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.

Wednesday, December 30

Mark Twain's Time in Redding

With the Centennial year just a couple days away I put together a slideshow presentation that highlights his final home, Stormfield, and the Mark Twain Library which he funded and founded for his "fellow farmers" in Redding.

Many, many rare photos included.

http://www.historyofredding.com/Twain-Redding.ppt

"Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising."
- Mark Twain


Need daily Twain updates? http://twitter.com/BrentMColley


A special Thank You to all those that made this PowerPoint Presentation possible.

Thank you to Barbara Schmidt and her amazing Twain resource site.

Thank you to David Thompson and his collection of Twain photos and montages.

Thank you to Kevin Mac Donnell for his knowledge, insights, rare photos and books.

Thank you to Susan Boone Durkee for her knowledge, photos, artwork and parties.

Thank you to The Mark Twain House, for their truly amazing museum, and priceless photos. Thank you to Patti Phillippon for access and usage.

Thank you to Heather Morgan and her staff at the Mark Twain Library for access and usage to their collections. The MTL is a treasure trove of new information on Twain's Final years and I am amazed by its contents on each and every visit.

Thank you to The Mark Twain Forum and all its members for sharing their knowledge and bringing Twainiacs together.

Thank you to The Mark Twain Journal, for promoting Stormfield and Redding in Volume 44.

Thank you to The Mark Twain Project, for access to Sam's letters. Your work has allowed for the research that fuels us all to keep searching and sharing.


Blog about Work From Home Ideas.

Wednesday, December 23

The Stormfield Christmas Elephant




Albert Bigelow Paine
Mark Twain: A Biography

Mark Twain’s second present came at Christmas-time. About ten days earlier, a letter came from Robert J. Collier, saying that he had bought a baby elephant which he intended to present to Mark Twain as a Christmas gift. He added that it would be sent as soon as he could get a car for it, and the loan of a keeper from Barnum & Bailey’s headquarters at Bridgeport.

The news created a disturbance in Stormfield. One could not refuse, discourteously and abruptly, a costly present like that; but it seemed a disaster to accept it. An elephant would require a roomy and warm place, also a variety of attention which Stormfield was not prepared to supply. The telephone was set going and certain timid excuses were offered by the secretary. There was no good place to put an elephant in Stormfield, but Mr. Collier said, quite confidently:

“Oh, put him in the garage.”

“But there’s no heat in the garage.”

“Well, put him in the loggia, then. That’s closed in, isn’t it, for the winter? Plenty of sunlight—just the place for a young elephant.”

“But we play cards in the loggia. We use it for a sort of sun-parlor.”

“But that wouldn’t matter. He’s a kindly, playful little thing. He’ll be just like a kitten. I’ll send the man up to look over the place and tell you just how to take care of him, and I’ll send up several bales of hay in advance. It isn’t a large elephant, you know: just a little one— a regular plaything.”

There was nothing further to be done; only to wait and dread until the Christmas present’s arrival.

A few days before Christmas ten bales of hay arrived and several bushels of carrots. This store of provender aroused no enthusiasm at Stormfield. It would seem there was no escape now.

On Christmas morning Mr. Lounsbury telephoned up that there was a man at the station who said he was an elephant-trainer from Barnum & Bailey’s, sent by Mr. Collier to look at the elephant’s quarters and get him settled when he should arrive. Orders were given to bring the man over. The day of doom was at hand.

But Lounsbury’s detective instinct came once more into play. He had seen a good many elephant-trainers at Bridgeport, and he thought this one had a doubtful look.

“Where is the elephant?” he asked, as they drove along.

“He will arrive at noon.”

“Where are you going to put him?”

“In the loggia.”

“How big is he?”

“About the size of a cow.”

“How long have you been with Barnum and Bailey?”

“Six years.”

“Then you must know some friends of mine” (naming two that had no existence until that moment).

“Oh yes, indeed. I know them well.”

Lounsbury didn’t say any more just then, but he had a feeling that perhaps the dread at Stormfield had grown unnecessarily large. Something told him that this man seemed rather more like a butler, or a valet, than an elephant-trainer. They drove to Stormfield, and the trainer looked over the place. It would do perfectly, he said. He gave a few instructions as to the care of this new household feature, and was driven back to the station to bring it.

Lounsbury came back by and by, bringing the elephant but not the trainer. It didn’t need a trainer. It was a beautiful specimen, with soft, smooth coat and handsome trappings, perfectly quiet, well-behaved and small— suited to the loggia, as Collier had said—for it was only two feet long and beautifully made of cloth and cotton—one of the fairest toy elephants ever seen anywhere.

It was a good joke, such as Mark Twain loved—a carefully prepared, harmless bit of foolery. He wrote Robert Collier, threatening him with all sorts of revenge, declaring that the elephant was devastating Stormfield.

“To send an elephant in a trance, under pretense that it was dead or stuffed!” he said. “The animal came to life, as you knew it would, and began to observe Christmas, and we now have no furniture left and no servants and no visitors, no friends, no photographs, no burglars— nothing but the elephant. Be kind, be merciful, be generous; take him away and send us what is left of the earthquake.”

Collier wrote that he thought it unkind of him to look a gift-elephant in the trunk. And with such chaffing and gaiety the year came to an end.

Friday, December 11

Mark Twain Library Archive Treasures

In deep need of "de-stressing" I traveled down to Redding this week to see what I could find in the archives that... I had not found before! Mission accomplished, I found some amazing items. Here are several I thought others may enjoy.



Experimental photo negative engraving plates of Sam and George Eastman. These portraits, which Eastman developed, were given to Eastman's chauffeur, William Carter. They became the property of George Hollett in 1946. Hollett donated them to the Mark Twain Library in 2005.



Handcarved replica of the Mississippi River Boat, Eclipse. This was carved by one of the Stormfield burglars and donated to the library by Clara Clemens.



Hal Foster not only created artwork of Twain, he also served as the Library's President.



Mark Twain and his Characters Display at the Mark Twain Library.



Close up of the "characters" display.



Interesting find in the archives...four (4) Hiawatha Heirloom Needle Paintings of Mark Twain's Birthplace. These were sent to the library in the 1960's by William A. Romkey of New York. Romkey inquired about the use of these needle paintings for the Library's fund raising efforts.



Brad Kelly Discovers Russians Enthusiastic Over Mark Twain. Many articles in the archives about Kelly's efforts and the books that were donated to the library. The library has the books and at the present a Redding resident is working on translating this Russian book collection.

February 1962

Dear Mr. Kelly,

I think it is a superb idea to harmonize the Russians and Americans through their authors or any other possible means.

It is dreadful to live in a World of enmity towards anyone, and of course I sympathize most particularly with your plans, as I am sure Father would.

That would be a reason for authorship that the whole world must respect and give its heart to.

I wish to thank you and Mrs. Kelley most cordially for your good wishes, and also to give you our, Mr. Samossoud and mine.

I must wish you tremendous success with your undertaking, and I offer my heartfelt sympathy with your great plan.

Sincerely yours,
Clara Clemens Samossoud



Paul Newman Stained Glass art on display at the 2009 Art Show this week.


View the Connecticut Twain Connections

The Elmira Study Move from East Hill to Campus









Sunday, December 6

New Article: Stormfield Burns

Thank you to Hilda Rhodes for forwarding...

Neighbor Mark Twain
June/July 1985 Volume 36, Issue 4

Coley Taylor, the author of “Our Neighbor, Mark Twain” (February/March 1985), was luckier than I by about eight years. My uncle and aunt, John and Mabel German, bought eighty acres of Connecticut rocks and a 1740 Dutch home on Diamond Hill Road in West Redding in 1917. The house belonged to Albert Bigelow Paine, who was then living in “The Lobster Pot,” a rambling house adjoining Samuel Clemens’s property.

Clemens was gone by the time I, as a twelve-year-old, had my first visit to Stormfield, his former residence. I recall it well. It was a gray, ominous, windy day in November. A group of us drove to the entrance of Stormfield and walked through the overgrown fields, filled—as Mr. Taylor recalls—with small cedar trees.

Being the smallest of the group, I was delegated to slip through an open window in the basement of the house, find my way through the eerie darkness, climb the main stairs to ground level, and unlock the front door. An illegal but reverent and respectful tour of the house took place with bated breath, so as not to disturb the ghosts.

Every weekend, every holiday, and every summer vacation was spent at Redvale (my uncle’s name for his farm) for many years until, late in World War II, the place was sold. I met Mr. Paine frequently, and, as a matter of fact, my cousin is named for him. He was a tall, stately man; so tall, in fact, that he repeatedly hit his head on the old New England ceiling beams in his home, until he had them hand-axed to half their thickness. This allowed him to proceed up and down a step or two from room to room usually without bodily harm.

One rainy summer night in 1923, the phone rang at 1:00 A.M. The operator spoke with a great sense of urgency. “All men, hurry! Stormfield is on fire!”

I was there at the end. Water was too far away for the hoses, so chemicals were used (for the first time that I can recall). No use, sadly. The blaze was almost controlled when the chemicals ran out. The fire picked up again, and we lay in the wet grass as rifle and shotgun ammunition exploded over our heads.

The house had been sold some months before to a family of four, and they had been more or less camping out as they did repairs, modernization, and painting. It was said that the fire was caused by paint rags. Be that as it may, the family never came back to rebuild. There was nothing left but the foundation.

Before the fire got out of control, some items were saved. 1 recall helping to get out the billiard table and a tremendous hand-carved mantelpiece that had surrounded the fireplace.

Mr. Taylor was luckier than I. He knew the great author face-to-face. I knew him only secondhand.

Daniel S. Klinger
Park Forest, Ill.

View Photos of Stormfield in this post: Stormfield Photos





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Saturday, December 5

Connecticut Twain Connection #54

Made a connection to Pomfret over the weekend...that makes 54.

http://twainproject.blogspot.com/2009/10/connecticut-mark-twain-connections.html

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Monday, November 30

Proof Twain Expected to be Researched



Going through the MTP papers...this one caught my eye...he estimates 80 years but we're still reading his letters 129 years later!

Letter to Joe Twichell 1880 about baby Jean and life in general in this timeperiod of his life.

"Well, we are all getting along here first-rate; Livy gains strength daily, [&] sits up a deal; the baby is five weeks old [ and—— but] no more of this;

somebody may be reading this letter 80 years hence. And so, my friend (you pitying snob, I mean, who are holding this yellow paper in [your] hand in 1960,) save yourself the trouble of looking further; I know how pathetically trivial our small concerns [would] seem to you, [&] I will not let your eye profane them. No, I keep my news; you keep your compassion.

Suffice it you to know, scoffer [&] ribald, that the little child is old [&] blind, now, [&] once more toothless; [&] the rest of us are shadows, these many, many years. Yes, [&] your time cometh!"


-Mark

Ouch! I'm a "pitying snob" but I'm gonna keep at it, "looking further" that is, we have 47 Connecticut towns and cities currently linked to Twain...can't stop now.

http://twainproject.blogspot.com/2009/10/connecticut-mark-twain-connections.html

Happy Birthday Samuel L. Clemens!

November 30th, 2009 is Sam's birthday. For fun I looked up the last person to write him on his birthday using the Mark Twain Project website.

The answer is...

Margery Hamilton Clinton
Margery (a.k.a. "the plumber") visited Clemens at Stormfield at least three times -- in July 1908, October 1908 and February 1909.

"The plumber is coming Feb. 23d; a girl you would greatly like. She isn't a M.A. [angel-fish], but is not without good qualities, nevertheless. She is official plumber of Stormfield, by her own request, but doesn't know how to plumb. Name, Margery Clinton (Cooley, p. 249)."

Margery Hamilton Clinton was the daughter of renown New York architect Charles William Clinton and his wife Emily de Silver Gorsuch.

-----------------------------------------

So who did Twain write to on his birthday from Stormfield?

1909:

Nobody

1908:

Elizabeth Wallace, Frederick A. Duneka, Jean Clemens, H. P.
Wood, F. N. Otremba

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Saturday, November 28

Mark Twain's Passions





Mark Twain's Passions. The latest addition to the Mark Twain Centennial Collection by Susan Boone Durkee.

"Mark Twain's Passions"
Limited 500 Edition 11x14 Giclee on Canvas. $125.00
Each signed and numbered by the Artist and accompanied with a Certificate of Authenticity



The "Centennial Collection" of prints commorate Mark Twain's last years in Redding, CT and his death at Stormfield, his Redding home, April 21, 1910.

2010 is the year of Twain
Celebrating 175th Anniversary of Mark Twain's Birthday
Celebrating 100th Anniversary of Mark Twain's Passing
April 21st, 2010 proclaimed "Mark Twain Day" for the State of Connecticut


This print is available for purchase at http://www.susandurkee.com/the-mark-twain-gallery.htm.

Saturday, November 14

New Stormfield Articles



Mark Twain's Stormfield Today (June 2, 1960)
by Robert C. Brilmayer

Perched atop the hills of West Redding, and bordered by Highway Route 53, is Stormfield, the final home of Mark Twain and the one that he often said he loved more than any place he ever lived.

Since 1937 Stormfield has been the home of Mrs. R. Lyndon Danks, an owner who is as devoted to the place as was her famous predecessor. Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, it might seems unusual for Mrs. Danks to be located so far away in Redding, Connecticut. Her explanation is quite simple. Living in New York City she decided she would like to have a small country farmhouse where she could spend part of her time. She looked at several places around Redding and found nothing to her liking. When the Real Estate man casually mentioned "the old Mark Twain home" a place she hardly knew even existed, she asked to see it.

It wasn't love at first sight. It was love even before the first sight. She decided she wanted Stormfield on the drive up to the grounds. An inspection of the house and gardens made her more eager to get on with the formalities of closing the sale. On that day began Mrs. Danks' long love of Stormfield.

What if Twain returned??

The hills of Stormfield are no different from what they were in 1908 or 1910 or will they be a thousand years from now, barring of course a modern builder with a bulldozer. Mr. Clemens would feel at ease and content on their tree studded slopes.

At the crest of the long rise from the highway to the grounds of Stormfield he would see the stables and cottages of his day, low squat buildings that blend into the landscape and many of them bearing his name stenciled on their timbers.

Beyond the cottages, where the driveway takes a gentle curve, and shielded by the native cedars of his day, he would see a beautifully reproduced Italian Villa-like structure similar to the original he loved so well.

'New' Stormfield

The Stormfield house, the one in which Mr. Clemens lived, was destroyed by fire in 1923. The present house was built in 1925 using the plans of the original building. [The house sits on the original foundation/basement]

Except for a few feet of dimensions (the Loggia & Clara's bedroom, to be exact) it is exactly the same (size-wise).

Excerpts from-
"Our Friend Mark Twain" by Helen Nickerson Upson
The Redding Times, June 2, 1960


Background-

During the Civil War- John N. Nickerson, later known as Judge John N. Nickerson of Redding, served as a Private in New York's 56th Regiment. While in action, he was very seriously wounded and visited by a young Army Chaplain named Joseph H. Twichell. Nickerson survived, received a Medal of Honor and in the process formed an enduring friendship with Twichell.

Later in life, While serving as a State Legislative Representative (1885), Nickerson, through his friendship with Twichell, met informally with many of the "Hartford Wits" including Samuel L. Clemens and Charles Dudley Warner.

Narrative of Helen N. Upson-

Frequently Dad passed an evening playing billiards with Mark Twain in his Hartford home, and the Rev. Twitchell and Mr. Warner were often guests at our home in Redding.

I recall very well when I was a small girl that Mr. Warner lifted me on his knee and said, much to my delight: "Helen you are a girl after my own heart- brim full of spunk, fire and go. No grass will ever grown under your feet."

Twain Comes to Dinner

Only once was Mark Twain a dinner guest at our house and then he was accompanied by Mr. Warner and Albert Bigelow Paine. He was so impressed by Redding's beautiful hills and rolling landscape that eventually he wanted to build a house here.

{BMC: I do recall a letter by Isabel to an Angelfish that notes Paine and Clemens are headed to Redding well before he arrived here officially. There is no follow up on the trip and it did prompt me to note the entry for further research. The trip may have been the dinner date Helen writes of...makes sense, why would you not want to view this type of investment? Given the history of poor investments he had made, it would seem probable he would at least want to see Redding before purchasing land here.}

One day after answering a telephone call my father seemed happily excited. Nobody knew why and he didn't talk about it. It seems the call was from Mr. Paine who wanted Dad to drive around with him to look over a few building sites. Twain had asked for a site on higher ground, with an expansive view and neighbors- not so near.

Dad went and the site of "Stormfield" was selected, deeds and other business were taken care of and construction was started and proceeded secretly. No one knew for whom "Stormfield" was being built.

There was much curiousity and gossip in Redding about the mysterious structure rising in the pasture on Diamond Hill. It was so much larger than the average Redding home that a rash of guesses went all the way from a select school for girls to an infirmary for incurables.

Mark Twain's orders were that no one was to know that he was to own the place nor that he was to live there. He did not want to see the place until is was entirely finished, furnished, and complete with a kitten purring on the hearth.

His wishes were carried out to the letter and he seemed delighted with his new home in its quiet, restful setting.

The House is Named

However, soon after his arrival, a thunder storm of such violence came up that Mr. Clemens said it sounded as if its force was being created over his head which gave rise to the name "Stormfield"

{BMC: One of many theories on the re-naming of the house. This is not too far fetched. In the summer of 1999, I was caught completely off guard by a freak, late afternoon thunderstorm. It came out of nowhere while I was mountain biking in the Stormfield trail system. It was a thunder and lighting show like to no other I've encounter before or since, further enhanced by the fact that I was wearing steel toe-clips! I've encountered similar storms while visiting Susan Durkee at the Lobster Pot. So, it is a fact that... for one reason or another Storms do hit hard on that ridge.}

My father so successfully engineered...Mark Twain's purchases of real estate in Redding that during the rest of his life Dad took care of his personal legal business and affairs.

{BMC: She must mean legal business and affairs in Redding.}

At the time I assisted my father with his office work and also did all his driving for him, so I spent much time at "Stormfield." Frequently Dad and I had the priviledge of listening to Mr. Clemens' masterful organ playing on his fine instrument placed on the landing midway between the floors in the large hall at Stormfield.

It was indeed a treat to listen to the white haired Clemens accompany his daughter, Clara, who was a concert soloist. His heart was in it and I really think that this was his favorite pastime. Had Mark Twain not been a great humorist he certainly would have been a famous organist.

Careless with Copy

Mr. Clemens was a most informal, but geniune personality. He detested insincerity and over stressed formality was distasteful to him. He preferred to receive his guests or associates while he was propped up in bed. Here one usually found him busy with his writing or reading. As he wrote long-hand, a sheet finished was a sheet discarded. It might be manuscript or waste paper. To him that was a minor detail.

Once finished, a sheet of paper was indifferently cast aside. It might nestle in the bed clothes or slide on to the floor. Family and attendants were instructed never to disturb ANY papers in that room except Mr. Albert Bigelow Paine. We have him to thank for his painstaking daily care of every scrap of Mark Twain's paper as he carefully scanned each piece arranging and organizing usable material in proper sequence so that the literature for which Mr. Clemens was famous would be published in proper form.

With all his splendid qualities Mark Twain was the victim of two besetting sins. Reports of great conflagrations or of people burnt to a crisp could not stop him from smoking in bed. Also he was so obliging that if anyone asked for his signature on a paper or document, without a second look, he would sign and for him, at least, the transaction was finished.

Mr. Paine had repeatedly rebuked him for such readiness with his pen and over and over again Dad had warned him that if he continued so indifferently to this practice that sooner or later he would find himself in very serious trouble. Someway their warnings went unheeded and slipped away like water off a duck's back.


Signed the Wrong Letter

Early one morning the phone beside Dad's (Judge John N. Nickerson of Redding) bed rang persistantly. He answered. It was Mr. Clemens - distress plainly registered by his voice, "Jack, can you come to me at once? I am in trouble - very serious trouble."

"What under heavens is the matter now?" my father asked.

"I'll tell you when you get here, can you come now?" the humorist answered.

Dad called me to hurry through my breakfast, harness my horse and be ready to drive to Stormfield in half an hour. When we arrived Mr. Clemens was angrier than we had ever seen him and his daughters Clara and Jean were very much disturbed.

"Now, Sam, what on earth has happened that you are so excited and upset?" asked Dad. The great humorist replied with something far removed from humor,

"Well, Jack, just as you predicted, I have been a damned fool, and as a result I am in the deal of a fix. A trusted friend of mine who has recently married a 'man of experience' brought me a document to sign without in any way explaining it- and I was foolish enough to require no explanation."

"At the moment I was concentrating on the writing of a script and, as was my custom, took the paper and quickly signed as she directed without reading it and I supposed the matter was dismissed, but this morning, to my horror, I discover that I have signed over to a trusted friend ABSOLUTE Power of Attorney over everything that I possess and I cannot spend so much as a nickel! without her O.K. Could any man have been a bigger damned fool??"

Eventually she consented to withdraw if a certain [piece] of Mr. Clemens treasured real estate (and he owned property in several states) could be turned over to her. As Mr. Clemens was convinced this was the only way out he acceded. Dad took care of the transaction and the case was closed.

One day after the case was settled, Dad was seated beside Mr. Clemens' bed talking to him when the humorist reached over to a table and picked up a copy of Innocents Abroad. I saw his eyes twinkle as he opened the book and wrote something inside the front cover, then he passed the book to my father. Dad grinned as he read the handwriting, then passed the book to me. This is what he wrote:

"The sane man readeth first but the ass signeth without looking. Truly yours, Mark Twain"

Below this he added:

"To John N. Nickerson with the compliments of the Author."

This book today is among my (Helen's) treasures.

Bermuda- Last Trip Abroad

Mark Twain as we knew him was thoroughly American and always revealed the deepest respect for all things worthy of reverence, and would hit hard at anything which seemed to him to be hateful or mean. As a humorist, in my opinion, none greater ever lived. For this quality he was best known and loved. It is doubtful if any one in this century has made more people laugh than Mark Twain has done, and yet the laughter he has aroused has been clean, wholesome, and self respecting. However, he harbored a scorching and bitter hatred for frauds, hypocrites, and pretenders and often he seared them with his wit. As a man he was always sincere and straight-forward.

It was during Mr. Clemens' last summer while he was resting at his home in Bermuda that he sent for Dad to go to him on important business and suggested that I accompany him for the pleasure of the trip. It was my good fortune to go with my father on this errand. Mr. Clemens was do delighted to have us both accept the invitation- that in honor of my visit he arranged an afternoon tea with young women my own age as guests. He said that he doubted very much if my father would enjoy a hen party presided over by an old, strutting cock, so he sent Dad off fishing with a couple of friends.

It was a memorable occasion. Although the great humorist was not well, seated there among us in his easy chair he made a distinguished appearance. We all were delighted with his conversation which was simple yet verbose. Although his humor was gay and laugh provoking, there was a seriousness about the man which probably was due to his age and the imprint of the grief he had endured.

For further entertainment I rode around in Mr. Clemens' little two wheeled Park Wagon pulled by a pretty little donkey; also I rode a number of miles on his daughter's bicycle. Among other things I saw a large field of Easter lilies (Bermuda lilies) in gorgeous full bloom. They made such an impression that when I returned to Redding I threw away a pathetically sad looking, spindly Easter lily that I had been coaxing to bloom for three years.

Death Comes to Stormfield

Having already lost his devoted wife and talented daughter, Susie, before coming to Redding, Mark Twain received a crushing blow when his devoted daughter, Jean, in the midst of Christmas celebration in 1909, died very suddenly. Dad went to him at once. Albert Bigelow Paine was already there and Clara and her husband were returning from Europe. The great humorist could not be comforted. From then on he failed rapidly and on April 21, 1910, when Spring was dawning over the Redding hills, our beloved humorist breathed his last breath in the home he had learned to love- Stormfield.



Mr. Clemens' Cat Party

When I was a little girl about seven years old, we lived near Stormfield, the big house belonging to Samuel Clemens. Folks around Redding called him Mark Twain, the famous writer and humorist, but we youngsters knew him as a kindly old man who had daughters of his own. He used to tell us funny stories and often played games with us under his great trees. There was always a prize for the winner, a dime or a even a quarter.

One common bond of the friendship we shared with Mr. Clemens was out love of cats and kittens. I remember so well the day of his "cat party." All the children in the neighborhood were invited (about 12 or 14 of us) and every child had to bring a live cat or kitten along to compete for a big prize.

Such excitement! Mother made me a new dress. Our big tabby was combed and brushed (much to her disgust) until, in my estimation, we were sure to win. Finally Tabby was captured, tucked into a rose-trimmed market basket and I started up the long road to Stormfield with my precious though unwilling burden.

But alas, half way up the hill, the jiggling was too much for kitty and despite my efforts to hold her down, she scratched me, tore my new frock and with a jump, was off and away. Bloodied and tear-stained, I struggled on up to the party, expecting to be turned away, for I had no cat to show.

Mr. Clemens listened intently to my sad story. Then, patting me on the head, he announced- "Well, this little girl has gone her best to show off her fine big littycat. I think she ought to win the very First Prize." No wonder we children all loved Mark Twain!!

Name of story teller unknown.


Mark Twain Estate

The annual hearing on the accounts of the trustees of Mark Twain's estate took place almost to the day of his death 50 years ago at Stormfield. (April 21, 1910)

Judge Hjalmar Anderson presided and Joseph H. Donnelly represented the estate.

The income beneficiary is Miss Clara Clemens Samossoud of San Diego, California, only living daughter of the humorist. The net was $38,000. The principal amounts to $403,336.00.

Mrs. Samossoud who enjoys the Redding Times Anniversary issues was the subject of a recent article in Parade. Her concluding thought was:

"Father, I guess you might say, was a human philosopher. He abhorred hypocrisy. But he loved humanity."


My Three Meetings with Mark Twain at Stormfield

by William Ireland Starr

During his Redding years, Stormfield was inaccessible enough to limit Mark Twain's callers to a small number, these he welcomed without benefit of introduction or advance appointment. During the warm part of the year 1908, exact date not remembered I was cruising around Redding with my good friend Arthur K. L. Watson in his White Steamer, and we decided to pay a visit to the local celebrity. At that time the approach to the Clemens' home was via Diamond Hill Road and what we now call Mark Twain Lane.

On such an excursion I was never without my cameras, and at this time I had just begun to experiment with the new Lumiere three-color photographic process, although my stand-by was my stereoscopic camera with which I took twin exposures giving the effect of a third dimension. Why I took no color shots on my first call I do not remember, but I did photograph the old gentleman in several poses, sitting in his front window, with his pipe in his hand, looking out at the Connecticut landscape.

I was assisted in this by Twain's two secretaries, Miss Isabel Lyon, his social secretary, and Ralph Ashcroft. English literary secretary, who, incidently had accompanied Mark Twain to Oxford for the presentation of the doctorate not long before.

Twain was very proud of the cap and gown he had worn on this occasion and sometimes strutted around in them like a small boy dressed up. It was a sumptuous garment of bright red with gray half-sleeves and wide lapels. This colorful costume was largely responsible for my second visit, the following December 14th, at which time I brought along some autocrome plates for a few color shots of Doctor Clemens.

Our host received us graciously on both of these calls, and on the second visit I was invited to stay for lunch. He was at the time, however, greatly intrigued over the founding of the Mark Twain Library, and he "put the bee" on all his visitors for a contribution, however small, to the building fund. You will find my name among the founders, next to that of Mr. Watson, on the list we still have at the Library.

Twain was in good form that December day and greeted us warmly with one of his funny stories, as we were about to sit down at the table. He was very amusing and showed that he liked an audience, even a small one consisting chiefly of his henchmen and Watson and myself. In 1908 color photography was quite new in America and I seem to have been among the first to use the Lumiere process, which employed glass plates on which sensitized tiny grains of starch were used to photograph the scene as a transparency.

My host kept kidding me about what he called my "color machinery" but I could see that he was interested in having another portrait in color, following a "sitting" of only fifteen to twenty seconds. One thing I noticed was that he was the autocrat at the luncheon table; Miss Lyon had whispered that he did not like to be interrupted, much less contradicted.

Rare Color Shots Disappear

The color shots turned out beautifully and I mailed all of them to "Dr. Samuel Clemens, Redding, Connecticut" That was the last I ever saw or heard of my prized transparencies.

When, after the elapse of some weeks, I had had no acknowledgement, I wrote to inquire if they had been received and what Mark Twain thought of them. Still no answer.

Finally, in the spring, I journeyed a third time to Stormfield to see if I could not rescue the missing plates in person. By this time the old gentleman was suffering from what turned out to be his last illness and was confined to his bedroom on the second floor. He did stick his head out the window and shout down to me a greeting and an apology for not inviting me up. "Doctor's orders" He was gone before I could ask any questions about my color photographs. Judging by some subsequent happenings, I would not be surprised if Ralph Ashcroft could have explained the mystery, had he been so minded.

My brief acquaintanceship with Isabel Lyon grew into a lifelong friendship between her and my family. She and Ashcroft were married, but their union broke up with great unhappiness to Isabel, and she came and lived with my mother for quite a time while she was trying to recover from the shock.

Starr-Haley Potrait on the Cover

I still have some of the black and white negatives I took of Mark Twain, and it was one of these Duane Haley used as a guide in drawing the portrait he made. Unfortunately photographic plates in those days were so "grainy" that enlargements of any considerable size magnified the rough texture to the point of distortion. I am glad, however, that I did preserve a few of the negatives and that Haley was able to produce such a fine drawing likeness from them.

I sincerely hope that a way can be found to purchase the Haley portrait for the Mark Twain Library here in Redding and that Haley's widow can benefit from what turned out to be one of his last, as well as one of his most notable pictures.

Wednesday, October 28

April 21, 2010 is Mark Twain Day in Connecticut

Received some great news this evening from State Senator Boucher's office...it's gonna happen, April 21st, 2010 is Mark Twain Day in Connecticut.

More on our plans will come soon. At the present we are making Twain Connections all over the State!

Check out our Google Map of Connecticut Mark Twain Connections.

Mark Twain Centennial Collection Prints now available for online purchase...framed and unframed.

Friday, October 23

Connecticut Mark Twain Connections

Current connections are:

Redding, Connecticut- Mark Twain arrived in Redding on June 18th, 1908 and departed on April 21, 1910.

“I was never in this beautiful region until yesterday evening. Miss Lyon and the architect built and furnished the house without any help or advice from me, and the result is entirely to my satisfaction.

It is charmingly quiet here. The house stands alone, with nothing in sight but woodsy hills and rolling country.”

-Samuel L. Clemens letter to Dorothy Quick dated June 19, 1908

Easton, Connecticut- Helen Keller; Ida M. Tarbell. "I have visited Stormfield [Twain's home in Redding] since Mark Twain's death [April,1910]. The flowers still bloom; the breezes still whisper and sough in the cedars, which have grown statelier year by year; the birds still sing, they tell me. But for me the place is bereft of its lover." -Helen Keller

Bethel & Bridgeport, Connecticut- P.T. Barnum was born in Bethel CT; He later lived in Bridgeport and served as mayor.

On Feb 3, 1875 Sam wrote:

"My Dear Barnum: ...of all the amazing shows that ever were conceived of, I think this of yours must surely take the lead!"

Barnum replied in March of 1875:

"You did a big thing with the Comet & perhaps sometime another chance may turn up."

It did! In 1910...hence our project here in 2010.

Danbury, Connecticut- Twain had a cat named Danbury and William Webb Sunderland & his son Philip Nichols Sunderland, the builders of Twain's Redding home- Stormfield, were from Danbury. Also, Judge William Scoville Case and State's Attorney Stiles Judson visited Twain on November 19, 1908. They tried the Stormfield burglars. February 21, 1872 - Twain lectured on "Roughing It".

Ridgefield, Connecticut- Architect, Cass Gilbert, who is best known for the Woolworth Building in NYC, also owned the Keeler Tavern and was a close friend of Twain's. Also, Edward Windsor Kemble and Henry Knox of Ridgefield are connected to Twain.

Westport, Connecticut- Ned Wakeman, who was the prototype for Twain's ship captain in Roughing It. Twain wrote: "I'd rather travel with that old portly, hearty, jolly, boisterous, good-natured sailor...than with any other man I've ever come across,"

Norwalk, Connecticut- E.K. Lockwood (Lockwood Museum) traveled with Twain while he was researching/writing Innocents Abroad.

CosCob/Greenwich, Connecticut- Jean Webster, talented daughter of Twain business partner Charles Webster. Also, the Stanton House Inn in Greenwich was designed as a private residence by Stanford White. White and Twain were members of The Players club in NYC.

Windsor, Connecticut- Elisha Bliss, Jr. of American Publishing Company. Clemens stayed with the Blisses while in Hartford in August and October 1868 to work on his book Innocents Abroad.

South Windsor, Connecticut- Azel Stevens Roe (1798–1886) was a wine merchant in New York City before relocating to his farm on East Windsor Hill, about eight miles northeast of Hartford. (East Windsor Hill became part of South Windsor when East Windsor was divided in 1845.)

After Clemens settled in Hartford in 1871, Roe “spent some pleasant nights with him” there and Clemens “paid a visit to the elder Roes” (Samuel Chalmers Thompson, 76).

Read more at the Mark Twain Project web site.

Manchester, Connecticut- The Monday evening club in which Mark Twain participated met at the Charles Cheney mansion in Manchester, about 0.2 mile from Cheney Hall. The Monday Evening Club was an organization which included the best minds of Hartford. Dr. Horace Bushnell, Prof. Calvin E. Stowe, and J. Hammond Trumbull founded it back in the sixties, and it included such men as Rev. Dr. Parker, Rev. Dr. Burton, Charles H. Clark, of the Courant, Warner, and Twichell, with others of their kind. Clemens had been elected after his first sojourn in England (February, 1873), and had then read a paper on the "License of the Press." The club met alternate Mondays, from October to May. There was one paper for each evening, and, after the usual fashion of such clubs, the reading was followed by discussion. Members of that time agree that Mark Twain`s association with the club had a tendency to give it a life, or at least an exhilaration, which it had not previously known.

Twain's friedship with Frank and Mary Bushnell Cheney is another Manchester connection.

Chatham, Connecticut- has a guest book signature by Twain at an inn he stayed at there.

New Haven, Connecticut- Twain visited New Haven in 1885 and befriended Warren McGuinn, an African-American student who was struggling to remain in school. Twain paid the young man's expenses at Yale and McGuinn went on to become a respected lawyer who would later mentor Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Saybrook , Connecticut- Fenwick (Hall) Hotel where Twain and family stayed and where some believe he began writing Tom Sawyer.

Hartford, Connecticut- Obviously the Hartford area has many friends and the Mark Twain House Museum. January 31, 1873 Twain lectured in Hartford - Benefit for Father Hawley, Allyn Hall, Hartford, Connecticut. Topic "Sandwich Islands". All services having been donated, the benefit netted $1,500 for Father Hawley.

East Hartford, Buckland, Bolton, Vernon, Tolland, Westford, Ashford, North Ashford, West Woodstock, and New Boston, Connecticut- All these towns connected via an amazing trek Joe Twichell and Twain made from Hartford to Boston in 1874.

"Livy darling, we started from the end of east river bridge, East Hartford, 2 hours & a half ago. Vernon is 11 miles from Hartford. The day is simply gorgeous—perfectly [matchless]"

In his 17 November, 1874 journal entry, Twichell noted that his pedestrian excursion with Clemens began at “8½ o’clock,” when they “left our house in his carriage” and “rode through the E. Hartford bridge, and then took to our feet—I carrying a little bag and he a basket of lunch.” Their itinerary, “furnished me by an ancient stage driver” through N. H. Andrews, the Hartford passenger agent of the Hartford, Providence and Fishkill Railroad Company, was to take them along the old stage route to Boston: in Connecticut through East Hartford, Buckland, Vernon, Tolland, Westford, Ashford, North Ashford, West Woodstock, and New Boston, and then in Massachusetts through Blackstone, West Sutton, Northbridge, Upton, Holliston, Needham, Newton, and Brighton (Twichell, 1:12–13; Geer 1874, 27, 296).

Norfolk, Connecticut- Both Twain’s daughters Jean and Clara stayed at the sanitarium in Norfolk. September 22, 1906: Clara Clemens Concert, Eldridge Gymnasium, Norfolk, Connecticut.

Simsbury, Connecticut- Twain lectured Simsbury’s McLean Seminary in 1891. Also, Clemens and Joe Twitchell often visited the Daniel Wadsworth Tower.

Sharon, Connecticut- Frank and Harriet Sprague. Frank J. Sprague is an amazing individual. He was an American naval officer and inventor who contributed to the development of the electric motor, electric railways, and electric elevators. He became known as the “Father of Electric Traction”. Frank and Harriet attended Clara's wedding in October 1909.

Milford, Connecticut- Frank J. Sprague was born in Milford.

Fairfield, Connecticut- A "Mr. Forbes" of Fairfield, CT visited Stormfield on November 14, 1908. We're looking into who he was.

New Britian, Connecticut- After his December 13, 1869 lecture in New Britain, Connecticut, Clemens wrote James Redpath directing a change in the advertisement of his lecture.

“About twice a week I have to make an annoying apology to the audience.”

Pursuant to Clemens’s letter of 10 May 1869, Redpath had distributed a circular to lyceums announcing that ‘Mark Twain’s’ only lecture for the season of 1869–70 will be entitled ‘The Curiosities of California’. Clemens had remained committed to such a lecture at least into early summer, then abandoned it by 27 September, five weeks before the beginning of his tour. Redpath must have adjusted his publicity promptly, perhaps with an amended circular, for newspaper advertisements in host cities generally reported the new topic—“Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands.” Nevertheless, Clemens sometimes had to explain the substitution at the last moment.

Norwich, Connecticut- November 13 & 14, 1869 Twain lectured in Norwich, Connecticut. Topic: "Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands".

West Meriden, Connecticut- Twain lectured in West Meriden sometime around December 11-13th, 1869.

East Haddam, Connecticut- William "Will" Gillette. The Sellers play was given in Hartford, in January (1875), to as many people as could crowd into the Opera House. Raymond had reached the perfection of his art by that time, and the townsmen of Mark Twain saw the play and the actor at their best. Kate Field played the part of Laura Hawkins, and there was a Hartford girl in the company; also a Hartford young man, who would one day be about as well known to playgoers as any playwright or actor that America has produced. His name was William Gillette, and it was largely due to Mark Twain that the author of Secret Service and of the dramatic "Sherlock Holmes" got a fair public start. Clemens and his wife loaned Gillette the three thousand dollars which tided him through his period of dramatic education. Their faith in his ability was justified.

Waterbury, Connecticut- On May 21, 1901, the Waterbury Clock Co. received a letter from Mark Twain stating, "Please send me a watch. $1 enclosed." This refers to the highly successful and inexpensive "Watch That Made The Dollar Famous" made by the company. In Following the Equator, he wrote: "In a minor tournament I won the prize, which was a Waterbury watch. I put it in my trunk."

Stonington, Connecticut- James Hammond Trumbull. Trumbull was born in Stonington, Connecticut. The Hartford Monday Evening Club (which Trumbull had helped found in January 1869) gathered fortnightly to hear and discuss an original essay presented by one of its members. Clemens attended the meeting of 17 February 1873 and heard Congregational clergyman Nathaniel J. Burton read an essay entitled “Individualism.”

To James Hammond Trumbull
15 February 1873
J H Trumbull Esq

Dr. Sir:

I shall be very glad indeed to meet with the Club as a member on next Monday Evening, & am thankful, too.

And I willingly “excuse the informal character” of the notice—am even grateful for it; for if you had started in to make it formal you might have got it in [Sanscritt ], & that would just simply have made trouble with

Ys Truly
Samâ„“. L. Clemens

Southington, Connecticut- Joseph Hopkins Twichell (1838–1918) was pastor of the Asylum Hill Congregational Church at 814 Asylum Street in Hartford. He was born in Southington, Connecticut. Twitchell played a significant role in many of the most important events occuring in the Clemens family. He was the presiding clergyman at Sam's marriage with Livy, and at their daughter Clara's wedding with Ossip Gabrilowitsch. Twitchell also provided support during the darkest periods for the family; he was present at the death of Susy, and officiated over the funerals of both Livy and Jean, and well as over Sam's funeral in New York City.

To Olivia L. Langdon
18 October 1868

"Set a white stone—for I have made a friend. It is the Rev. J. H. Twichell. I have only known him a week, & yet I believe I think almost as much of him as I do of Charlie. I could hardly find words strong enough to tell how much I do think of that man. (And] his wife, too. I met him at a church sociable. I had a splendid time at their house. I had my “manners” with me, & got up to go at 9.30pm, & never sat down again— but he said he was bound to have his talk out—& bless you I was willing—& so I only left at 11pm. And then he made me carry off the choicest books in his library. Splendid fellow!"

Wethersfield, Connecticut- Where the Stormfield Burglars ended up. "According to contemporary news reports of the Stormfield burglary, the two prisoners were named Charles Hoffman and Henry Williams. They were sentenced to time in Connecticut State Prison at Wethersfield."

"The 1910 census for Connecticut shows two prisoners by the names of Charles Hoffman and Henry Williams at Wethersfield."

Branford, Connecticut- Twain summered at Branford, Connecticut's Montowese House in 1881. Franklin G. Whitmore's House.

Unionville, Connecticut- The Platner & Porter Manufacturing Company. From the appendix of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn edition published by The Mark Twain Project of the Bancroft Library (2002 Edition)

Appendix A, Group 2 (Page 468)

"Mark Twain wrote these notes on eleven leaves: 2-1 through 2-10 on ten town half-sheets of unlived wove paper, the same paper as that used for MS1b pages 447 through 663; and 2-11 on a torn half-sheet of laid paper, ruled horizontally in blue and embossed "P&P (probably for Platner & Porter, the Connecticut paper manufacturer) in the upper left corner. (He used this stationary sporadically, for personal letters and literary manuscript, in the 1870's and in 1880: see Blair 1958-7-8...."

"P & P was indeed the symbol for The Platner & Porter Manufacturing Company. The company which was located in Unionville, Connecticut, made fine writing and book papers from around 1848 until the mill closed during the early years of the great depression in the 1930's. It was considered one of the major paper companies of Connecticut and at one time supplied the Federal Government with paper, and its paper was also used for Yale Diplomas. The Library of Congress also has several hand assembled notebooks of Walt Whitman, some of which are embossed "Platner & Porter, Congress".

I (Clifford Alderman)only came accross this reference to Twain recently though, but it makes sense, as Twain's next door neighbor, Mary Porter Chamerlain, wife of Hartford Attorney Franklin Chamberlain, was the sister of Samuel Quincy Porter, the owner of the Platner & Porter Paper Mill in Unionville.

Washington, Connecticut- William Hamilton Gibson: Nature illustrator & writer - wrote several books as well as articles for Harpers Magazine. Went to the Gunnery, returned and built a summer house and studio in Washington.

Newtown, Connecticut- William Hamilton Gibson was born in Newtown, Connecticut. Neat and informative article on Newtown's library, Twain and Gibson, here.

Stamford, Connecticut- Edward Quintard, M.D. (1867-1936) was born in Stamford, CT, the son of Edward Augustus and Mary (Skiddy) Quintard, and was related through his mother to president Zachary Taylor.

During his storied career, Edward was an outstanding medical practitioner and educator, but also was the personal physician to many celebrities. Perhaps the best known was Samuel Langhorne Clemens -- better known as the best-selling author Mark Twain -- and in fact Edward was at Twain's deathbed at the end.

Monroe/Stepney, Connecticut- The Burr-Hawley General Store. Burr Hawley General Store 435 Main Street. Two turnpikes intersected here, and the Stepney Green and new Baptist and Methodist churches made the area a hub of community life. The store's founder, Isaac Burritt, had a very successful general store on this site by 1850. Burr Hawley, a 'twenty-something' entrepeneur, bought & rebuilt the store (in 1870) into a three-story emporium organized somewhat like a modern “superstore” that offered just about anything a shopper could want. The most well known celebrity to gather round the potbelly stove to share yarns, or tales, was Mark Twain. The store and Georgian homestead were torn down in the late 1950s.

East Granby, Connecticut- Roswell, Phelps. A Hartford insurance company stenographer, Phelps was a former schoolteacher and journalist when James Osgood recruited him to assist Mark Twain as a paid stenographer on his 1882 trip on the Mississippi River. The dications he recorded along the way became part of Mark Twain's notebooks and Life on the Mississippi.

Bloomfield, Connecticut- Francis Gillette. A Connecticut politician, abolitionist and insurnace company executive. Gillette and his brother-in-law John Hooker bought Nook Farm, which they developed into a prestigious Hartford residential community where Mark Twain later became his neighbor. Gillette also helped found Joseph Twichell's Asylum Hill Church.

Enfield, Connecticut- On Monday morning, 25 November, Clemens left the Batavia in Boston, whence the ship proceeded to New York. He took an express train for Hartford, which narrowly escaped derailment near Enfield, Connecticut, about fifteen miles north of Hartford:

"About three-quarters of a mile from the bridge the express train coming south on the west track, about seven o’clock Monday evening, met a pile of ties. The engineer saw them, and by his presence of mind and the Westinghouse brake was able to stop the train before the crash so that no damage was done. (“A Villain’s Work,” Hartford Courant, 27 Nov 72, 2)"

Hartford Nov 26. 1872

Dear Folks,

I will write only a note to say Sam has arrived safely and in good health after being gone three months & a week; and of passing through the most [ terriffic ] S[t]orm of a week—and just before reaching Hartford of a narrow escape of a car wreck as there were ties fastened on the track in two places.

Thompsonville, Connecticut- 1870 Lecture Tour: At least 49 engagements, topic - "Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands" Under the management of James Redpath. November 30 - Thompsonville, Connecticut. November 30th is his Birthday, must have been a good show!

"Mark Twain is a very good looking man. He is of medium height and moderately slender build, has light brown hair, a reddish brown moustache, regular features and a fresh complexion; and he has a queer way of wrinkling up his nose and half closing his eyes when he speaks. The expression of his face is as calm and imperturbable as that of a sphinx. Looking at him you feel it to be an impossibility that he should ever hurry or be out of temper, and you might suppose him to be incapable of a joke, if it were not for the peculiar twinkle in his merry eyes. His voice is remarkably light and remarkably dry--like some German wines--and it seems to be modulated to only two keys. His style of speaking is unique to the last degree. It is all of a piece with the quality of his humor, and fits him like a glove."

Old Lyme, Connecticut- Willard L. Metcalf and Twain were members of The Players club in NYC. The Florence Griswold Museum houses a large collection of Metcalf's paintings.

Marlborough, Connecticut- Asa Bigelow was born in Marlborough on the 18th of January, 1779. Asa Bigelow was John Bigelow's father, John Bigelow was Poultney Bigelow's father. Poultney Bigelow and Twain were friends. http://poultneybigelow.org/ Poultney Bigelow, was an American adventurer, world traveler, and roving foreign correspondent. He was a close friend as this passage shows:

"It was on the afternoon of the next day, April 18, 1894, that the firm of Charles L. Webster & Co. executed assignment papers and closed its doors.

Naturally, the failure of Mark Twain’s publishing firm made a public stir, and it showed how many and sincere were his friends, how ready they were with sympathy and help of a more material kind. Those who understood best, congratulated him on being out of the entanglement.

Poultney Bigelow, Douglas Taylor, Andrew Carnegie, Charles Dudley Warner, and others extended financial help, Bigelow and Taylor each inclosing him a check of one thousand dollars for immediate necessities. He was touched by these things, but the checks were returned." -Albert Bigelow Paine

New Canaan, Connecticut- Katharine B. Clemens. Found via a letter written by Sam from Bermuda in 1910...

Bermuda, March 24, 1910

Dear Cousin Katharine,

I am grateful for the prayers of those good nuns, and for yours; they have already answered themselves in giving me a deep pleasure...

About a month hence I shall be homeward bound after a year's sojourn in these islands of the Blest. Write me as soon as you get to New Canaan and tell me when I can have you at Stormfield.

Your Affectionately,
S.L. Clemens

Pomfret, Connecticut- Louise Chandler Moulton. Moulton, a Boston resident, was visiting in Pomfret, the small town in northeast Connecticut where she had grown up (Whiting 1910, 5, 71–72).

October 14, 1874 • Hartford, Conn.

My Dear Mrs. Moulton,

Your dainty volume came last night & Mrs. Clemens read “Brains” to me while I smoked—& I was glad she read instead of I, because I was so touched my voice would have done me treachery, & I find it necessary to be manly & ferocious in order to maintain a proper discipline in this family. We have so long read your book reviews in the Tribune that it was no surprise that we liked to the story so much.

Our eldest daughter is progressing finely, & I think you will like her when you come down to see us by & by as you promised to do. We have been in a portion of our house a month, & we expect the carpenters to give up the rest before Christmas—though “art is long” & so they may possibly remain with us a year or two more.

With many thanks for the pretty book I am Heartily Yours,

Sam

New London, Connecticut- Fort Trumbull

Twain's Short Story "A Curious Experience" begins: This is the story which the Major told me, as nearly as I can recall it:--

In the winter of 1862-3, I was commandant of Fort Trumbull, at New London, Conn. Maybe our life there was not so brisk as life at "the front"; still it was brisk enough, in its way -- one`s brains did n`t cake together there for lack of something to keep them stirring.



Check out our Google Map of Connecticut Mark Twain Connections.

Mark Twain Centennial Collection Prints now available for online purchase...framed and unframed.


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Tuesday, October 13

Mark Twain Centennial Project: Tours, prints help promote Twainiacs’ efforts to share history

Written by Rachel Kirkpatrick
Sunday, 11 October 2009




Self-described “Twainiacs,” portrait artist Susan Durkee, Mark Twain Library Director Heather Morgan and Redding historian Brent Colley, look over limited edition prints of works Ms. Durkee created to help raise funds for the library and to promote a project connecting Twain history to towns across the state.—Rachel Kirkpatrick photo


Redding historian Brent Colley loves to imagine the town’s landscape after Mark Twain, aka Samuel Clemens, built his Stormfield estate atop the hillside off Diamond Hill Road.

“I can see myself just sitting there and mulling in awe at seeing this glowing thing,” he said, looking up through the trees where residents may have gazed upon the mansion.

With the help of fellow “Twainiacs,” portrait artist Susan Durkee and Markv Twain Library Director Heather Morgan, Mr. Colley has been conducting Twain Tours, offering historians and enthusiasts insight into the last two years of Twain’s life, which were spent in Redding. These are years that are still shrouded in mystery for those on the outside, he said.

The year 2008 marked the 100th anniversary of Mark Twain’s arrival to Redding, and the founding of the Mark Twain Library, but 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of his death. It’s an opportunity, Mr. Colley said, to continue to recognize his life and promote Redding’s treasured Twain history.

The three Twainiacs are teaming up to place free exhibits next year in every public library or public place in the state that has Twain significance in an effort they call the Mark Twain Centennial Project. The project is being undertaken in partnership with the Mark Twain Library.

Twain called a number of places home over the course of his lifetime, Mr. Colley said in a news release. However, his years in Connecticut came during very significant periods in his life. These exhibits will include artwork, photos and informational brochures about Twain’s life, work and friends in Connecticut.

“We’re trying to build a foundation and connect more towns to his life,” Mr. Colley said. “This whole effort can just grow and grow and grow, and the possibilities are endless.”

To help fund this project, Ms. Durkee is selling limited edition prints, including portraits of Twain, a centennial calendar and illustrated pictorial reference guide. Twenty percent of the proceeds, which are tax deductible, will go toward the project.

The Twain Tours always end at a very special place — Ms. Durkee’s own home and studio, The Lobster Pot, part of the former Stormfield estate, and where Isabel Lyon, Twain’s social secretary, household manager and social companion lived. Ms. Lyon “played a critical role during his last years,” Ms. Durkee said.

“He was such a complicated man, with so many dimensions,” Ms. Durkee said. “Being a portrait artist, I felt strongly that people should be proud in Redding of the library, and I had this idea to create these centennial prints.”

“Part of this is to recognize what an important person he was for American history and culture,” she said. “He affected so many people and so many people devote their lives to him. He’s undefined, he just keeps going and going.”

Mr. Colley, creator of the Web site historyofredding.com, has been promoting the effort through a blog (twainproject.blogspot.com) he created to collect and share information about Twain and about the project.

The next step, he said, is to digitize the items in the Twain archive room at the library, so that people all over the world may access the library’s records.

“The more I learned about Mark Twain, the more I realized there is really not a consensus of what happened here, so I feel like this would be an opportunity to add to the history, and give people the capability to learn more about the last two years through the collections the library has in its archives,” Mr. Colley said.

“It’s really what sparked my interest in Twain,” he added. “The more you learn, the more you want to know.”

Twain’s connection here, Ms. Morgan said, “has always been Redding’s best kept secret — but I don’t think that’s right.”

“This has become a busy library,” Ms. Morgan said. “First and foremost I am library director, but when you’ve got such a treasure trove under your care, you spend a lot more time than you realize. It’s so remarkable, and enjoyable, looking after it.”

She gets a lot more requests by e-mail from researchers who want to know something about Twain’s life in Redding, which has always remained a mystery to some.

“We get a lot of visitors, people who live in Redding are now bringing their friends and relatives to visit,” she said.

Next month, the library is celebrating the anniversary of Clara’s wedding. Clara was Twain’s middle daughter. In 2010, the library will honor Twain because it is the year he died. The library, she said, is working with Hartford Public Library and the Mark Twain house on programs for that.

“I’ve been delighted I’ve made so many friends in the Twain world and they’re all helping me discover things and discover more things,” she said.

Fewer than 300 of the 3,000 original collection of books are now left since the library was founded. Over the years, many of the books were circulated, and in the 1950s, the library sold a great number of the books to raise funds. Ms. Morgan is still actively trying to find them.

Ms. Morgan said she always liked his books, but the connection to Twain grew stronger when she began working part time at the library.

“I loved working there and then I realized I had a whole lot of Mark Twain stuff to deal with,” she said. “You learn by being surrounded with his works and things that belonged to him. You find you become inquisitive and follow through on things. I learned more about the man and got totally hooked, and meeting all these Twainiacs helped, too.”

Mr. Colley said the goal is to feature these free exhibits in at least 200 locations across the state. There are already so many Twain connections in Connecticut, including Ridgefield’s Cass Gilbert, who owned the historic Keeler Tavern and who often visited Twain at Stormfield. Another connection is through Easton, because Helen Keller often visited Twain at Stormfield. Another is Hartford where the Mark Twain House Museum is.

The key now is to fund-raise and secure sponsors for the effort, Mr. Colley said. He is now working to establish the anniversary of Twain’s death, April 21, 2010, as an official Mark Twain Day in Connecticut.

“We want people to know about Twain’s time in Redding, because it is so huge,” Ms. Durkee said.

Last May, Ms. Durkee held a special centennial “sendoff” celebration at her home on Mark Twain Lane. When she moved into the home she began researching its history and learned more about Isabel Lyon and her somewhat controversial relationship with Twain, the subject of which is featured in a documentary prepared by History Film Inc. and produced by Richard Altomonte.

Called “Dangerous Intimacy,” the documentary is based on the book, Dangerous Intimacy: The Untold Story of Mark Twain’s Final Years, by Karen Lystra, a professor of American studies at California State University at Fullerton.

When Twain’s daughter Clara died, Isabel’s diary was opened to the public and a lot of writings and information about her time at Stormfield began to come out.

“Isabel kept a meticulous diary of everything she did at Stormfield,” Ms. Durkee said. “The diary brought to light a lot of information people didn’t know about.”

“So many people want to share in this information and participate,” she said. “No one wants to keep any of it exclusively.”

Tax-deductible donations may be made toward this effort.

Checks may be sent to:

The Mark Twain Library, Mark Twain Centennial Project
P.O. Box 1009, Redding CT 06875.

Mr. Colley may be reached at bcolley@colleyweb.com To view the collection of prints for sale, visit thelobsterpotstudio.com/the-mark-twain-gallery.htm.

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Twain Connections project seeks residents with a link to popular author Mark Twain

By Melissa Bruen
Danbury News-Times
Updated: 10/29/2009 05:44:45 PM EDT

A desire to learn more about Samuel L. Clemens (more popularly known by his pen name, Mark Twain) has propelled a local historian to create a statewide project that celebrates this popular author.

Twainiacs -- fans of Mark Twain -- couldn't be happier.

The project, called Twain Connections, is just that. It involves finding connections Twain made here during his remarkable life as a writer, humorist and philosopher. Next year marks the 100th anniversary of his passing, and since Twain once lived in Connecticut -- in Hartford and Redding -- there are many connections to be made.

"I had a late start realizing the history of Redding, so I'm trying to promote it and get the kids more excited about it," said historian Brent Colley, whose family came to Redding five generations ago.

Two years ago, in search of images to compile in a calendar, Colley found himself elbows deep in information about Twain at Redding's public library.

"I thought, 'Wow, we need to go a lot further with this,' " Colley said.

When he began his research, he made instant friends in Redding.

"We call ourselves the Twainiacs -- Twain plus maniac," Colley said of Heather Morgan, the director of the library, and Susan Durkee, an artist who lives on the Redding property once owned by Twain, which he named the Lobster Pot.

Twain died April 21, 1910, at Stormfield, his home in Redding.

Between Morgan, Durkee and Colley's mutual love and respect for Twain, and the encouragement Colley received through the Mark Twain Forum at www.twainweb.net, Colley was off and running.

Since then, he's been researching Twain's connections across the state in an attempt to create a yearlong centennial celebration. In the course of his research, he's met many interesting people with important stories to tell.

"I spoke to a woman up in Windsor, who is 84," Colley said. "Her great-great-grandfather is one of the main reasons Twain came to Connecticut; he was a publisher."

Colley's hope is that each town will display a Twain Connections exhibit and brochure map of all the places connected to his time in Connecticut. Each exhibit would include a limited edition print of Twain by Durkee, information about Twain, plus details about that town's local resident who had a connection with Twain.

In addition to the exhibits, Colley pushed for and got a statewide Mark Twain Day proclamation for April 21, 2010.

It's a large undertaking, but Colley said it's worth it.

"We (the Twainiacs) have a great time with it because doing something you love you never feel like you are really working," he said.

Already Colley has communicated with Twain fans across the country, many of whom have expressed an interest in visiting the area -- another reason he believes the project can successfully stimulate interest in Redding.

"We could drive tourism to Connecticut if we connect him to enough towns," Colley said, adding funding is needed to make copies of materials so the towns can have displays.

"I'm hoping that in each town businesses will come forward to sponsor (the exhibits), allowing them to be free to the public," he said, adding that if people sponsor this their name will be all over Connecticut on the actual anniversary as well.

"In the future," he said, "we hope to digitize the Mark Twain archive that is in the Redding library, which is extensive, and then share it all online."

Contact Melissa Bruen at mbruen@newstimes.com or 203-731-3350.

Saturday, October 10

October 11th, 2009- 101st Anniversary of the Chapel Library's Opening

Chapel Building Library Officially opened on October 11th, 1908

On October 11, 1908 a small, unused Chapel on the corner of Umpawaug Rd. and Diamond Hill opened as a temporary library to house the thousands of books Mark Twain donated from his personal collection to the people of Redding.


Coley Taylor recalled:

"Mark Twain donated a large number of books from his own collection to the library. They were housed in the seldom used old chapel facing the ancient but still used Umpawaug Cemetery. A librarian was on hand Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. Twain secured donations from many friends, including Andrew Carnegie, and publishers."

Wednesday, October 7

Making Connections- Helen Keller, Easton, CT

I grew up in Redding, yet it was not until a recent discovery that I realized there was a connection between Redding and Easton outside of each town originally being a part of the Town of Fairfield and the Region #9 school district [Joel Barlow High School]. As I was digging through the Mark Twain Library archives last winter out popped a note about Samuel L. Clemens and his home written by Helen Keller in 1909. Having wondered why Helen Keller was named for the Middle School in Easton and feeling a little guilty for the jokes we made about the name in middle school I was drawn to the entry in his guestbook:

"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

Ms. Keller was a fan of Redding, CT and the man known to the World as Mark Twain! After all she refers to Redding as "Eden" and Twain as a "King".

Later she wrote:

"I have visited Stormfield [Twain's home in Redding] since Mark Twain's death [April,1910]. The flowers still bloom; the breezes still whisper and sough in the cedars, which have grown statelier year by year; the birds still sing, they tell me. But for me the place is bereft of its lover. The last time I was there, the house was in ruins. Only the great chimney was standing, a charred pile of bricks in the bright autumn landscape."

This is likely after 1923 when Stormfield burnt to the ground during renovation work.

During her lifetime, Helen Keller lived in many different places—Tuscumbia, Alabama; Cambridge and Wrentham, Massachusetts; Forest Hills, New York, but perhaps her favorite residence was her last, the house in Easton, Connecticut she called "Arcan Ridge."

The same can be said about Samuel L. Clemens...He too fell in love with his final residence.

Below is a letter from Sam to Helen in 1903:

Riverdale - on - the Hudson
St. Patrick's Day, 1903

Dear Helen:

I must steal half a moment from my work to say how glad I am to have your book and how highly I value it, both for its own sake and as a remembrance of an affectionate friendship which has subsisted between us for nine years without a break and without a single act of violence that I can call to mind. I suppose there is nothing like it in heaven; and not likely to be, until we get there and show off. I often think of it with longing, and how they'll say, "there they come--sit down in front." I am practicing with a tin halo. You do the same. I was at Henry Roger's last night, and of course we talked of you. He is not at all well--you will not like to hear that; but like you and me, he is just as lovely as ever.

Every lovingly your friend (sic)

Mark

Helen Keller lived at 163 Redding Road in Easton, Connecticut. She called the property Arcan Ridge. She died in her sleep on June 1, 1968 at the age of 87. The cause of her death was arteriosclerosis heart disease.

View rare footage of Helen Keller in 1930

Does your town have a Twain Connection? I'd like to know about it!


http://twainproject.blogspot.com/2009/10/connecticut-mark-twain-connections.html


http://www.historyofredding.com/Twain-Redding.ppt

Need daily Twain updates? http://twitter.com/BrentMColley

Saturday, October 3

October 7th- 101st Anniversary of the Mark Twain Library

“Stormfield,” Redding, Conn. October 7, 1908:

“To My Guests

Greetings and Salutation and Prosperity!
And Therewith, Length of Days.

Listen:

My fellow farmers of this vicinity have gathered together some hundreds of books and instituted a public library and given it my name. Large contributions of books have been sent to it by Robert Collier, of Collier’s Weekly, by Colonel Harvey, of Harper & Brothers, and by Doubleday, Page & Company- all these without coercion; indeed upon the merest hint. The other great publishers will do the like as soon as they hear about this enterprise. The Harper Periodicals, Collier’s Weekly, World’s Work, Country Life in America, and other magazines are sent gratis to the library- this also without coercion, merely a hint. The hint in due time be extended to other magazines. And so, we have a library…”

Library Officially opens on October 11th, 1908

On October 11, 1908 a small, unused Chapel on the corner of Umpawaug Rd. and Diamond Hill opened as a temporary library to house the thousands of books Mark Twain donated from his personal collection to the people of Redding.

On October 28, 1908, Twain formally dedicated the library, naming himself as first President.

The temporary library was actively used, and a librarian was on hand Wednesdays and Saturday afternoons for the town’s people.

Twain didn’t stop there. He began raising funds for a permanent library building by charging admission to his personal gatherings, imposing a $1 tax on all male visitors, a luggage tax on all his many famous visitors, and receiving gifts from influential friends like Andrew Carnegie.

On September 21, 1909 he hosted a Library Fund concert at Stormfield in which his daughter Clara Clemens and her future husband Ossip Gabrilowitsch, the Russian pianist, entertained 525 guests.

Land for the new library building was donated by Theodore Adams. One of Twain’s final acts was approving a $6,000 check for the Library Building Fund. He dedicated the Library in the memory of his daughter Jean.

To Charles T. Lark, New York:
HAMILTON, BERMUDA. April 6, 1910

DEAR MR. LARK,–I have told Paine that I want the money derived from the sale of the farm, which I had given, but not conveyed, to my daughter Jean, to be used to erect a building for the Mark Twain Library of Redding, the building to be called the Jean L. Clemens Memorial Building.

I wish to place the money $6,000.00 in the hands of three trustees,– Paine and two others: H. A. Lounsbury and William E. Hazen, all of Redding, these trustees to form a building Committee to decide on the size and plan of the building needed and to arrange for and supervise the work in such a manner that the fund shall amply provide for the building complete, with necessary furnishings, leaving, if possible, a balance remaining, sufficient for such repairs and additional furnishings as may be required for two years from the time of completion.

Will you please draw a document covering these requirements and have it ready by the time I reach New York (April 14th).

Very sincerely, S. L. CLEMENS.

The Mark Twain Library officially opened at its present location on February 18, 1911.



This is the entry of the Jean L. Clemens Memorial Building.

The foliage at Stormfield "was heaven and hell and sunset and rainbows and the aurora, all fused into one divine harmony, and you couldn't look at it and keep the tears back."
-S.L.C. 1909

Learm about our Mark Twain Centennial Project

100th Anniversary of Clara's Wedding

October 6, 2009 marks the 100th Anniversary of Clara Clemens and Ossip Gabrilowitsch's wedding at Stormfield in Redding, Connecticut.

The wedding took place in the drawing room at Stormfield, with the Rev. Dr. Joseph H. Twitchell of Hartford, a close friend of Mr. Clemens, as officiating clergyman.

The bride was attended only by her sister, Miss Jean Clemens, but her cousins, Jervis Langdon of Elmira, N. Y., and Mrs. Julia Loomis, wife of Edward Loomis, Vice President of the Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad, were present.

Miss Ethel Newcomb of New York City played a wedding march as the bridal party entered the drawing room shortly after Noon. The room was decorated with evergreens, autumn leaves, and roses, and the bride and bridegroom stood beneath a bower of white roses and smilax.

While the ceremony was being performed Mr. Clemens was attired in he scarlet cap and gown which he wore when the Degree of Doctor of Literature was conferred upon him by Oxford University. After the wedding he returned to his customary white flannel suit. Forty guests from New York City were present and attended a wedding brunch which followed the marriage.

Speaking of the bride and bridegroom Mr. Clemens said:

"Clara and Gabrilowitsch were pupils together under Leschetizky, in Vienna, ten years ago. We have known him intimately ever since.

It's not new - the engagement. It was made and dissolved twice six years ago. Recovering from a perilous surgical operation, two or three months passed by him here in the house ended a week or ten days ago in renewal. The wedding had to be sudden for Gabrilowitsch's European season is ready to begin."

Reporters were curious about the library:

Reporter:

"Can you say a word or two about the Redding Mark Twain Library?"

Clemens:

"The village did me the honor to name it so. It flourishes. We are all engaged in propagating the building fund, in a social and inexpensive way, through picnics, afternoon teas, and other frolics in the neighborhood, with now and then a full strength concert in my house at ostentatious prices.

We had one (a concert to benefit the library) last week with a team composed of Gabrilowitsch, David Bispham, and his bride, with me as introducer and police. We had an audience of 525.

When I have a male guest I charge him a dollar for his bed and turn the money into the fund and give him an autographed receipt, which he carries away and sells for $1.10."

They were also curious about Redding:

Reporter:

"Do you like it here at Stormfield?"

Clemens:

"Yes, it is the most out of the world and peaceful and tranquil and in every way satisfactory home I have had experience of in my life."

Yet the most interesting strain of thought that Samuel L. Clemens had on this day was not about the wedding, the library or life in Redding...it was about life itself.

Reporter:

"The marriage pleases you, Mr. Clemens?"

Clemens:

"Yes, fully as much as any marriage could please me or perhaps any other father. There are two or three tragically solemn things in this life, and a happy marriage is one of them, for the terrors of life are all to come. A funeral is a solemn office, but I go to them with a spiritual uplift, thankful that the dead friend has been set free. That which follows is to me tragic and awful - the burial.

I am glad of this marriage, and Mrs. Clemens would be glad, for she always had a warm affection for Gabrilowitsch, but all the same it is a tragedy, since it is a happy marriage with its future before it, loaded to the plimsoll line with uncertainties."

This was how Clemens viewed life in the final years of his life and it was through his life experiences that he had come to view life this way.

While many are drawn to Mark Twain by his literary talents, there are also those attracted to the study of his life experiences. He was an enormously talented writer, at times larger than life, but personally he endured the same peaks and valleys we all face along this road of life and that, to me, is a key reason his persona and his popularity have not faded nearly a century after his death.

Tuesday, September 29

Making Connections- Captain Ned Wakeman, Westport CT

The Mark Twain Centennial, to me, is all about celebrating the life of Samuel L. Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) and making people more aware of his time in Connecticut.

To connect Connecticut towns and cities to his friends, family, associates and the places he visited I recently asked for assistance from local historians. As it turns out I didn't need to look past my own personal rolodex! Portrait Artist Susan Durkee, my friend and fellow Twainiac, forwarded a real gem to me this week. Westport's Captain Edgar "Ned" Wakeman.



Captain Edgar "Ned" Wakeman was skipper of the steamship America(a ship Clemens sailed on from San Francisco to NYC in 1866-67), and one of the most colorful seafarers of the time period. Wakeman is reincarnated in several of Twain's book characters: Captain Ned Blakely, Captain Stormfield, and Captain Hurricane Jones.

In a letter to the Alta (Newspaper), Clemens speaks of him as follows:

"I will do him the credit to say that he knows how to tell his stirring forecastle yarns; with his strong, cheery voice, animated countenance, quaint phraseology, defiance of grammar, and extraordinary vim in the matter of emphasis and gesture, he makes a most effective story even out of unpromising materials.

He is fifty years old, as rough as a bear in voice and action, and yet as kind hearted and tender as a woman. He is a burly, hairy, sunburned, stormy-voiced old salt, who mixes strange oaths with incomprehensible sailor-phraseology and the gentlest and most touching pathos, and is tatooed from head to foot like a Feejee Islander.

He knows nothing of policy or of the ways of the world, but he can keep cheered-up any company of passengers that ever traveled in a ship. He never drinks a drop, never gambles, and never swears where a lady or a child may chance to hear him."

In a notebook entry he writes:

"I'd rather travel with that old portly, hearty, jolly, boisterous, good-natured sailor...than with any other man I've ever come across,"

In his memoirs he wrote:

"I first knew Capt. Wakeman thirty-nine years ago. I made two voyages with him and we became fast friends. He was a great burly, handsome, weather-beaten, symmetrically built and powerful creature, with coal-black hair and whiskers and the kind of eye which men obey without talking back. He was full of human nature, and the best kind of human and loving a soul as I have found and when his temper was up he performed all the functions of an earthquake, without the noise."

In a letter Clemens wrote to his brother Orion, from Hartford, Clemens notes helping the Captain in 1874. This letter and more like them can be found at http://www.marktwainproject.org

"Farmington Avenue, Hartford.

March. 18, 1874

My Dear Bro:

The enclosed letter [ it is ] from a remarkable man—old Ned Wakeman, mariner for 40 year.,—or 50, more like it. He hung the mate (see “Roughing It”) for killing the negro. It is a true story.

I have written him that you will edit his book & help him share the profits, & I will write the introduction & find a publisher."

Westport Connection

Edgar "Ned" Wakeman was born in Westport, Connecticut:

"My great-great-great-grand-father, more than two hundred years ago, settled at Green Farms, Fairfield county, Connecticut; taking up a farm, as was the custom then, by running two parallel lines in a northerly direction from Long Island Sound,
so as to in close a strip of land as long and as wide as he desired.

This grant, signed by the English king, and always to be exempt from taxes, extended, according to the record on parchment in the Hartford Hall of Records, from the Sound, through Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. There were plenty of Indians in the country then, but neither roads nor fences, and the trees were marked with an ax to indicate the boundary lines.

The old house, the home of my fondest recollections, was built by this Joseph Wakeman, and lived in by five Josephs successively, down to my uncle Joe, who died in 1854. After his death it was sold to the Episcopalian society, and a stone church, the finest religious edifice in Westport, the town which has grown up around it, erected upon its site.

The old house measured fifty feet by forty, the stone chimney was eighteen feet square, the kitchen fireplace was ten feet wide at the back, twelve feet wide in front and six feet deep; a horse was employed to haul in the back-log, which was generally about nine feet long by three in diameter. The stone steps into the cellar were immense, and the oak timbers in the chamber floor and around the chimney were sixteen inches square. The original siding and shingles were never changed, but the last time I saw the old place the shingles were worn through in many places and were generally threadbare.

When the mail-stage road from New York to Boston came to be made, it ran close to the house, where the stage always stopped upon each trip, and when the British troops were in this country a number of officers made their headquarters at this house. My father was then a boy, and I have heard him say that he and the other frightened children ran and threw themselves into a bed as the troops approached; and I have seen him laugh as he remembered how he trembled when a soldier pulled back the covering, exclaiming:

"Here they are; black and white, all together!"

Down the road and across it, when I was young, stood an old building, which I have heard my father say was the house of a Jenning, a family which intermarried with mine. When the soldiers were leaving Westport they set fire to this building, and left a small squad behind to see that the fire was well kindled.

But the boys, my father among them, got an old King's tim and loaded it and then crept behind the stone fence, from which place they shot at the soldiers, wounding one and putting all to flight, so that the boys extinguished the flames and saved the house.

My grandfather Joseph and his wife Mary both died young. His family consisted of my father, whose name was Hezekiah, Seth, Joseph, Gideon and one daughter, Abigail; good, old-fashioned, names, that I love to recall, and family histories that my father used to relate to me when I was a boy at home, how I love to repeat them!

My father married Mary Godfrey on the eighteenth of February, 1798. He lived to the ripe age of eighty-seven, and my mother died at seventy-eight. My father was noted for his skill and strength in wrestling more than for anything else, unless it was for his sturdy honesty. On public occasions in our village, eighty years ago, wrestling matches were always held in which my father invariably, engaged, while report saith that he was never once thrown by his opponent. It was the custom then for the lad who was the best wrestler to wait upon the county belle, so it may be surmised that my mother was a very pretty girl; and I have often heard her say that Hezekiah was not only the strongest lad, and the only one of her acquaintance who possessed a double row of teeth all around, but also the best-looking young man in the country.

My first personal recollections carry me back more than forty years to a little tow-headed fellow living with his kind father and his loving mother in Westport, in the State of Connecticut..."

From: The log of an ancient mariner: being the life and adventures of Captain Edgar Wakeman. Library of Congress, American Memory.

Edgar "Ned" Wakeman, of Westport, Connecticut...one of the "most winning and delightful" people Samuel L. Clemens ever met.

Does your Town have a "Twain Connection"???

I'd like to know all about it!

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