The purpose of this project is to celebrate Samuel L. Clemens' life in Redding, Connecticut by documenting and showcasing his time here in multiple formats both online and offline. Your donations & site sponsorships will help me dedicate more time to these projects and allow me to get them online sooner.

Friday, February 22

The Mark Twain Trail

The Mark Twain Trail is a map of people and places connected to Mark Twain's years in Redding, Connecticut that Susan Durkee prepared in 2006. Susan Durkee is a very talented portrait artist and a huge fan of Twain that just happens to live in a house that sits on the foundation of the Lobster Pot (which was lost to fire in 1953). Susan's artwork, shown to the left, appeared on the Clemens Centennial Vodka Bottles I gave away in 2008. While discussing the bottle artwork we ventured off on a number of topics but most importantly her trail map of Twain's time in Redding.

Creating a full featured Online Twain Trail Map with photos has been a goal finally realized earlier this week.

Susan's map is available at the Mark Twain Library and contains the stops along the Tour de Twain. If you would like to come to Redding for a personal tour, call me at 860-364-7475 or email me at

1. Stormfield. Mark Twain's last home. Twain, encouraged by his biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine, bought the property in 1906, sight unseen. A year later, he hired John Mead Howells to design an 18 room, two story Italianate Villa. Lyon, Paine and Mark Twain's daughter, Clara Clemens, selected the location for the house; Lyon, his secretary, supervise its construction. Access to Stormfield is rare. If you are coming to Redding and wish to see it, please keep in mind that it is a private residence. With advanced notice we can contact the owners and request a viewing...not guarantee it. Location- Mark Twain Lane.

2. The Lobster Pot. A circa 1720 saltbox located on Mark Twain Lane, a part of Twain's Stormfield property. He called the house the "Lobster Pot" as it reminded him of lobster pots he had seen in Maine...the name may also tie-in to Twain's Aquarium as Isabel Lyon lived in this house and it's possible Twain or one of his Angelfish may have playfully referred to Isabel's house as the Lobster Pot. Original house was lost to fire in 1953, but the gardens and patios remain. Location- Mark Twain Lane. Portrait Artist Susan Durkee owns the Lobster Pot and with advanced notice is available for a tour of the grounds.

3. Markland. Twain gave his biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine a seven acre parcel of land upon which to build a studio, yet insisted that Paine adapt the studio to accommodate a billiards table; "then when I want exercise. I can walk down and play billiards with you, and when you want exercise you can walk up and play billiards with me." Location- Mark Twain Lane. Markland is a private residence and rarely available for viewing.

4. Albert Bigelow Paine's house. It was through Paine that Twain discovered Redding. During the last four years of Twain's life, Paine became a virtual member of the family. Paine's house was an an antique saltbox, which burned down in 1972.

5. Umpawaug Chapel. It opened on October 11th, 1908. On October, 28, 1908, Twain dedicated a nearby chapel as the temporary location for the Mark Twain Library. He donated thousands of books from his personal collection. The library was actively used, and a librarian was on hand Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. Location- Corner of Diamond Hill Road and Umpawaug Road. Private Residence, chapel entry is now enclosed and integrated into the house.

6. W.E. Grumman's House. Grumman was Twain's last stenographer, he was also the first librarian of the Mark Twain Library. Location- across from Mark Twain Lane on Diamond Hill Road. Current owner is very active at the Mark Twain Library.

7. H.A. Lounsbury House. Lounsbury was Twain's caretaker and livery man at Stormfield. Lounsbury along with Deputy Sheriff Banks, helped capture the two burglars who robbed Stormfield in 1908. Twain always gave credit for the success of their capture to Lounsbury. The burglars and Banks were "fixed up" by the local doctor on the front lawn. Location- Diamond Hill Road, next to the waterfall.

8. The Mark Twain Library. The library officially opened at its present location on February 18, 1911. Upstairs is a part of the original building. Location- Corner of Diamond Hill Road and Route 53.

9. Stormfield Barns and Two Family House. The only original buildings remaining at Stormfield- a two-family house, large stable, chicken coop and outbuildings. Private residence.

10. Jean's Farm. Twain purchased this farm, which abutted his own property, for his daughter Jean Clemens. Jean joyfully filled the farm with a collection of poultry and domestic animals during her time in Redding. Tragically, she died on Christmas eve, 1909 and Twain promptly had the property sold to build a wing in her honor at the new Library. This property aided the library a second time just several years ago when it was deeded to the Mark Twain Library by Helen and Allen Hermes. The library in turn sold the property to raise much needed operational funding. Location- Route 107 across from Lee Lane. Private Residence.

11. Theodore Adams' House. Mr. Adams donated the land where the Mark Twain Library sits today at the corner of Diamond Hill Rd. and Route 53. Of course, Adams needed a little coaxing from Twain himself. The Adams' house is on Great Pasture Road.

12. Dan Beard's House. Dan Beard was Twain's illustrator and devoted friend. Among the many books and stories he illustrated for Twain included: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Following the Equator, American Claimant, Tom Sawyer Abroad. He designed the wreath for Twain's funeral and published a eulogy to him in the American Review of Reviews. Located on Great Pasture Road.

13. West Redding Train Station. On June 18, 1908, just before 6pm, the Berkshire Express out of NYC made a special stop for Mark Twain's first visit to Redding, Connecticut. The railroad continued to make this special stop from that day on in order to accommodate Twain and his many visitors to Stormfield. The original train station was in front of the building you see there today that houses the Baptist Church. This building, though altered over the years, is original and existed during Twain's time in Redding.

14. Old Town House. The Old Town House in the Historic District of Redding Center is where the Stormfield Burglars were arraigned just 10 hours after the robbery. Twain's house was robbed at midnight and by 12 noon the next day the burglars were off to jail in Bridgeport, CT. Ya don't mess with Twain!

15. The Saugatuck Reservoir. Back in 1910 this was a glen and both Sam and Jean enjoyed taking walks and nature watching down there.

View the Online Twain Trail Map with photos

Friday, February 8

Clemens Centennial Vodka Goes into Production

The artwork for the bottle labels has been sent to Cisco Brewers of Nantucket. Jay Harman is the CFO of Cisco Brewers and a former Reddingite. His Vodka- Triple Eight [888] Vodka is an ultra-premium vodka, triple distilled from the highest quality organically grown grain. It is then blended with exceptionally clean and soft water drawn from well #888 in Nantucket. Triple Eight outscored Ketel One in the 2003 and 2004 World Spirit Championships.

I knew the vodka would be the perfect match for our fundraising efforts when I saw the three 8 balls on the label. Billiards and Twain seemed to go hand and hand here in Redding.

For our own purposes Mr. Clemens will appear in place of the 8 balls. The artwork comes from Susan Durkee who lives on the Lobster Pot property on Mark Twain Lane in Redding. To view the artwork click here.

At the moment I have an order in for three (3) cases, six (6) bottles per case. We will auction some, sell some and use the rest to reward volunteer efforts. If there is an interest out there to purchase more cases, I'm willing to me at

Monday, February 4

Guestbook Entries September 12-29, 1909

September 12th: Irving Batchelle + 3 friends
Notes: Ridgefield

September 14th: Mrs. Knox + 2 Masters Bronson
Notes: Ridgefield

September 18th: Anniversary. A year ago the burglars broke into the house at midnight. They were condemned to terms of 4 and 9 years. Persons of their sort had been plying this trade in the house for a long time, but we were not aware of it. This 18th close all relations with them. [The word "this" is underlined]

September 21st: Concert 3pm. In aid of the village library building fund.

Concert Team:

Ossip Gabrilowitsch
David Bispham
Clara Clemens
Mark Twain
+525 other guests

September 25th: Announcement!!

September 26th: Final + Total extinction of the Sandhogs! Many Thanks!

September 29th: I came back from the Hudson-Fulton celebration, N.Y.

Saturday, February 2

Funeral Expenses

Bouton & Son Funeral Home
West Church Street, Georgetown, Connecticut
April 23, 1910

Mahogany Casket $450.00
Mahogany Box $100.00
Professional Services $50.00
Embalming $50.00
Hearse at Redding $8.00 [likely Zalmon Read Livery. BMC]
Hearse at New York Grand Central Depot to 37th Street $6.00
Hearse from 37th Street to Delaware, Lackawanna & Western $7.00
Transferring Box to Hoboken $3.50
Four Porters at $3.50 each $14.00
Coach from 37th Street to 22nd Street $4.00
Conveyor for Flowers $3.50
Corpse Ticket Redding to New York City $1.20
Corpse Ticket New York City to Elmira, NY $6.10

Total: $703.30

The Aquarium

Sam explains the M.A. notations in the Stormfield Guestbook with the following:

"The Aquarium is a club of 12 school girls. I appointed them. I am curator [otherwise Autocrat] and the only male member."

Subordinate Officers:
Clara Clemens, Mother Superior
Miss Lyon, Chatelaine [meaning-Woman who owns or controls a large house. BMC]
Daniel Fishman, Legal Staff
R.W. Ashcroft, Legal Staff

"The Aquarium's official device is an Angel-Fish"

Angelfish appearing in the Stormfield Guestbook [in the order they visited] -

Dorothy Harvey, M.A. from Deal Beach, New Jersey. First week of July 1908 [8 days]
Louise Paine, M.A. Redding, Connecticut. First week of July 1908 [8 days]
Majorie S. Breckinridge, M.A. Redding Glen, Connecticut. Sept. 8-9, 1908
Frances Nunnally, M.A. Peachtree Road, Georgia. Sept. 27-29, 1908

SLC: "Francesca" the year before aged 16- while I was on the other side to receive an Oxford degree, she helped me pay calls in London every day for two weeks. Her picture is in the billiard room with the other M.A.'s [Members of the Aquarium]"

Margaret Blackmer, M.A. Briarcliff, New York. October 2-5, 1908

SLC: "Margaret of the Shell"

Margaret visited Stormfield three times. Sam notes after one of the visits "In 3 more days she will be 13 yrs. old. A New Year's Gift was Margaret, a pretty rare one too."

On April 10, 1909 at Noon, SLC writes: "Margaret is due to arrive here with her mother at 5:45 this evening. It is an event: an event like the advent of spring after winter. The scamp will be welcome. Also her mother."

Helen Schuyler Allen, M.A. Bermuda. October 16-17, 1909

Stormfield Guestbook

Guestbook's Opening Pages-

I bought this farm of 200 acres three years ago, on the suggestion of Albert Bigelow Paine, who said its situation and surroundings would content me- a prophecy which came true 3 years later, when I arrived on the ground. John Howells, architect and Clara Clemens and Miss Lyon planned the house without help from me, and began to build it in June 1907. When I arrived a year later it was all finished and furnished and swept and garnished and it was as homey and cozy and comfortable as if it had been occupied a generation. This was the 18th of June in the present year [1908] I only came to spend the summer, but I shan't go away anymore.

We installed a guest-book June 27th and used it until four days ago, when this new and more satisfactory one arrived from the hand of my niece Mary Rogers and put it out of commission. I have transferred the names from that one to this one. The autographing of signatures will now be resumed. Has been resumed, I should say: that charming Billie Burke was the first guest to arrive after the coming of the book, and she inaugurated the resuming, her signature heads the page under the date of December 27.
S.L. Clemens
Dec. 29, 1908

In peace and honor rest you here, my guest; repose you here,
Secure from worldly chances and mishaps!
Here lurks no treason, here no envy swells,
Here grows no damned grudges; here are no storms,
No noise, but silence and eternal sleep:
In peace and honor rest you here, my guest!

Titus Andronicus, Act I, Scene I

Helen Keller's entry January 11, 1909:

"I have been in Eden three days and I saw a King. I knew he was a King the minute I touched him though I had never touched a King before."
-A daughter of Eve.
Helen Keller Jan. 11

The guestbook at the Mark Twain Library is in fair shape and it is a copy. It is noted as being given to the library in 1935. The original is with UC Berkeley.

He [Sam] notes and writes about Angelfish in the book. He notes them with an M.A. for Members of the Aquarium. More on them will come in the next post...the dog wants a walk.


Friday, February 1

Friday's Finds

Concert Team- September 21

Traveling Cigar Case-Closed

Traveling Cigar Case-Open

Playing Pool

Ivory Billiard Ball #5

Writing Tablet [Backside]

Writing Tablet [Front]

"This writing board, used by Mark Twain, for writing in bed, up to the time of his death, was given to me by Clara Clemens."

Box reads: H.DE Cabanas Y Carvajal- Sucesores

Fabrica de Tabacos

"I have been in Eden three days and I saw a King. I knew he was a King the minute I touched him. Though I had never touched a King before."

-A Daughter of Eve
Helen Keller, January 11, 1909

This is just a teaser, there will be a more descriptive post tomorrow...found a ton of good stuff!!