1887 Letters

February 26, 1887 letter to the Keith Family from Nancy Brown

February 26, 1887

To: Sarah Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Nancy Brown

Writes about how much Louese mourns for her son, Jay. Between this letter and her father Luke Keith’s diary, it appears they held a seance and contacted Jay. It is believed that Mrs. Wood was the spiritual medium, but this is just conjecture. Goes on to write that her son Claude had been sick but was better. She hopes to make a visit soon.

Saterday morning

Dear ones all,

I have wanted to write all the week but did not have any paper and Lizzie[1] & Hank[2] would forget to bring me some so this morning I wrote found[?] some. Have written to Lou[3] this morning. Got a letter from her yesterday. I feel so sorry for her. She is anxious to see Mrs Wood. She thinks Jay[4] is there all the time. I dont see how she happened to send to Jackson for Jay. I would like to see the letter I wrote. I told her how nicely Jay came[5] & then asked about the other children[6] and but more particular about Floyd and then told her to send to this man for him. I cant see how she made the mistake. Claude[7] has been sick since Wednesday. I felt quite worried. He complained of head ache sore throat was chilly but still has a fever all the time. His tongue was coated bad. I put took him in hand and this morning he seems all right. His tongue is clean and he feels well so it was nothing serious or else we took it in time to break it up. Ella goes two weeks from to day, dont know just how I will make it alone for I cant stand any thing hardly am all used up this morning. Have sewed quite a good deal and helped around the house. I have made a pair of Pillow shams tucked and ruffled them, made two sheets, Lela[8] a dress and Lizze a mother Hubbard this week. She helped me a little on the machine one evening. Guess it has been a little to much for me but I want to get all the sewing done I can before Ella goes. I will try & write to Mother[9] next week. Want to go home[10] and stay two or three days[11] before she goes if I can. Jessie[12] was down Wednesday said her Father[13] was coming in April. I must stop and go to work.

Love to all



[1] Could be referring to Lizzie (Ogden) Brown who was married to Hank’s brother, Willis Brown

[2] Her husband, Henry “Hank” A. Brown

[3] Her sister, Louese (Keith) Harris

[4] Lou’s three-year-old son who died of scarlet fever on February 12th

[5] The Keith family, as well as several of their neighbors, were believers in Spiritualism and participated in seances, so it is presumed Nancy is referring to her nephew who died on February 12th. Nancy’s father, Luke Keith, wrote in his diary on February 22nd that they “heard from Jay”

[6] Louese’s other children LaVerne and Floyd Harris

[7] Nancy’s son, Claude Brown

[8] Nancy’s daughter, Lela Brown

[9] Hank’s mother, Matilda (Allen) Brown. Nancy and Hank referred to her parents as Pa and Ma, and to his parents as Father and Mother

[10] “Home” referred to her parents’ home in Galesburg, Michigan

[11] According to her father Luke’s 1887 diary, she went home on March 3rd and stayed through the 8th

[12] Her cousin, Jessie Crawford

[13] Hiram Crawford Jr.

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