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Louisa Van Velsor Whitman to Walt Whitman, [28 September 1871]

 duk.00584.001.jpg 30 Sept 1869 my dear

i2 have to write again you know i said in my letter if your letter came this week all right maybee i wouldent write well walter the letter and order came all safe but i have been to the post office and the order had not come so of course i couldent get the money


i was going yesterday but just as i was going i had quite an increase in my family mary and Louisa and minny3 all come bag and baggage they shut up their houses and come to brooklyn yesterday i had 5 ladies to tea) walter if you get this friday i wish you would send me 2 dollars george4 sent me 2 dollars i rather look for him saturday if he dont come i have hardly got any money

the young man to the office said he would write to you5


  • 1. This letter dates to September 28, 1871. Richard Maurice Bucke dated the letter September 30, 1869, and Edwin Haviland Miller cited Bucke's date (Walt Whitman, The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 2:367). Bucke's and Miller's date, however, is incorrect. The letter dates to two years later, to a late-September 1871 visit to Brooklyn from the family of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman's daughter Mary Van Nostrand. The Van Nostrands came to shop in anticipation of the approaching marriage of Mary's daughter Mary Isadore "Minnie" in October 1871. Louisa had indicated her anxiety regarding the expected visit in her September 15–26, 1871 letter to Walt Whitman. A week after this letter, Louisa wrote that her "company is here yet and i dont know how long they will remain" (see her October 5, 1871 letter to Walt Whitman). Based on this letter's consistency with the preceding and the following letters on the Van Nostrands' extended visit, this letter dates to the last Thursday of the month, September 28, 1871. [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. 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." The visit is in preparation for the marriage of Minnie to Leander Jay Young (1846–1937) on October 18, 1871 (see Gertrude A. Barber, compiler, "Marriages of Suffolk County, N.Y. Taken from the 'Republican Watchman': A Newspaper Published at Greenport, N.Y. Years 1871, 1872, 1873, 1874, 1875, 1876" [1950], 1:3). For more on the Van Nostrand family, see Jerome M. Loving, ed., "Introduction," Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1975), 10–11. [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. The postscript appears in the right margin of the first page. [back]
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