Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Louisa Orr Haslam Whitman to Walt Whitman, [After 1 August 1888]

Date: [After August 1, 1888]

Whitman Archive ID: loc.05417

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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "Sister Lou," is in an unknown hand.

Contributors to digital file: Brandon James O'Neil, Marie Ernster, Paige Wilkinson, Stephanie Blalock, and Amanda J. Axley



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Burlington
Friday

Dear Walt.

I received this postal from Mrs Nichols,1 the Superintendent of Blackwood,2 where Eddie3 is, and thought you would like to hear from Eddie, and how he was doing. It was such a relief to me to know that all was right; as it has worried me so, I could not sleep. I have had a letter from Dr Reslin4 of the Media Institute for feeble minded children, but there was nothing definite in it. I shall write again and if it is a better place, in three months we can change him, if they will take him. Hope you are well as usual. If you want to, you can forward this postal to Jeff5 when you write.

Yours
Lou.


Correspondent:
Louisa Orr Haslam Whitman (1842–1892), called "Loo" or "Lou," married Whitman's brother George Whitman on April 14, 1871. Their son, Walter Orr Whitman, was born in 1875 but died the following year. A second son was stillborn. Whitman lived in Camden, New Jersey, with George and Louisa from 1873 until 1884, when George and Louisa moved to a farm outside of Camden and Whitman decided to stay in the city. Louisa and Whitman had a warm relationship during the poet's final decades. For more, see Karen Wolfe, "Whitman, Louisa Orr Haslam (Mrs. George) (1842–1892)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. This may be a reference to Mary Nichols, who was a matron at the Insane Asylum at Blackwood, New Jersey as of 1886 (George Reeser Prowell, The History of Camden County, New Jersey [Philadelphia, PA: L. J. Richards & Co., 1886], 185). [back]

2. On August 1, 1888, Whitman's sister-in-law Louisa and his niece Jessie placed his youngest brother Edward in the Insane Asylum at Blackwoodtown, New Jersey. The poet continued to pay his brother's expenses. On September 4, Whitman's housekeeper Mary Davis and his nurse Warren Fritzinger went to see Eddy: "He seems to be all right & as happy as is to be expected" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

3. Edward Whitman (1835–1892), called "Eddy" or "Edd," was the youngest son of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman and Walter Whitman, Sr. He required lifelong assistance for significant physical and mental disabilities, and he remained in the care of his mother until her death in 1873. During his mother's final illness, George Whitman and his wife Louisa Orr Haslam Whitman took over Eddy's care, with financial support from Walt Whitman. In 1888, Eddy was moved to an asylum at Blackwood, New Jersey. For more information on Edward, see Randall Waldron, "Whitman, Edward (1835–1892)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

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

5. Thomas Jefferson Whitman (1833–1890), known as "Jeff," was Walt Whitman's favorite brother. As a civil engineer, Jeff eventually became Superintendent of Water Works in St. Louis and a nationally recognized figure. For more on Jeff, see Randall Waldron, "Whitman, Thomas Jefferson (1833–1890)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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