Skip to main content

Louisa Van Velsor Whitman to Walt Whitman, 30 June [1869]

 duk.00582.001.jpg 30 June 1869 My dear walter

i2 will only write a very few lines this time i receeved your letter to day wensdayi3 withe the contents all safe and i have been down to the post office and got the order changed it come good as we had got rather run ashore but walter dear i had enoughf to get along i dont know how i should get on without you walt but i suppose there would be some way they dont think that i have no way but what is given to me i suppose george4 thinks he finds me a house for his part well its good and i am thankfull as we have never or not late years been fixed so nicely but at the same time we must have something else i have stood the hot weather pretty well it has been very warm indeed here and every where i suppose) i have had my face swelled and red and pricked so i dident know what to doo it is bloated some yet but dont feel such a heat as i5 have i think it must be the heat because i havent been out in the sun so its not that) i have had a letter from jeffy6 and one from matty7 since i last wrote to you they both come emty but i suppose they have ways for all they have dont think i suppose matty says she is certainly coming on here this fall8 they have got intimately acquainted with a railroad agent so they think they can come free


george is away yet has been gone longer this time than any time yet i expect he will be home on saturday O walt the papers came all safe i shall read them to night i am glad to get a paper i dont take any when george is gone only the little morning union9 a peny paper its better than none i beleive i wont write any more i feel so tired so good by Walt

love to all the folks


  • 1. This letter dates to June 30, 1869. It is dated "June 30" in Louisa Van Velsor Whitman's hand, and Richard Maurice Bucke dated the letter to the year 1869. Edwin Haviland Miller agreed with Bucke's date (Walt Whitman, The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 2:367). Louisa Van Velsor Whitman writes that she received a letter from Walt "to day wensday," and June 30 fell on a Wednesday in 1869. The year is also consistent both with her recent move to the house that her son George Washington Whitman had provided at 71 Portland Avenue opposite the Arsenal and with an expected visit by daughter-in-law Martha Mitchell Whitman. [back]
  • 2. Louisa Van Velsor Whitman (1795–1873) married Walter Whitman, Sr., in 1816; together they had nine children, of whom Walt Whitman was the second. For more information on Louisa and her letters, see Wesley Raabe, "'walter dear': The Letters from Louisa Van Velsor Whitman to Her Son Walt" and Sherry Ceniza, "Whitman, Louisa Van Velsor (1795–1873)." [back]
  • 3. Walt Whitman's June 29, 1869 letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman is not extant (Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 2:361). [back]
  • 4. George Washington Whitman (1829–1901) was the sixth child of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman and Walter Whitman, Sr., and ten years Walt Whitman's junior. George enlisted in the Union Army in 1861 and remained on active duty until the end of the Civil War. He was wounded in the First Battle of Fredericksburg (December 1862) and was taken prisoner during the Battle of Poplar Grove (September 1864). After the war, George returned to Brooklyn and began building houses on speculation, with a partner named Smith and later a mason named French. George also took a position as inspector of pipes in Brooklyn and Camden, and he married Louisa Orr Haslam in spring 1871. For more information on George, see "Whitman, George Washington." [back]
  • 5. Louisa Van Velsor Whitman appears to have begun with the word "it" but replaced that word with "i." [back]
  • 6. Thomas Jefferson Whitman (1833–1890), known as "Jeff," was the son of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman and Walter Whitman, Sr., and Walt Whitman's favorite brother. In early adulthood he worked as a surveyor and topographical engineer. In the 1850s he began working for the Brooklyn Water Works, at which he remained employed through the Civil War. In 1867 Jeff became Superintendent of Water Works in St. Louis and became a nationally recognized name in civil engineering. For more on Jeff, see "Whitman, Thomas Jefferson (1833–1890)." [back]
  • 7. Martha Mitchell "Mattie" Whitman (1836–1873) was the wife of Thomas Jefferson "Jeff" Whitman, Walt Whitman's brother. She and Jeff had two daughters, Manahatta and Jessie Louisa. In 1868, Mattie and her daughters moved to St. Louis to join Jeff, who had moved there in 1867 to assume the position of Superintendent of Water Works. Mattie suffered a throat ailment that would lead to her death in February 1873. For more on Mattie, see Randall H. Waldron, ed., Mattie: The Letters of Martha Mitchell Whitman (New York: New York University Press, 1977), 1–26. [back]
  • 8. Martha Mitchell Whitman's expected visit was postponed until mid-February (see Louisa Van Velsor Whitman's February 23, 1870 letter to Walt Whitman). [back]
  • 9. The Brooklyn Union was issued both in a morning edition and an evening edition from 1867 to 1870. The twice-a-day format continued for the three-year period. The Brooklyn Union both succeeded and was succeeded by a Brooklyn Daily Union that was issued only once per day. [back]
Back to top