1874 Letters

July 26, 1874 letter to Frank Tomlinson from Ethan Keith

July 26, 1874

To: Frank Tomlinson

From: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

Had some rain yesterday and again this morning, the first in over four weeks. He is afraid the corn and potatoes will be a light crop. Henry Brown was in Chicago at the time of the fire of July 14. Both Lois and Kate have had babies.

Scan of 1874-07-26 Ethan Keith to Frank Tomlinson

Galesburg July 26th 1874

Cousin Frank,

Yours of the 5th came to hand in due time concluded you was waiting to get a good ready before writeing to me.

We had a fine shower yesterday & another one this morning, the first we have had in over four weeks, crops had about dried up. I am afraid corn & potatoes will be a light crop, it was so dry corn could not set. About half of our early corn in the garden is dead.

Wheat & most of the Oats was harvested without any rain on them. Wheat ripened very fast. Most of it around here was cut in fore part of the day before it got to shelling very bad then draw in the rest of the day.

Mr Flanders[1] bought a Massilon harvester, two men ride on the machine & do the binding, they have a canvas over the driver & binders so it is very comfortable for them.

Eugene Crawford[2] was here a few weeks ago he has been down in western N.Y. with the Supt of the Novelty Iron works selling a patent Sash balance. The Novelty works is not running now on account of the hard times. So the Supt & Eugene started out with the Patent right but they did not make much. Eugene is in Chicago Conducter on a Street car now. He said he was in Leroy & Batavia[3] two weeks, said he would have made you a call if he had known where you lived. You see by this I am not on the R.R. as I expected to be. The reason I did not get a position was on account of the hard times the Company did not do the business they expected to do. It is just my luck so I am not very much disappointed.

Hannah[4] came home yesterday to make a short visit. She likes her business[5] real well. Henry Brown[6] was in Chicago at the time of the fire[7] attending a Photographers Convention. He says it was the grandest sight he ever saw & yet it was hard to see so much property destroyed. Said the streets were crowded with people & most of them crying. There they would have to stand & see all had burnt to the ground. Pa & Ma[8] are down to Aunt Katies[9] to day. Aunt Alfleda[10] has gone to Kalamazoo a visiting at her brother Orsons.[11] Lois[12] has got a little girl[13] it was born the 14th of June.

Kate Chafee[14] has a little girl[15] also. Write soon as convenient. Love to all.

Yours &c[16]

E. B. Keith


[1] Neighbor, Joseph Flanders

[2] His maternal first cousin

[3] New York

[4] His sister, Hannah Keith

[5] Hannah was a seamstress

[6] His brother-in-law, Henry Brown

[7] From Wikipedia: Not to be confused with the Great Chicago Fire … The Chicago Fire of 1874 took place on July 14. Reports of the extent of the damage vary somewhat, but sources generally agree that the fire burned 47 acres just south of the Loop, destroyed 812 structures and killed 20 people. July 14 was a hot day in the city, with a temperature above 90°F. The weather had been dry for weeks, with only one day recording more than a trace of rain since early June. It was these circumstances, along with a “strong prairie wind” blowing from the southwest, that made the 1874 fire similar to the 1871 fire.

[8] Charles Luke Keith Jr. and Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[9] Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee

[10] Alfleda (Starr) Keith, the widow of Ethan’s Uncle Harvey Keith; Alfleda was living with Luke & Sarah Keith

[11] Orson Starr

[12] His half-sister, Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner

[13] Ina Mary Skinner

[14] His paternal first cousin, Frances Catherine “Kate” (Keith) Chaffee

[15] Mabel Chaffee, born June 5, 1874

[16] Etc.

*Thanks to Leigh Terrass, great-granddaughter of John Frank Tomlinson, for sharing this letter with me and allowing me to post it. In order to keep the letters chronological in the https://lettersfromthe1860s.wordpress.com/ blog post, it was given a posting date of 07-28-2018 even though it wasn’t until September of 2021 that I received the letters from Leigh

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