1890 Letters

February 9, 1890 letter to Ethan Keith from Rose James

February 9, 1890

To: Ethan Keith

From: Rose James, Charlestown, OH

Recounts the various illnesses suffered by her family. Tells Ethan that if Hannah has not made her decision yet, he should tell her to take the one she loves the most. She thought it would be “Ed.” Talks about the Turners. Tells Ethan she will send him a copy of the Willcutt family record.

Charlestown, O. Feb 9th, 1890

Dear Cousin Ethan,

I thought you had gone to Australia or Canada, the reason you did not write, and I was glad to hear from you and know that you still thrive on native soil. I cannot take your advice and not feel bad when I miss one of your letters. They are so bright and chatty like, that I always feel as if I had just been over to your house and made a call. It was a hard days work and riding in the cold in the evening that made me ill. I am well, and we haven’t had the grippe yet at our house yet. Laura[1] and her whole family have had it. I sincerely hope you and the rest at home may escape. I am sorry your mother[2] is so lame. It seems as if nearly every body has some of the “ills of life” to bear. We often think if the disease were differently located we could bear it better. I think, “if I only had strong lungs I could bear a weak stomach” and you say, “If I had a strong stomach, I wouldn’t mind weak lungs, or a little fluttering of the heart,” provided the fluttering were not deep seated and could be cured with a “local application.” About the middle of Jan, Albert[3] was confined to the house with Rheumatism. He is better, but there are times when his limb is very painful. We were at Fathers[4] yesterday. Mother[5] has been ill with Pneumonia and it is only a week since she was able to leave her room. Albert spent four days of New Years week visiting Sister Lucy[6] in Akron. She is quite happy in her new home. Sister Flora[7] spent the holidays at home returning to Adrian the 4 of Jan. If Hannah[8] has not made her decision, tell her to be sure to take the one she loves the most. It is very important she should do so. I thought it would be “Ed[9].” I am not surprised that they both want her. It must be a difficult position. I don’t know but I would rather be in my place, with no prospects for the future. No, no, I don’t think so. It is hard to feel there is no one that cares for us.[10] We all want companionship, and the goal of our happiness is not reached until we have found it. I like your theory on the subject but there are one or two “ifs” that might be used to a good advantage. I cannot help feeling that the tide will turn in your favor soon. How did Hannah like Ben Hur and have you read it? It is entirely different from what I expected. I am so glad to know that you are reading as I ask you. After I had sent the letter, I got to thinking about it, and I made up my mind you wouldn’t like it, and so I thought your reply would be like this. “I tried reading for a night or two and then gave it up,” “I couldn’t read what I don’t believe.” It was almost a surprise to me that you were reading, and when I got as far as that I just laid your letter down, and I clasp my hands together and said out loud, “Ethan, you are just as good as you can be to your Earthly friends.” (Of course no one heard me.) I usually read somewhere between nine and half past and I never close the book without thinking Ethan has read the same tonight. More than a year ago I began reading the Bible through and then dropped it. I got to thinking what if I should die and God should say to me, “What were you doing all your life that you never read my book through.” I wouldn’t know what to answer him. I am reading again and have got to the Book of Job.

Uncle Jesse Turner[11] sent us the Kal Gazette of Dec. 14 giving an account of his birthday party. Frank Turner[12] seemed to be to the head of it. It was a very neat surprise to him. It seems so dull to have to write all of this when I could talk more in five minutes, and it takes me one whole hour by the clock to write. I have been looking over your letters and read the most of them. I have never received but fourteen letters from you. I supposed I had as many as twenty for sure. You often say in your letters “They are not worth much.” You should add this, “except to parties interested.” I know I have abused you as you term it, but I have always repented mentally, and I don’t believe the wound is very deep, is it? I dream so much of you and Hannah and being at your house and it always seems so unexpected that I am there again.

Albert has gone to Fathers and now I have got my letter written. I believe I will go down to Laura’s and get my dinner, wouldn’t you? There is a little snow on the ground and the roads are in good condition for wheeling but most of the winter has been mild.


Well, well, I must close. Are you tired? I am. Give my love to all but keep a large share for yourself.

Write soon

From Cousin Rose

I feel guilty that I haven’t sent your picture. Will do so soon and also copy the Family record. I looked it over and when I counted 18 births I thought I would have to get some new pens and a fresh bottle of ink.



[1] Rose’s sister, Laura (James) Vair

[2] Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[3] Rose’s brother, Albert James

[4] John R. James

[5] Prudence (Colton) James, Rose’s stepmother. Rose’s mother was Elsie Prentiss who died when Rose was just a year old. John married Prudence when Rose was about 8 years old

[6] Rose’s half-sister, Lucy (James) Roush

[7] Rose’s half-sister, Flora James

[8] Ethan’s sister

[9] See Ethan’s letter of January 21 where he writes to his cousin Oscar Keith that Hannah isn’t even engaged so there are no plans for her to marry

[10] Rose did marry in 1894 to Edward G. Wolcott

[11] Jesse Turner was the son of Asa Turner and Lydia Willcutt, who was the sister of Hannah Willcutt, Ethan’s grandmother

[12] I believe Frank was the son of Jesse’s brother Martin

2 thoughts on “February 9, 1890 letter to Ethan Keith from Rose James

  1. So would I. I checked the Kalamazoo Public Library’s online newspapers but didn’t find anything about the birthday party. Something to think about doing in the future, I guess.


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