The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: McNeill, Maria
Record 18 of 20

System Number: 06487
Date: 17 August and 16 September 1857
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Albany
Recipient: JW
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W482
Document Type: ALS

180 State St., Albany

Monday Augt 17th 1857

My own dear first born[2],

tho I have no home on earth, many are open to welcome me on my pilgrimage. I am revived by the affection in them extended to me. How benefitted I have been in health and spirits by rest the Sulphur Springs during the five weeks at Richfield[3], which terminated last Saturday.

Brooklyn Sept 16 Cousin Eliza[4]

Cousin Eliza Van Vechtens trio of children were so fond of Aunt Anna. I could not write you of them the Monday I was there. She talked of you and of Sis[5] wishing she could see you both again. Aunt Hamilton[6] was there and spoke of Jemie fondly and hopefully. It was a healthful and loving family group. Cousin E grows plump and is improved in appearance, her home in State St built by her exemplary husband[7] is very nice and convenient, he urged my staying til Tuesday and gave me a free ticket on the Hudson River R R[8] as one of his family and escorted me to the cars, steady rain all Mon, this made the journey very pleasant. I called at Mr Jaffrays[9] princely business house in Park Place to report all well in Albany. he invited me to go home with him to Grange very pressingly, but I was too eager to join Willie, I forget dear Jemie whether I wrote you of having been sent by Doctor Darrach[10] to the sea breezes from the heat of Phila early in July & I was kept in suspense a fortnight having written Willie[11] to join me at Richfield Springs, ignorant of his being under Dr Palmers[12] medical treatment, I expected him by the Stage each afternoon for a fortnight, At the end of it Aunt Kate[13] wrote me of his having had an attack of eratic rheumatism, the pain on the heart the Dr attributed to rapid growth, prohibited smoking & bathing so Willie was nourished & petted not only at the Corner House[14] but at "Walnut Grove[15]" Mrs Day[16] often sent her carriage for him to spend the day, for fatigue was against the doctors orders to him, Aunt Kate wrote me he was no longer the pale blue lad he had been & this was the first idea of his having been an invalid Dr D having merely recommended to me Willie should have a recess this July to brace him for a winter of severe application to study. So I found the dear fellow after his months happy sojourn at Stonington in excellent spirits & tho thin, rosy & handsome, he had ingratiated himself into Cousin Ginnies[17] favor, she said she had never known Willie before, such a charming companion! so full of anecdote & wit. The Days continued to write him to take [drives?] & for Picnics or sailing parties. Abby & Helen[18] calling him Willie while the little children dignified him by "Doctor Whistler" he had rather taken a prejudice as a lad against Mr Day[19], but now likes him so much! several nice young ladies were guests at Walnut Grove & tho I knew dear Willie must soon leave me to return to Phila. I sacrificed my own yearning for his companionship, no wonder he felt homesick and had the blues on the way to N Y, for he had left the merry dance at Helen [p. 2] Days juvenile party to join me on board the Plymouth Rock[20]. However Jacks[21] soon joined him at Gdma C's[22] where Sarah[23] & nurse waited upon them. I of course in attendance upon dear Cousin Isabella Kings[24] sick room, tho I came to Sidney Place[25] only to enquire about the dear invalid - I usually went to 148 Joralemon[26] at about nine every morning to see Jacks & Willie at their breakfast. Mr Flagg[27] was there too & all he could tell us of Jemie was interesting. Charlie Camman[n][28] was there one day at breakfast & lamented not having found you in Paris, he tried & so did Hen[ry] Whitehouse[29], the latter is now settled at house keeping with his youthful wife & infant son, in a few doors below Gdma C. Willie & Jacks went to Union Place purposely to see the painting Jemie had done for Dick Palmer[30], they expressed approval of your progress in painting. Mrs Tho Winans[31] wrote me a month ago for Jemies direction in Paris as her husband wished it. I hoped Mr Flagg could have enlightened me, but he could only describe your new lodgings as greatly preferable to 11 Rue Poupee[32] so I had to wait til Dick P returned to his country house in N Y. his father[33] has lately established, him as an importer of silks, Jacks found him reclining on a sofa smoking! while fifteen of his clerks were busy in executing Dicks orders, your direction was at length obtained & enclosed in my letter to Balt, whether it is the precursor of an order from Mr Winans or merely to send you a parcel, time will show. I will not reproach you for neglecting to write your Mother, since the New Year & the new abode. Mr Flagg speaks fondly of you, tells me you are popular & improved he thinks in every way, Your greater personal care he remarked upon & thought the visit of Sis had induced it - tho I had not induced his remark by any question. My heart always aches silently at the neglect of Jemie to contribute to my comfort by responding to love letters, prayer is my only solace. Mr Flagg says your dissipation is more of the head than heart & he thinks Jemies principles will at length prevail over temptation. Charlie Cammann is greatly improved in appearance & tone, he spoke of Paris as a perilous place to religion, The Lords day so like other days! but he told of the Rev Mr Kirks[34] eloquence at the American chapel & also of his edification while in Rome in listening to another of our clergymen as tho his resorting to public worship had not been interrupted abroad. You will hear of Charlie & his beautiful bride[35], after [he] is established as his father's partner in Wall St. I saw him at one of the desks among the clerks when Willie & I called at Cammanns & Co[36]. by advice from George[37] to deposit with those brokers the Bonds on Wabash & Erie R R[38] now yielding no income. the bankruptcy of that Co. involves ruin to many. Adolfe Rodewaldes[39] failure is attributed to his speculations in that stock. dear Julie[40] shines under this cloud, she has occupied an enviable home on Staten Island this Summer, a most complete mansion enclosed by acres under cultivation, but she told me the other day it must all be sold soon! I had crossed in the half past eight N Brighton boat to avoid the heat & spent the day with herself & her fond sweet children. she sent then a driver to take me back to the ferry, but said she could not bear to be seen in her carriage now, offered for sale!

[p. 3] Jacks went to spend Sunday at Jules[41] yesterday, I am writing you in the interval between attendance at church, as I can be better spared from the sick chamber, this day of rest to Mr King[42], he is devoted to his sick patient Isabella[,] dear Ida[43] is hovering around the bed, realizing at last she may soon be motherless, her Aunt Mrs Genl Clinche[44] of Georgia came to take my place here last July when I went for my health to Richfield. she is so tenderly devoted & so experienced as a nurse I know my absence will scarcely be felt, if I go to Stonington this week, Jacks procured me a free ticket in case I may go, it will be very trying to leave my dear Cousin when any hour may be her last, but I have an engagement at Pomfret with my dentist & am suffering meanwhile, my health is better for the Sulphur Springs, but the disorder having been not entirely cured, my right eye is the weak point now, however I hope it is not to continue so for I have much sewing to accomplish for Willie & self. he reports his recommencement of medical study under Dr Darrach & tho he laments their pleasant bachelor lodging is broken up, he will find the family circle of the Dr friends of the Darrachs. Willie is sorry she [sic] has not a vacant apartment, in case I may winter in Phila[45], but tho I earnestly hope I may be in that city it may be necessary for me to occupy my room at the cottage, til another tenant offers to take the cottage. How thankful I feel to George for arranging the Warbash interests thru Cammann & Co to be paid by them while no dividends are made, how sadly perplexed I should have been if dear Willies prospects had been interfered with for lack of income. George wrote me in July very kindly, tho he deplored your silence - as I do, write as soon what you are engaged in & how is your health. Mr King desires to be remembered to you & says when he is able to send you an order it will be to copy "The burial of Atala"[46] in the Louvre gallery. he once owned a copy of it a large fine picture three feet square, from association with his dear Isabella as her selection when they were in Paris, he very naturally wishes to have it to contemplate again. You called Ida "the Countess" she is very tiny yet but prettier than ever! The Countess sends love to Jemie as she always does in my letters to Willie. I [sic] will be a week tomorrow since he left Brooklyn, not expecting to leave Phila again this year. When I have the rare treat of a letter from Paris he will enjoy it as much as Mother will. Jacks does not expect to return to Balt, as Ross Winans[47] works are not yielding income. I wish employment may offer in N Y for Jacks, tho he hopes George may send for him to join him at Alexandroffsky[48]. Julius Adams[49] has come to settle in Brooklyn with his family, his son Jule enters West Point[50] immediately. Mr Gamble[51] desired love to Jemie. all friends do ask when I have heard from you

Ever your devoted Mother


[p. 4] Jemie

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1.  Anna Matilda Whistler
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more].

2.  My own dear first born
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more].

3.  Richfield
See AMW to JW, 13 and 15 July 1857, #06485.

4.  Cousin Eliza
Eliza Van Vechten (b. ca 1824), née Hamilton, AMW's cousin [more]. By 1857 Eliza had given birth to five children, Hamilton Van Vechten (b. 1844), Cornelia Van Vechten (b. 1847), Ann ('Annie') Van Vechten (b. 1852), Abraham Van Vechten (b. 1854) and Estelle Van Vechten (b. 1856). It seems that only three survived.

5.  Sis
Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more].

6.  Aunt Hamilton
Catherine Hamilton ('Aunt Hamilton') (1788-1874), née Whistler, JW's aunt [more].

7.  husband
Abraham Van Vechten, Sr (1819-1884), husband of E. Hamilton [more].

8.  Hudson River R R
Hudson River Railroad; see AMW to JW, 27 August 1851, #06399.

9.  Jaffrays
Probably the family of Richmond Woodriff Jaffray (1813-1862), merchant [more].

10.  Doctor Darrach
James Darrach (1828-1869), physician in Philadelphia [more].

11.  Willie
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

12.  Dr Palmers
Dr George E. Palmer (1803-1868), physician, AMW's brother-in-law [more].

13.  Aunt Kate
Catherine ('Kate') Jane Palmer (ca 1812 - d.1877), née McNeill, AMW's sister [more].

14.  Corner House
The house owned by Dr G. E. Palmer; it was built in 1787, situated in the corner of Main and Wall Streets at Stonington, CT.

15.  Walnut Grove
Probably the residence of the Day family.

16.  Mrs Day
Mrs Day, an acquaintance of AMW, probably from Stonington, CT.

17.  Cousin Ginnies
Virginia ('Ginnie') Carry Fairfax (d. 1878), née Ragland, wife of D. McN. Fairfax [more].

18.  Abby & Helen Days
Abby and Helen Day, sisters.

19.  Mr Day
Probably Philip Day, of Stonington, CT, father of Abby and Helen Day.

20.  Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock (1854, 1607.58 tons), Commodore Vanderbilt; see AMW to JW, 12-15 October 1855, #06468.

21.  Jacks
Patrick T. Jackson ('Jacks') McNeill (1835-1898), accountant, JW's cousin [more].

22.  Gdma C's
Maria Margaretta Cammann ('Grandma C') (1774-1862), mother-in-law of William Gibbs McNeill [more].

23.  Sarah
Probably Sarah Lewis, wife of P. T. J. McNeill.

24.  Cousin Isabella Kings
Isabella King (1805-1857), née Gibbs, cousin of AMW [more]. She died on 9 September. Her death was announced in the New York Herald, 10 September 1857, no. 7679.

25.  Sidney Place
8 Sidney Place was the home address of Isabella King; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 9 November 1857, #06491.

26.  l48 Joralemon
148 Joralemon Street, New York, was the home address of Grandmother Cammann; see Brooklyn City Directory, New York, 1861, p. 59.

27.  Mr Flagg
Eliza Flagg (1830-1855), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of Rev. E. O. Flagg [more].

28.  Charlie Camman[n]
Charles ('Charlie') Cammann, JW's uncle; he had visited Paris with Henry Whitehouse (see below); see AMW to JW, 29 January 1857, #06480.

29.  Hen[ry] Whitehouse
James Henry Whitehouse (1833-1924), banker [more], and his wife. AMW did not approve of Mrs H. Whitehouse; see AMW to JW, 15 December 1856, #06477.

30.  painting Jemie had done for Dick Palmer
W. Richard ('Dick') Suydam Palmer (1834-1870), son of Courtlandt and Mary Ann Palmer [more]. This may have been Copy after Ingres's 'Roger délivrant Angélique' (YMSM 11), or Copy after Mignard's 'La Vierge à la grappe' (YMSM 12). An alternative possibility is that it was Portrait of Major G. W. Whistler (2) (YMSM 29), which passed to another member of the Palmer family, Emma Woodbridge Palmer (1835-1912), JW's step-cousin [more]. It was not a copy done, like the other two, in the Louvre, but it may have been loosely based on a portrait of Whistler's father. See AMW to JW, 13-15 July 1857, #06485.

31.  Mrs. Tho. Winans
Celeste Winans (1823-1861), née Revillon, wife of Thomas De Kay Winans [more].

32.  11 Rue Poupee
JW gave this address when he registered at the Musées Imperiaux on 7 April 1857 (#09214).

33.  father
Probably Courtland ('Uncle Court') Palmer, Sr (1800-1874), merchant, brother of Dr G. E. Palmer [more].

34.  Rev Mr. Kirks
Rev. Francis Johnston Kirk (b. 1826), Roman catholic priest of the church of St Peter and St Edward, Pimlico.

35.  bride
Mrs Charles Louis Cammann, a relation of Dr G. P. Cammann.

36.  Camman & Co
JW was connected to the banking firm of Camman and Co. on his mother's side. Maria Camman had married William Gibbs McNeill (1800-1853), railway engineer, AMW's brother [more].

37.  George
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more].

38.  Wabash & Erie RR
Part of the Toledo, Wabash and Western Railroad which was formed in 1856 out of two companies: The Toledo and Illinois Railroad Company and the Lake Erie, Wabash and St Louis Railroad. Much of JW and his mothers' income depended on dividends from the Warbash and Erie Rail Road. Speculation on both railroads and canals made this a high risk area of investment. Bitter legal and literal battles resulted in the collapse of many major businesses.

39.  Adolfe Rodewalds
Adolfe Rodewald, Jr (b. 1853), son of J. C. and A. Rodewald.

40.  Julie
Julia Catherine Rodewald (1825-1897), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of A. Rodewald, Sr [more].

41.  Jules
Jules, possibly one of the Rodewald family.

42.  Mr. King
Ralph King (1801-1878), broker, father-in-law of W. McN. Whistler [more].

43.  Ida
Ida Bayard Whistler, née King (d. 1863), JW's sister-in-law [more].

44.  her Aunt Mrs Genl Clinche
Sophia Clinch, née Gibbs, widow of Brig. Gen. Duncan Lamont Clinch (1787-1849), congressman [more].

45.  winter in Phila
AMW spent most of the winter of 1857-58 at South Bay, Charlestown; see #06493 - #06496. She visited Phildelphia twice, on 2 December 1857, and then again on 29 June 1858 (#06492, and #06497).

46.  The burial of Atala
A. L. Girodet, The Entombment of Atala (z181). It is not known whether JW ever made a copy of the painting as none survives.

47.  Ross Winans
Ross Winans (1796-1877), locomotive manufacturer, father of JW's sister-in-law [more].

48.  Alexandroffsky
'Alexandroffsky Mechanical Works,' railway works established in Russia by the firm of Harrison, Winans, Eastwick; see AMW to JW, 15, 16 and 18 September 1848, #06363, and AMW to Thomas Henry Seymour, February 1855, #09560. George William Whistler, his wife and son had arrived in St Petersburg by January 1857; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 13 January 1857, #06479.

49.  Julius Adams
Julius Walker Adams, Sr (1812-1899), civil engineer and soldier [more].

50.  Jule enters West Point
Julius Walker Adams, Jr (1840-1865), graduate of USMA, West Point [more]. He must have been admitted as cadet on 5 September 1857. He graduated on 24 June 1861. For the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, see AMW to JW, 10 June 1851, #06396.

51.  Mr Gamble
James H. Gamble (b. 1820), clerk [more].