Skip to main content

Louisa Orr Whitman to Walt Whitman, 4 July 1880

 man_ej.00126_large.jpg Dear Brother Walt,

Your paper received and your postal,1 and I have been wanting to write all the week, but busy as usual, Today is perfectly lovely we had a refreshing rain on Friday and the streets look clean, and every thing bright Geo2 is busy as ever, but we generally have an hours or so drive in the evening, and I come home with a good appetite so it must do me good. Last week while I was at market Ida Johnson3 must have been here, Ed4 went to the door and he said it was Miss Johnson, have you heard from any of them? Did you see the account of the large fire in the southern part of Phila​ , a Planing mill and lumber yard and 50 houses. The Planing mill was Will Nices the cousin that comes here a good deal, Walt I think you have heard me speak of the child that sister Kate left at her death, she has always been with her fathers​ mother, but about a month ago, her grandmother died and we have taken Alice, she is nine years old, and a very good disposition, I took her feeling the care very much, for I really knew so little about her, only seeing her about twice a year but we do not find her any trouble to manage, indeed have been quite surprised to see how she fits right into our household ways, she is quiet, and seems perfectly contented with Tip for a companion, he appears to love her dearly, and they are always together, Alice has only been here since last Wednesday, so of course this is only a short experience. The Perks and the Elversons are away, Mrs Berry and family think of going soon. Mrs Berry says she misses seeing you very much getting on and off the cars, and wishes to be remembered to you. You will miss the fire crackers and noise of the fourth in Canada a lucky miss I always dread the noise. I suppose you are having a good time, and keeping well, we all send love.

Lou  man_ej.00127_large.jpg


  • 1. Louisa Orr Haslam Whitman (1842–1892), called "Loo" or "Lou," married Walt's brother George Whitman on April 14, 1871. For more information on Louisa, see Karen Wolfe, "Whitman, Louisa Orr Haslam (Mrs. George) (1842–1892)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 2. George Washington Whitman (1829–1901) was the sixth child of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman and ten years Walt Whitman's junior. George enlisted in 1861 and remained on active duty until the end of the Civil War. He was wounded in the First Battle of Fredericksburg (December 1862) and was taken prisoner during the Battle of Poplar Grove (September 1864). As a Civil War correspondent, Walt wrote warmly about George's service, such as in "Our Brooklyn Boys in the War" (January 5, 1863); "A Brooklyn Soldier, and a Noble One" (January 19, 1865); "Return of a Brooklyn Veteran" (March 12, 1865); and "Our Veterans Mustering Out" (August 5, 1865). After the war, George returned to Brooklyn and began building houses on speculation, with partner Mr. Smith and later a mason named French. George also took a position as inspector of pipes in Brooklyn and Camden. Walt and George lived together for over a decade in Camden, but when Walt decided not to move with George and his wife Louisa in 1884, a rift occurred that was ultimately not mended before Walt's 1892 death. For more information on George Washington Whitman, see Martin G. Murray, "Whitman, George Washington," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 3. Ida Johnston was the daughter of Colonel John R. Johnston, the artist, whose home Walt Whitman visited almost every Sunday evening during his time in Camden. [back]
  • 4. Edward Whitman (1835–1892), called "Eddy" or "Edd," was the youngest son of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman and Walter Whitman, Sr. He required lifelong assistance for significant physical and mental disabilities, and he remained in the care of his mother until her death in 1873. During his mother's final illness, George Whitman and his wife Louisa Orr Haslam Whitman took over Eddy's care, with financial support from Walt Whitman. In 1888, Eddy was moved to an asylum at Blackwood, New Jersey. For more information on Edward, see Randall Waldron, "Whitman, Edward (1835–1892)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
Back to top