1876 Letters

January 27, 1876 letter to Frank Tomlinson from Ethan Keith

January 27, 1876

To: Frank Tomlinson

From: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

General news regarding family.

Scan of 1876-01-27 Ethan Keith to Frank Tomlinson

Galesburg Jan 27, 76

Cousin Frank,

I guess I have waited as long as you did before writeing. Should have written before but Hannah[1] wrote to Nellie[2] so I thought I had better wait awhile as she would write all the news. It is a real nice day mercury at 46º seems like spring in fact is has most all winter. New Years & the day before the mercury was at 70º.

There are a good many haveing colds the weather is so changeable. Pa[3] & Jim[4] have both got hard colds. Pa & Ma[5] are down to Aunt Katies[6] they went day before yesterday. I think they are staying pretty well. Pa was agoing to do some painting on work that he done there two or three weeks ago. Henry[7] left here a little while ago for Skinners.[8] He has been repairing the lock to their front door so he had got to go up & put it on the door. Dell[9] talks of going to Indiana. If he does Henry is agoing to stay & do chores. Nancy[10] was out & made us a visit during the holidays, when she went back Hannah went with her, she expects to stay with Nancy a while & work at her trade.[11]

Thursday evening.

Our folks have got home said they were all well as usual at Aunt Katies. Ma & Aunt Katie went to Kalamazoo & made Uncle Jess Turners[12] folks a visit. Aunt Sally[13] has been haveing a real bad time with her stomach, they thought that if she had another such a spell she would not live through it. Orsin Starrs wife[14] died last week with rheumatism of the heart.

I suppose Nellie is away to school now. Uncle Charleys folks was real sorry that Aunt Patty[15] & Nellie did not come down there. I think it was too bad that Nellie did not see Busters.

Write soon.


E. B. Keith

Friday morning

I received a letter from Hannah last night saying they Nancy had got a letter from Edith Keith.[16] She said she was an old married woman, was living at home & signed her name Mrs G. W. Kellum.[17] That is all she said about it.

They are agoing to have a leap Year dance at Maple Grange Hall[18] to night. They are expecting a grand time.

Mart[19] does not hold any office in the Grange this Year.

E. B. Keith


[1] His sister, Hannah Keith

[2] Frank’s sister, Nellie Tomlinson

[3] Charles Luke Keith Jr.

[4] His younger brother, James Keith

[5] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[6] Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee

[7] His half-brother, Henry Keith

[8] Henry’s sister and husband, Lois (Keith) Clark & Adelbert Skinner

[9] Adelbert Skinner

[10] His sister, Nancy (Keith) Brown

[11] Hannah was a seamstress

[12] Jesse Turner, Ethan’s first cousin once removed, however since there was a large difference in age, he was referred to as “Uncle”

[13] Sarah “Sally” (Davis) Turner

[14] Orson Starr’s wife was Julia (Hatch) Starr but according to her death certificate she died November 30, 1899, so it is unclear who Ethan is referring to

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

[16] Edith was the daughter of John Wesley Keith, who was the adopted brother of Ethan’s father

[17] George W. Kellum

[18] From Wikipedia: The Grange, officially named The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, is a social organization in the United States that encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture. The Grange, founded after the Civil War in 1867, is the oldest American agricultural advocacy group with a national scope. The Grange actively lobbied state legislatures and Congress for political goals, such as the Granger Laws to lower rates charged by railroads, and rural free mail delivery by the Post Office. The word “grange” comes from a Latin word for grain, and is related to a “granary” or, generically, a farm.  The organization was unusual at this time, because women and any teen old enough to draw a plow (aged 14 to 16) were encouraged to participate. The importance of women was reinforced by requiring that four of the elected positions could be held only by women.

[19] Martin Milham was married to Aunt Katie’s daughter, Lucy (Lee) Milham

*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 09-15-2018 even though it wasn’t until September of 2021 that I received the letters from Leigh

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