Skip to main content

Reuben Farwell to Walt Whitman, 16 August 1875

 duk.00539.001_large.jpg sent 2 papers Aug 20, 1875 Dear Uncle Walt

I received your Postal Card.1 but I was away to work when my wife2 received it.

I have been 75 to 100 miles West of here working in the Harvest fields

She ought to have answered it before this

I am sorry that you do keep so miserable and feabel​

I do hope by the time this reaches you that you are better


I hardly know what to write to you But I will say that we are well as common

I am going to California in November if the Lord will permit that my life may be spared

Walt I wish that I was abel​ to come and take care of you how happy I would be to see your Dear face once more

God bless you Ruben Farwell Nankin Po​ Wayne CoMich

Wright​ soon Dear Uncle Walt


address Nankin Wayne Co Michigan

Reuben Farwell (1843–1926), also called "Little Mitch," was a Union soldier who served with the Michigan Cavalry during the American Civil War. Farwell met Walt Whitman in Armory Square Hospital early in 1864; upon his release from the hospital he corresponded with Whitman. After Farwell received his discharge on August 24, 1864, he returned to his home in Plymouth, Michigan. Evidently the correspondence was renewed when Whitman sent a post card (now lost) on February 5, 1875. On March 5, 1875, Farwell, who owned a farm in Michigan, wrote: "Walt my dear old Friend how I would like to grasp your hand and give you a kiss as I did in the days of yore. what a satisfaction it would be to me." In Farwell's last letter, on August 16, 1875, he said that he was planning to leave shortly for California. Eleven letters from Farwell are in the Trent Collection, Duke University. He is mentioned in "Memoranda During the War"; see The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1902), 10 vols., 4:134.


  • 1. This may be a reference to Whitman's note to Farwell of April 21, 1875. [back]
  • 2. Reuben Farwell was married to Ann Eliza Kickerbocker Farwell (1844–1932). [back]
Back to top