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

Friday, 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
Samℓ. 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.

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