Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William Stansberry to Walt Whitman, 9 December 1873

Date: December 9, 1873

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00765

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.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Jonathan Y. Cheng, Elizabeth Lorang, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Nicole Gray, Stephanie Blalock, Marie Ernster, and Amanda J. Axley

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Dec 9th 1873
Howard, Lake.
Wright Co.

Mr. Walter Whitman
My Dear Friend:

After the laps of over 8 years, & to let you know that your memory is yet fresh in my mind; I am mooved to write you this letter—I Came to this [state?] [illegible] after being discharged from the Army. My health is not good & has not been since I was in the army—My family is well, & children going to school. Our chances & advantages of school has been limited very much untill within the last 2 or 3 years—but is developing rapidly—our state has at present a large school fund. I often think of the Blackbery Wine you gave me & all the kindness which you shown me1—I would love to write to the Doctor2 but have forgotten his name, if you remember his name & address Pls give them to me—I will not prolong this letter not knowing whether it will be received or not—I yet retain your Photograph with care—Hoping to hear from you soon

I am very Truly
Your Friend
William. Stansberry.

Walter Whitman
Washington City,

William Stansberry (1837–1906), a native of West Virginia, was a Sergeant in Company A of the Third West Virginia Cavalry during the American Civil War. He later moved to Wright County, Minnesota, where he and his wife, Jane Drusilla Cochran Stansberry (1837–1920) settled on a farm. The couple had at least twelve children, and the family was living in Howard Lake, Minnesota, a few years before William's death.


1. After Whitman replied to this letter on April 27, 1874 (lost), Stansberry wrote again oon May 12, 1874, about the hospital visits. On June 28, 1874, he thanked Walt Whitman for his letter and "22 News Pappers." On July 15, 1874, his wife informed Whitman of her husband's failing health and poverty and inquired about the possibility of a pension. Evidently in reply to another lost letter from Whitman, Stansberry asked on July 21, 1875, for "the Lone of 65$" in order to return to West Virginia, where he expected to find witnesses to support his application for a pension. This was evidently the last letter in the correspondence. These letters are in the Trent Collection, Duke University. See also The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman [New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1902], 10 vols., 4:134. [back]

2. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]


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