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O. F. Hershey to Walt Whitman, 1 January 1889

 loc.02249.001.jpg Dear Walt Whitman,

I feel as though I cannot begin the new year without wishing you all possible health and happiness. I hope you will appreciate these greetings of a stranger when he tells you that to him you are no stranger but an ever present comrade.

Besides telling you of the great good you have done me I want to assure you of the hearty love you are winning, among the students and teachers here. To me you have been—a guiding star—a light in the wilderness. I trace my highest and best thoughts  loc.02249.002.jpg  loc.02249.003.jpg and feelings to your poems. I wish I could give you some idea of how I feel towards the author of "Leaves of Grass."

I hope you will not think this a bait for an autograph, I am above that – I merely want to thank you for the good you have done me.

Your humble admirer & wellwisher, O. F. Hershey.  loc.02249.004.jpg  loc.02249.005.jpg see notes Jan 5 1889  loc.02249.006.jpg

Omer Fenimore Hershey (1867–?) was the son of Menno Frick and Malinda Reed (Matter) Hershey. He was a graduate of Harvard Law School and later practiced for many years as an attorney in Baltimore, Maryland. He married Sylvia Rhodora Shaffer in 1892, and the couple had two daughters, Helen (1894) and Louise (1895). See "Omer Fenimore Hershey ('91)," Record of the Class of 1892. Secretary's Report No. V. For the Twentieth Anniversary (Boston: The Fort Hill Press, 1912), 206. In 1895, Hershey described himself as "Practising law on a little oatmeal . . . Have done nothing to be proud of. Am taking life easy, and going in for happiness and contentment. Married life, 'a grand sweet song,' even though there aren't three babies" (Harvard College Class of 1891 Secretary's Report, No. 2 [Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son, Printers, 1895], 41).


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Mr. Walt Whitman, | Camden, | New Jersey. It is postmarked: C[cut away] | Jan 3[cut away] | 7 P [cut away]; Camden [illegible] | Jan | 4 | 12 [illegible] | [illegible]. [back]
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