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Mary Van Nostrand to Walt Whitman, 16 March [1878]

 duk_am.00087_large.jpg Dear dear brother

Again I am ashamed of myself for not writing to you before as I have received so many letters from you and always think I will answer but one thing and another keeps me from it so now I will try to tell you about myself well we jog along in about the old way sometimes it is nip and tuck with us sometimes nips ahead and sometimees​ tuck but in the main we are all right as long as I only have my health Ansel has been out of work for a year but has work now so we are all right I often hear from you through the papers and am glad enough to think you are better this winter  duk_am.00299_large.jpg and hope and pray you will entirely recover and believe you will and would like very much to see you whenever you feel as if you could come or any of the rest of my folks and will do all I can to make it pleasant for them Our family of children live here around us Minnie has three children and Fanny one the rest have none Greenport is about the same as it was when you was here only improved very much and now dear brother I want to thank you for the many letters cards and papers you have sent me and likewise for the christmas present you sent in the letter and want you to write whenever you can for you are the only one now since dear mother left us that ever writes a word to me Please when you write  duk_am.00300_large.jpg again mention how Eddy and hannah​ Jeff George and all get along as I should like to hear from them and I do think I will not be so long in answering again. I suppose you have almost forgotten how it looks here Louisa and John have built a new house opposite here and are living in it Minnie's husband has bought one a little further off and they are living in that. I dont​ know as this will interest you but I thought I would just write it. I feel myself growing old and failing every day but my health has been better this winter than usual

Dear Brother one more favor I would like to ask of you that is when you have time to please copy our family record2 and send to me  duk_am.00089_large.jpg as I really have forgotten how old we all are

From your affectionate sister Mary Van Nostrand


  • 1. The year 1889 has been written at the top of this page in an unknown hand, struck through, and replaced by the year 1875. Our dating of the letter as 1878 is based on the information in the note below and the list of incoming correspondence in Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Ted Genoways (Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 2004), 7:145. [back]
  • 2. Whitman wrote the family "Births," "Marriages," and "Deaths" in a Bible and sent it to Mary as a Christmas gift in 1878 (Faint Clews & Indirections, ed. Clarence Gohdes and Rollo G. Silver [Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1949], 6–8). [back]
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