Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Mrs. Colquitt [sic], 18 July 1890

Date: July 18, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01305

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 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.

Contributors to digital file: Ian Faith, Ryan Furlong, Breanna Himschoot, Brandon James O'Neil, Stephanie Blalock, and Zainab Saleh

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328 Mickle Street
July 18 '90

Dear friend (& the baby too)

I have seen in the paper ab't your great affliction & sympathetic with you deeply—enclosed I send $5 for you for the baby, & come & see me when convenient & bring the little one with you

Walt Whitman

Mary Louisa (Holmes) Colkitt (1868–1953) had been married only three years to Frederick V. Colkitt (1862–1890), a brakeman working for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, when he was crushed and killed by a freight car on July 14, 1890. His death was reported in The Morning Post the following day in Camden, and he was buried in Philadelphia's Evergreen Cemetery on July 17th, the day before Whitman wrote this letter. While Whitman here spells the family name "Colquitt," he records his gift of $5 using the spelling from the newspaper, "Colkitt" (Daybooks and Notebooks, ed. William White [New York: New York University Press, 1978], 2:608). Whitman later records that Mary and her daughter, Ethel May (b. 1888), visited him on Mickle Street on August 5, 1891 (Daybooks and Notebooks, 2:564). Four days after this visit, Mary married George E. Willitts (1867–1960), an engineer for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.


1. This letter is addressed: Mrs: Colquitt [sic]. [back]


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