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Mark Twain Day by Day

An Annotated Chronology

Of the Life of Samuel L. Clemens Volume Two (1886-1896)



David H. Fears

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2009 David H Fears All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America First Edition, volume two, first print run

ISBN # 0-9714868-3-2

ISBN13 : 978-0-9714868-3-6

Library of Congress Control Number: 2007927972 Published by Horizon Micro Publishing, LLC.

Books available through Amazon or directly from the publisher:

Horizon Micro Publishing, LLC

P.O. Box 266 Banks, OR 97106

[email protected]


Thanks to my wife, Kimberley for her love and support. Special thanks to Thomas A. Tenney for his continual support, anecdotes, materials, and advice. Special thanks to JoDee Benussi for sharing mountains of paper and extra books, for her continual patience while comparing entries and her exacting editing skills. Ms. Benussi has been a valuable and critical resource to this work. A good, snarky editor is a prize, especially one who nudges you where you dont wish to go. If she had been paid what she is worth, I would be bankrupt. Thanks also to the folks at the Mark Twain Project, especially Robert Hirst, who really does possess quite a good sense of humor, and who gave freely of his time, advice, and opinions, as well as permissions for use of MTP material, and putting up with all my questions and suggestions. Holger Kersten has graciously given his time to translate German and French letters. Thanks also for help and contributions made by the following: Ron Hohenhaus (Down Under), Robert Slotta, Robert Monroe, Martin Zehr, Wayne Gannaway, Thomas Reigstad, Carol Beals for permission from the James S. Copley Library, La Jolla, Ca., and Debby Applegate, the 2007 Pulitzer prize winner for Henry Ward Beechers biography. A personal thanks also to Duncan Carter at Portland State University for his friendship and encouragement even though he favors Dickens over Twain, as well as David W. Robinson for his steadfast faith in my ability in the face of much evidence to the contrary, and especially his fearless navigation of Maui backroads in search of evidence of a young Mark Twain.

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To Kimberley

Who makes any struggle worthwhile

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What a wee little part of a persons life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, and every day, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those other things, are his history. His acts and his words are merely the visible, thin crust of his world, with its scattered snow summits and its vacant wastes of water and they are so trifling a part of his bulk! a mere skin enveloping it. The mass of him is hidden it and its volcanic fires that toss and boil, and never rest, night nor day. These are his life, and they are not written, and cannot be written. Every day would make a whole book of eighty thousand words three hundred and sixty-five books a year. Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man the biography of the man himself cannot be written.


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David H. Fearss log of Samuel Clemens life is often downright interesting in itself for Twainians. Furthermore, they will get a heightened sense of the whirligig he somehow shaped into an ongoing presencehis now well-known business activities, his tireless socializing, his dealings with plumbers, and his paying bills for groceries (including pilsener beer and cigars, of course). As for Mark Twain authors, Fears will help resolve some cruxes while setting up others unsuspected until now. Im envious that my generation didnt have this resource when we were starting out. LOUIS J. BUDD Professor Emeritus at Duke University, author of Mark Twain: Social Philosopher


More fascinating and far better documented than any existing biography of Mark Twain, this study provides a window into every wakingand for that matter, sleepingmoment of Twains hyperactive life. Many scholars before David Fears had contemplated undertaking this staggeringly daunting but incredibly useful project.All students of Mark Twain should give heartfelt thanks for this masterful accomplishment. Fears interweaves even Twains most quotidian activities into a textured fabric, threading helpful explanations where needed. This book now qualifies as the single most essential reference work in Mark Twain scholarship. We will be indebted to David Fears forever. ALAN GRIBBEN Author of Mark Twains Library: A Reconstruction


Mr. Fears must be fearless! To undertake such an immense project certainly requires courage. Going day-by-day in Twains life gives valuable information regarding Twains multi-faceted literary, business, and speculative career. Despite the short length of the quotations the flavor of Twain is there: his attention to household matters, his caring role as husband and father, his experience with publishers, the wide- ranging friendships and his biting wit. Fears volumes will be a major contribution to Mark Twain Studies. HOWARD G. BAETZHOLD Author of Mark Twain & John Bull


In these pages there is a rich record of the life, works, and Twains family and friends. THOMAS A. TENNEY, author of Mark Twain A Reference Guide; editor of The Mark Twain Journal.

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The scope of Volume II has been expanded, even as Mark Twains life expanded in activity and complexity after 1885. What has emerged in the years since this work began is what one scholar has called The Ultimate Mark Twain Reference Work. The focus remains on history: these volumes attempt to lay out the historical record in a chronological format, including all significant as well as seemingly insignificant writings, events, persons, and clutter that comprised the life of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Even before his death, there was a flood of study, much of it focusing on the literary, whether process, product, or criticism. Since his demise there has been a veritable tsunami of analysis, plumbing between the lines of nearly every piece written. This is not to say that historical study of Mark Twain has been absent, as the great and enduring work of the Mark Twain Project proves, but that any general survey reveals an imbalance, and gaps or hard to find places in the historical record. I have nothing against literary study or analysis. Twain comes to us first and foremost as the great American writer. But to anyone who has looked beyond that image, even in a surface way, he is much more. So, it is not my purpose to editorialize or wax eloquent about the meaning of his writings or even the major events of his life others have done, and are doing it, and will continue to do so quite adequately, even to deep discussions of motivations for his fictional characters.

Pressing forward in time, material and documentation on Mark Twain seem to increase exponentially. There are fewer gaps of days when no information is found. Readers of Vol. I may notice a change in this aspect of the work, one suggested early on by several scholars that is, a listing of all dates, even when no information is found. Doing so takes a bit more space, but benefits the study by showing all citations in a somewhat better perspective and reflecting important gaps. This was not practical for Vol. I. Readers may annotate empty dates should they wish to do so.

As in Vol. I, the letters form the backbone of this work, and these are expanded here. In Vol. II nearly all incoming letters for the period have been reviewed, and are paraphrased, quoted or at least given a one or two line summary. This was not done in Vol. I. It must be stated that a few catalog errors were noted and corrected, such as letters to Whitmore showing in the MTP catalog as letters to SLC. More important figures, such as William Dean Howells, or Joe Goodman are quoted when useful. This is my bias. Whenever Sam annotated the letter or envelope, effort was made to include these (although many catalogued as annotated give nothing more than Sam writing the senders name on the envelope); also given is the origin of the incoming letter, if it is clear from the file. Inclusion of available incoming letters affords a clearer perspective, since the majority (I would estimate three-quarters) of Sams letters are responses. Such a method clarifies many issues, and certainly has pinpointed a few more dates, though it may also have introduced errors as well, from assumptions made which look reasonable, but which may not hold water upon further stomping around in the sources. Careful stomping, that is. The value of the letters, both incoming and outgoing, cannot be underestimated they are the skeleton upon which the many other sources can be applied. Unpublished notebooks have also been used to great benefit. No one source is infallible, not even primary ones. Letters are at times misdated by the sender, or have omissions which can be perplexing. Newspaper accounts can also contain egregious errors, as many reporters seemed unable to correctly report such details as Sams middle initial, or reported his presence at some event when he did not go. Diaries can be later recollections, and Sams famous memory is often faulty. Still, having both sides of discussion on an issue in Sams life is certainly more accurate. And, though this work may indeed be viewed as a different sort of biography, it is first and foremost a historical record, hopefully readable to the average intelligent person, and hopefully as accurate as possible.

Since Sams letters after 1880 are taken mostly from preliminary transcripts generously provided by Robert Hirst and the Mark Twain Project, I have tried to correct obvious errors within those transcripts, having been advised that it is a slow boat that churns through the murky waters from the holographic to the fully and professionally edited transcript with notations, which are lacking after 1876 at this time. All errors made in the use of these transcripts are my own. Those who follow after me will undoubtedly correct all disguised errors. For incoming letters in holographic form, not yet transcribed, I have omitted my many curse words used in trying to decipher them. At times, I hoisted the white flag and moved on, noting only that the writer needed a better quill.

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The Addenda & Errata for Volume I is added to the back of this volume II, which serves to emphasize there have been and will continue to be errors to fix, additions and deletions to make that these volumes are far from the final word. Readers should check these emendations when referencing Volume I. There will no doubt be a similar addition to Volume III for Vol. II. Each volume is separately indexed. And while a cumulative index might be helpful, the many pages this would require would of necessity take from pages for content. As it is, 1,200 page books tax both the muscles and the mind.

Whenever possible, I have used terms such as possibly, likely, evidently, or almost certainly when coming to conclusions about certain letters and notes, attempting to be neutral and presenting all points of interest or view. In some cases, such as Sams intention to tell L about his scheme to buy the remains of Christopher Columbus and bring them to New York or Washington, I have made certain assumptions about Sams awareness. I judge the L to be for William Mackay Laffan rather than for Livy, who most certainly would have frowned upon such a harebrained idea. Facts relevant, and my assumptions are always included under Notes: for a given entry.

Also added and appropriately placed in dates are non-extant but connected letters that is, letters referred to as received or sent in existing letters. These have not been included in past catalogs of letters, either the MTP catalog nor the Union Catalog of Letters to and from SLC. When connecting many of the incoming letters to Sams replies, it is evident that some initiating letters to Sam are not listed in the incoming of MTP and thus are lost (or are out there in private hands, surfacing literally every week, so Im told.) I have tried to note when such implicit incoming letters are not listed in the MTP files, though a few may not be so designated.

What is NOT in this volume are references to each and every interview, review, or newspaper article in countless publications those sources exploded in number during the 1880s and 90s as Mark Twain became a true American icon a constructed American icon, if you will, his name was used in a wide range of articles and advertisements. No work can include all of these in a comprehensive way, but many of the interviews and literary references may be found in such works as Tenneys A Reference Guide, or in Budd and Scharnhorts collections of interviews (see Works Cited.) What is presented here of these types of materials is a representative sampling, both from primary and secondary sources. As to websites, I have often found errors, omissions, and a sorry lack of sources; due to the ephemeral and fast-evolving nature of the Internet, I have avoided when practical the quoting of these websites, especially where there is a print source duplicating the item. With respect to auction sites that display past sales of primary materials, the URL is given, or at least the identification number of the item and the date of my discovery online and/or the date of sale. I have noted when at the MTP that many of these items have been printed out for reference there. Also, a representative number of family letters are included but not all.

I do not claim an infallible or complete record for this work. I welcome properly cited correction or addition even from Satan himself (not Sams cat, mother of Sin, but the pitchfork man). This work has paid me with smiles daily, and some good laughter as well, and so a few stray comments of my own whimsy have, here and there, crept in. I have tried not to editorialize, save for when I was damned impressed or provoked. To the academic purists who sniff at calling Mr. Clemens Sam, I plead guilty. If Sam was right, that there is no humor in heaven, and quite a few academics will sport halos, though I hold fast to the hope that he was at least partly mistaken in this. I confess to having escaped academia myself, among other miraculous cures.

We will never have the complete, correct record without flaw, but then, neither was the man or his life we study complete without flaw. Perhaps it is his very duality, the myriad of aspects at odds in his thought and life which make him so very human, and which drive our curiosity to know more, which ultimately leads to self-discovery. Onward to Volume III. David H Fears 2009

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Conventions Used

With this volume the dagger designates this editors estimate of date or place. These may ultimately be confirmed or revised by future researchers, and are solely this editors calculation or opinion. There may also be many sections where estimates are made from several sources and the dagger not used.

The double dagger designates in-text corrections made after the first print run; these are also listed in Addenda & Errata sections at the front of each volume after the first print run.

Dates: I have followed the conventions used by the University of California Press on the volumes of

Mark Twains Letters, except I offer the day of the week, which in some cases is helpful. To wit:

October 5 Thursday Sources indicate this is a confirmed date, or a deduced date from events or other evidence. Firm dates come before conjectured or circa dates and date ranges.

October 3? Tuesday

The question mark indicates a conjecture of October 3. Conjecture dates are listed separately following firm dates.

June 24 29 Saturday

A span of dates joined by a dash indicates a less specific conjecture: the date or dates of composition are thought to fall within this span. Day of the week is ascribed to the last date in the span. The last date in a period is noted by its day of the week. Such entries are listed separately.

June 24 to 29 Saturday Not a conjecture, but an assertion that some event ran from June 24 through June 29. Such date ranges are listed separately.

May 2 and 3 Friday

Not a conjecture, but an assertion that the event or activity occurred at least in part on both days. Such inclusive dates are listed separately.

May 1 Friday ca .

A conjecture of an approximate date, month, year or season. Similar to May 1st? but with less specificity. May also be specified as on or before, or on or after. Circa dates are listed separately.


Items for which only a month is known, or for magazine-type publications issued for a given month.


Items for which a year is known, but not a month or date.

Note: Dates are arranged in order; spans of dates and single dates are sorted by the first date in a span. Conjectured dates are usually separate from known or consensus dates. Thus there are separate entries for May 1 Friday, and May 1? Friday; May 17 Thursday would follow May 12 20 Sunday.

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Occasionally entries are labeled Mid-month or End of Month or Early Spring, etc. Confirmed dates are listed first.


Where unsigned articles have been ascribed to Sam Clemens by major researchers, I have followed their lead but specified, attributed. Sam when shown without surname is used throughout to mean Mark Twain/ Samuel L. Clemens; likewise Livy designates Olivia Louise Clemens; Susy has been chosen for Olivia Susan Clemens over the spelling Susie, which is seen in earlier references to her. Jane Clemens is used for Sams mother, Pamela or Pamela Moffett for his sister, Orion for his brother. For certain dominant people in Sams life, or dominant within certain periods, last names only are given: Howells, Twichell, Cable, etc. Middle names are usually omitted, in favor of a middle initial; some middle initials are omitted, when reference is clearly to one person, such as Hjalmar Boyesen. Frank is often given for Francis; Joe for Joseph, when the person was a familiar figure in Sams life, such as Joe Twichell, Frank Bliss, etc.


MLA formatting is followed for in-text and Works Cited, with exceptions made for MT standard abbreviations such as MTBus or MTLTP (see abbreviations), and follow the MT Projects conventions when possible. Use of [brackets] for in-text citations, as well as editors inserts within quoted text. (Where letters use square brackets, parentheses are substituted.) Preference has been given where possible to accessible texts in other words, if a letter may be found in Paines volumes, MTLL, MTLTP, etc., as well as at the MTP, the citation is shown for a published source over the MTP source, or, the more accessible source. In a few cases more than one source is given.

Some exceptions are made to standard MT scholarly convention, such as MTL with volume numbers used for the U. of Calif. volumes, whereas this abbreviation in the past was used for Paines volumes of letters, which I cite as MTLP, in the few cases I use them. A few other conventions are modified, such as LM instead of LoM for Life on the Mississippi. See Abbreviations.

Nearly every date given requires a citation, though some are calculated from sources. Because both primary and secondary sources are used, errors and omissions may have been introduced. Hopefully, more study of primary sources will amend such shortcomings.

 - This symbol was used in Vol. I for incoming letters not reviewed.

Editors opinions:

The few opinions on events or interpretation of an entry follow all citation designators as well as extra information following Note; These remarks are offered as simply one mans view, and every effort has been made to keep them short and pithy, without obstacle to the meaning of the listing. Of course, I hold title to many more opinions than the few exposed here. Admittedly, a work of this scope carries errors and inconsistencies. Thats what future appendixes, supplements and editions are for. Ultimately, I hope for online status for the whole work.

Misc: Bold Entries, Italics, Strike-outs, Quotations, use of sic :

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All references to dates are bold, save for those within quotes. Also bold are first mentions of persons and places (including lecture halls, etc.) within each date entry. Subjects and titles are not in bold. Indented are letter, newspaper excerpts (boxed) and longer commentaries from biographers and scholars. This aids ease of reading, finding ones place and appearance. Italics are used when the primary source uses underlines, except for newspaper reports using underlines. They are also used for all inscriptions noted, especially those in books given as gifts. When Sam Clemens uses strikeouts to convey his real or additional meaning, those are usually retained all other strikeouts, thought to be drafting strikeouts, are not included. Due to all the variant spellings of the day, use of vernacular, and the many misspellings by some writers, the use of sic has been limited to a few instances. Maddenly, some surnames were spelled in more than one way. Choice here was made to stick with one, trying to follow the MTPs examples.

Corrected sources and method used; the not in listings:

Inevitably, sources contain errors. When an error is perceived it is sometimes, but not always, reported. This is not to point any blame or to discredit any source or author, but merely to report findings. Prejudice is given to contemporary works, with Internet sources taking a much lower priority. Apologies to egos aside, the errors, omissions and oddities should be reported.

Also, some notable material is missing from standard works. Whenever possible these are pointed out, as in Not in Gribben, or Not in Scharnhorst, to save the reader/researcher effort in tracing back material. When errors were found in the MTP catalogue, such as letters to Livy or Whitmore that were catalogued as to SLC, these are left out or noted. The MTP catalogue misleads when it lists a letter from a person for a company one particular listing found was a letter from a man FOR the

U.S. Senate. Upon review it was discovered the man was a clerk in Washington using Senate letterhead to write asking for Sams autograph hardly a letter FOR the Senate. In every such case the language in this work has been changed to, for example, John Doe wrote on US Senate letterhead asking for Sams autograph for his daughter, etc. Also, many listings from the Charles Webster & Co., which are nothing more than monthly financial reports of several types, often without corresponding letters, have been catalogued by the MTP under the month of the report. These have been placed in the following month here, as they could not have been sent until the month closed thus, March 1889s monthly report is placed as being sent in April, 1889. In all such cases a strict chronology is attempted. Is this an error on the MTPs part? No, but merely a different way to categorize these entries. Likewise, when a pack of Daily Reports was sent, the MTP dates these as a range of dates and places them at the first date. We place them at the last date and note the range within that entry, since they could not have been mailed earlier.