Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Jessie Louisa Whitman, [31 December 1890]–1 January 1891

Date: [December 31, 1890]–January 1, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: mhs.00028

Source: Missouri Historical Society. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 5:142. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Andrew David King, Cristin Noonan, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock

Camden New Jersey1

Tho't I w'd send a line to show we do not forget you—but have no particular word to write—suppose you rec'd the letters & papers I sent2—Have heard f'm y'r aunts H[annah]3 and M[ary]4 lately—both are poorly in health but H is getting around—nothing new with me—as I write it is late at night Dec: 31 '90—a storm out.

Jan: 1, '91—Well it has come—a dark stormy morning here—but of course it will clear & brighten up—

Walt Whitman

Jessie Louisa Whitman (1863–1957) was the youngest daughter of Thomas Jefferson "Jeff" Whitman and Martha Mitchell "Mattie" Whitman, Walt Whitman's brother and sister-in-law. Jessie and her older sister Manahatta ("Hattie") (1860–1886) were both favorites of their uncle Walt.


1. This letter is addressed: Miss Jessie Louisa Whitman | 2437 2d Carondelet Av: | Saint Louis | Missouri. It is postmarked: Camden, N(?) | Jan 1 | 10 AM | 91. [back]

2. It is uncertain which letters Whitman is referring to here. He had written to his niece on November 30, 1890[back]

3. Hannah Louisa (Whitman) Heyde (1823–1908), youngest sister of Walt Whitman, married Charles Louis Heyde (ca. 1820–1892), a Pennsylvania-born landscape painter. Charles Heyde was infamous among the Whitmans for his offensive letters and poor treatment of Hannah. Hannah and Charles Heyde lived in Burlington, Vermont. For more, see Paula K. Garrett, "Whitman (Heyde), Hannah Louisa (d. 1908)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. Mary Elizabeth (Whitman) Van Nostrand (1821–1899) was the oldest daughter of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman and Walter Whitman, Sr., and Walt Whitman's younger sister. She married Ansel Van Nostrand, a shipwright, in 1840, and they subsequently moved to Greenport, Long Island. They raised five children: George, Fanny, Louisa, Ansel, Jr., and Mary Isadore "Minnie." See Jerome M. Loving, ed., "Introduction," Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1975), 10–11. [back]


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