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.

Saturday, November 13

Friday's Twain Tour de Redding a Success

November 12th was a very special day for Redding’s "Twainiacs". It was an opportunity to accomplish our primary goal in this Centennial year- increase interest in Mark Twain's time here in Redding, Connecticut.

Earlier this year, it struck us as odd that a website created to promote the 100th Anniversary of Twain's passing ( neglected to list Redding as a Mark Twain Site... after all he did build his final home here, founded our public library, celebrated his daughter's wedding and ended his Autobiography here. What our absence from the list said was, that, for whatever reason, Redding simply wasn't "there" yet and we really needed to share our story with as many people as we could in this Centennial year to change that.

This year was our year to present a case, and thus when fellow Twainiac, Heather Morgan, saw that the Mark Twain Project's Robert H. Hirst was coming to Connecticut she extended an invitation for him to visit Redding. He accepted and agreed to speak about the Autobiography Friday evening, so we planned a special day tour of Redding to thank him.

Our Tour began at the Mark Twain Library where Heather presented Mr. Hirst with the finest examples of the library's amazing collection of Twain related photos, documents, personal items and books. Next stop, was Redding’s Town Hall. Town Hall was a very important stop but we faced a challenging situation- Town Hall is closed Fridays. I called Judge Emerson early in the week and explained the importance of Robert's visit, he agreed. And so, through the kind hearts of Judge Emerson and Probate Clerk, Laura Homa, we sat down within the town vault at 10:30am Friday morning.

The information in Mark Twain's probate records were what I thought may be of interest because they show an inventory of assets, as well as a listing of companies and people he owed money to at the time of his passing. As Laura pulled out the documents and explained that they were only available by request, were stored under lock and key and ironically would be leaving Redding in 6 weeks to be stored up in Hartford at the State Library, I was thinking "this is all lining up pretty well."

And so the moment came that these documents were placed into his hands and Robert began to read them... "hmmph" after "hmmph" after "hmmph" were followed by "I'm grateful you brought me here to see this today." He was not aware these documents existed.

What was special about this information was that up until Friday, Robert was aware that Mark Twain had a personal nurse at Stormfield, but now he knew her name. These records contain the names of all Twain’s employees and their salaries. Albert B. Paine’s salary was surprising; no one knew Paine was being paid a salary! In addition, it lists the companies Twain held stock in and the local merchants and people he did business with.

From there, with the help of many, we gave Robert a grand tour of Redding. Jere and Jane Ross made it possible for us to show him the Old Town House where the Stormfield Burglars were arraigned for trial. Tad Sanford opened up the Redding Historical Society for us which turned out to be extra special because in addition to the beautiful Mark Twain desk downstairs, we discovered Duane Haley’s Twain portrait upstairs. Mark Twain Lane residents: Kathleen and Rob Lopes gave us an informative tour of “Markland”, Susan B. Durkee and Terry Vontobel showcased Twain’s initial property purchase “The Lobster Pot” and Erika and Jake DeSantis granted us access once again to view the Stormfield property.

Thank you to all who helped make this special day possible. The opportunity to tour a World renowned Mark Twain scholar around Redding at the tail end of the Centennial year is something that I never would have imagined possible back in March, but as Mark Twain said: "Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising." We're not “there” yet but we are a lot closer to our goal.

Robert H. Hirst signs copies of Mark Twain's Autobiography at the Mark Twain Library in Redding, Connecticut.

"A dream that comes only once is oftenest only an idle accident, and hasn't any message, but the recurrent dream is quite another matter--oftener than not it has come on business."

- Mark Twain, Three Thousand Years Among the Microbes

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