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, October 28

April 21, 2010 is Mark Twain Day in Connecticut

Received some great news this evening from State Senator Boucher's'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. 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,


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.

Planning an Event? Confetti-Events of Georgetown is a great place to start!

Planning a Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvahs, Wedding, Anniversary Party, Special Event or Party in Redding, Weston, Wilton or Ridgefield?

Go local and call Confetti Events- Event Flowers, Decor and Planning Professionals right here in Redding CT.

Phone 203-544-6090 | E-mail: | Web:

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, has been promoting the effort through a blog ( 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 To view the collection of prints for sale, visit


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, 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 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)


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!

Need daily Twain updates?

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.


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:


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


"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:


"Do you like it here at Stormfield?"


"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 was about life itself.


"The marriage pleases you, Mr. 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.