1876 Letters

September 15, 1876 letter to Frank Tomlinson from Ethan Keith

September 15, 1876

To: Frank Tomlinson

From: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

Has a job with the Kalamazoo Valley Agricultural Works making pulleys & patterns for castings. The iron works in Lawton which employed 300 men has closed for a while and that “just about kills the place.” Nancy and Hannah are coming home to spend the winter and Henry and Grandma are going to Chicago.

Scan of 1876-09-15 Ethan Keith to Frank Tomlinson

Galesburg Sep 15, 1876

Cousin Frank,

Pa & Ma[1] have gone down to Mr Browns[2] this evening and left Aunt Alfleda[3] & me alone so I thought it would be a good time to answer your letter. I am to work for the Kalamazoo Valley Agricultural Works. Have been for the past week & will work for them until they get their cider mill ready to run, which will take another week I think. I am doing light work makeing pulleys & patterns for castings. I have not been very well lately, dont feel as well as I did last fall, guess well never amount to much. We did not try the binder.[4] My calculations for cutting the wire did not work to our satisfaction so before I could change that first it was too late. We have set the machine up in the shop & will try it there when it is ready. We can run it by the power.

Nancy & Hannah[5] are comeing home tomorrow to stay this winter & Henry[6] is agoing to Chicago as conductor on a street car. The iron works in Lawton has closed up business for a while so it makes it pretty dull with the hard times. That made busines for about three hundred men & stopping that business just about kills the place. Grandma[7] is agoing to Chicago with Henry. She talks some of staying there this winter. We are haveing very wet weather. It is putting a good many back about their seeding. Corn & potatoes are a light crop most of the corn is cut. Apples are pleanty. Mrs Skinner & Sate[8] talks of going out to their farm to live this winter. Dont know how Henry[9] will stand it. Should think Mrs Gaffney was rather slow about getting around. Nellie[10] is probably very anxious to see her. Say to Nellie that if she would like some slugs & milk to come out. Now about my comeing down to your place this fall. I should like to first rate if I was well enough but as I am I could not earn my salt. If I was well nothing would suit me better than to come & work for you this fall, but I shall have to wait until I am better than I am now. I am very much obliged to you for your kind offer. We have not heard from aunt Katie[11] this week. The last time our folks was there aunt Katies eyes was troubleing her a good deal. Pa, Ma & aunt Katie was intending to go out to Joe Yorks[12] this week but I guess they will wait until next week now. Love to all. Write soon.

Yours &c[13]

E. B. Keith


[1] Charles Luke Keith Jr. & Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[2] Ambrose Brown, the father-in-law of Ethan’s sister, Nancy

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

[4] Ethan was working on inventing a “platform grain binder” which was later patented on August 1, 1881

[5] His sisters, Nancy (Keith) Brown and Hannah Keith

[6] Nancy’s husband, Henry Brown

[7] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts. She stayed with her son, Hiram Crawford Jr., and his family while in Chicago

[8] Sarah (Knight) Skinner and her daughter, Sarah “Sate” Skinner. They were the mother-in-law and sister-in-law of Ethan’s half-sister, Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner

[9] His half-brother, Henry Keith

[10] Frank’s sister, Nellie Tomlinson

[11] Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee

[12] Joseph York was the husband of Aunt Katie’s daughter, Helen (Bradley) York

[13] 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 09-27-2018 even though it wasn’t until September of 2021 that I received the letters from Leigh

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