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.

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 FindAGrave.com 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

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.

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

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.

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

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.


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

June 14, 1851 letter to Luke Keith from Marion Tomlinson

June 14, 1851

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Galesburg, MI

From: George Tomlinson, Port Washington, WI

Marion is leaving for Michigan on Monday night and George would like someone to meet her at the depot.

Port Washington June 14, 1851

Luke C. Keith, Esq.

Marion[1] behaves so I start her to Michigan. She expects to start from here Monday night next the (16th inst). If nothing happens she will be at Galesburg on the Wednesday morning train. I suppose the boats and trains run in connection so there will be no delay – if there should happen to be a delay she may not arrive till night. If any thing happens here so she does not start Monday I will write again. As she will be alone I hope it will be convenient for you to meet her at the Depot.

Marion will give you the news.

Truly yours

Geo. Tomlinson

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

May 2, 1851 letter to Luke Keith from Marion Tomlinson

May 2, 1851

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr.

From: George Tomlinson, Port Washington, WI

She left Pavilion April 14th and arrived in Port Washington on the 18th, passing by his place on the 16th. She was upset that they could not stop; she could see the big hill by Grandpa’s and imagined she saw Uncle Harvey’s house. She expected Luke to meet her at Galesburg to take the birds, but Julius left them with Mr. Cothran. Gave Luke a list of the food he should feed to the chickens. The mill is growing rapidly and George expects to have it in running order by September. He will have to stay at least until July and she will start for home three or four weeks before he leaves.

Port Washington, May 2, 1851

Uncle Luke,

That long talked of brood of chickens is hatched – now I can count them. Well, here I am, away up in Wis. a great way from home, I know, but can hardly realize it. I started from Pavilion[1] the 14 of Apr. at three in the morning & arrived at Buffalo about eight. No boat for Detroit that day, so we were obliged to wait till the next morning, went on board the Atlantic, had a fine time getting to Detroit, arived the morning of the 16th, that night at ten oclock were in New Buffalo. We passed your place about sundown, it was real provoking that I could not stop. I could see the big hill there by Grandpas[2] and I imagined I saw Uncle Harveys[3] house. I expected you would meet me at the burgh,[4] and take the birds. Julius went out and looked about for you, and not finding you left them with Mr Cothran.[5] He promised to take good care of them and send them to you in a day or two. Now I want to know whether you got them, and how they act – they were almost frightened to death before I left them. The brown headed one, we called dick, the other fanny & if you do not like the names, find better. Give them plenty of bread and milk, and all kinds of seeds, such as turnips, cabbage, lettuce, mustard, hemp &c &c – they love wheat if you soften it. They are fond of dandelion blows, mustard blows, and I think they would like cowslip blows, you can try them. As soon as you recieve this, I want you to answer it mind that you do not put it off. Now I will finish my journey. Well, we started from NB at midnight, the next night slept in Milwaukie and the next morning at ten oclock, (Friday the 18th) we were in Port Was. Found Geo[6] well, and covered from head to foot, with mud and mortar. The mill is growing rapidly. They expect to have it in runing order, the first of september. Geo will be obliged to stay here till July, certain, perhaps longer. I shall start for Michigan three or four weeks before he is ready to start for home. Your Mother Payson[7] want you to get her some money, if you can, and send by Geo. Her health was as good as usual. Our folks were well when I left home. Mary Knapp will live there this summer, take in sewing and help mother. If you know any thing about Mr Anderson folks, I wish you would tell it. They do not let the people in Pavilion know any thing about them. Mother thinks you had better let Lois[8] go home with us if her grandmother does not come to Mich this summer, the old lady wants to see the children[9] so, that she can hardly content herself. Give my respects to all and when I come I will tell a thousand things that I have not time or room or patience to write. It is very cold weather here, yesterday the ground was covered with snow, and it is not gone yet, at six oclock, evening. Harriet is all ready for a walk down town, and she will not like to wait.

Do not put off writing.


[The following was written by George Tomlinson]

Marion has left a little space. My work has been hard and by no means near done, but I hope to get this business in a shape to leave it by July. Our walls are up to the windows on the low floor. I have no rooms to brag of _____ corn but if you want to see a real badger just ride on this way. Remember me to the friends – particulary the old people. I hope to see you all on my return.


[1] Pavilion, New York

[2] Luke’s father, Charles Luke Keith Sr.

[3] Luke’s brother, Harvey Keith

[4] Galesburg, Michigan

[5] Mr. Cothran was the freight agent at Galesburg

[6] Marion’s husband, George Tomlinson

[7] Mother of Luke’s first wife, Minerva (Payson) Keith. Believe her first name was Lois; investigation continues

[8] Luke’s daughter, Lois Keith

[9] Lois, and Henry, Luke’s son

April 7, 1851 letter to Luke Keith from Marion Tomlinson

April 7, 1851

To: Charles Luke Keith Jr., Galesburg, MI

From: Marion S Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

Expects to leave Buffalo next week and would like someone to meet her to “take the birds.” George will have to stay in Wisconsin for July and perhaps till August so she can make them a long visit. Wants Luke to make some arrangements about the birds so she can leave them if he is not there. Mother Payson feels bad because Luke does not write to her.

Pavilion April 7, 1851

Uncle Luke,[1]

I write to inform you that I start for Wisconsin one week from to day. I go with Julius and his wife, but cannot stop to visit you. We expect to leave Buffalo in the evening, so you must make your own calculations about what time I will be at your place, and you, or some of the rest must meet me there to take the birds, for I shall bring them. Geo[2] will have to stay in Wis. till July, and perhaps till August. I shall start for home before he does, so as to make you a long visit. Make some arrangements about the birds so that I can leave them if you are not there, that is, if you can. Dean is waiting to carry this to the office and he is in a hurry. We are all well. Your mother Payson[3] feels bad because you do not write to her. Give my respects to all the friends.

Marion S. Tomlinson

[1] Luke’s sister, Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague was Marion’s mother

[2] Marion’s husband, George Tomlinson

[3] Mother of Luke’s first wife, Minerva (Payson) Keith. Believe her first name was Lois; investigation 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.

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