Notes for LOUISA VAN VELSOR WHITMAN:
Daughter of Major Cornelius and Amy Naomi (Williams) Van Velsor.
Born: December 22, 1795 in West Hills, Huntington Township, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York.
Died: May 23, 1873 in West Hills, Huntington Township, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York.
Buried: Harleigh Cemetery, Camden, Camden County, New Jersey. (findagrave.com) Family says: Stillwell-Van Velsor Lane Burial Grounds, Cold Spring Harbor, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. Which is correct?
Married: Walt Whitman, Sr June 9, 1816 in Oyster Bay Baptist Church, Oyster Bay Township, Nassau County, Long Island, New York.
Walt Whitman's ancestry is essentially Dutch and English, like the post-Columbian settlement of Long Island. The Dutch developed the western end of the island, the English the eastern. Appropriately, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman rested to the west of the county line in the Van Velsor family plot on Stillwell near Cold Spring Harbor, while her husband of 39 years lay to the east, both in the immediate vicinity of their birthplaces.
Louisa Van Velsor, the beloved mother of America's greatest poet, was married to Walter Whitman at the Oyster Bay Baptist Church by the Reverend Marmaduke Earle, the pastor there from 1802 to 1856. She was Walt Whitman's emotional touchstone throughout his life. Louisa was a daring and daily horseback rider in her youth. She was less than five feet tall and wore the simple cloths and bonnet of a Quaker. Whitman described his mother as follows, " She was of ordinary medium size (a little plus) of splendid physique and health, a worker, had eight children, was beloved by all who met her, good-lookiing to the last, lived to be nearly 80, no tenderer and more invariable tie was ever between mother and son than the love between her and WW. No one could have seen her, and her father Major Kale (Cornelius) Van Velsor, either in their prime or in their older age, without instantly perceiving their plainly marked Hollandish physiognomy, color, and body-build. Walt Wihitman has all of it; he shows it in his old features now his full flesh and red color."
She was near illiterate as one can be who could read and write. Her grammar and spelling were "equally uncertain", according to Henry Seidel Conby. There was a special affectional bond between Whitman and his mother, and the long correspondence between them records a kind of partnership in attempting to deal with the family crises that mounted over the years... (Source: Batch#5015881 souce Call#1553677 Film Sheet 47.) Walt Whitman said that he as "Rais'd by a perfect mother", as he would declare in Leaves of Grass. He was dobutless thinking of his beloved mother who, despite her occasional illnesses and the domestic grumbling brought about by her husband's possible imtemperance, had held the family of eight children together. Her sense of humanity is probably what drew him to Christianity, whose true teaching he found useful to society, though like the fictional Barcoure he did not consider them truer than those of other religions.
GOING BACK FAR ENOUGH: LOUISA'S INFLUENCE ON HER SON WALT WHITMAN
"This daughter (Louisa) was the mother of W.W. Though developed and Anglofied and Americanized, she was Hollandisk from top to toe, and W.W. ingerits her to the life, emotionally, full-bloodness, voice, and physiognomy. - Walt Whitman's Notebooks and Unpublished Prose manuscripts page 31.
Lest the reader fall into error of Walt Whitman's sister, Mrs. Hannah Louisa Whitman Heyde, who, in her neurotic moods, used to boast of the family's wealth and distinction, it should be made plain that these Whitmans and Van Velsors were in no sense country gentry. They were, like most Americans, above the bond-servant or hired classes, substantial, hard-working Pelle, ready to turn a penny in any available way. There were no real peasants on Long Island, and, if there had been, they would have been hired folk to the Whitmans and Van Velsors. Yet there is not one trace of the aristocratic, and only a trace of the intellectual, in Walt Whitman's family tradition.
Louisa Van Velsor lived almost to be eighty years old. she was buried in the Old Van Veslor Family Burial Grounds near Cold Spring Harbor on Stillwell-Van Velsor Lane. According to Jerome Loving, the pre-eminent biographer of Walt Whitman. on page 28, Dr. Loving states"...Whitman, limping himself from a series of paralytic strokes, traveled across the country line to the birthplace and grave of the poet's mother near Cold Spring Harbor. At the cemetery, Whitman wrote up a summary of his maternal ancestry as he had for his father." (We have not located that sumary.)
More information on Louisa Van Velsor may be found from records of the East Orange Presbyterian Church in East Orange, New Jewsery. East Orange is just west of Newark.)
(Source: Clay Sigg.)