1885 Letters · Harvey Keith's Murder

December 23, 1885 letter to Oscar & Mary Ann Keith from Louese Harris

December 23, 1885 

To: Oscar & Mary Ann Keith

From: Louese Harris, Shelbyville, MI

Relates a visit she had with Mrs. Andrews regarding events leading up to Harvey Keith’s murder.

Shelbyville Dec 23/85

Dear Cousins

I was not very well last week so could not go to see Mrs Andrews[1] should have gone Sunday any way but she came to the store Saturday and D[2] sent her up stairs to see me. She said that the last of August she and her husband[3] visited at Frank Hogmires.[4] Frank and his brother Will[5] then lived together in the same house (and I think she said the house stood on the right hand side of the road going south). Mrs Frank Hogmire[6] is a neice of Mr Sam Andrews[7] and Frank a brother of Lillian Barker.[8] She said that Mrs H- told her that on the tuesday evening that Harvey[9] was murdered he went to temperance meeting at Blomingdale. After the meeting some one heard Mrs Barker ask him to go home with her. Harvey refused on account of a storm coming up & he did not wish to get wet but she told him that her husband[10] was not there neither was he at home and she was afraid to go alone. Still he refused to go so she stepped up and took his arm and said come you can go so he went with her & was not seen alive after that. Mrs Andrews said this conversation was held on some steps she had forgotten whether it was the church or store steps. Frank Hogmire said that he believed his sister was just as much if not more to blame for Harveys death than her husband was. He said she was a very bad woman and made her brag that way that she had got seventy dollars of one man and seventy-five dollars of an other. Mrs Andrews did not know who the men were. Frank H- also said that he hoped he never would see her face again after she went to jail and that even when she bid her little children good bye the day she never shed a tear or acted as if she felt bad. Mrs Andrews said that the Hogmires and everyone around there were all down on the Barkers but recommend Harvey very highly as a model young man. After leaving my house she told Mrs Cramer that if you would go & see the Hogmires you would probably find out considerable in regard to Mrs Barker. I told it was the last of August that they visited Hogmires folks but perhaps she said the middle or last. I am not positive but can find out for certain if you wish me to. I wrote you a little over a week ago did you get the letter? If you receive this all right please let me know. I hope what little information I have given you will do you some good. After Mrs Barkers trial is over I would like to have you write and let me know about it. We take several papers & would probably see an account of it in some of them but there is always so much in a paper that is not the truth. Hoping this will find you all in good health & comfortable as can be under the circumstances. I will bid Good Night. Love to all.

From your cousin Mrs D D Harris

When you and Mary go to see Mr Rawsons folks come & make us a visit too.


[1] Believe this to be Hannah (Westover) Andrews

[2] Her husband, Daniel Harris

[3] Believe this to be Samuel E. Andrews

[4] Francis Hogmire

[5] William Hogmire. The 1880 census shows Frank, William and their younger brother, George, living with their mother, Amy (Brownell) Hogmire, in Bloomingdale, Michigan

[6] Florence (Cooley) Hogmire

[7] Sam Andrews sister was Melissa (Andrews) Cooley, Florence’s mother

[8] Lillian (Hogmire) Barker was married to Marshall Barker and was supposed to have allured Harvey Keith into her house for the purpose of blackmailing him

[9] Oscar & Mary Ann’s son, Harvey R. Keith, who was murdered by Marshall Barker on July 28, 1885

[10] Marshall Barker

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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