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Title: Joseph C. Baldwin to Walt Whitman, 13 May 1877

Date: May 13, 1877

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04067

Source: The 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 Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman's Working Class Camerados, ed. Charley Shively (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1987), 132–134. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alicia Bones, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, and Nicole Gray

Elliottstown, Illinois,
May 13, 1877

Dear Walt,

I recived yours of fourth to day and was agreeable surprised to here of your improved Health.1 I had almost come to the conclugen that you had given me up for the lost child                many a time                I have wondered what kind of a fellow you thought I was. I dont suppose there Has a day past over my Head without me thinking of you.

I am also very glad to learn of Mrs. Siters. I suppose she Has a Hard time of it. I recived one letter from her and Johnnys Wife they wrote me rather a lamentable letter. Poor Jo Adams Im sorry he is a fine fellow tell him I send him my pies regards and hope he will get well soon. Johnny Cahall I cant altogether place him did he visit to live in Camden                I guss so.

So they have got the dummies running on Market St. [(] I here they reduced the wages to two dollars) The perment Exhibition I suppose will create almost as big a time this summer as last. Im sorry times is so Hard in Philadelphia and so many famlys are in distress. I am glad Mrs. Siter is going to Have a small famley and perhaps John Pickens will assist her. I suppose Goorge is pretty smart I cant help but think about poor old Granmother Gouth.

Well Walt my dear old friend you say you feel wicked enough at times wich you consider a good sign [(]I hope it is) you say you have been traveling a good [de]al. I hope you will be home to get this any way I will direct to your old Headquarters.

Well Walt I will endevor to give you a rugh scetch of my wanderings since I seen you. You know I could not content my self in Phila.—I was in Hot water all the time                to come and see you before I left I Had not the corage to do that                so I drawed my money from the Centennial went down to my sister's                she was not at home but Annie, Johnny's Wife was thir                I tould her my intentions                I was very sorry I did not see Mrs Siter                Went direct from thir to the Depo and in less than half an Hour I was behind the iron Horse stearing twards Sunsit came strate through to St. Louis. Had a little row with some Pickpockets on the Road— staid in St. Louis three Weeks then came out to Pleasant Rige whare I wrote you a letter but got no answer                staided thir about one month then moved East about seven miles to Grays and I think I wrote you a letter from thir but never received an answer (began to think you had gone back on me) staid thir until the twentyfourth March when I Emegrated here to Effingham Co. Ill. And am farming on my own Hack) Thir is two Hundred and sixty acres in the farm and the way I spraind my Rist was Plowing a stumppy pece of Ground [(]I Have got about ten acres of corn planted about thirty acres plowed) this is a very Backward Spring Hear as you say it is thir. The times Here is pretty Hard asposuly with me as I Have got all my captal invested in starting Farming                But if my crops prospers and the European War continues I will com out all right and I guess make a big thing.

Walt I have got a big lot of work to do about three mens work; But I think Compent to the Emergence if I keep my Helth                You asked me about the women kinder a sticken it at me oh well I can get all the woman I want out Hear But I havent topt any of them yet. I got to be afraid of them they are treachers dont you think so                right around within a gun shot thir is a dozen Widows this is not a very healthy part of the world. Walt I still retain the ring you gave me and of course when I look at that I must think of you. You sent me a peaper which is very exceptable indeed as news Hear is very scarce                I would like very much to have a Phila. peaper .

Walt I would like you to go up to no 722 north 36 st. to see my sisters they are thir keeping a Boarding House do go to see them and give them some advice thir is so many dambd sharpers now a days im a little fraid to trust them all by them selves Please go and see them tell them I sent you to see how they ware gitting along I am alarmed about them some.

Well Walt I have write a good bit but havent said much you know my capabilities is limited

do write soon and tell me all the Public and Privit news tell Mrs Siter to write to me                And Emmie Pickens and Sallie                Be carfull and dont let my adress be known or less I will be trubled to death.

Walt I hope you will get well and be all right when I come home that wont be for some time if I prosper Here But not more than two or three years.

you tould me to write you a long and carful letter. I cant I havent got the potations But I will write again soon as I Hear from you,

yours until death
Jos: C. Baldwin

[P.S.] you did not say any thing about Sam Hadford. please tell about him


1. Joseph C. Baldwin was a young sharecropper living in Elliottstown, Illinois, who Whitman likely met in Camden in 1873. Baldwin is discussed in Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman's Working Class Camerados, ed. Charley Shively (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1987), 122–135. [back]


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