1897 Letters

February 25, 1897 letter to Nancy Brown from Louese Harris

February 25, 1897

To: Nancy Brown

From: Louese Harris, Shelbyville, MI

Hopes that something will turn up so that one of them can pay up the mortgage. Gertie has left her husband Henry because he wouldn’t take a bath. Had a good visit with Lela. Wonders if Jim is going to have the operation done while Hannah is there. Dexa will be leaving for California soon, but her father is staying behind.

Shelbyville Feb 25 /97

Dear Sister

Rec’d yours and Lela’s[1] letters Tuesday one from Ma[2] Monday. Am glad they have squared up with Will[3] and hope something will turn up before another three years that will enable some one of us to pay up the mortgage and set the place clear.[4] Did Will[5] say when he expected Lizzie[6] home. Probably she has rec’d a check (for some of that money before now). Galesburg seems to be ____ once more, does not lack for sensations. Cora[7] & I concluded we had rather be in Ina’s shoes than Gertie’s[8] now. Some one wrote to Jim Milham (he works for Meredith) that she left Henry[9] because he would not take a bath. Then Stella[10] was here last eve and she said Mary[11] wrote her that Ina’s husband had left her. But Stella happened to know better than that, though I would not blame people for thinking so.

How long is Lela going to stay at Pa’s?[12] I will write to she and him to morrow and Hannah[13] Sunday. Is Jim[14] going to have that operation done while Hannah is there and will he go to the Hospital or stay at home. I hope he will be well after he gets through with it. Think Lela has been pretty lucky in regard to getting work. Wish we had known she could stay until Friday. We had such a good time while she was here. Cora and I get along with the work first rate. I pay her one dollar a week. Baking, sweeping and mopping I cant do but do my share of the rest. LaVerne and Mildred[15] are complaining this week just as Floyd & Leone[16] did when Lela was here.

Dexa[17] expects to go to Cal– soon with _____.[18] Her father[19] is not going at present and I don’t believe will ever go. Stella is going to buy or talks of taking Dexa’s light bedroom suite for ten dollars so if you wanted it now you would have to pay that for it unless Stella backs down. I’m enjoying teeth ache now adays have to dope all the time for that. Feel first rate other ways. LaVerne has written to Bessie.[20] Will close for want of more room. Is Mrs McKinney sick in bed again.

Love to all


Cora has just heard from Aunt Jane. She and George are living together. She told him he might stay with her just as long as he would let liquor alone. Cora is going to put in an application at the Kal. Asylum. Maud and another attendant leave in two weeks so she thinks there will be a good chance for her. She did not go while I had a good hired girl but now she and Dexa both going away. I could feel [portion cut off during scan].

I do hope I can be well enough next summer to do my light work with LaVernes help so we wont have to ask Cora to help us out. She is going to G (Galesburg) in three weeks to visit Maud.


[1] Nancy’s daughter, Lela Brown

[2] Their mother, Sarah (Crawford) Keith

[3] Not sure if she is referring to their nephew, Will Clark, or Willis Brown

[4] Presume this is referring to the mortgage on their parents’ farm

[5] Nancy’s brother-in-law, Willis Brown

[6] Will’s wife, Elizabeth (Ogden) Brown

[7] Believe she is referring to her sister-in-law, Cora Belle Harris

[8] Ellen Gertrude (Ralph) Ford

[9] Their brother, Ethan Keith, had the following entry for February 7th in his 1899 diary, “Two years ago to day Gertrude Ralph Ford left Henry – her husband.” Michigan divorce records show that George H[enry] Ford filed for divorce from Ellen G[ertrude] Ford on February 11th on the grounds of desertion. The divorce was granted on March 18, 1899. They had married on December 24, 1896

[10] Stella (Milham) Bush, James Milham’s daughter

[11] Mary (Milham) Oatman, James Milham’s daughter

[12] Charles Luke Keith Jr.

[13] Their sister, Hannah (Keith) Towne

[14] Their brother, James Keith

[15] Louese’s oldest and youngest daughters, LaVerne and Mildred Harris

[16] Louese’s two middle children, Floyd and Leone Harris

[17] Dexa (Strait) Harris, the wife of Louese’s brother-in-law, Jay Harris

[18] Couldn’t read the name, but Dexa and her two children, Starr and Isabelle Harris, moved to California

[19] Ransom Strait

[20] Nancy’s daughter, Bess Brown

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