Skip to main content

Joseph C. Baldwin to Walt Whitman, 13 May 1877

Dear Walt,

I recived​ yours of fourth to day and was agreeable surprised to here​ of your improved Health.1 I had almost come to the conclugen​ that you had given me up for the lost child [no handwritten text supplied here] many a time [no handwritten text supplied here] I have wondered what kind of a fellow you thought I was. I dont​ suppose there Has a day past over my Head without me thinking of you.

I am also very glad to learn of Mrs. Siters. I suppose she Has a Hard time of it. I recived​ one letter from her and Johnnys​ Wife they wrote me rather a lamentable letter. Poor Jo Adams Im​ sorry he is a fine fellow tell him I send him my pies​ regards and hope he will get well soon. Johnny Cahall I cant altogether place him did he visit to live in Camden [no handwritten text supplied here] I guss​ so.

So they have got the dummies running on Market St. [(] I here​ they reduced the wages to two dollars) The perment​ Exhibition I suppose will create almost as big a time this summer as last. Im​ sorry times is so Hard in Philadelphia and so many famlys​ are in distress. I am glad Mrs. Siter is going to Have a small famley​ and perhaps John Pickens will assist her. I suppose Goorge​ is pretty smart I cant help but think about poor old Granmother​ Gouth.

Well Walt my dear old friend you say you feel wicked enough at times wich​ you consider a good sign [(]I hope it is) you say you have been traveling a good [de]al. I hope you will be home to get this any way I will direct to your old Headquarters.

Well Walt I will endevor​ to give you a rugh​ scetch​ of my wanderings since I seen you. You know I could not content my self in Phila.—I was in Hot water all the time [no handwritten text supplied here] to come and see you before I left I Had not the corage​ to do that [no handwritten text supplied here] so I drawed​ my money from the Centennial went down to my sister's [no handwritten text supplied here] she was not at home but Annie, Johnny's Wife was thir​ [no handwritten text supplied here] I tould​ her my intentions [no handwritten text supplied here] I was very sorry I did not see Mrs Siter [no handwritten text supplied here] Went direct from thir​ to the Depo​ and in less than half an Hour I was behind the iron Horse stearing​ twards​ Sunsit​ came strate​ through to St. Louis. Had a little row with some Pickpockets on the Road—staid​ in St. Louis three Weeks then came out to Pleasant Rige​ whare​ I wrote you a letter but got no answer [no handwritten text supplied here] staided​ thir​ about one month then moved East about seven miles to Grays and I think I wrote you a letter from thir​ but never received an answer (began to think you had gone back on me) staid​ thir​ until the twentyfourth​ March when I Emegrated​ here to Effingham Co. Ill. And am farming on my own Hack) Thir​ is two Hundred and sixty acres in the farm and the way I spraind​ my Rist​ was Plowing a stumppy​ pece​ of Ground [(]I Have got about ten acres of corn planted about thirty acres plowed) this is a very Backward Spring Hear​ as you say it is thir​ . The times Here is pretty Hard asposuly​ with me as I Have got all my captal​ invested in starting Farming [no handwritten text supplied here] But if my crops prospers and the European War continues I will com​ out all right and I guess make a big thing.

Walt I have got a big lot of work to do about three mens​ work; But I think Compent​ to the Emergence if I keep my Helth​ [no handwritten text supplied here] You asked me about the women kinder a sticken​ it at me oh well I can get all the woman I want out Hear​ But I havent​ topt​ any of them yet. I got to be afraid of them they are treachers​ dont​ you think so [no handwritten text supplied here] right around within a gun shot thir​ is a dozen Widows this is not a very healthy part of the world. Walt I still retain the ring you gave me and of course when I look at that I must think of you. You sent me a peaper​ which is very exceptable​ indeed as news Hear​ is very scarce [no handwritten text supplied here] I would like very much to have a Phila.​ peaper​ .

Walt I would like you to go up to no 722 north 36 st. to see my sisters they are thir​ keeping a Boarding House do go to see them and give them some advice thir​ is so many dambd​ sharpers now a days im​ a little fraid​ to trust them all by them selves Please go and see them tell them I sent you to see how they ware​ gitting​ along I am alarmed about them some.

Well Walt I have write​ a good bit but havent​ said much you know my capabilities is limited

do write soon and tell me all the Public and Privit​ news tell Mrs Siter to write to me [no handwritten text supplied here] And Emmie Pickens and Sallie [no handwritten text supplied here] Be carfull​ and dont let my adress​ be known or less I will be trubled​ to death.

Walt I hope you will get well and be all right when I come home that wont be for some time if I prosper Here But not more than two or three years.

you tould​ me to write you a long and carful​ letter. I cant I havent​ got the potations But I will write again soon as I Hear from you,

yours until death Jos: C. Baldwin

[P.S.] you did not say any thing about Sam Hadford. please tell about him


  • 1. Joseph C. Baldwin was a young sharecropper living in Elliottstown, Illinois, who Whitman likely met in Camden in 1873. Baldwin is discussed in Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman's Working Class Camerados, ed. Charley Shively (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1987), 122–135. [back]
Back to top