Keyes family letters  1846-1867 (bulk 1852-1860)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

Peter and Hannah Keyes of Porterville, New York, received 23 letters from their son, siblings, and friends between 1846 and 1867. Jane Keyes Foster, Peter's sister, described her life on farms in Kaneville and Sycamore, Illinois, in the 1840s and 1850s, and Orson S. Keyes, Peter and Hannah's son, discussed his financial affairs and attempts to find employment in Rochester, New York, in the late 1850s.

In letters to her brother and sister-in-law, Jane Keyes Foster discussed many aspects of farming life on the Illinois frontier. She provided information about local illnesses and her family's health, and often expressed her homesickness. In one letter, she reflected on the death of one of her children (April 10, 1852). Foster also provided details about working on the farm. In later letters, she often commented on her religious beliefs, and her last letter, written in 1867, expressed sadness about the abuse that her sister Betsey suffered from her husband, Calvin Combs. Jane composed one letter on stationery bearing an image and business directory of the Sycamore courthouse (July 8, 1859). Peter and Hannah Keyes also received letters from "Franklin," one of the Keyes siblings, about his journey to Kaneville, the price of crops in Illinois, local religion, and his thoughts on moving to Texas.

Orson S. Keyes, Peter and Hannah's son, also wrote frequently. He composed most of his letters from Rochester, New York, in the late 1850s, and discussed his attempts to find employment, the dried apple industry, and local churches. He often requested money from his parents and mentioned his friendship with Foster Dickinson. John S. Blossom, Hannah's brother, wrote to Peter and Hannah Keyes from Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1862, and shared his regret that the war had forced him to return to New York after living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Other correspondents included William Blossom and Hannah Keyes, who reported to Peter about family matters.

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