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, January 28

Mark Twain Visits Ridgefield Connecticut

The Ridgefield Mark Twain Connection exhibit is on display at Ridgefield Town Hall for the next two months. We filled three glass cabinets with photos, items and information. Susan Durkee's artwork is on display too and it really gives the pop we were looking for. If you visit be sure to check out the items that Heather Morgan of the Mark Twain Library added, especially Stormfield's Guestbook.

Next week Ridgefield Historical Society will add items to promote their "Twain Connections" The biggest being Edward W. Kemble who illustrated Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Susan B. Durkee created this "Twain in Ridgefield" welcome board for us.

Side view of the entry case. We showcase his Redding house on the top, on the bottom we showcase the Mark Twain Library and his daughter Clara's Wedding.

Straight ahead shot of the cabinet.

This is the cabinet across the hallway from the first. This one showcases the Ridgefield Twain Connections and thus the empty space on the first row. That will be added next week. The bottom is our area and there we showcase Helen Keller's visit in January of 1909 and his passing in 1910. The Guestbook shows people from Ridgefield visiting Twain, we didn't note it to see how many people would notice. In the middle is an actual program from his funeral and a ticket.

There is an additional glass cabinet downstairs in the conference room area that contains an interesting collection of odds and ends that I added as "conversation pieces". There is a lot to Twain's life and those associated with it. That is for sure!

Thank you to:

Kay Ables and The Ridgefield Historical Society

The Town of Ridgefield, Connecticut

The Wadsworth Lewis Trust Fund who provided $500.00 in 2010 to make this exhibit possible.

Susan B. Durkee. A great friend and amazing portrait artist.

Heather Morgan of The Mark Twain Library. Another great friend and partner in crime.

The Mark Twain House in Hartford for all their help, support and some of the amazing photos we are displaying in Ridgefield.

Ray Flanigan of Bethel Photoworks. Ray mounted five of our photos on to foam board for us in less than 2 hours. Amazing service!

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Tuesday, January 25

Mark Twain Quotation

"Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising."
- Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

As many of you who have been following the Mark Twain Stormfield Project over the past 3 years know, I don't have any funding. All this is an out-of-pocket expense and as of Mark Twain's Birthday my wife said "Enough! find money or forget Twain!"
Her exact words.

And so it was time to find some way to make money and not take time away from my design business. Tall order. Via Twitter and Facebook I was constantly faced with postings to make "money doing nothing", "generate life-long streams of income", "be your own boss"... you get the picture. Now, part a me didn't believe any of this but deep-down there was a question and it had been gnawing at me for some time, so I picked-up the phone.

The question was "How's Danny doing now?" Danny and I had been friends since 3rd grade but had lost contact after college. He was always looking for the "get-rich-quick" solution and about 10 years ago he actually found it... affiliate marketing. We spoke about 5 years ago and he was pulling in $15,000 to $20,000 a month working from home, 30 minutes a week. I'm not kidding, only 30 minutes a week! Then we lost touch again and because he had mentioned going into the Real Estate market, I wondered if he had lost it all. He lives in Michigan and the markets out there are real bad. But to get back to the conversation over the holidays, he did not lose anything, he actually gained a great deal and he's doing really well now teaching others how to do it too.

That's where this post comes in. I started taking his advice and writing articles for to market other people's products and services. Then, randomly an update came in over Twitter from "Anna Rich". *I always notice her updates because she has this very cool profile picture that rotates between three photos at just the right speed.* It's eye catching.

The article was about Affiliate Marketing and I mistakenly thought she had written it and replied to her about what Article service she was using. I wanted to know if there was another service that approved articles faster than EZine. EZine is sloooow.

While waiting to see if she replied I clicked her profile link to see what she marketed on her Affiliate Marketing Resource Site "Secret Riches" which operates out of the United Kingdom. *Twain Connection* There I found something called "Swom Bomb" Swom Bomb? It's amazing the names they give these sites. But I signed up anyway and "Swom Bomb" led me to a site called: "Swom"

That's when I understood and saw the great potential in this site. Swom is like Facebook for Affiliate Marketers- they all share ideas, methods and programs that have worked for them. Perfect place for an Affiliate Marketing "Rookie" to be. I'm able to see what others are using, ask them questions, see what they're making per month and make money in the process. Unlike Facebook where you lose money interacting with people, Swom members gain money for interacting and helping others. They also get $15 for referring people to this community. Not bad.

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Twain in England Connection for Anna

Mark Twain in his Oxford gown at his daughter Clara's wedding on October 6th, 1909. Clara was the only of his daughters to marry and she was married in Redding, Connecticut at Stormfield. Several months after his death Clara would give birth to Twain's only grand-daughter at Stormfield as well.

Twain received the gown at Oxford on June 26, 1907

Together with thirty men distinguished in politics, art, science, or letters, including Premier Campbell-Bannerman, Lord Chancellor Loreburn, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Mr. Lowther, Gen. Booth, Rudyard Kipling, and the Archbishop of Armagh, Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) received a university degree today in the Sheldonian Theatre.

Mr. Reid was cheered on entering the Theatre, but the great ovation was reserved for Mark Twain, who was the lion of the occasion. Everyone rose when he was escorted up the aisle and he was applauded for a quarter of an hour. When Dr. Ingram Bywater, Regius Professor of Greek, presented the American humorist to the convocation, the students started a fire of chaff about his books and their heroes, mixed with frequent questions, such as "Where is your white suit?" Mark Twain said afterward that he wanted to reply, but was determined to observe the etiquette, which demands that recipients of degrees be silent.

Ambassador Reid received the degree of Doctor of Civil Laws, as did Gen. Booth, the warmth of whose reception was exceeded only by that accorded to Mark Twain. The crowd waited outside the building to cheer Mark Twain, as, wearing the scarlet robes of a Doctor of Letters, he marched in procession to the Chancellor's residence, where those who had been honored by the bestowal of degrees were entertained at luncheon.

Monday, January 24

Mark Twain Quotation

"It is wiser to find out than suppose."
-Mark Twain

It's been getting tough to find the "good stuff" so until Blogger gets a better category sorting gadget I've listed some helpful links below.

Twain's Time in Redding:

June 18th, 1908, the arrival

The Burglary at Stormfield, September 18, 1908

The Burglary... who were the Stormfield burglars?

Stormfield Burglar makes his confession

Our Neighbor Mark Twain by Coley Taylor

Mark Twain as I Knew Him. Recollections of an Angelfish

Guestbook Entries September 1909

Who were the Angelfish?

The Billiard Room Addition (Bigelow Paine's House)

Mark Twain & Isabel Lyon

Funeral Expenses

The Tour de Twain... where to visit when you come to Redding


The property known as Stormfield

Books and articles containing information on Stormfield

The Stormfield Guestbook

Sunderlands, the builders of Stormfield

Stormfield and Mark Twain Lane in 1915

Stormfield Rebuiding Crew, 1925 (post fire)

Mark Twain Library:

Concert in support of library for Redding

Letter asking lawyer, Charles Lark, to release $6,000 for library

Samuel L. Clemens Book Collection at the Mark Twain Library

Mark Twain Library Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Mark Twain Library Launches New Website on the 99th Anniversary of his Death

The Mark Twain Centennial Project:

The Mark Twain Centennial Project Explained

Does Your Town Have a Twain Connection?

The Centennial Project Artwork

The Centennial Project Kickoff at the Lobster Pot

What We Want to Do Going Forward

Movie Projects:

Dangerous Intimacy: The Untold Story of Mark Twain's Final Years

Sunday, January 9

The Mark Twain Library Building

In February of 2011 we will be celebrating the completion and dedication of the Jean L Clemens Memorial Building.

Almost immediately after his arrival, Mark Twain took interest in founding a public library for the residents of Redding.

Why was this of interest to him? Perhaps it was in his genes…John Marshall Clemens, Twain’s father, is said to have been instrumental in founding the first Hannibal, Missouri Library.

“The first effort to establish a library for use of Hannibal citizens was in 1844. The organizers were Judge John M. Clemens, Zachariah Draper, Dr. Hugh Meredith and Sam Cross.”

In the image below you see similarities between Hannibal and Redding. Note the windows, fireplace and portrait above the mantle. After seeing this photo, I'm almost positive someone from Redding either visited Hannibal when planning the Jean L. Clemens Memorial Building or requested photos of it's interior. The look is far too similar to be coincidental.

Hannibal Public Library, Hannibal Missouri

To create Redding’s first public library, Twain donated books from his own collection and asked others to do the same. Next Twain went into fundraising mode, a role he greatly enjoyed. Male visitors to Stormfield were “taxed” $1 dollar, concerts were held, and friends and associates were urged to contribute to the cause. He was very successful. Large contributions of books were sent to Redding by Collier's Weekly, Harper & Brothers, and by Page & Company.

From 1908 to 1910, the library was a focal point for Twain. In fact one of his final acts was approving a check for the library building fund.

To Charles T. Lark, in New York:

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,

And thus, what began as a service to the residents of Redding, became a memorial to his daughter Jean. From this point forward it was up to the residents of Redding to return the favor and build a memorial to not only fulfill the great author’s wishes, but exceed them.

Redding, residents wasted little time in securing a building lot at the corner of Diamond Hill and Redding Road, quickly erecting the building, which opening on February 18 of 1911, less than a year after his passing. As he had wished, it was named the Jean L Clemens Memorial Building, and to no one’s surprise the library itself named the Mark Twain Library.

Since that time, the Mark Twain Library has grown and it has evolved but what it has remained is a tribute to Mark Twain’s legacy. Visitors of the Mark Twain Library are surrounded by photos, paintings, quotations, artwork and sculptures… there is little doubt that you have entered the “Mark Twain” library. But, more importantly, the Mark Twain Library keeps Mark Twain alive and that is a very significant point to remember, especially when you are made aware of the following:

“It's noble to be good, and it's nobler to teach others to be good and less trouble.”
- Mark Twain’s remarks at the opening of the Mark Twain Library, Redding, CT

It was very noble of Mark Twain to found our public library and so we must now be nobler and promote his life and works to others.

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Thursday, January 6

Huckleberry Finn

Englehart's cartoon says it best. This was posted in the Hartford Courant on January 7th, 2011.

I've posted this elsewhere but it's worthy to note here as well.

The new book by Al Gribben is attempting to soften Twain's version of Huck Finn by substituting certain words like: "slave" for "nigger" and "Indian" for "Injun." The thought being that more schools will use it if those "hate words" are removed.

The issue is that Twain used those words for a reason. He was holding a mirror up to society... post-civil war society ... and shouting "THIS IS WRONG!"

As Twain Scholar Dr. Cindy Lovell notes:
"In "Huck Finn" Twain pokes us with a sharp stick, makes us squirm, makes us highly uncomfortable. And it's effective."

From Twain himself:

"In those old slave-holding days the whole community was agreed as to one thing--the awful sacredness of slave property.

To help steal a horse or a cow was a low crime, but to help a hunted slave, or feed him or shelter him, or hide him, or comfort him, in his troubles, his terrors, his despair, or hesitate to promptly to betray him to the slave-catcher when opportunity offered was a much baser crime, & carried with it a stain, a moral smirch which nothing could wipe away.

That this sentiment should exist among slave-owners is comprehensible-- there were good commercial reasons for it-- but that it should exist & did exist among the paupers, the loafers the tag-rag & bobtail of the community, & in a passionate & uncompromising form, is not in our remote day realizable.

It seemed natural enough to me then; natural enough that Huck & his father the worthless loafer should feel it & approve it, though it seems now absurd.

It shows that that strange thing, the conscience--the unerring monitor--can be trained to approve any wild thing you want it to approve if you begin its education early & stick to it."

-Mark Twain's Notebook #35 (reprinted in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Univ. of California Press, 2003)

Twain was not a racist.
Anyone who believes Twain was a racist has not done their homework:

"We have ground the manhood out of them, & the shame is ours, not theirs, & we should pay for it”
(Mark Twain letter to Francis Wayland, 24 December, 1885)

And if that doesn't sway your opinion... think of it this way:

Where do we go from here? Should we edit the story of Abraham next?

"Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all the slaves born in his house..."


"Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all the "helpers" born in his house..."

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Video Footage of Mark Twain's Birthday in Redding

Jackson Pearce is a young author writing a historical fiction novel on Mark Twain (at Stormfield) focusing on his relationships with the Angelfish.

On Twain's birthday this past year she joined myself and Alan Kitty as we toured around Redding. Although we weren't aware of it at the time, she was capturing video footage of our day for a video blog post which she recently pulled together and posted for our enjoyment. The following day she visited the Hartford House so there is some footage from there as well.

The clip includes footage from: The Mark Twain Library (showing archives and books), Redding Town Hall (probate records), Redding Elementary School (presentation to school kids), Markland (Angelfish tiles), "New" Stormfield (inside and out), The cutting of Twain's 175th Birthday Cake, and the Twain House and Museum in Hartford
(inside and out).