Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William Stansberry to Walt Whitman, 12 May 1874

Date: May 12, 1874

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00766

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, Paige Wilkinson, and Amanda J. Axley

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Wright Co
Howard Lake
may 12 1874

Walt Whitman
my dear friend1

I received yours dated April 272 was truly glad to hear from you but sorow of your bad helth3 I hop you will recover soon I think if you was here this clymate would be good for your helth the are some comming from the different Stats for there health.

my friend Whitman I love you when I think of the kindness you shew to me my heart is swelled with gratitude to you may the lord preserve you and giv you a home in heaven my friend i have bin in a bad stat of health for 10 months I have the dropsy of the heart I am getting better & my family is well mrs Stansberry4 well wishes to you I will send you my oldes girrls pictor . I have not got my on that is fit to send this time

I received the paper with your portrait of the poet Walt Whitman. my wife sais you had better come and stay with us this summer if you remember the black berry wine.

I was in ward d in 65 in armery sq you came in every evening I remember of you kissing me if you remember my brother came to see me from West VA.

well i must close by saying if we meet no more here that I shall know you in the upper and better world the mind will

I have united myself to the Society of friends commonly called quaker now if you will come t minnesota. I think this is the healthiest climet tha I can find if you will be a friend to you

I love you as a brother

yours truly
Wm Stansberry

excuse my bad writing I am nerves

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 the lapse of over 8 years," William Stansberry, a former soldier whom Whitman had met in Armory Square Hospital, wrote on December 9, 1873, from Howard Lake, Minn., and recalled "the Blackbery [Jam?] you gave me & all the kindness which you shown." Whitman's reply on April 27, 1874 is lost, but Stansberry wrote again on June 28, 1874, thanking 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. This letter has not been located. [back]

3. Whitman suffered a stroke in 1873 that left him partially paralyzed and recovering for several years. [back]

4. Jane Stansberry was the wife of William Stansberry, a former soldier whom Whitman had met in Armory Square Hospital. [back]


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