1885 Letters · Harvey Keith's Murder

December 14, 1885 letter to Oscar Keith from Louese Harris

December 14, 1885 

To: Oscar Keith

From: Louese Harris, Shelbyville, MI

Letter of sympathy regarding Harvey’s death. She has seen Mrs. Cramer but not Mrs. Andrews whom she expects to come into the store in a day or two when she will ask her what she has to say about the case. She will then write back to him immediately.


Shelbyville Dec 14 /85

Dear Cousin Oscar[1]

I rec’d your letter Thursday evening. Have seen Mrs Cramer but no Mrs Andrews (the woman that told Mrs Cramer the story concerning Harvey’s Death).[2] Mrs Andrews does her trading[?] here at the store[3] and will probably be here in a day or so but if she is not I will go and see her so that I can let you know what she has to say about the case probably by the last of the week. I will help you all I can and hope that what little I do find out from her will be of much benefit to you.

I sympathize with you in this your great sorrow and would do or say any thing to comfort you and Mary[4] if it were possible but words and deeds are useless in your case, they could never heal the wounds. I wish you & Mary could have made me a visit while you were out would like to have seen you and heard from you the story of poor Harveys fate, such a terrible thing. Why was it to be so? As Mrs Rawson said why could not it have been some one deserving such a fate than an honest upright young man like Harvey beloved by all no one knowing aught against him.

It is nearly mail time and I must close hoping this will reach you safe. Will write immediately after seeing Mrs Andrews.

Yours with Love

Lou Harris


[1] James “Oscar” Keith

[2] Oscar & Mary’s son, Harvey R. Keith, who was murdered July 28, 1885

[3] Louese’s husband, D. Harris, ran a general store in Shelbyville, Michigan

[4] Oscar’s wife, Mary Ann (Batey) Keith


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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