1885 Letters · Harvey Keith's Murder

August 17, 1885 letter to James & Mary Ann Keith from Emily Geeslin

August 17, 1885

To: Oscar & Mary Ann Keith

From: Emily Geeslin, Wyattville, MN

Another letter of sympathy regarding the murder of their son.

Wyattville Wenona Co Minnesota

August the 17 1885

Mr Keith and friends

Esteemed Friends it with a sadness that I answer your letter that we received last saturday. We had sene the death of harvey Keath[1] in the paper but hoped that it was not him until we received your letter and the terable news. We Sincerely Mourn his loose for we thought of him as one of the family.[2] He was one of the finest young men we ever saw the Children[3] thought so much of him and when the sad news reached us it seamed terable and seemed allmost impossible. His death throws a Gloom over all of the neighberhood for Harvey had a great menny friends and true ones. It was all mos as though he had been one of our family. My little boy[4] Say tell you he loves Harvey. His death is terable. How Could it been so for one so innosent and so god and kind had he such enmes there. Every one that new him here Loved him. He was one of the kindest young men I ever knew.

I hardly know how to express Our feeling for you in your Bereavement and his death that come in Such away it must seam all most Imposable to endure. I hope they will met Justice. I am shure they would if he could be given up to some of his friends here. I am writing this in the deepest sympathy for you. I suppose as Harvey is no more we must think of him in the land of the land of the happy where no murder is committed and he is at rest for I think he is there. I hope we all Shall meet Harvey in the land of the blesst where sorrow and morning shall bee no more. I write this letter to you in answer to your letter to my Husband[5] as he is away thrashing and your letter we recieved one from Charley Patterson soon after yours telling the sad news. It is terable news. Mr Geeslin says tell you he will write soon. I am writing to you Sorrowing and hart broken Friends with Sympathy of my hole family and a large Circle of loving Friends. I will Close hoping to hear from you soon. I remaine as ever a friend of Harveys and I well wishes of the hole family.

We must put our trust in him who doeth all things well. Excuse poor writing and spelling. May the Lord bee your friend.

Mrs Emily Geeslin

Write soon and all of the particulars.


[1] Their son, Harvey R. Keith, was murdered on July 28, 1885

[2] Harvey apparently lived with the Geeslin family while working for Mr. Geeslin (See April 5, 1884 letter)

[3] Jennie, Ada, Jessie and Earl Geeslin

[4] Earl was 4 years old

[5] John Geeslin

This letter is among several which were loaned to Jim & Ruth (Stankey) Keith, probably back in the 1980s, by Ella Nola (Curtis) Eaton, whose husband, Clifford Eaton, was the great-great-grandson of James “Oscar” & Mary Ann (Batey) Keith. This is a photocopy of Ruth’s handwritten copy of the letter. Note: Jim Keith is the great-grandson of Charles Luke Keith Jr., who was James “Oscar” Keith’s uncle.

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