has gone to day to look up a girl – we are doing a fair business in the store.

G. Tomlinson

May be Marion[6] will write.


[1] His son, Frank Tomlinson

[2] A common, noncontagious diarrhea of young children, occurring in summer or autumn, sometimes caused by spoiled milk

[3] His mother-in-law, Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague

[4] Perhaps he is referring to his father-in-law

[5] His father-in-law, James Sprague Jr.

[6] His wife, Marion (Sprague) Tomlinson

January 1, 1856 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

January 1, 1856

To: Luke Keith

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

Comments on the health of various family members. Also still trying to decide what to do in terms of buying land.

Scan of 1856-01-01 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion Jan. 1. 1856.

C. L. Keith Esq

I am here, got back to “America” – as the paddy would say – I stood the _____ totually well. Found Paul[1] shaking – a hard looking subject – he has the ague 4 day in 8 & looks bad at that. His wife, Abiah & Ann[2] have it – the ague I mean – slightly, say once a week or so – tho Ann is had up – not able to do any thing. Jenny & Ella[3] have got well. Frances[4] has been free from the shakes. Paul has a good farm & good buildings. It will be right in town when all the projected R.R. are constructed. I dont think it will be very soon.

Eratis[5] folks are well except Henry[6] – he has the ague. Loyal[7] is there.

I got home last Saturday. The little one[8] dont know me – wont have any thing to say to me at all – squalls if I look at her. Phebe has a good time with her. I guess she will become requainted. Frank[9] sticks to me like a shawdow. I cant move without him. He looks hard – have been very well used in my absence or something else. Our folks put me through after the old gate. I am coward a little more than ordinary on acct. of confidence & dedication this week. One would think a general _____ was on foot by the _____ our folks are making.

We have first rate slieghing now days.

I find things about as I left them — — or strange. I have not yet seen Aunt Lois.[10]

Jan. 6. We have had a house full of folks attending the meeting. I have been to see Aunt Lois. She is well as usual. Cant see as those pictures look natural. She wished I had brot the old one back. Perhaps you had best send it the first opportunity. Your line of Dec. 30 is recd. I would like to trade with you if on account of the old folks &c if I could. I dont think your house as good property for me as the land – that wont — up, if it produces nothing. I cant trade any way without satisfying Lasher.[11] He told me when I left him at the burgh[12] that he wasnt willing to seek a new house. I dont know but he might be satisfied if I would build on the other side. I will trade as I proposed when I left or will let you have the land for the price you offer any time you may make sale of your house – or you may keep the house & I will give you time on the payment till you can sell the house to your mind.

The Dea.[13] thinks the land on the south side will not be worth much without the other side. He thinks you will have to move in with your father[14] – i.e. if Hellen[15] goes away. He thinks the old gentleman will not do any thing now while he lives & that you will have the farm to see to & the old folks to look after. He thinks Wesley[16] will be unable to suit however well he may do. Help in the house will be as difficult to obtain as work out of doors. Mr. Rowe died a few days ago – he was kicked by a horse – died in a week after.

I will write again soon.

Geo. Tomlinson

I have been looking for a line from Wesley in relations to a trade. I dont want to build if we trade – in the mean time I want to know what he has to propose.


[1] George’s wife’s uncle, Paul Sprague

[2] Paul’s wife, Lydia (Sanderson), and his two daughters, Abiah and Sarah Ann Sprague

[3] Paul’s daughter, Ella Sprague. It is unknown if Jenny was another daughter; however, at this time there is no indication as to who she was

[4] Paul’s daughter, Frances Sprague

[5] George’s wife’s uncle, Erastus Sprague. Erastus and Paul were brothers

[6] Erastus’ son, Henry Sprague

[7] Loyal Starr, who was married to Erastus’ daughter, Emma Sprague, and who might have earlier been married to his older daughter, Lydia Sprague

[8] George’s daughter, Nellie Tomlinson

[9] George’s son, Frank Tomlinson

[10] See Footnote #5 in 7-22-1855 letter

[11] George had leased his farm out to Mr. Lasher

[12] Galesburg, Michigan

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

[14] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[15] Sister of George’s wife Marion

[16] Wesley Keith, Luke’s adopted brother

October 21, 1855 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

October 21, 1855

To: Luke Keith

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

Aunt Patty is concerned about her mother’s health and wants Luke to inform her immediately regarding same. She would like to come see her mother but feels she cannot leave the Deacon at this point. He has been unable to do much for the past month. George thinks he will come to Luke’s in about two weeks, but the Deacon and Aunt Patty may come instead, if the Deacon’s health improves. Heard that Loyal Starr’s wife is dead but had no particulars.

Scan of 1855-10-21 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion           Oct. 21, 1855

C. L. Keith Esq

Aunt Patty[1] wants me to write meant I should a week ago when we rec’d your last & insisted on an immediate answer.

She wants to know how her mother[2] is – is she able to be about? Does her health improve? &c, &c. write immediately all the particulars.

Aunt Patty has about concluded to stay at home this winter & not visit _____ till next summer. If her mothers health is not too precarious – she feels torn to do so. Various reasons induce her to say so – the most important of which is the Deacons[3] health. He has been unable to do much for a month past – is now some better. If his health continues to improve she may go but if not – only on the most pressing anxiety of her Mother.

We are behind hand with our work – our hired mans time is out – he is gone. I am now down with a lame back – help is scarce. How we shall get along I dont now see – got the blues some I guess.

I think I shall be ready to start for your place in about 2 weeks if nothing happens. It is very possible the Dea. & Aunt Patty may go in my stead – tho the Dea. will have to get very much better first.

When do you get lime? I wish you would speak to a mason to help me lay the wall the first thing after I get there if you can find one. I want to get the wall up before frosty weather. Write about your mothers health right away.


Geo. Tomlinson

We just heard Loyal Starrs wife is dead, no particulars.


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

[2] Patty’s and Luke’s mother, Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

[3] Patty’s husband, James Sprague Jr.

August 7, 1855 letter to Luke Keith from Marion Tomlinson

August 7, 1855

To: Luke Keith

From: Marion Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

Marion was inquiring into the health of her grandmother who apparently was not well. Sarah Crittenden sold her farm to a Mr. Olmstead.

Scan of 1855-08-07 Marion Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion           August 7, 1855[1]

Uncle Luke,

Geo[2] recieved a letter from you stating that grandmother[3] was quite unwell. Now mother[4] wants to know the particulars – what the matter is, whether you consider her dangerous, or not. As soon as you get this write all about her. Mother thinks of going there this fall with Geo. It rains most of the time – we had a shower yesterday. This morning it is cold as winter. Our folks have their wheat cut and five loads in the barn. They have cut but little hay, what they have is mostly spoiled by the rain. Wheat is grown some, ours is not injured much yet. Harmden[?] Olmstead has sold his farm and bought Sarah Crittendens.[5] He gave her $3,000, sold his to Ozro Brown for $10,000, gives possession the 20th of this month. It is thought that Sarah will save but little. Gordon is very slack and their affairs were left in a bad shape. Gordon has sold his half of the shop to Sam Crossman he _____ bought to save himself. Write as soon as you recieve this. All well. Tell us all about Aunt C’s[6] affairs. Wont the Lees[7] all die some day.



[1] While the letter itself has a date of only “August,” on the reverse side it appears that Luke may have started to answer the letter as follow: “Batavia, Aug. 22, 1855; Mrs Tomlinson; Marion your letter of the 7″ came to hand Saturday last, safe and sound.” Nothing more was written

[2] Marion’s husband, George Tomlinson

[3] Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

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

[5] Sarah (Curtis) Crittenden; Sarah was the widow of Henry Crittenden, who was the brother of Luke’s second wife, Jerusha (Crittenden) Keith

[6] Luke’s sister, Catharine (Keith) Bradley Lee

[7] Catharine’s second husband, George Clinton Lee, died December 18, 1854, and this seems to be some reference to this branch of the family

July 22, 1855 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

July 22, 1855

To: Luke Keith

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

More farm business. Inquires about various family members. He hopes to come in September and if he does, the schools will have to take care of themselves.

Scan of 1855-07-22 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion           July 22, 1855

C. L. Keith

I wrote you a few days ago in regard to Mr Lyon visiting Galesburgh for the purpose of seeing our land. I hardly think I shall trade with him any way for he will not be willing to pay what I shall ask. If Mr Lyon has been there write what he said as to price &c, &c.

I should like to have you write how Lasher is getting along with the house. Perhaps it would be best if your father[1] is willing to stack the wheat by his barn so as to thrash it with his. I dont care how it is done only that the wheat is cut & taken care of in good order in proper season. I hope you will let me know how the thing is going. We would like to know how things are going with the rest of you. What is Lois[2] about and Helen[3] how does she carry sail – and Aunt Catharine[4] how does she proper. I think some of you might come and see us – suppose you put your wites together and draw cuts – we wont be particular who comes. The last we heard from Mrs Kendal she had bargained away her place – she thinks of going west. Aunt Lois[5] will go west as soon as she has company. We hear from Uncle Pauls[6] folks occasionally, they never enjoyed so good health as at present. Our folks have gone to Perry to a conference, we have no meetings here but shall have sometime. The house is done but not furnished. We want blinds, carpets, lamps and lots of things, dont know where they will come from. I wish you would send us a stout woolverene, the girl we have dont want to stay much longer, she is not obliged to work out.

Lasher wrote me or some one for him soon after I wrote to you that heard nothing from him – he was rather sharp I thought I felt called upon to reply that I thought the writer of the letter made him say what he did not mean.

I think his wifs sister is there am I right? I have sent Lasher 10$ have you heard him say any thing about seeing it? Ask him. I send $5.00 in this for him which you will please hand.

What do you think about the kind of wheat it is best to have Lasher sow? I see it stated in the papers that the meditteranian wheat is not or was not attacked by the fly. You are there & of course know what news paper writers guess at. If it is thought best by you & Lasher to sow meditteranian wheat it would be best to secure said soon if it is to be had & to be paid for when my wheat is thrashed.

The Valperaso or blue stem stands the fly as well as any while the _____ is very badly used up & many fields entirely. I think to escape the fly in the fall wheat ought to be sown rather late – say Sept. 15 or 20th. I have not made up my mind when I shall go then I want to build a barn when I do go. If I go in Sept. I shall have to let the schools take care of themselves.[7]

It has rained 3 days now – large lots of hay are cut – no grain is cut in this vicinity yet.

Write as soon as you _____ this.


Geo. Tomlinson


[1] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[2] Luke’s oldest daughter, Lois Keith

[3] Believe he is referring to Luke’s niece, Helen Bradley

[4] Luke’s sister, Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee

[5] It is believed that this is a reference to the mother of Luke’s first wife, Minerva (Payson) Keith, whose first name is thought to be Lois

[6] Paul Carpenter Sprague, the uncle of George’s wife, Marion (Sprague) Tomlinson

[7] George was the superintendent of schools in Pavilion, New York

June 17, 1855 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

June 17, 1855

To: Luke Keith

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

More farm business. He hopes to be able to come in the Fall and examine the land. The children are getting over the whooping cough.

Scan of 1855-06-17 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion           June 17, 1855

C. L. Keith, Esq.

Yours of June 14 came to hand last night. The wheat business seems to be a hard case this year. We are used up for a large crop of wheat here. The fly has destroyed a many a fair prospect. I think there are many fields that will not pay for seed and harvesting. Farmers are long favored just now. We have a large growth of straw yet I think we shall have no more than half a crop or there about.

I have had apprehensions about michigan wheat for some time as we have _____ heard stories from various sections of the state. Are farmers sowing as much as usual this year or are they holding back to see what will come of this insect business?

You write no particulars about the farm & Lasher is silent as the grave. Has Lasher sown any oats? Has he done any thing with the bottom land fence? Has he any chance to pasture for any one? Does he plow deep & good or not?

I have had so much to think of that I have somewhat lost the run of that farm business out there. I wish you would advise Lasher to be faithful to cut up the grubs on that 12 acre lot & draw off all the stone on the ground and all he plows up. They will all be needed to make a wall under the house & barn. I now think of under____ the barn with a wall if there are stones enough. Lasher must do as much as get his living from the land. I am sure it will be hard starting, but he must work an odd day or so with the team to get his grain &c.

I should be sorry to have that timber lot, will examine it & see if it is ______ to ______? If nothing happens I shall be there in the fall & stay a few days, long enough to get the thing fairly in my mind.

I have not answered Oscars last proposition to buy that _____ & believe I shall not till I go on to the ground and examine with reference to a line. I had rather buy of him than to sell. This he refuses. If there is no chance to let out the pasture I shall have to opt on some stock or sheep tho can do nothing till I go there.

We must arrange Lashers cow business when I am there. If you can turn any of your old accounts into chopping set the hands at that wood as I should be glad to have 18 or 20 cords cut any way if I could.

We are all well. The children[1] have or are getting over the hooping cough. The weather is cold – corn is small much of it to small to hoe. It is wet – we are having lots of rain these days. I have started the carding we have not much wool yet, but few have sheared. I expected Marian[2] would write a line but her little one[3] has been cross & I guess some sick so she has no time.

Mrs. Kendall has sold her place – the writing is not made but she expects they will be soon. Price $350. Our young ones are getting over the hooping cough – I think they will go it till the _______ come along. The calves do not do very well – the Decon looks discouraged over one of them.

June 25 – Rains again this morning. I must go to work.

Geo. Tomlinson


[1] Frank John and Nellie E. Tomlinson

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

[3] Nellie was born February 18, 1855