1866 Letters

March 28, 1866 letter to Frank Tomlinson from Henry Keith

March 28, 1866

To: Frank Tomlinson

From: Henry Keith, Comstock, MI

Couldn’t understand why he hadn’t received an answer to the letters he had written until he saw a notice in the local paper that there was a letter waiting for him at the post office. He was presently working with 12 head of cattle, 7 horses and about 125 sheep which had to be fed three times a day, keeping him very busy. Mr. Flanders thinks he should go to a business college or commercial school and offered to pay for it. Would like Frank’s father’s advice as to what he should do.

Scan of 1866-03-28 Henry Keith to Frank Tomlinson

Comstock March 28th 66

Cousin Frank

I believe you were not the last one I wrote to therefore you come first on the list now. The great mystery to me, why I did not get an answer to the letters that I wrote to your Father Mother and Aunt Patty[1] is at last explained. Our last weeks Kalamazoo paper had a letter advertised in it for H. L. Keith and I got it yesterday. It was from your mother and I was glad to get it I assure you. Tell Aunt that I thank her very much for that photo and that I will forward the one for Lois[2] the next time I write to her.

I received a letter from Nellie[3] last Saturday. It was just such a letter as I like to read. I shall expect more from her just as good. My next letter will be to your mother and then the next to Nellie. I have not been down home since last Wednesday. That is a good while to stay away but I expect to go before many days. I have been right at home all the time since I got back. Well it takes me all the while to do chores and it is all I have to do and it is enough for one. We have 12 head of cattle 7 horses (5 working horses) about 125 sheep to take care of. They have to be fed three times a day. That keeps me pretty well employed. I have some time it is told[?] but then I can find enough else to do. Your Father wished me to let you know what I proposed doing. Well I have talked of several things. I tryed to get into a jewelry shop as I wrote you before but could not. I then thought of going to the oil region talked of going on the lake. I wrote to Buffalo to get a birth but do not no yet whether I shall be successful or not. Mr Flanders[4] thinks I had better go to school next fall stay at home this summer and then go to a buisness colledge (or commercial school). He will furnish me with the greenbacks to go with. I think it will be the best thing I can do. This is an offer that I did not expect. Tell your father I want to know which he thinks I had better do. We are having cold wet nasty weather. It stormed here for 13 days in succession, snowed some rained some and cold all the while; write soon. Good night.



[1] George & Marion (Sprague) Tomlinson and Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague

[2] His sister, Lois (Keith) Clark

[3] Frank’s sister, Nellie Tomlinson

[4] Joseph Flanders. After Henry’s mother, Minerva (Payson) Keith died, Joseph and Amanda (Hobbs) Flanders cared for him for a period of time. The Flanders raised Henry even after Henry’s father, Charles Luke Keith Jr., married his third wife, Sarah (Crawford) Keith. The Flanders wanted to adopt Henry but Luke said no; however, it looks like Henry lived with them throughout his youth. This seems to be corroborated by the 1860 census showing “Henry L Flanders,” age 16, (who it is actually believed to be Henry L. Keith), living with Joseph & Amanda

[5] Henry’s initials backwards

Thanks to Leigh Terrass, great-granddaughter of John Frank Tomlinson, for sharing this letter with me and allowing me to post it.

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