Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Reuben Farwell to Walt Whitman, 16 August 1875

Date: August 16, 1875

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00539

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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "sent 2 papers Aug 20, 1875," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Kevin McMullen, Ashley Lawson, John Schwaninger, Caterina Bernardini, Marie Ernster, Amanda J. Axley, and Stephanie Blalock

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Aug 16th 1875

Dear Uncle Walt

I received your Postal Card.1 but I was away to work when my wife2 received it.

I have been 75 to 100 miles West of here working in the Harvest fields

She ought to have answered it before this

I am sorry that you do keep so miserable and feabel

I do hope by the time this reaches you that you are better

I hardly know what to write to you But I will say that we are well as common

I am going to California in November if the Lord will permit that my life may be spared

Walt I wish that I was abel to come and take care of you how happy I would be to see your Dear face once more

God bless you
Ruben Farwell

Nankin Po
Wayne Co

Wright soon Dear Uncle Walt

Wayne Co

Reuben Farwell (1843–1926), also called "Little Mitch," was a Union soldier who served with the Michigan Cavalry during the American Civil War. Farwell met Walt Whitman in Armory Square Hospital early in 1864; upon his release from the hospital he corresponded with Whitman. After Farwell received his discharge on August 24, 1864, he returned to his home in Plymouth, Michigan. Evidently the correspondence was renewed when Whitman sent a post card (now lost) on February 5, 1875. On March 5, 1875, Farwell, who owned a farm in Michigan, wrote: "Walt my dear old Friend how I would like to grasp your hand and give you a kiss as I did in the days of yore. what a satisfaction it would be to me." In Farwell's last letter, on August 16, 1875, he said that he was planning to leave shortly for California. Eleven letters from Farwell are in the Trent Collection, Duke University. He is mentioned in "Memoranda During the War"; see The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1902), 10 vols., 4:134.


1. This may be a reference to Whitman's note to Farwell of April 21, 1875[back]

2. Reuben Farwell was married to Ann Eliza Kickerbocker Farwell (1844–1932). [back]


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