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.

March 9, 1855 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

March 9, 1855

To: Luke Keith

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

The bargain he had with his cousin to go in with on the land has fallen through. He then gives explicit directions on what he would like Luke to do as far as planting, what to do with the timber and manure, and the possibility of building a barn.

Scan of 1855-03-09 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion           March 9, 1855

C. L. Keith, Esq.

The bargain I made with my cousin for going on to that land has fell through. He backed out of the contract & I thought best to let him go for what he will fetch.

I now want to let out the land to some one. The deacon[1] suggests that Oscar has team enough to put in what land wants to be put into wheat & perhaps spring crops. See him & see how he feels about it. He has written to me to by that point of land. I shall write him in a few days. I would let out the house for a year to some small family or the house & land to the same person.

I want what wood you have chopped down cut into & cords as we have before talkd.

What will you ask to put up a barn as you proposed before you sold? I think you might turn some of your accts into labor.

I want a barn put up the next summer if I can get it & turn the wheat to pay for it so far as it will go. If you cant tend to the barn busniss consult some mechanic & find what they will take timber that is there, plank &c and find evry thing else necessary to put up a barn after the plan you proposed and compelte it. If I dont get a barn built I want the timber hewed so it will not spoil & piled up so it will not warp or rot.

If you can attend to putting up a barn I had rather you would If it can be done so as not to cost too much.

I will sell the farm for $3,000 you may offer it for sail for that price but in the mean time may let it as I have suggested above. I dont care much about selling it – had rather keep it if I can get some good man to work it.

I want the manure drawn on the orchard & planted to corn to be followed by wheat & seeded down. That eight acre lot most of the wheat lot put into corn or plowed & sown to wheat & that 12 acre lot plowed & put into wheat.

If Oscar wants to take it I rather he would – If not some other one.

Write the prospects. Where are those men that you wrote about wanting to take the land?

We are all well. The Deacon has gone to Attica to get his teeth fixed.

James Arteys wife was buried a few days ago. Aunt Lois is as well as usual. She talks of going to Mich to live with Paul.


Geo. Tomlinson[2]


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

[2] Not much is known about the people mentioned in this letter; research continues

June 16, 1850 letter to Luke Keith from James Sprague Jr.

June 16, 1850

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: James Sprague, Jr., Pavilion, NY

Will have to give up buying the farm as he doesn’t have the means. Martha and the children would rather stay where they are, so they will stay there until they have an opportunity to sell. The body of Mr. Chilson, who drowned in the Genesee River, was found yesterday and buried today. There is a new species of fly that looks like a honeybee but is a size smaller. It is something they haven’t seen before.

Scan of 1850-06-16 James Sprague to Luke Keith

Pavilion June 16 1850[1]

We receved your letter dated June 8 which found us all well. In relation to the farm we shall have to give up buying it for the want of means. I should like to buy the farm if we could sell the shop. There is no chance to sell as we know of. Martha[2] & the children[3] think they had rather stay here then sell & come there. We had a chance to sell the farm last winter & dont know but we could now. I dont know as it would be best if I could. We can get a living here if we work all of the time. We will try to stay here untill we have an opportunity to sell & then we will buy if an oportunity offers to suit. We will make you no more trouble about the Farm. Wheat looks extrordinary well genarally Spring crops or backward but the prospects is good for good crops. Wheat is worth about $1.50 pr bush corn five shillings. Mr Chilson[4] that was drounded in the Genesee River was found yesterday and buried him to day. Charles Anderson has been to Rochester and bought him a farm. He starts back to morrow. I send this by him. Marion[5] rote to some of you the other day. I suppose she told you the news – there is a new species of Fly among us that is quite numerous. It loks considerable like the honey bee a sise smaller & more yellow. It is said by some to be the W__ole Fly. It is something we have not seen before.

James Sprague Jr.


[1] It appears that someone added “James Sprague, June 16-1858” on the envelope part of the letter; however, from the contents of the letter it is clear that it was written in 1850

[2] His wife, and Luke’s sister, Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague

[3] Assuming he is referring to his daughter and son-in-law, Marion and George Tomlinson, since she was his only living child and they all lived together

[4] A search of FindAGrave.com shows that Alva Chilson, aged 26, drowned in the Genesee River on November 8, 1849 and that his body wasn’t found until June 18, 1850. Since this letter is dated June 16, 1850 it would appear that his body was actually found on June 15

[5] His daughter, Marion (Sprague) Tomlinson

May 13, 1841 letter to Charles Luke Keith Jr. from Marion Sprague

May 13, 1841

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Galesburg, MI

From: Marion Sprague, Pavilion, NY

Is replying to Luke’s request for an update on “all the gals and boys” and relates the recent marriages and deaths in the area. She went to school in Leroy and boarded with Mrs. Belding, the teacher.

Scan of 1841-05-13 Marion Sprague to Charles Luke Keith

Pavilion, May 13, 1841

Mr Keith

We ****ing[1] good health, cold weather, and a plenty of water besides a great many other good things. You ask me to write about all the gals and boys but it would take me from now till next winter to write about them all but I will begin. Altherd goes to see Juliet once in a while and they say he is stepping up and Peter Coon walks up to Uncle Amos’es pretty often and poor lib and I cant get any beaue,s. Captain Crofoot comes here once in a while and Mother[2] says he comes to see me but he will come here and stay two hours upon the streach, and not so much as ask if I am at home, and if that looks like coming to see me, I dont know what looks like coming to see Mother, and I made him angry the other day too, and she is dreadful fraid he wont come again. Mr Belding and his family have moved to Rochester. Eliza came up last saturday she sais they are very home sick. I presume you have heard that George Mathews is married to Betsey Hannun.[3] If you have not you will now. Sylvenus is keeping company with Louisa but I dont know whether it will be a match or not. Gid Crofoot kept company with Bird all last winter and Eliza told me that he staid there as often as twice a week besides being there almost every day. High times for a girl 16 last March I reckon. I went to school to Mrs Belding in Leroy last winter. She had a small school only six schollars besides her own children, the three Miss Sweetland’s from Stafford, the two Miss Freeman’s from Bethany and myself. We had a very pleasant school. I enjoyed myself first rate and was not homesick a bit. I boarded with Mrs Belding. They had five boarders besides. I have not danced a step since last October and I have not been a visiting with **** young people but three times since that time. I wish **** come and see us to day for we look real slick. We took up our carpet yesterday and scoured our floor and swept the wall so it looks almost as slick as though it had been whitewashed but it made my arms so lame that I cant hardly use them and my hand trembles so that I can scarcely write at all but what you cant read you must guess at. Married by the Rev Mr ______ Mr Julius Hurlburt of Moscow to Wife Dorothy Innis[4] of this place. Also by the Rev Mr Kelsey Mr Simeon Church to Miss Eliza Hubbard[5] all of this place. Adaline is teaching school at Ronoke this summer and Betsey at Bayleys Mills. Harriet Scranton was here last Friday. She has not got married yet and George Tomlinson[6] says she is not like to be, but she says never mind time enough yet. Jason Miller is attending school in Wyoming this summer. John Hasey is in your part of the world somewhere. They expect him home in June.

Asels folks have got a boy. Aunt Lou will tell you about it when she comes. Samantha’s health is very poor. Jerushe[7] was at meeting last sunday. She said she was well but she looked pale and has a very bad cough. There are a great many people sick in this place this spring with the meazles. There were three funerals here last sunday one at the school house on the hill at ten oclock a boy of Mr Forbes died of the meazles and scarlet fever, two at the Babtist meeting house at three oclock Mr Bisby’s[8] youngest boy died of the meazles and Mrs Gillmore.[9] She had been sick several weeks with the dropsy but she had got better so that she sat up considerable. Thursday morning she sat up and dressed her babe. Friday morning she had a ****ack of the numb palsy and died saturday about noon. ****ore drinks as bad as ever. To day is Thursday and he has been drunk two days this week already. Where he gets his liquor I dont know for there is no one in the place that will let him have any. Mariah Barret was buried two weeks ago last sunday. She had the consumption. There has been five buried in this yard within one month. The Methodist meeting house has been moved into this place. It stands where the old wagon shop stood. Mr Coburn has bought the house that stood up near Mr Chilsons and moved it onto the corner of Mr Sanders lot. Pa[10] has set out a row of maple trees from the farm to Mr Whitney’s about six feet from the fence. When they grow I expect they will look very nice. I guess I have written all the news. I dont think of any more. O yes Robert Snow preached in this place all day last sunday. What under the sun has become of your gal. We have made up our minds that you have thrown it away or that it dont know much for you dont never say any thing about it. Now if you dont write me a letter to pay for this I never will write you another now you see if I do. Tell katy I should like to have her write me a letter and tell grandma[11] that I have got to be very steady and they all say that I shall be an old maid. Give my love to all the folks and write about Jane, Caroline, Harvey and all the children and all the rest of the folks.

Good by



[1] **** indicates missing word/s due to a hole in the pages

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

[3] A search of Ancestry.com reveals that George L. Matthews married Elizabeth or Libbie Hannum in Dubuque, Iowa on December 3, 1840

[4] A search of Ancestry.com reveals that Julius Hurlburt married Dorothy Annis March 4, 1839 in Warsaw, New York

[5] A search of Ancestry.com reveals that Simeon Church married Eliza Hubbard on April 4, 1841 in Covington, New York

[6] Marion’s future husband; they married on April 6, 1845

[7] Perhaps this is Jerusha Crittenden. Luke was engaged to her; 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

[8] A search of Ancestry.com reveals that John Bisbey, age 7, died May 8, 1841, in Pavilion, Genesee County, New York

[9] A search of FindAGrave.com reveals that Mehitable (Smead) Gilmore, age 33, the wife of William Gilmore, died May 8, 1841, and is buried in Pavilion Cemetery, Pavilion, New York

[10] James Sprague Jr.

[11] Hannah (Willcutt) Keith, Luke’s mother

November 15, 1839 letter to Charles Luke Keith Jr. from James Sprague Jr.

November 15, 1839

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Galesburg, MI

From: James Sprague Jr., Pavilion, NY

Mentions Luke’s wife, Minerva. Talks about times being hard. Wants to know how much Luke got cheated out of by selling his mare. Dan’s girl was buried four weeks ago.

Scan of 1839-11-15 J Sprague to Charles Luke Keith Jr

Pavilion Nov 15 1839

Sir we have not herd from you except by Minerva[1]. We expected a letter from you before this – the rest of the folks we have given up there writing. We are all well. It is the hardest time for Money we ever knew. I paid W. M. Sprague[2] thirty four dollars & had the same indorsed on your Note. William was some dissatisfied. He said he expected from the conversation that he had with you that I would give my Note & take up yours. You said nothing to me about it. He talked of writing to you on the subject – I dont know if he has or not. The cloth I left with Father[3] sell if it will sell for ten shillings pr yard more if it is worth it. Dans[4] girl was buried 4 weeks to morrow. We expect to send by Mr Austin some yarn to keep Catherines[5] feet warm. Give our respects to all.

J Sprague Jr[6]

I understand by Mrs Payson you had to swap away the old mare. I should like to know how much you got cheated. I am verry sorry you went with a horse & waggon. Had I have known your circumstances before buying the horse as I have since I should have advised you differently but it is no use to cry for spilt milk.

In haste

J Sprague Jr


[1] Luke’s wife, Minerva (Payson) Keith

[2] Believe this to be his brother, William Sprague

[3] James Sprague Sr.

[4] His brother, Dan Sprague

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

[6] James Sprague Jr.