Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Mrs. J. S. Harris to Walt Whitman, 22 February 1891

Date: February 22, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00103

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Related item: On the verso of this leaf, which is dated February 24, 1891, Whitman wrote prose notes titled "In Notes if convenient."

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ian Faith, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock

page image
image 1
page image
image 2

Cumberland Ctr.1
Feb. 22—'91.

Dear Sir,

I have always felt that you were a relative of mine, and on the strength of that, am going to ask for your autograph. My mother was a Whitman of Bangor, has relations in Mass. and N.J. by that name, and the late Judge Whitman2 of Portland was also a relative. Do you belong to that family of Whitmans.

Yrs very truly,
Mrs J.S. Harris.

Cumberland Centre, ME

As yet we have no information about this correspondent.


1. Whitman has crossed out the text of this letter. [back]

2. Ezekiel Whitman (1776–1866) was a State Representative of both Massachusetts and Maine. For nearly thirty years, Ezekiel Whitman was a judge, ultimately serving as Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Court. Though there is not yet enough information on how Mrs. J. S. Harris is related to Walt Whitman, Ezekiel Whitman's relation to the poet is very distant, with a shared sixteenth century ancestor, Abijah Whitman (1560–1626), making him Walt's sixth cousin, once removed. For more information on Ezekiel Whitman, see "Whitman, Ezekial," Biographical Encyclopedia of Maine of the Nineteenth Century (Boston: Metropolitan Publishing & Engraving Company, 1885), 347–351. An avid genealogist, Ezekiel Whitman published Memoir of John Whitman and His Descendants in 1832, that traced his genealogy through Abijah Whitman's son John, who came to the American Colonies in 1635 and settled in Weymouth, Massachusetts. For Whitman's account of his ancestry, including Abijah and his sons, see Whitman's "Genealogy—Van Velsor and Whitman," Specimen Days and Collect (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1882), 9. [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.