Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Keyes Family Letters, 1846-1867

Finding aid created by
Clements Staff and Meg Hixon, July 2012

Summary Information
Title: Keyes family letters
Creator: Keyes, Peter and Keyes, Hannah
Inclusive dates: 1846-1867
Bulk dates: 1852-1860
Extent: 24 items
Abstract:
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.

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1992. M-2858.3.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Keyes family letters, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.


Biography

Peter Keyes and Abigail Beede, Vermont natives who later moved to Allegany County (later Washington County), New York, had nine children: Adeline, Peter, Abigail, Jane, Betsey, Daniel J. ( b. 1821), Aurilla, Rhoda, and Augustus F.. Adeline married Platt Gage, Peter married Hannah Blossom, Abigail married George Stevens, Betsey married Calvin Combs, and Daniel married Almina Potter. Peter and Hannah Keyes lived in Porterville, New York, and had at least three children: Myron, Orson, and Abigail. Orson Keyes lived in Rochester, New York, in the late 1850s, and later became a druggist's clerk in Porterville.

Jane M. Keyes was born in Vermont in March 1815. She and her husband, William Foster, moved to Kaneville, Illinois, in the mid-1840s, and moved to Sycamore, Illinois, in 1856. They had four children: Permilia, Aminzo, Ruth, and Wesley. Jane Keyes Foster died in January 1908.


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.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Farms--Illinois.
    • Frontier and pioneer life--Illinois.
    • Illinois--Religious life and customs.
    • Internal migrants--United States.
    • Kaneville (Ill. : Township)
    • Rochester (N.Y.)
    • Saratoga Springs (N.Y.)
    • Sycamore (Ill.)
    Contributors:
    • Blossom, John S.
    • Blossom, William.
    • Dickenson, Foster.
    • Foster, Jane Keyes, 1815-1908.
    • Gage, Adaline Keyes.
    • Keyes, Franklin.
    • Keyes, Orson S.
    • Kinnard, I.
    • Parish, Smith.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   10, Small Collections  
    Keyes family letters [series]:
    Folders   21-23  
      January 1846-January 9, 1867, and  Undated
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Bibliography

    [Leeson, Michael]. History of the Counties of McKean, Elk and Forest, Pennsylvania: With Biographical Selections... Chicago: J. H. Beers & co., 1890.