Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, 11 September 1885

Date: September 11, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00088

Source: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. 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.

Notes for this letter were derived from Dear Brother Walt: The Letters of Thomas Jefferson Whitman, ed. Dennis Berthold and Kenneth M. Price (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1984), and supplemented, updated, or created by Whitman Archive staff as appropriate.

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

page image
image 1
page image
image 2

Office of
Water Commissioner.1
St. Louis,
Sept. 11th 1885

My dear Walt

Enclosed please find check for $10—payable to your order  This check is sent by Mr Chaphe2  he is so much pleased with his books.

We are getting on about in the usual manner—all well—I am pretty busy—but still hope to get away long enough to make you all a visit

Weather here just perfect for the last few days—Hat and Jess doing the "Exposition" which has just opened3—they say tis first class

Glad to see that you are all right again—saw a little notice in last evenings paper stating the fact4

Have just received a telegram from Horace Tarr of New York (Mr Lane's nephew)5 stating that he would call on me to-day—shall be glad to see him—

All send love


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).


1. Whitman crossed this letter out and on the back of it wrote one part of a series of notes that would become the essay "A Word About Tennyson." [back]

2. See Thomas Jefferson Whitman's letter to Walt Whitman of February 23, 1885[back]

3. The second annual St. Louis Exposition opened on September 9, 1885, in a downtown block called Missouri Park. It featured music, amusements, art galleries, and commercial displays, and attracted 750,000 people. [back]

4. "Walt Whitman writes to his London friends as follows: 'Fortunately, I have a good, faithful young Jersey woman and friend, Mary Davis, who cooks for me and vigilantly sees to me'" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 10, 1885). This item is quoted from a letter of Whitman's to Herbert Gilchrist of August 1, 1885[back]

5. See Thomas Jefferson Whitman's letter to Walt Whitman of May 9, 1863.  Tarr was now a journalist.  He and Jeff evidently maintained a close association during Jeff's last four or five years of life (see the letter from Tarr to Walt Whitman of December 1, 1890).  For Lane, see Thomas Jefferson Whitman's letter to Walt Whitman of January 13, 1863[back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.