The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Whistler, William
Record 6 of 16

System Number: 00307
Date: 12 March 1892
Author: Francis Bloodgood[1]
Place: Milwaukee
Recipient: JW
Place: London
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler B83
Document Type: ALS




March 12 1892

My dear Whistler

I have not been able to redeem my promise, - perhaps forgotten by you in the lapse of time - to send you the sketch of your grandfathers[2] in Gardners Biography of the Am. Army[3] - semi-Official: because the book is not only not in print; but not to be found in the public libraries of Chicago or Milwaukee or of other cities where I have inquired[.] Press of professional matters, into which I plunged on reaching home, is my meagre excuse for neglect to acknowledge, in due time, my high appreciation of the pleasant evening passed with Mrs Whistler[4] and yourself - my last in England.

Latterly being a few days under the weather - and "off" - professionally, I have spent some hours, in the public library hunting up facts connecting the Whistlers with the early history of Chicago. and throwing light upon their kinship with the blood, in which you expressed interest I have caused extracts to be made from some of the books consulted: copies of which are inclosed [sic]. I also send a copy of an obituary notice of your cousin John Whistler[5] of Sac & Fox Tribe. Also extract from the biography of your father[6], in Collum's[7] Biographical Register of the U. S. Military Academy, published in 1890; which you may have never seen, Vol VI of Appletons Cyclopedia of American Biography[8] contains full sketches of all the Whistlers, who have attained distinction; with which work you are probably familiar. As an Addenda I enclose a leaf from a periodical, of recent issue, containing a notice of Lieut G W Whistler[9] U S. Artillery, a son of the General, now becoming prominent, in connection with an invention in Ordinance. I also send a copy of a notice of yourself, in the Milwaukee Sentinel; the leading Daily of Wisconsin. This Lieut. Whistler is also a cousin of mine, on the Bloodgood side - Gen. W. having married my father's niece[10] - the third intermarriage between the Bloodgood's and the Whistlers, in as many consecutive generations. I, here give the name of Bloodgood precedence; because although the progenitors of the American Whistlers was an Indian fighter, shortly after 1776, he of the Bloodgoods - Capt Francis[11] - from whom the present generation is VIII removed - [p. 2] fell in a fight with the Indians in 1676. The circumstance that Maj. John Whistler, built Fort Dearborn on the site of Chicago, will bring his name into prominence at the Exposition[12]. The construction of a facsimile of the Fort, on the Exposition grounds, to be garrisoned by a detachment of the organization, now representing Whistlers old regiment, has already been discussed. And several Eastern papers have suggested the propriety of his descendant, the artist, contributing something to mark an event recognized as the foundation of Chicago.

Maj - then Capt - Whistler, when, in 1803, he came to build Chicago the Fort, brought with him his son George W[13], in his third year; and was also accompanied by his son William[14], a lieut. in his command. Lewis[15] the eldest child of William, born in 1805, was the first white boy born on the site of Chicago. An Orator of that great Metropolis, some years ago, in describing the landing of Capt Whistler, speaks of it as the first time the Indians of the headwaters of our great inland Seas ever beheld the Stars and Stripes.

No Ensign but the Fleur de lis[16], which a half century before had floated from a Fort on the same site, was known to these [Children?] of the Forest. And the Orator facetiously continued, Capt Whistler had to detail to these Aboriginees [sic] the incidents and result of the War of Independence: and to expound to them the Constitution of the New Republic.

Could you not find in some of these Attendant scenes a fit subject for your pencil or brush - The disembarkation - The planting of the Stockade - The council with the dusky Chiefs. &c &c. Again, a painting in a Gallery of Ohio - the dark and bloody ground of the early Indian Wars, - represents Sergt. Maj. Whistler, with sixty men, defending a Stockade against ten fold as many savages. A representation of some of the incidents on the Miami[17], in [p. 3][18]1891, the hottest musketry fight on the American Continent, at which Whistler was severely wounded, might match the scene at the Stockade. The suggestions herein made, with the extracts herewith enclosed, may tend to show, that you are but a pillar in a family fame, which has its Achilles of the bush, as well as it's Homer of the brush.

I met here, a day or two ago, a most ardent admirer of yours: W. S. Carter[19] a prominent lawyer of New York City who said he expected to see you in the course of a month. By whom I sent my remembrances. His house is said to be full of etchings "from turret to foundation stone," but the place of honor is to Whistler's own.

I have just heard of the arrival at Gibralter of my Eldest son Francis[20] & wife. After touching on Africa, & running through lower Spain, and Italy & France, he takes in England on some legal matter, as well as a tourist; and in the latter capacity may, perhaps, "do up" all Britain - He has promised me to report to you in London, Although one more remove from the blood, I trust he will receive your favorable consideration. He has all the muscle as well as the valor of both strains. And had he been present at the rencontre[21], your version of which as well as that of the hostile press, the lightning had brought to America, before I reached the Continent, on my return home, some one would have been unmistakably, but perhaps unrecognizably whipped, could he have taken part therein; and thereby won a page in some future Edition of the "Gentle Art[22]"

I enclose a slip from a Philadelphia Daily [p. 4] of the 6th instant[23]. My son Joseph[24] - in his 25th year - a graduate of last year of the Pennsylvania University, is the Dr Bloodgood therein referred to. Please hand the slip to Dr Whistler[25] and remind him of his promise to write me.

In closing I beg leave to say, that should you come to the Exposition: & make us a visit at Milwaukee - now a city of two hundred and fifty thousand, about a two hours ride by mail from Chicago - & where I have been domiciled since 1854 - for which visit we extend to Mrs W & yourself a most cordial invitation, we will not only give you a hearty welcome: but - will - while you are here - with us - the Exposition will be "left out" of consideration

With regards to Mrs Whistler, and all requisite apologies for the freedom of vein and length of this epistle
I am
Your appreciative Cousin

F. Bloodgood

To James A McN Whistler Esq
21 Cheyne Place

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Francis Bloodgood
Francis Bloodgood, Sr (b. ca 1828), of Bloodgood, Bloodgood and Kemper, Milwaukee [more].

2.  grandfathers
John Whistler (d. 1829), father of George Washington Whistler [more].

3.  Gardners Biography of the Am. Army
Gardner, Charles K., Dictionary of the Army of the United States, New York, 1853.

4.  Mrs Whistler
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more].

5.  John Whistler
Not identified.

6.  father
George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), engineer, JW's father [more].

7.  Collum's
Brevet Major General George Washington Cullum (1809-1892), U. S. army officer and biographer [more]: Cullum, G. W., Biographical Register of the United States Military Academy, first published in 1868.

8.  Appletons Cyclopedia of American Biography
Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, New York, 1888.

9.  Lieut G W Whistler
Not identified.

10.  father's niece
Not identified.

11.  Capt Francis
Captain Francis Bloodgood (d.1676), ancestor of Francis Bloodgood.

12.  Exposition
World's Columbian Exposition, Department of Fine Arts, Chicago, 1893.

13.  George W
George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), engineer, JW's father [more].

14.  William
Probably William Whistler, uncle of T. L. Whistler, sailor.

15.  Lewis
Lewis Whistler, JW's cousin, son of Lieut. William Whistler.

16.  Fleur de lis
The Royal flag of France.

17.  Miami
Fort Dearborn was erected under the superintendence of Major John Whistler, who was also the overseer of the construction of Fort Wayne. Major Whistler was taken prisoner with Burgoyne at Saratoga in 1777, and remained in the United States. He settled in Maryland, and in 1790-91 joined the troops under General St Clair, and was with him at his defeat on the Miami in November 1791, where he was acting as adjutant and was wounded.

18.  [p. 3]
The printed letterhead appears at the top of p. 3 as it does on p. 1.

19.  W. S. Carter
Walter Steuben Carter (1824-1904), lawyer [more].

20.  Francis
Francis Bloodgood, Jr (b. ca 1863), eldest son of Francis Bloodgood.

21.  rencontre
Fr., meeting. He is referring to accounts of JW's quarrel with Augustus Martin Moore (d. 1918), journalist and acting manager [more].

22.  Gentle Art
Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890.

23.  Philadelphia Daily [p. 4] of the 6th instant
A Philadelphia newspaper of 6 March 1892, reference not located.

24.  Joseph
Joseph Bloodgood, Jr (b.1867), son of Francis Bloodgood [more].

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