February 15, 1857 letter to Luke Keith from James S. King

February 15, 1857

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: James S. King, DePere, WI

Another report on the various places Luke could purchase.

Scan of 1857-02-15 James King to Luke Keith

Depere Feb 15th 1857

Cousin Luke[1]

Sir, I now take my pen to write you afew lines in answer to yours of the 25th. In the first place we was rite glad to here from you and that you was then all well. We had about made up our mind that you had given up all thought of coming west but now hope has revived alittle. I have delayed writing for afew days to look over the chances and I find they are about the same as when you was here. You can have the Eighty East of me for $5 per acre if you take it soon. I think Uncle Luke[2] can by afarm here that will suit him. Tell Cousin Catharine[3] she need not wate or delay comming West on acount of a School. There will bee a school here in the spring. Mr Newton is going to move on to his farm in the spring and said he would have aschool at eny rate. Charly Dickenson is comming back from Chipaway this month. He says it is 10 times as cold there as here. It has not been as cold here this winter as last but we have had rather more snow but it has now started for low river. It has been nice and warm here the past week and yesterday we had afine thunder shower about the same as the day you left. The man you speak of that wants 40 acres of land can bee acomadated to his harts content. There is 40 acres South East of Leroys that I know will suit him. There is a good log callin [cabin?] on it and log barn. Messrs Blake & Field have been lumbering on it this winter. The falls crick runs through the West end of it (see plan on first page). Price 4 dollars per acre. Well, now, some thing else. Mother[4] says tell Aunt Hannah[5] to come along and if she likes as well as she dose she will never bee sorry she started. Father[6] & Mother are quite well and so with all the rest of us. My helth was never better than it has been the last 2 years. Jonas[7] is as tuff as abare, has had no coff this winter. Edeth[8] is about as contented as she was when you was here but she said tell Luke if he will come and bring his family she shall try to bee contented. Mr Burnells[9] family are all well and he is doing well. He has all he can do with his oxen at 3 to 4 dollars per day. Tell Alvin if he has not started before you get this to come out here and see us if no mor but I think if he should come he would stay. I know he would find enough to do. Now with regard to the winter here it is no comparison to Mass. The coldest day we have had I took the ponyes and went from Mr Burnells to Harris Jameses in the town of Morrison, distance 15 miles, without stoping to warm. Staid there 2 ours. Took in Marian James. Drove back to Burnells with out stoping to warm and was not very cold at that. So you may have no fears abou freesing unless it is colder than it has bee this winter with us but they say it has been very cold up in the pinery and on the prairys but let him squeel. We can hold him. Mr Leroy says remember me to Luke. Tell him I hope to see him out here on the first bout. The iron company offered me three thousand Dollars for my place last week. They think of commencing buisness at the fall next summer. I should like rite well to see you as I can talk much faster than I can write. Tell Aunt Hannah to come with you when you come and she & Mother can goin to the dary buisness. Butter 30 cts per lb. Pleas write me as soon as you receive this and tell me when to meet you at the Bay. Remember me to all the friends. My Best respects to you and family.

Very Truly Yours
J. S. King

To C. L. Keith, Esqu
Galesburgh, Mich


[1] Charles Luke Keith Jr. went by the name of Luke

[2] Luke’s father, Charles Luke Keith Sr., who also went by the name of Luke

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

[4] Lilly (Willcutt) King

[5] Hannah (Willcutt) Keith, Luke’s mother; Lilly and Hannah were sisters

[6] James Hunt King

[7] James’ brother-in-law, Jonas LeRoy

[8] James’ sister, Edith (King) LeRoy

[9] James’ brother-in-law, Luther Burnell, who was married to James’ sister, Sarah

Agreement Between Luke Keith and Charles Cridland

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

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

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

Charles R. Cridland

April 8, 1855 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

April 8, 1855

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

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

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

Pavilion           April 8, 1855

L. C. Keith, Esq.

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

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

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

April 11.

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

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

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

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

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

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

All well.

Geo. Tomlinson

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


[1] Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

March 12, 1855 Summons for Jury Duty

March 12, 1855

To: Luke Keith

From: Sheriff Benjamin Orcutt

A summons for jury duty.

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

C L Keith Esq

Dear Sir

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

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

Sheriffs Office March 12th 1855

Benj F Orcutt

March 18, 1850 letter to Luke Keith from Lois Payson

March 18, 1850

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Lois Payson, Covington, NY

Hasn’t heard from him in ten months. Hopes his new wife will be a good mother to his kids. Thanks him for his invitation to come live with him. Includes a letter to Mr. Clapp asking him to pay her the money he owes her for the last four years. 

Scan of 1850-03-18 Lois Payson to Luke Keith

Covington March the 18″ 1850


Youre longe expected letter has arrived at last after waiting nearly ten months. I had concludeed that you had forgotten that there was such a being on earth. I was however verry glad to hear from you and learn that you were all alive and well. I suppose that I must make some allowances for your not writeing sooner as I perceive you have had other buisness to attend to, you tel me that you have got another wife.[1] I hope she may prove to be a good one. My desire is that she may have wisdom and patience to help you train up your Children[2] in the way they should be. I think it is an arduous task to be a step mother. I hope you will do youre part and the Children are so old now[3] I think they may be got a long with without much trouble. I do hope so in deede for they are verry dear to me. I want to see the Children verry much but have verry faint hopes that I ever shall but the subject is to painful to dwell upon and I will drop it. I am much obliged to you for youre invitation to come and live with you but that I could not do if I was ever so much disposed to for the want of money. How I have been disappointed a bout the Claps not geting that money for me every time I have hard from you for too yeares past it would be paid in the spring and the next time in the fall and so it has been ever since I left Michigan. My Friends here are verry kind but I now they think I mite as well use up my own propperty as to live at their expence. I have bee sick and lame and owe doctors bills and so on and so forth. I wish I could see the Clapps. They would hear something from me that they never heard from a woman. I shall write on this paper to Edwin.[4] I wish you to have him see it soon. Patty[5] designs to go to Mich in May if she is alive and well. She can tell you more than I can write. The harmonyville folks are all well at present and wish to be kindly rememberd to your self and Lady. They say they should like to have Harmony graced with a visit from your Lady and self and Children some time when you can make it convenient. Fances and Elly Sprague send their best love to Lois and Henry and want to see them very much. My respects to all pleas to write as often as you can for you now that I am always glad to hear from you. As I do not think of any thing more of importance I must bid you good by.

Youres as ever

Lois Payson[6]

Mr Clap

I am some what astonished that all most four years should pass a way and you pay no more attention to paying them notes. Luke tells me everry time he writes that he speaks to you verry often and that you promis verry fair and that is all. I think that living on promises is rather hard fare and I cant endure it any longer. It is not what I expected from you nor your Brother while I was in Michigan I was no more troubled a bout that money than I should have been had it been in my owne trunk when I left I expected the money in a few months. I think that a borrowed money debt ought to be considerd sacred and especially when borrowed of a woman. The last time I saw Rufus[7] what fare promises he made. He told me not to give my self any uneasiness about those notes for I should be paid ery cent. Luke says he has written to him but has receivd no answer and now Mr Clap I will tel you what I want you to do and I hope you will not disappoint me this time. Mrs Sprague Lukes sister will be in youre place some time in the month of May and I want you to make youre calculations to send me the money that is due to me by her when she returns for I am absolutely in want of it.

Youres Respectfuly

Lois Payson


[1] Luke married Sarah Crawford on November 14, 1849

[2] Lois and Henry Keith, Luke’s children by his first wife, Minerva Payson

[3] Lois was nine years old and Henry was six years old

[4] Edwin Clapp

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

[6] It is believed that this is Minerva Payson’s mother, however efforts to verify this have proved unsuccessful

[7] Edwin Clapp’s father, Rufus Clapp

April 21 1845 letter to Charles Luke Keith Jr. from Charles Webster

April 21, 1845

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Galesburg, MI

From: Charles Webster, Middleburg, IA

Hopes that the wagon Luke is making for him will soon be done and that when it is that Luke will “come and fetch it down and make us a visit” and fetch Aunt Lois and the children.

1845-04-21 Charles Webster to Charles Luke Keith Jr

Respected Friend

Your favor was duly Recd I was glad to hear that you had got the Waggon on the stocks. I hope it will soon be done. I have made arrangements for ironing of it. I Want it as Soon as posible. I Wish when you get it done you would come and fetch it down and make us a visit. Fetch aunt Louis and the children.[1] I Would come out for it but my business is such that I can not. Well _____ yours may be so to. If it is I wish you would send it to Kalamazoo and write to me what place I will find it by so doing you will confer a great favor on me. I think I can send and get it most any time. Now Luke just do this and write to me the Balance your due and I will see that you have yore pay before a long time. Do not fail. You must give our Respects to your folks and tell aunt Louis Sarah wants to see her very much.

We are all well. No news of any acount.

Middburg April 21 1845[2]

Chas Webster [to] Luke Keith Jun


[1] Luke’s daughter, Lois, and son, Henry

[2] The letter was folded to form its own envelope and the return address portion appears to read:

Middleburg  }
Ia April 21    }

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

January 27, 1839 letter to Jerusha Crittenden from Charles Webster

January 27, 1839

To: Jerusha Crittenden, Pavilion, NY

From: Charles Webster, Allegan, MI

Was anxious to write to someone and so thought he would write to her seeing as how they had been “some acquainted and … good friends for a long time.” He went to Father Keith’s and Catherine asked him if he thought Luke had any notion of marrying anybody.

Scan of 1839-01-27 Charles Webster to Jerusha Crittenden

Sunday P.M. Allegan Jany 27 1839

Honored Madam

Wishing to employ myself about something I take the liberty of writing a few lines to you prsuming you would not regret receiveing them with pleasure. I have the happiness of stating that I am well and Chester Sprague sets at my left hand enjoying the same blessing writing to Suel who is at Marshall acting as Clerk in a store the last time I herd from him he was well but last fall he and Chet had the ague and fever enough to shake a barn down. You may think it rather strange my writing to you but no more strange than true – being anxious to write to some one I thought I would write to you it being that we had been some acquainted and as I presume good friends for a long time. Such being the case there will be no harm done I hope. I received a leter from Mr Rowe stating that Madge and Mandy had gone off slick and cruel in the ____ system. So Mr Rowe has lost her. Next I shall know I shall loose Eliza. Then what. Broke down forever. No I hope not. You know the story of when we went to dancing school was that each one had made his choice but I did not believe that would be the case. I never thought Bill would have Mandy no more nothing. Pshaw evry word of it. I was to father Keiths[1] about two months ago. They wer all well. Catharine[2] asked me if I thought Luke[3] had eny notion of eny body or eny thing about nothing. I supposed she ment about getting married[4]. I told her that I understood he went down the creek when he was amindto and crossed over. She said she wished he would come to Michigan fore long, if that was the case. Then she asked me if I was maried. I told her I did not know for I had not heard eny thing about it since I left home but I expected the next news I heard would be that I was. Then she replied that she had heard that I was married and who to Eliza Belding &c. &c. &c.——-[5]

You remember finding a horse shoe I suppose and what you said about the nails that was in it[6]. If you dont I do and I think that sine will prove false if you dont look out. Thare was three nails in it and three of us found it so we calculated three one nail apiece and if that failed we could have it three nails apiece. That and all the rest of this letter is not of much consequence. After having a pleasant voyage up the lake I found myself in Michigan. First I knew I come to James Whitneys who wifed Norissa Crittenden and dont you believe she has got a boy big enough to stand tip toe on level ground. They live at Romio Macomb Co. Denis Scranton lives in the same place. They were all well. I received a letter from Philo Ferrier stating that they were all well except Mary. She had got the ague and that Woster Dean had been there and Scranton was with them all well. You may guess I never wrote meny leters by the run of this and guess right to but I will tell you something about the folks here. The same dificulties atend men here as there. That is they have to work for a living. That is not all. They are sick more.

I should think you would be tired of such a lingo as this. If you are not you have good patience so I will cut my story short by saying there is a dancing schooll here as well as at Wyoming[7].

Chet says he is comeing to America to get him a woman. That is if he can find one that will have him and says I may go down with him if will behave prety well.

Give my respects to your people and all the enquireing friends if there are eny such and be asured that my most cordial feelings acompany you and that I am your friend.

Please to favour me with an answer and oblige

Your humble servent

Chas L. Webster

[to] Gerusha Crittenden

Direct to Allegan Michigan


[1] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[2] Catherine (Keith) Bradley

[3] Charles Luke Keith Jr. Both Sr. and Jr. were known as Luke

[4] Family story is that Luke and Jerusha were engaged, but when a new girl (Minerva Payson) came to town, he broke off their engagement and married Minerva on April 23, 1839. Minerva died August 29, 1843 and on July 25, 1847 Luke married Jerusha; however, Jerusha died September 23, 1848. Luke then married Sarah Crawford on November 14, 1849

[5] Etc., etc., etc.

[6] According to old superstition, the individuals who find a horseshoe must first examine it to see how many nails still remain in the holes. They must next count the number of holes, which then determines how many weeks, months, or years (depending upon the beliefs of the region) it will be before they will become rich or will be married. Another variation of the superstition is that the number of nails remaining determine the length of time before good luck arrives. According to yet another interpretation, the number of nails remaining in the horseshoe indicates the number of years of good luck that the finder will enjoy

[7] Wyoming, Michigan

July 12, 1837 letter to Charles Luke Keith Jr. from E. D. White

July 12, 1837  

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Tolands Prairie, MI

From: E. D. White, Kalamazoo, MI

He left without saying goodbye as the family was napping.

1837-07-12 E D White to Charles Luke Keith Jr

Kalamazoo 12 July 1837

Mr L. Keith Jr.[1]


Having from early youth experienced the pleasures attending a morning nap I thought best not to disturb the sweet slumbers of the family. I therefore stole from the dwelling of Uncle Luke without even saying Good Morning.

As to the Old folks I will settle with them hereafter I’ll plague[?] them by Gum – when I next go there but I wish you to Give my love to All particular Uncle ____ Cruttendens folks,[2] And write to me immediately after your arrival. Hereof fail not at your peril. Given under my hand &c.[3]

E. D. White[4]


[1] Charles Luke Keith Jr., known better, and referred to, as Luke

[2] Perhaps this is referring to Jairus (the handwriting looks like Jirs) Cruttenden/Crittenden. Luke was engaged to his daughter, Jerusha; however, when a new girl, Minerva Payson, came to town he broke off the engagement and in 1838 married Minerva. She died August 29, 1843 and Luke then married Jerusha on July 25, 1847

[3] Et cetera

[4] It is unknown who this is or how he is related to Luke

June 1, 1834 letter to Charles Luke Keith Jr. from Harvey Keith

June 1, 1834

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Pavilion, NY

From: Harvey Keith, Comstock, MI

Father and Catherine arrived the 18th of May. Father bought 160 acres. Hears that Luke wants to go to “the Illinois” but Harvey wants him to come out to Michigan first and then if he doesn’t like it he can go further west. The apple tree grafts that he brought from Covington are alive and he has set them in the roots of a large apple tree he found in town which was set out by the French or the Indians. He is building a log house, which is the custom of the area. “Mother will have to live between Martin and Jesse Turner when she comes.”

Scan of 1834-06-01 Harvey Keith to Charles Luke Keith Jr

Comstock Kalamazoo M.I.

Dear Brother[1]

I now take this oppertunity to write a few lines to you to let you know that we are all well and hope these few lines will find the people all well in Covington[2]. Father[3] and Catherine[4] got here the 16th of may. They had a verry pleasant time up the lake. They took bad colds coming up the lake but have got over them now. Father like the country verry much. He has bought 160. acres of land forty of it is within one quarter of a mile of my place. He has gone to work on it. The rest lies two miles off. He has got the best timber I have seen in the teritorry. Father tells me that you talk of going to the Illinois in the fall. I think you had best come here. You can do as well here as in the Illinois. Come out this fall. We will get out some timber this winter for waggons. Here will be a good place for a waggon maker in a short time. You had best not go to the Illinois a lone. If you should be taken sick in that country amongst strangers you know not what may become of you. At any rate if you go come this way. It is about as near as any way and then if you dont like this place you can go father west. Ethan[5] has taken a job of chopping and clearing ten acres for 90 Dollars. The man finds team and boards him. He has got it partly choped. He has planted about two acres on his place. That is all he could get ploughed. I have not ploughed any except a garden. My apple trees lived that I brought from Covington. I have got about thirty grafts alive that I set in the roots of an appletree that I found her in this town. It was a large tree set out by the french or Indians. I dug up the roots and grafted them. I shall soon have apples here though not before another sumer I dont expect. I want you should save me some grass seeed red top I want. You will find it in James lots. I want about a quart if you can possably find it and send it by Father and send me some white clover seed if you can get it. I have not got in to my house yet. I could not get lumber till last week. I shall get into it this week I think. I am building a log house. That is the custom of this country. I have sold my mare and I think I shall sell the horse tomorrow. There is a man wants him. The people are all well here that you know any thing about except the Austins people. Mr Austin an Ben have the ague this spring. Mr Crane and his wife have been here to day. Give my respects to all the folk in Covington that say any thing about me. Tell Marion[6] I have her letter she sent me and was glad to see it. I should write to some of the rest but I send it by Mr Tubs and dont want to load him down with letters. Tell mother[7] she will have to live between Jesse and Martin Turner[8] when she comes to Comstock. I cant think of any more this time so good by. Write to me the first oppertunity.

Sunday afternoon Jun 1st 1834

Yours &c[9] Harvey Keith

[to] Luke Keith Jr

Alfleda[10] say there is some pretty girls and you had best come out here and see them. There is one girl coming here this fall that has got _____ acres of land lying close to mine and perhaps you might get you a farm verry easy. He name is Alvira Tubs.

H Keith


[1] Charles Luke Keith Jr., referred to, and better known, as Luke, was 20 years old at the time

[2] Covington, New York

[3] Charles Luke Keith Sr., also known as Luke

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

[5] Catherine’s husband, Ethan Bradley

[6] Perhaps he is refering to Marion Wolcott, their first cousin, who also lived in Covington, and was nine years old at the time. They were all grandchildren of Jesse and Katherine (Beal) Willcutt Jr.

[7] Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

[8] Brothers Jesse and Martin Turner were also grandchildren of Jesse and Katherine (Beal) Willcutt Jr.

[9] Etc.

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