1875 Letters

October 17, 1875 letter to Frank Tomlinson from Ethan Keith

October 17, 1875

To: Frank Tomlinson

From: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

Writes about a robbery at the County House and Mr. Hopkins. Also an update on George Ives’ drill-tooth invention.

Scan of 1875-10-17 Ethan Keith to Frank Tomlinson

Galesburg Oct 17 1875

Cousin Frank

It is over a month since I received your letter & guess it is about time it was answered. Should have written before but as Nellie[1] was writeing every few days I thought she would write all the news. Our folks have all gone down to Mr Browns[2] this evening & left Aunt Alfleda[3] & me to take care of the house, (two brave persons). Week ago last night two men broke into the County house & got about twenty dollars & from there they went to Mr Hopkins[4] & got about ninety dollars. The first the keeper of the County house[5] knew of their being in the house they spoke to him & wanted him to get up & get them his money. They stood over him with a revolver at his head & a knife over his breast. While he was getting the money for them his wife[6] managed to get out of bed & get past them out into the hall then she closed the door & held it so they could not get out until until they kicked the pannels out.

There was two hired men sleeping in a room just across the hall but she could not get them to come & help her. They could not find a match to light their lamp with so they did not dare to come out.

Pa[7] carried Aunt Patty[8] down to Aunt Katies[9] last Wednesday afternoon. Before they went down there Pa went over to the Burg & got a letter for Aunt Patty, so she wanted me to tell you that she had got a letter from you, that she was well & she & Aunt Katie was agoing to start for Vicksburg the next morning & would stay until Saturday. We have not heard from Nellie since she went to Allegan but I presume Aunt Patty has had a letter from her before this time. We would like it first rate if you was here to visit with us while Nellie was here. Henry[10] called here a few minutes this evening he was on his way up to his Sisters.[11] He is agoing to help Dell[12] husk his corn.

Henry & his partner keeps at their Drill-tooth. They have got one patented but they have got one a considerable better than that so they will have to get another patent. I presume they will make a drill before they get through with it. Ives has got an idea of a force feed that he thinks is as good as any they have got. Their new tooth works well & it seems as though it ought to be worth something. I will take back what I said about Nellies not writing. Hannah[13] says that there was a Postal at Aunt Katies for Aunt Patty when she got there Wednesday night. All well as usual.

E. B. Keith


[1] Frank’s sister, Nellie Tomlinson

[2] Ambrose Brown, a neighbor and the father-in-law of Ethan’s sister, Nancy (Keith) Brown

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

[4] James Hopkins (see 1875-10-11 Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph from the October 11, 1875 Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, p.4)

[5] Peter S. Carmer (see scan of newspaper article from the October 11, 1875 Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, p.4)

[6] Elsie Carmer

[7] Charles Luke Keith Jr.

[8] Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague, Frank’s maternal grandmother

[9] Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee

[10] His half-brother, Henry Keith

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

[12] Lois’ husband, Adelbert Skinner

[13] His sister, Hannah Keith

*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 08-25-2018 even though it wasn’t until September of 2021 that I received the letters from Leigh

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