In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Nehemiah Whitman

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1845 and 1861

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00556

Source: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library. Transcribed from digital images of the original. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of manuscripts, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: This manuscript consists of notes about Whitman's family history. The various dates referenced suggest that the earliest portions of it were written sometime after 1845, and most of the notes seem to have been written at various stages between 1845 and 1855. Edward Grier dates the recto to 1850, and speculates that the earliest date for the writing on the verso is likely March 1853, when the two Cumberland Street houses were sold (Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 1:8). For footnotes relating the names listed here to Whitman, see Grier. Whitman made additions to the manuscript several times, adding to it for the last time sometime around 1861. One of the names referenced on the verso, Covert, appears as a character in both Whitman's short story "Revenge and Requital" (1845) and his novel Life and Adventures of Jack Engle (1852). The name is also mentioned in an early notebook draft of the plot of Jack Engle (see "a schoolmaster").

Contributors to digital file: Janel Cayer, Jeannette Schollaert, Kevin McMullen, Nicole Gray, and Kenneth M. Price

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           Whitman built the old [homestead?] in which was born Nehemiah Whitman, [illegible]rents [illegible] [was born at?] [the?]descended from one of the earliest English emigrants to America, was born and died on the old [Hills?] homestead at West Hills—which was inherited by his son, His wife was Phebe Sarah White—

Sarah Whiteborn about 1713
"          "died          " 180[1?]

see next page—bottom

Jesse Whitman,born Jan. 29, 1749
"          "died Feb. 12, 1803
Hannah Brushborn Oct. 6 1753

                                                                                       Married, April 22, 1775

"          "died Jan. 6, 1834

The Whitman and Brush families were among the most ardent of the the "Rebels" of '76, in Suffolk county.—See "Reminiscences."—One of the latter, Maj. Brush, was often and angrily denounced by the British ^local proclamations, and by the loyalists of Long Island. He was confined for a time in the "Provost" in New York, under the charge of the infamous Cunningham

Jesse Whitman, jrborn June 25, 1776
          Died at Dix Hills, Sept. 8, 1845
Sarah Whitman,born Jan. 1, 1778.
          died Feb. 2, 1852
Naomi Van Velsordied, February 1826
Major Cornelius Van Velsor^born 1758. died August, 1837, aged 679
          (He was son of Garret Van Velsor
Garret Van Velsor,died 1812parents of Major Van Velsor
Jenny Kossabon Phebe Akeley          

One of the sons of Nehemiah Whitman was a Lieutenant in Col. Josiah Smith's Regiment of the ^American Patriot Army ^of 1776 under ^ chief command of Washington,

See 1st edition Reminiscences of Long Island, vol. 2, page 28 or vol 1, page 87

He was in the disastrous battle of Brooklyn Col. Smiths ^the reg. having been ordered to place themselves under Gen. Greene, some days before that battle,—by Brig. Gen. Woodhull, who had charge general charge on L. I.— was also President of the N. Y. Convention.—

The L.I. regiment were hemmed in the lines


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We moved to Brooklyn, (Front st.) in May, 1823.

Moved to Cranberry st. (opposite the church,) in '24

" " Johnson st. May 1st 1825.—(Covert, the villain

" Across the way, (Van Dyke's) were there 4th July 1826

" Adams st, lived there spring of '27

" To Tillary cor. Washington, (Miller's) 1st May 1827

" To own house in Nov. and lived there till Nov. 1831

Lived in Henry st. (near Cranberry,) the winter before the first cholera summer.

Moved to Liberty st. Were there the firstone of cholera summers.—(The old Hardenburghs up stairs) (I was there alone in the house a while.) The miserable scoundrel Gil. Reid, and the suffering he caused us all.—Graham the old devil, that owned the house.)

Moved from Liberty st. to Front st, (eastern part, and lived there in spring and early summer of 1833.—^mother very sick. (Mrs. Sibley.)

Family Moved in the country.—Lived at Norwich in 1834 I remained in Brooklyn

From there to Hempstead—were there 1835–6.—

Moved from Hempstead to Babylon, Aug. 1836

" to Dix Hills in May, 1840

" from Dix Hills to Brooklyn Aug. 6, 1844.

I remaining in Brooklyn

Moved into house in Prince st. in Dec. 1844

I Built the place 106 Myrtle av. in winter of 1848–9, and moved in, latter part of April '49

I [Built?]Sold the Myrtle av. house in May, '52, and built in Cumberland street, where we moved Sept. 1st, '52.

Sold the two 3 story houses in Cumberland st. March 1853. Moved into the little 2 story house ^Cumberland st April 21st, '53 (lived there just one year exactly.)

Built in Skillman st, and moved there May, 1854

Moved in Ryerson st, May 1855.—Lived in Classon ^from May 1st '56, '7 '8 '9

Lived in Portland av. from May 1st '59 '60 '61

Sarah White, my great grandmother Whitman, lived to be 90 years old.—She was a large, strong woman, chewed tobacco, opium &c.—petted her slaves, and had always a crowd of little niggers about her.—She would sit with her feet up before the fire, just like a man—was every way decided and masculine in behavior

The tradition of my grandfather, Jesse Whitman, was that there were four brothers, Englishmen ^his remote ancestors who came over here.—One settled on Long Island—West Hills was formerly inhabited and owned very largely by Whitmans.—


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