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Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, 16 March 1873

Dear Walt,

I have been wishing to write you for some days, but I have been away so much lately that it did seem as if I never would get time1

Dear Walt, I wrote Mother a long, long letter giving as near as I could the particulars about dear Matties death2—I hope and suppose that they sent it to you and that it is not necessary therefore for me to re-state it.

Dear Walt this has been and is a heavy blow to me  I was so much with her and we were so in each others confidences that it leaves me very lonly

I think Hattie has written to you about how we have broken up and are now living at Mr Bulkleys3  It is by far the best thing for us all—Mrs Bulkly was a particular friend of Matties and liked her much—she likes the children and takes good care of them—I could not very well continue to keep house without stopping Hattie's schools and I did not wish to do that—but I shall not sell my things but pack them away as I best may and hope as soon as Hattie gets a couple of years older we will try again

Well my dear Walt how is it with you—you have been and I fear are yet—sick  I hope—sincerely hope that you are getting better now—you must take good care of yourself and not attempt over exertion  From what I have heard it is a terrible sickness—and one that is apt to discourage—Dear Walt I hope you will get all right again soon

I have had to go to Jefferson City—for some three or four days—and last week was at Kansas City4—. I have been engaged to make a plan of water works for Kansas City5 and shall have to go up there again in eight or ten days

Mr Lane6 came down from Millwaukee to the funeral—I was exceeding glad to see him as he was so kind and sympathetic

When you can Dear Walt write to me—you must not accuse me of not thinking or wondering about you—I have often thought how I would like to see you and if I can so arrange my work shall come on to do so

For a few days before her death Mattie talked a great deal about you and Mother  She wanted to see you both once more and at one time thought she would try to do so  poor child she little knew how soon she would be free from her pains

Love to you dear brother and I hope you will be able to come out and see me soon—do you not think it would do you good.

I think I could make you enjoy yourself.



  • 1. On March 9 hattie wrote to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman that "Papa will never write a letter  he makes me write all the letters" (Walt Whitman Papers [Walt Whitman Papers], Library of Congress). [back]
  • 2. See Thomas Jefferson Whitman's letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman from February 24, 1873. [back]
  • 3. For the Bulkleys, see Thomas Jefferson Whitman's letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman from February 24, 1873. The specific letter Jeff refers to is not known; however, on March 14 Hattie wrote to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman that the family had moved to Bulkley's on Saturday, March 8, and that "Papa has a very nice room but I sleep with Minnie Bulkley a young lady about sixteen years old" (Walt Whitman Papers). Hattie does not mention what arrangements were made for Jessie. [back]
  • 4. Jeff disliked having to leave his daughers so soon after Mattie's death. Hattie's letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman of March 14 notes that "Papa gave me a present of a most beautiful diamond ring  it is perfectly elegant  it has 4 splendid diamonds and five emeralds and he gave me a git [gilt?] necklace and cross and a black locket with six pearls and he gave Jessie a plain gold ring.  I told him that I never got so many presents at once before  I dont know what he did it for but I suppose he gave them to me because he was sorry he was going away" (Walt Whitman Papers). [back]
  • 5. Kansas City, Missouri, was planning a new waterworks at this time. Jeff may have submitted one of the two propositions the city rejected in the spring of 1873. [back]
  • 6. See Thomas Jefferson Whitman's letter to Walt Whitman of January 13, 1863. [back]
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