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Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 14 January 1873

Dear Mother

Mat has been at me for a long time to write you but I have not been able to get at it—Mat's hand and arm is so lame that she is not able to write herself and so I promise each day that I will do it as soon as I get to the office—but day after day gets away and I do not do it  Last night Hattie had a letter from Walt and to-day one has come from you—but as Hat has gone to school we shall not know what is in it till she gets home  Mat also had a letter from Walt1 a day or two since and some weeks ago one from Loo—she would answer them all if she could write—at times her arm gets a little better but the instant she attempts to use it it pains her so that she can hardly live—Her chest pains her some but not like it did—her great trouble is her lungs—and I fear she is failing not fast but surely in this.—lately even the eggs and whiskey does not agree with her and hearly all the nourishment she has taken has been lemonade—and at times a few raw oysters—and now and then a kind of lemon jelly that she has made—she goes down-stairs once a day—generally abt 6oclk in the evening to dinner and when she gets to her room again she feels very tired and has to go to bed  Lately the Dr has had to give her some medicines to make her sleep and since she has been taking that her cough has got better a little—I feel in hopes however if we do not have too hard a winter that she may get along till spring and then I shall get her up into the mountains in Colorado  She speaks very often about you all and has been much disappointed that you did not feel able to come out and see her—she sends lots of love to you all

Hattie and Jess are well and growing to be quite big girls  they act pretty good and work pretty hard what with one thing and another that they have to do—

I still am running the Water Works of course—and hope to do so but like all othe ricty affairs we are expecting a roust-a-bout from the Legislature this winter—how it will all turn out is one of them things that no feller can find out—I was sorry to hear that the Brooklyn people had dropped George—as it indicated that they (I fear) wished to get rid of him to give his place to some other party—though perhaps this is not the case—at any rate he ought to keep posted at what they are doing and when he goes to New York always go go over and see them in Brooklyn—tell him to write me after he sees them all and tell me who is who and who has charge of the pipe department now whether it be Adams2 or Rhodes3  If Adams I may help him to get back again when they have anything to do

We have had the most terrible weather here this winter—cold as could be for a few days then mild—to day has been mild but very rainy, damp and just the most disagreeable in the world for Mat.

Yesterday was fine and warm and clear—but so much frost in the ground that one could not stir out with comfort

Mat and I and the children often talk about you all and wonder if you can keep warm this winter and how you all look—We would like to pop in on you some evening—what a jolly time we would all have would we not

Give my love to Lu and George and Ed—and when you write Walt tell him how we all are4

All send love over and over again

affectionately Jeff


  • 1. Walt Whitman's letters of about January 12 to Hattie and about January 10 to Mattie are not extant. [back]
  • 2. Jeff is probably referring to his old friend Colonel Julius W. Adams who was now chief engineer of the Brooklyn Water Works; see Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, 22 October 1863. [back]
  • 3. Probably John H. Rhodes, a water surveyor for the Brooklyn Department of City Works. [back]
  • 4. Louisa Van Velsor Whitman sent this letter on to Walt Whitman after she added this postscript: "Write to poor Mat Walter dear  i am about as usual  my cold is not much better but it will wear off & pass  i thought i would send Jeffs letter." [back]
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