Title: Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, 11 March 1864
Date: March 11, 1864
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Thomas Jefferson Whitman, Dear Brother Walt: The Letters of Thomas Jefferson Whitman, ed. Dennis Berthold and Kenneth M. Price (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1984), 93–95. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.00432
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Vanessa Steinroetter, Kathryn Kruger, and April Lambert
March 11th 1864
The enclosed $5 is contributed for the wounded men by Moses Lane1
I am at a stand to know whether to beg pardon for not writing you before or to scold you for not writing to me.2 I have been away for nearly three weeks, down in Conn. making surveys for an "Iron Co." and only returned last Monday night. since then I have been very much engaged in getting my work up so that I have not, lately, really had an opportunity to write you We have had, and are having, considerable excitement in relation to moving and the house. Just so soon as I had got away in the country, the next day, Mrs Brown3 informed Mother that they had hired the house and that she could remain by paying $8 per month ($3 a month increase) but that our rooms they should rent to other parties, would not allow us to have them anyhow &c—This came rather hard on Mat and Mother, for we thought sure that things would go on as they had the last year, only with a slight increase of rent. On my return Mat told me all about it. On Tuesday, the next day some masons &c came with their tools to make repairs to the rooms and house. I told Mat, (she was going to take up her stair carpet oil cloths—clear out closets &c) to not touch a thing, informed the men that I paid rent for the rooms that they were abt fixing that I didn't want them fixed and should charge the landlord with all damage done. In the afternoon I went to New York to see Travis4 (the new landlord) to give him legal notice about it. After talking with him awhile I found that the Browns had lied to us and lied to him.—that they had not hired it, but merely talked of it—that they had offered to get a tenant in our place that Travis had told them that the rent of the house would be $400 and that if it returned that to him they might have it if they wanted it and if I was not going to stay &c. In the mean time the Browns were trying to let our room to Jim Jourdan's wife.5 Mr Travis said that he would just as soon have us stay as they. Travis sent them a note not to let the house till they saw him. They both went over in the evening to see Travis and lied again by telling him that they had rented it but as they had not passed any papers he would not let them have it.—The increase of rent is $52—$36 of this they were going to fasten on Mother—I offered Travis that I would pay $18 a month for the rooms that Mother and I had—that would leave them to pay 15 1/3 a month increasing our rent $3 and theirs $1 1/3 or if they would not agree to that, that I would take the whole of it at $400.—He is to decide this week which—if either—he will do in the mean time they are moving everything to get Mat and I out.—I think the chances are about even whether they succeed or not. Rents are very high in Brooklyn for that floor over Browers6 (cor of Cumberland st. and Myrtle) they ask $350 for one floor and 275 for the third story.—There is a story around that Travis bought the house we live in for $3000, but I can hardly think of it. If so I wish I had known it I would have tried to get it myself
Mr Crany's7 address would be best "care of Moses Lane Box 192 Brooklyn P.O." I wish you would write me a letter to show Mr W. E. Worthen8 of New York I think I could raise you some $20 or $25 per month out of him He is the man I went down to Springfield to work for.—he spoke of it himself—said that he thought he could do something out of his friends,—although poor himself
Mother is not well. I think she has the worst cold that I ever knew of I wish she could be made to think that she must not wash scrub and clean house.—I had quite a time with her this morning about it after exhausting every excuse she said she "could not afford to hire it done"—She is foolishly worrying herself about George—thinking that he does not want her to use so much of his money She says that when he went away he did not say as usual "Mammy dont want for anything" If he didn't God knows he meant it. To me his whole life and actions home seemed to say so. But Mother seems to feel quite bad about it. Several days after he first went away she was either crying or planning how to take "boarders" and make her own living. Poor Mother, how foolish her dear old heart gets sometimes. Mat has been quite sick but is well again. the little one is quite well and Hattie too. Matters are going on about as usual. I wish you could find time to write me a good long letter. also one to Lane, and the Dr11 too you said you would write.
I will write again soon
Yours affectionately Jeff.
2. On March 31, 1864, April 5, 1864, and April 26, 1864, Walt Whitman promised to write Jeff Whitman a long letter. In this letter from the 26th, the poet remarked that "the devil is in it....I have laid out so many weeks to write you a good long letter, & something has shoved it off each time." [back]
4. "Travis," here, is unidentified. [back]
5. "Jim Jourdan's wife" was probably the wife of James Jordan, a laborer. [back]
6. James C. Brower owned a hardware and house-furnishings store located at the corner of Cumberland and Myrtle in Brooklyn, New York. [back]
7. "Mr. Crany," here, is unidentified. [back]
9. George Whitman had written a letter to Jeff Whitman from this encampment near Hickman's Bridge, Kentucky, on September 22, 1863. He had returned to Brooklyn for a thirty-day leave in January 1864, reenlisted, and rejoined his regiment on February 25, 1864. On March 6, 1864, he wrote Lousia Van Velsor Whitman that he was in Nashville and would soon be in Knoxville; apparently the family had not yet received this letter. [back]