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Anson Ryder, Jr to Walt Whitman, 25 August 1865

My Dear Uncle W,

Your very kind letter of the 16th was duly received and appreciated to the best of my ability.1 We had a grand reception at our place last week for this town and two adjoining ones which was quite a success for a country place like this. I presume there can be more costly ones got up in New York and other cities and perhaps better music and shaking but for a right down good place for a peson to enjoy themselves and get enough to eat and of that which is eatable give me Cedar Lake or any other Lake in preference to any city. One of our lady neighbors who is fond of a good joke cooked a coon that was caught trespassing in a corn field it looked very nicely I tell you and was soon pretty well demolished before anyone knew what it was after a while someone asked what kind of meat it was when the lady very innocently told them it was nothing but a coon when some of the more fastidious ones made up awful faces as though they had a very bad feeling at the stomach but I did not believe it went below the chin.

I have shown your Pho[tograph] only in the family and they all think it must belong to a kind old man but when I tell them the age of the original (why does it not seem possible but [they] are glad that I found one friend in the hospital I am gaining strength very fast. I walk a little with one crutch and cane. Mr Wood is with me yet and improving in health and flesh. I do not know whether there are any characters among my neighbors that would interest you particular or not they are like most of our country people kindly and well meaning I see by the paper that Armory Squre is discontinued and the patients are removed to Douglass Hospital. I received a letter each from Fraser and Dr. Smith.2 Are you personally or were you rather acquainted with Henry Thoreau? I saw in some extracts of Thoreau's letters a few days since a sort of discription of yourself, and so I supposed you must have met him. I sent the paper by Fraser several days ago. I have not been far enough away from home since I came here to get any photographs but expect to in a few weeks when I shall not forget to whom I am indebted for like favors. Remember me with kindness to any whom you may meet that remembers me. And please write me how Hiram is getting along for I feel much interest in his welfare.3

Please excuse all errors and mistakes of your most affectionate friend, Anson Ryder, Jr.


  • 1. Anson Ryder, Jr., a soldier, had apparently left Armory Square Hospital and returned to his family at Cedar Lake, New York, accompanied by another injured soldier named Wood (probably Calvin B. Wood; see Edward F. Grier, ed., Notes and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1961–1984], 6:673). [back]
  • 2. Probably to Dr. Thomas C. Smith, a Washington physician. [back]
  • 3. Ryder wrote Whitman again on October 22, 1865. See also Whitman's letters to Ryder of August 15–16, 1865, May 16, 1866, and December 14, 1866. [back]
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