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Byron Sutherland to Walt Whitman, 8 October 1868

 loc_gt.00253_large.jpg My Dear Friend Walt Whitman

Your kind note and paper came duly at hand.3 Col. Hinton4 does not "plaster" it on any to thick. his article is only Just and True. And I am so glad that you are becoming known at your true worth It is pleasant to hear people discuss and admire America's Poet. (as they often do in our reading circle there) and to feel that I may claim the honor of his friendship

This is my third termn​ at school since I left you. I was engaged in various employments untill last fall when I commenced school.

My studies are History, Grammer​ , Theory of Teaching, Algebra, and Latin

This school is an institution under the auspices of the State of Pennsylvania for the purpose of fitting Teachers for their work The Degree given is B.E.D. (Bachelor of Elementary didactis) and B.S.D. (Bachelor of Scientific Didactis) We Teach winters and thus manage to save enough to carry us through  loc_gt.00254_large.jpg one or two terms in a year.

I propose to teach this winter, come here this coming spring and, so &

This is the western county of Pennsylvania borders upon Ohio and Lake Erie. Just North of the Great Oil Region.

Generaly​ rolling and fertile country This Town is a small one of about 1000 inhabitants very quiet and respectable in ordinary times, but the people have caught some of the contagious excitement of a political campaign

Grand, beautiful, October is with us I love all seasons of the year, but particularly do I fall in love with golden leaved autumn

My Dear Sir will be asking to much of your generous heart to ask you to write to me again. Only to grateful for past favors

I am most respectfully Byron Sutherland

I shall remain here about 3 weeks to the End of the term and shall then visit different places untill the winter school I intend to teach commencs​


 loc_gt.00255_large.jpg Byron Sutherland  loc_gt.00256_large.jpg

Noah Byron Sutherland (1846–1915?) was born in New York; he was the son of John G. Sutherland (b. 1798), a farmer, and Anna (Anny) Sutherland (1807–1880). Byron Sutherland was a Union soldier during the U. S. Civil War, and he served in the 145th Pennsylvania Infantry. He met Whitman in Washington, D. C., and the two began corresponding on August 26, 1865. Sutherland did farm work in Pennsylvania after the Civil War, and he also studied law and teaching (among other subjects) at the State Normal School in Erie County, Pennsylvania. In April 1870, Sutherland was teaching in Jamestown, New York. In reply to Whitman's request for further information about his life, the former soldier observed on April 8, 1870: "You remember me in 1865 a green vain (?) lad of Eighteen—without, even, an imperfect knowledge of the rudimentary English branches, I came home from Washington and applied myself, as soon as possible, to school and to study . . . My life since we parted that July day upon the Treasury steps, has been one of hard work and little recreation—I find on looking back to that time, that I am not so pure or trusting—that the world isint quite so fair and beautiful as it seemed then—That the world is not precisely a green pasture for unsophistocated human lambs to skip in—That I like dreaming less, and work or excitement better—That I have lost a great deal of Ambition, and gained a like quantity of stupidity—That I dont know nearly so much as I once supposed I did." By 1877, Sutherland had moved to Minnesota, where he married Sarah Raymond Brown Peck (1848–after 1915?), practiced law, and worked as a farmer.


  • 1. The State Normal School in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, was first chartered in 1856 as an academy. It became a normal school, meant for the training of teachers, in 1861. The normal school phenomenon had only recently caught on in the United States, with the first normal school having been established in Massachusetts in 1839. [back]
  • 2. This letter is addressed: Walt. Whitman | Attorney Gen. Office | Washington D.C. It is postmarked: EDINBORO | OCT | 9 | P A.; CARRIER | OCT | [illegible] | 2 Del. [back]
  • 3. See Whitman's letter to Byron Sutherland of September 20, 1868. [back]
  • 4. Richard J. Hinton (1830–1901) was born in London and came to the United States in 1851. He trained as a printer, and, like James Redpath (with whom Whitman corresponded on August 6, 1863), went to Kansas and joined John Brown's militant group of abolitionists. In fact, but for an accident he would have been with Brown at Harper's Ferry. A man mistaken for Hinton was hanged. With Redpath, Hinton was the author of Hand-book to Kansas Territory and the Rocky Mountains' Gold Region (1859). Later he wrote Rebel Invasion of Missouri and Kansas (1865) and John Brown and His Men (1894). Apparently Hinton had suggested that Thayer & Eldridge print Leaves of Grass; see the New Voice, 16 (4 February 1899), 2. Hinton served in the Union Army from 1861 to 1865, and saw Whitman while lying wounded in a hospital, a scene which he described in the Cincinnati Commercial on August 26, 1871. After the war Hinton wrote for many newspapers. He defended William D. O'Connor's The Good Gray Poet in the Milwaukee Sentinel on February 9, 1866. Hinton's article in the Rochester Evening Express on March 7, 1868, was a lengthy account of Whitman's "Fame and Fortunes in England and America," with quotations from O'Connor and the naturalist John Burroughs. Obviously pleased, Whitman sent it to friends, including Rossetti, who acknowledged it on April 12, 1868. See Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, September 28, 1888; William Sloane Kennedy, The Fight of a Book for the World (West Yarmouth, MA: Stonecroft Press, 1926), 19, 67, 110–111, 242; the Boston Transcript, December 21, 1901. [back]
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