February 21, 1855 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

February 21, 1855

To: Luke Keith

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

Is sending a note against Charles Anderson for $100.00 for the farm. Aunt Patty wants to know if and when Lois is coming.

Scan of 1855-02-21 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion           Feb. 21, 1855

C. L. Keith, Esq.

Enclosed please find a note against Charles Anderson for $100 on which is due the principal and int. at 10 per ct from date. If your Father[1] wants more I will send it. I think there is a poor sight for wood chopping just now. If you can get any one to chop handily do so if not let it go. My cousin takes possession the first of April so I am not so particular about it. When I see him again I will learn his calculations & advise you.

Do you have any offer for the place? Aunt Patty[2] says ask Luke if Lois[3] is coming down here this spring and have him write right off. If she is coming she wants to know it – if not she wants to know – she adds have her come without fail.

We are totally well. Marian[4] is a little out of health, but is now getting better – will be around again in a few days we think.

What do you mean by saying “Hellens Walter is dead”? who is or wasWalter“?

Write about Lois the same day you get this so say Aunt Patty.

We are having fair winter weather – good sleighing.


Geo. Tomlinson


[1] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[2] George’s mother-in-law, Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague

[3] Lois Keith, Luke’s daughter by his first wife, Minerva Payson

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

February 1, 1855 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

February 1, 1955

To: Luke Keith

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

George and his cousin have agreed to rent Luke’s farm for ten years. His cousin has a farm and so won’t be able to get there before August. Aunt Patty wants Lois to come and stay with her for at least a year if not longer.

Scan of 1855-02-01 George Tomlinson to Luke Keith

Pavilion           Feb. 1. 1855

L. C. Keith

I have agreed with my cousin to go on to your farm if you have not sold it or bargained it away. If you have made no sale – take down the board – If all goes as I expect the farm is let for 10 years.

It may be considered strange that I dont hear any thing from you. Have you got the draft? What have you done about chopping? Can any one be got to get out the manure in the spring & plant the orchard to corn & potatoes on shares and cut the grass? Ask Oscar about it & see if he is in a condition to do it?

My Cousin has a farm on his hands here and thinks he cant get there before the first of Aug. – Have you written to me since I left? If you can get inclination on time to write call in and tell Ethan what to say. We are all well – Having winter in good earnest – roads full of snow &c.

Aunt Patty[1] hasnt called more than once because Lois[2] did not come home with me. She says tell Luke to have her ready & the first chance have her come along. I suppose she means the first chance for company. I shall look out and if I find any one going that way shall send for her – so be ready.

Aunt Patty says tell Lois to make calculations to stay a year if not longer & maybe more. I have not time to write.

Write in answer to this before you sleep.

Geo. Tomlinson


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

[2] Lois Keith, Luke’s daughter by his first wife, Minerva Payson

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

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

December 13, 1846

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Pavilion, NY

From: Harvey Keith, Comstock, MI

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

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

Comstock Dec 13th/46

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

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

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

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

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

Yours When you get it

Harvey Keith


[1] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

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

[3] Hannah (Willcutt) Keith

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

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

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

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

[8] Research continues as to “Grandma Payson”

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

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

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

March 10, 1844

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Galesburg, MI

From: J. C. Sprague, Covington, NY

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

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

March 10, 1844[1]

Mr L C Keith

Dear Sir

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

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

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

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

Your affectionately

J. C. Sprague[10]


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

[2] Possibly Lois (Sprague) Mears

[3] Stafford, New York

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

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

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

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

[8] Harvey Keith and John Wesley Keith

[9] Charles Luke Keith Sr.

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

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