Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 17 January 1868

Date: January 17, 1868

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00446

Source: Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 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), 124. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, and April Lambert

[January 17, 1868]1
Friday Night

Dear Mother,

We all arrived safely at Pittsburgh abt 2 oclk to-day—Mattie and the children stood the journey first-rate—and Mat seems to feel fully as well as in Brooklyn  I find I shall probably have to stay here longer than I anticipated—possibly shall not get away tomorrow but hope to—

We had quite a pleasant time in coming on—Mrs Rice2—(with child and nurse) met us at the Depot—I succeeded in getting a state room in the sleeping car—and was particularly fortunate in doing so—as many were left out or rather had to get along without sleep

I write this merely to tell you that we got through so far all right—and also to send you this [t?]3—Mat has worried about my not giving it to you ever since we came away—you must thank her for it not me—for to tell you the truth, dear old Mamma I have so much to think about that I do not remember you as often as I ought to.

Mattie sends love to you and all—I ditto—and the young ones likewise, will write again from St Louis as soon as we get there

affectionately Jeff


1. Jeff returned for a Christmas visit to Brooklyn on December 18, 1867, and by early January 1868 had convinced Mattie to move the entire family west. Mattie's earliest letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman from St. Louis (February 1, 1868) implies that the family had been there for over a week (Randall H. Waldron, ed., Mattie: The Letters of Martha Mitchell Whitman [New York: New York Univ. Press, 1977], pp. 44-46); it therefore seems likely that Jeff wrote this letter en route on the third Friday of January. [back]

2. Mr. and Mrs. Rice lived in St. Louis at this time, but they seem to have been old acquaintances of the Jefferson Whitmans from the East (Waldron, p. 45). [back]

3. Probably a gift of ten dollars. For a similar present from Mattie, see Thomas Jefferson Whitman to George Washington Whitman, 6 September 1868[back]


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