David Fears's Mark Twain Day by Day

Mark Twain Day By Day was originally a print reference, meticulously created by David Fears, who has generously made this work available, via the Center for Mark Twain Studies, as a digital edition. Please recognize that this is a preliminary, BETA version of a resource which we will continue to develop in the coming years. While we are excited about the functionality it currently offers - for instance, the searchbar in the upper left-hand corner - we also recognize that there are numerous errors (to formatting, spacing, punctuation, etc.) which were not part of the print edition. Moreover, the formatting may change based upon which browser you use to access the site. Rest assured, we are continuing to work to correct these problems and increase functionality so as the maximize the accuracy, accessibility, and user-friendliness of the resource. If you encounter major technical difficulties or find entries that have been made particularly messy or indecipherable during the digitization process, please let us know via [email protected]

Vol 1 Section 0011

 Short Washington Vacation – Philadelphia to New York

Return to St. Louis and Muscatine – Orion Ties the Knot



January 6 Friday Sam’s letter of Dec. 24 from Philadelphia ran in the Muscatine Journal [MTL 1: 34].


February 3 Friday – Sam wrote another letter to the Muscatine Journal, which was printed unsigned as “From Philadelphia Correspondence of the Journal.” He described going to a reception for Captains Low and Crighton, visiting heroes to Philadelphia from the rescue of survivors in the steamship San Francisco on December 25, 1853. The reception was probably on Feb. 2 [MTL 1: 39n3]. Sam also wrote of the Philadelphia Ledger’s habit of inserting doggerel poetry in obituaries; Paine claimed that Sam submitted a few of these to the Ledger, but “never confessed that” [MTB 98].

February 15 WednesdayClemens took a night train in Philadelphia, which would arrive in Washington the next morning [Bliss 1].

February 16Thursday – Sam arrived at the Baltimore and Ohio station in Washington, D.C. for a short vacation that he called “a flying trip.” It is possible he stayed until Washington’s Birthday. Paine says he did not work there [MTL 1: 44; 11; 3; Bliss 1].

February 17 to 19 Sunday – In Washington, D.C., Sam wrote to the Muscatine Journal. He took a “stroll” around the capitol waiting for Congress to sit (Feb. 17) [MTL 1: 43n1]. even though the snow was “falling so thickly I could scarcely see across the street.” He described various buildings, including the unfinished Washington Monument. On Feb.19 he added description of the Smithsonian. Sam was particularly taken by the Museum of the Patent Office, where Bliss writes he spent four hours [9]. He ended with a note about seeing Edwin Forrest playing Othello at the National Theater on Feb. 17.

Sam, now eighteen, would next visit Washington in 1867, a 32-year-old man. By then the city would be greatly changed, but Washington’s Monument wouldn’t be completed until 1885, at 555 feet, the tallest structure in the world. In the Senate Chamber, Sam observed that the senators:

…dress very plainly, as they should, and all avoid display, and do not speak unless they have something to say—and that cannot be said of the Representatives. Mr. Cass is a fine looking old man; Mr. Douglass, or ‘Young America’ looks like a lawyer’s clerk, and Mr. Seward is a slim, dark, bony individual, and looks like a respectable wind would blow him out of the country [MTL 1: 41].

Notes: Lewis Cass (1782-1866) Secretary of State under Buchanan; Stephen A. Douglas (1813-1861), Lincoln’s competitor for the presidency; William H. Seward (1801-1872) Secretary of State under Lincoln. Douglas was promoting the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would pass three months later. For a more thorough treatment of Sam’s first stop in Washington, see Donald Tiffany Bliss’ 2012 work, Mark Twain’s Tale of Today.


February 23 Thursday – By this date, Sam had returned to Philadelphia. He worked for about two weeks on the Ledger and North American [MTL 1: 44]. Bliss writes he returned on this day [11].


March, mid – Sam returned to New York. There are no letters for this period, so the reasons are unclear, but it was probable that he lost his job, given that his pay in Philadelphia was more than he’d received in New York. It’s also possible that Sam was growing restless, having been away from home nearly a year. There are unclaimed letters for Sam in Philadelphia dated Mar. 10 and also Mar. 17, indicating he had gone to New York by Mar. 10. Sam’s memory of this period was vague, and it seems likely it was one of struggle. Unemployment was high for printers after fires at the major publishers, Harper & Bros., and Cooledge & Bros. in Dec. 1853 [MTL 1: 45]. Sam’s Washington correspondence was printed in the Muscatine Journal in March [Camfield, bibliog.].

March 24 Friday Sam’s letter of Feb. 17 and 18 was printed in the Muscatine Journal [MTL 1: 40].


April –Sam may have returned home as early as April, as there is no mention of him working in New York during this period in later letters or notes.


Summer, late – Sam, “obliged by financial stress to go home,” does so. In 1906 Sam recalled:

“I went back to the Mississippi Valley, sitting upright in the smoking-car two or three days and nights. When I reached St. Louis I was exhausted. I went to bed on board a steamboat that was bound for Muscatine. I fell asleep at once, with my clothes on, and didn’t wake again for thirty-six hours –” [Neider 95; MTL 1: 45-6].


August 7 Monday In St. Louis, Sam boarded with the Paveys, formerly of Hannibal. Sam’s roommate was Jacob H. Burrough (1827-1883) “a journeyman chairmaker with a taste for Dickens, Thackeray, Scott, and Disraeli” [MTB 103]. (See also MTNJ 1: 37n45, & Nov. 1, 1876 letter to Jacob H. Burrough.)

In a Dec. 15, 1900 letter to Jacob’s son, Frank E. Burrough (1865-1903), Sam recalled the boarding house:

“It was a large, cheap place, & had in it a good many young fellows who were students at a Commercial College. I was a journeyman printer, freshly fledged, your father was a journeyman chairmaker….He & I were comrades & close friends” [MTNJ 1: 37n45].

Election rioting broke out between the Know-Nothings (anti-immigration) and German and Irish immigrants in St. Louis. Sam went with a friend to an armory and drilled with a militia that had been formed to put down the riots. When word came that the mob was in force in the lower end of the city, Sam asked his friend to hold his musket while he got a drink. Sam didn’t return. The riot was quelled in two days. Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) had attended one Know-Nothings meeting in the city [MTL 1: 46; Powers, MT A Life 69].


September 1 Friday ca. – In the first entry for Sept., 1854, Francis Jackson of Boston Massachusetts’ Anti-Slavery Society, made this entry:

“Samuel Clemens passage from Missouri Penetentiary [sic] to Boston—he having been imprisoned there two years for aiding fugitives to escape…$24.50” [Sattelmeyer 294].

Note: In “Did Sam Clemens Take the Abolitionists for a Ride?” Sattelmeyer speculates that Sam played a trick on Jackson and the abolitionists, writing for financial support for non-existent aid to fugitive slaves, and impersonating an abolitionist. Sattelmeyer’s article further speculates that Sam’s rail fare back home may have been a debt Sam needed to repay.

Fall, Winter—There is some controversy whether Sam worked on the Muscatine Journal and stayed a few months there, or whether he went to St. Louis after a short visit with family. Paine takes this latter position [MTB 102]. Powers claims Sam got rehired as a typesetter on the St. Louis Evening News [Powers, MT A Life 68].


November 30 Thursday Sam’s nineteenth birthday.


December 19 TuesdayOrion Clemens married Mary Eleanor (Mollie) Stotts, in Keokuk, Iowa. Orion was visiting there. They left the next morning for Muscatine, but when she became homesick, Orion moved them back to Keokuk.

Vol 1 Section 0012


St. Louis – Letters to the Muscatine Tri-Weekly Journal

Orion & Mollie Moved to Keokuk; Sam Followed – Visit back home

 Oh! to be a Cub Pilot – Worked for Orion in Keokuk – Warsaw, Illinois – Back in Keokuk



February 13 Tuesday Sam was once more in St. Louis, back at his former job at the Evening News. Sam lived during this period with the Pavey family [See also MTNJ 1: 37n45].


He attended a play, The Merchant of Venice, put on by the Thespian Society. Sam wrote on Feb. 16: “I had always thought that this was a comedy, until they made a farce of it” [MTL 1: 48n8].


February 15 Thursday –Sam was awakened by a fire a block and a half away from his rooming house, one that destroyed some valuable horses [MTL 1: 47].

February 16 Friday –Sam dated his letter this day to the editors of the Muscatine Tri-Weekly Journal (his brother Orion and Charles E. H. Wilson) [MTL 1:46-9]. He related the fire and a list of other happenings in St. Louis, including a play of Merchant of Venice. Later that night, Sam awoke to a man beating a woman with a stave in the street, raving she had broken his heart.

“I felt sorry for the poor heart-broken creature, and wished with all my heart it might please Providence to remove him from his troubles by putting it into the Sheriff’s head to hang the scoundrel before morning” [MTL 1: 48].

February 2426 Monday In St. Louis, Sam dated a letter to the Muscatine Journal and summarized St. Louis news, including the new route for St. Louis mail west—it would no longer go to New York first. He also related massacres by Indians in New Mexico. Though progressive beyond his time on racial matters, Sam didn’t care much for Indians. The letter ran on Mar. 9 [MTL 1: 50-51].

February 28 Wednesday Sam’s letter of Feb. 16 ran in the Muscatine Journal [MTL 1: 46].


March 1 Thursday Sam dated a letter from St. Louis to the Muscatine Tri-Weekly Journal [MTL 1: 54].


March 5 Monday Sam dated another letter from St. Louis to the Tri-Weekly Journal [MTL 1: 54].


March 9 Friday Sam’s letter dated Feb. 24 from St. Louis ran on page 2 of the Muscatine Tri-Weekly Journal [Branch, “Three New Letters” 4].

March 12 Monday – Sam’s letter of Mar. 1 ran in the Muscatine Tri-Weekly Journal as a featured article, “Special Correspondence.” Sam wrote about the killing of Benjamin Brand, Deputy Marshall, by Bob O’Blennis, a wealthy gambler and livery-stable owner.

Bob O’Blennis has long been celebrated as the most abandoned and reckless outlaw in St. Louis—and but for his money, would have been roasting in the infernal regions long before this. Mr. Brand is not the first man he ever killed. If all the curses I have heard heaped up on his head to-day were to go into effect, I almost doubt if a place could be invented hot enough for him [MTL 1: 54].

 Note: No letters are known to survive for the next fourteen and a half months [MTL 1: 58].

March 14 Wednesday Sam’s letter of Mar. 5 ran in the Muscatine Tri-Weekly Journal.

The examination of witnesses in the O’Blennis murder case will be concluded to-night. The excitement which this tragedy created has subsided, but the people are till anxious to know how the trial will terminate—though, to tell the truth, few expect justice to be done. I doubt if there are a hundred people in St. Louis that do not think O’Blennis ought to be hung, and the number is still less that expect him to be punished at all. Since Jackson and Ward escaped hanging, people seem to have very little confidence in courts of justice [MTL 1: 55].


Mid 1855late 1856 Sam wrote a sketch titled, “Jul’us Caesar” that remained unpublished. Branch puts the date in this period [ET&S 1: 110].


JuneJuly Forty-nine of Sam’s notebooks survive, and the first notebook was from this period. It holds random entries on important and trivial matters, interspersed with information on phrenology, French lessons, and chess lessons. There were also entries relating to family business, a theological controversy, and laundry lists. Entries were first made in St. Louis, then in Keokuk, Iowa, and later during a trip to the villages of Hannibal, Florida, and Paris, Missouri [MTNJ 1: 11].

June, earlyOrion sold his interest in the Muscatine Journal to James W. Logan [MTL 1: 58].


June 9 SaturdayOrion and Mollie moved to Keokuk, Iowa [MTL 1: 58]. Powers says this move took place “around the end of March 1855” [MT A Life 69].


June 11 MondayOrion became the new owner of the Ben Franklin Book and Job Office printers [MTL 1: 58]. Selby writes that Orion “took possession” this day [6].


June, mid – Sam left St. Louis for Keokuk, Iowa, two hundred miles away [MTL 1: 58]. The town had a population of 6,500. Sam was nineteen and had already lived in quite a few places.


June 16 Saturday – Sam’s name appeared in a list of unclaimed letters in St. Louis, indicating he had left the city by this date [MTL 1: 58].


June 27 Wednesday From Sam’s notebook:

“ …sent out to wash the following: 1 pair heavy Pants; 1 ‘ light do; 4 white Shirts; 4 ’ collars; 2 pair white cotton Socks; 1 summer cravat; 2 white Handkerchiefs; 1 pair twilled Drawers; 1 linen summer Coat/17 [x]. 6/102” [MTNJ 1: 35].


Note: Sam used semicolons in a laundry list! He was a printer. He also loved semicolons.


June 29 Friday – The Keokuk Dispatch described a man believed by the MTP editors to be Sam:

      We know a man in this city who would make a prime editor, and we believe that if he has any “genius” at all, it runs in that direction, “ ‘cos” he says there is not a single paper published in town worth reading—and he says that not one of them has any news—and if he published a paper, he says he would make news, and lots of it, and spirited news, too.

      We propose to have all the papers in the city to club together and secure the services of this chap, and have spirited news; it will pay—we bet on it. What do you all say about hiring this editorial genius? He will save us the expense of a telegraph. Everybody in the morning will be up at four to get the spirited news, and everybody will take the paper” [MTL 1: 58].

July, mid Sam visited Hannibal and traveled to the villages of Paris and Florida to provide care and dispose of family property. In Florida he visited his uncle John Quarles, who had sold the old Quarles Farm. He then continued down river to St. Louis, where he tried to become a Mississippi River cub pilot. Orion had supplied Sam with a letter of introduction to their wealthy cousin, James Clemens, Jr. Sam hoped that James might help him secure an apprenticeship as a cub. Sam had no luck. He returned to Keokuk, where he was in his brother’s employ, which meant little, if any, salary, although officially he was offered five dollars per week plus board [MTL 1: 59; MTB 104].


In 1906, Sam remembered Dick Higham, a coworker at his Orion’s office in Keokuk:

Dick, a good-natured, simple-minded, winning lad of seventeen, was an apprentice in my brother’s small printing office in Keokuk, Iowa. He had an old musket and he used to parade up and down with it in the office, and he said he would rather be a soldier than anything else. The rest of us laughed at him and said he was nothing but a disguised girl, and that if he were confronted by the enemy he would drop his gun and run.

      But we were not good prophets [MTA 2: 251]. Note: Higham died a hero in Ed Marsh’s company during the war, shot in the forehead at Ft. Donelson.

July 16 Monday – From Sam’s notebook:

“Florida, Mo., 16 July, 55:—Introduced to Miss Jule Violett, Miss Em Tandy, and Miss Em Young”

These three young ladies, 16, 17 and 19 years of age respectively, were residents of Florida, Mo.. Emily G. Young’s older sister, Sarah, married Benjamin Quarles, oldest son of Sam’s uncle John Quarles [MTNJ 1: 34n37]. From the same day in his notebook: “ ‘Reading Room’ on door of Hotel, Paris – reading variety consists of Jayne’s Med. Almanac and a pamphlet copy of “Lives of Beaumont & Fletcher” [MTNJ 1: 37]. Even in the small Hannibal town library, Sam had enjoyed four or five hundred volumes, and Sam had used a free printer’s library in New York with four thousand volumes, so it is likely Sam was dumbfounded by the paucity of reading material in Paris, Mo., and thus made this entry.

September 14 Friday – Sam became an uncle for the second time with the birth of Jennie Clemens to Orion and Mollie Clemens [MTL 1: 383].

November Sam’s uncle John Quarles freed his slave, Uncle Daniel, age 50 [Rasmussen 106].


November 30 Friday Sam’s twentieth birthday.


End of year – Sam probably left Orion’s employ late in the year to set type across the river in Warsaw, Illinois [MTL 1: 59]. Powers claims that “Sam blew up over phantom wages and quit.” Either it was temporary employment or Sam regretted the move, because he was back in Keokuk in the New Year [Powers, MT A Life 70]. After the birth of his daughter, Orion took on the compiling of Keokuk’s first city directory, leaving the rest of the business operations to Sam.


Vol 1 Section 0013

First Dinner Speech – Dreams of S. America & Coca Riches – First Sweethearts

 Keokuk, St. Louis and Snodgrass Letters – Cincinnati Typesetter – Macfarlane


Early months – Sam began to itch to go to South America after reading an account of coca and the money that might be made harvesting the plant and distributing it in the U.S. [Powers, Dangerous 241]. In 1910, in “The Turning Point of My Life,” Sam remembered a two-volume work on the exploration of the Amazon, that it “told an astonishing tale about coca, a vegetable product of miraculous powers…” [MTL 1: 68n7].

January 17 Thursday – Sam spoke without prepared remarks to the Keokuk printers at a celebration of the 150th anniversary of Ben Franklin’s birth. It was perhaps Sam’s first after dinner speech, presaging his fame as a platform speaker. Sam Clemens as “Mark Twain” would be a great entertainer, perhaps the first American icon of the twentieth century.

By this time he was back in Orion’s employ, working alongside his seventeen-year-old brother, Henry Clemens, at 52 Main Street on the third floor. “Henry and Sam slept in the office, and Dick [Higham] came in for social evenings. These were likely to be lively evenings.” A young man named Edward Brownell from the ground floor bookstore also joined the evening entertainment [MTB 104-7]. Brownell once told Sam he was “too lazy to ever write a book” [107].

Professor Isbell, a music teacher on the second floor objected loudly to the noise, so that the next night the boys set up a game of ten pins using empty wine bottles, with rocks for balls (Henry declined to play.) Sam and Dick Higham ignored the teacher banging on the door. The next night they marched and drilled, no doubt causing much racket. When the teacher tried being pleasant with his objections, saying it disturbed his students, Sam said, “Why didn’t you mention it before? To be sure we don’t want to disturb the young ladies.” They gave up the ruckus, with Sam even joining in one of the singing classes [MTB 105].


January 19 Saturday – The Keokuk Gate City, page 7, reported on Sam’s speech under the headline: “The Printer’s Festival. Birthday of Benjamin Franklin [Selby 7].

April 20 Sunday Sam wrote his sister-in-law, Mollie Clemens, a conventional poem titled “To Mollie” [ET&S 1: 118].


May, early Sam wrote a poem, titled, “Lines Suggested by a Reminiscence, and Which You Will Perhaps Understand,” to Ann Virginia Ruffner (b.1838?) [ET&S 1: 120].

May 7 Wednesday Sam, in Keokuk, wrote a poem “To Jennie,” at the departure of Ann Virginia Ruffner [ET&S 1: 124]. (This is erroneously reported as 1853 in some sources.)


May 20 TuesdayThe steam ferry between Keokuk and Hamilton, Illinois struck a snag and sand up to the guards near the Illinois shore, leaving only its top deck above water. There were no fatalities. Clemens was on board and referred to “the loss of that bridge almost finished my career” in his letter of May 25 to Annie Taylor (Ann Elizabeth Taylor 1840-1916) [MTL 1: 62n1]. Note: no other reference to this event was found, and it is somewhat strange that Sam never referred or embellished the event, as he often did. Was his implication that he was aboard merely a play for Annie’s sympathy?


May 21 and May 25 Sunday – Sam wrote Annie Taylor a humorous letter. Sam stayed in Keokuk over a year. He enjoyed the companionship of Henry and Mollie’s circle of women friends.

[This first part written on May 21 is lost]

of the hurricane deck is still visible above the water. Here is another “Royal George” —I think I shall have to be a second Cowper, and write her requiem.

Sunday, May 25.

Well, Annie, I was not permitted to finish my letter Wednesday evening [May 21]. I believe Henry, who commenced his a day later, has beaten me. However, if my friends will let me alone I will go through today. Bugs! Yes, B-U-G-S! What of the bugs? Why, perdition take the bugs! That is all. Night before last I stood at the little press until nearly 2 o’clock, and the flaring gas light over my head attracted all the varieties of bugs which are to be found in natural history, and they all had the same praiseworthy recklessness about flying into the fire. They at first came in little social crowds of a dozen or so, but soon increased in numbers, until a religious mass meeting of several millions was assembled on the board before me, presided over by a venerable beetle, who occupied the most prominent lock of my hair as his chair of state, while innumerable lesser dignitaries of the same tribe were clustered around him, keeping order, and at the same time endeavoring to attract the attention of the vast assemblage to their own importance by industriously grating their teeth. It must have been an interesting occasion—perhaps a great bug jubilee commemorating the triumph of the locusts over Pharaoh’s crops in Egypt many centuries ago. At least, good seats, commanding an unobstructed view of the scene, were in great demand; and I have no doubt small fortunes were made by certain delegates from Yankee land by disposing of comfortable places on my shoulders at round premiums. In fact, the advantages which my altitude afforded were so well appreciated that I soon began to look like one of those big cards in the museum covered with insects impaled on pins.

The big “president” beetle (who, when he frowned, closely resembled Isbell when the pupils are out of time) rose and ducked his head and, crossing his arms over his shoulders, stroked them down to the tip of his nose several times, and after thus disposing of the perspiration, stuck his hands under his wings, propped his back against a lock of hair, and then, bobbing his head at the congregation, remarked, “B-u-z-z!” To which the congregation devoutly responded, “B-u-z-z!” Satisfied with this promptness on the part of his flock, he took a more imposing perpendicular against another lock of hair and, lifting his hands to command silence, gave another melodious “b-u-z-z!” on a louder key (which I suppose to have been the key-note) and after a moment’s silence the whole congregation burst into a grand anthem, three dignified daddy longlegs, perched near the gas burner, beating quadruple time during the performance. Soon two of the parts in the great chorus maintained silence, while a treble and alto duet, sung by forty-seven thousand mosquitoes and twenty-three thousand house flies, came in, and then, after another chorus, a tenor and bass duet by thirty-two thousand locusts and ninety-seven thousand pinch bugs was sung—then another grand chorus, “Let Every Bug Rejoice and Sing” (we used to sing “heart” instead of “bug”), terminated the performance, during which eleven treble singers split their throats from head to heels, and the patriotic “daddies” who beat time hadn’t a stump of a leg left.

It would take a ream of paper to give all the ceremonies of this great mass meeting. Suffice it to say that the little press “chawed up” half a bushel of the devotees, and I combed 976 beetles out of my hair the next morning, every one of whose throats was stretched wide open, for their gentle spirits had passed away while yet they sung—and who shall say they will not receive their reward? I buried their motionless forms with musical honors in John’s hat.

Now, Annie, don’t say anything about how long my letter was in going, for I didn’t receive yours until Wednesday—and don’t forget that I tried to answer it the same day, though I was doomed to fail. I wonder if you will do as much?

Yes, the loss of that bridge almost finished my earthly career. There is still a slight nausea about my stomach (for certain malicious persons say that my heart lies in that vicinity) whenever I think of it, and I believe I should have evaporated and vanished away like a blue cloud if John—indefatigable, unconquerable John—had not recovered from his illness to relieve me of a portion of my troubles. I think I can survive it now. John says “der chills kill a white boy, but sie (pronounced see) can’t kill a Detch-man.”

I have not now the slightest doubt, Annie, that your beautiful sketch is perfect. It looks more and more like what I suppose “Mt. Unpleasant” to be every time I look at it. It is really a pity that you could not get the shrubbery in, for your dog fennel is such a tasteful ornament to any yard. Still, I am entirely satisfied to get the principal beauties of the place, and will not grieve over the loss. I have delighted Henry’s little heart by delivering your message. Give the respected councilman the Latin letter by all means. If I understood the lingo well enough I would write you a Dutch one for him. Tell Mane I don’t know what Henry thinks of the verb “amo,” but for some time past I have discovered various fragments of paper scattered about bearing the single word “amite,” and since the receipt of her letter the fragments have greatly multiplied and the word has suddenly warmed into “amour” —all written in the same hand, and that, if I mistake not, Henry’s, for the latter is the only French word he has any particular affection for. Ah, Annie, I have a slight horror of writing essays myself; and if I were inclined to write one I should be afraid to do it, knowing you could do it so much better if you would only get industrious once and try. Don’t you be frightened—I guess Mane is afraid to write anything bad about you, or else her heart softens before she succeeds in doing it. Don’t fail to remember me to her—for I perceive she is aware that my funeral has not yet been preached. Ete paid us a visit yesterday, and we are going to return the kindness this afternoon. Good-by.

Your friend,

Sam [MTPO].

il1005.jpgSam befriended the Taylor girls, Annie Taylor, and sisters Mary Jane Taylor (1837-1916), age nineteen and a student at Iowa Wesleyan University and Esther (“Ete”) Taylor (b.1836). They were the daughters of Hawkins Taylor (b.1810?), a former steamboat captain. At this time he was a prominent businessman, well thought of, highly literate and articulate. His interests included promoting education. It is likely that Sam admired such a man, and friendships with his daughters were valued. Powers and others claim Sam was in love with Annie, but Sam’s only surviving letter to her is signed “Your friend, Sam” [MTL 1: 62]. Interestingly, Paine in MTB does not write about Annie.

May 24 SaturdayEsther Taylor (“Ete”), Annie and Mary Jane’s twenty-one-year-old sister paid Sam a visit [MTL 1: 62 & n9].


June 10 Tuesday – In Keokuk, Sam wrote his mother, Jane Clemens, and sister Pamela in St. Louis. Jane was now living with her daughter. See insert, courtesy of MTP: Vassar College Library.

My Dear Mother & Sister:

      I have nothing to write. Everything is going on well. The Directory is coming on finely. I have to work on it occasionally, which I don’t like a particle. I don’t like to work at too many things at once. They take Henry and Dick away from me too. Before we commenced the Directory, I could tell before breakfast just how much work could be done during the day, and manage accordingly—but now, they throw all my plans into disorder by taking my hands away from their work. I have nothing to do with the book—if I did I would the two book hands do more work than they do, or else I would drop. It is not a mere supposition that they do not work fast enough—I know it; for yesterday the two book hands were at work all day, Henry and Dick all the afternoon, on the advertisements, and they set up five pages and a half—and I set up two pages and a quarter of the same matter after supper night before last, and I don’t work fast on such things. They are either excessively slow motioned or very lazy. I am not getting along well with the job work. I can’t work blindly—without system. I gave Dick a job yesterday, which I calculated he could set in two hours and I could work off in three, and therefore just finish it by supper time, but he was transferred to the Directory, and the job, promised this morning, remains untouched. Through all the great pressure of job work lately, I never before failed in a promise of the kind.

John is gone—disappeared. I think he has ran away to get away from his brutal old father.

Your son


Excuse brevity—this is my 3d letter to-night.

[Notes: Sam wrote that the directory Orion was working on was “coming on finely.” Sam had to work on it sometimes and he complained about disliking it. Sam wrote at least one line of the Keokuk City Directory. He listed himself as an “Antiquarian.” Orion printed two editions of the directory, the second in 1857. He printed several hundred copies too many; the profits were disappointing. MTL 1: 63-5].


June 25 Wednesday – Sam inscribed: “Samuel L. Clemens / 1856. / June 25th, 1856 on a copy of J.L. Comstock’s Elements of Geology (1851).


August 3 Sunday – Sam spent Sunday afternoon with the Taylor girls, and wrote the following Wednesday that he “brought away a big bouquet of Ete’s (Esther Taylor) d——d stinking flowers” [MTL 1: 66].

August 5Tuesday Henry Clemens wrote to Sam from St. Louis (his letter is not extant). Sam replied the same day as follows:

My Dear Brother:

Annie is well. Got your letter, postmarked 5th about two hours ago—come d—d quick, (to be a little profane.) Ward and I held a long consultation, Sunday morning, and the result was that us two have determined to start to Brazil, if possible, in six weeks from now, in order to look carefully into matters there (by the way, I forgot to mention that Annie is well,) and report to Dr. Martin in time for him to follow on the first of March. We propose going via. New York. Now, between you and I and the fence you must say nothing about this to Orion, for he thinks that Ward is to go clear through alone, and that I am to stop at New York or New Orleans until he reports. But that don’t suit me. My confidence in human nature does not extend quite that far. I won’t depend upon Ward’s judgment, or anybody’s else—I want to see with my own eyes, and form my own opinion. But you know what Orion is. When he gets a notion into his head, and more especially if it is an erroneous one, the Devil can’t get it out again. So I knew better than to combat his arguments long, but apparently yielded, inwardly determined to go clear through. Ma knows my determination, but even she counsels me to keep it from Orion. She says I can treat him as I did her when I started to St. Louis and went to New York—I can start to New York and go to South America.! (This reminds me that—Annie is well.) Although Orion talks grandly about furnishing me with fifty or a hundred dollars in six weeks, I am not such an ass as to think he will retain the same opinion such an eternity of time—in all probability he will be entirely out of the notion by that time. Though I don’t like to attribute selfish motives to him, you could see yourself that his object in favoring my wishes was that I might take all the hell of pioneering in a foreign land, and then when everything was placed on a firm basis, and beyond all risk, he could follow himself. But you would soon discover, when the time arrived, that he couldn’t leave Mollie and that “love of a baby.” With these facts before my eyes, (I must not forget to say that Annie is well,) I could not depend upon Orion for ten dollars, so I have “feelers” out in several directions, and have already asked for a hundred dollars from one source (keep it to yourself.) I will lay on my oars for a while, and see how the wind sets, when I may probably try to get more. Mrs. Creel is a great friend of mine, and has some influence with Ma and Orion, though I reckon they would not acknowledge it. I am going up there to-morrow, to press her into my service. I shall take care that Ma and Orion are plentifully supplied with South American books. They have Herndon’s Report now. Ward and the Dr. and myself will hold a grand consultation to-night at the office. We have agreed that no more shall be admitted into our company.

Emma Graham has got home, and Bettie Barrett has gone up the country. I may as well remark that Annie is well. I spent Sunday afternoon up there, and brought away a big bouquet of Ete’s d—d stinking flowers, (I mean no disrespect to her, or her taste,)[.] Any single one of the lot smells worse than a Sebastopol “stink-pot.” Between you and I, I believe that the secret of Ma’s willingness to allow me to go to South America lies in the fact that she is afraid I am going to get married! Success to the hallucination. Annie has not heard from the girls yet. I believe the Guards went down to Quincy to-day to escort our first locomotive home.

The report that Belle and Isbell are about to be married, is still going. Dick was engaged in sticking up Whig office hand bills at last accounts.

Write soon.

Your Brother,


P. S. I will just add that Annie is WELL [MTPO; MTL 1: 65-7]. The former source notes: Mary Ann Creel (b. 1822 or 1823), Mollie Clemens’s cousin, was the eldest daughter of Colonel William S. Patterson (1802–89), Iowa pioneer and legislator and Keokuk pork packer, postmaster, and later three-time mayor. She was married to Jane Clemens’s cousin Robert P. Creel (b. 1815), a brickmason who owned a successful construction business. In 1856 he was a member of the Iowa legislature, and in 1862 became mayor of Keokuk

Other notes: Several times he mentions “Annie is well,” signifying his admiration for Annie Taylor, or perhaps rubbing it in that the young lady was spending time with Sam and not Henry. He tells Henry to come d——d quick because he wants him to accompany him and Dr. Joseph S. Martin, a Keokuk physician, and a man named Ward (not further identified) to Brazil. He cautions Henry not to tell Orion of his plans, but conveys that their mother is willing for him to go “lies in the fact that she is afraid I am going to get married!” This may be a reference to the time Sam is spending with Annie Taylor. Paine says [MTB 110] that Martin and Ward “gave up the plan, probably for lack of means,” but Sam would continue to think about travel to the Amazon, which would spur his trip to New Orleans where he signed on as a cub pilot under Horace Ezra Bixby (1826-1912). Sam’s cousin, Jeremiah Clemens (1814-1865), published a scheme to build an empire on the Amazon and open trade in coca. This was one of many get-rich-quick schemes that would attract Sam during his lifetime [Powers, Dangerous 241].


October, early – Sam walked along the main street of Keokuk in swirling snow, and found a fifty-dollar bill. Astounded, he later recounted, “It was a fifty-dollar bill—the only one I had ever seen, and the largest assemblage of money I had ever seen in one spot” [Powers, Dangerous 243]. He advertised it but after five days with no claimant he felt he’d done enough:

“By and by I couldn’t stand it any longer. My conscience had gotten all that was coming to it. I felt that I must take that money out of danger” [MTB 111].

The trip to the Amazon was now possible. Sam planned to work his way down the Mississippi and board a ship for Brazil. He got Orion to use his influence with the head manager, George Rees, who agreed to pay $5 each for some humorous travel sketches he would send to the Keokuk Daily Post [MTB 112; Powers, Dangerous 243]. Sam then departed Keokuk, bound for the Amazon. The found fifty was but one of several miraculous incidents that would serve as turning points in Sam’s life—or so he later liked to claim.

October 13 Monday – Sam made a brief stay in St. Louis, staying with his mother, and sister. He attended the St. Louis Agricultural and Mechanical Association Fair. He wrote a sketch of it, titled “The Great Fair at St. Louis,” signed, “SAM,” which appeared in the Keokuk Post on Oct. 21 and then in the Saturday Post on Oct. 25 [MTL 1: 69].

October 18 Saturday – Still in St. Louis, Sam wrote the first Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass letter, burlesquing Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar [Gribben 626]. Sam used dialect, and grammatical and spelling errors to characterize a country bumpkin getting the worst of it in the big city. It was a literary strategy that would come to fruition in many of his future works. Snodgrass was also the last pen name Sam used prior to Mark Twain, in Nevada, Feb. 1863. Sam earned five dollars each for these letters, his first payments for freelance writing [MT Encyclopedia, Abshire 694]. “It is likely that he departed on Oct. 18 and arrived in Keokuk the following day” [MTL 1: 69-70].


October 19 Sunday – Sam arrived in Keokuk, Iowa (see Oct. 18 entry).

October 21 Tuesday “The Great Fair at St. Louis,” signed, “SAM,” appeared in the Keokuk Post [ET&S 1: 378].


October 22 Wednesday ca. – Sam traveled by river packet to Quincy, Illinois [MTL 1: 70].

October 23 to 24 Friday –Sam traveled by train to Chicago and Indianapolis to Cincinnati [MTL 1: 70]. Branch gives on or about Oct. 24 as the date Sam arrived in Cincinnati [Branch, “Bixby” 2].

October, late – In Cincinnati Sam found employment as a typesetter for T. Wrightson and Co., one of the city’s leading printers. He worked there into the next spring, some six months [MTL 1: 70]. Sam’s time in Cincinnati is one of the “least documented of his life…” [MT Encyclopedia, Poole 145] but he did write two more Snodgrass letters while there. Sam lived in a boarding house. Long hours at work plus discussions with other boarders didn’t allow Sam much time for writing. In a chapter entitled “A Scotchman Named Macfarlane,” Paine writes of a “long, lank, unsmiling Scotchman” [MTB 114-15] who Sam supposedly spent many evenings with that winter. Macfarlane’s ideas paralleled many of Sam’s later misogynistic and controversial views, such as those expressed in What is Man? in 1906 [MTB 114-5]. Some researchers have theorized that Macfarlane was an invention of Sam’s, a “mask that he wore to express many of his more controversial ideas” [MT Encyclopedia, Poole 146]. Baker posits that Sam may have recalled Macfarlane as “McFarland,” a typesetter who also worked at Wrightson’s from 1855-60 and lived at different boarding houses each year [Baker 303]. Note: see young Henry Macfarlane, Late-Mar. 1866—could this be the same person?

November 1 Saturday – Sam’s first Snodgrass letter dated Oct. 18from St. Louis titled, CORRESPONDENCE ran in the Keokuk Saturday Post.

Gee Whillikens! Mister Editors, if you could a been there jest then, you’d a thought that either old Gabriel had blowed his horn, or else there was houses to rent in that locality. I reckon there was nigh onto forty thousand people setting in that theatre—and sich an other fannin, and blowin, and scrapon, and gigglin, I hain’t seen since I arrived in the United States. Gals! Bless your soul, there was gals there of every age and sex, from three months up to a hundred years, and every cherubim of ‘em had a fan and an opery glass and a-tongue—probably two or three of the latter weepon, from the racket they made. No use to try to estimate the oceans of men and mustaches—the place looked like a shoe brush shop [MT Encyclopedia, Abshire 694; Camfield, bibliog.].

November 14 Friday – Sam dated his second Snodgrass letter from Cincinnati [MT Encyclopedia, Abshire 694].


November 18 Tuesday An untitled sketch, dated Nov. 8 and signed “L,” about a Cincinnati boarding house ran in the Keokuk Post. It is attributed to Clemens [ET&S 1: 382; MTL 1: 70]. Britton examines the piece and makes a case for it being Sam’s, and Mcfarlane being autobiographical rather than fictitious [16-17]. Note: Britton mistakenly writes the sketch was published on Nov. 8, but it was dated Nov 8 and published Nov. 18.


November 29 Saturday – The second Snodgrass letter dated Nov. 14, SNODGRASS’ RIDE ON THE RAILROAD ran in the Keokuk Post [MT Encyclopedia, Abshire 694; Camfield, bibliog.].

November 30 Sunday Sam’s 21st birthday.


December 6 Saturday – Sam’ second Snodgrass letter ran again in the Keokuk Saturday Post [Schmidt].

Vol 1 Section 0014

Left For the Amazon – New Orleans & Change of Plans – Bixby’s Influence

Official Cub Pilot – Learning the Big Muddy



1857 – Sometime during his stay in Keokuk Clemens saw Henry Clay Dean (1822-1887), eccentric philosopher who inspired Twain’s 1905 “The War Prayer.” In Ch. 57 of LM, Twain described Dean:


Keokuk, a long time ago, was an occasional loafing-place of that erratic genius, Henry Clay Dean. I believe I never saw him but once; but he was much talked about when I lived there. This is what was said of him:


He began life poor and without education. But he educated himself—on the curbstones of Keokuk. He would sit down on a curbstone with his book, careless or unconscious of the clatter of commerce and the tramp of the passing crowds, and bury himself in his studies by the hour, never changing his position except to draw in his knees now and then to let a dray pass unobstructed; and when his book was finished, its contents, however abstruse, had been burned into his memory, and were his permanent possession. In this way he acquired a vast hoard of all sorts of learning, and had it pigeonholed in his head where he could put his intellectual hand on it whenever it was wanted. [Note: see also Rasmussen 107-8].


January On Dec. 29, 1905 Sam answered a question from an unidentified person:


“Yes I did lay aside the ‘stick’ to resume it no more forever; but January 1857 was the time it happened, & Keokuk, Iowa the place” [MTP]. Note: the “stick” was the typesetter’s line of type. Sam soon after began his steam boat career.


January 23 Friday In Keokuk, Henry Clemens wrote to Sam.

Your letters seem to be very strongly afflicted with a lying-in-the-pocket propensity; for no sooner had I read your last, but one, than it was consigned to one of the pockets of my overcoat, from whose “vasty depths” I have but this moment fished it up, to answer it.


You seem to think Keokuk property is so good to speculate in, you’d better invest all your spare change in it, instead of going to South America [MTBus 31-2]. Note: The writing seems familiar, doesn’t it? Henry may have been the perfect alter ego of Sam, but he was as literate at the young age of eighteen.


February 16 Monday – Sam boarded the packet Paul Jones (353 tons), on its way from Pittsburgh, for passage to New Orleans, commanded by Hiram K. Hazlett and piloted by Horace E. Bixby (1826-1912), and Jerry Mason [Branch, “Bixby” 2]. Branch presents evidence for this date over Apr. 15.

Sam claimed in his autobiography that his intention was to travel to the Amazon, but could not find passage once in New Orleans. His other longtime dream of becoming a steamboat pilot then took over and he approached Bixby about becoming his assistant. Bixby had a sore foot, which made standing at the wheel painful, so Sam did “a lot of steering” for him. Sam’s impressions of the Paul Jones:

“I was in Cincinnati . . . I packed my valise, and took passage on an ancient tub called the PAUL JONES for New Orleans. For the sum of sixteen dollars I had the scarred and tarnished splendors of ‘her’ main saloon principally to myself, for she was not a creature to attract the eye of wiser travelers” [ LM Ch.5].


February 17 Tuesday – The Paul Jones was “heavily loaded with ordnance for the Baton Rouge arsenal” [Branch, “Bixby” 3]. As the boat neared Louisville it ran onto rocks near Dick Smith’s wharf and stuck for more than 24 hours.

February 19 Thursday – The Paul Jones left Louisville [Branch, “Bixby” 3].

February 23 Monday – The Paul Jones reached Memphis [Branch, “Bixby” 3].


February 28 Saturday – The Paul Jones reached New Orleans [Branch, “Bixby” 2]. In his Autobiography:

…I inquired about ships leaving for Para and discovered that there weren’t any and learned that there probably wouldn’t be any during that century. It had not occurred to me to inquire about these particulars before leaving Cincinnati, so there I was. I couldn’t get to the Amazon. I had no friends in New Orleans and no money to speak of. I went to Horace Bixby and asked him to make a pilot out of me. He said he would do it for five hundred dollars, one hundred dollars cash in advance. So I steered for him to St. Louis, borrowed the money from my brother-in-law, and closed the bargain [Neider 98]. Note: William Moffett, sister Pamela’s husband, was the lender.

Text Box: March 4, 1857 - James Buchanan was sworn in as the 15th President of the United States.







March 4 Wednesday Commanded by Patrick Yore and piloted by Horace Bixby, the Colonel Crossman (415 tons) left New Orleans with Sam aboard bound for St. Louis [Branch, “Bixby” 2]. Sam was 21, Horace 31 and considered one of the great steamboat pilots of his time [Rasmussen 34]. Bixby had started as a lowly mud clerk (unpaid) at age eighteen. He had a temper but cooled off fast. “When I say I’ll learn a man the river, I mean it. And you can depend on it. I’ll learn him or kill him” [Rasmussen 35]. Powers describes him as “A small sturdy man…he had a prominent nose, a firmly set mouth, and hair brushed all the way across his head from a low part. He would survive a steamboat explosion near New Madrid, Mo. in 1858, pilot heroically for the Union flotilla during the Civil War, achieve greatness in his trade, and outlive Sam Clemens by two years, dying a few months after the Titanic sank in 1912, in a St. Louis suburb” [Powers, Dangerous 246]. For more about the Crossman, see Branch, “Bixby” 6-7.


Text Box: March 6, 1857 
Dred Scott Case Decided





March 14 Saturday – Sam dated his third and last Snodgrass letter from Cincinnati: SNODGRASS, IN A ADVENTURE [MTL 1: 70; Camfield, bibliog.]. Branch points out that on this date Sam was on the Colonel Crossman and concludes Sam updated his manuscript on board [Branch, “Bixby” 2].


March 15 Sunday The Colonel Crossman arrived in St. Louis [Branch, “Bixby” 2].


April 10 Friday – The third and last Snodgrass letter dated Mar. 14 from Cincinnati ran in the Keokuk Post. The title, SNODGRASS, IN A ADVENTURE [MT Encyclopedia, Abshire 694].

April 29 Wednesday – Sam left St. Louis on the Crescent City (688 tons), bound for New Orleans. Bixby and Sam would make this run on the Crescent three times [Branch, “Bixby” 2].

May 4? Monday The Crescent City arrived in New Orleans.


May 89? Saturday The Crescent City left New Orleans bound for St. Louis [Branch, “Bixby” 2].

May 1619? Tuesday – The Crescent City arrived in St. Louis [Branch, “Bixby” 2].

Note: approximate dates with ? are calculated from Branch’s assertion of three round trips rather than two, and his updating of information from MTL 1: 71.


Once in St. Louis, Sam went first to cousin James Clemens, Jr., and then to brother-in-law William Moffett to secure the loan of $100 with which to pay Bixby a down payment [MTL 1: 71].

May 22 Friday – The Crescent City left St. Louis bound for New Orleans, with Sam as the official cub pilot. From this date until May 1861, Sam learned and worked his new trade as a steamboat pilot. He made exceptional pay once licensed and loved the work. Only the closing of river traffic with the Civil War cost Sam this job. It is one of the side benefits of the war that Sam was forced off the river and into the West to discover his true calling. Still, without those years on the Mississippi, Sam might never have reached his pinnacle as the “Lincoln of our literature” [MTL 1: 71].


May 27 Wednesday – Sam arrived in New Orleans on the Crescent City, cub under Horace Bixby. Nearly all of Sam’s piloting was between New Orleans and St. Louis, some 1,300 miles. Bixby taught Sam that he must memorize every mile of the trip, that each side of the river, coming and going was different, and that at night nothing looked the same. To make it more difficult, the river was constantly shifting its banks. Sam was boggled by what was required of him [MTL 1: 71].

May 31 Sunday – Sam visited the French market in the morning. He wrote of it the next day to Annie.

June 1 Monday – In New Orleans, Sam wrote to Annie Taylor lamenting her “ancient punctuality.”

[postscript in pencil:]

P. S.—I have just returned from another cemetery—brought away an orange leaf as a memorial—I inclose it.

New Orleans, June 1st. 1857.

My Dear Friend Annie

I am not certain what day of the month this is, (the weather being so warm,) but I expect I have made a pretty close guess.

Well, you wouldn’t answer the last letter I wrote from Cincinnati? I just thought I would write again, anyhow, taking for an excuse the fact that you might have written and the letter miscarried. I have been very unfortunate with my correspondence; for, during my stay of nearly four months in Cincinnati, I did not get more than three or four letters beside those coming from members of our own family. You did write once, though, Annie, and that rather “set me up,” for I imagined that as you had got started once more, you would continue to write with your ancient punctuality. From some cause or other, however, I was disappointed—though it could hardly have been any fault of mine, for I sat down and answered your letter as soon as I received it, I think, although I was sick at the time. Orion wrote to me at St. Louis, saying that Mane told him she would correspond with me if I would ask her. I lost no time in writing to her—got no reply—and thus ended another brief correspondence. I wish you would tell Mane that the Lord won’t love her if she does so.

However, I reckon one page of this is sufficient.

I visited the French market yesterday (Sunday) morning. I think it would have done my very boots good to have met half a dozen Keokuk girls there, as I used to meet them at market in the Gate City. But it could not be. However, I did find several acquaintances—two pretty girls, with their two beaux—sipping coffee at one of the stalls. I thought I had seen all kinds of markets before—but that was a great mistake—this being a place such as I had never dreamed of before. Everything was arranged in such beautiful order, and had such an air of cleanliness and neatness that it was a pleasure to wander among the stalls. The pretty pyramids of fresh fruit looked so delicious. Oranges, lemons, pineapples, bananas, figs, plantains, watermelons, blackberries, raspberries, plums, and various other fruits were to be seen on one table, while the next one bore a load of radishes, onions, squashes, peas, beans, sweet potatoes—well, everything imaginable in the vegetable line—and still further on were lobsters, oysters, clams—then milk, cheese, cakes, coffee, tea, nuts, apples, hot rolls, butter, etc.—then the various kinds of meats and poultry. Of course, the place was crowded (as most places in New Orleans are) with men, women and children of every age, color and nation. Out on the pavement were groups of Italians, French, Dutch, Irish, Spaniards, Indians, Chinese, Americans, English, and the Lord knows how many more different kinds of people, selling all kinds of articles—even clothing of every description, from a handkerchief down to a pair of boots, umbrellas, pins, combs, matches—in fact, anything you could possibly want—and keeping up a terrible din with their various cries.

Today I visited one of the cemeteries—a veritable little city, for they bury everybody above ground here. All round the sides of the inclosure, which is in the heart of the city, there extends a large vault, about twelve feet high, containing three or four tiers of holes or tombs (they put the coffins into these holes endways, and then close up the opening with brick), one above another, and looking like a long 3- or 4-story house. The graveyard is laid off in regular, straight streets, strewed with white shells, and the fine, tall marble tombs (numbers of them containing but one corpse) fronting them and looking like so many miniature dwelling houses. You can find wreaths of flowers and crosses, cups of water, mottoes, small statuettes, etc., hanging in front of nearly every tomb. I noticed one beautiful white marble tomb, with a white lace curtain in front of it, under which, on a little shelf, were vases of fresh flowers, several little statuettes, and cups of water, while on the ground under the shelf were little orange and magnolia trees. It looked so pretty. The inscription was in French—said the occupant was a girl of 17, and finished by a wish from the mother that the stranger would drop a tear there, and thus aid her whose sorrow was more than one could bear. They say that the flowers upon many of these tombs are replaced every day by fresh ones. These were fresh, and the poor girl had been dead five years. There’s depth of affection! On another was the inscription, “To My Dear Mother,” with fresh flowers. The lady was 62 years old when she died, and she had been dead seven years. I spent half an hour watching the chameleons—strange animals, to change their clothes so often! I found a dingy looking one, drove him on a black rag, and he turned black as ink—drove him under a fresh leaf, and he turned the brightest green color you ever saw.

I wish you would write to me at St. Louis (I’ll be there next week) for I don’t believe you have forgotten how, yet. Tell Mane and Ete [Mary Jane Taylor and Esther Taylor] “howdy” for me.

Your old friend

Sam. L. Clemens [MTL 1: 71].

Notes: Interestingly, Sam did not brag about being a cub pilot, or say anything about piloting or his ambitions. It is thought this was his last letter to Annie. On this date the Crescent City left for St. Louis. 


June 9 TuesdayCrescent City arrived St. Louis. Note: The following steamboat schedules are taken from [MTL 1: 387-90].


June 17 WednesdayCrescent City left for New Orleans.

June 23 TuesdayCrescent City arrived New Orleans.

June 28 SundayCrescent City left for St. Louis.

July 7 TuesdayCrescent City arrived St. Louis.

July 11 Saturday – Sam and possibly Bixby transferred to the Rufus L. Lackland (710 tons) and departed St. Louis for New Orleans. Sam’s comments about the Lackland:

I took lodgings at Mrs. Marmadale’s, John, higher up in Locust street, towards the big church—I mean the one in the construction of which the least little bit in the world of Christian vanity sticks out—for, do you know, John, that that edifice reminds me of the steamers JOHN J. ROE and R. J. LACKLAND? Yes, she does. You admire the craft at a distance, but when you step aboard you are astonished to find that what you thought was all cabin, isn’t and what you thought was all church, isn’t, either, by considerably more than a good deal. No, John, it’s all sham. There’s a bulkhead amidships, and behind is a place devoted to bale-rope and buckets, in the one case, and prayer-meeting in the other [Schmidt – from July 21, 1859 New Orleans Crescent, “Soleather Cultivates His Taste for Music”].

Note: Recently added to Schmidt’s website is the following note:

“New research by Michael Marleau indicates that during this time frame Clemens most likely made a trip up the Missouri River with pilot Horace Bixby aboard the D. A. JANUARY. Edgar Branch never placed Clemens on the Missouri River and had previously theorized that Clemens was on board the RUFUS J. LACKLAND from 11 July to 3 August 1857. Further research by Michael Marleau includes a new interpretation of Clemens’ personal journals and indicates the 1859 dates are the most likely dates of service for the RUFUS J. LACKLAND as a licensed pilot.”

Until such time as Marleau’s new citations are published, with dates and places for the purported Missouri River leg, the chronology will continue to present Edgar Branch’s conclusions. If Marleau’s information is confirmed, it would affect dates July 11 through Aug. 3 on the Lackland, and also re-date Sam’s comments about the steamboat (above) to July 21, 1859 in the New Orleans Crescent.

July 19 SundayRufus L. Lackland arrived New Orleans.

July 23 ThursdayRufus L. Lackland left for St. Louis.

August 3 MondayRufus L. Lackland arrived St. Louis.

August 5 Wednesday – Sam, cub pilot, was now under Zebulon “Zeb” Leavenworth (1830-1877) and/or Sobieski “Beck” Jolly (1831-1905) on the John J. Roe (691 tons). Bixby wanted to work the more lucrative Missouri and Sam had chosen to stay on the Mississippi run. The steamboat left St. Louis this date for New Orleans. It was a freighter and not allowed to carry passengers. Sam, about the Roe:

I served a term as steersman in the pilot house. She was a freighter . . . It was a delightful old tug and she had a very spacious boiler-deck—just the place for moonlight dancing and daylight frolics. She was a charmingly leisurely boat and the slowest one on the planet. Up-stream she couldn’t even beat an island; down-stream she was never able to overtake the current. But she was a love of a steamboat [Neider 79]. Note: in his A.D. of July 30, 1906 Clemens said that Zeb Leavenworth was a giant like his brother, Mark Leavenworth, and that “Jolly was very handsome, very graceful, very intelligent, companionable—a fine character—and he had the manners of a duke” [AMT 2: 150].

August 14 Friday John J. Roe arrived New Orleans.

August 18 TuesdayJohn J. Roe left for St. Louis.

August 29 SaturdayJohn J. Roe arrived St. Louis.

September 2 WednesdayJohn J. Roe left for New Orleans.

September 10 ThursdayJohn J. Roe arrived New Orleans.

September 15 TuesdayJohn J. Roe left for St. Louis.

September 24 ThursdayJohn J. Roe arrived St. Louis.

October 9 Friday – Sam, cub pilot, now under Horace Bixby again with co-pilot, possibly Isaiah Sellers (1802-1864) on the William M. Morrison (662 tons). On this date the steamboat left St. Louis [Schmidt].


October 16 FridayWilliam M. Morrison arrived New Orleans.

October 19 MondayWilliam M. Morrison left for St. Louis.


October 26 MondayWilliam M. Morrison arrived St. Louis.

November 2 Monday – Sam was now under the infamous William Brown, co-pilot George Ealer (1829-1866) on the steamboat Pennsylvania (486 tons). The ship left this date for New Orleans. In Chapters 18-19 of Life on the Mississippi, Sam recounted the conflict with Brown:

“…a middle-aged, long, slim, bony, smooth-shaven, horse-faced, ignorant, stingy, malicious, snarling, fault-hunting, mote-magnifying tyrant.”

From their first meeting, nothing Sam did was right for Brown. Cub Sam would lie in his bunk at night thinking of creative ways to kill Brown. Imagination was all that was left to Sam, since it was a “penitentiary offense” to strike a steamboat pilot. The other cub on board was George Ritchie, who was blessed with serving watch only for the co-pilot George Ealer, as amiable as Brown was nasty. Whenever Sam took the wheel for Ealer’s watch, Ritchie would mimic Brown, which got old fast with Sam. The conflict between Brown and Sam would peak the next June [Schmidt].

November 8 SundayPennsylvania arrived in New Orleans.

November 10 TuesdayPennsylvania left for St. Louis. With Brown gone, George Ealer was most likely the pilot.

November 16 MondayPennsylvania arrived in St. Louis.

November 18 WednesdayPennsylvania left for New Orleans.

November 24 TuesdayPennsylvania arrived in New Orleans.


November 26 ThursdayPennsylvania left for St. Louis. About thirty miles above New Orleans it was struck by the Vicksburg and lost its wheelhouse. The boat was laid up for repairs near New Orleans for eleven weeks. Some accounts say the two boats were racing, an illegal but common activity for steamboats. On Mar. 19, 1858, Sam would give testimony for a lawsuit in the matter. His remarks include observations of the boat:

I was on the PENNSYLVANIA as Steersman at the time of the collision in November last. I was not at the wheel at the time. At the moment of the collision I was standing on the Sky light deck, aft of the Pilot house…..I think that at the instant the VICKSBURG struck us that one of her engines was still going—and my reason for thinking so is, that she did not recede from us after she struck, but kept pressing on—the crash of timbers continued—the deck swayed under me, and I thought I heard the noise of her engines. It was over a minute after the VICKSBURG struck us, before she began to back away from us. After the boats came together, I heard the Captain of the VICKSBURG call to Captain Klinefelter, and I understood him to say that he (Capt White) “Knew that the VICKSBURG would run from the bar.” I am learning the river—have been learning it, now, about ten months. At that time I had been on the PENNSYLVANIA about three trips. The PENNSYLVANIA steers very easily, I was in the Pilot house that night before supper, and I noticed that she steered well—that is her general character for steering. The PENNSYLVANIA is a first class boat every way—she is large, and well finished for a passenger boat. The officers and crew which the PENNSYLVANIA had at the time of the collision were all of them capable sober and patient. When I was on the extreme stern of the PENNSYLVANIA as above stated, Capt Klinefelter was there—I do not know where he was after that. After the collision the VICKSBURG towed the PENNSYLVANIA to the right hand shore. The VICKSBURG then backed off. I am not exactly certain whether I was in a position to see her when she left us. I do not think she landed after she left us—I think she just backed out, and went up the river. I am certain she did. John Klinefelter et. al. vs. Steamer Vicksburg, J. M. White, Master, National Archives [Marleau, “Eyewitness” 18-19].


November 27 to December 12 Saturday – Sam worked as a night watchman on the freight docks from seven in the evening until seven in the morning. He earned three dollars a night [Neider 100].


November 30 Monday Sam’s 22nd birthday.


December 13 Sunday – Sam was a steersman under Joseph Edward Montgomery (1817-1902) on the D.A. January, which left New Orleans on this date. The captain was Patrick Yore. Montgomery would later serve as a commodore of the Confederacy’s river fleet, which was destroyed in June 1862 at Memphis.

December 22 TuesdayD.A. January arrived in St. Louis.

December, late – Sam no doubt spent the holidays with his family before returning to New Orleans [MTL 1: 75].

Vol 1 Section 0015

Dream River and Dream Laura – Disaster Forewarned – A Pounding in the Pilot House

 Henry Dead from Pennsylvania Explosion – More Steamboats, More Work



January 14 Thursday Sam may have made the return trip on the New Falls City, an 880 ton side-wheeler freshly built that month, with Captain Montgomery. The licensed pilots at this time were Chauncy Cable and Zeb Leavenworth. Sam possibly offered his steering services in exchange for passage [MTL 1: 75].

January 20 WednesdayNew Falls City arrived in New Orleans.

February 6 Saturday – The Pennsylvania, now repaired and refitted, left New Orleans with William Brown as pilot, George Ealer as co-pilot, John Simpson Klinefelter (1810-1885) as Captain. Sam had procured a job for Henry as “mud clerk,” so called because the job required leaping to shore in places where there was no pavement or dock. The job did not pay, but was a way to rise in the ranks. Henry Clemens was nineteen, and would make six trips with his brother Sam [Powers, MT A Life 84].


February 14 Sunday Pennsylvania arrived in St. Louis.


February 17 WednesdayPennsylvania left for New Orleans. The Mississippi was choked with ice, but Captain Klinefelter thought the boat could handle it. They went aground several times.

February 18 Thursday – Due to ice, the Pennsylvania had only managed to reach Rush Tower, some 40 miles south of St. Louis.

February 19 Friday – The Pennsylvania reached Cairo, Illinois in the afternoon. Other boats had either elected to stay in St. Louis or were aground.


February 25 ThursdayPennsylvania arrived in New Orleans.


February 27 SaturdayPennsylvania ,left for St. Louis


March 9 TuesdayPennsylvania arrived in St. Louis. Sam wrote to Orion and Mollie about the difficult trip of Feb. 17, which took twenty days, six or seven more than usual for the round trip.

Dear Brother and Sister:

I must take advantage of the opportunity now presented to write you, but I shall necessarily be dull, as I feel uncommonly stupid. We have had a hard trip this time. Left Saint Louis three weeks ago on the Pennsylvania. The weather was very cold, and the ice running densely. We got 15 miles below town, landed the boat, and then one pilot, Second Mate and four deck hands took the sounding boat and shoved out in the ice to hunt the channel. They failed to find it, and the ice drifted them ashore. The pilot left the men with the boat and walked back to us, a mile and a half. Then the other pilot and myself, with a larger crew of men started out and met with the same fate. We drifted ashore just below the other boat. Then the fun commenced. We made fast a line 20 fathoms long, to the bow of the yawl, and put the men, (both crews) to it like horses, on the shore. Brown, the pilot, stood in the bow, with an oar, to keep her head out, with and I took the tiller. We would start the men, and all would go well till the yawl would bring up on a heavy cake of ice, and then the men would drop like so many ten-pins, while Brown assumed the horizontal in the bottom of the boat. After an hour’s hard work we got back, with ice half an inch thick on the oars. Sent back and warped up the other yawl, and then George [Ealer] (the first mentioned pilot,) and myself, took a double crew of fresh men and tried it again. This time we found the channel in less than an hour, and landed on island till the Pennsylvania came along and took us off. The next day was colder still. I was out in the yawl twice, and then we got through, but the infernal steamboat came near running over us. We went ten miles further, landed, and George and I cleared out again—found the channel first trial, but got caught in the gorge and drifted helplessly down the river. The Ocean Spray came along and started into the ice after us, but although she didn’t succeed in her kind intention of taking us aboard, her waves washed us out, and that was all we wanted. We landed on an island, built a big fire and waited for the boat. She started, and ran aground! It commenced raining and sleeting, and a very interesting time we had on that barren sandbar for the next four hours, when the boat got off and took us aboard. The next day was terribly cold. We sounded Hat Island, warped up around a bar and sounded again—but in order to understand our situation you will have to read Dr. Kane. It would have been impossible to get back to the boat. But the Maria Denning ,was aground at the head of the island—they hailed us,—we ran alongside and they hoisted us in and thawed us out. We had then been out in the yawl from 4 o’clock in the morning till half past 9 without being near a fire. There was a thick coating of ice over men, yawl, ropes, and everything else, and we looked like rock-candy statuary. We got to Saint Louis this morning, after an absence of 3 weeks—that boat generally makes the trip in 2.

Henry was doing little or nothing here, and I sent him to our clerk to work his way for a trip, by measuring woodpiles, counting coal boxes, and other clerkly duties, which he performed satisfactorily. He may go down with us again, for I expect he likes our bill of fare better than that of his boarding house.

I got your letter at Memphis as I went down. That is the best place to write me at. The post office here is always out of my route, somehow or other. Remember the direction: “S.L.C., Steamer Pennsylvania, Care Duval & Algeo, Wharfboat, Memphis.” I cannot correspond with a paper, because when one is learning the river, he is not allowed to do or think about anything else.

I am glad to see you in such high spirits about the land, and I hope will remain so, if you never get richer. I seldom venture to think about our landed wealth, for “hope deferred maketh the heart sick.”

I did intend to answer your letter, but I am too lazy and too sleepy, now. We had had a rough time during the last 24 hours working through the ice between Cairo and Saint Louis, and I have had but little rest.

I got here too late to see the funeral of the 10 victims by the burning of the Pacific hotel in 7th street. Ma says there were 10 hearses, with the fire companies (their engines in mourning—firemen in uniform,)—the various benevolent societies in uniform and mourning, and a multitude of citizens and strangers, forming, altogether, a procession of 30,000 persons! One steam fire-engine was drawn by four white horses, with crape festoons on their heads.

Well, I am—just—about—asleep—

Your brother


[MTL 1: 76]. Notes: from the source: Elisha Kent Kane (1820–57), a U.S. Navy surgeon, participated in two unsuccessful Arctic expeditions in the 1850s in search of Sir John Franklin, the explorer who died in 1847 while trying to find a northwest passage to the Orient. Kane published two popular accounts of the expeditions. Also: “Clemens artfully inscribed his closing and signature to suggest a gradual loss of control over his pencil.” See other notes in source.

March 11 ThursdayPennsylvania left for New Orleans.


March 17 WednesdayPennsylvania arrived in New Orleans.


March 19 Friday Sam gave a deposition in a lawsuit (Klineflelter, et al, vs. Vicksburg) over the collision between the Pennsylvania and the Vicksburg on Nov. 26, 1857. See that entry. Sam was a steersman on the Pennsylvania at that time [Marleau, “Eyewitness” 18].


March 20 SaturdayPennsylvania left for St. Louis.


March 27 SaturdayPennsylvania arrived in St. Louis.


March 31 WednesdayPennsylvania left for New Orleans.

April 6 TuesdayPennsylvania arrived in New Orleans.

April 10 SaturdayPennsylvania left for St. Louis.


April 16 FridayPennsylvania arrived in St. Louis.

April 20 TuesdayPennsylvania left for New Orleans.

April 26 MondayPennsylvania arrived in New Orleans.

April 30 FridayPennsylvania left for St. Louis.

May 5 WednesdayPennsylvania arrived in St. Louis.

May 10 MondayPennsylvania left for New Orleans.

May 16 SundayPennsylvania arrived in New Orleans. While there, Sam met fourteen-year-old Laura Wright (1845-1932). They spent most of the three days together. Sam was then twenty-two, but the age difference was not unusual in those days. Laura was with her father, Judge Foster P. Wright of Warsaw, Missouri, visiting her uncle, William C. Youngblood and her cousin Zeb Leavenworth on the John J. Roe. Sam went to visit Zeb and Beck Jolly, old mates from past trips. In his Autobiography Sam described Laura:

…that slip of a girl of whom I have spoken—that instantly elected sweetheart out of the remoteness of interior Missouri—a frank and simple and winsome child who had never been away from home in her life before…I was not four inches from that girl’s elbow during our waking hours for the next three days…I could see her with the perfect distinctness in the unfaded bloom of her youth, with her plaited tails dangling from her young head and her white summer frock puffing about in the wind of that ancient Mississippi time…[Neider 80].

Years later, Laura would marry a Mr. Dake. Sam claimed to have only seen Laura once, but they corresponded and Sam did visit Warsaw again (see May 13, 1880 entry for letter from Thomas H. Murray). There are echoes of Sam’s affection for Laura in several of his writings [MTL 1: 114n7; MT Encyclopedia, Baetzhold 799]. Note: Powers cites Sam’s notebook: May 6, 1858, of leaving Laura, but on that date the Pennsylvania was in St. Louis. All sources give New Orleans as their place of meeting.


May 20 ThursdayPennsylvania left for St. Louis. When the boat was backing out, Sam had to leap for the rail from the John J. Roe, ending his visit with Laura Wright. Years later he would send her a thousand dollars in response to a letter asking for help. The loves of Sam’s life were invariably put on haloed pedestals, none more so than Laura Wright [MT Encyclopedia Baetzhold 799; Powers MT A Life 82].

May 27 ThursdayPennsylvania arrived in St. Louis.


May 29 Saturday In St. Louis, Sam dreamed of Henry “lying in a metallic burial case in the sitting-room, supported on two chairs” [MTB 134]. He related the dream the next morning to his sister Pamela Moffett and family, who later recalled him taking it quite serious. Henry and Sam were staying with their sister for a three-day layover. Sam left St. Louis on May 30 [MTL 1: 387] so he must have had the dream on May 29.

May 30 SundayPennsylvania left for St. Louis.


June 3 Thursday Mid-morning: [Powers, MT A Life 85] Pilot William Brown called Sam’s brother Henry Clemens a liar, and started after him with a big chunk of coal. Sam stepped in between and “stretched him out” with a heavy stool. Sam then “stuck to him and pounded him with my fists a considerable time – I do not know how long, the pleasure of it probably made it seem longer than it really was…” For a few minutes no one was steering the ship. Called on the carpet in Captain John Klinefelter’s cabin, Sam was questioned about the fight. The Captain said he was “deuced glad of it!” and advised Sam to further thrash Brown on shore. Brown refused to stay on the same boat with Sam, so was let off in New Orleans. This is the only violent act Sam was ever known to commit, though he threatened or wished more than a few other times.

June 4 Friday – Pilot William Brown forbade Sam entrance to the pilothouse for the rest of the trip. Sam was “ ‘an emancipated slave’ listening to George Ealer’s flute and his readings from Oliver Goldsmith and Shakespeare. Sometimes he played chess with Ealer, and learned a trick which he would use himself in the long after-years—that of taking back the last move and running out the game differently when he saw defeat” [MTB 137].


June 5 Saturday After the Pennsylvania arrived in New Orleans on this date, Brown left the boat. Captain Klinefelter offered Sam a co-pilot position back up the river, but Sam did not feel ready. He left the boat with the understanding he would rejoin it after Brown was replaced. Henry Clemens stayed on the Pennsylvania as a mud clerk.

June 8 Tuesday Sam and Henry chatted until midnight on the levee. It was their last conversation.

The subject of the chat, mainly, was one which I think we had not exploited before—steamboat disasters. One was then on its way to us, little as we suspected it; the water which was to make the steam which should cause it was washing past some point fifteen hundred miles up the river while we talked—but it would arrive at the right time and the right place. We doubted if persons not clothed with authority were of much use in cases of disaster and attendant panic; still, they might be of some use; so we decided that if a disaster ever fell within our experience we would at least stick to the boat, and give such minor service as chance might throw in the way. Henry remembered this, afterward, when the disaster came, and acted accordingly [Life on the Mississippi, Ch. 20].

June 9 Wednesday – The Pennsylvania left New Orleans at 5 PM without Sam and with Henry Clemens aboard. Klinefelter had been unable to hire another pilot, attributed by Powers to the pilot’s union [Powers, MT A Life 86].

June 11 Friday Two days behind Henry on the Pennsylvania, Sam left New Orleans bound for St. Louis on the Alfred T. Lacey with Captain John P. Rodney and Sam’s Hannibal friend Barton S. Bowen, pilot [MTL 1: 82n3].

June 13 Sunday 70 miles south of Memphis at about 6 A.M., the steamboat Pennsylvania’s boilers exploded, severely injuring Henry Clemens. Henry was blown free of the ship, but swam back to help rescue passengers. Either Henry did not realize the extent of his own injuries, or was scalded in his attempts to help. About 150 people were killed, including pilot William Brown. Klinefelter helped with the rescue and received only minor injuries. Henry was taken aboard the Kate Frisbee to Memphis, some sixty miles up river from the disaster [MTL 1: 80n1].

June 14 MondayHenry Clemens arrived at Memphis at 3 A.M. with 31 other victims, some twenty-one hours after the explosion and after several transfers, including the Kate Frisbee. Henry was taken to the Memphis Exchange, a makeshift hospital. 100-degree heat increased the suffering of the wounded [Powers, MT A Life 87; MTL 1: 84n7].

June 15 Tuesday – The Lacey docked in Memphis and news of the explosion reached Sam [MTL 1: 82-3n3]. He rushed to the Memphis Exchange. He sent a telegram to brother-in-law William Moffett: “Henrys recovery is very doubtful” [MTL 1: 80].


June 15 to 18 Friday – Sam stayed by brother Henry’s side.

June 18 Friday – Sam wrote to “Dear Sister Mollie” (Orion’s wife) about Henry’s situation:

Dear Sister Mollie: / Long before this reaches you, my poor Henry, my darling, my pride, my glory, my all, will have finished his blameless career, and the light of my life will have gone out in utter darkness. O, God! This is hard to bear. Hardened, hopeless,—aye, lost—lost and ruined sinner as I am—I, even I, have humbled myself to the ground and prayed as never man prayed before, that the great God might let this cup pass from me,—that he would strike me to the earth, but spare my brother—that he would pour out the fullness of his just wrath upon my wicked head, but have mercy, mercy, mercy upon that unoffending boy. The horrors of three days have swept over me—they have blasted my youth and left me an old man before my time. Mollie, there are grey hairs in my head to-night. For forty-eight hours I labored at the bedside of my poor burned and bruised, but uncomplaining brother, and then the star of my hope went out and left me in the gloom of despair. Then poor wretched me, that was once so proud, was humbled to the very dust—lower than the dust—for the vilest beggar in the streets of Saint Louis could never conceive of a humiliation like mine. Men take me by the hand and congratulate me, and call me “lucky” because I was not on the Pennsylvania when she blew up! My God forgive them, for they know not what they say.

Mollie you do not understand why I was not on that boat—I will tell you. I left Saint Louis on her, but on the way down, Mr. Brown, the pilot that was killed by the explosion (poor fellow,) quarreled with Henry without cause, while I was steering—Henry started out of the pilothouse—Brown jumped up and collared him—turned him half way around and struck him in the face!—and him nearly six feet high—struck my little brother. I was wild from that moment. I left the boat to steer herself, and avenged the insult—and the Captain said I was right—that he would discharge Brown in N. Orleans if he could get another pilot, and would do it in St. Louis anyhow. Of course both of us could not return to St. Louis on the same boat—no pilot could be found, and the Captain sent me to the A. T. Lacey, with orders to her Captain to bring me to Saint Louis. Had another pilot been found, poor Brown would have been the “lucky” man.

I was on the Pennsylvania five minutes before she left N. Orleans, and I must tell you the truth, Mollie—three hundred human beings perished by that fearful disaster. Henry was asleep—was blown up—then fell back on the hot boilers, and I suppose that rubbish fell on him, for he is injured internally. He got into the water and swam to shore, and got into the flatboat with the other survivors. He had nothing on but his wet shirt, and he lay there burning up with a southern sun and freezing in the wind till the Kate Frisbee came along. His wounds were not dressed till he got to Memphis, 15 hours after the explosion. He was senseless and motionless for 12 hours after that. But may God bless Memphis, the noblest city on the face of the earth. She has done her duty by these poor afflicted creatures—especially Henry, for he has had five—aye, ten, fifteen, twenty times the care and attention that any one else has had. Dr. Peyton, the best physician in Memphis (he is exactly like the portraits of Webster,) sat by him for 36 hours. There are 32 scalded men in that room, and you would know Dr. Peyton better than I can describe him, if you could follow him around and hear each man murmur as he passes—“May the God of Heaven bless you, Doctor!” The ladies have done well, too. Our second Mate, a handsome, noble-hearted young fellow, will die. Yesterday a beautiful girl of 15 stooped timidly down by his side and handed him a pretty bouquet. The poor suffering boy’s eyes kindled, his lips quivered out a gentle “God bless you, Miss,” and he burst into tears. He made them write he[r] name on a card for him, that he might not forget it.

Pray for me, Mollie, and pray for my poor sinless brother.

Your unfortunate Brother,

Sam. L. Clemens.

P. S. I got here two days after Henry [MTL 1: 80-82]. Note: see notes in source and chapters 18-20 LM. This tragedy was one of the singular events of Clemens’ life, creating great grief and guilt.


Sam’s brother-in-law, William A. Moffett, in St. Louis, telegraphed Sam in Memphis, asking:


“Will it be better for your Mother to come down / Answer / W.A. Moffett” [MTP].

June 21 MondayHenry Clemens died. Sam was grief-stricken. Images of a prior dream about Henry’s death haunted Sam, and magnified the trauma of Henry’s final sufferings. Sam telegraphed William Moffett: “Henry died this morning leave tomorrow with the Corpse.”

Henry had always been the model of innocence and uprightness, contrasting with Sam’s rebellious instigator. The injustice of Henry’s death was a blow that shaped Sam’s life, and increased the guilt he always carried. He felt tremendous guilt for securing the clerk job for Henry, for not being on the Pennsylvania on its last trip, and for not protecting his younger brother [MTL 1: 85; Powers, MT A Life 87-9].

June 25 Friday – Sam arrived in Hannibal with Henry’s body aboard the steamer Hannibal City. Henry buried the same day next to his father, John Marshall Clemens in the Old Baptist Cemetery. In 1876 Sam would have both bodies moved to Mount Olivet Cemetery [MT A Life 88-9]. Dempsey writes: “After emancipation, the Baptist church in Hannibal kicked its black members out of the church. Most white people quite burying in the old Baptist Cemetery, though blacks continued burying there….Mt. Olivet became the fashionable cemetery for white Hannibal Protestants” [154].


June 26 Saturday – The Clemens family buried Henry [A. Hoffman 55]. Sometime during the year Sam wrote “My Brother, Henry Clemens.” The piece was later found clipped in one of Sam’s scrapbooks; the newspaper that printed it remains unknown [Camfield, bibliog.].

July 11 Sunday Sam, cub pilot under Samuel A. Bowen (1838?-1878), co-pilot George G. Ealer, Captain John P. Rodney left St. Louis for New Orleans on the Alfred T. Lacey. Sam loved Ealer, who read Shakespeare, played the flute and was fond of chess. Sam remembered steering for Bowen. This was the only round trip that the Lacey made that month [MTL 1: 86].

July 16 FridayAlfred T. Lacey arrived in New Orleans.

July 21 WednesdayAlfred T. Lacey left for St. Louis.

July 28 WednesdayAlfred T. Lacey arrived in St. Louis.

August 4 Wednesday – The shorter run from St. Louis to Memphis and back allowed Sam to stay closer to his family after the death of Henry and make weekly visits. The John H. Dickey (403 tons) left St. Louis on this date with Sam’s old friend Sam A. Bowen, pilot and Daniel J. Able (b.1825?) captain. Andrew Hoffman claims Bart Bowen got Sam the position as steersman with his brother Sam Bowen “in order to get Sam back on the river” [55].

Sam knew Daniel Able from Hannibal days. On these runs Sam saw the growth of the cotton trade. A lot of money was being made. Besides weekly visits home, Sam also had time to write. He penned three articles about the Dickey, Captain Able, and the City of Memphis for three newspapers [55]. Branch also gives this date for Sam’s return to the river [Branch, “Dickey” 195].

August 7 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis. In these runs there was either one-day layover or no layover. All departures were Wednesdays from St. Louis, Saturday from Memphis.

August 11 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.

August 14 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.

August 18 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.

August 21 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.

August 25 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.

August 28 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.

August 30 Monday – Sam dated the article he signed as “Rambler” this day [Branch, “Dickey” 196]. This was the same pen name Sam had used for the Hannibal Journal from Apr. 29 through May 14, 1853.

September 1 Wednesday Sam’s article was printed in the St. Louis Missouri Democrat using the pen name “Rambler[Branch, “Dickey” 196]. The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.

September 4 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.

September 8 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.

September 11 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.

September 12 Sunday – Heavy fog delayed the Dickey’s arrival in St. Louis [Branch, “Dickey” 198].

September 15 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.

September 16 Thursday – The John H. Dickey laid over at Cairo for six hours, where Senator Stephen A. Douglas was speaking in his campaign against Abraham Lincoln [Branch “Dickey” 198].

September 18 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.

September 22 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.

September 25 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.

September 29 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.

October 2 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.

October 5 Tuesday The John H. Dickey arrived at St. Louis and unloaded 1006 bales of cotton, “the largest lot brought on any one boat this season” [Branch, “Dickey” 198].


October 6 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.

October 9 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.

October 13 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.

October 16 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.

October 20 Wednesday The Dickey was laid up for repairs, so Sam and probably Sam Bowen and Captain Able, made the St. Louis to Memphis run on the White Cloud (345 tons).

October 22 Friday – Sam’s article was printed in the St. Louis Missouri Republican using the signature “C” [Branch, “Dickey” 199-200]. Note: MTPO Notes on Aug. 1, 1876 to Cist calls this “chatty river correspondence.”


October 23 Saturday The White Cloud left Memphis.

October 24 Sunday – Sam’s article, “Memphis—The Cotton Trade—Illinois Politics—What Tennessee Thinks of Them,” was printed in the Memphis Daily Appeal [Branch, “Dickey” 201].

October 30 Saturday – Sam left St. Louis on the New Falls City (880 tons; built in January of that year, the largest ship Sam served on. Sam took passage on the boat in January as well) Pilot Horace Bixby, Captain James B. Woods.


November 8 Monday New Falls City arrived in New Orleans.

November 10 Wednesday New Falls City left for St. Louis.

November 17 Wednesday New Falls City arrived in St. Louis.

November 19 Friday New Falls City left for New Orleans.

November 26 Friday New Falls City arrived in New Orleans.

November 29 Monday New Falls City left for St. Louis.

November 30 Tuesday Sam’s 23rd birthday.


December 8 Wednesday New Falls City arrived in St. Louis.


December 13 Monday – Sam and Horace Bixby left St. Louis on the Aleck Scott (709 tons) under Captain Robert A. Reilly. Sam remarked on the Aleck Scott:

I will remark, in passing, that Mississippi steamboatmen were important in landsmen’s eyes (and in their own, too, in a degree) according to the dignity of the boat they were on. For instance, it was a proud thing to be of the crew of such stately craft as the ‘Aleck Scott’ or the ‘Grand Turk.’ Negro firemen, deck hands, and barbers belonging to those boats were distinguished personages in their grade of life, and they were well aware of that fact, too. – Life on the Mississippi [MTL 1: 14].

The Aleck Scott was the last steamboat Sam served on as cub pilot. His next assignment was pilot on the Alfred T. Lacey.


December 21 Tuesday– The Aleck Scott arrived in New Orleans.

December 24 Friday – The Aleck Scott left New Orleans.



Vol 1 Section 0016

Pilot’s License – Sgt. Fathom & Captain Isaiah Sellers

 Running Aground and Heroism – Working the River



January 1 Saturday – The Aleck Scott arrived in St. Louis.


January 4 Tuesday The Aleck Scott left for New Orleans.


January 11 Tuesday The Aleck Scott arrived in New Orleans.


January 15 Saturday The Aleck Scott left for St. Louis.

January 27 Thursday The Aleck Scott arrived in St. Louis.

February 1 Tuesday The Aleck Scott left for New Orleans.


February 11 Friday The Aleck Scott arrived in New Orleans


February 16 Wednesday The Aleck Scott left for St. Louis

February 27 Sunday The Aleck Scott arrived in St. Louis

March 1 Tuesday The Aleck Scott left for New Orleans.


March 8 Tuesday The Aleck Scott arrived in New Orleans

March 9 and 11 Friday In New Orleans, Sam began a long letter to sister Pamela Moffett, that he finished on Mar. 11. He wrote of the Mardi Gras, and Maria Piccolomini, an Italian “princess” singer Here, in part:

. . . . [first part not extant]

beginning of Lent, and all good Catholics eat and drink freely of what they please, and, in fact, do what they please, in order that they may be the better able to keep sober and quiet during the coming fast. It has been said that a Scotchman has not seen the world until he has seen Edinburgh; and I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi-Gras in New Orleans.

I posted off up town yesterday morning as soon as the boat landed, in blissful ignorance of the great day. At the corner of Good-Children and Tchoupitoulas streets, I beheld an apparition!—and my first impulse was to dodge behind a lamp-post. It was a woman—a hay-stack of curtain calico, ten feet high—sweeping majestically down the middle of the street (for what pavement in the world could accommodate hoops of such vast proportions?) Next I saw a girls of eighteen, mounted on a fine horse, and dressed as a Spanish Cavalier, with long rapier, flowing curls, blue satin doublet and half-breeches, trimmed with broad white lace—(the balance of her dainty legs cased in flesh-colored silk stockings)—white kid gloves—and a nodding crimson feather in the coquettishest little cap in the world. She removed said cap and bowed low to me, and nothing loath, I bowed in return—but I could n’t help murmuring, “By the beard of the Prophet, Miss, but you’ve mistaken your man this time—for I never saw your silk mask beforenor the balance of your costume, either, for that matter.” And then I saw a hundred men, women and children in fine, fancy, splendid, ugly, coarse, ridiculous, grotesque, laughable costumes, and the truth flashed upon me—“This is Mardi-Gras!” It was Mardi-gras—and that young lady had a perfect right to bow to, shake hands with, or speak to, me, or any body else she pleased. The streets were soon full of “Mardi-gras,” representing giants, Indians, nigger minstrels, monks, priests, clowns,— every birds, beasts,—everything, in fact, that one could imagine. The “free-and-easy” women turned out en masse—and their costumes and actions were very trying to modest eyes. The finest sight I saw during the day was a band of twenty stalwart men, splendidly arrayed as Comanche Indians, flying and yelling down the street on horses as finely decorated as themselves. It was worth going a long distance to see the performances of the day—but bless me! how insignificant they seemed in comparison with those of the night, when the grand torchlight procession of the “Mystic Krewe of Comus” was added. …[MTL 1: 87-91]. Note: the Krewe was established in 1856; prior to that the celebrations was exclusively Catholic, informal, and not regular. Six Anglo businessmen met in a secret society to improve Mardi Gras, inspired by Milton’s Comus. The torchlight procession was one of their additions.


March 11 Friday In New Orleans, Clemens finished the Mar. 9 letter to his sister:

New Orleans, Friday 11th.

I saw our little Princesses, Countesses, or whatever they are—the Piccolominis—in St. Charles street yesterday. They came down from Memphis in the cars, I believe. Their first concert takes place to-night, and we shall leave this afternoon. So we shall not hear the young lady sing. We had a souvenir of the warbler written on our sla old slate, but some sacrilegious scoundrel rubbed it out. It was “Je suis fachèr qu’il faut que nous allons de ce batteau à la Memphis.” (“I am sorry that we must leave the boat at Memphis.”) To which I replied en mauvais française, “Nous seront nous aussi très fachèr.” (We shall be very sorry, also.) Ben was going to “head” it “The Lament of the Irish Emigrant,” & sell the old slate to Barnum for five hundred dollars. Ben said he had a very interesting conversation with the “old dowager,” Madame Pic. He remarked—“I imagine, Madame, that if it would only drizzle a little more, the weather would soon be in splendid condition for young ducks!” And she replied—“Ah, mio, mio,—une petè—I not can ondersthand not!” “Yes’m, it’s a great pity you can’t ondersthand not, for it has cost you the loss of a very sage remark.” And she followed with a tremendous gush of the musical language. Then Benjamin—“Yes, madame, you’re very right—very right indeed. I acknowlege the justice of your remarks, but the devil of it is, I’m a little in the dark as to what you’ve been saying all the time!”

In eight days from this, I shall be in Saint Louis, but I am afraid if I am not careful I’ll beat this letter there.

My love to all,

Your brother

Sam [MTL 1: 87-91].


The Aleck Scott left for St. Louis.

March 19 Saturday The Aleck Scott arrived in St. Louis


March 21 Monday The Aleck Scott left for New Orleans.


March 27 Sunday The Aleck Scott arrived in New Orleans


March 31 Thursday The Aleck Scott left for St. Louis

April 8 Friday – The Aleck Scott arrived in St. Louis

April 9 Saturday Sam was granted a license as a full steamboat pilot from the Department of Commerce in St. Louis. Until May 1861, Sam had the “best job in the world.” Note: Until copies of Sam’s pilot license surfaced in the late 1930s, it was thought by Paine, DeVoto and others (from Sam’s autobiographical estimates of eighteen months from his apprenticeship under Bixby,) that the date was Sept. 9, 1858. Sam may have recollected being allowed to pilot crafts without passengers prior to the issuance of his license, which would have been lawful at that time [The Twainian, Nov. 1939].

May 4 Wednesday – Now a full pilot, Sam left St. Louis on the Alfred T. Lacey, copiloted by Bart Bowen (brother of Sam and Will Bowen), under Captain John P. Rodney, for New Orleans. “A pilot, in those days, was the only unfettered and entirely independent human being that lived in the earth” [LM; MTL 1: 14].


Isaiah Sellers letter to the New Orleans Picayune:


Vicksburg, May 4, 1859.

My opinion for the benefit of the citizens of New Orleans: The water is higher this far up than it has been since 1815. My opinion is that the water will be four feet deep in Canal Street before the first of next June. Mrs. Turner’s plantation at the head of Big Black Island is all under water, and it has not been since 1815. I. Sellers


The item served as grist for Sam’s “Sergeant Fathom” spoof [MTB 1593].


May 8 Sunday – Sam used the pen name of “Sergeant Fathom” and wrote a piece parodying Isaiah Sellers, the river’s “only genuine Son of Antiquity” [LM, Ch. 50]. Sellers had been a fixture on the Mississippi since Missouri became a state. He wrote “river intelligence” for various newspapers. According to Andrew Hoffman, Sam thought Sellers was “egotistical, long-winded, and incapable of trimming a tale to his audience—the last sin unforgivable in Sam’s eyes” [58]. No story another pilot could tell was beyond being outdone by Sellers. Sam’s fellow pilots had the piece published in the New Orleans Crescent in this month. Sellers was so mortified he never again wrote for a newspaper. Sam later claimed he took the name Mark Twain (which means “two fathoms”—12 feet—or enough for most steamboats to navigate) from Sellers after his death, but no record has ever been found of Sellers using the name, and when Sam first used the name, Sellers was still alive (he died in 1864). An excerpt from Sam’s parody of Sellers:


You can form some conception, by these memoranda, of how high the water was in 1763. In 1775 it did not rise so high by thirty feet; in 1790 it missed the original mark at least sixty-five feet; in 1797, one hundred and fifty feet; and in 1806, nearly two hundred and fifty feet. These were ‘high-water’ years. The ‘high waters’ since then have been so insignificant that I have scarcely taken the trouble to notice them. Thus, you will perceive that the planters need not feel uneasy. The river may make an occasional spasmodic effort at a flood, but the time is approaching when it will cease to rise altogether.

In conclusion, sir, I will condescend to hint at the foundation of these arguments: When me and De Soto discovered the Mississippi I could stand at Bolivar Landing (several miles above “Roaring Waters Bar”) and pitch a biscuit to the main shore on the other side, and in low water we waded across at Donaldsonville. The gradual widening and deepening of the river is the whole secret of the matter [ET&S 1: 126-133].

Powers asserts that Bart Bowen submitted the piece to the New Orleans Crescent [MT A Life 94].


May 10 TuesdayAlfred T. Lacey arrived in New Orleans.


May 14 SaturdayAlfred T. Lacey left for St. Louis.


May 17 Tuesday Sam’s Isaiah Sellers satire “River Intelligence” was published in the New Orleans Crescent, signed by “Sergeant Fathom.” Sellers were so offended he vowed never again to write for the newspapers [ET&S 1: 126]. Sam would use “Sellers” as the name of his main character in the Gilded Age, another know-it-all, if somewhat more sympathetic.


May 21 SaturdayAlfred T. Lacey arrived in St. Louis.

June 25 Saturday – Sam piloted the J.C. Swon, (678 tons) under Captain Isaac H. Jones. Left for New Orleans.

July 1 Friday J.C. Swon arrived in New Orleans

July 3 Sunday J.C. Swon left for St. Louis.

July 6 Wednesday – Sam wrote to John T. “Tom” Moore from Memphis. Moore was a mud clerk on the Roe when Sam was a cub pilot there. The letter appeared in the Arkansaw Traveler July 14, 1883; the original has not been found and its authenticity is in doubt, though many elements argue for it being Sam’s [MTL 1: 91-2, n2; MTB 156]. Note: this may be the same Tom Moore that presented Sam for Masonic membership.

My Dear John:—

I have made many attempts to answer your letter which received a warmth of welcome perspiringly in keeping with the present system of hot weather; but somehow I have failed. Now, however, I screw myself down to the pleasant task. It is a task, let me tell you, and it is only by the courtesy of friendship that I can call it pleasant.

I have been wondering lately what in the name of Mexican cultivation and flatboat morality is to become of people, anyhow. Years, now, I have been waiting for the summers to become cooler, but up to the present moment of agony I see no change. I wish there was some arrangement by which we could have the kind of weather we want; but then I suppose I would call for an arrangement by which we could make a living without work. What a fool old Adam was. Had everything his own way; had succeeded in gaining the love of the best looking girl in the neighborhood, but yet unsatisfied with his conquest he had to eat a miserable little apple. Ah, John, if you had been in his place you would not have eaten a mouthful of the apple, that is if it had required any exertion. I have often noticed that you shun exertion. There comes in the difference between us. I court exertion. I love to work. Why, sir, when I have a piece of work to perform, I go away to myself, sit down in the shade and muse over the coming enjoyment. Sometimes I am so industrious that I muse too long.

No, I am not in love at present. I saw a young lady in Vicksburg the other day whom I thought I’d like to love, but John, the weather is too devilish hot to talk about love; but oh, that I had a cool, shady place, where I could sit among gurgling fountains of perfumed ice-water, an’ be loved into a premature death of rapture. I would give the world for this—I’d love to die such a glorious and luxurient death.



July 9 Saturday J.C. Swon arrived in St. Louis

July 13 Wednesday J.C. Swon left for New Orleans.

July 19 Tuesday J.C. Swon arrived in New Orleans.

July 21 Thursday J.C. Swon left for St. Louis. A sketch, “Soleather Cultivates His Taste for Music,” appeared in the New Orleans Crescent, signed by “Soleather,” attributed by Branch to Samuel Clemens [Branch, “A Chronological”; MTL 1: 93n2]. (See July 11, 1857 entry for Sam’s comments about the Rufus J. Lackand, and a note on Marleau’s recent research disputing these dates)

July 28 Thursday J.C. Swon arrived in St. Louis.

August 1 Monday Sam wrote a piece of fiction intended for newspaper publication titled “The Mysterious Murders in Risse.” It was never published [ET&S 1: 134].

August 2 Tuesday – Sam left St. Louis as pilot of the Edward J. Gray, (823 tons) Bart Bowen, Captain. Here was another majestic boat for Sam to pilot.

August 10 Wednesday The Edward J. Gray arrived New Orleans.

August 12 Friday The Edward J. Gray left for St. Louis.

August 19 Friday The Edward J. Gray arrived St. Louis.

August 24 Wednesday The Edward J. Gray left for New Orleans.

September 1 Thursday The Edward J. Gray arrived New Orleans.

September 3 Saturday The Edward J. Gray left for St. Louis.


September 9 Friday The Edward J. Gray arrived St. Louis.

September 13 Tuesday The Edward J. Gray left for New Orleans.

September 21 Wednesday The Edward J. Gray arrived New Orleans.

September 23 Friday The Edward J. Gray left for St. Louis.

October 1 Saturday The Edward J. Gray arrived St. Louis.

October 2 to 25 Tuesday – Sam stayed “at home awhile” in St. Louis until he learned that he was to pilot the A.B. Chambers [MTL 1: 95n4].

October 13? Thursday – Sam wrote to Elizabeth W. Smith (Aunt Betsy b.1794 or 5) from St. Louis. Smith was not really Sam’s aunt, but a friend of his mother. As he explained it in his Autobiography,

She wasn’t anybody’s aunt in particular, she was aunt to the whole town of Hannibal; this was because of her sweet and generous and benevolent nature and the winning simplicity of her character …She and my mother were very much alive; their age counted for nothing; they were fond of excitement, fond of novelties, fond of anything going that was of a sort proper for members of the church to indulge in…they were always ready for Fourth of July processions, Sunday-school processions, lectures, conventions, camp-meetings, revivals in the church—in fact, for any and every kind of dissipation that could not be proven to have anything irreligious about it—and they never missed a funeral.” Sam used Elizabeth Smith as a model for at least three stories, “Those Extraordinary Twins,” “Hellfire Hotchkiss,” and The Mysterious Stranger [MTL 1: 93-6].

Dear Aunt Betsey:

Ma has not written you, because she did not know when I would get started down the river again—and I could not write, because, between you and I, Aunt Betsey, for once in my life I didn’t know any more than my own mother—she could not tell when she and the coal-tinted white tom-cat might hope to get rid of me, and I was in the same lamentable state of ignorance myself.

You see, Aunt Betsey, I made but one trip on the packet after you left, and then concluded to remain at home awhile. I have just discovered, this morning, that I am to go to New Orleans on the Col. Chambers—“fine, light-draught, swift running passenger steamer—all modern accommodationsand improvements—through with dispatch—for freight or passage apply on board or to”—but—I have forgotten the agent’s name—however, it makes no difference—and as I was saying, or had intended to say, Aunt Betsey, that probably, if you are ready to come up, you had better take the “Ben Lewis,” the best boat in the packet line. She will be at Cape Girardeau at noon on Saturday (day after tomorrow,) and will reach here at breakfast time Sunday. If Mr. Hamilton is Chief Clerk,—very well. I am slightly acquainted with him. And if Messrs. Carter, Gray and Dean Somebody (I have forgotten his other name,) are in the pilot-house—very well again—I am acquainted with them. Just tell Mr. Gray, Aunt Betsey—that I wish him to place himself at your command.

All the family are well except myself—I am in a bad way again—disease, Love, in its most malignant form. Hopes are entertained of my recovery, however. At the dinner-table, I—excellent symptom—I am still as “terrible as an army with banners.”

Aunt Betsey—the wickedness of this world—but I haven’t time to moralize this morning.


Sam. Clemens

P. S.—All send their love [MTL 1: 93-96; see source notes]

October 26 Wednesday Sam left for St. Louis as the pilot of the A.B. Chambers (410 tons), copilots James C. DeLancey and Will Bowen; Captain George W. Bowman.

November 7 Monday A.B. Chambers arrived in New Orleans.

November 9 Wednesday A.B. Chambers left for St. Louis.

November 20 Sunday A.B. Chambers arrived in St. Louis.

November 23 Wednesday A.B. Chambers left for New Orleans.

November 30 Wednesday Sam’s 24th birthday.

December 4 Sunday – A.B. Chambers arrived in New Orleans.

December 8 Thursday A.B. Chambers left for St. Louis.

December 17 Saturday A.B. Chambers arrived in St. Louis.

December 20 Tuesday A.B. Chambers left for New Orleans.

December 22 or 23 Friday The Chambers ran aground five miles south of Commerce, Mo., where the channel flowed between Power’s Island and Goose Island—a notorious trap. It was soon stuck hard with ice piling up around it. Out of wood, the captain ordered Sam and seven others to take a yawl and row up river to fetch a flatboat with wood. Sam’s judgment in directing the craft avoided certain death by any other course [MTL 1: 95n4]. (See this note for the full story as told by Grant Marsh, first mate.)

December 29 ThursdayA.B. Chambers reached Cairo, Illinois.

December 31 SaturdayA.B. Chambers arrived in New Orleans.

Vol 1 Section 0017

Pilot Skills on a 300-footer – The Unfettered life – Sam the Mason

January 7 Saturday A.B. Chambers arrived in New Orleans.

January 10 Tuesday A.B. Chambers left for St. Louis.

January 20 Friday A.B. Chambers arrived in St. Louis.

February 1 Wednesday A.B. Chambers left for New Orleans.


February 11 Saturday A.B. Chambers arrived in New Orleans.

February 14 Tuesday A.B. Chambers left for St. Louis.

February 24 Friday A.B. Chambers arrived in St. Louis.

March 21 Wednesday – According to records accessed at the Department of Commerce, Steamboat Inspection Service in St. Louis in 1925, Sam’s pilot license, initially issued Apr. 9, 1859 was renewed on this day [The Twainian, January 1940].

March 25 Sunday – Sam became pilot of the City of Memphis (865 tons) and left St. Louis this day with co-pilot Wesley Jacobs, Captain Joseph E. Montgomery. Here was a 6-boiler, 300-foot behemoth of a boat. Branch asserts that Sam was a skillful pilot [Branch, “Mark Twain: The Pilot” 30].

“One time I mistook Capt. Ed Montgomery’s coat hanging on the big bell for the Capt. himself and waiting for him to tell me to back I ran into a steamboat at New Orleans” [MTNJ 2: 536].

April 2 Monday City of Memphis arrived in New Orleans.


April 4 Wednesday City of Memphis left for St. Louis.


April 11 Wednesday City of Memphis arrived in St. Louis.


April 14 Saturday City of Memphis left for New Orleans.


April 21 Saturday City of Memphis arrived in New Orleans.


April 24 Tuesday City of Memphis left for St. Louis.


May 1 Tuesday City of Memphis arrived in St. Louis.


May 4 Friday City of Memphis left for New Orleans.


May 9 Wednesday – A family story told by Annie Moffett Webster disclosed Sam’s political leaning in 1860 (Annie was 8 years old). That year a third political party of old Whigs and former Know-Nothings called the Constitutional Union Party met in Baltimore and nominated John Bell of Tennessee for president and Edward Everett of Massachusetts for vice president.

“In 1860 we moved to 1312 Chestnut Street. This was a presidential year and one in which there was great difference of opinion because of the split in the Democratic Party. My father was for Douglas and Uncle Sam was for Bell and Everett. I was in a quandary until Uncle Sam settled my allegiance by giving me a Bell and Everett button” [MTBus 47].

Since the Bell-Everett ticket was formed this week, Sam’s gift of the button to his niece would have to be after this date and before the election in November.


May 14 Monday City of Memphis arrived in New Orleans.


May 15 Tuesday City of Memphis left for St. Louis.


May 22 Tuesday City of Memphis arrived in St. Louis.


May 24 Thursday City of Memphis left for New Orleans.


May 27 Sunday – The St. Louis Missouri Republican published “a brief, matter-of-fact river report signed by him [Sam] and Wesley Jacobs, his City of Memphis copilot”


May 31 Thursday City of Memphis arrived in New Orleans.


June 3 Sunday City of Memphis left for St. Louis.


June 10 Sunday City of Memphis arrived in St. Louis.

June 13 Wednesday City of Memphis left for New Orleans.


June 19 Tuesday City of Memphis encountered a storm about 11 AM at Terrapin Bend, 28 miles north of Vicksburg.


June 22 Friday City of Memphis arrived in New Orleans.


June 24 Sunday City of Memphis left for St. Louis.


June 27? Wednesday – Sam wrote brother Orion while on the City of Memphis (surviving fragments here):

What is a government without energy? And what is a man without energy? Nothing—nothing at all. What is the grandest thing in “Paradise Lost”—the Arch-Fiend’s terrible energy! What was the greatest feature in Napoleon’s character? His unconquerable energy! Sum all the gifts that man is endowed with, and we give our greatest share of admiration to his energy. And to-day, if I were a heathen, I would rear a statue to Energy, and fall down and worship it!

I want a man to—I want you to—take up a line of action, and follow it out, in spite of the very devil.

. . . .

yourself from the reputation of a visionary. I am not talking nonsense, now—I am in earnest. I want you to keep your troubles and your plans out of the reach of meddlers,—until the latter are consummated—so that, in case you fail, no one will know it but yourself. Above all things (between you and I,) never tell Ma any of your troubles. She never slept a wink the night your last letter came, and she looks distressed yet. Write only cheerful news to her. You know that she will not be satisfied so long as she thinks anything is going that she is ignorant of,—and she makes a bitter fuss about it when her suspicions are awakened:—but that makes no difference—I know that it is better that she be kept in the dark concerning all things of an unpleasant nature. She upbraids me occasionally for giving her only the bright side of my affairs—(but unfortunately for her she has to put up with it, for I know that troubles which I curse awhile and forget, would disturb her slumbers for some time.) (Par. No. 2.—Possibly because she is deprived of the soothing consolation of swearing.) Tell her the good news and me the bad.

Putting all things together, I begin to think I am rather lucky than otherwise—a notion which I was slow to take up. The other night I was about to round to for a storm—but concluded that I could find a smoother bank somewhere. I landed 5 miles below. The storm came—passed away and did not injure us. I Coming up, day before yesterday, I looked at the spot I first chose, and half the trees on the bank were torn to shreds. We couldn’t have lived 5 minutes in such a tornado. And I am also lucky in having a berth, while all the young pilots are idle. This is the luckiest circumstance that ever befell me. Not on account of the wages—for that is a secondary consideration—but from the fact that the CITY OF MEMPHIS is the largest boat in the trade and the hardest to pilot, and consequently I can get a reputation on her, which is a thing I never could accomplish on a transient boat. I can ‘bank’ in the neighborhood of $100 a month on her, and that will satisfy me for the present (principally because the other youngsters are sucking their fingers.) Bless me! what a pleasure there is in revenge! and what vast respect Prosperity commands! Why, six months ago, I could enter the “Rooms,” and receive only a customary fraternal greeting—but now they say, “Why, how are you, old fellow—when did you get in?” And the young pilots, who used to tell me, patronisingly, that I could never learn the river, cannot keep from showing a little of their chagrin at seeing me so far ahead of them. Permit me to “blow my horn,” for I derive a living pleasure from these things. And I must confess that when I go to pay my dues, I rather like to let the d—d rascals get a glimpse of a hundred dollar bill peeping out from amongst notes of smaller dimensions, whose faces I do not exhibit! You will despise this egotism, but I tell you there is a “stern joy” in it [MTL 1: 96-99].


June 28 Thursday City of Memphis arrived at Cairo [MTL 1: 99 n2].


July 12 Monday – City of Memphis arrived in St. Louis.

July 28 Saturday Sam piloted the Arago (268 tons), co-pilot J.W. Hood, Captain George P. Sloan. The boat left St. Louis on this date bound for Vicksburg.

August 3 Friday – The Arago arrived in Vicksburg.


August 4 Saturday – The Arago Left Vicksburg for Cairo, Illinois.


August 10 Friday Sam witnessed the aurora borealis (“it was very beautiful, but it did not last very long”) and mentions it in his letter the following day.


August 11 Saturday The Arago arrived in Cairo. Sam wrote from Cairo, Illinois to Susan I. (Belle) Stotts, sister of Orion’s wife, Mollie.

Dear Belle:

Confound me if I wouldn’t eat up half a dozen of you small girls if I just had the merest shadow of a chance this morning. Here I am, now, about 3 weeks out from Keokuk, and 2 from St. Louis, and yet I have not heard a word from you—and may not, possibly, for 2 or 3 more weeks, as we shall go no further up the river at present, but turn back from here and go to New Orleans.

Just go on, though—go on. I have had a pleasant trip, and there is consolation in that. I quarreled with the mate, and “made it up” with him; and I quarreled with him again, and made it up again; and quarreled and “made up” the third time—and I have got the shell of half a watermelon by me now, ready to drop on his head as soon as he comes out of the “Texas,”—which will produce quarrel No. 4, if I have made my calculations properly.

Yes, and I have disobeyed the Captain’s orders over and over again, which produced a “state of feeling” in his breast, much to my satisfaction—(bless your soul, I always keep the law on my side, you see, when the Chief Officer is concerned,) and I am ready now to quarrel with anybody in the world that can’t whip me. Ah me, I feel as strong as a yoke of oxen, this morning, and nothing could afford me greater pleasure than a pitched battle with you three girls. It can’t be, though. However, I’ll “fix” the mate when he comes out.

Belle, you ought to see the letter I wrote last night for a friend of mine. He is fearfully love-sick, and he feared he should die, if he didn’t “pour out his soul” (he said—“stomach,” I should say,) in an epistolary form to the “being,” (Ella Creel knows what that word means,) who has entrapped his virgin affections. Poor devil—he said “Make it the letter sweet—fill it full of love,” and I did, as sure as you live. But if the dose don’t turn the young lady inside out, she must certainly be endowed with the stomach of an ostrich.

But did you girls see the Aurora Borealis last night (Friday?) It was very beautiful, but it did not last long. It reckon you girls had been home from choir-meeting about an hour when I saw it—or perhaps you were out on the bluff. Somebody remarked “Snag ahead!” and I lost the finest part of the sight.

Now, Belle, can’t you write to me, right away, to “Care of Eclipse Wharf Boat, Memphis, Tenn?” Of course you can, if you will. I sent you 2 pieces of instrumental music and a song to Ella Creel from Vicksburgh—did they arrive safely?

Oh, confound Cairo.

Good-bye my dear

Sam [MTL 1: 99-102].


August 12 Sunday The Arago left for New Orleans.


August 20 Monday The Arago arrived in New Orleans.


August 22 Wednesday The Arago left for St. Louis.


August 30 Thursday With J.W. Hood, his Arago copilot, Sam wrote “Pilot’s Memoranda,” a burlesque on pilot journaling. The piece was published over a year later in the St. Louis Missouri Republican [ET&S 1: 142]. This date is also given as the Republican publication date [MTNJ 1: 50n1;MTPO].


August 31 Friday The Arago arrived in St. Louis.

September 8 Saturday – “Special River Correspondence” ran in the St. Louis Missouri Republican but is not now believed to be written by Sam [MTPO notes with Aug. 1, 1876 to Cist].


September 19 Wednesday – Sam piloted the Alonzo Child (493 tons), co-pilots Horace Bixby, Will Bowen, Sam Brown; Captains David DeHaven and James O’Neal. This was the last steamboat that Sam would pilot. The Alonzo Child left on this date for New Orleans.

September 28 Friday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans


September 29 Saturday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis. Before leaving, Sam wrote a short note from New Orleans to his brother Orion.

Dear Brother:

I just received yours and Mollies letters yesterday—they had been here 2 weeks—forwarded from St Louis. We got here yesterday—will leave at Noon, to-day. Of course I have had no time, in 24 hours, to do anything—therefore I’ll answer after we are under way again. Yesterday I had many things to do, but Bixby and I got with the pilots of two other boats and went off dissipating on a ten dollars dinner at a French restaurant—breathe it not unto Ma!—where we ate Sheep-head-fish with mushrooms, shrimps and oysters—birds—coffee with brandy burnt in it, &c &c,—ate, drank & smoked, from 1 P. M. until 5 o’clock, and then—then—the day was too far gone to do anything.

To-day I ordered the alligator boots—$1200. Will send ’em up next trip. Please find enclosed—and acknowledge receipt of $2000

In haste

Sam. L. Clemens [MTL 1: 102].

October 6 Saturday – The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis.

October 9 Tuesday – The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans.


October 20 Saturday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans


October 21 Sunday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis


October 28 Sunday – The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis.

October 31 Wednesday – The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans.

November 5 Monday Samuel Erasmus Moffett was born to Pamela and William Moffett. Sam was an uncle for the third time [MTL 1: 383].


November 9 Friday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans


November 10 Saturday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis.

November 11 Sunday – Sam ran the Alonzo Child aground, about seventy-three miles above New Orleans at the Houmas Plantation. It remained stuck for 28 hours [MTL 1: 105 n2].

November 12 Monday – A rising tide freed the Alonzo Child [MTL 1: 105n2].


November 18 Sunday – The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis.


November 21 Wednesday – Sam wrote from St. Louis to his brother Orion and family about running the Alonzo Child aground, about prices of poultry, eggs, and apples in New Orleans. Sam, ever the speculator, wrote:

My Dear Brother:

At last, I have succeeded in scraping together moments enough to write you. And it’s all owing to my own enterprise, too—for, running in the fog, on the coast, in order to beat another boat, I grounded the “Child” on the bank, at nearly flood-tide, where we had to stay until the “great” tide ebbed and flowed again (24 hours,) before she floated off. And that dry-bank spell so warped and twisted the packet, and caused her to leak at such a rate, that she had to enter protest and go on the dock, here, which delays us until Friday morning. We had intended to leave today. As soon as we arrived here last Sunday morning, I jumped aboard the “McDowell” and went down to look at the river—grounded 100 miles below here—25 miles this side of the “crossing” which I started down to look at—stayed aground 24 hours—and by that time I grew tired and returned here to be ready for to-day. I am sorry now that I did not hail a down-stream boat and go on—I would have had plenty of time.

The New Orleans market fluctuates. If any man doubts this proposition, let him try it once. Trip before last, chickens sold rapidly on the levee at $700 per doz—last trip they were not worth $300. Trip before last, eggs were worth $35 @ 40cper doz—last trip they were selling at 12½— which was rather discouraging, considering that we were in the market with 3,600 dozen, which we paid 15 cents for—together with 18 barrels of apples, which were not worth a d—m— We expected to get $6 or 7 per bbl. for them. We stored the infernal produce, and shall wait for the market to fluctuate again. But in the meantime, Nil desperandum—I am deep in another egg purchase, now.

I am ashamed of myself for not having sent you any money for such a long time. But the fact is, I’ll be darned if I had it. I went to the clerk awhile ago and asked him “how we stood?” “Twenty-two days’ wages—$183.33⅓.” “Deduct my egg speculation and give me the balance.” And he handed me $3500! So much for eggs. I gave the money to Ma. However, we shall have been here 4 days to-morrow. I’ll go and collect that and divide with you.

When I go to Memphis, Mo, I will see what can be done about produce in your part of the country.

Now, as I understand the “house,” business, you can get a big, respectable house to live in for $11000 a year—per. centage—which is cheap enough rent it seems to me—and 10 years to pay the principal—in law. Take it—and take the whole town on the same terms if you can get it. Furnish the house nicely, and move into it—and then, if you’ll invite me, I’ll be happy to pay you a visit. Let me know how much money you want to furnish the house with. About the other house I can tell nothing. If it be best to purchase—why—pitch in. I’ll raise the money in some way. You owe Uncle Billy Patterson and old Jimmy Clemens Jr.  money—and if they were to die, their administrators would “gobble up” everything you’ve got. Therefore, put no property in your own name—either put your share in Ma’s name and my half in my own, or else put it all in Ma’s or mine—Ma’s will do me—and you, too, I reckon. If you can buy both houses with “law and 10 per cent,” take them—but see that the contract is carefully written out. Because, for one reason, the law business of an influential man like Downing is worth a great deal more money in the influence it carries with it, than simply the money which is paid for it. Yes—you might advertize for cheap lots in your local paper. But perhaps you had better wait until I see whether this last egg speculation of mine is going to “smash” me or not.

Blast it—you didn’t ask Belle where she got that stone—and if I don’t get another pretty soon I’ll lose the setting—and it’s fine gold, and I want to save it.

“In conclusion”—Pamela has got a baby—which you may have heard before this. She is now reposing on her honors—seemingly well satisfied with the personal appearance of the very unexpected but not unwelcome young stranger—and deeming the matter “glory enough for one day.” (Sub rosa—a very small amount of this kind of glory would go a good way with the subscriber—if I were married—“which” I am not married, owing to the will of Providence and the “flickering” of my last.) And her nurse is almost the counterpart of Mrs. Gamp in “Martin Chuzzlewit”—who used to say—“No—no—which them is the very words I have said more nor once to Mrs. Harris—No, m’a’m—I am opposed to drinking, I says—not that I mean to say that I do nor I don’t, or I will or I won’t, myself. But what I say, is, ‘leave the bottle on the mantle-shelf, and let me put my lips to it when I’m so disposed.[]” I don’t mean to say that this Mrs. Gamp drinks—but I do say she looks just like the other Mrs. Gamp.

Like all the letters of the family, this is to you and Mollie and Jennie—all. And as I am “strapped”—and pushed for time, we’ll sing the doxology, as follows—hoping to hear from all of you soon:


“In the world’s great field of battle,

In the bivuac of life,

Be not like dumb, driven cattle—

Be a hero in the strife.”



Vôtre frère,

Sam. L. Clemens [MTL 1: 103-6].


Notes: The baby Sam spoke of, implying a premature birth, was his nephew, Samuel Erasmus Moffett, on Nov. 5, to sister Pamela, her second child. Premature birth seemed to run in the family. Downing is unidentified. The verse at the end is from Longfellow’s Voices of the Night (1839).


November 23 Friday – The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans.


November 30 Friday Sam’s 25th birthday.


December 1 Saturday The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans.


December 4 Tuesday The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis.

December 11 Tuesday The Alonzo Child arrived in Cairo, Illinois, where it laid up until Jan. 8 1861 due to ice in the river.

December 26 Wednesday Sam petitioned to join the Polar Star Masonic Lodge Number Seventy-nine of St. Louis, the largest in the state. In so doing, he promised “to conform to all the ancient established usages and customs of the fraternity” [MTL 1: 106-7; Strong, 88]. Sam would rise to the level of Master Mason by July 10, 1861 [Jones 364].

Vol 1 Section 0018

Trouble Brewed – Fortune Teller – Orion Commissioned Secretary of Nevada Terr.

River Traffic Closed – Marion Ranger Fun – St. Jo Westward; Roughing It to Carson Mine Feet Speculation – Aurora – Conflagration on Lake Tahoe

Humboldt and Mining Fever – “a small rude cabin” at Unionville



January 7 Monday Brother Orion wrote Sam from Memphis. His letter of introduction to Samuel Taylor Glover (1813-1884) was intended to obtain a letter of introduction to Edward Bates (1793-1869), Lincoln’s attorney general. Orion hoped to get a government position to provide his family with a stable income and to pay debts

We had a had a hearty laugh, as well as some of our acquaintances of the feminine gender (in my absence) heads of families, over your last letter. … I am greatly obliged to you for the Tri-weekly Republican till 1st next April. You could hardly have made me a more acceptable present. Jennie is equally delighted with her books. I have read them all through [MTL 1: 114n9].


January 8 Tuesday The Alonzo Child left Cairo for St. Louis.


January 11 Friday The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis.


January 14 Monday The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans.

January 21 Monday to March 30, 1861 – Ten letters signed by Quintus Curtius Snodgrass were published on various dates in the New Orleans Daily Crescent. Until 1964, most scholars attributed these letters to Sam. Alan Bates then presented an article showing that the dates penned and published would have precluded them from being Sam’s [Bates 31-7]. Could Sam have assigned them dates different than the day of composition? Or, are they, as Bates claims, “the tedious productions of an obscure newspaper reporter”? (See also Claude Brinegar’s 1963 article, “A Statistical Test of Authorship,” Journal of American Statistical Assoc. (March, p.85-96), and references in Tenney.


January 24 Thursday The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans


January 29 Tuesday The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis.

Text Box: February 4, 1861 – The Confederate States of America were formed, with Jefferson Davis as President





February 5 Tuesday The Alonzo Child arrived in Cairo, and did not continue to St. Louis due to icy river conditions.

February 6 Wednesday – Sam was in Cairo, Illinois. He wrote his brother Orion and sister-in-law, Mary (Mollie) Clemens:

My Dear Brother:

After promising Mrs. Holliday a dozen times—(without anything further than a very remote intention of fulfilling the same,) to visit the fortune teller—Mad. Caprell—I have at last done so. We lay in New Orleans a week; and towards the last, novelties begun to grow alarmingly scarce; I did not know what to do next—Will Bowen had given the matter up, and gone to bed for the balance of the trip; the Captain was on the Sugar Levee, and the clerks were out on business. I was revolving in my mind another foray among the shipping, in search of beautiful figure-heads or paragons of nautical architecture, when I happened to think of Mrs. Holliday; and as the Devil never comes unattended, I naturally thought of Mad. Caprell immediately after, and then I started toward the St. Charles Hotel for the express purpose of picking up one of the enchantresss bills, with a view to ascertaining her whereabouts—or, in simpler language, where she was supposed to “hang out.” The bill said 37 Conti, above Tchoupitoulas—terms, $2 for gentlemen in my situation, i.e. unaccompanied by a lady.

Arrived at the place, the bell was answered by a middle-aged lady (who certainly pitied me—I saw it in her eye,) who kindly informed me that I was at the wrong door—turn to the left. Which I did. And stood in the Awful Presence. She is a very pleasant little lady—rather pretty—about 28—say 5 feet 2¼—would weigh 116—has black eyes and hair—is polite and intelligent—uses good language, and talks much faster than I do.

She invited me into the little back parlor, closed the door; and we were—alone. We sat down facing each other. Then she asked my age. And then she put her hand before her eyes a moment, and commenced talking as if she had a good deal to say, and not much time to say it in. Something after this style:

“Yours is a watery planet; you gain your livelihood on the water; but you should have been a lawyer—there is where your talents lie; you might have distinguished yourself as an orator; or as an editor; you have written a great deal; you write well—but you are rather out of practice; no matter—you will be in practice some day; you have a superb constitution; and as excellent health as any man in the world; you have great powers of endurance; in your profession, your strength holds out against the longest sieges without flagging; still, the upper part of your lungs—the top of them, is slightly affected—and you must take more care of yourself; you do not drink, but you use entirely too much tobacco; and you must stop it; mind, not moderate, but stop the use of it, totally; then, I can almost promise you 86, when you will surely die; otherwise, look out for 28, 31, 34, 47 and 65; be careful—for you are not of a long-lived race, that is, on your father’s side; you are the only healthy member of your family, and the only one in it who has any thing like the certainty of attaining to a great age—so, stop using tobacco, and be careful of yourself; in nearly all respects, you are the best sheep in your flock; your brother has an excellent mind, but it is not as well balanced as yours; I should call yours the best mind, altogether; there is more unswerving strength of will, & set purpose, and determination and energy in you than in all the balance of your family put together; in some respects you take after your father, but you are much more like your mother, who belongs to the long-lived, energetic side of the house. (But Madam, you are too fast—you have given me too much of these qualities.) No, I have not. Don’t interrupt me. I am telling the truth. And I’ll prove it. Thus: you never brought all your energies to bear upon an object, but what you accomplished it—for instance, you are self-made, self-educated. (Which proves nothing.) Don’t interrupt. When you sought your present occupation, you found a thousand obstacles in your way—obstacles which would have deterred nineteen out of any twenty men—obstacles unknown,—not even suspected by any save you and I, since you keep such matters to yourself,—but you fought your way through them, during a weary, weary length of time, and never flinched, or quailed, or never once wished to give over the battle—and hid the long struggle under a mask of cheerfullness, which saved your friends anxiety on your account. To do all this requires the qualities which I have named. (You flatter well, Madam.) Don’t interrupt. Up to within a short time, you had always lived from hand to mouth—now, you are in easy circumstances—for which you need give credit to no one but yourself. The turning-point in your life occurred in 1847–8 (Which was?)—a death, perhaps; and this threw you upon the world and made you what you are; it was always intended that you should make yourself; therefore, it was well that this calamity occurred as early as it did; you will never die of water, although your career upon it in the future seems well sprinkled with misfortune; but I intreat you to remember this: no matter what your circumstances are, in September, of the year in which you are 28, don’t go near the water—I will not tell you why, but by all that is true and good, I charge you, while that month lasts, keep away from the water (which she repeated several times, with much show of earnestness—“make a note on’t,” & let’s see how much the woman knows.) Your life will be menaced in the years I have before-mentioned—will be in imminent peril when you are 31—if you escape, then when you are 34—neither 47 or 65 look so badly; you will continue upon the water for some time yet; you will not retire finally until ten years from now; two years from now, or a little more, a child will be born to you! (Permit me to hope, Madam, in view of this prospective good luck, that I may also have the jolly good-fortune to be married before that time.) Well, you are a free-spoken young man. Of course you will. (Make another note, Orion—I think I’ve caught her up a played-out chute in a falling river this time—but who knows?) And mind—your whole future welfare depends upon your getting married as soon as you can; don’t smile—don’t laugh—for it is just as true as truth itself; if you fail to marry within two years from now, you will regret that you paid so little attention to what I am saying now; don’t be foolish, but go and marry—your future depends upon it; you can get the girl you have in your eye, if you are a better man than her mother—she (the girl) is; the old gentleman is not in the way, but the mother is decidedly cranky, and much in the way; she caused the trouble and produced the coolness which has existed between yourself and the young lady for so many months past—and you ought to break through this ice; you won’t commence, and the girl won’t—you are both entirely too proud—a well-matched pair, truly; the young lady is—(but I didn’t ask after the young lady, Madam, and I don’t want to hear about her.) There, just as I said—she would have spoken to me just as you have done. For shame! I must go on. She is 17—not remarkably pretty, but very intelligent—is educated, and accomplished—and has property—5 feet 3 inches—is slender—dark-brown hair and eyes—you don’t want to see her? Oh, no—but you will, nevertheless, before this year is out—here in New Orleans (mark that,) too—and then—look out! The fact of her being so far away now—which is the case, is it not?—doesn’t affect the matter. You will marry twice—your first wife will live (I have forgotten the number of years,)—your second choice will be a widow—you[r] family, finally, all told, will number ten children (slow—Madam—slow—and stand by to ship up—for I know you are out of the channel,) some of them will live, and some will not at—(there’s consolation in the latter, at least.) Yes, ten is the number. (You must think I am fond of children.) And you are, although you pretend the contrary—which is an ugly habit; quit it; I grant you that you do not like to handle them, though. What is your brother’s age? 33?—and a lawyer?—and in pursuit of an office? Well, he stands a better chance than the other two, and, he may get it—he must do his best—and not trust too much to others, either—which is the very reason why he is so far behind, now; he never does do anything, if he can get anybody else to do it for him; which is bad; he never goes steadily on till he attains an object, but nearly always drops it when the battle is half won; he is too visionary—is always flying off on a new hobby; this will never do—tell him I said so. He is a good lawyer—a very good lawyer—and a fine speaker—is very popular, and much respected, and makes many friends; but although he retains their friendship, he loses their confidence, by displaying his instability of character; he wants to speculate in lands, and will, some day, with very good success; the land he has now will be very valuable after a while (say 250 years hence, or thereabouts, Madam,)—no—less time—but never mind the land, that is a secondary consideration—let him drop that for the present, and devote himself to his business and politics, with all his might, for he must hold offices under government, and 6 or 8 years from this time, he will run for Congress. You will marry, and will finally live in the South—do not live in the north-west; you will not succeed well; you will live in the South, and after a while you will possess a good deal of property—retire at the end of ten years—after which your pursuits will be literary—try the law—you will certainly succeed. I am done, now. If you have any questions to ask—ask them freely—and if it be in my power, I will answer without reserve—without reserve.”

I asked a few questions of minor importance—paid her $2 and left—under the decided impression that going to the fortune-teller’s was just as good as going to the Opera, and cost scarcely a trifle more—ergo, I would disguise myself and go again, one of these days, when other amusements failed.

Now isn’t she the devil? That is to say, isn’t she a right smart little woman? I have given you almost her very language to me, and nothing extenuated, nor set down aught in malice. Whenever she said anything pointed about you, she would ask me to tell you of it, so that you might profit by it—and confound me if I don’t think she read you a good deal better than she did me. That Congress business amused me a little, for she wasn’t far wide of the mark you set yourself, as to time. And Pa’s death in ’47–8, and the turning-point in my life, was very good. I wonder if there is a Past and future chronological table of events in a man’s life written in his forehead for the special convenience of these clairvoyants? She said Pa’s side of the house was not long-lived, but that he doctored himself to death. I do not know about that, though. She said that up to 7 years, I had no health, and then mentioned several dates after that when my health had been very bad. But that about that girl’s mother being “cranky,” and playing the devil with me, was about the neatest thing she performed—for although I have never spoken of the matter, I happen to know that she spoke truth. The young lady has been beaten by the old one, though, through the romantic agency of intercepted letters, and the girl still thinks I was in fault—and always will, I reckon, for I don’t see how she’ll ever find out the contrary. And the woman had the impudence to say that although I was eternally falling in love, still, when I went to bed at night, I somehow always happened to think of Miss Laura before I thought of my last new flame—and it always would be the case (which will be devilish comfortable, won’t it, when both she and I (like one of Dickens’ characters,) are Another’s?) But drat the woman, she did tell the truth, and I won’t deny it. But she said I would speak to Miss Laura first—and I’ll stake my last shirt on it, she missed it there.

So much for Madame Caprell. Although of course, I have no faith in her pretended powers, I listened to her in silence for half an hour, without the greatest interest, and I am willing to acknowledge that she said some very startling things, and made some wonderful guesses. Upon leaving, she said I must take care of myself; that it had cost me several years to build up my constitution to its present state of perfection, and now I must watch it. And she would give me this motto: “L’ouvrage de l’année est détruit dans un jour,”—which means, if you don’t know it, “The work of a year is destroyed in a day.”

We shall not go to St. Louis. Turn back from here, to-morrow or next day. When you want money, let Ma know, and she will send it. She and Pamela are always fussing about small change, so I sent them a hundred and twenty quarters yesterday—fiddler’s change enough to last till I get back, I reckon.

Votre frère,


Dear Mollie:

  You owe me one. em spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem spaceem space(over

(To be continued.)

Ton frère,

Sam Clemens [MTP drop in letters].

Note: Madame Caprell told him his career would be made in literary efforts; that he must quit smoking immediately, and that a turning point occurred in his life in 1847-8 (Sam’s father died Mar. 24, 1847, when Sam was eleven). Sam quit smoking a couple of times but always took it back up [MTL 1: 107-112]. See source notes.


February 8 Friday The Alonzo Child left Cairo for New Orleans.

February 16 Saturday The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans.


February 18 Monday The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis. The committee on petitions for the Polar Star Lodge Number Seventy-nine of St. Louis reported favorably on Sam’s petition for membership. Sam was recommended by John M. Leavenworth (b.1835?) brother of Zeb, and John T. “Tom” Moore. Sam Clemens was duly elected to receive the Masonic first degree [Jones 364; Strong 88]. Note: Moore was a “mud clerk” on the Roe; see July 6, 1859 and Feb. 18, 1861; also letter from Karl Gerhardt of May 5, 1909 mentioning Moore.


February 25 Monday The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis.


February 27 Wednesday The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans. Sam took his mother, cousin Ella Creel (b. 1840), and Miss Castle of St. Louis on a pleasure trip from St. Louis with 20 or 30 other couples to New Orleans aboard the Alonzo Child [MTL 1: 118n4].

Text Box: March 4, 1861 – Abraham Lincoln 
Sworn in as 16th 
President of the United States



March 6 Wednesday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans with Sam’s pleasure cruise contingent [MTL 1: 118n4].


March 7 Thursday – The likely day that Sam took his mother and the girls around New Orleans in a carriage and rode out to Lake Pontchartrain “in the cars.” See Mar. 18 entry, letter to Orion.

March 8 Friday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis with Sam’s pleasure cruise contingent.

March 15Friday – The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis. The pleasure cruise was completed.

March 18 Monday – Sam was in St. Louis with his mother, Jane Clemens, and sister, Pamela. He wrote Orion on this date about visiting a museum and seeing Frederic E. Church’s oil painting, Heart of the Andes. He also wrote of his mother’s disapproval of a dance, the Schottische (like the Polka) that he, his sister, and Miss Castle took part of [MTL 1: 116]. Note: The source for this letter in the printed volume was Paine’s text; Here are transcribed parts of the letter that have surfaced since, from MTP’s “drop-in” letter file, as follows:

      You have paid the preacher! Well, that is good, also. What a man wants with religion in these breadless times, surpasses my comprehension.

      Pamela and I have just returned from a visit to the most wonderfully beautiful painting….When you first see the tame, ordinary-looking picture, your first impulse is to turn your back upon it, and say Humbug—but your third visit will find your brain gasping and straining with futile efforts to take all the wonder in…

      Ma was delighted with her trip, but she was disgusted with the girls for allowing me to embrace and kiss them—and she was horrified at the Schottische as performed by Miss Castle and myself….But then she is an old fogy, you know.

      I took Ma and the girls in a carriage, round that portion of New Orleans where the finest gardens and residences are to be seen, and although it was a blazing hot, dusty day, they seemed highly delighted. To use an expression which is commonly ignored in polite society, they were “hell-bent” on stealing some of the luscious-looking oranges from branches which overhung the fences, but I restrained them….We went out to Lake Pontchartrain in the cars [MTP, drop-in letters]. Note: Paine made several changes to this letter, notably cutting out Sam calling his mother “an old fogy.”


March 20 Wednesday – The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans. According to records accessed at the Department of Commerce, Steamboat Inspection Service in St. Louis in 1925, Sam’s pilot license, initially issued Apr. 9, 1859 was renewed a second time on this day [The Twainian, January 1940].


March 26Tuesday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans.

March 27WednesdayOrion received news of his commission as Secretary of Nevada Territory [ET&S 1: 12].


March 28Thursday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis.


April 5 Friday The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis.

April 9 Tuesday The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans.

Text Box: April 12 –Confederates fired on Fort Sumter; the Civil War began





April 16Tuesday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans.


April 18Thursday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis. From Sam’s 1905 notebook entry:

Alonzo Ch. heard of firing on Fort Sumter, April 18 at Vicksburg on way down (the day after it happened.) We hoisted stars & bars & played Dixie [Bates 36]. Note: Ft. Sumter was bombarded on Apr. 12, 1861.

April 20 SaturdayOrion Clemens received his commission as Secretary of Nevada Territory [MTL 1: 121n3].


April 25 Thursday The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis.

April 26 Friday – Sam boarded the Hannibal City to Hannibal. Sam wrote Orion of his intention to travel to Hannibal to collect a debt (probably the $200 Will Bowen had borrowed). He asked Orion to bring or buy the book, Armageddon by Samuel D. Baldwin.

“My Dear Brother: / I am on the wing for Hannibal, to collect money due me. I shall return to St. Louis to-morrow.

      “Orion bring down ‘Armageddon’ with you if you have it. If not, buy it.” [MTL 1: 120]. Note: Armageddon, by Samuel D. Baldwin (1845); see source notes on this book.

April 27 Saturday Orion arrived in Keokuk with his wife and daughter. That night he left alone for St. Louis to see his mother, brother, and sister [MTL 1: 121n3].


April 28 Sunday – Sam boarded the Die Vernon as a passenger for the return trip to St. Louis, where he spent a few days with his family [MTL 1: 120n2].


May 2Thursday – The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans.


May 8 Wednesday The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans. This was Sam’s last trip as a steamboat pilot. Captain DeHaven was a rabid secessionist who decided after reaching New Orleans not to return north, forcing Sam to find another way home.

May 14 Tuesday – Sam departed New Orleans as a passenger on the Nebraska. Commercial traffic was halted. This was the last boat allowed through the Union blockade at Memphis. Sam’s days as a river pilot were over, though he did not know it at the time. He would later wax nostalgic and eloquent about his idyllic career on the river. Just as his idyllic days of boyhood in Hannibal had abruptly ended, so too did his time on “the best job in the world.”

Paine gives the name of the boat as the Uncle Sam:

 “I’ll think about it,” he said. “I’m not very anxious to get up into a glass perch and be shot at by either side. I’ll go home and reflect on the matter” [MTB 161].


May 21 Tuesday – Sam arrived in St. Louis. Sam hid out in the Moffett residence, fearful of being arrested by Union agents and forced to pilot a gunboat. He stayed there for a few weeks [MTL 1: 121]. During his stay he was invited to visit his cousin James Lampton, also in St. Louis. James was Jane Lampton Clemens’ first cousin, and the model for Colonel Mulberry Sellers in The Gilded Age. Sam stayed at James’ house for a few days. It was during this stay when the famous “turnips and water” dinner was served.

When Sam came home one day he was given the key to the neighbor’s house, owned by George Schroter (or Schroeter) (1813?-1896?), Will Moffett’s business partner. The Schroter family was in Hannibal and it was thought Sam would be safer in their St. Louis house. One day a man who gave the name “Smith” came looking for Sam and his mother recognized him as a friend of Sam’s. The man came with the project of forming a Confederate company in the Hannibal area to join General Sterling “Old Pap” Price (1809-1867). Sam accepted and began the Marion Rangers fiasco [MTBus 60].


May 22 Wednesday The Polar Star Masonic Lodge Number Seventy-nine of St. Louis initiated Sam Clemens an Entered Apprentice, the next step up [Jones 364]. Note: Strong gives May 21 for the initiation [88].


June 12 Wednesday Sam was probably no longer hiding out at his sister’s, for on this date he was raised to Master Mason (second degree) in the Polar Star Masonic Lodge Number Seventy-nine of St. Louis [Jones 364].

June 15 Saturday ca. – The Missouri state government had fled from Jefferson City by this date. Absalom Grimes wrote in his memoirs that he, Sam Bowen and Clemens were in Hannibal and were ordered to report to General Grey in St. Louis. (This may have been General Henry Gray, Jr. (1816-1892) spelled “Grey” by Grimes.) They made the trip on the Hannibal City and were instructed to be pilots carrying soldiers up the Missouri River, in pursuit of Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson (1806-1862). The three escaped and returned to Hannibal [Dempsey 266-7].

June, mid – Back in Hannibal, Sam joined his merry band of play soldiers, the Marion Rangers, a ragtag bunch of friends who took up the Southern “cause.” In 1885 Sam wrote a humorous account of these two weeks in “The Private History of a Campaign that Failed,” where all names except Ed Stevens were fictitious [Rasmussen 370-1]. The group of old Hannibal schoolmates included William Ely, Asa Glasscock, Absalom Grimes, John D. Meredith, Sam Bowen, John L. RoBards, Perry Smith, and Ed Stevens [Budd, “Collected” 955-6; MTB 166]. The article below adds Tom Lyon and Charley Mills.

From the special Mark Twain Centennial edition of the Hannibal Courier-Post, Mar. 6, 1935 p.9b:

Grimes said he went to his home in Ralls county after their return and a short time later when the war fever reached Ralls county he heard that a brigade of troops had assembled at the home of Nuck Matson, near New London….There he found his pilot friends, Sam Clemens and Sam Bowen and other young men he knew, among them being Charley Mills, Jack Coulter, Tom Lyon, Ed Stephens and Asa Fuqua. He joined them.

At the home of Col. John Ralls the company met a similar group who called themselves the Salt River Tigers. The Tigers were organized, which led Mark Twain’s group to believe they should elect officers.

In the ensuing election William Ely was elected captain, Asa Glascock became first lieutenant, Mark Twain was elected second lieutenant, with Sam Bowen as sergeant and Tom Lyon orderly sergeant. “After all the officers were elected we had three or four men to serve as privates,” Grimes said.

They took the name Ralls County Rangers and called upon Mark Twain for a speech. After much persuading he got upon a log and made a bashful speech which probably would have amazed the thousands who heard him years later on the lecture tour.

The ranger episode ended with Sam suffering a painful boil, a sprained ankle and several burns when he fell from a hayloft which caught fire from a smoker’s pipe. He convalesced at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Nuck Matson, near New London. By then the company has disbanded. (See Confederate Mail Runner by Absalom Grimes, 1926 for more.)

June 20 Thursday – Sam’s article, “Report on the Hannibal Home Guard” was printed in the Missouri State Journal [Camfield, bibliog.].

July, early – Sam returned to St. Louis. Sometime in the first half of the year (Budd says “probably written in early 1861”) [“Collected” 1000] before leaving for the West, Sam wrote an untitled tale (“Ghost Life on the Mississippi”) not published until 1948, but which was “a milestone in Clemens’ early development as a writer. “Despite certain inconsistencies and weaknesses in the narrative handling, the tale revealed a growing literary maturity and a distinct ability to construct serious fiction of some length” [ET&S 1: 146]. Sam used a pen name, “WILLIAM JONES—PRESENTED BY HIS FATHER.”

July 2 Tuesday Orion Clemens received final instructions for his appointment as secretary of Nevada Territory [RI UC 1993 explanatory notes 574].

July 4 ThursdayOrion left his family in Keokuk and joined Sam, ready to travel to Nevada to take his new position as territorial secretary. He persuaded Sam to go with him, since Sam had the wherewithal to pay passage, and Orion did not. Sam did not request a “demit” (an official termination) from the Masons, which means he allowed himself to be suspended, and eventually not be a member [Jones 364].


July 10 Wednesday – The Polar Star Masonic Lodge Number Seventy-nine of St. Louis awarded Sam his third degree [Strong 88].

July 11 Thursday Orion took an oath of office before a Supreme Court Justice in St. Louis. It was the one prestigious position of Orion’s life, owed to his persistent campaigning for Lincoln in 1860 and his connection with Edward Bates, who had been appointed Attorney General [Powers, MT A Life 102].

July 18 Thursday Orion and Sam left St. Louis on the Sioux City for St. Joseph, Missouri [MTL 1: 122 citing Mollie Clemens’ Journal]. In Roughing It, Sam wrote:

“— a trip that was so dull, and sleepy, and eventless, that it has left no more impression on my memory than if its duration had been six minutes…”

A. Hoffman gives this date as July 10, 1861 [62]. July 18 seems more likely.

July 25 ThursdayOrion issued receipt for $300 down and $100 balance in 30 days, for a coach trip to leave from St. Joseph, Missouri.


UPDATES FOR: Trip Out West From

July 26, 1861 to Aug. 14, 1861

Information added from Orion’s journal of the trip and other materials is found in the 1993 UC edition of RI, Supplement A, p.769-81. Orion’s Journal has been lost, but on Sept. 8, 1861, a few days after arriving in Carson City, Orion copied the journal, probably in its entirety, into a letter for his wife Mollie. Some of Orion’s entries correct entries in the first printing of MTDBD Vol. I.; several add important information Sam did not include in RI itself. The entire section is redone here from both RI and Orion’s journal. Instead of using “1 days out, 2 days out….19 days out,” changes are made to “2nd day out, 3rd day out,” etc., to be more in keeping with the language and chronology of RI and Orion’s journal. The reader should understand that RI was written with Orion’s journal entries in hand, requested by Sam to Orion in a letter of Mar. 10, 1871. Orion’s contemporary journal seems more accurate than Sam’s recollections some decade later. Print run One used Sam’s RI entries.


July 26 Friday – Sam and Orion leave St. Joseph for Nevada on the Overland Stage.


By eight o’clock [a.m.] everything was ready, and we were on the other side of the river. We jumped into the stage, the driver cracked his whip, and we bowled away and left “the States” behind us. It was a superb summer morning, and all the landscape was brilliant with sunshine [Ch 2, RI].

Left St. Joseph. Started on the plains about ten miles out. The plains here are simply prairie [Orion 769].


July 27 Saturday 2nd day out – The coach broke down and was repaired.


By and by we passed through Marysville [KS], and over the Big Blue and Little Sandy [creeks]; thence about a mile, and entered Nebraska. About a mile further on, we came to the Big Sandy—one hundred and eighty miles from St. Joseph….As the sun was going down, we saw the first specimen of an animal known familiarly … as the “jackass rabbit.” He is well named. …and has the most preposterous ears that ever were mounted on any creature but a jackass [Ch 3, Roughing It].

Crossed the Nebraska line about 180 miles from St. Joseph. Here we saw the first Jack Rabbit. They have larger bodies, longer legs and longer ears than our rabbits [Orion RI 1993, 769].

July 28 Sunday 3rd day out

So we flew along all day. At 2 PM the belt of timber that fringes the North Platte and marks its windings through the vast level floor of the Plains came in sight. At 4 PM we crossed a branch of the river, and at 5 PM we crossed the Platte itself, and landed at Ft. Kearney, fifty-six hours out from St. Joe – THREE HUNDRED MILES! [Ch 4, Roughing It].

Saw the first prairie wolf, and first antelope, and first prairie dogs and villages. Also came in sight of the long range of Sand Hills. 2 P.M. Timber of Platte in sight. 7 miles further arrived at Ft. Kearney, 296 miles from St. Joseph [Orion RI 1993, 770].

July 29 Monday 4th day out


Along about an hour after breakfast we saw the first prairie-dog villages, the first antelope, and the first wolf. If I remember rightly, this latter was the regular coyote…The coyote is a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry. He is always poor, out of luck, and friendless. The meanest creatures despise him, and even the fleas would desert him for a velocipede (Ch 5, Roughing It).


July 30 Tuesday 5th day out –

…we arrived at the “Crossing of the South Platte,” alias “Julesburg,” alias “Overland City,” four hundred and seventy miles from St. Joseph—the strangest, quaintest, funniest frontier town that out untraveled eyes had ever stared at and been astonished with (Ch 6, Roughing It) . 

Arrived at the “Crossing” of the South Platte…at 11 A.M….. Saw to-day first Cactus. 1:20 P.M. across the South Platte [Orion RI 1993, 770].


July 31 Wednesday 6th day out –


…just before dawn, when about five hundred and fifty miles from St. Joseph, our mud wagon broke down. We were to be delayed five or six hours, and therefore we took horses, by invitation, and joined a party who were just starting on a buffalo hunt. It was noble sport galloping over the plain in the dewy freshness of the morning, but our part of the hunt ended in disaster and disgrace, for a wounded buffalo bull chased the passenger Bemis nearly two miles, and then he forsook his horse and took to a lone tree (Ch 7, Roughing It).

      Sunrise. Court House Rock, Chimney Rock, and Scott’s Bluffs, in sight. At noon passed through Scott’s Bluff’s pass, 580 miles from St. Joseph. This was the first high ground, since entering upon the plains. All was vast, prairie, until we reached Ft. Kearney. Soon afterwards, we struck the barren region, and thenceforward we had a level expanse covered with sage brush…. After we crossed the South Platte we found a great deal of cactus…. About 6 P.M., crossed the range of Sand hills which had been stretching along our left in sight, since Sunday. We crossed this long low range near the scene of the Indian mail robbery and massacre in 1856…[Orion RI 1993, 770].

August 1 Thursday 7th day out –


We passed Ft. Laramie in the night, and on the seventh morning out we found ourselves in the Black Hills, with Laramie Peak at our elbow (apparently) looming vast and solitary – a deep, dark, rich indigo blue in hue, so portentously did the old colossus frown under his beetling brow of storm cloud. 676 miles out from St. Joseph (Ch 9, Roughing It).

      Found ourselves this morning in the “Black Hills,” with “Laramie Peak,” looming up in large proportions. This peak is 60 miles from Fort Laramie, which we passed in the night. We took breakfast at “Horseshoe” station, forty miles from Fort Laramie…After dinner we climbed to the yellow pines. This afternoon passed, near La Parelle station, the little canon in which the Express rider was last night when a bullet from the Indians on the side of the road passed through his coat. …At noon we passed a Morm[on] train 33 wagons long. They were nooning [Orion RI 1993, 770].


August 2 Friday 8th day out –


About midnight, at a station we stopped to change horses, a dispute arose between our conductor and four drivers who were at the Station. The conductor came to me for a pistol, but before I could hand it to him, one of the men came up and commenced cursing him. Another then came up and knocked the conductor down, cutting a bad gash in his upper lip…. I had not heard the fuss before the pistol was called for, and supposed it was the Indians, who, it was said, would be dangerous along this part of the road. The four drivers were drunk [Orion RI 1993, 771].

August 3 Saturday 9th day outThis is the date for the breakfast at Rocky Ridge station with the desperado Joseph Alfred (Jack) Slade, in RI ch. X 80-9 (1996 Oxford facsimile of first ed.) [MTL 4: 196n2]. Orion’s journal:

Saturday, Aug. 3. Breakfast at Rock Ridge Station, 24 miles from “Cold Spring,” and 871 miles from St. Joseph. A mile further on is “South Pass City” consisting of four log cabins, one of which is the post office, and one unfinished. Two miles further on saw for the first time, snow on the mountains, glittering in the sun like settings of silver [Orion RI 1993, 771]. Note: In his Mar. 11, 1871 letter to Sam, Orion confessed that they had seen Slade at Rocky Ridge, but at the time had not known who he was: “There was nothing then in a name to attract us to Slade, and yet I remember something of his appearance while totally forgetting all the others” [778].


August 4 Sunday 10th day out Sam and Orion ate a memorable meal at Green River station—fresh antelope steaks, hot biscuits, and good coffee. Years later they said it was the only meal on the trip between St. Joseph and Salt Lake that they were “really thankful for.” A stagecoach inn state park and museum now invites tourists in Fairfield, Utah. Orion’s journal [RI 1993, 771]:


Crossed Green River. It is something like the Illinois, except that it is a very pretty clear river. The place we crossed was about 70 miles from the summit of the South Pass. Uinta mountains in sight, with snow on them, and portions of their summits hidden by the clouds. About 5 P.M. arrived at Fort Bridger, on Black’s fork of Green river, 52 miles from the crossing of Green river, about 120 miles from the South Pass, and 1025 miles from St. Joseph.

August 5 Monday – 11th day out – Orion’s journal:

52 miles further on, near the head of Echo Canyon, were encamped 60 soldiers from Camp Floyd. Yesterday they fired upon 300 or 400 Utes, whom they supposed gathered for no good purpose.

      4 P.M., arrived on the summit of “Big Mountain,” 15 miles from Salt Lake City, when the most gorgeous view of mountain peakes yet encountered, burst on our sight.

      Arrived at Salt Lake City at dark, and put up at the Salt Lake House. There are about 15,000 inhabitants. The houses are scattering, mostly small frame, with large yards and plenty of trees. High mountains surround the city. On some of these perpetual snow is visible. Salt Lake City is 240 miles from the South Pass, or 1148 miles from St. Joseph [Orion RI 1993, 771-2].


August 6 Tuesday 12th day outThe brothers rested in Salt Lake City. Sam and Orion’s layover at Salt Lake allowed them to bathe and stock up for the remainder of the trip. After donning white shirts, the pair was introduced to Brigham Young (1801-1877). Sam described Young as “a quiet, kindly, easy-mannered, dignified, self-possessed old gentleman…” [Roughing It, Ch. 13]. Note: no entry in Orion’s journal for this day.


August 7 Wednesday – From Orion’s journal:

“Bathed in the warm spring. Mountains in the morning, Southwest and East enveloped in clouds” [Orion RI 1993, 772].

Frank Fuller (1827-1915) was in Utah, and was even acting governor for one day. Sam would be greatly aided by Fuller later in New York, and often called him “governor.” In 1906 Sam mistakenly recalled meeting Fuller in Salt Lake, but Fuller did not arrive there until Sept. 10, 1861. The Frank who showed the Clemens brothers around was Francis H. Wootten, then secretary of Utah [MTPO].

[Wootten] gave us a very good time during those two or three days that we rested in Great Salt Lake City. He was an alert and energetic man; a pushing man; a man who was able to take an interest in anything that was going—and not only that, but take five times as much interest in it as it was worth, and ten times as much as anybody else could take in it—a very live man [MTA 2: 350].


August 8 Thursday – Orion’s journal shows the Clemens brothers moved on early from Salt Lake City.

“Arrived at Fort Crittenden—(Camp Floyd) 8 A.M., 45 miles from Salt Lake City. Arrived at the edge of the desert, 95 miles from Salt Lake City, at 4 P.M.” [Orion RI 1993, 772].


August 9 Friday 15th day outOrion’s journal [Orion RI 1993, 772].:

Sunrise. Across the desert, 45 miles, and at the commencement of the “little Desert.” 2 o’clock, across the little desert, 23 miles, and 163 miles from Salt Lake, being 68 miles across the two deserts, with only a spring at Fish Creek Station to separate them. They are called deserts because there is no water in them. They are barren, but so is the balance of the route.

August 10 Saturday16th day out – Sam encountered the Goshute Indians,  “at the entrance of Rocky Canyon, two hundred and fifty miles from Salt Lake.” Sam never cared much for Indians (Roughing It Ch.19). Orion’s journal reported that this night was “very cold.”

August 11 Sunday 17th day out – Orion wrote that the driver informed them that the mountain peaks they passed this day were the highest they’d yet seen. The night was “very cold” though the days were “very warm.”

“…we passed the highest mountain peaks we had yet seen, and although the day was very warm the night that followed upon its heels was wintry cold and blankets were next to useless” [RI ch. 20].


August 12 Monday 18th day out

“…we encountered the eastward-bound telegraph constructors at Reese River station and sent a message to His Excellency Governor Nye at Carson City (distant one hundred and fifty-six miles)” [RI ch. 20].


August 13 Tuesday 19th day out


“…we crossed the Great American Desert – forty memorable miles of bottomless sand, into which the coach wheels sunk from six inches to a foot. We worked our passage most of the way across. That is to say, we got out and walked” [RI ch. 20].


August 14 Wednesday – the pair arrived in Carson City, Nevada. The 20-day trip is recounted in Roughing It. The Clemens brothers boarded with Mrs. Margret Murphy, a “genial Irish-woman…a New York retainer of Governor Nye[MTB 176]. Note: Murphy was “Bridget O’Flannagan” in RI [RI 1993, 613]. In 1860 the population of Carson City was a mere 701 souls and Virginia City 2,437; in 1861 Carson had doubled to 1,466; Virginia City had exploded to 12,704 [Mack’s Nevada: a History of the State, 1936].

Antonucci writes:

In the dormitory at Ormsby House and around Mrs. Murphy’s dining table, Sam heard “a world of talk” about the wonders of Lake Tahoe, called Lake Bigler in 1861. Members of the Irish Brigade had been there and established a timber claim in anticipation of a lumbering boom. Sam’s curiosity and newly kindled desire to make a similar claim motivated him to visit the lake. The Irish Brigade offered the use of their rowboat beached at the northeast corner of the lake and access to their food and supplies cache on the North Shore [95]. Note: editorial emphasis. See Sept. 14-17.

Stewart names members of the Irish Brigade in his MTJ article, “Sam Clemens’s Friends at Lake Tahoe”:

“The brigade’s formal name was ‘John Nye & Co.’ Listed in the partnership agreement are P.G. Childs, John Nye, John Ives, James E. Coulter, Johannes C. Slott, I.M. Luther, J.H. Kinkead, W.H. Wagner, James Neary, Thomas Smithson and John C. Burche” [100-101]. Editorial emphasis.

Sam once visited the Chinese Free Mason Hall in Carson, probably shortly after arriving [Jones 364].

August 24 Saturday Horatio G. Phillips (“Raish”) and Robert M. Howland (1838-1890), nephew of governor Nye, came down from Aurora to Carson City. They had several working mines and claims in the Esmeralda district. Sam met them shortly after their arrival, as they ate at Mrs. Murphy’s boarding house [Mack 132-3]. Sam later became partners in Aurora claims; Howland was to be that city’s marshal [MTB 176].

September, early – Sam traveled to Aurora, Nevada, in the Esmeralda mining district. In the late summer of 1861, both the Esmeralda and the Humboldt mining districts were the focus of gold fever. Sam would quickly acquire interests in both regions [Mack 126].

September 8 SundayJane Lampton Clemens and Pamela A. Moffett wrote to Sam, letter not extant but mentioned in Twain’s Oct. 25 to Pamela [MTL 1: 129-136].

Horatio G. Phillips sold Sam fifty feet (shares) worth $10 each in claims of the Black Warrior Gold & Silver Mining Co. in Aurora, Esmeralda district [MTL 1: 134n4].


September 10 Tuesday – Sam left Aurora. John D. Kinney (1840?-1878) arrived in Carson City from Cincinnati on this day or the next [MTL 1:126n2].

September 12? Thursday – Sam arrived back in Carson City and wrote to Orion’s wife, Mary E. (Mollie) Clemens. Fragment survives:

well, although I believe I never had the pleasure of her acquaintance,) and left for California the same day; and I told him plainly that I did not believe it, and wouldn’t, if he swore it—for I didn’t, Mollie, and did[n’t] think Billy could be as stupid as that. On the contrary, I thought he was the most talented boy that Keokuk had ever produced. But when I got back, Orion confirmed Billy’s statement—so, you see, I am forced to believe that—(that they are both liars.) If I ever were to marry, I should would certainly stay at home a week, even if the Devil were in town with a writ for my arrest.

Why don’t Ma and Pamela write? Please kiss Jennie for me——

(P. S.—And tell her when she is fifteen years old, I will kiss her myself——)

(P. S.—If she is good-looking.)

P. S.—Don’t get “huffy.”

P. S.—Write.


Sam. L. Clemens [MTL 1: 123].


September 13 Friday ca. – Sam met John D. Kinney of Cincinnati (or day before) [MTL 1: 126n3].

September 1417 Tuesday – Sometime between these dates, Sam and John D. Kinney traveled to Lake Bigler (Tahoe), where they spent four days building a shack for a timber claim, then allowed their campfire to get away from them and were forced to flee from a wildland fire (not burning larger trees) [MTL 1: 126n3].

Antonucci writes of Lake Bigler at this time:

In Mark Twain’s time, Lake Tahoe was a place of astounding beauty, pristine scenery, and rich untapped resources. Far from the uninhabited wilderness that Mark Twain portrayed in Roughing It, the South and East shores were teeming with travelers and freight wagons headed east to opportunity waiting in the burgeoning mining industry in the Nevada Territory. Strung along this road to opportunity were crowded way stations and ranches that served the massive movement of humanity, animals and goods. Camped in its scenic meadows and still pristine forest were Washoe families living out their final days of aboriginal innocence. The forests, meadows and marshes hosted a dense and diverse population of wildlife. Spawning fish filled its streams bank to bank and immense schools of fish swam in its depths. Nevertheless, Tahoe was on the brink of sweeping change. Mark Twain saw it in its final pristine form and wrote eloquently about its virtue without ever acknowledging it eventual fate at the hands of timber barons, water seekers, ranchers and landowners [77-78]. Note: Antonucci gives Sept. 14-19 as this first trip, though the MTP shows Sept. 14-17. Antonucci gives the distance at 11.7 miles; and that Twain and Kinney walked it, taking a wagon road to the northeast shore of the Lake [96]. See Antonucci for details on each of the four days. Map courtesy of Antonucci.

September 18 to 21 Saturday – In Carson City, Sam wrote his mother, Jane Clemens, of the events at Lake Bigler:

When we got up in the morning, we found that the fire had made its way to within 4 or 5 steps of us on the South side. We looked like lava men, covered as we were with ashes, and begrimed with smoke. We were very black in the face, but we soon washed ourselves white again [MTL 1: 124].

Sam’s letter also reflected homesickness:

Remember me to all my St. Louis and Keokuk friends, and tell Challie and Hallie Benson that I heard a military band play “What are the Wild Waves Saying?” the other night, and it reminded me very forcibly of them. It brought Ella Creel and Belle across the Desert too in an instant, for they sang the song in Orion’s yard the first time I ever heard it. It was like meeting an old friend. I tell you I could have swallowed that whole band, trombone and all, if such a compliment would have been any gratification to them [126]. Note: the Benson girls, daughters of James L. Benson of St. Louis; Haille Benson (b. 1847) sometimes spelled “Hallie”; Chaille Benson, sometimes “Challie”.

September 22–28 Saturday – This is the date range the MTP offers for possible second trip to Lake Bigler [MTL 1: 127n7]. See RI, Ch. 22 for details. Antonucci gives “no earlier than September 21 and ending no later than September 30” for such a trip [83]. Both sources give the purpose of the trip as completing work on their timber claim. See Oct. 25 to his sister. Both sources claim Twain made later trips to Bigler, but give no dates. The former source cites MTB 1: 180. Antonucci writes:

The conclusion of the Lake Tahoe chapters in Roughing It, has Twain making “many trips to the lake” after the initial timber claim adventure and enduring “many a hair-breadth escape and blood-curdling adventure.” Twain did make two or three more destination trips to Lake Tahoe and about 12 through trips along the South Shore on his way to San Francisco but never incurred the “many a hair-breath escape and blood-curdling adventure” he supposes [87]. Note: Antonucci credits many of Twain’s accounts to exaggeration.

September 1830 Monday – (After Sam’s return from Lake Bigler and before the legislature convened on Oct. 1) In Carson City, Sam and George B. Turner (1829-1885) wrote per William M. Gillespie (1838-1885) to Orion, sending a “form for message” about a book of handwritten model forms. Sam explained, “From Hon. Chief Justice Turner—I sent your book by Dorsey, Orion—why the devil didn’t Turner send it to you himself while he was in the States?” [MTL 1: 128]. Note: Dorsey unidentified. During the first sessions Gillespie coached Sam in parliamentary procedures, and won the nickname, “Young Jefferson’s Manual” [MTB 219].


October 1 Tuesday The legislative session opened at Carson City. Orion presided over the House of Representatives until the election of officers was made. Sam was an $8 per day clerk for Orion [MTL 1: 129n3].

October 25 Friday – Sam replied to his sister, Pamela A. Moffett’s Sept. 8 (not extant) concerning timber and mining claims he filed on Lake Bigler. In part:

My Dear Sister: / I have just finished reading your letter and Ma’s, of Sept. 8th. How in the world could they have been so long in coming? You ask if I have forgotten my promise to lay a claim for Mr. Moffett? By no means. I have already laid a timber claim on the borders of a Lake (Bigler) which throws Como in the shade—and if we succeed in getting one Mr. Jones to move his saw-mill up there, Mr. Moffett can just consider that claim better than bank stock. [Charles] Jones says he will move his mill up next Spring. In that claim I took up about two miles in length by one in width—and the names in it are as follows: “Sam. L. Clemens, Wm. A. Moffett, Thos. Nye” and three others. It is situated on “Sam Clemens Bay”—so named by Capt. Nye”—and it goes by that name among the inhabitants of that region. I had better stop about “the Lake,” though—for whenever I think of it I want to go there and die, the place is so beautiful. I’ll build a country seat there one of these days that will make the Devil’s mouth water if he ever visits the earth. Jim Lampton will never know whether I laid a claim there for him or not until he comes here himself [MTL 1: 129-130]. Note: Charles Jones, owner of Clear Creek Mill, did not relocate. Captain John Nye was the Governor’s brother; see n. 2 in source. Jim Lampton was Sam’s uncle, James A.H. Lampton; see n. 3. Sam also encouraged uncle James A.H. Lampton to come out. On Oct. 26 he also wrote his mother a long description of the territory [MTL 1: 129; 134n3].

What became of Sam’s timber claim?

Antonucci speculates that Twain never completed the timber claim due to unreliable maps and the discovery that the intended land claim was actually in California, not Nevada: “Government agents would have held in abeyance the approval of Clemens’ claim until General Land Office surveys underway at the time could provide plats showing the details of government land ownership and more importantly, the state-territorial boundary between California and Nevada. When these approved plats became available, they showed the location of Clemens’ claim was about 2-3 miles inside the state of California and therefore, ineligible for the land preemption program in the Nevada Territory. Twain never spoke on record or wrote about the timber claim after October 1861. No other information or public records on the timber claim have been located, so we may never know for sure the reason for the failed enterprise” [138-9].

October 26 Saturday – Sam wrote a long letter to his mother that was printed in the Keokuk Gate City, describing mining, weather, local flora, houses and society. In part:

Nevada Territory is fabulously rich in gold, silver, copper, lead, coal, iron, quicksilver, marble, granite, chalk, slate, plaster of Paris (gypsum,) thieves, murderers, desperadoes, ladies, children, lawyers, Christians, gamblers, Indians, Chinamen, Spaniards, sharpers, cuyotes, (pronounced ki-yo-ties,) preachers, poets and jackass-rabbits. Furthermore, it never rains here, and the dew never falls. No flowers grow here, and no green thing gladdens the eye. The birds that fly over the land carry their provisions with them. Only the crow and the raven tarry with us….When my old friends ask me how you like Nevada, what reply shall I make? Tell them I am delighted with it. It is the dustiest country on the face of the earth—but I rather like the dust. And the days are very hot—but you know I am fond of hot days [MTL 1: 136].

October 29 Tuesday – Sam wrote to Horatio G. Philips, “Raish” from Carson City on mining matters. He noted the first rainfall since his arrival in Carson City. It was about this time that Sam got what Paine calls “the real mining infection,” and became active in speculation

Dear ’Ratio:

Bob [Robert Muir Howland]showed me your letter yesterday, in which you say that the “Averill Mill” is crushing our “Black Warrior” rock for its contents. All success to the “Black Warrior” and Horatio G. Phillips! Amen. This looks like business—and hath an encouraging sound to it. I wish they would “strike it rich” shortly, for I want to caretsendcaret a fine “Black Warrior” specimen to the London World’s Fair by the Nevada commissioner, when he is appointed. From a despatch received by Tom Nye to-day from his father, the Captain, we are led to hope that that noisy old youth will arrive here about next Saturday. I have no doubt the “Cap.” would be very much pleased to received a slice of the “Black Warrior.”

My brother is very particularly delighted with the “Black Warrior[]—and I have told him that some day I’ll give him a foot! He is looking for money every day, now, from Washington. And when it comes, I shall expect to take you by the hand again in Aurora.

Bob has got such a jolly long tongue, and keeps it wagging so comfortably, that I have not been able to ask him yet, whether he succeeded in selling your “Fresno” or not. Did he?—and have you saved your mother’s place?—because I would like to know these things, as I have a mother at home myself, and naturally feel interested. I was sorry, though, that you were obliged to sacrifice feet in that claim, for I am told that it is very fine. Since it had to go, though, I was sorry I was not able to buy it myself.

I told Bob that you ought to come up here and see about getting the county clerkship down there, and I explained to him why you ought to come up. I was talking to my brother, though, a while ago, and he says the Governor will make no appointments down there until the California Legislature adjourns, so that he may have the sense of that body upon the boundary question. One thing I have thought of often, but have not spoken of—and that is, that the Governor may be absent when those appointments are made, and then my brother will have to make them himself. (Burn this letter, Ratio.)

Verily, it is raining—the first specimen of that kind that has fallen under my notice since I have been in Carson. It is pleasant to the sight, and refreshing to the senses—yea, “even as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”

The wings of Death overshadow us to-day—for this clouded sun is the last that one of our boys will ever look upon in life. Wagner, the civil engineer. I believe you do not know him. He surveyed with Lander’s party for two years. He is one of the few at whom the shafts of Slander were never aimed, and against whom the hand of Malice was never lifted. The fact of his dying here among comparative strangers, with no relative within thousands of miles of him and no woman to lay the blessing of her hand upon his aching head; and soothe his weary heart to its last sleep with the music of her woman’s voice, will shed a gloom over us all, when the sad event is consummated. May you die at home, Ratio, is the aspiration of

Your Friend,

   Sam. L. Clemens

Write me often—and I will reply promptly [MTL 1: 140].

Notes: Robert Muir Howland (1838-1890); Will H. Wagner, member of John Nye & Co.; Frederick West Lander (1821–1862), engineer, explorer, and soldier. See source notes.


November 17 SundayJane Clemens wrote a paragraph to Sam and Orion (“To the boys”), enclosed in a letter to Orion and Mollie Clemens: “We are all delighted to receive your letters saying you have such good prospects” [MTP].

November 20 Wednesday Sam’s Oct. 26 letter to his mother ran in the Keokuk Gate City [Camfield, bibliog.].


November 30 Saturday Sam’s 26th birthday. See insert of Clemens, age 26, from Player’s Club “Milestones” (1930)


December 1 Sunday Sam sold a black horse with white face to William H. Clagett (Billy) for $45 [MTL 1: 169n18]. Note: Thought to be the original “ Genuine Mexican Plug” of ch. 24, RI.


December 4 Wednesday –Sam acknowledged payment for completion of his term as clerk [ET&S 1: 12].

December 8 SundayHoratio G. Phillips “Raish” wrote to Sam, surprised his last letter had not been rec’d. He wanted to go with Sam to Humboldt to examine Sam’s claims there but had to “superintend the work in the Tunnel & have not got the means to take the trip with.” He follows with mining misc. [MTP].


December 11 Wednesday ca. – With a bad case of mining fever, Sam set out for the newly opened Humboldt region with three other men: Keokuk friend William H. Clagett (“Billy”) (1838-1901), Augustus W. Oliver (“Gus”; b. 1835) recently appointed probate judge of Humboldt County, and Cornbury S. Tillou, Carson City blacksmith and jack-of-all-trades. It was a 200-mile trip that took eleven days [MTL 1: 149-50 & n4]. Mack writes that the party did not leave until after Dec. 10, delayed by a fight in the legislature over the county-capital bill [126].

“Hurry was the word! We wasted no time. Our party consisted of four persons—a blacksmith sixty years of age, two young lawyers, and myself [Clagett, Oliver, and Tillou]. We bought a wagon and two miserable old horses. We put 1,800 pounds of provisions and mining tools in the wagon and drove out of Carson on a chilly December afternoon” [MTB 183].

Once back in Carson City Sam would write his mother a long account of this trip on Jan. 30. In Roughing It, Sam wrote of a “small, rude cabin” that he and his three traveling companions built in Unionville in Dec. 1861 [Roughing It, Ch. 28].

December 16 Monday ca. – On the fifth day out, the party of Clemens-Clagett-Oliver-Tillou, two horses, dogs Curney & Tom came to Ragtown, the last settlement on the Carson River. Beyond: the 40-mile Desert.

December 16 to 17 Tuesday ca. – The men crossed the desert in what Mack calls “ one terrifying drive of twenty-three hours without stopping for so much as a bite to eat, a drink of water, or a minute’s rest…” [127]. In the desert they saw all manner of:

“…skeletons and carcasses of dead beasts of burden, and charred remains of wagons; and chains, and bolts and screws, and gun-barrels, and such things of a like heavy nature as weary, thirsty emigrants, grown desperate, have thrown away, in the grand hope of being able, when less encumbered, to reach water” [MTL 1: 148].


December 22 Sunday ca. – In a blinding snowstorm, Sam’s party finally reached Unionville, Humboldt Mining District. Captain Hugo Pfersdorff laid out the town earlier in the year [Mack 129]. Sam’s letter to his mother of Jan. 30, 1862 claims this trip took eleven days [MTL 1: 149].

December 2231 Tuesday – From Sam’s Jan. 30, 1862 letter to his mother, we read that “Billy [Clagett]  put up his shingle as Notary Public, and Gus [Oliver] put up his as Probate Judge” [MTL 1: 150]. Sam would not stay long.

Vol 1 Section 0019

Mining Excursions, More Feet, Backbreaking Labor – Esmeralda – Aurora

 Josh Letters Yielded Offer – Territorial Enterprise Reporter

 Goodman, McCarthy, De Quille & the Boys – Petrified Man Hoax

 Covering the Territorial Legislature



January, first half Sam’s excursion to Unionville, in Buena Vista Mining District, and back to Carson City by way of Honey Lake Smith’s (a trading post on the road to Carson City) and Virginia City, took all of seven weeks [MTL 1: 150n3]. Sam described this trip in chapters 27-33 of Roughing It and in chapter 27 of Innocents Abroad. Travel to the northern regions of the territory was hazardous in January due to heavy rains.

January, second half – Sam quit the backbreaking labor after one week. Disillusioned by the exaggerated claims of easy wealth, Sam set out to return to Carson City. He made the return trip from Unionville with Captain Hugo Pfersdorff and Colonel John B. Onstine [MTL 1: 152n13]. Mack includes Cornbury S. Tillou (but calls him “Mr. Ballou”, the same name Sam gave him in RI) in this group, and says they “left Unionville in a blinding snowstorm” [126, 133]. Stuck at the trading post for eight days, due to high water, and at Virginia City for another week for the same reason, they got lost in a snowstorm and feared death, but found their way the next day (Roughing It, Ch. 27-33).


January 28 Tuesday – Sam paid Hugo Pfersdorff $100 for feet in the Alba Nueva ledge [MTL 1: 152n10].

January 29 Wednesday – Sam and party arrived back in Carson City. The journey was arduous. Sam began a letter to his sister-in-law Mollie about his reaction to the news that his old mule “Paint-Brush” was in Union hands. Sam had ridden the animal during his brief play as a Confederate volunteer in June 1861.

Dear Mollie:

“Paint-Brush” in the hands of the enemy! God forgive me! this is the first time I have felt melancholy since I left the United States. And he is doing service for the enemy. But against his will. Ah, me, Mollie—there would be consolation—priceless consolation in the fact which I have italicised, were it not that that is a natural failing with the poor devil—everything he ever did do, he did against his will. His most insignificant services, even for me, were done under protest. Of course I mean that whenever he did condescend to do anything in accordance with my wishes, and that was not an everyday occurrence, at all, he showed his unwillingness in a marked manner—but he was a willing soul to do things after his own fashion. And of course he generally consulted his own judgment—because: You remember, (as I perceive by your language,) that between me and the pillow on the saddle, there was a very Mine of trouble—and between the saddle and the ground there was another Mine of trouble, viz; the Mule. And the saddle was always loose,—therefore, I was afraid it might turn; and I could not cinch it tighter, as the cinch was old, and I feared it might break. So, you see, when in the saddle, I lived as one astraddle of a magazine—for, had I combatted the mule’s wishes to any great extent, he would have retaliated by jumping gullies, or rolling on the ground, or running away—and the consequences, to me, of such conduct, would have been a matter of small concern to him.

But if I had the “Paint Brush” here, Mollie, I would “feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.” I would board him on sage-brush, and cinch him till he couldn’t breathe, and ride him sixty miles a day. He would be a wonderfully useful animal to me. However, if he has gone over to the enemy, let him go. He can’t be depended on anyhow—he’ll desert at the first opportunity; if he don’t fall in a camp-kettle and get drowned.

Well, Mollie, I think July will be soon enough, because I think that by that time some of our claims will be paying handsomely, and you can come in “high-tone” style, as Tom Nye, says. And we could have a house fit to live in—and servants to do your work. You know it is all very well for a man’s wife to talk about how much work she can do—but actually doing it is a thing that don’t suit my notions. That part of the business belongs to the servants. I am not married yet, and I never will marry until I can afford to have servants enough to leave my wife in the position for which I designed her, viz:—as a companion. I don’t want to sleep with a three-fold Being who is cook, chambermaid and washerwoman all in one. I don’t mind sleeping with female servants as long as I am a bachelor—by no means—but after I marry, that sort of thing will be “played out,” you know. (But Lord bless you, Mollie, don’t hint this depravity to the girls.) No, Madam, I am anxious for you to stay just where you are until you can live here in a handsome house and boss your own servants—even if it should be until the first July after the Millenium! If you come here before you ought to come, Mollie, and I hear people say “the Secretary’s wife does her own cooking”—I’ll tell every such person that the Secretary’s wife is subject to fits of derangement! Mind, now, I’m not going to have any one-horse business here after you arrive. D-o-n-’t get in a hurry, Madam. The world wasn’t made in a day [MTL 1: 143-6].


January 30 Thursday – In Carson City, Sam wrote an account of the trip to Humboldt to his mother [MTL 1: 146-152]. The letter was printed in the Keokuk Gate City on Mar. 6.

My Dear Mother:—

“How sleep the brave who sink to rest,

Far, far from the battle-field’s dreadful array,

With cheerful ease and succulent repast,

Nor ask the sun to lend his streaming ray.”

Bully, isn’t it? I mean the poetry, madam, of course. Doesn’t it make you feel just a little “stuck up” to think that your son is a—Bard? And I have attained to this proud eminence without an effort, almost. You see, madam, my method is very simple and easy—thus: When I wish to write a great poem, I just take a few lines from Tom, Dick and Harry, Shakspeare, and other poets, and by patching them together so as to make them rhyme occasionally, I have accomplished my object. Never mind the sense—sense, madam, has but little to do with poetry. By this wonderful method, any body can be a poet—or a bard—which sounds better, you know.

But I have other things to talk about, now—so, if you please, we will drop the subject of poetry. You wish to know where I am, and where I have been? And, verily, you shall be satisfied. Behold, I am in the middle of the universe—at the centre of gravitation—even Carson City. And I have been to the land that floweth with gold and silver—Humboldt. (Now, do not make any ridiculous attempt, ma, to pronounce the “d,” because you can’t do it, you know.) I went to the Humboldt with Billy C., and Gus., and old Mr. Tillou. With a two-horse wagon, loaded with eighteen hundred pounds of provisions and blankets—necessaries of life—to which the following luxuries were added, viz: Ten pounds of Killikinick, two dogs, Watt’s Hymns, fourteen decks of cards, “Dombey and Son,” a cribbage board, one small keg of lager beer and the “carminia sacrae.”

At first, Billy drove, and we pushed behind the wagon. Not because we were fond of it, ma—Oh, no—but on Bunker’s account. Bunker was the “near” horse, on the larboard side. Named after the Attorney General of this Territory. My horse—you are acquainted with him, by reputation, already—and I am sorry you do not know him personally, ma, for I feel towards him, sometimes, as if he were a blood relation of our family—he is so infernally lazy, you know—my horse, I was going to say—was the “off” horse on the starboard side. But it was on Bunker’s account, principally, that we pushed behind the wagon. For whenever we came to a hard piece of road, that poor, lean, infatuated cuss would fall into a deep reverie about something or other, and stop perfectly still, and it would generally take a vast amount of black-snaking and shoving and profanity to get him started again; and as soon as he was fairly under way, he would take up the thread of his reflections where he left off, and go on thinking, and pondering, and getting himself more and more mixed up and tangled in his subject, until he would get regularly stuck again, and stop to review the question.

And always in the meanest piece of road he could find.

In fact, Ma, that horse had something on his mind, all the way from here to Humboldt; and he had not got rid of it when I left there—for when I departed, I saw him standing, solitary and alone, away up on the highest peak of a mountain, where no horse ever ventured before, with his pensive figure darkly defined against the sky—still thinking about it.

Our dog, Tom, which we borrowed at Chinatown without asking the owner’s permission, was a beautiful hound pup, eight months old. He was a love of a dog, and much addicted to fleas. He always slept with Billy and me. Whenever we selected our camp, and began to cook supper, Tom, aided and abetted by us three boys, immediately commenced laying his plans to steal a portion of the latter; and with our assistance, he generally succeeded in inserting his long, handsome nose into every dish before anybody else. This was wrong, Ma, and we know it—so, to atone for it, we made Mr. Tillou’s dog stand around whenever he attempted any such liberties. And when our jolly supper was swallowed, and the night was on the wane, and we had finished smoking our pipes, and singing songs, and spinning yarns, and telling lies, and quoting scripture, and all that sort of thing, and had begun to look for a soft place on the ground to spread our blankets on, Tom, with immense sagacity, always assisted in the search, and then with becoming modesty, rewarded himself by taking first choice between the blankets. No wonder we loved the dog.

But, Mr. Tillou’s dog, “Curney,” we utterly despised. He was not a long, slender, graceful dog like Tom, but a little mean, white, curly, grinning whelp, no bigger than a cat—with a wretched, envious, snappish, selfish disposition, and a tail like an all-wool capital O, curled immodestly over his back, and apparently wrenched and twisted to its place so tightly that it seemed to lift his hind legs off the ground sometimes. And we made Tom pester him; and bite his tail; and his ears; and stumble over him; and we heaped trouble and humiliation upon the brute to that degree that his life became a burden to him. And Billy, hating the dog, and thirsting for his blood, prophesied that Curney would come to grief. And Gus and I said Amen. And it came to pass according to the words of the prophet. Thus.

On the fifth day out, we left the village of Ragtown, and entered upon the Forty-five mile Desert, where the sand is of unknown depth, and locomotion of every kind is very difficult; where the road is strewn thickly with the skeletons and carcasses of dead beasts of burden, and charred remains of wagons; and chains, and bolts and screws, and gun-barrels, and such things of a like heavy nature as weary, thirsty emigrants, grown desperate, have thrown away, in the grand hope of being able, when less encumbered, to reach water.8 We left Ragtown, Ma, at nine o’clock in the morning, and the moment we began to plow through that horrible sand, Bunker, true to his instincts, fell into a reverie so dense, so profound, that it required all the black-snaking and shoving and profanity at our disposal to keep him on the move five minutes at a time. But we did shove, and whip and blaspheme all day and all night, without stopping to rest or eat, scarcely, (and alas! we had nothing to drink, then.) And long before day-light we struck the Big Alkali Flat—and Curney came to grief; for the poor devil got alkalied—in the seat of honor. You see he got tired, traveling all day and all night, nearly—immensely tired—and sat himself down by the way-side to rest. And lo! the iron entered his soul (poetical figure, Ma.) And when he rose from that fiery seat, he began to turn somersets, and roll over and over and kick up his heels in the most frantic manner, and shriek, and yelp and bark, and make desperate grabs at his tail, which he could not reach on account of his excitement and a tendency to roll over; and he would drag himself over the ground in a sitting posture, (which afforded him small relief, you know,) and then jump up and yelp, and scour away like the wind, and make a circuit of three hundred yards, for all the world as if he were on the Pony Express. And we three weary and worn and thirsty wretches forgot our troubles, and fell upon the ground and laughed until all life and sense passed out of us, and the colic came to our relief and brought us to again, while old Mr. Tillou wiped his spectacles, and put them on, and looked over them, and under them, and around them, in a bewildered way, and “wondered,” every now and then, “what in the h—ll was the matter with Curney.”

We thought,—yea, we fondly hoped, ma,—that Curney’s time had come. But it was otherwise ordained. Mr. Tillou was much exercised on account of his dog’s misery, and, sharing his misery, we recommended a bullet as a speedy remedy, but the old gentleman put his trust in tallow, and Curney became himself again, except that he walked behind the wagon for many hours with humble mien, and tail transformed from a brave all-wool capital O to a limp and all-wool capital J, and gave no sign when Tom bit his ears or stumbled over him.

We took up our abode at Unionville, in Buena Vista Mining District, Humboldt county, after pushing that wagon nearly 200 miles, and taking eleven days to do it in. And we found that the “National” lead there was selling at $50 per foot, and assayed $2,496 per ton at the Mint in San Francisco. And the “Alba Nueva,” “Peru,” “Delirio,” “Congress,” “Independence,” and others, were immensely rich leads. And moreover, having winning ways with us, we could get “feet” enough to make us all rich one of these days. And again that mills would be in operation there by the 1st of June. And in the Star District, O. B. O’Bannon, of Keokuk, was flourishing, and had plenty of “feet,” and in the Santa Clara District, Harroun and Jo. Byers of Memphis, Mo., likewise and ditto. And Billy put up his shingle as Notary Public, and Gus put up his as Probate Judge, and I mounted my horse (in company with the Captain and the Colonel) and journeyed back to Carson, leaving them making preparations for a prospecting tour; and before I can go to Esmeralda and get back to Humboldt, they will have laid, with the certainty of fate, the foundation of their fortunes. It’s a great country, ma.

Now, ma, I could tell you how, on our way back here, the Colonel and the Captain and I got fearfully and desperately lousy; and how I got used to it and didn’t mind it, and slept with the Attorney General, who wasn’t used to it, and did mind it; but I fear my letter is already too long. Therefore—sic transit gloria mundi, e pluribus unum forever! Amen. (Latin, madam—which you don’t understand, you know).

S. L. C. [MTL 1: 146-152; MTPO drop in letters].

February 1 Saturday – In Carson City, Sam wrote and sent ore specimens to his brother-in-law, William A. Moffett [MTL 1: 153].

February 8 and 9 Sunday – In Carson City Sam wrote a long letter to his mother, and sister, Pamela about possibly traveling to California. He speculated that he’d like to return to St. Louis by July by steamer. More mining dreams and talk [MTL 1: 155-63].

February, mid Between mid-February and the end of July, 1862, Sam wrote several letters (the exact number is unknown; none survive) he signed, “Josh” to the Virginia City Enterprise—including Story of an old horse; Chief Justice George Enoch Turner‘s (1828-1885) oratory; burlesque Fourth of July. Sam also wrote descriptions of mining claims until August. Sam was not paid for these letters, but William H. Barstow of the Enterprise business office noticed them and was instrumental in getting Sam hired on as a reporter [Rasmussen 264; MTL 1: 201n8]. Note: this last source gives April as “about the time Sam began writing the [Josh] letters.”


In his Oct. 2, 1906 A.D. Clemens recalled writing the spoof of a Judge Turner speech, which was published in the Enterprise, followed by Sam being offered the city editorship while the editor was away on a two month trip east—a development Sam attributed to one of his luckiest accidents [AMT 2: 238-9].


February 28Friday – Sam wrote from Carson City to William Clagett about mining matters and the Civil War, principally the Union forces driving Missouri Confederates into Arkansas and Grant’s capture of Forts Henry and Donelson. Sam’s letter reflected his sympathies were with the South [MTL 1: 163].

March 1 Saturday – Sam acquired another 25 feet in the Horatio mine. He and his brother Orion then held 100 feet [MTL 1: 162n8].


March 2 SundayJane Clemens wrote to Sam, her letter not extant but referred to in Sam’s Apr. 2 [MTL 1: 180].


March 8 and 9 Sunday – Sam, still in Carson City, wrote to William Clagett (Billy) on various subjects and his intent to go to the Esmeralda district “next week”


Dear Billy:

As a good opportunity offers, I have embraced it to send you some legal and letter paper, and a copy of the laws. I send the pencils, pens, &c., because I don’t know whether you have run out of such things or not. If you have got plenty of stationery, maybe Sam [Montgomery] and Tom [Smith] have not. I also send you some more envelops. The Colonel proposes to start to-morrow or next day.

I hunted up Fall, but he would not sell me his ground for Sam. Then I told him he had better go to Unionville and “nurse” a good thing while he had it. He said he would.

John Kinney has gone to the States, via San Francisco.

Your Father has purchased the Keokuk “Journal,”—so he will hardly come out here this year—hey?

I have heard from several reliable sources that Sewall will be here shortly, and has sworn to whip me on sight. Now what would you advise a fellow to do?—take a thrashing from the son-of-a-bitch, or bind him over to keep the peace? I don’t see why he should dislike me. He is a yankee,—and I naturaly love a yankee.

I stole a bully dog the other day—but he escaped again. Look out for one. That other dog, over whose fate a dark mystery hangs, has not revisited the glimpses of the moon yet, in this vicinity, although he has been seen in a certain locality—whereof it would be Treason to speak. D—n the beast—does he intend to haunt us like a nightmare for the balance of his days?

The Governor’s Cavalcade left for California the other day. Some of the retainers I will name: the Governor and Gov. Roop, Boundary-line Commissioners; accompanied by Mr. [George] Gillson, Mr. [John] Kinkead and others—and followed by Bob Howland, Chief Valet de Chambre to His Excellency, and Bob Haslan, Principal Second Assistant ditto ditto. What do you make of that, for instance? There were quite a number in the Cavalcade, and Haslan brought up the rear on a mule. Bob Howland expects to sell some ground in San Francisco.

You say the “Annie Moffett Company”—isn’t that the name of the ledge, too? I hope so.

I would like to write you some news, Billy, but unfortunately, I haven’t got any to write. I couldn’t write it, though, if I had, for I am in a bad humor, and am only writing anyhow, because I hate to lose the opportunity. You see I have been playing cards with Bunker, and the d—d old Puritan wouldn’t play fairly—and I made injurious remarks and jumped the game.

I send a St. Louis Republican for Tom. There is something in it from “Ethan Spike.”

Enclosed please find Mr. Cox’s Speech.

If you and Dad intend coming down, Billy, with the wagon, don’t fail to write and say about what time you will be here. I leave for Esmeralda next week some time, with Major General BBBunker, L.L.D., Esq—provided “nothing happens.” But this do happen in this country, constantly. In fact, it is about the d—est country in the world for things to happen in. My calculations never come out right. However, as I said before, We May be Happy Yet.

Remember me kindly to the boys—not forgetting “the old man,” of course. I have labored hard to get a copy of “Fannie Hill” for him to read, but I have failed sadly.

Sunday.—I intended to finish this letter to-day, but I went to church—and busted! For a man who can listen for an hour to Mr. White, the whining, nasal, Whangdoodle preacher, and then sit down and write, without shedding melancholy from his pen as a ducks water slides from a duck’s back, is more than mortal. Or less. I fear I shall not feel cheerful again until the beans I had for dinner begin to operate.

Which reminds me of that afternoon in Sacramento cañon, when I gained such a brilliant victory over Oliver and Mr. Tillou, and drove them in confusion and dismay from behind my batteries.

We have not heard from home for some time, and I have only written two letters to St Louis since I arrived here.

John D. Winters has sold out his interest in the Ophir for a hundred thousand dollars.

J. L. G. and his father are still flourishing in Chinatown. Mr. Bunker saw them there the other day.

Tom Nye is down at Fort Churchill. Write, at your earlies[t] convenience.

Your sincere friend

Sam L. Clemens [MTL 1: 169; also drop-in].

Notes: Isaac N. Roop (1822-1869) provisional governor of N. Terr (1859-60); The Colonel was John B. Onstine; John D. Winters (1830-1900), member of the 1861 territorial House of Representatives; Samuel S. Cox (1824-1889)’ J.L.G. and father are unidentified. See notes on MTPO for this letter which give many details.

March 20 Thursday – Sam wrote his mother a hilarious letter about Indians out west. Sam shot down his mother’s assumed fanciful visions about Indians which she reflected in her last letter:


Lo! the poor Indian, whose untutored mind,

Impels him, in order to raise the wind,

To double the pot and go it blind,

Until he’s busted, you know.

I wrote the three last lines of that poem, Ma, and Daniel Webster wrote the other one—which was really very good for Daniel, considering that he wasn’t a natural poet. He used to say himself, that unabridged dictionaries was his strong suit. Now if you should happen to get aground on those two mysterious expressions in the third line, let me caution you, Madam, before you reach after that inevitable “Whole Duty of Man,” that you’ll not be likely to find any explanation of them in that useful and highly entertaining volume, because I’ve got that learned author cornered at last—got the dead-wood on him, Ma—and you’ll get no consolation out of him, you know; for those are Poker expressions—technical terms made use of in the noble game of Poker. And Poker not being a duty of man at all, is probably not even mentioned in that book; therefore, I have got him, Madam, where he can neither trump nor follow suit.

Bully for me.

But you said in your last, “Do tell me all about the lordly sons of the forest, and the graceful and beautiful sq-squaws, (what an unpleasant word,) sweeping over the prairies on their fiery steeds, or chasing the timid deer, or reposing in the shade of some grand old tree, lulled by the soft music of murmuring brooks and warbling birds—do.”

Gently, now,—gent-ly, Madam. You can’t mean the Pi-Utes, or the Washoes, or the Shoshones, do you? Because if you do, you are barking up the wrong tree, you know; or in other words, you’ve got the wrong sow by the ear, Madam. For among those tribes there are no lordly sons of the forest, for the ferocious reason that there are no forests of any consequence here. At any rate, I am confident that those fellows are never designated by that name in this Territory. Generally speaking, we call them sons of the devil, when we can’t think of anything worse. And they don’t sweep over the prairies on their fiery steeds,—these Washoes, and Pi-Utes and Shoshones, don’t,—because they haven’t got any, you know. And there are no prairies, Ma, because sage-brush deserts don’t come under that head, in this portion of Paradise Lost. Nor they don’t chase the timid deer; nor they don’t repose in the shade of some grand old tree; nor they don’t get lulled by the soft music of murmuring brooks and warbling birds. None of them. Because, when the timid deer come prospecting around here, and find that hay is worth one hundred and fifty dollars a ton, and sage-brush isn’t good to eat, they just turn their bob-tails toward the rising sun and skedaddle, my dear. And all that about these Pi-Utes sunning themselves in the shade of the grand old trees, is a grand old humbug, you know—on account of the scarcity of the raw material. Also the item about the warbling birds. Because there are no warbling birds here, except magpies and turkey-buzzards. And they don’t warble any to signify, because, if they fooled their time away with that sort of nonsense they would starve to death, suddenly. I tell you, Madam, that when a buzzard moves his family into Nevada Territory, he soon discovers that he has got to shin around and earn his living by the sweat of his brow, and that singing is played out with him. Moreover, Ma, you know as well as any one what a great puffed-up, stupid buzzard looks like, so you can picture the bird to yourself as I invariably see him here—standing solemnly on a decomposed ox, (and looking for the world as if he had his hands under his coat-tails,) with his head canted to one side, his left leg advanced to steady himself, and chewing a fragrant thing of entrails with their ends dangling about his portly bosom. I ask you in all candor, Madam, if the best disposed buzzard in the world could warble under such circumstances? Scasely. But wouldn’t it make a bully coat-of-arms for the Territory?—neat and appropriate, and all that? And wouldn’t it look gay on the great seal, and the military commissions, and so forth, and so on, and cetera? I proposed it, but the Secretary of the Territory said it was “disgusting.” So he got one put through the Legislature with star-spangled banners and quartz mills and things in it. And nary buzzard. It is all right, perhaps—but I know there are more buzzards than quartz-mills in Nevada Territory. I understand it though—he wanted the glory of discovering and inventing and designing the coat-of-arms of this great Territory—savvy?—with a lot of barbarous latin about “Volens and Potens”;—(able and willing, you know,[)] which would have done just as well for my buzzard as it does for his quartz-mills.

But if you want a full and correct account of these lovely Indians—not gleaned from Cooper’s novels, Madam, but the result of personal observation—a strictly reliable account, which you could bet on with as much confidence as you could on four aces, you will find that on that subject I am a Fund of useful information to which the whole duty of man isn’t a circumstance. For instance: imagine this warrior Hoop-de-doodle-do, head chief of the Washoes. He is five feet seven inches high; has a very broad face, whose coat of red paint is getting spotty and dim in consequence of accumulating dirt and grease; his hair is black and straight, and dangles about his shoulders; his battered stove-pipe hat is trimmed all over with bits of gaudy ribbon and tarnished artificial flowers, and he wears it sometimes over his eyes, with an exceedingly gallus air, and sometimes on the back of his head; on his feet he wears one boot and one shoe—very ancient; his imperial robe, which almost drags the ground, is composed of a vast number of light-gray rabbit-skins sewed together; but the crowning glory of his costume, (which he sports on great occasions in corduroy pants, and dispensing with the robe,) is a set of ladies’ patent extension steel-spring hoops, presented to him by Gov. Nye—and when he gets that arrangement on, he looks like a very long and very bob-tailed bird in a cage that isn’t big enough for him. Now, Ma, you know what the warrior Hoop-de-doodle-doo looks like—and if you desire to know what he smells like, let him stand by the stove a moment, but have your hartshorn handy, for I tell you he could give the stink-pots of Sebastopol four in the game and skunk them. Follow him, too, when he goes out, and burn gun powder in his footsteps; because wherever he walks he sheds vermin of such prodigious size that the smallest specimen could swallow a grain of wheat without straining at it, and still feel hungry. You must not suppose that the warrior drops these vermin from choice, though. By no means, Madam—for he knows something about them which you don’t; viz, that they are good to eat. There now. Can you find anything like that in Cooper? Perhaps not. Yet I could go before a magistrate and testify that the portrait is correct in every particular. Old Hoop himself would say it was “heap good.”

This morning I had a visit from three of the head-chief Hoop-de-doodle-doo’s wives—graceful, beautiful creatures, called respectively, Timid-Rat, Soaring Lark and Gentle Wild-Cat. (You see, like all Indians, they glory in high-sounding names.) They had broad, flat faces, which were dirty to the extreme of fashion, they wore the royal rabbit skin robe, their stringy matted hair hung nearly to their waists, they had forgotten their shoes, and left their bonnets at home, only one of them wore jewelry, the Timid Rat around whose leathery throat was suspended a regal necklace composed of scraps of tin. Their shapelessness caused them to resemble three great muffs. The young chief Bottled Thunder was with the party, bottled up in a sort of long basket and strapped to the back of the Soaring Lark.

Also a juvenile muff, in the person of the Princess Invisible Rainbow, with a cigar box strapped to her back, containing a bogus infant made of rags—which leads me to suspect that a weakness for doll-babies is not a result of education, but an instinct, which comes as natural to any species of girl as keeping clothing store does to a jew.

You see, ma, I was taking breakfast with a friend, this morning, and the Princesses came and rested their elbows on the window sill and thrust their heads in, like three very ancient and smoky portraits trying to get out of their frame. They examined the breakfast leisurely, and criticised it in their own tongue; they pointed at each article of food, with their long, skinny fingers, and asked each other’s opinion about it; and they kept an accurate record of each mouthful we took, and figured up the total, occasionally. After awhile the Gentle Wild Cat remarked: “May be whity man no heap eat um grass-hopper?” (their principal article of diet, ma,) and John replied, “May be whity man no heap like um grass-hopper—savvy!” And thus the Lark: “May be bimeby Injun heap ketch um sage-hen.” “Sage-hen heap good—bully!” said John. You see, these savages speak broken English, madam, and you’ve got to answer accordingly, because they can’t understand the unfractured article, you know. We held further conversation with them, of the same interesting character, after which we closed the “talk” by giving them a bar of soap and a cup of coffee for breakfast, and requesting them to leave, which they did, after they had begged a few old shirts, boots, hats, etc., and a deck of cards. They adjourned to the wood pile, and resolved to poker a little—for these Indians are inveterate gamblers, ma. First they “dealt” and “antied,” threw up their “hands,” and “doubled the pot,” and dealt again. This time the Gentle Wild Cat “went blind,” to the extent of a pair of boots; the Timid Rat “saw the blind,” although it took a check shirt and a Peruvian hat to “come in;” the Soaring Lark “straddled the blind,” which created a sensation, you know, and seemed to cause the other ladies great anxiety of mind, as to whether the Lark held an “ace full,” or was only “bluffing.” However, when an Indian gets to gambling he doesn’t care a cent for expenses, so they rallied and “came in” handsomely. And the way old clothes were piled up there, when the betting had fairly commenced, was interesting. As soon as one Princess would bet a hat, another would “see that hat” and “go a pair of socks better;” until the Timid Rat had staked her darling necklace, and the Gentle Wild Cat’s last shirt was on the pile. At this stage of the game, great excitement prevailed, and the Soaring Lark was in despair, for she couldn’t “come in.” Presently, aware that she was the centre of an absorbing interest, and appreciating the grandeur of her position, she grew desperate and gallantly “called” her opponents, for she unstrapped the Bottled Thunder, and bet that mighty Prince against the game, and all hands said bully for the Lark. The denouement was thrilling. The Gentle Wild Cat showed four aces, and thereby “busted” the party, madam, because four aces can’t be beaten, you know. Make a note of that on the fly-leaf of your Whole Duty of Man, for future reference. You will find it useful, if you ever turn Injun, for then your dusky compatriots will not think much of you if you don’t gamble.

Now, if you are acquainted with any romantic young ladies or gentlemen who dote on these loves of Indians, send them out here before the disease strikes in.

S. L. C.


[MTL 1: 174]. (Printed in the Keokuk Gate City, June 25, 1862).


April 2 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Carson City to his mother about Orion, ladies back home, trying to rent a better office for Orion, the death of an acquaintance at Fort Donelson, and other goings on.

My Dear Mother:

Yours of March 2d, has just been received. I see I am in for it again—with Annie. But she ought to know that I was always stupid. She used to try to teach me lessons from the Bible, but I never could understand them. Don’t she remember telling me the story of Moses, one Sunday, last Spring, and how hard she tried to explain it and simplify it so that I could understand it—but I couldn’t? And how she said it was strange that while her ma and her grandma and her uncle Orion could understand anything in the world, I was so dull that I couldn’t understand the “ea-siest thing?” And don’t she remember that finally a light broke in upon me and I said it was all right—that I knew old Moses himself—and that he kept a clothing store in Market street? And then she went to her ma and said she didn’t know what would become of her uncle Sam—he was too dull to learn anything—ever! And I’m just as dull yet. Now I have no doubt her letter was spelled right, and was correct in all particulars—but then I had to read it according to my lights; and they being inferior, she ought to overlook the mistakes I make—especially, as it is not my fault that I wasn’t born with good sense. I am sure she will detect an encouraging ray of intelligence in that last argument.

Lord bless me, who can write where Orion is. I wish he had been endowed with some conception of music—for, with his diabolical notions of time and tune he is worse than the itch when he begins to whistle. And for some wise but not apparent reason, Providence has ordained that he shall whistle when he feels pleasant—notwithstanding the fact that the barbarous sounds he produces are bound to drive comfort away from every one else within ear-shot of them. I have got to sit still and be tortured with his infernal discords, and fag-ends of tunes which were worn out and discarded before “Roll on—Sil-ver Moo-oon” became popular, strung together without regard to taste, time, melody, or the eternal fitness of things, because, if I should boil over and say I wish his music would bust him, there’d be a row, you know. For I discovered, by accident, that he looks upon his Variations as something of an accomplishment, and when he does warble, he warbles very complacently. I told him once, on the plains, that I couldn’t stand his cursed din—that he was worse than a rusty wheel-barrow—and if he did not stop it I would get out of the coach. Now he didn’t say “get out and be d—d,” but I know he thought it, Ma, and if I were you I would just touch him up a little, and give him some advice about profane swearing—not so as to hurt his feelings, you know, but just to give him to understand, in a general way, that you don’t lend your countenance to that sort of thing. You’re his mother, you know, and consequently, it is your right, and your business and comes within the line of your duties, as laid down in the Articles of War. Now I could do it—I could stir him up in such a way—I could read him a lecture that would make him “grit his teeth” and d—n all creation for a week, bless you. But then I am not his mother, you know, consequently it is not in my line—it must come from you—don’t you see?

Now to my thinking, Miss Louisa Conrad and Miss Chipman are young ladies of remarkably fine taste—and an honor to St. Louis. Did Miss Conrad live “opposite” when I was at home? If she did, and you had described her, I would know who you mean. When I was in St. Louis, no young ladies lived “opposite” except those handsome Texas girls who dressed in black—and they lived opposite Mr. Schroter’s.

I am waiting here, trying to rent a better office for Orion. I have got the refusal after next week of a room 16 × 50 on first floor of a fire-proof brick—rent, eighteen hundred dollars a year. Don’t know yet whether we can get it or not. If it is not rented before the week is up, we can.

I was sorry to hear that Dick was killed. I gave him his first lesson in the musket drill. We had half a dozen muskets in our office when it was over Isbell’s Music Rooms. I asked Isbell to invite me and the other boys to come every Friday evening and hear his Choral Society, composed of ladies and gentlemen, rehearse—but he refused, and I told him I would spoil their fun. And I did, Madam. I enrolled Dick and Henry and the two Dutch boys into a military Company, took command of it, and ordered them to meet at the office every Friday evening for drill. I made them “order arms” oftener than necessary, perhaps, and they always did it with a will. And when those muskets would come down on the floor, it was of no use, you know—somebody had to have a headacheand nobody could sing. Isbell said he would “give in,” (Civil authorities, you know, are bound to knuckle to the military.) But he begged so hard that I relented, and compromised with him. And “for and in consideration” of certain things expressed between us, I agreed not to drill on a certain special occasion, when he was to have a number of invited guests. And we didn’t drill. But I was too many for him, anyhow, Madam. We got some round stones and some bottles, and we opened a ten-pin alley over his head, simultaneously with the opening of his concert. He said the ten-pin alley was worse than the drill—so we compromised again. But I wrote a burlesque on his principal anthem, and taught it to the boys. And the next Friday, when our Choral Society opened its lungs, the other one had to “dry up.” So we compromised again. And went back to the drill—and drilled, and drilled, until Isbell went into a decline—which culminated in his death at Pike’s Peak. And served him right. Dick enjoyed the sport amazingly, and never missed a drill, no matter how the weather was, although he lived more than a mile from the office. He was a lubberly cuss, like me, and couldn’t march gracefully, but he could “order arms” with any body. I couldn’t very easily forget Dick, for besides these things, he assisted in many a villainous conspiracy against Isbell’s peace of mind, wherein his Choral Class were not concerned.

Tell Carrie Schroter I will give her a lump of gold out of any mine or claim I have got—but she must send Dan Haines after it. I want to see Dan, anyhow.

Of course we can excuse Pamela from writing, while her eyes are sore. It is a pity her eyes distress her so much. She will have to try what Lake Bigler can do for them one of these days. I feel certain that it would cure any-body’s sore eyes, just to look at that Lake.

Ma, I perceive that you have a passion for funerals and processions yet—and I suppose Annie has, too. The paper Pamela sent has not arrived yet, containing an account of the celebration on the 22d, and I am afraid it will not come before I leave here. I would like much to see it.

Orion has heard of Mr. Mayor, but I have not, and I don’t know where the devil to go to look for him. Why don’t he come and see us? He knows we are here. Yes, I remember Miss Adda King. She was very good-looking, too, God forever bless her everlasting soul, but I don’t know her from John the Baptist—or any other man. However, I like to have them mentioned, you know. I must keep the run of every body.

I hope I am wearing the last white shirt that will embellish my person for many a day—for I do hope that I shall be out of Carson long before this reaches you. Love to all.

Very Respectfully


[MTL 1: 180-3]. Notes: Annie Moffett, Sam’s niece. Source gives Brook Sisters as possibly the “handsome Texas girls,” and Miss Chipman unidentified. George Schroter (b. 1813 or 1814), Wm. Moffett’s business partner since 1855 or 6. “Dick” was Richard Higham, a printer under Orion at Keokuk in 1856; he was killed at Ft. Donelson; Clemens included an account of Richard in his Auto. Dictation of Mar. 26, 1906. See entry Vol IV. Caroline (Carrie) Schroter (b. 1833 or 1834), wife of Wm. Moffett’s partner. Daniel Haines (b. 1836 or 1837) was Carrie’s brother. Mr. Mayor and Miss Adda King are unidentified.

All during March and April it snowed and rained with winds in the high Sierras [Mack 155].

April 213 Sunday Sam went south 120 miles to the Esmeralda mining district with Thomas C. Nye, the governor’s brother, arriving sometime between these dates [MTL 1: 184-5n1]. There he joined Robert M. Howland and Horatio (“Raish”) Phillips. This is where Sam shared the tiny cabin that was restored and moved to a Reno park in 1924 only to be destroyed by vandals in 1944 [The Twainian, Nov.-Dec. 1948 p 4].


April 10? Thursday – Sam wrote a plea for money from Orion for mining prospects in Aurora in a letter that is now lost but quoted by Paine [MTL 1: 184n1].


April 13 Sunday – Sam wrote from Aurora to Orion about Indian hostilities he had come through. Also about the mining prospects in the Esmeralda. Sam needed money.

P.S. Remember me                                         Send me some stamps—3 and 10 cent.

to Tom & Lockhart

Esmeralda, 13th April, 1862

My Dear Brother:

Wasson got here night before last, “from the wars.” Tell Lockhart he is not wounded and not killed—is altogether unhurt. He says the whites left their stone fort before he and Lieut. Noble got there. A large amount of provisions and ammunition which they left behind them fell into the hands of the Indians. They had a pitched battle with the savages, some fifty miles from the fort, in which Scott, (sheriff,) and another man were killed. This was the day before the soldiers came up with them. I mean Noble’s men and those under Cols. Evans and Mayfield, from Los Angeles. Evans assumed the chief command—and next morning the forces were divided into three parties, and marched against the enemy. Col. Mayfield was killed, and Sargeant Gillespie also. Noble’s Corporal was wounded. The California troops went back home, and Noble remained, to help drive the stock over here. And, as Cousin Sally Dillard says this is all that I know about the fight.

Work not yet begun on the H. & Derby—haven’t seen it yet. It is still in the snow. Shall begin on it within 3 or 4 weeks—strike the ledge in July. Guess it is good—worth from $30 to $50 a foot in California.

Why didn’t you send the “Live Yankee” deed—the very one I wanted? Have made no inquiries about it, much. Don’t intend to until I get the deed. Send it along—by mail—d—n the Express—have to pay 3 times for all express matter; once in Carson and twice here. I don’t expect to take the saddle-bags out of the Express office. I paid 25 cts for the Express deeds.

Man named Gebhart [Gephart] shot here yesterday while trying to defend a claim on Last Chance Hill. Expect he will die.

Tell Mr. Upton that Green hasn’t paid me yet—he’ll have no money for several days. Tell him the two men would not acknowledge the deed. All I can do is to get the witness, (Miller,) to acknowledge it. He will be in town in a day or two. I gave the deed to Mr. DeKay.

These mills here are not worth a d—n—except Clayton’s—and it is not in full working trim yet.

Send me $20 $40 or $50—by mail—immediately.

Write to Billy not to be in a hurry, for I can’t get things fixed to suit me here for some time—can’t say how long.

The “Red Bird[] is probably good—can’t work on the tunnel on account of snow. The “Pugh” I have thrown away—shan’t re-locate it. It is nothing but bed-rock croppings—too much work to find the ledge, if there is one. Shan’t record the “Farnum” until I know more about it—perhaps not at all.

“Governor” under the snow.

“Douglas[] & Red Bird are both recorded.

I have had opportunities to get into several ledges, but refused all but three—expect to back out of two of them.

Stint yourself as much as possible, and lay up $100 or $150, subject to my call. I go to work to-morrow, with pick and shovel. Something’s got to come, by G—, before I let go, here.

Col. Young’s says you must rent Kinkead’s room by all means—Government would rather pay $150 a month for your office than $75 for Gen. North’s. Says you are playing your hand very badly, for either the Government’s good opinion or anybody’s else, in keeping your office in a shanty. Says put Gov. Nye in your place and he would have a stylish office, and no objections would ever be made, either. When old Col. Youngs talks this way, I think it time to get a fine office. And I wish you would take that office, and fit it up handsomely, so that I can quit telling people that by this time you are handsomely located, when I know it is no such thing.

I am living with ’Ratio Phillips. Send him one of those black portfolios—by the stage, and put a couple of penholders and a dozen steel pens in it.

If you should have occasion to dispose of the long desk before I return, don’t forget to break open the middle drawer and take out my things. Envelop my black cloth coat in a newspaper and hang it in the back room.

Don’t buy anything while I am here—but save up some money for me. Don’t send any money home. I shall have your next quarter’s salary spent before you get it, I think. I mean to make or break here within the next 2 or 3 months.




[MTL 1: 185]. Notes: Sam worked briefly in Clayton’s quartz mill in late June [AMT 2: 566] The Clemens brothers eventually owned about $5,000 worth of claims in the Esmeralda but didn’t gain back even the face value. The P.S. was to Thomas C. Nye, the governor’s nephew, and Jacob T. Lockhart, US Indian agent, both residing in Carson. “Cousin Sally Dilliard” is a reference to a lady talked about in Hamilton C. Jones burlesque sketch. M. Upton, Carson dry-goods dealer; William De Kay, deputy county clerk of the Esmeralda district. Gephart was shot in a gun fight with John Copeland and others over ownership of a mining claim. Joshua Elliot Clayton, well-known S.F. mining engineer, owned a mill east of Aurora. “Write to Billy” refers to William Dixon of Keokuk. Colonel Samuel Youngs (1803-1890); John W. North (1815-1890), at this time assoc. justice of the territorial supreme court. See notes in source for more details.

April 17 Thursday Orion wrote to Sam, his letter not extant but referred to in Sam’s of Apr. 24.

April 17 and 19 Saturday – Sam wrote from Aurora to Orion about various mining prospects [MTL 1: 189].

April 18 Friday – Sam, still in Aurora, wrote Billy Clagett about various mining prospects [MTL 1: 192].


April 24 Thursday – Sam began a letter from Aurora to Orion about money and mining that he finished on Apr. 25. Sam was upset that Orion had invested in other areas after promising not to.

My Dear Bro:

Yours of 17th, per express, just received. Part of it pleased me exceedingly, and part of it didn’t. Concerning the latter, for instance: You have promised me that you would leave all mining matters, and everything involving an outlay of money, in my hands. Now it may be a matter of no consequence at all to you, to keep your word with me, but I assure you I look upon it in a very different light. Indeed I fully expect you to deal as conscientiously with me as you would with any other man. Moreover, you know as well as I do, that the very best course that you and I can pursue will be, to keep on good terms with each other—notwithstanding which fact, we shall certainly split inside of six months if you go on in this way. You see I talk plainly. Because I know what is due me, and I would not put up with such treatment from any body but you. We discussed that Harroun business once before, and it was decided, then, that he was not to receive a cent of money. But you have paid him $50. And you agreed to pay a portion of Perry’s expenses, &c., although, as I gather from the tone of your letter, you knew, at that very moment, that you were breaking your word with me, and also, that all the money you might expend in that project would go to the devil without ever benefitting you a penny. As soon as Perry left your presence, you cursed yourself for being so easily persuaded, and resolved that he might pay his own prospecting expenses, without hope of assistance from you. Now wouldn’t it have been better to have saved yourself all this by simply pronouncing the talismanic “No,” which always sticks in your throat? And would it not be as well, even at this late day, to say to him that by a solemn promise made to me, you are debarred from expending money on prospecting tours, &c., in search of Mill Sites, (which is probably the d—dest strangest phantom that ever did flit before the dazed eyes of a prospector since that genus came into existence,) without first getting me to agree to it. That you have tried me, but it wouldn’t work. That I have already backed down from paying Pfersdorff’s expenses, and will never consent again, while the world stands, to help pay another man’s expenses. I don’t know where the Mountain House is, but I do know that if there is a mill site near the Mountain House worth having, Mr. Perry will arrive there a long time after it was taken up. But as for all the ledges he can find between now and next Christmas, I would not supply his trip with lucifer matches for a half interest in them. Sending a man fooling around the country after ledges, for God’s sake!—when there are hundreds of feet of them under my nose here, begging for owners, free of charge. G—d d—n it, I don’t want any more feet, and I won’t touch another foot—so you see, Orion, as far as any ledges of Perry’s are concerned, (or any other, except what I examine first with my own eyes), I freely yield my right to share ownership with you.

Now, Orion, I have given you a piece of my mind—you have it in full, and you deserved it—for you would be ashamed to acknowledge that you ever broke faith with another man as you have with me. I shall never look upon Ma’s face again, or Pamela’s, or get married, or revisit the “Banner State,” until I am a rich man—so you can easily see that when you stand between me and my fortune (the one which I shall make, as surely as Fate itself,) you stand between me and home, friends, and all that I care for—and by the Lord God! you must clear the track, you know!

The balance of your letter, I say, pleases me exceedingly. Especially that about the H. & D. being worth from $30 to $50 in Cal. It pleases me because, if the ledges prove to be worthless, it will be a pleasant reflection to know that others were beaten worse than ourselves. ’Raish  sold a man 30 feet, yesterday, at $20 a foot, although I was present at the sale, and told the man the ground wasn’t worth a d—n. He said he had been hankering after a few feet in the H. & D. for a long time, and he had got them at last, and he couldn’t help thinking he had secured a good thing. We went and looked at the ledges, and both of them acknowledged that there was nothing in them but good “indications.” Yet the owners in the H. & D. will part with anything else sooner than with feet in those ledges. Well, the work goes slowly—very slowly on, in the tunnel, and we’ll strike it some day. But—if we “strike it rich,”—I’ve lost my guess, that’s all. I expect that the way it got so high in Cal. was, that Raish’s brother, over there was offered $75000 for 20 feet of it, and he refused.

Yes, the saddlebags were all right. I had nothing to pay on them. With letters, though, the case is different. Have to pay for them at both ends of the route. Raish says money can’t be sent by mail. It’s a d—d curious mail, isn’t it?

The next excellent news is the $50, although I suppose I could have worried along with something less for a week or two.

But the best news of all is, your resolution to take Kinkead’s office; and when you come to furnish it, look at what the Country paid in that way for Turner’s office, and see if you can’t “go” a few dollars “better.” But the carpet—let that eclipse everything in town. I feel very much relieved, to think you will be out of that d—d coop shortly.

Lieut. Noble and his men are here. Three deserted yesterday. One was caught to-day and put in irons.4

Couldn’t go on the hill to-day. It snowed. It always snows here, I expect.

Don’t you suppose they have pretty much quit writing, at home?

When you receive your next ¼rs salary, don’t send any of it here until after you have told me you have got it. Remember this. I am afraid of that H. & D.

They have struck the ledge in the Live Yankee tunnel, and I told the President, Mr. Allen, that it wasn’t as good as the croppings. He said that was true enough, but they would hang to until it did prove rich. He is much of a gentleman, that man Allen.

Remember me to Tom Nye and Lockhart.

And ask Gasherie why the devil he don’t send along my commission as Deputy Sheriff. The fact of my being in California, and out of his county, would amount to a d—n with me, in the performance of my official duties.

I have nothing to report, at present, except that I shall find out all I want to know about this locality before I leave it.

Did you tell Upton what I told you in my last?

How do the Records pay?

Yr. Bro.


P.S.—Put off Harroun, now, until his pay comes out of the ledges. Phillips and I will see him this summer [MTL 1: 194]. Note: De Witt Harroun and J.A. Byers were Missouri acquaintances of Orion. D.J. Gasherie served two terms (1862-4) as Ormsby County sheriff, and was a minor character in two of Clemens’ 1863 sketches for the Territorial Enterprise. See source notes for more details.

April 25 Friday – In the morning in Aurora, Clemens finished the Apr. 24 to his brother:

P. S.—Friday Morning.—I am in a better humor this morning, but as you deserved a blowing-up, why, I will not deprive you of it. I am on my way now, with picks, &c., to work on my pet claim. If it proves good, you will know all about it some day—if it don’t, you will never even learn its name. So, wait, and banish hope—for I have Resolved, that it is like most Esmeralda ledges, viz: worthless. I went down with Lieut. Noble, awhile ago, to get Wasson’s order conveying the guns of the “Esmeralda Rifles” to his (N.’s) custody. The people here regret being deprived of these arms, as the Secessionists have declared that in case Cal. accedes to the new boundaries, Gov. Nye shall not assume jurisdiction here. Noble will perhaps remain here a fortnight, and hopes are entertained that Gen. Wright may be prevailed upon to allow the arms to remain here. All this has been told the Governor in a letter sent from here by mail. If that letter is still in Carson (or the P.O.,) express it to Frisco. It’s in a white mail envelop thus directed: “His Excellency Gov. Nye, Carson City, Nevada Territory.” (true copy: teste.)

[in ink, crosswise over the previous paragraph:]

Ratio, wishes you to ask Gen. Bunker, if he is still in Carson, to see Cradlebaugh, when he gets to Washington, and get him to use his best endeavors toward securing his brother’s appointment to the Naval School. Ratio will make the Gen. a handsome present of a good mining claim for his trouble [MTL 1: 197]. Note: John Cradlebaugh, elected as Nevada’s territorial delegate to the 37th Congress. See source notes for more, now online MTPO.


April 28 Monday – Sam wrote from Aurora to Orion about progress and hopes on various mining ledges. He also noted the family’s reaction back home to his last letter to the Keokuk Gate City:


“Ma and Pamela seem to be down on my last to the Gate City. Well, what’r they going to do about it—be Jes–s?—(though I would hate to ask them the question, you bet[)]” [MTL 1: 200].

About this time he began contributing letters, under the pen name “Josh” to the Territorial Enterprise. It may be that Sam’s letters home of Jan. 30 and Mar. 20 printed in the Keokuk Gate City were given such favorable response that Sam felt he could make a few dollars sending letters of local color to other newspapers. Sam had previously made money sending “E. Blab”’s humorous letters to newspapers [MTL 1: 199].


May 4 Sunday – Sam began a letter in Aurora to Orion that he finished on May 5. He writes about each Aurora speculation and about Orion’s gold sample sent. Clearly, Sam still had the fever [MTL 1: 201].

May 5 Monday – Sam finished his May 4 to Orion. He needed $20 [MTL 1: 203-4].

May 9 Friday – The Clemens Gold and Silver Mining Co. was formed to work 800 feet of the Monitor ledge, on Middle Hill in Aurora. The partners were: Sam Clemens, Calvin H. Higbie (d.1914), Daniel H. Twing, and J.D. LaRue. The company was incorporated on Feb. 27, 1863 with Twing and two others; Sam was not mining by then [MTL 1: 211n1]. Note: In his Aug. 10, 1906 A.D. Sam recalled Higbie as,


“—a most kindly, engaging, frank, unpretentious, unlettered, and utterly honest, truthful, and honorable giant; practical, unimaginative, destitute of humor, well endowed with good plain common sense, and as simple-hearted as a child” [AMT 2: 168].

May 1112 Monday – In Aurora, Sam wrote to Orion, reminding him of his need for money. Mention was made of his old pilot teacher, Horace Bixby and his service in the Union flotilla. Sam also wrote of a childhood friend: “It would be refreshing if they would catch Will Bowen and hang him.” Will was the boy with measles when 8-year-old Sam snuck into his room and slept next to him in order to catch the disease. Will also owed Sam $200, which may explain Sam’s remark [MTL 1: 205].


May 17 Saturday – Sam wrote from Aurora to Orion about a tiff with three other armed miners who entered and worked Sam’s claim. Such claim jumps could be dangerous business, and Sam referred to the killing of one Gephart on Apr. 11 over such a conflict [MTL 1: 215]. Transcribed from MTP’s “drop-in” letter file:

I thought it was a blank deed which Sam Montgomery sent me.

Send those Spanish spurs that hang in the office, out to “Thomas Messersmith, care of Billy Clagett,” by some safe person. I wore them in from Humboldt.

That is well. Let Mollie stay where she is, for the present.

Perhaps you had better send me your note to Teall.

Never send anything by that d—-d stage again, that can come by MAIL, as I have said before. The pkg envelops cost me 50 cents.

I hope Barstow will leave the “S.L.C.” off my Gate City letters, in case he publishes them. Put my Enterprise letters in the scrap book—but send no extracts from them East.

You perceive that I am not in a high good humor. For several reasons. One—Raish came home from the mill this morning, after working the whole night, and found a letter from Bob [Howland?], in which he learned that no sale had been effected. This reduced his spirits to the lowest possible notch, for he is out of money, or nearly so….Another thing is, two or three of the old “Salina” company entered our hold on the Monitor yesterday morning, before our men got there, and took possession, armed with revolvers. And according to the d—d laws of the forever d—d country, nothing but District Court (and there ain’t any) can touch the matter….We went up and demanded possession, and they refused. Said they were in the hole, armed, and meant to die in it, if necessary….Now you understand the shooting scrape in which Gephart was killed the other day.

Ask Tom to give my dear love to Miss P.—she with the long curls, out there under the hill.

Yr. Bro. Sam.

P.S.—Crooker is strapped, and is anxious for you to get his scrip and sell it at as good price as you can, and send him the money.

Charge the fee—nobody remits fees for me here, by a d—d sight. Charge everybody fees. Col. Youngs wants you to see Kidder or Gen. North and ask when the California boundary will be run and finished….We enter suit to-morrow to get possession of the Monitor.

Note: Colonel Samuel Youngs (1803-1890). MTL annotations reveal that “Miss P.” was Carrie Pixley. William E. Teall sold Orion 25 mining feet in 1861. D.C. Crooker was a clerk at the district recorder’s office who had mining claims with Robert Howland; Sam mentioned Crooker in earlier letters, on Apr. 17 and May 4. This P.S. was not in the printed volume, but in “drop-in” letters.

May 31 Saturday – The Esmeralda Star of this date ran an article on the mineral wealth in the district, and in particular gave an excited boost to the Wide West mine. Other papers also ran this article boosting the stock. Shortly after this report, Calvin Higbie obtained a sample from the Wide West and determined it was not Wide West rock [Mack 165-6]


June – Sometime during the month Cal Higbie, after several attempts, entered the Wide West mineshaft and broke off a sample from the ledge. He returned to the cabin he shared with Sam and “with smothered excitement” announced that it was “a blind lead”—that is, one that does not show on the surface of the claim. Mack explains the significance: “Since the ‘Wide West’ Company did not know of the blind lead down in the shaft, it was public property, and therefore Cal and Sam could locate it for their own” [166].

The pair took in a third partner, Mr. Allen, the foreman of the Wide West, and put up a notice that night, then registered their claim at the recorder’s office before ten o’clock. According to the rules then in place, those who located claims had to do “a fair and reasonable amount of work on their claims within ten days” [Mack 166-8]. Such was not to be.


June 2Monday – Sam’s money was running low; he wrote from Aurora to Orion for more [MTL 1: 216].


June 9 Monday – Sam wrote from Aurora to Orion, mostly about the lack of progress [MTL 1: 218].

June 22 Sunday – Sam wrote from Aurora to Orion about work on the “Annipolitan” and “Flyaway” claims. He drew a picture of a successful mine in relation to his claims. After mining talk he wrote:

…. I have been here as long, now, as it is in my nature to stay in one place—and from this out I shall feel as much like a prisoner as if I were in the county jail. I believe I have not spent six months in one place (unless I was in Keokuk, that long,) since 1853—ten years ago—and God knows I want to be moving to-day. Well, this is the first time I have uttered a complaint since I have been here, but it is not the first time I have felt one. Christ! how sick I am of these same old humdrum scenes.

Those Enterprise fellows make perfect nonsense of my letters—like all d—d fool printers, they can’t follow the punctuation as it is in the manuscript. They have, by this means made a mass of senseless, d—d stupidity out of my last letter.

I received $25 from you nearly a week ago, I believe. I am sorry it has to come from the school fund,—for I am afraid it might be called for, you know. Did you get my letter about the business of Barstow—and his letter? Do not hint to Gillesp anything about it.

Put all of Josh’s letters in my scrap book. I may have use for them some day.

If you should ever remove the long desk from your office, don’t forget to take out my letters and traps from the middle drawer.

You have heard nothing from your last quarter’s salary, I suppose.

It is time now to begin your arrangements for a supply of stationery for the Legislature, I should think.

I have quit writing for the “Gate.” I haven’t got time to write. I half intended writing east to-night, but I hardly think I will. Tell Mollie I will not offend again. I see by a Boston paper that Colorado Territory expects to export $40,000,000 (bullion, I believe,) this year. Nevada had better look to her laurels.

Your Bro.


[MTL 1: 220]. Note: William Martin Gillespie (1838-1885) was planning to start a newspaper. See source notes.

June 25 Wednesday – Sam wrote a short note from Aurora to Orion about mines and money:

My Dear Bro:

The mail will close in a few moments. D—n Johnson [Lode] and the whole tribe. I am sick of that old crib you are in. I received $25 per Express day before yesterday. If Gillespie gets up a large paper, it will suit me exactly to correspond for it. I shall not refuse pay, either, although $4 or $5 a week could hardly be called extensive when you write by the “column,” you know. I am his man, though. Let me know further about his paper—and let it not fail as utterly as the Laws did.

No—haven’t struck anything in the “Annipolitan.” No—down 12 feet—am not afraid of it. It will come out well I think. It don’t cost Flyaway $50 per ton for crushing—only $20. Clayton wanted to help the boys. We shan’t touch the Monitor until the 1st July, at least. Haven’t got an Enterprise of the 8th. Raish sent it to the Bay. I gave [D.C.] Crooker the bill. He looked at the law and found 30 cents a mile allowed—which makes his claim worth 30 or $35 anyhow. Thank you for writing home for me. They’ve struck good pay rock in another shaft within 50 yards of Annipolitan hole. Assays $75.

Yr. Bro,


[MTL 1: 223]. Note: Sam worked briefly in Clayton’s quartz mill in late June [AMT 2: 566].

Sam’s letter of Mar. 20 to his mother about Indians out West was printed in the Keokuk Gate City [MTL 1: 174].


Summer, mid – After this time Horatio Phillips probably left the group, as he was no longer mentioned in Sam’s letters. Sam took on a new partner, Calvin Higbie, the only experienced miner in the bunch. Mack describes him (see also MTA 2: 257-62):

“‘…a man of great stature, who was muscled like a giant. He could handle a long-handled shovel like an emperor, and he could work patiently and contentedly twelve hours on a stretch without ever hastening his pulse or his breath.’ Cal, who was a hard-rock practical miner, gave Sam the benefit of his mining experience, as Ballou had done on the Humboldt trip” [162].


July, 1 Tuesday ca. – In Chapter 41 of Roughing It, Sam wrote that he nursed John Nye, the Governor’s brother, for nine days at Gardiner’s Nine Mile Ranch. The Esmeralda Star reported on July 12 that Nye was “an invalid, lying upon his back, all stiffened and swollen up by that excruciating disease—inflammatory rheumatism” [MTL 1: 226n1]. Sam’s letter of July 9 puts his servitude at approximately this date. While Sam was nursing Nye, he assumed Higbie was doing the mandatory claim work on the “blind lead.” Cal had followed another path (looking into a cement mine); Higbie assumed Sam was doing the claim work. The required ten days passed. Sam and Cal had been millionaires for ten days. Note: Sam’s dedication of RI was to Higbie and the ten days they’d been millionaires together.


July 9 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Aurora to Orion. In part:

I am here again. Capt. Nye, as his disease grew worse, grew so peevish and abusive, that I quarreled with him and left. He required almost constant attention, day and night, but he made no effort to hire anyone to assist me. He said he nursed the Governor three weeks, day and night—which is a d—d lie, I suspect. He told Mrs. Gardiner he would take up the quarrel with me again when he gets well. He shall not find me unwilling. Mr. and Mrs. G. dislike him, and are very anxious to get rid of him [MTL 1: 224].

 Sam also instructed his brother on how to handle money, and warned him not to tell anyone that his salary had arrived, especially Horatio Phillips; he advised on debts to pay off.

“I caught a violent cold at Clayton’s, which lasted two weeks, and I came near getting salivated, working in the quicksilver and chemicals. I hardly think I shall try the experiment again. It is a confining business, and [I] will not be confined, for love nor money” [225].


Sam also wrote about his new partner and “steadfast friend” Calvin H. Higbie, “a large, strong man” with the “perseverance of the devil.”


July 13 Sunday An Aurora correspondent, probably Sam, reported that the Wide West mine and the Pride of Utah mine had “run together.” The Pride men “built a fire of such aromatic fuel as old boots, rags, etc., in the bottom of their shaft, and closed up the top, thus converting the Wide West shaft into a chimney,” which temporarily stopped work [RI 1993, explanatory notes 643].


July 21 Monday – Sam wrote from Aurora to Orion:

This is to introduce to you my obliging friend H.G. Phillips, whom you have often heard of but never seen, I believe. Whatever assistance you can be to him during his stay in Carson will be properly appreciated. If you wish to know more of my concerns here than I have told you, Raish can give you the information. Yr Bro, Sam [MTP]. Note Compare this sentiment with Sam’s July 9 warning letter. Horatio G. Phillips (“Raish”).

July 23 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Aurora to Orion about losing out on the “blind lead” and not owning a foot in the “Johnson ledge” of that claim. After that opening paragraph, he wrote:

Well, I am willing Mollie should come, provided she brings John with her. John would do well here. Are you in the new office yet?

I have written Judge Turner—but I didn’t tell him Johnny had written me—don’t you. I have offered to sell all my half the ground to him except the Fresno for $700—or $400, if he will give me his Fresno. I don’t want the d—d ground. If Judge Turner is not there, and will not be there soon, take his letter out of the office and send it to him.

I have not your letter by me now, and I do not remember all that was in it. At any rate, with regard to Phillips, don’t depart from my instructions in my last. He is a d—d rascal, and I can get the signatures of 25 men to this sentiment whenever I want them. He shall not be paid out of the Record fund. Tell him if he can’t wait for the money, he can have his ground back, and welcome—that is, 12½ feet of it—or 25, for that matter, for it isn’t worth a d—n, except that the work on it will hold it until the next great convulsion of nature injects gold and silver into it.

My debts are greater than I thought for. I bought $25 worth of clothing, and sent $25 to Higbie, in the cement diggings. I owe about 45 or $50, and have got about $45 in my pocket. But how in the h—1 I am going to live on something over $100 until October or November, is singular. The fact is, I must have something to do, and that shortly, too. I want that money to pay assessments with. And if Turner don’t accept my offer right away, I’ll make a sale of that ground d—d soon. I don’t want to sell any of it, though until the Fresno tunnel is in. Then I’ll sell the extension.

Now write to the Sacramento Union folks, or to Marsh, and tell them I’ll write as many letters a week as they want, for $10 a week—my board must be paid. Tell them I have corresponded with the N. Orleans Crescent, and other papers—and the Enterprise. California is full of people who have interests here, and it’s d—d seldom they hear from this country. I can’t write a specimen letternow, at any rate—I’d rather undertake to write a Greek poem. Tell ’em the mail & express leave here three times a week, and it costs from 25 to 50 cents to send letters by that blasted express. If they want letters from here, who’ll run from morning till nights collecting materials cheaper. I’ll write a short letter twice a week for the present for the “Age,” for $5 per week. Now it has been a long time since I couldn’t make my own living, and it shall be a long time before I loaf another year.

No, you needn’t pay Upton. I took all sorts of pains, and run after men every day for two weeks trying to fix up that business of his here, about his house, and d—n him, he has never even answered my letters on the subject. If I sell any of Johnny’s ground, he shall be paid.

I want to have a shaft sunk 100 feet on the Monitor, but I am afraid to try it, for want of money. Don’t send any money home.

If I can think of it I will enclose that scrap about the old scissors, and you can paste it in my scrap book. Who the devil was that James Clemens, I wonder? Pamela enters into no explanations.

We can’t decide what is to be done with the Fresno until DeKay gets back from Mono.

If I get the other 25 feet in the Johnson ex., I shan’t care a d—n. I’ll be willing to curse awhile and wait. And if I can’t move the bowels of these hills this fall, I will come up and clerk for you until I get money enough to go over the mountains for the winter.

Yr. Bro,


[MTL 1: 228; MTPO]. Notes: John = John E. K. Stotts (b.1828), Mollie Clemens’s older brother, wholesale dry-goods salesman and Keokuk merchant. Johnny = John D. Kinney of Cincinnati. Marsh = Andrew J. Marsh, Nevada legislative correspondent of the Sacramento Union. Pamela’s letter referred to is not extant, nor is the James Clemens identified.

July 28 Monday – Sam wrote from Aurora to Orion, who had been sending some of Sam’s letters to various editors. Sam also had trouble with Horatio G. Phillips, calling him a liar and listing five lies told about mines and claims, including the Annipolitan, the Derby and the Monitor:

Well you keep the d—d son of a tinker out of his money as long as you can, and I shall be satisfied. He is a New York man. And if you can find me 4 white men among your Northern-born acquaintances, I’ll eat them if they wish it. There are good men in the North, but they are d—d scarce. …

I am much obliged to Reardon, Murphy, Lockhart and Gallaher for the favor they show my letters. Barstow has written me offering pay, and I have answered him. And while I think of it, don’t commit yourself to Gillespie—I want a finger in that printing, with Barstow, if G. don’t start his paper. The Enterprise is making ready, with new type, &c.

      Do you still receive the “Gate?”

      I will think over the “Harper” proposition [MTP, drop-in letters].

Note: significantly, this letter shows Sam’s early preference for working on the EnterpriseWilliam H. Barstow’s offer of pay, new type, etc., though Sam wanted to see if William Gillespie’s plan of starting a newspaper came off. It did not. Gillespie was the legislative reporter who had showed Sam the ropes in Carson. Sam no doubt felt loyalty toward him.

July 30 Wednesday – In Aurora, Sam wrote to Orion about William H. Barstow’s offer and mining information

My Dear Bro:

Your letter to the Union was entirely satisfactory. I hope you will receive an answer right away, because Barstow has offered me the post of local reporter for the Enterprise at $25 a week, and I have written him that I will let him know next mail if possible, whether I can take it or not. If G. is not sure of starting his paper within a month, I think I had better close with Barstow’s offer.

Old Snyder, who owns in the H & D says it’s a big thing on account of the water and mill-site, even if it does have to lie still a while. Possibly he may be right.

Yes, the 50 feet in the Monitor, is worth what we paid for the H & D. I acknowledge that much.

Of course I don’t want to correspond with the Age until I know whether I shall remain here or not. So it makes no difference.

Yes—I wish John [Stotts]  would come. These claims of ours would soon sing a different song.

Oh, no, Johnny wasn’t expert at drawing deeds, by a d—d sight. I think Turner will discover that he managed to worry along, though, at it. He’s a d—d liar, too. He knows right well that his deed don’t convey him all the ground. Certainly—certainly—I have no doubt we shall understand each other. He shall understand me, at least. He can’t scare me with his legal threats either, such as he insinuated in his letter to me. He wants to know what I gave? Tell him that ranks as a “leading question.” As to the balance, I told him my deed conveys all of the ground to me—and that Johnny told me to deed half of it to him if he had not returned by the 1st July. I should think my words were explicit enough. I wrote the Judge as soon as I heard he was in Carson. I don’t care a d—n whose money bought the ground. Now I shan’t answer the Judge’s letter until I am in a good humor. I think my deed bears date March 1st, but I can’t go up to the Co. Rec.’s to see to-night, and I have not thought of it sooner. I have had a sort of general offer of $25 for my 25 feet of Mountain Flower, & have accepted. I told my agent (I don’t sell ground myself,) to sell the Judge’s at the same price, according to the Judge’s instructions to me, and he did so. The bargain will probably be closed within 3 or 4 days, and if the Judge don’t like the price he must speak before it is too late. The price suits me, since I can do no better. The balance of the ground won’t sell now, but the Fresno will be either valuable or worthless in a few weeks. I have started a man out to sell fifty feet in that for Judge Turner.

Oh, I don’t blame the Captain [John Nye] for being ill-natured when he was sick. The confinement made me so. I was what the yankees call “ugly,” you know.

I suppose Billy will know what to do with the National ground. If he thinks it best to sell, I will send him J.’s letter as authority.

What’s the matter with the mill out there? What’s the matter with Tillou? Why work the case-rock, if the ledge is 4 feet wide. I would not think it impossible to work a 4-foot shaft.

Yr. Bro.


[MTL 1: 231]. Note: Old Snyder was J.L. Snyder, partner with Horatio G. Phillips, Robert M. Howland and Clemens in the Horatio & Derby tunnel project in Aurora.

July, end – Sam’s mining fever waned. To make ends meet, he began sending letters to various papers. His “Joshletters to the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise had created some interest, and brother Orion’s finances were strained from increasing mining expenses. Sam’s legislative friend, William Barstow, worked in the Enterprise business office and convinced the paper’s owner, Joseph T. Goodman (1838-1917), that Sam was just the sort of writer the paper needed. Barstow wrote Sam, offering him a job as a reporter at $25 a week [MTL 1: 231].

August, early – Sam’s letter of July 30 to Orion stated that Sam wrote to Barstow asking when he might be needed [MTL 1: 231]. Note: Clearly, Sam was stalling for time to decide or perhaps time to see if any of the promising claims would present him with wealth, or perhaps if William Gillespie would start a newspaper (he did not). Sam may have felt that returning to a newspaper job was a step backward.

August 7 Thursday – Sam vacillated, hating to admit failure as a miner. He wrote from Aurora to Orion, telling him of Barstow’s offer of $25 week as a reporter on the Territorial Enterprise. Sam decided to think on the matter. His decision shaped the course of his life.

My Dear Bro:

Barstow wrote that if I wanted the place I could have it. I wrote him that I guessed I would take it, and asked him how long before I must come up there. I have not heard from him since.

Now I shall leave at midnight to-night, alone and on foot for a walk of 60 or 70 miles through a totally uninhabited country, and it is barely possible that mail facilities may prove infernally “slow” during the few weeks I expect to spend out there. But do you write Barstow that I have left here for a week or so, and in case he should want me he must write me here, or let me know through you. You see I want to know something about that country out yonder.

The Contractors say they will strike the Fresno next week. After fooling with those assayers a week, they concluded not to buy “M. Flower” at $50, although they would have given five times the sum for it four months ago. So I have made out a deed for one-half of all Johnny’s ground and acknowledged and left it in Judge F. K. Bechtel’s hands, and if Judge Turner wants it he must write to Bechtel and pay him his Notary fee of $1.50. I would have paid that fee myself, but I want money now as I leave town to-night. However, if you think it isn’t right, you can pay the fee to Judge Turner yourself.

Hang to your money now. I may want some when I get back.

Col. Youngs sends his regards, & says he will have our census completed & send up to you to-morrow, & we ought to have a larger representation—although the law said census must be taken in May—but he couldn’t help it, d—n’em they wouldn’t run the line.

Yes, I will scrape up some specimens—have got a lot—but they’re a d—d nuisance about a cabin. I picked up some splendid agates & such things, but I expect they are all lost by this time.

No—I shan’t pay Upton—just yet.

See that you keep out of debt—to anybody[.]Bully for Bunker. Write him that I would write him myself, but I am to take a walk to-night & haven’t time. Tell him to bring his family out with him. He can rely upon what I say—and I say the land has lost its ancient desolate appearance; the rose and the oleander have taken the place of the departed sage-brush; a rich black loam, garnished with moss, and flowers, and the greenest of grass, smiles to Heaven from the vanished sand-plains; the “endless snows” have all disappeared, and in their stead—or to repay us for their loss, the mountains rear their billowy heads aloft, crowned with a fadeless and eternal verdure; birds, and fountains, and trees—tropical trees—everywhere!—and the poet dreampt of Nevada when he wrote:

“—and Sharon waves, in solemn praise,

Her silent groves of palm.”

and to-day the royal Raven stands on a fragrant carcass and listens in a dreamy stupor to the songs of the thrush and the nightingale and the canary—and shudders when the gaudy-plumaged birds of the distant South sweep by him to the orange groves of Carson. Tell him he wouldn’t recognise the d—d country. He should bring his family by all means.

I intended to write home, but I haven’t done it.

Yr. Bro.em space Sam.

P. S. Put the enclosed slips in my scrap book. [MTL 1: 233]. Note: the two lines of poem from “Calm on the listening ear of night” (1834) by Edmund Hamilton Sears. The scrapbook mentioned is lost. Frederick K. Bechtel (b.1823) commissioner of deeds for Nevada Terr. Benjamin B. Bunker, attorney general of Nevada Terr.

Arthur B. Perkins, (1891-1977) the “first historian” of the Santa Clarita Valley, puts forth a theory about Sam’s wanderings during this week. Perkins claims to have seen a stagecoach entry made at Lyon’s Station, the nearest stage stop to Soledad Canyon, some fifty miles north of Los Angeles, where a gold discovery had just been made. This would have Sam traveling 600 miles round trip, which is possible, but less likely. The stagecoach entries have not survived, but such theories about Sam’s “Long Walk” have [Lennon 17].


Sam sold his mining interests to Judge George Turner. From a Christie’s sale (Lot 59 Sale 8444; May 17, 1996; avail. Online) a document written and signed by Samuel Clemens: 


By this indenture “Samuel L. Clemens of Mono Co., Cal.,” agrees to sell to “George Turner, of Carson City, Nevada Territory” for $1,000 his interests in “certain veins or lodes of rock containing precious metals…gold and silver bearing quartz, rock and earth therein.” In the blank space provided Clemens has carefully listed the shares (measured by feet) in 15 different claims (the names of which reflect the geographic origin of the prospectors): “Fifty (50) feet in the Sciola; 62 ½ in “Ottawa;” Fifty (50) in the “Allamoocha”; 6 ¼ in 1st Ex. S. “Winnomucca;” 25 feet in the “Tom Thumb;” 50 in the “Fresno;” 12 ½ feet in the “Horatio;” 100 feet in the 1st N.E.Ex. Fresno;” 50 feet in the “Rosetta;” 100 in the “Potomac;” 12 ½ in the “Daniel Boone”; 12 ½ feet in the “Boston”; 12 ½ in the “Great Mogul;” 12 ½ in the “Long Island;” 25 feet in the “Mountain Flower.” [See also MTL 1: 233n4 and 235n2.]


August 15 Friday – Sam returned from his hike, but still had not decided whether to take William Barstow’s offer. His entire future would hang on his decision. This same day he wrote from Aurora to his sister Pamela but didn’t mention newspaper prospects, which suggests Sam was still undecided.

My Dear Sister:

I mailed a letter to you and Ma this morning, but since then I have received yours to Orion and me. Therefore, I must answer right away, else I may leave town without doing it at all. What in thunder are pilot’s wages to me? which question, I beg humbly to observe, is of a general nature, and not discharged particularly at you. But it is singular, isn’t it, that such a matter should interest Orion, when it is of no earthly consequence to me? I never have once thought of returning home to go on the river again, and I never expect to do any more piloting at any price. My livelihood must be made in this country—and if I have to wait longer than I expected, let it be so—I have no fear of failure. You know I have extravagant hopes, for Orion tells you everything which he ought to keep to himself—but it’s his nature to do that sort of thing, and I let him alone. I did think for awhile of going home this fall—but when I found that that was and had been the cherished intention and the darling aspiration every year, of these old care-worn Californians for twelve weary years—I felt a little uncomfortable, but I stole a march on Disappointment and said I would not go home this fall. I will spend the winter in San Francisco, if possible. Do not tell any one that I had any idea of piloting again at present—for it is all a mistake. This country suits me, and—it shall suit me, whether or no. . . .

Dan Twing and I and Dan’s dog, “cabin” together—and will continue to do so for awhile—until I leave for—

The mansion is 10 × 12, with a “domestic” roof. Yesterday it rained—the first shower for five months. “Domestic,” it appears to me, is not water-proof. We went outside to keep from getting wet. Dan makes the bed when it is his turn to do it—and when it is my turn, I don’t, you know. The dog is not a good hunter, and he isn’t worth shucks to watch—but he scratches up the dirt floor of the cabin, and catches flies, and makes himself generally useful in the way of washing dishes. Dan gets up first in the morning and makes a fire—and I get up last and sit by it, while he cooks breakfast. We have a cold lunch at noon, and I cook supper—very much against my will. However, one must have one good meal a day, and if I were to live on Dan’s abominable cookery, I should lose my appetite, you know. Dan attended Dr. Chorpenning’s funeral yesterday, and he felt as though he ought to wear a white shirt—and we had a jolly good time finding such an article. We turned over all our traps, and he found one at last—but I shall always think it was suffering from yellow fever. He also found an old black coat, greasy, and wrinkled to that degree that it appeared to have been quilted at some time or other. In this gorgeous costume he attended the funeral. And when he returned, his own dog drove him away from the cabin, not recognizing him. This is true.

You would not like to live in a country where flour was $40 a barrel? Very well, then, I suppose you would not like to live here, where flour was $100 a barrel when I first came here. And shortly afterwards, it couldn’t be had at any price—and for one month the people lived on barley, beans and beef—and nothing beside. Oh, no—we didn’t luxuriate then! Perhaps not. But we said wise and severe things about the vanity and wickedness of high living. We preached our doctrine and practised it. Which course I respectfully recommend to the clergymen of St. Louis.

Where is Beck Jolly? and Bixby?

Your Brother


[MTL 1: 235-6]. Notes: Daniel H. Twing, one of Sam’s mining partner. On Feb. 18, 1863, Clemens gave Twing a special power of attorney over his mining interests. Clemens and Twing, were partners in the Clemens Gold and Silver Mining Co. Dr. F. Chorpenning was shot by William Pooler on July 28 “for being too attentive” to Pooler’s estranged wife [n.4].

August, late – Sam arrived at the Virginia City Enterprise, a “small rickety frame building at the corner of A Street and Sutton Avenue,” [Fatout, MT in VC 11] (later a large brick building on C Street) to take the job. According to Paine, Sam claimed he walked the 130 miles from Aurora and arrived in the afternoon of a “hot, dusty August day” and drawled to Denis E. McCarthy (1840-1885) one of the owners:

“My starboard leg seems to be unshipped. I’d like about one hundred yards of line; I think I am falling to pieces. I want to see Mr. Barstow, or Mr. Goodman. My name is Clemens, and I’ve come to write for the paper” [MTB 205].

Powers claims Sam’s first words at the Enterprise were, “Dang my buttons, if I don’t believe I’m lousy” [MT A Life 110].

William R. Gillis (Billy) (1840-1929) remembered a third, quite long, and different exchange in his 1930, Gold Rush Days with Mark Twain.


Whatever Sam uttered, William Wright (1829-1898), no middle initial, according to Joe Goodman to Paine, Apr. 5, 1912, (The Twainian July-Aug 1956 p4), a celebrity known in ink as Dan De Quille (sometimes written as Dan De Quille) was appointed the task of getting Sam settled in town. Dan and Sam became fast friends and later roommates.

Note: As for Sam’s “Long Walk,” Such an effort seems out of character. The route would have taken Sam through Carson City; some traffic was on the road; it’s probable Sam got a lift for at least part of the journey. Fatout agrees:

“He always maintained that he was too hard up to afford stage fare, hence walked the whole way. But he was generally averse to walking when he could ride, and the road was well traveled by many ore wagons plying between Aurora and Carson City. It is hard to believe that sociable drivers did not offer him a lift” [MT in VC 7].

Fatout also lists the Enterprise reporters: Dan De Quille, Captain Joe Plunkett, Rollin M. Daggett (1831-1901), Charles A.V. Putnam (b.1823?), Howard P. Taylor “and others.” Joe Goodman, “a versatile writer with a reputation as a poet, handled his temperamental employees with a loose rein that was good for both staff and paper. The efficient business management of Dennis (Jerry) Driscoll (1823-1876) made profits roll in. Organization was more big-city than that of any other Western paper outside of San Francisco, and pungent writers gave the Enterprise a virility and humor that made it popular, prosperous, and influential” [11]. Note: Putnam’s reminiscence of the Enterprise days ran in the Salt Lake City Tribune, April 25, 1898.


September 9 Tuesday – Sam wrote from Aurora, California/Nevada Territory to Billy Clagett, congratulating him on being elected to represent Humboldt County in the Territorial Legislature. Most of his letter deals with “the disgusting subject” of the Civil War and its losses. In part:

For more than two weeks I have been slashing around in the White Mountain District, partly for pleasure and partly for other reasons. And old Van Horn was in the party. He knows your daddy and the whole family, and every old citizen of Keokuk. He left there in ’53. He built parson Hummer’s Pavilion—and parson Williams’ house, and a dozen others. He says he used to go with your father when he stumped the district, and sing campaign songs. He is a comical old cuss, and can keep a camp alive with fun when he chooses. We had rare good times out there fishing for trout and hunting. I mean to go out there again before long.

I saw a man last June who swore that he knew of rich placer diggings within 100 miles of Humboldt City. What became of our placers, that we intended to visit last May?

Have you still a good opinion of those claims in Santa Clara?

Billy, I can’t stand another winter in this climate, unless I am obliged to. I have a sneaking notion of going down to the Colorado mines 2 months from now.

Remember me to Dad [Cornbury S. Tillou] and the boys.

Enclosed please find that power of Attorney.

Times have never grown brisk here until this week. I don’t think much of the camp—not as much as I did. Old fashioned winter & snow lasted until the middle of June.

Your old friend

Sam L C

[MTL 1: 238]. Note: William Van Horn, age about 42 at this time.

September 16 Tuesday Sam’s article, “ANOTHER INNOCENT MAN KILLED,” appeared in the Territorial Enterprise. Since the shooting was on Sunday and the paper did not print on Mondays, Marleau thinks this Tuesday was “likely the first day Samuel L. Clemens reported for the Territorial Enterprise” [“Some Early” 12].


October 1 Wednesday “The Indian Troubles on the Overland Route,” attributed to Sam, ran in the Local Column of the Enterprise. The article was about an Indian attack on emigrants [Fatout, MT in VC 12]. Sam later mentioned such an exaggerated approach to the news in his first days on the paper. Nearly all copies of the Enterprise for the period Sam worked there have been lost, but many papers in the West borrowed and reprinted from other newspapers. This article was reprinted on Oct. 5 by the Marysville, California, Daily Appeal. [Fatout, MT Speaks 1-4]. Also, attributed, in the LOCAL COLUMN:

A GALE. – About 7 o’clock Tuesday evening (Sept. 30th) a sudden blast of wind picked up a shooting gallery, two lodging houses and a drug store from their tall wooden stilts and set them down again some ten or twelve feet back of their original location, with such a degree of roughness as to jostle their insides into a sort of chaos. There were many guests in the lodging houses at the time of the accident, but it is pleasant to reflect that they seized their carpet sacks and vacated the premises with an alacrity suited to the occasion. No one hurt [ET&S 1: 389].

October 26 Monday From the Enterprise:




Translated – If a man’s sign blowing heavenward is a proof of it, than Justice Atwill was translated yesterday, and is doubtless holding Court in Paradise this morning for his shingle, bearing the legend “Justice,” was seen sailing over the Summit of Mount Davidson [Marleau, “Some Early” 12].


October 4 Saturday The hoax known as “The Petrified Man” ran in the Enterprise, and was re-printed by many newspapers in the West—some swallowed it whole, and some, after a few days, saw the joke [Fatout, MT Speaks 4; Mack 213].


A petrified man was found some time ago in the mountains south of Gravelly Ford. Every limb and feature of the stony mummy was perfect, not even excepting the left leg, which has evidently been a wooden one during the lifetime of the owner – which lifetime, by the way, came to a close about a century ago, in the opinion of a savan who has examined the defunct. The body was in a sitting posture, and leaning against a huge mass of croppings; the attitude was pensive, the right thumb resting against the side of the nose; the left thumb partially supported the chin, the fore-finger pressing the inner corner of the left eye and drawing it partly open; the right eye was closed, and the fingers of the right hand spread apart. This strange freak of nature created a profound sensation in the vicinity, and our informant states that by request, Justice Sewell or Sowell, of Humboldt City, at once proceeded to the spot and held an inquest on the body. The verdict of the jury was that “deceased came to his death from protracted exposure,” etc. The people of the neighborhood volunteered to bury the poor unfortunate, and were even anxious to do so; but it was discovered, when they attempted to remove him, that the water which had dripped upon him for ages from the crag above, had coursed down his back and deposited a limestone sediment under him which had glued him to the bed rock upon which he sat, as with a cement of adamant, and Judge S. refused to allow the charitable citizens to blast him from his position. The opinion expressed by his Honor that such a course would be little less than sacrilege, was eminently just and proper. Everybody goes to see the stone man, as many as three hundred having visited the hardened creature during the past five or six weeks [ET&S 1: 159].

In other words, the petrified man was thumbing his nose at Sam’s readers. It’s a wonder anyone took this “find” seriously, but many did! Note: Budd lists four newspaper reprintings from Oct. 9 to 18, “which appear to be derived independently from the Territorial Enterprise printing” [“Collected” 1001].

October 12 Sunday – Orion’s wife Mollie arrived in Carson City with their seven-year-old daughter, Jennie Clemens, after a steamer trip to San Francisco a week before. Sam was still in Virginia City [MTL 1: 242n1].

October 1316 Thursday An article of Sam’s, title missing, appeared in the Enterprise:

William Young of Long Valley arrived in Virginia, lately, with a drove of cattle, sold the same, and put the proceeds in his saddlebags and the saddlebags on his horse. He then adjourned to the dance house, and having partaken of the sinful pleasures of that place, he came back and found that somebody had carried off saddlebags, money and all during his absence. The fact of his leaving the horse and saddlebags lying around loose in the street at night is sufficient proof of Young’s confidence in the honesty of our citizens and the fact that the thief didn’t take the horse also when he took the money, is sufficient proof that that confidence was not entirely misplaced [Marleau, “Some Early” 12]. Note: Text recovered by Marleau from Sacramento Daily Union, Oct. 17 1862.

October 20 MondayMollie Clemens and daughter and Jennie arrived in San Francisco and were met by Orion. They left immediately for Carson [MTP card file quotes Mack]. Sam was aware of their arrival, as he wrote to them the next day.


October 21 Tuesday – Sam wrote from Virginia City to Orion & Mollie about how he made up the story “Petrified Man?” which several newspapers took as an actual scientific discovery. “I got it up to worry Sewall,” he wrote. G.T. Sewall was a judge of Humboldt County who was antagonistic toward Sam, probably over some governmental duties of Orion, and had withheld information from reporters in an officious and irritating way [MTL 1: 241].

October, late Sam wrote up his visit to the Spanish Mine and it was published in the Enterprise as “The Spanish Mine.” No copies of the Enterprise for that time are extant, but estimates from reprints make this time probable. An excerpt:


This comprises one hundred feet of the great Comstock lead, and is situated in the midst of the Ophir claims. We visited it yesterday, in company with Mr. Kingman, Assistant Superintendent, and our impression is that stout-legged people with an affinity to darkness, may spend an hour or so there very comfortably. A confused sense of being buried alive, and a vague consciousness of stony dampness, and huge timbers, and tortuous caverns, and bottomless holes with endless ropes hanging down into them, and narrow ladders climbing in a short twilight through the colossal lattice work and suddenly perishing in midnight, and workmen poking about in the gloom with twinkling candles—is all, or nearly all that remains to us of our experience in the Spanish mine [ET&S 1: 160-6].


November to December – Sam neglected his letter writing for this period and continued to work as a reporter for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.

November 17 Friday Local Column, Enterprise, two items from Sam: “Silver Bricks” and “Building Lots” (Text recovered by Michael Marleau from reprinting in The Mining and Scientific Press of Nov. 8, 1862) [Marleau, “Some Early” 12].

November 110 Monday Sam follows up: LOCAL COLUMN

THE PETRIFIED MAN. – Mr. Herr Weisnicht has just arrived in Virginia City from the Humboldt mines and regions beyond. He brings with him the head and one foot of the petrified man, lately found in the mountains near Gravelly Ford. A skillful assayer has analyzed a small portion of dirt found under the nail of the great toe and pronounces the man to have been a native of the Kingdom of New Jersey. As a trace of “speculation” is still discernible in the left eye, it is thought the man was on his way to what is now the Washoe mining region for the purpose of locating the Comstock. The remains brought in are to be seen in a neat glass case in the third story of the Library Building, where they have been temporarily placed by Mr. Weisnicht for the inspection of the curious, and where they may be examined by any one who will take the trouble to visit them [ET&S 1: 392].

November 11 to December 20 Saturday – The second Territorial Legislature of Nevada was in session. Sam covered the session. According to Henry Nash Smith, “It is not clear how often he mailed dispatches back to Virginia City, but by bringing together two passages from his reminiscences one may infer that he sent a daily factual report and a weekly letter of a more personal and humorous cast” [34].

November 14 Friday On the fourth day of the Legislative proceedings, The Speaker of the House announced as reporters entitled to seats, Clement T. Rice, of the Virginia City Daily Union; Samuel L. Clemens, Territorial Enterprise; and Andrew J. Marsh of the Sacramento Union [Marsh 451].

November 30 Sunday Sam’s 27th birthday.

December 5 Friday One of Sam’s weekly letters, “Letter from Carson City” was dated this day and printed sometime in December in the Enterprise [Smith 35]. The letter included: “Alford vs. Dewing,” “Internal Improvements,” and “Williams Map.” Sam was the “Committee” in the first extant weekly letter:


Your committee, consisting of a solitary but very competent individual, to whom was referred Col. Williams’ road from a certain point to another place, would beg most respectfully to report:

Your committee has had under consideration said map.

The word map is derived from the Spanish word “mapa,” or the Portuguese word “mappa.” Says the learned lexicographer Webster, “in geography a map is a representation of the surface of the earth, or any part of it, drawn on paper or other material, exhibiting the lines of latitude and longitude, and the positions of countries, kingdoms, states, mountains, rivers, etc.”

Your committee, with due respect to the projector of the road in question, would designate what is styled in the report a map, an unnatural and diabolical scrawl, devoid of form, regularity or meaning.

Your committee has in times past witnessed the wild irregularity of the footprints of birds of prey upon a moist sea shore. Your committee was struck with the strong resemblance of the map under discussion to some one of said footprints.

Your committee, during his juvenile days, has watched a frantic and indiscreet fly emerge from a pot or vase containing molasses; your committee has seen said fly alight upon a scrap of virgin paper, and leave thereon a wild medley of wretched and discordant tracks; your committee was struck with the wonderful resemblance of said fly-tracks to the map now before your committee.

Yet your committee believes that the map in question has some merit as an abstract hieroglyphic.

Your committee, therefore, recommends, the Council concurring, that the aforesaid map be photographed, and that one copy thereof, framed in sage brush, be hung over the Speaker’s chair, and that another copy be donated to the Council, to be suspended over the chair of the President of that body, as a memento of the artistic skill and graphic genius of one of our most distinguished members – a guide to all future Pi-Utes. All of which is respectfully submitted [Smith 37].

December 12 Friday Another of Sam’s Weekly, “Letter from Carson City” was dated this day and printed sometime in December in the Enterprise [Smith 38].

The ladies have not smiled much on this Legislature, so far. Thirty-two of our loveliest visited the halls night before last, though, which is an encouraging symptom. I cannot conscientiously say they smiled, however, for the Revenue bill was before the House…The ladies were well pleased with the night session, though—they enjoyed it exceedingly—in many respects it was much superior to a funeral [Smith 41].

December 1319 Friday Sam’s article “The Pah-Utes” is published sometime between these dates in the Enterprise, and reprinted in the Marysville, California Appeal for Dec. 21.


Ah, well – it is touching to see these knotty and rugged old pioneers—who have beheld Nevada in her infancy, and toiled through her virgin sands unmolested by toll-keepers; and prospected her unsmiling hills, and knocked at the doors of her sealed treasure vaults; and camped with her horned-toads, and tarantulas and lizards, under her inhospitable sage brush; and smoked the same pipe; and imbibed lightning out of the same bottle; and eaten their regular bacon and beans from the same pot; and lain down to their rest under the same blanket—happy, and lousy and contented—yea, happier and lousier and more contented than they are this day, or may be in the days that are to come; it is touching, I say, to see these weather-beaten and blasted old patriarchs banding together like a decaying tribe, for the sake of the privations they have undergone, and the dangers they have met—to rehearse the deeds of the hoary past, and rescue its traditions from oblivion! The Pah-Ute Association will become a high and honorable order in the land—its certificate of membership a patent of nobility. I extend unto the fraternity the right hand of a poor but honest half-breed, and say God speed your sacred enterprise [ET&S 1: 170].


December 16 Tuesday ca. – An article attributed to Sam that was reprinted Dec. 18 in the Sacramento Daily Bee ran in the Enterprise. Sam was in Carson City and reported on the excitement of the hotly debated “corporation bill” which prohibited that “the majority of stock in all Nevada mining companies be owned by residents of the Territory, that company offices be established there, and that corporations formed under the laws of other states and territories be prohibited from doing business in Nevada” [Fatout, MT in VC 24]. Nevada miners were tired of seeing “Montgomery street speculators” play with their assets. Sam wrote:

Great excitement exists. Half the population is drunk—the balance will be before midnight. The flags are flying, and a general looseness prevails. Four hundred guns are now being fired on the Plaza [24]. Note: the bill was signed but later made of no effect.


December 19 Friday – By legislative act, Sam was made recording secretary of the Washoe Agricultural, Mining and Mechanical Society. The position paid $300 per year. He served until the completion of the society’s fair in Oct. 1863 [MTL 1: 266].

December 23 Tuesday Sam’s article dated Dec. 23 ran in the Enterprise sometime later in the month. It was republished in the Placer Weekly Courier of Forest Hill, Placer County on Jan. 17, 1863.


Carson, Midnight December 23d.

Eds., Enterprise:

On the last night of the session, Hon. Thomas Hannah announced that a Grand Bull Drivers’ Convention would assemble in Washoe City, on the 22d, to receive Hon. Jim Sturtevant and the other members of the Washoe delegation. I journeyed to the place yesterday to see that the ovation was properly conducted. I traveled per stage. The Unreliable of the Union went also — for the purpose of distorting the facts. The weather was delightful. It snowed the entire day. The wind blew such a hurricane that the coach drifted sideways from one toll road to another, and sometimes utterly refused to mind her helm. It is a fearful thing to be at sea in a stagecoach. We were anxious to get to Washoe by four o’clock, but luck was against us: we were delayed by stress of weather; we were hindered by the bad condition of the various toll roads; we finally broke the after spring of the wagon, and had to lay up for repairs. Therefore we only reached Washoe at dusk. Messrs. Lovejoy, Howard, Winters, Sturtevant, and Speaker Mills had left Carson ahead of us, and we found them in the city. They had not beaten us much, however, as I could perceive by their upright walk and untangled conversation. At 6 P.M., the Carson City Brass Band, followed by the Committee of Arrangements, and the Chairman of the Convention, and the delegation, and the invited guests, and the citizens generally, and the hurricane, marched up one of the most principal streets, and filed in imposing procession into Foulke’s Hall. The delegation, and the guests, and the band, were provided with comfortable seats near the Chairman’s desk, and the constituency occupied the body-pews. The delegation and the guests stood up and formed a semicircle, and Mr. Gregory introduced them one at a time to the constituency. Mr. Gregory did this with much grace and dignity, albeit he affected to stammer and gasp, and hesitate, and look colicky, and miscall the names, and miscall them again by way of correcting himself, and grab desperately at invisible things in the air — all with a charming pretense of being scared.


The supper and the champagne were excellent and abundant, and I offer no word of blame against anybody for eating and drinking pretty freely. If I were to blame anybody, I would commence with the Unreliable — for he drank until he lost all sense of etiquette. I actually found myself in bed with him with my boots on. However, as I said before, I cannot blame the cuss; it was a convivial occasion, and his little shortcomings ought to be overlooked. When I went to bed this morning, Mr. Lovejoy, arrayed in fiery red night clothes, was dancing the war dance of his tribe (he is President of the Paiute Association) around a spittoon and Colonel Howard, dressed in a similar manner, was trying to convince him that he was a humbug. A suspicion crossed my mind that they were partially intoxicated, but I could not be sure about it on account of everything appearing to turn around so. I left Washoe City this morning at nine o’clock, fully persuaded that I would like to go back there again when the next convention meets. [Mack. 224-27]. Note: John K. Lovejoy; Theodore Winters; others not identified.

December 27 SaturdayA. J. Simmons, later speaker of the house in the Nevada legislature, sold Sam ten feet in the Butte ledge, Tehema Mining Company for $1,000, and ten feet in the Kentucky ledge, Union Tunnel Company, both in Santa Clara district of Humboldt County [MTL 1: 278 n8]. Dan De Quille left Virginia City by overland stagecoach as planned for a nine-month visit to his home in Iowa. Benson writes that the expected absence of De Quille was one reason Barstow offered Sam a position [72]. It was feared by some that Dan would not return (see May 1, 1863 entry and the following Dec. 28).

December 28 Sunday Sam’s article, “The Illustrious Departed,” ran in the Enterprise:

Old Dan is gone, that good old soul, we ne’er shall see him more — for some time. He left for Carson yesterday, to be duly stamped and shipped to America, by way of the United States Overland Mail. As the stage was on the point of weighing anchor, the senior editor dashed wildly into Wasserman’s and captured a national flag, which he cast about Dan’s person to the tune of three rousing cheers from the bystanders. So, with the gorgeous drapery floating behind him, our kind and genial hero passed from our sight; and if fervent prayers from us, who seldom pray, can avail, his journey will be as safe and happy as though ministering angels watched over him. Dan has gone to the States for his health, and his family. He worked himself down in creating big strikes in the mines and keeping all the mills in this district going, whether their owners were willing or not. These herculean labors gradually undermined his health, but he went bravely on, and we are proud to say that as far as these things were concerned, he never gave up — the miners never did, and never could have conquered him. He fell under a scarcity of pack-trains and hay wagons. These had been the bulwark of the local column; his confidence in them was like unto that which men have in four aces; murders, robberies, fires, distinguished arrivals, were creatures of chance, which might or might not occur at any moment; but the pack-trains and the hay-wagons were certain, predestined, immutable! When these failed last week, he said “Et tu Brute,” and gave us his pen. His constitution suddenly warped, split and went under, and Daniel succumbed. We have a saving hope, though, that his trip across the Plains, through eighteen hundred miles of cheerful hay stacks, will so restore our loved and lost to his ancient health and energy, that when he returns next fall he will be able to run our five hundred mills as easily as he used to keep five-score moving. Dan is gone, but he departed in a blaze of glory, the like of which hath hardly been seen upon this earth since the blameless Elijah went up in his fiery chariot [ET&S 1: 171-4].


December 30 Tuesday – Sam’s Local Column was published in the Enterprise: “Board of Education,” “Blown Down,” “At Home,” “The School,” “Sad Accident,” “Thrilling Romance,” “Fire Almost,” “Private Party,” and “Our Stock Remarks”:

Owing to the fact that our stock reporter attended a wedding last evening, our report of transactions in that branch of robbery and speculation is not quite as complete and satisfactory as usual this morning [ET&S 1: 175-6].

1862 or 1863 16th of unidentified month Enterprise item by Sam. No title.

There is a rumor on the streets yesterday that there was a party of guerrillas somewhere in the vicinity of the Sink of the Carson, 500 strong. They are said to be well armed, having with them two or three batteries of artillery. The story goes that two of their number deserted and gave information of their whereabouts, etc., to Gov. Nye and that the Governor is now taking measures to squelch ‘em. We think their numbers are underrated: it is our firm belief that there are at least 50,000 guerrillas to every acre of ground about the Sink in the shape of mosquitos and gailinippers [Marleau, “Some Early” 11].

[Text recovered by Michael Marleau from reprinting in unidentified newspaper clipping. Reprinted in Mark Twain Journal, Fall 2004, 12]

Vol 1 Section 0020

Busy Reporter & Local Editor – “Mark Twain” & “Unreliable”

 Bohemian of the Sagebrush – Lingering in S.F. – Burned out Sam – Mineral Baths

 Bloody Massacre – Constitutional Convention – Third House – Artemus

1863 or 1864 An article (title lost) describing the clergymen in Virginia City appeared in the Enterprise [Schmidt].

Text Box: January 1, 1863
Lincoln Issued 
Emancipation Proclamation





January 1 Thursday “More Ghosts” ran in the Local Column of the Enterprise. The item spoofs through objection an article that appeared in the paper in the last week of Dec., 1862 about a “haunted house” on E Street in Virginia City: “Are we to be scared to death every time we venture into the street? May we be allowed to quietly go about our business, or are we to be assailed at every corner by fearful apparitions?” [ET&S 1: 177-8]. Also published:


Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. To-day, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion [ET&S 1: 180].

January 19 Friday Sam’s article SULPHUR DEPOSIT appeared sometime between these dates in the Enterprise.

L. Dow Huntsman who reached Carson on Monday from Humboldt county, brought to the office several specimens of pure sulphur with him, which had been taken from a small mountain of that material, situated about twenty miles west of Unionville. That locality may be in close proximity to the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and it may not. Yet we are of the opinion that this item will change the destination of a good many moderate Christians who are now preparing to emigrate to Humboldt. However, it will give the regulars a better chance than they generally have in mining regions [Marleau, “Some Early” 12]

[Text recovered by Michael Marleau from reprintings in Sacramento Daily Union of January 10, 1863 and The Mining and Scientific Press of January 19, 1863.]

January 4 Sunday one item about the Storey Ball, “Election,” “Public School,” “New Years Extension,” “Supreme Court,” “Ball in Carson,” “Mass,” “Fireman’s Meeting,” and “Recorder’s Court.”

NEW YEARS EXTENSION. — Yesterday was New Years Day for the ladies. We kept open house, and were called upon by seventy-two ladies — all young and handsome. This stunning popularity is pleasant to reflect upon, but we are afraid some people will think it prevented us from scouting for local matters with our usual avidity. This is a mistake; if anything had happened within the county limits yesterday, those ladies would have mentioned it [ET&S 1: 396-8].

January 6 Tuesday Sam’s Enterprise Local Column: “Free Fight,” “Humbolt Stocks,” “Jno. D. Kinney,” “Milstead,” “Board of Education” [ET&S 1: 399].


January 7 Wednesday Sam attended the Odd Fellow’s Ball in Gold Hill. His hat was stolen [ET&S 1: 181]. In his Apr. 6, 1906 Autobiographical Dictation, Clemens likely recalled the ball for this day. Relating being in Washington Square, NYC and running into a woman on the street who recognized him:

I had known only one Etta Booth in my lifetime, and that one rose before me in an instant, and vividly. It was almost as if she stood alongside of this fat little antiquated dame in the bloom and diffidence and sweetness of her thirteen years, her hair in plaited braids down her back and her fire-red frock stopping short at her knees. Indeed I remembered Etta very well. And immediately another vision rose before me, with that child in the centre of it and accenting its sober tint like a torch with her red frock. … The scene was a great ball-room in some ramshackle building in Gold Hill or Virginia City, Nevada. There were two or three hundred stalwart men present and dancing with cordial energy. And in the midst of the turmoil Etta’s crimson frock was swirling and flashing; and she was the only dancer of her sex on the floor. Her mother, large, fleshy, pleasant and smiling, sat on a bench against the wall in lonely and honored state and watched the festivities in placid contentment. She and Etta were the only persons of their sex in the ball-room. Half of the men represented ladies, and they had a handkerchief tied around the left arm so that they could be told from the men. I did not dance with Etta, for I was a lady myself. I wore a revolver in my belt, and so did all the other ladies—likewise the gentlemen. It was a dismal old barn of a place, and was lighted from end to end by tallow-candle chandeliers made of barrel-hoops suspended from the ceiling, and the grease dripped all over us [AMT 2: 24]. Note: see Sept. 10, 1877 to Etta.


 January 8 Thursday The Enterprise printed Sam’s article, “Unfortunate Thief,” excoriating the man who stole his hat at the Gold Hill Ball.

We have been suffering from the seven years’ itch for many months. It is probably the most aggravating disease in the world. It is contagious. That man has commenced a career of suffering which is frightful to contemplate; there is no cure for the distemper—it must run its course; there is no respite for its victim, and but little alleviation of its torments to be hoped for; the unfortunate’s only resource is to bathe in sulphur and molasses and let his finger nails grow. Further advice is unnecessary—instinct will prompt him to scratch [ET&S 1: 182].

The Sanitary Commission also held a ball in Virginia City that Sam attended [ET&S 1: 183].

January 10 Saturday Sam’s Enterprise Local Column: “Due Notice,” “New Court House,” “Music,” and “The Sanitary Ball”:

We were feeling comfortable, and we had assumed an attitude—we have a sort of talent for posturing—a pensive attitude, copied from the Colossus of Rhodes—when the ladies were ordered to the center. Two of them got there, and the other two moved off elegantly, but they failed to make a connection. They suddenly broached to under full headway, and there was a sound of parting canvas. Their dresses were anchored under our boots, you know. It was unfortunate, but it could not be helped. Those two beautiful pink dresses let go amidships, and remained in a ripped and damaged condition to the end of the ball. We did not apologize, because our presence of mind happened to be absent at the very moment that we had the greatest need of it. But we beg permission to do so now.

 “Due Notice” was a pun about the Czar of Russia [ET&S 1: 185-9].

January 1121 Wednesday Sam’s Enterprise Local Column: “The High Price of Pork” [ET&S 1: 401]. Two litigants spent six or seven hundred dollars litigating ownership of two pigs worth perhaps twenty dollars.

January 15 Thursday Sam’s article “A Big Thing in Washoe City” ran about this day in the Enterprise, and two days later in the Placer Weekly Courier [Camfield, bibliog.].


January 23? Friday Sam’s article “A Sunday in Carson” about a murder ran on this date in the Enterprise [Camfield, bibliog.].

January 28 Wednesday Sam sat up all night to take the stage to Carson City where he spent the first week of February. Between Jan. 22 and Jan. 28 he wrote “Territorial Sweets” which appeared in the Enterprise [ET&S 1: 190].


January 31 Saturday Sam was in Carson City to send news back to the Territorial Enterprise. He sent at least three letters back, including the first article known to be signed “Mark Twain” [MTL 1: 245-6]. Throughout his life, Sam stuck to the story that he’d taken the name from Captain Isaiah Sellers, but researchers have never found any use of that name by Sellers. Another story ascribes the name to a barroom handle given to Sam when he ordered two drinks on credit. Of course, the term was a steamboat designation for twelve feet of water, barely enough for passage of a large steamboat. It was a call often heard on the river, and one Sam would have heard many times as a boy.


Notes: For an interesting and in-depth analysis of how Sam acquired his pseudonym, see Cardwell’s “Samuel Clemens’ Magical Pseudonym,” The New England Quarterly (June, 1975) p 175-93. Cardwell notes that the date given by Paine in the Biography and widely used, Feb. 2, 1863 is “almost surely wrong.” At the 2013 Mark Twain Convention in Elmira, Kevin Mac Donnell presented another theory, that of the “Mark Twain” name being in the Jan. 26, 1861 Vanity Fair article of “Phunny Phellow” that Twain could have seen in 1861 or, more likely at Carson in 1863, where copies of comedy sketches were archived and sometimes used as filler for local papers. Did Sam see the article? If so, did he decide to use it as his “brand” without disclosing the source? Years later he falsely claimed it was used by Capt. Isaiah Sellers after his death, but no evidence of Sellers using the handle has been found and Sam’s first known use of the name was a year before Seller’s death. For Mac Donnell’s full report see [Bibliography Number 6, Mark Twain Journal Spring/Fall 2012 50: 1 & 2, pp. 9-47].

Sam probably finished this third known “Letter from Carson City,” on this date, first using “Mark Twain” [ET&S 1: 192]. Painting a hilarious scene of a party at the Governor’s house, Sam thwacked the “Unreliable” mercilessly:

…he eluded me and planted himself at the piano; when he opened his cavernous mouth and displayed his slanting and scattered teeth, the effect upon that convivial audience was as if the gates of a graveyard, with its crumbling tombstones, had been thrown open in their midst… [Smith 52].

February 3 Tuesday – The article “Letter from Carson City,” signed, “Yours, dreamily, Mark Twain” ran in the Enterprise. This is the first article so signed. In this piece Sam pokes fun at his rival, Clement T. Rice, the “Unreliable” [MTL 1: 246].

EDS. ENTERPRISE: I feel very much as if I had just awakened out of a long sleep. I attribute it to the fact that I have slept the greater part of the time for the last two days and nights. On Wednesday, I sat up all night, in Virginia, in order to be up early enough to take the five o’clock stage on Thursday morning. I was on time. It was a great success. I had a cheerful trip down to Carson, in company with that incessant talker, Joseph T. Goodman. I never saw him flooded with such a flow of spirits before. He restrained his conversation, though, until we had traveled three or four miles, and were just crossing the divide between Silver City and Spring Valley, when he thrust his head out of the dark stage, and allowed a pallid light from the coach lamp to illuminate his features for a moment, after which he returned to darkness again, and sighed and said, “Damn it!” with some asperity. I asked him who he meant it for, and he said, “The weather out there.” As we approached Carson, at about half past seven o’clock, he thrust his head out again, and gazed earnestly in the direction of that city — after which he took it in again, with his nose very much frosted. He propped the end of that organ upon the end of his finger, and looked down pensively upon it — which had the effect of making him appear cross-eyed — and remarked, “O, damn it!” with great bitterness. I asked him what he was up to this time, and he said, “The cold, damp fog — it is worse than the weather.” This was his last. He never spoke again in my hearing. He went on over the mountains, with a lady fellow-passenger from here. That will stop his clatter, you know, for he seldom speaks in the presence of ladies [ET&S 1: 194-8].

Sam wrote another, “Letter from Carson,” which was printed on Feb. 5.


February 5 Thursday Sam’s “Letter from Carson” ran in the Enterprise and included: Sturtevant & Curry wedding, a murder case, and mining companies, and “The Unreliable”:

…I even felt like doing the Unreliable a kindness, and showing him, too, how my feelings toward him had changed. So I went and bought him a beautiful coffin, and carried it up and set it down on his bed, and told him to climb in when his time was up. Well, sir, you never saw a man so affected by a little act of kindness as he was by that. He let off a sort of war-whoop, and went to kicking things about like a crazy man, and he foamed at the mouth, and went out of one fit and into another faster than I could take them down in my note-book. I have got thirteen down, though, and I know he must have had two or three before I could find my pencil [ET&S 1: 202].

February 6 FridayAnother “Letter from Carson[Camfield, bibliog.].

February 8 Sunday Another “Letter from Carson,” headed “Thursday Morning,” (Feb. 5) was published in the Enterprise.

“The ways of the Unreliable are past finding out…I never saw such an awkward, ungainly lout in my life. He had on a pair of Jack Wilde’s pantaloons, and a swallow-tail coat…and they fitted him as neatly as an elephant’s hide would fit a poodle” [ET&S 1: 207-8].


February 9 Monday – “Isreal Putnam” (likely a pseudonym) wrote to Sam, referring to his new pen name.

Mark Twain: I received so good a compliment for you this morning that I am bound to communicate it to you. John Nugent inquired of me who Mark Twain was, and added that he had not seen so amusing a thing in newspaper literature in a long while as your letter in the Enterprise this morning. I gave him an account of you “so far as I knew.” I suppose you know that Nugent was John Phoenix’s most intimate friend. While we were talking about you, Mr. Nugent showed me an unpublished letter of the great humorist who is now in heaven.

      I didn’t suppose it was necessary for me to write this to you but I thought I would, because praise from Nugent is “praise from Sir Hubert Stanley,” as it were. (Oh! the last three words are original with me, you know.) But considering the critique of the Union on you the other day, I thought I would administer to you a strengthening plaster, if you felt like weakening, you know. / Yours, hoping you will not weaken, / “Isreal Putnam” [MTP].

Notes: likely a reaction to Sam’s Feb. 8 to the Enterprise. Charles A.V. Putnam was a colleague on the paper, and this may be from him. The Enterprise was not published on Mondays, so the reference may refer to Feb. 8 letter, in which Twain wrote of the “Unreliable,” Clement T. Rice of the Union making an ass of himself at a wedding (so it’s possible Rice sent this letter). John Nugent (1821-1880), former owner-editor of the S.F. Herald; John Phoenix was the pen name of George Derby (1823-1861); the Stanley phrase came from a play by Thomas Morton (1764-1838) and was commonly used during the late 1800s. Twain used the phrase himself in his May 3, 1907 note to Whitelaw Reid, upon replying to Reid’s cable announcing Twain’s honorary doctor of letters degree. See entry Vol IV.

February, early Sam stayed in Carson City for about a week, according to his Feb. 16 letter to his mother, and sister [MTL 1: 244].

February 12 or 22 Sunday Sam’s second visit to the Spanish Mine was written up and published in the Enterprise as “The Spanish” [ET&S 1: 160-1]. Sam threw in a verbal poke at his Union rival:

“…and by way of driving the proposition into heads like the Unreliable’s, which is filled with oysters instead of brains…” [ET&S 1: 167].


February 16 Monday – Sam wrote from Virginia City to his mother, Jane Clemens, and sister Pamela Moffett.

My Dr Mother & Sister:

I suppose I ought to write, but I hardly know what to write about. I am not in a very good humor, to-night. I wanted to rush down and take some comfort for a few days, in San Francisco, but there is no one here now, to take my place. They let me go, about the first of the month, to stay twenty-four hours in Carson, and I staid a week. Perhaps they haven’t much confidence in me now. If they have, I am proud to say it is misplaced. I am very well satisfied here. They pay me six dollars a day, and I make 50 per cent. profit by only doing three dollars’ worth of work.

Well, I have no news to report, unless it will interest you to know that they “struck it rich[] in the “Burnside” ledge last night. The stock was worth ten dollars a foot this morning. It sells at a hundred to-night. I don’t own it, Madam, though I might have owned several hundred feet of it yesterday, you know, & I assure [you] I would, if I had known they were going to “strike it.” None of us are prophets, though. However, I take an absorbing delight in the stock market. I love to watch the prices go up. My time will come after a while, & then I’ll rob somebody. I pick up a foot or two occasionally for lying about somebody’s mine. I shall sell out one of these days, when I catch a susceptible emigrant. If Orion writes you a crazy letter about the “Emma Gold & Silver Mining Company,” pay no attention to it. It is rich, but he owns very little stock in it. If he gets an eighth share in the adjoining company, though let him blow. It will be all right. He may never get it, however.

What do you show my letters for? Can’t you let me tell a lie occasionally to keep my hand in for the public, without exposing me?

I advertised for Mrs. Hubbard’s brother & David Anderson’s son. Mr. Dreschler called on me two days afterward. He was in robust health; lives in Steamboat Valley, near here; I promised to visit him. He owns ranch & city property, & is well off. Mr. Ellison called on me the same day. He said John Anderson was on his ranch at the Sink of the Carson, 60 miles from here. Anderson will return to St. Louis in the Spring to go to the wars. I sent him some late St. Louis, Louisville and New Orleans papers, & promised to visit him some day. Remember me kindly to Mrs. Hubbard & Fannie.

Pamela, you do not say whether you are getting well or not? I think you will have to spend next Summer at the Fountain of Youth—the fabled spring which the weary Spaniards sought with such a hopeful yearning, and never found. But I have found it, and it is Lake Bigler. No foul disease may hope to live in the presence of such beauty as that. I send the paper to Moffett & Scroter every day; you will find in it all that you do not find in my letters.

I inclose a picture for Margaret Sexton. Had your letter arrived a little sooner, I could have sent it to her myself, as a Valentine.

Yrs affctnly

Sam. L. Clemens

Remember me to all [MTL 1: 244-5].


Note from source notes #4: “William H. C. Nash of Hannibal (b. 1829) was a childhood friend of Clemens’s and brother of Mary Nash Hubbard. Nash emigrated to the West in 1849 and remained twenty years, after which he returned to Hannibal and became a merchant; in later years he was city assessor and president of the board of education (Greene, 281; Hannibal Courier-Post, 6 Mar 1935, 7B). None of the other people mentioned in this paragraph has been identified.”

February 1722 Sunday “Silver Bars—How Assayed,” ran in the Enterprise. Branch calls this sketch “a good example of Clemens’ capacity to assimilate technical information to his humorous vision, transforming it yet also presenting the facts in a reasonably intelligent way” [ET&S 1: 210].

February 1726 Thursday Sam’s item in the Enterprise Local Column:



February 18 Wednesday – Sam assigned a “special power of attorney” over his mining interests to Daniel H. Twing [MTL 1: 237n2].


February 19 Thursday “Ye Sentimental Law Student,” dated Feb. 14 ran in the Enterprise. Joe Goodman claimed this was the first use of the signature “Mark Twain,” so he may not have known about the Feb. 3 letter. The article is a parody of poetic excess in description of what was not viewable even from the top of the mountains around Virginia Cityall laid at the feet of the “Unreliable [ET&S 1: 215-9]. Sam’s Local Column included: “LaPlata Ore Company,” “Concert,” and:

THE CHINA TRIAL. — We were there, yesterday, not because we were obliged to go, but just because we wanted to. The more we see of this aggravated trial, the more profound does our admiration for it become. It has more phases than the moon has in a chapter of the almanac. It commenced as an assassination; the assassinated man neglected to die, and they turned it into assault and battery; after this the victim did die, whereupon his murderers were arrested and tried yesterday for perjury; they convicted one Chinaman, but when they found out it was the wrong one, they let him go — and why they should have been so almighty particular is beyond our comprehension; then, in the afternoon, the officers went down and arrested Chinatown again for the same old offense, and put it in jail — but what shape the charge will take this time, no man can foresee: the chances are that it will be about a stand-off between arson and robbing the mail. Capt. White hopes to get the murderers of the Chinaman hung one of these days, and so do we, for that matter, but we do not expect anything of the kind. You see, these Chinamen are all alike, and they cannot identify each other. They mean well enough, and they really show a disinterested anxiety to get some of their friends and relatives hung, but the same misfortune overtakes them every time: they make mistakes and get the wrong man, with unvarying accuracy. With a zeal in behalf of justice which cannot be too highly praised, the whole Chinese population have accused each other of this murder, each in his regular turn, but fate is against them. They cannot tell each other apart. There is only one way to manage this thing with strict equity: hang the gentle Chinamen promiscuously, until justice is satisfied [ET&S 1: 402-3].

February 22 Sunday – Sam left Carson City [ET&S 1: 221].


February 23 Monday Sam attended the Firemen’s Ball at Topliffe’s Theater on North C Street in Virginia City [ET&S 1: 223]. The next day, Clement T. Rice (“The Unreliable”) of the Virginia Daily Union wrote:

“Mark Twain was at the Fireman’s ball last night dressed in a most ridiculous manner. He had on a linen coat, calf-skin vest, and a pair of white pants, the whole set off with a huge pair of Buffalo shoes and lemon-colored kids” [Marleau, “Some Early” 13].


February 24March 31 Tuesday “A Sunday in Carson” ran in the Enterprise:


I arrived in this noisy and bustling town of Carson at noon to-day, per Langton’s express. We made pretty good time from Virginia, and might have made much better, but for Horace Smith, Esq., who rode on the box seat and kept the stage so much by the head she wouldn’t steer. I went to church, of course, — I always go to church when I — when I go to church — as it were. I got there just in time to hear the closing hymn, and also to hear the Rev. Mr. White give out a long metre doxology, which the choir tried to sing to a short-metre tune. But there wasn’t music enough to go around: consequently, the effect was rather singular, than otherwise. They sang the most interesting parts of each line, though, and charged the balance to “profit and loss;” this rendered the general intent and meaning of the doxology considerably mixed, as far as the congregation were concerned, but inasmuch as it was not addressed to them, anyhow, I thought it made no particular difference.


By an easy and pleasant transition, I went from church to jail. It was only just down stairs — for they save men eternally in the second story of the new court house, and damn them for life in the first. Sheriff Gasherie has a handsome double office fronting on the street, and its walls are gorgeously decorated with iron convict-jewelry. In the rear are two rows of cells, built of bomb-proof masonry and furnished with strong iron doors and resistless locks and bolts. There was but one prisoner — Swayze, the murderer of Derickson — and he was writing; I do not know what his subject was, but he appeared to be handling it in a way which gave him great satisfaction… [ET&S 1: 222]. Note: D.J. Gasherie


February 25 Wednesday Sam’s Local Column in the Enterprise included: “The Unreliable,” a continuing mock attack on his rival at the Virginia Union, Clement T. Rice, in answer to his article of Feb. 24 on Sam’s dress:

“This poor miserable outcast crowded himself into the Firemen’s Ball, night before last, and glared upon the happy scene with his evil eye for a few minutes. He had his coat buttoned up to his chin, which is the way he always does when he has no shirt on” [ET&S 1: 225].

Also in the column: “Many Citizens,” “Small Pox,” “School-House,” “Trial To-Day,” “District Court,” “Suicide,” and “Telegraphic” [ET&S 1: 404-7].


February 26 Thursday Sam printed a mock obituary, which Fatout calls “round one” in the trumped-up feud between Sam and his rival, Clement T. Rice, named by Sam “The Unreliable.” (Earlier jabs at Rice had been made, however). It was reprinted in the Marysville Daily Appeal on Feb. 28.



He became a newspaper reporter, and crushed Truth to earth and kept her there; he bought and sold his own notes, and never paid his board; he pretended great friendship for [William] Gillespie, in order to get to sleep with him; then he took advantage of his bed fellow and robbed him of his glass eye and his false teeth; of course he sold the articles, and Gillespie was obliged to issue more county scrip than the law allowed, in order to get them back again; the Unreliable broke into my trunk at Washoe City, and took jewelry and fine clothes and things, worth thousands and thousands of dollars; he was present, without invitation, at every party and ball and wedding which transpired in Carson during thirteen years. But the last act of his life was the crowning meanness of it: I refer to the abuse of me in the Virginia Union of last Saturday, and also to a list of Langton’s stage passengers sent to the same paper by him, wherein my name appears between those of “Sam Chung” and “Sam Lee.” This is his treatment of me, his benefactor. That malicious joke was his dying atrocity. During thirteen years he played himself for a white man: he fitly closed his vile career by trying to play me for a Chinaman. He is dead and buried now, though: let him rest, let him rot. Let his vices be forgotten, but let his virtues be remembered: it will not infringe much upon any man’s time.


P. S. — By private letters from Carson, since the above was in type, I am pained to learn that the Unreliable, true to his unnatural instincts, came to life again in the midst of his funeral sermon. and remains so to this moment. He was always unreliable in life — he could not even be depended upon in death. The shrouded corpse shoved the coffin lid to one side, rose to a sitting posture, cocked his eye at the minister and smilingly said, “O let up, Dominie, this is played out, you know — loan me two bits!” The frightened congregation rushed from the house, and the Unreliable followed them, with his coffin on his shoulder. He sold it for two dollars and a half, and got drunk at a “bit house” on the proceeds. He is still drunk [Fatout, MT Speaks 10; ET&S 1: 226-8].

Also, Sam’s article “From the Humboldt River Region” ran in the Enterprise about this date [Camfield, bibliog.].

February 27 FridayDennis Driscoll (1823-1876), bookkeeper for the Enterprise, wrote Dan De Quille about the paper being shorthanded and needing him to return from Iowa, where he’d gone to see family. Driscoll wrote that “Barstow had left our employ,” Joe Goodman had gone to San Francisco to meet his mother; Denis McCarthy had gone off to San Francisco to get married and might not return for a month.

“You see this leaves me alone. I am attending to business, with Charley Parker on the outside collecting. Biggs in Joe’s place editing and Sam Clemens localizing. Howard Taylor has returned and is foreman on the paper” [From the Collection of The James S. Copley Library, La Jolla, Calif.].


March or April The Enterprise printed Sam’s humorous “Examination of Teachers”:

Under the head of ‘Object Teaching,’ we found some ten questions…We barely glanced at the list…when we felt great beads of perspiration starting out of our brow—our massive intellect oozing out. Happening to read a question like this, ‘Name four of the faculties of children that are earliest developed,’ we at once became anxious to get out of the room [ET&S 1: 232].

March 112 Thursday Sam’s Local Column in the Enterprise:


CALICO SKIRMISH. – Five Spanish women, of unquestionable character, were arraigned before Judge Atwill yesterday, some as principals and some as accessories to a feminine fight of a bloodthirsty description in A street. It was proved that one of them drew a navy revolver and a bowie-knife and attempted to use them upon another of the party, but being prevented, she fired three shots through the floor, for the purpose of easing her mind, no doubt. She was bound over to keep the peace, and the whole party dismissed [ET&S 1: 409].

March 4 Wednesday The Enterprise printed “City Marshal Perry” a Clemens spoof biography of John Van Buren (Jack) Perry, a Virginia City notable re-elected city marshal on Mar. 2 [ET&S 1: 233-8].

March 6 Friday The Washoe Stock and Exchange Board was organized in Virginia City and Sam covered the dinner event for the Enterprise [ET&S 1: 239].


March 7 Saturday – Sam’s Enterprise article about the stock board dinner, “Champagne with the Board of Brokers” was another jab at The Unreliable [ET&S 1: 240].

March 20 Friday partial Enterprise article attributed to Sam, title of this column remains unidentified:

After remaining for a long time in a partially developed state of agriculturality—so to speak—Honey Lake has shown the features of the Nevada family at last—the earmarks of the Washoe litter—and suddenly cropped out as a mining district. Several promising ledges have been discovered round about Susanville, and the people are already beginning to use the language of “feet.” Specimens from two new locations—the Union and the Bridges leads—look exceedingly well. They seem to contain no silver, but are sprinkled with free gold, easily seen with the naked eye.


[Schmidt: reprinted in Mark Twain in Virginia City, Paul Fatout, Indiana University Press (1964) 42. Subsequent attempts to locate this item as cited have been unsuccessful. It is possible the date is in error and the item appears in a reprint elsewhere].

March 31 Tuesday The Enterprise item, “Captain Alpheus Smith,” is attributed to Sam [Fatout, MT in VC 137]. Fatout presents this article to reflect the “furor” made about the Reese River mining district, and as an object lesson that Sam did not “rush off to the diggings,” because he’d “had enough of that.”

April or May 1863 Sometime during these two months an article titled, “For Lager” appeared in the Enterprise and is attributed to Sam [Schmidt].

April 3 Friday Sam’s Local Column in the Enterprise:A Distinguished Visitor,” “Clara Kopka,” “The Lois Ann mine,” “ Island Mill,” “Gould & Curry,” and “Minstrels.”

GOULD & CURRY. — They struck it marvelously rich in a new shaft in the Gould & Curry mine last Saturday night. We saw half a ton of native silver at the mouth of the tunnel, on Tuesday, with a particle of quartz in it here and there, which could be readily distinguished without the aid of a glass. That particular half ton will yield some where in the neighborhood of ten thousand dollars. We have long waited patiently for the Gould & Curry to flicker out, but we cannot discover much encouragement about this last flicker. However, it is of no consequence — it was a mere matter of curiosity anyhow; we only wanted to see if she would, you know.

THE MINSTRELS. — We were present at La Plata Hall about two minutes last night, and heard Sam. Pride’s banjo make a very excellent speech in English to the audience. The house was crowded to suffocation [ET&S 1: 410-12].

April 1112 Sunday – Sam wrote from Virginia City to his mother, and sister Pamela Moffett.

My Dear Mother & Sister

It is very late at night, & I am writing in my room, which is not quite as large or as nice as the one I had at home. My board, washing & lodging cost me seventy-five dollars a month.

I have just received your letter, Ma, from Carson—the one in which you doubt my veracity about the tape worm, and also about statements I made in a letter to you. That’s right. I don’t recollect what the statements were, but I suppose they were mining statistics. [in margin: Ma, write on whole letter sheets—is paper scarce in St Louis?] I have just finished writing up my report for the morning paper, and giving the Unreliable a column of advice about how to conduct himself in church, and now I will tell you a few more lies, while my hand is in. For instance, some of the boys made me a present of fifty feet in the East India G & S. M. Company, ten days ago. I was offered ninety-five dollars a foot for it, yesterday, in gold. I refused it—not because I think the claim is worth a cent, for I don’t, but because I had a curiosity to see how high it would go, before people find out how worthless it is. Besides, what if one mining claim does fool me?—I have got plenty more. I am not in a particular hurry to get rich. I suppose I couldn’t well help getting rich here some time or other, whether I wanted to or not. You folks do not believe in Nevada, and I am glad you don’t. Just keep on thinking so.

Note: A double murder occurred while Sam was writing and he added this P.S.: “I have just heard five pistol shots down street—as such things are in my line, I will go and see about it.”

John Campbell had murdered two policemen in the early hours of Apr. 12. Sam wrote about the incident in the Enterprise, as a “horrible affair” sometime between Apr. 16 and 18. Sam, also wrote of his hatred for Californians, as they “hate Missourians.” His remarks are probably the result of a bitter border dispute between Nevada and California, which put the disposition of Aurora in doubt. In less than a month Sam and Clement T. Rice would spend two months in San Francisco. Sam referred to Rice, a rival but friendly reporter of the Virginia City Union, as the “Unreliable” in their mock feud.

He also asked to be remembered to folks back home:

O, say, Ma, who was that girl—that sweetheart of mine you say got married, and her father gave her husband $100 (so you said, but I suppose you meant $100,000,)? It was Emma Roe, wasn’t it? What in thunder did I want with her? I mean, since she wouldn’t have had me if I had asked her to? Let her slide—I don’t suppose her life has ever been, is now, or ever will be, any happier than mine.

Remember me to Zeb, and Uncle Jim, and Aunt Ella, and Cousin Bettie, and tell the whole party to stay in St. Louis—it is such a slow, old fogy, easy-going humbug of a town. And don’t forget to remember [me] to Mrs. Sexton and Margaret—has Margaret recovered from her illness? And be sure to remember me kindly to our Margaret at home.

Yrs aff

Sam [MTL 1: 246-50].

Notes: Zeb Leavenworth, James and Ella Lampton, the Moffett Servant Margaret, and Elizabeth Ann Lampton (1823-1906) may be “Cousin Bettie,” Jane’s first cousin. Parts of this letter are missing. Emma Comfort Roe (1844-1904) daughter of John J. Roe (1809-1870), wealthy St. Louis merchant for whom the steamboat John J. Roe was named.

On Apr. 11 in the Enterprise, another powerful jab at Unreliable:


In the first place, I must impress upon you that when you are dressing for church, as a general thing, you mix your perfumes too much; your fragrance is sometimes oppressive; you saturate yourself with cologne and bergamot, until you make a sort of Hamlet’s Ghost of yourself, and no man can decide, with the first whiff, whether you bring with you air from Heaven or from hell. Now, rectify this matter as soon as possible; last Sunday you smelled like a secretary to a consolidated drug store and barber shop. And you came and sat in the same pew with me; now don’t do that again.

In the next place when you design coming to church, don’t lie in bed until half past ten o’clock and then come in looking all swelled and torpid, like a doughnut. Do reflect upon it, and show some respect for your personal appearance hereafter.

There is another matter, also, which I wish to remonstrate with you about. Generally, when the contribution box of the missionary department is passing around, you begin to look anxious, and fumble in your vest pockets, as if you felt a mighty desire to put all your worldly wealth into it — yet when it reaches your pew, you are sure to be absorbed in your prayer-book, or gazing pensively out of the window at far-off mountains, or buried in meditation, with your sinful head supported by the back of the pew before you. And after the box is gone again, you usually start suddenly and gaze after it with a yearning look, mingled with an expression of bitter disappointment (fumbling your cash again meantime), as if you felt you had missed the one grand opportunity for which you had been longing all your life. Now, to do this when you have money in your pockets is mean. But I have seen you do a meaner thing. I refer to your conduct last Sunday, when the contribution box arrived at our pew — and the angry blood rises to my cheek when I remember with what gravity and sweet serenity of countenance you put in fifty cents and took out two dollars and a half… [ET&S 1: 241].

April 16 Thursday – Sam wrote a letter from Virginia City to his mother, of which a fragment survives.

ladies at the other end, who, when they had finished their meal, came by & asked me to come into the parlor after dinner. I accepted, gladly, thinking I had my new friend “in the door” then—as the faro players say—but I was mistaken, you know. He proceeded with me to the parlor door—but for the sake of his friends & his innocence, I said nothing uncivil to him, but turned away & went up town, he still following. He staid with me bravely, until I had gone all my usual rounds & a few unusual ones, too, although a fearful snowstorm was raging at the time—and came back to the office with me, where he staid until 8 or 9 o’clock & then went out to feed his oxen—since which time I am happy to inform you, Madam, I have neither seen or heard of him. Remember me kindly to his folks, & especially to Mrs. Dr Douglas.

Bully for Mrs Holliday—she owes me five or ten dollars. Tell Uncle Jim I don’t write, simply because I am too lazy. Nothing but that deep & abiding sense of duty which is a second nature with me, prompts me to write even to my gay & sprightly mother. It is misery to me to write letters. But I say, Ma, don’t let your kind heart be exercised about Poor John Anderson, because in that case I shall get the benefit of it in your next, you know. This country will take the “soft solder” out of him—just let him alone.

Why, certainly, if Mr. Moffett will advance you money on my account Ma, draw liberally—I’ll foot the bill some day.

But I can’t write any more. They have “struck it rich” in the “front ledge” in Gold Hill the other day, & I must go out and find out something more about it. … [MTL 1: 251]. Note: Sam wrote up the strike. See Apr. 17 entry. “Uncle Jim” was James A.H. Lampton; Mrs. Douglas unidentified.

April 1618 Saturday – “Horrible Affair” was published in the Enterprise. Sam wrote that five Indians “had been smothered to death in a tunnel back of Gold Hill.” He included this account in a list of hoaxes some five years after [ET&S 1: 244-7].

April 17 Friday – The Enterprise ran Sam’s article “Latest from Washoe” about the Gold Hill discovery [MTL 1: 251-2n3]:

The recent discovery at Gold Hill has materially advanced the rates of the claims on the main range, and is really of great importance. The discovery consists of a newly developed ledge, of surprising richness, immediately in front of what has been supposed to be the front vein in that locality. Should the new ledge prove to be permanent and continuous, it will doubtless be claimed as a portion of the main Gold Hill possessions.

April 1930 Thursday – Sam’s Local Column in the Enterprise contained “Electric Mill Machinery,” a short squib reporting a new “infernal” invention to “turn quartz mills” [ET&S 1: 413].

April 24 Friday – Sam was up to his old journalism tricks again as he recalled in the Enterprise the excitement of the past week and included a spoof of mining strikes:

The grand climax of the epidemic fell yesterday, and in the shape of another mineral discovery. Mr. Mark Twain and the Unreliable made it [another mineral discovery], somewhere in B street, and established their lines of location so ingeniously as to take in the Ophir, the Spanish and other of the richest claims of the Comstock lode. The croppings of the ledge especially taken up by these gentlemen look very imposing…look as natural as if they had been dumped on the spot from a cart…The company shall be known as the Unreliable Auriferous, Argentiferous, Metaliferous Mining Company [MTL 1: 252].


May 1 Friday ca. – Sam and Clement Rice (“The Unreliable”) arrived in San Francisco by stagecoach, by way of Henness Pass [Sanborn 195]. This approximate date is confirmed by Joe Goodman’s letter of May 5 to Dan De Quille in Iowa. After pleading with Dan to return to the Enterprise by raising his pay to $40 per week plus a promise to “get the public to hold a donation party twice a year,” and even offering to send travel funds, Joe wrote:

“I am doing the local now. Wash Wright is on the editorial. Sam went to San Francisco about a week ago, to remain for an indefinite time — and it is doubtful whether he will be connected with the paper again or not” [From the Collection of The James S. Copley Library, La Jolla, Calif.]


May 3 Sunday A column signed by “Mark Twain” but probably written by Joe Goodman ran in the Enterprise toasting Sam’s departure from Virginia City to San Francisco, his first visit there. “He has gone to display his ugly person and disgusting manners and wildcat on Montgomery Street. In all of which he will be assisted by his protégée, the Unreliable” [MTL 1: 253]. A. Hoffman claims these were Goodman’s words, and that Sam took off for San Francisco “about the first of May” [80]. (See May 1 entry.)

May 5 to August 10 Monday ca. – A photo of Sam with muttonchops is given this date range at MTP.


May 15 Friday Sam’s sketch “Stories for Good Little Boys and Girls” ran in the Golden Era [Camfield, bibliog.].


May 16 Saturday – Sam wrote to the Territorial Enterprise, “Letter from Mark Twain.” The sketch anticipated the fictional “Mr. Brown” and “Mr. Twain” of his 1866 Sandwich Islands Letters to the Sacramento Union [MTL 1: 256n1; ET&S 1: 248-9].

May, mid – The first two weeks Sam ran around with an old Hannibal friend he bumped into shortly after arriving in the City, Neil Moss, the son of a rich pork-packer. He also met Bill Briggs (b.1831?), John’s older brother, and one of Sam’s Hannibal gang. He took a horse-drawn omnibus from Portsmouth Square to Ocean House, where he walked along the beach barefoot in the surf. It reminded him of a decade before in New York, when he’d done likewise in the Atlantic: “& then I had a proper appreciation of the vastness of this country—for I had traveled from ocean to ocean…”

One night, Clement T. Rice and Sam went to the Bella Union Melodeon on Washington Street to see a variety show. The show featured “lovely and blooming damsels with the largest ankles you ever saw…[dressed] like so many parasols” [Sanborn 197].

May 18? Monday – Sam wrote from San Francisco to his mother, and sister Pamela. Two MS pages are missing with about 400 words. The remaining:

When I first came down here, I was with Neil Moss every day for about two weeks, but he has gone down to Coso now. He says he is about to realize something from those mines there, after roughing it & working hard for three years. He says he has had a very hard time ever since he has been in California—has done pretty much all kinds of work to make a living—keeping school in the country among other things. He looks just like his father did eight or ten years ago—though a little rougher & more weather-beaten perhaps. The man whom I have heard people call the “handsomest & finest-looking man in California,” is Bill Briggs. I meet him on Montgomery street every day. He keeps a somewhat extensive gambling hell opposite the Russ House. I went up with him once to see it.

I shall remain here ten days or two weeks longer, & then return to Virginia, & go to work again. They want me to correspond with one of these dailies here, & if they will pay me enough, [about nine words torn away] I’ll do it. (The pay is only a “blind”—I’ll correspond anyhow. If I don’t know how to make such a thing pay me—if I don’t know how to levy black-mail on the mining companies,who does, I should like to know?)

Ma, I have got five twenty-dollar greenbacks—the first of that kind of money I ever had. I’ll send them to you—one at a time, so that if one or two get lost, it will not amount to anything. I have been mighty neglectful about remittances heretofore, Ma, but when I return to Virginia, I’ll do better. I’ll sell some wildcat every now & then, & send you some money. Enclosed you will find one of the rags I spoke of—it’s a ratty-looking animal, anyway. Love to all.

Yrs affctiny


[MTL 1: 253]. Notes: Neil Moss (b. 1835 or 6) the son of Russell Moss, Hannibal pork-packing firm owner. Bill Briggs (b. 1830 or 31) eldest son of Hannibal’s William Briggs and brother of Sam’s childhood pal John Briggs. Bill became a professional gambler. Between May and August, Sam sent “at least twelve enclosures” of these greenbacks, noted on each letter; only five letters have been discovered.

Sam contracted with the San Francisco Morning Call and the Golden Era (a literary weekly) to write a series of letters on Nevada news. These letters appeared in the Call from Aug. through Dec. 1863 [MT Encyclopedia, McFatter 652].

May 19 Tuesday­ – The Fresno Mining Co. issued ten shares of stock to “Samuel L. Clemmens” [sic] in Aurora, Esmeralda mining district. The company was incorporated on Jan. 22, 1863 [Spink Shreves Galleries Sale 121 Lot 487, 2010]. Note: see insert.


May 1921 Thursday The “Letter from Mark Twain” written on May 16 was printed in the Enterprise sometime during this period. This is the first letter extant from San Francisco to the paper.

JuneJuly “Bullion,” and “Decidedly Rich,” items attributed to Sam, ran in the Enterprise [Schmidt].

June 1 Monday – Sam was still in San Francisco, but now stayed at the Lick House at Montgomery and Sutter. The Lick House was more opulent than their first stay at the Occidental Hotel at Bush and Montgomery ($2.50 per day) [MTL 1: 256n1, MT Encyclopedia, Zall 651].

Sam wrote his mother, and sister Pamela, enclosing another $20 greenback.

The Unreliable & myself are still here, & still enjoying ourselves. I suppose I know at least a thousand people here—a great many of them citizens of San Francisco, but the majority belonging in Washoe—& when I go down Montgomery street, shaking hands with Tom, Dick & Harry, it is just like being in Main street in Hannibal & meeting the old familiar faces. I do hate to go back to Washoe [MTL 1: 255].

June 4 Thursday Sam wrote from San Francisco to his mother, and sister Pamela, sending another $20 greenback. “…it seems like going back to prison to go back to the snows & the deserts of Washoe, after living in this Paradise. But then I shall soon get used to it—all places are alike to me” [MTL 1: 256].

June 19 Friday Sam wrote “All About Fashions,” (“Mark Twain – More of Him,”) a piece that was published in revised version in the San Francisco Golden Era on Sept. 27. It was probably published in the Enterprise sometime between June 20 and 24 [ET&S 1: 304]. Note: Budd says between June 21 and June 24, 1863 [“Collected” 1001].

June 20 Saturday – Sam wrote from San Francisco to Orion and Mollieall in a dither about Echo stock, of which he had a small share. Sam had speculated on the stock and helped to raise the price later by writing glowing accounts of the mine to the San Francisco Morning Call [MTL 1: 258].

June 2124 Wednesday Sam’s LETTER FROM MARK TWAIN – ALL ABOUT FASHIONS was printed in the Enterprise. It was the main body of “Mark Twain—More of Him” written on June 19; see also Sept. 27 entry for reprint in Golden Era [ET&S 1: 304]. An excerpt:

EDS. ENTERPRISE: – I have just received, per Wells-Fargo, the following sweet scented little note, written in a microscopic hand in the center of a delicate sheet of paper — like a wedding invitation or a funeral notice — and I feel it my duty to answer it:

VIRGINIA, June 16.

“MR. MARK TWAIN: – Do tell us something about the fashions. I am dying to know what the ladies of San Francisco are wearing. Do, now, tell us all you know about it, won’t you? Pray excuse brevity, for I am in such a hurry. BETTIE.

“P. S. — Please burn this as soon as you have read it.”

“Do tell us” – and she is in “such a hurry.” Well, I never knew a girl in my life who could write three consecutive sentences without italicising a word. They can’t do it, you know. Now, if I had a wife, and she — however, I don’t think I shall have one this week, and it is hardly worth while to borrow trouble.

Bettie, my love, you do me proud. In thus requesting me to fix up the fashions for you in an intelligent manner, you pay a compliment to my critical and observant eye and my varied and extensive information, which a mind less perfectly balanced than mine could scarcely contemplate without excess of vanity. Will I tell you something about the fashions? I will, Bettie — you better bet you bet, Betsey, my darling. I learned those expressions from the Unreliable; like all the phrases which fall from his lips, they are frightfully vulgar — but then they sound rather musical than otherwise.

A happy circumstance has put it in my power to furnish you the fashions from headquarters — as it were, Bettie: I refer to the assemblage of fashion, elegance and loveliness called together in the parlor of the Lick House last night — (a party given by the proprietors on the occasion of my paying up that little balance due on my board bill) I will give a brief and lucid description of the dresses worn by several of the ladies of my acquaintance who were present. Mrs. B. was arrayed in a superb speckled foulard, with the stripes running fore and aft, and with collets and camails to match; also, a rotonde of Chantilly lace, embroidered with blue and yellow dogs, and birds and things, done in cruel, and edged with a Solferino fringe four inches deep — lovely. Mrs. B. is tall, and graceful and beautiful, and the general effect of her costume was to render her appearance extremely lively [ET&S 1: 309-12].

July “Gymnasium,” and article attributed to Sam, ran in the Enterprise [Camfield, bibliog.].

JulyAugust “Report on Bullion Production,” attributed to Sam, ran in the Enterprise [Schmidt].

July 2 Thursday – Sam arrived back in Virginia City [MTL 1: 254n6]. Sam’s article “The Comstock Mines” ran about this day in the Enterprise [Camfield, bibliog.].


July 5 Sunday Sam’s first in a series of “Mark Twain’s Letters” was dated this day. See July 9 entry for publication [ET&S 1: 254-258].

July 8 Wednesday – Sam spoke at the dedication of the new Collins House hotel, a great success. Sam had made an equally pleasing speech back in 1856 for the Keokuk printers [MTL 1: 263].

July 9 Thursday – The Evening Bulletin reported on Sam’s speech dedicating Virginia City’s newest hotel, the Collins House:

Perhaps the speech of the evening was made by Sam. Clemens. Those not familiar with this young man, do not know the depths of grave tenderness in his nature. He almost brought the house to tears by his touching simple pathos [MTL 1: 263].

Sam’s first of a series of ten “Mark Twain’s Letters,” written from Virginia City, dated July 5, ran in the San Francisco Morning Call. This letter discussed his return by Henness Pass, the bustle and violence of Virginia City, MaGuire’s new Opera House, and miscellany [ET&S 1: 254-258].


July 1417 Friday Sam’s unsigned “Extracts” ran between these dates in the Enterprise and were reprinted July 27 in Mining and Scientific Press [Camfield, bibliog.].


July 14 Tuesday – The Virginia City Bulletin ran a headline LOOK OUT MARK! After the drama “East Lynne” was incorrectly announced by Sam in the Enterprise for July 15 instead of July 14 and 16. [The Twainian, Nov.-Dec. 1948 p.3].

Four hundred and ninety-six hundred thousand incorporations have been filed, in the County Clerk’s office up to date. So Sam Clemens says [The Twainian, Nov-Dec 1948, p3].


July 15 Wednesday – Another “Mark Twain’s Letter” (dated July 12) ran in the San Francisco Morning Call. Sam wrote that the dollar value of Echo’s “first class ore goes clear out of sight into the thousands” [MTL 1: 259; Camfield, bibliog.].

July 16 Thursday Sam’s article “Particulars of the Recent ‘Cave’ of the Mexican and Ophir Mines” ran in the Enterprise, and was reprinted in the Evening Bulletin July 21 [Camfield, bibliog.].

July 17 Friday Sam’s article “An Hour in the Caved Mine” ran in the Enterprise [Camfield, bibliog.].


July 18 Saturday In Virginia City, Sam wrote his mother, and sister Pamela and sent another $20 greenback. Sam now roomed in the White House on B Street. The letter was a defense of his money and its source: selling wildcat mining ground that was given to him. He wrote that he:

“never gamble[s], in any shape or manner, and never drink anything stronger than claret or lager beer, which conduct is regarded as miraculously temperate in this country” [MTL 1: 260].

Another of Sam’s “Mark Twain’s Letter” (dated July 16) ran in the San Francisco Morning Call. Sam wrote of the Ophir mine and a minor cave in there [The Twainian, Jan-Feb 1952, p3].

July 23 Thursday Another “Mark Twain Letter” (dated July 19) ran in the Morning Call. Subheadings: Judicial Broil; Theatricals; General Benevolence; The Caved Mines; About Other Mines: Immigration; Billiard Match [Camfield, bibliog.].

July 24 FridayOrion’s term as acting governor of Nevada Territory ended [ET&S 1: 465].

July 25 Saturday – The Virginia City Bulletin ran an item about Mark Twain seen coming from the Chinatown section of town with “a feather in his cap we supposed you had turned Pah-Ute.” This could have been an indirect reference to Sam frequenting the red light district [The Twainian, Nov.-Dec. 1948, p.4].


July 26 Sunday – Sam and Clement T. Rice were forced out of their White House Hotel rooms by a fire at 11 AM. Sam went solo to a room in an “A” street mansion [MTL 1: 262]. Accounts of the fire appeared the next day in the Virginia City Evening Bulletin, and on July 28 in the Union.  Note: a larger fire burned 70 buildings in late August. In some accounts this fire is confused with the larger conflagration.

July 30 Thursday – Sam’s account of his Virginia City fire experience (dated July 26) ran in the San Francisco Morning Call:

I discovered that the room under mine was on fire, gave the alarm, and went down to see how extensive it might be….I came near not escaping from the house at all. I started to the door with my trunk, but I couldn’t stand the smoke, wherefore I abandoned that valuable piece of furniture in the hall, and returned and jumped out at the window…Now do you know that trunk was utterly consumed, together with its contents, consisting of a pair of socks, a package of love letters, and $300,000 worth of ‘wildcat’ stocks? Yes, Sir, it was; and I am a bankrupt community. Plug hat, numerous sets of complete harness—all broadcloth—lost—eternally lost. However, the articles were borrowed, as a general thing. I don’t mind losing them [MTL 1: 262-3;ET&S 1: 259].

July 31 Friday – The new Enterprise building and its new steam press were completed on North C street [Mack 233]. With all the celebrating of the event Sam’s chronic bronchitis forced him to bed. He asked Clement T. Rice to fill in for him, and Rice did so, taking the opportunity to run a fake “apology” in the Enterprise (see Aug. 1 entry).


August 1 Saturday – The Virginia City Bulletin ran a short article, “Gymnasium”


“Mark Twain wants a gym in this city. Wouldn’t a bath house afford him as healthy exercise?”

To which Sam answered in the Enterprise soon after:

“Well, my boy, before that gym is completed, we will put you through some evolutions that will make you think a bath house is a very healthy institution. That is if you don’t ‘dry up’ ” [The Twainian, Nov.-Dec. 1948 p.4].


Clement T. Rice, the “Unreliable,” filling in for a sick Mark Twain, took this opportunity to run “APOLOGETIC” in the Enterprise, represented as being from Sam:

It is said an “open confession is good for the soul.” We have been on the stool of repentance for a long time, but have not before had the moral courage to acknowledge our manifold sins and wickedness. We confess to this weakness. We have commenced this article under the head of “Apologetic”—we mean it, if we ever meant anything in our life. To Mayor Arick, Hon. Wm. M. Stewart, Marshal Perry, Hon. J.B. Winters, Mr. Olin, and Samuel Witherel, besides a host of others whom we have ridiculed from behind the shelter of our reportorial position, we say to these gentlemen, we acknowledge our faults and in all weakness and simplicity—upon our bended marrow-bones—we ask their forgiveness, promising that in the future we will give them no cause for anything but the best of feeling toward us. To “Young Wilson,” and the “Unreliable,” (as we feel that no apology we can make begins to atone for the many insults we have given them)….We will now go in sackcloth and ashes for the next forty days. What more can we do? [Mack 233-4].

The Sonora Silver Mining Co. issued five shares of stock to “S. Clements” on this date. The company was incorporated on July 13, 1863, only two weeks prior [Meltzer 59].


August 2 Sunday Sam’s “A Duel Prevented,” was published in the Enterprise. He also telegraphed the Call of the conflict between Joe Goodman of the Enterprise and the “fiery” Thomas Fitch (1838-1923) of the Virginia Union, and the dispatch ran under the headline “Tom Fitch in a Duel—Officer Interposes” [Branch, C of Call 286]. The article is what Branch calls “a personal account of much ado about nothing, a tale of comic frustration” [ET&S 1: 262-6].

August 4 Tuesday While Sam had been laid up with a cold he invited Clement T. Rice to write local items for the Enterprise, even though he was a Union reporter. Rice played a trick and published an “apology” from Sam to Rice. “An Apology Repudiated” appeared in the Enterprise by Sam:

We are to blame for giving the ‘Unreliable’ an opportunity to misrepresent us, and therefore refrain from repining to any great extent at the result. We simply claim the right to deny the truth of every statement made by him in yesterday’s paper, to annul all apologies he coined as coming from us, and to hold him up to public commiseration as a reptile endowed with no more intellect, no more cultivation, no more Christian principle than animates and adorns the sportive jackass rabbit of the Sierras. We have done [ET&S 1: 267-9].

August 5 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Virginia City to his mother, and sister Pamela, sending another $20 greenback. Sam wrote: “I got burned out about ten days ago—saved nothing but the clothes I had on” [MTL 1: 261].

The Virginia City Bulletin cried quits—they’d had enough jousting with Sam, sort of:

“At the solicitation of at least 1500 of our subscribers, we will refrain from again entering into a controversy with that beef-eating, blear-eyed, hollow-headed, slab-sided ignoramous—that pilfering reporter, Mark Twain” [The Twainian, Nov.-Dec. 1948 p 4].

August 6 Thursday Another “Mark Twain’s Letter” (dated Aug. 2) ran in the Morning Call. Subheadings: Fire Matters; Agricultural Fair; A Duel Ruined; Theatricals; Territorial Politics; Military Arrest; Washoe Cavalry; Phelan Coming; Steam-Printing in Washoe; Judge Jones Resigned; Carson Races; Mines, Etc.; Building; Foot Race [Camfield, bibliog.; The Twainian, Mar-Apr 1952 p1-2].

August 10 Monday ca. – About this time Sam came down with a bad cold. (See letter Aug. 19) [MTL 1: 264]. Note: Sam had suffered on and off with colds, and on Aug. 1, Clement T. Rice filled in for him due to a cold.

August 11 Tuesday – According to an article in the Virginia City Bulletin,  Sam and Adair Wilson (1841-1912) left in the morning for Lake Bigler (Tahoe):


Those two pilfering reporters, “Mark Twain” and the “Unimportant,” left this morning for Lake Bigler (Tahoe)….They have left two consumptive “arrangements” to supply their places while they are absent. The “Unreliable” [Clement T. Rice] is lying for the “Unimportant” [Adair Wilson] while a quondam county official is endeavoring to sustain a similar reputation for Mark [The Twainian, Nov.-Dec. 1948 p 4].

August 1216 Sunday ca. – Sam spent time at Lake Bigler (Tahoe) with Adair Wilson, the junior local editor of the Virginia City Union. Sam loved the Lake and had praised its clean air to his family, so he likely went to recover from his cold [MTL 1: 265n2]. Andrew Hoffman claims he “fell in with a fast crowd there, staying up late drinking too much champagne” [82].


August 13 Thursday – Another of Sam’s “Mark Twain’s Letters” (dated Aug. 8) ran in the Morning Call. Sam wrote again about high yields from the Echo mine. From a high price per share of $140 asked in mid-July, the Echo stock fell to $27 within six months. Subheadings: The City of Virginia; More Fire Companies; Visiting Brethren; Carson Races; Theatricals; Legal Battle; Railroad Meeting; No Democratic Convention; Mining Affairs [MTL 1: 259; Camfield bibliog.].


August 17Monday – Sam left Lake Bigler and went to Steamboat Springs, a mineral bath about nine miles northwest of Virginia City. He paid for his stay by writing up the resort for both the Territorial Enterprise and the San Francisco Morning Call [A. Hoffman 82].

August 18 Tuesday The Enterprise ran “Letter from Mark Twain” [Camfield bibliog.].

August 19 Wednesday – Sam wrote from Steamboat Springs, Nevada Territory, to his mother, and sister Pamela, sending another $20 greenback [MTL 1: 263]. “Letter from Mark Twain” dated Aug.18 ran in the Enterprise [Smith 66].

I must have led a gay life at Lake Bigler, for it seems a month since I flew up there on the Pioneer coach, alongside of Hank Monk, the king of stage drivers. But I couldn’t cure my cold. I was too careless. I went to the lake (Lake Bigler I must beg leave to call it still, notwithstanding, if I recollect rightly, it is known among sentimental people as either Tahoe Lake or Yahoo Lake — however, one of the last will do as well as the other, since there is neither sense nor music in either of them), with a voice like a bull frog, and by indulging industriously in reckless imprudence, I succeeded in toning it down to an impalpable whisper in the course of seven days. I left there in the Pioneer coach at half-past one on Monday morning, in company with Mayor Arick, Mr. Boruck and young Wilson (a nice party for a Christian to travel with, I admit), and arrived in Carson at five o’clock — three hours and a half out. As nearly as I can estimate it, we came down the grade at the rate of a hundred miles an hour; and if you do not know how frightfully deep those mountain gorges look, let me recommend that you go, also, and skim along their edges at the dead of night [Smith 68-70].

The Enterprise ran another “Letter from Mark Twain” datelined “Steamboat Springs, Nevada Territory, August 18, 1863” [Camfield bibliog.].

August 23 Sunday Sam, still not over his cold, returned to Virginia City from Steamboat Springs [The Twainian, Nov.-Dec. 1948 p 4]. Before returning, he wrote a letter to the Call, published there on Aug. 30 [MTL 1: 265; ET&S 1: 272]. The Enterprise ran another “Letter from Mark Twain” written from Steamboat Springs [Camfield bibliog.].

August 25 Tuesday – Sam wrote the Territorial Enterprise, describing his visit to Steamboat Springs. His letter was published this date under the title, “Letter from Mark Twain” [MTL 1: 265; Budd, “Collected” 1002]. Sections include: The Springs; The Hotel; The Hospital; The Baths; Good-bye; and:


A few days ago I fell a victim to my natural curiosity and my solicitude for the public weal. Everybody had something to say about “wake-up-Jake.” If a man was low-spirited; if his appetite failed him; if he did not sleep well at night; if he were costive; if he were bilious; or in love; or in any other kind of trouble; or if he doubted the fidelity of his friends or the efficacy of his religion, there was always some one at his elbow to whisper, “Take a ‘wake-up,’ my boy.” I sought to fathom the mystery, but all I could make out of it was that the “Wake-up Jake” was a medicine as powerful as “the servants of the lamp,” the secret of whose decoction was hidden away in Dr. Ellis’ breast. I was not aware that I had any use for the wonderful “wake-up,” but then I felt it to be my duty to try it, in order that a suffering public might profit by my experience — and I would cheerfully see that public suffer perdition before I would try it again. I called upon Dr. Ellis with the air of a man who would create the impression that he is not so much of an ass as he looks, and demanded a “Wake up-Jake” as unostentatiously as if that species of refreshment were not at all new to me. The Doctor hesitated a moment, and then fixed up as repulsive a mixture as ever was stirred together in a table-spoon. I swallowed the nauseous mess, and that one meal sufficed me for the space of forty-eight hours. And during all that time, I could not have enjoyed a viler taste in my mouth if I had swallowed a slaughter-house. I lay down with all my clothes on, and with an utter indifference to my fate here or hereafter, and slept like a statue from six o’clock until noon. I got up, then, the sickest man that ever yearned to vomit and couldn’t. All the dead and decaying matter in nature seemed buried in my stomach, and I “heaved, and retched, and heaved again,” but I could not compass a resurrection — my dead would not come forth. Finally, after rumbling, and growling, and producing agony and chaos within me for many hours, the dreadful dose began its work, and for the space of twelve hours it vomited me, and purged me, and likewise caused me to bleed at the nose.

I came out of that siege as weak as an infant, and went to the bath with Palmer, of Wells, Fargo & Co., and it was well I had company, for it was about all he could do to keep me from boiling the remnant of my life out in the hot steam. I had reached that stage wherein a man experiences a solemn indifference as to whether school keeps or not. Since then, I have gradually regained my strength and my appetite, and am now animated by a higher degree of vigor than I have felt for many a day. ‘Tis well. This result seduces many a man into taking a second, and even a third “wake-up-Jake,” but I think I can worry along without any more of them. I am about as thoroughly waked up now as I care to be. My stomach never had such a scouring out since I was born. I feel like a jug. If I could get young Wilson or the Unreliable to take a “wake-up Jake,” I would do it, of course, but I shall never swallow another myself — I would sooner have a locomotive travel through me. And besides, I never intend to experiment in physic any more, just out of idle curiosity. A “wake-up-Jake” will furbish a man’s machinery up and give him a fresh start in the world — but I feel I shall never need anything of that sort any more. It would put robust health, and life and vim into young Wilson and the Unreliable — but then they always look with suspicion upon any suggestion that I make [ET&S 1: 272-6].

August 27 Thursday – Sam’s article in the Local Column of the Enterprise was titled, “YE BULLETIN CYPHERETH,” and disputed bullion production statistics printed the previous day by the Virginia City Evening Bulletin [ET&S 1: 415-7].

August 28 Friday 1:40 PM and 10 PM: Sam covered a large fire in Virginia City for the Enterprise. The fire and subsequent riot covered four blocks. Sam sent two dispatches by telegraph to the San Francisco Morning Call in addition to writing up the events for the Enterprise [Branch, C of Call 286-7]. Fatout writes the fire “ravaged most of Virginia west of A Street and south of Pat Lynch’s Saloon, and might have destroyed the whole town if the wind had been in another quarter” [MT in VC 81].

A terrific battle raged between Virginia Engine Co. No. 1 and the Nevada Hook and Ladder No. 1. Fatout writes:

“After the big August fire these firemen collided at the corner of Taylor and C Streets, and at once a wild melee broke out. Fists pounded, faucets and wagon stakes cracked heads, and blood flowed: fifteen men injured, the foreman of the engine company laid out with a trumpet, the city marshal knocked down with a club, one man fatally shot” [MT in VC 81-2]. Note: Sam incorporated this battle in RI, making it an election riot quelled by the peace-loving Buck Fanshaw.

August 29 Saturday Sam’s dispatch “Disastrous Fire at Virginia City—Seventy Buildings Burned” ran in the Morning Call [Branch, C of Call 286].

August 30 Sunday – Sam’s “Mark Twain’s Letter”(dated Aug. 20 from Steamboat Springs Hotel) ran in the Morning Call, describing his visit to Steamboat Springs [MTL 1: 265; ET&S 1: 277]. Sam also finished a letter on this date that would be published by the Call on Sept. 3 called “Unfortunate Blunder.”

September 3 Thursday The San Francisco Morning Call published another of Sam’s “Mark Twain’s Letters” (dated Aug. 30). Subheadings: Mass Meetings; The Fire; and, Unfortunate Blunder. This last a sketch of Sam’s about a drunk Irishman in Virginia City who mistook a Presbyterian church service for a Union League meeting [ET&S 1: 284-7].


September 45 Saturday In the Enterprise: BIGLER VS. TAHOE

I hope some bird will catch this Grub the next time he calls Lake Bigler by so disgustingly sick and silly a name as “Lake Tahoe.” I have removed the offensive word from his letter and substituted the old one, which at least has a Christian English twang about it whether it is pretty or not. Of course Indian names are more fitting than any others for our beautiful lakes and rivers, which knew their race ages ago, perhaps, in the morning of creation, but let us have none so repulsive to the ear as “Tahoe” for the beautiful relic of fairy-land forgotten and left asleep in the snowy Sierras when the little elves fled from their ancient haunts and quitted the earth. They say it means “Fallen Leaf” — well suppose it meant fallen devil or fallen angel, would that render its hideous, discordant syllables more endurable? Not if I know myself. I yearn for the scalp of the soft-shell crab — be he injun or white man — who conceived of that spoony, slobbering, summer-complaint of a name. Why, if I had a grudge against a half-price nigger, I wouldn’t be mean enough to call him by such an epithet as that; then, how am I to hear it applied to the enchanted mirror that the viewless spirits of the air make their toilets by, and hold my peace? “Tahoe” — it sounds as weak as soup for a sick infant. “Tahoe” be — forgotten! I just saved my reputation that time. In conclusion, “Grub,” I mean to start to Lake Bigler myself, Monday morning, or somebody shall come to grief. MARK TWAIN [ ET&S 1: 290].

September 5 Saturday – With the return of Dan De Quille, Sam was freed from his duties as the local editor for the Enterprise. He left the same day for San Francisco on the Carpenter & Hoog stage, to Carson City, where he stayed a day with Orion and Mollie [MTL 1: 265; ET&S 1: 291-5].

Years later, De Quille wrote of the conditions in Virginia City upon his return. Sam would return in a few weeks to toil by De Quille’s side. The big fire of 1863 had almost wiped out the town and created a great deal of violence in its aftermath:

Thus I “resumed business at the old stand” in the thick of red-hot times—in the midst of flames and war. It was also in the midst of cutting and shooting days—the days of stage robberies, of mining fights, wonderful finds of ore, and all manner of excitements. As may be imagined Mark and I had our hands full, and no grass grew under our feet. There was a constant rush of startling events; they came tumbling over one another as though playing at leap-frog. While a stage robbery was being written up, a shooting affray started; and perhaps before the pistol shots had ceased to echo among the surrounding hills, the firebells were banging out an alarm.

The crowding of the whole population into that part of town which had escaped the fire led to many bloody battles. Fighters, sports and adventurers, burned out of their old haunts, thronged the saloons and gaming houses remaining, where many of them were by no means welcome visitors [Benson 72].

September 6 Sunday Sam left Carson City on the Pioneer Stage for Sacramento with R.W. Billet [ET&S 1: 291-5]. (See Sept. 17 entry.)


September 6 Sunday ca. (De Quille’s return to Va. City) [Camfield bibliog.]. In the Enterprise: “Literary Manifesto of Mark Twain & De Quille”:



Our duty is to keep the universe thoroughly posted concerning murders and street fighters, and balls, and theaters, and pack-trains, and churches, and lectures, and school-houses, and city military affairs, and highway robberies, and Bible societies, and hay-wagons, and the thousand other things which it is in the province of local reporters to keep track of and magnify into undue importance for the instruction of the readers of a great daily newspaper [MTB 228].


September 7 Monday Sam arrived in Sacramento at 8 A.M [ET&S 1: 295].

September 8 Tuesday – Sam arrived in San Francisco. He would spend four weeks relaxing and recuperating. He moved in high society, attending the theater, attending balls, and playing billiards at the Lick House [MTL 1: 265]. In his Autobiographical dictation of Jan. 23, 1907 he related first playing his first games of bowling in San Francisco. It may have well been during or shortly after this four-week period; the source, however, gives 1865. See MTA 2: 380-81 for the tale.

September 9 Wednesday Sam attended the Anniversary Ball of the Society of California Pioneers at Union Hall [ET&S 1: 291].

September 13 Sunday The San Francisco Golden Era reprinted Sam’s sketch, “Bigler vs. Tahoe,” which appeared some unknown time before in the Enterprise. Sam favored Bigler as a name over Tahoe, which he ridiculed [ET&S 1: 288-290].

September 17 Thursday – Sam wrote another “Letter from Mark Twain” (dated Sept. 13.) from San Francisco to the Enterprise about the trip over, first to Carson City on the Carpenter & Hoog stagecoach, then by the Pioneer Stage to San Francisco. The letter included a humorous account of Sam’s traveling companion, R.W. Billet, being gawked at by pioneers who thought him black because he had so much dust on him from the stage trip over. [ET&S 1: 291-5].

Sam reviewed performances by Adah Isaacs Menken (1835?-1868), actress and poet—two plays, Mazeppa and The French Spy—. Sam wrote that her acting in the former play resembled the contortions of a violent “lunatic”:

She bends herself back like a bow; she pitches headforemost at the atmosphere like a battering-ram; she works her arms, and her legs, and her whole body like a dancing-jack…she “whallops” herself down on the stage, and rolls over as does the sportive pack-mule after his burden is removed.

 In his review of The French Spy, Sam wrote she acted like:

a frisky Frenchman…as dumb as an oyster, [her] extravagant gesticulations do not seem so overdone…She don’t talk well, and as she goes on her shape and her acting, the character of a fidgety ‘dummy’ is peculiarly suited to her line of business [MTL 1: 276n3; Smith 75; Krause 33]. Note: the first source gives Sept. 17; second source gives no date; Krause gives Sept. 13.


Sam would run into the bohemian Adah again in Virginia City. Also included in the letter, “Over the Mountain,” and “Mr. Billet Is Complimented by a Stranger” [ET&S 1: 293-5].

September 20 Sunday The first of three articles Sam wrote for the San Francisco Golden Era appeared: “How to Cure a Cold.” The article was a hit with readers. The Enterprise and the Era were connected by the past work of Goodman, McCarthy and De Quille. Sam recognized the value the Era might have to his career. This piece was revised several times, and appeared later in his Jumping Frog book and was included in Sketches, New and Old (1875) as “Curing a Cold” [ET&S 1: 296-303; Camfield bibliog.].

September 23 WednesdayJoseph E. Lawrence, editor of The Golden Era, wrote Dan De Quille and commented on Sam’s popularity:

“They say the Lick House Ladies give Mark Twain a Ball tomorrow evening – Thursday – He’s an immense favorite with them – ever since his description of their June last reunion, which I copy in the GE this week” [From the Collection of The James S. Copley Library, La Jolla, Calif.].

September 24 Thursday In San Francisco, Sam attended the Lick House Ball, held at the popular hotel of the same name [ET&S 1: 313].


September 27 Sunday The Golden Era reprinted “Mark Twain—More of Him.” Sam added a preface to the older article, “All About the Fashions,” that ran in the Enterprise sometime between June 21 and 24. Another article by Sam appeared in the same edition of the Era, “The Lick House Ball” [ET&S 1: 313-319].

Tom Fitch of the Virginia City Union printed a challenge in that paper to Joe Goodman for a duel, to be held at Ingraham’s Ranch in Stampede Valley at 9 A.M. the next morning [Mack 271]. The conflict began over political in-fighting within the Union party, “the only political party of any consequence in Nevada[271]. Ugly words had passed in editorials, and so this day the challenge came. Fatout writes that the dueling weapons were “Colt’s five-shooters, one chamber loaded” [MT in VC 85].

September 28 Monday – The location of the duel between Goodman and Fitch was kept a secret until the last so as to avoid the law preventing the contest. Sam and “Young” Wilson rode horseback out to Ingraham’s Ranch. Major George Ferrand and Cyrus Brown were seconds for Goodman; Captain Roe and Captain Fleeson served that capacity for Fitch. After shooting Fitch in the leg (rumor had it he’d announced he would not shoot above the waist), Goodman rode off at the appearance of a stagecoach. Fitch would limp for the rest of his life, but they became good friends after the duel [Mack 271-2]. Fatout claims “police arrested both principals, who were put under bond to keep the peace” [MT in VC 85].


Fall – Benson writes:

Ingomar, the Barbarian,” was presented in the opera house in the autumn of 1863. Mark Twain’s connection with this play proved of more than usual significance, because his critique was copied in the East, and we have the first instance of Eastern periodicals printing the Western writings of Mark Twain…. In this Ingomar review, Mark Twain shows a breaking away from the cruder humor that was in evidence in earlier burlesque writings. Gradually he came to depend more and more on cleverness rather than coarseness. The critique, besides being reprinted in the West, found its way into the columns of a monthly magazine in the East, Yankee Notions [96-7]. Note: the latter publication was Apr. 1864


October “Time for Her to Come Home,” an article in the Enterprise, is attributed to Sam [Schmidt]. Sam alluded to a periodical Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle as his source for euphemistic boxing terminology [Gribben 58].

October 9 Friday ca. – Sam left San Francisco for Carson City.

October 11 Sunday Sam’s “The Great Prize Fight” was published in the Golden Era [Walker 24].

October 12 through 17 Saturday – Sam covered the First Annual Fair of the Washoe Agricultural, Mining and Mechanical Society [MTL 1: 266].

October 19 Monday – Sam wrote up the Fair for the Territorial Enterprise. His article, FIRST ANNUAL FAIR OF WASHOE AGRICULTURAL, MINING AND MECHANICAL SOCIETY, was printed sometime later in October (Camfield’s bibliog. lists the print date as Oct. 20). Sections included: Triumphal Parade; Great Pantomime Speech; Races Saturday Afternoon; A Hint to Carson; and, The Fair a Success and a Valuable Lesson [Smith 80-6].

October 20 Tuesday ca. – Sam returned to Virginia City. He and Dan De Quille rented rooms together [MTL 1: 266]. (See Oct. 28 entry.)

October 26 Monday – The Virginia City Bulletin reported:

Mark Twain and Charley Parker of the Bulletin responded to toasts to the press on the housing of the new fire engine [The Twainian, Nov.-Dec. 1948 p 4].


October 28 Wednesday – Sam’s hoax, “A Bloody Massacre near Carson,” for which he received a tempest of indignation and protest, ran uncensored in the Enterprise. (Most everything local reporters wrote was uncensored.) This piece was a fiction-hoax of one Pete Hopkins, who’d gone insane and chopped up his wife and seven of his nine children with an axe and club, afterwards riding into Carson City with his throat cut from ear to ear. The story was widely reprinted [Fatout, MT Speaks 15; ET&S 1: 324-6]. The story behind the piece, including Sam’s motivation, is well told by Effie Mona Mack [Ch. 17]. Note: Joe Goodman, in a Dec. 25, 1910 letter to Paine, claimed that Sam named the hoax-man after Pete Hopkins, one of three “celebrated saloon keepers in Carson City at the time” and a great humorist [The Twainian, May-June 1956 p.3].

Sam and Dan De Quille, (William Wright) rented rooms in the new brick Daggett and Myers Building at 25 North B Street, Virginia City. Their rent began this day at $30 per month [Mack 246]. Their parlor-bedroom suite of rooms was across the hall from Tom Fitch and family on the third floor [Fatout, MT in VC 113].

Shortly after this time, but perhaps as late as Feb. 1864, Sam wrote “Letter from Dayton” which ran in the Enterprise [ET&S 1: 418].

The local reporter of the Gold Hill Daily News reported that Sam had proposed marriage to an unidentified young woman. Sam supposedly said he couldn’t “find nary a [girl] to keep house with. Mark says he ‘popped it’ to one the other day, but she couldn’t see it” [Fanning 86]. Note: This sounds more like ribbing than an accurate account of events.

October 29 Thursday Sam revealed in the Enterprise that the “Bloody Massacre” story was a hoax:


The story published in the Enterprise reciting the slaughter of a family near Empire was all a fiction. It was understood to be such by all acquainted with the locality in which the alleged affair occurred. In the first place, Empire City and Dutch Nick’s are one, and in the next there is no “great pine forest” nearer than the Sierra Nevada mountains. But it was necessary to publish the story in order to get the fact into the San Francisco papers that the Spring Valley Water company was “cooking” dividends by borrowing money to declare them on for its stockholders. The only way you can get a fact into a San Francisco journal is to smuggle it in through some great tragedy [ET&S 1: 320-1].

[Schmidt: the text of this article is from C.A V. Putnam’s “Dan De Quille and Mark Twain,” published in the Salt Lake City Tribune on April 25, 1898. It may be based upon memory and incomplete].

October 30 Friday The Enterprise ran “Clemens’s Reply to the Gold Hill (Nev.) News[Camfield bibliog.].

October 31 Saturday – The “Stock Broker’s Prayer,” a burlesque Lord’s prayer, attributed to Sam, ran in the Amador Weekly Ledger, probably reprinted from an earlier lost Enterprise item:

Our father Mammon who art in the Comstock, bully is thy name; let thy dividends come, and stocks go up, in California as it is in Washoe. Give us this day our daily commissions; forgive us our swindles as we hope to get even on those who have swindled us. “Lead” us not into temptation of promising wild cat; deliver us from lawsuits; for thine is the main Comstock, the black sulphurets and the wire silver, from wall-rock to wall-rock, you bet! [Fatout, MT in VC 93]. Note: Edgar Branch claims this as Dan De Quille’s writing [“Apprenticeship” 61].


November One night in November several Virginia City friends gave Sam a fake meerschaum pipe. He made an eloquent speech of thanks before discovering the trick. Dan De Quille later said Sam began “with the introduction of tobacco into England by Sir Walter Raleigh, and wound up with George Washington” [Fatout, MT Speaking 648].

Other Enterprise items by Sam were “Still Harping” and “Lives of the Liars or Joking Justified.” “Review of ‘Ingomar the Barbarian’,” and “Artemus Ward – Wild Humorist of the Plains” (summary only exists of the first two) [Schmidt].

November 2 Monday – Once again, Sam traveled to Carson City, this time to report on Nevada Territory’s First Constitutional Convention, which ran from Nov. 2 through Dec. 11 [MTL 1: 266].

November 7 Saturday – “Letter from Mark Twain,” Carson City, this date, “political convention,” was published later in the month in the Enterprise [Smith 86]. (Camfield places the print date as Nov. 10 [biblio.]).

November 11 Wednesday – Activity was slowing in Virginia City, with increased unemployment in the face of high prices. J. Ross Browne (1817-1875), the celebrated traveler, reported in the Stockton Daily Independent:

There are more people now in Virginia than the business of the place requires….My belief is that Virginia City will gradually become what Nature intended it to be—a mere depot for the trade and products of the Comstock lead….It does not possess a single inducement beyond what is based on mineral productions [Fatout, MT in VC 139-40].


November 15 Sunday Sam dated a letter from Carson City to the Enterprise that was as “casual sequel to the “Bloody Massacre” hoax. The letter was published on Nov. 17.

November 17 Tuesday The Enterprise printed Sam’s “Another Bloody Massacre” written on Nov. 15 from “Letter from Mark Twain.”


P.S. — Now keep dark, will you? I am hatching a deep plot. I am “laying,” as it were, for the editor of that San Francisco Evening Journal. The massacre I have related above is all true, but it occurred a good while ago. Do you see my drift? I shall catch that fool. He will look carefully through his Gold Hill and Virginia exchanges, and when he finds nothing in them about Samson killing a thousand men, he will think it is another hoax, and come out on me again, in his feeble way, as he did before. I shall have him foul, then, and I will never let up on him in the world (as we say in Virginia). I expect it will worry him some, to find out at last, that one Samson actually did kill a thousand men with the jaw-bone of one of his ancestors, and he never heard of it before. MARK [ET&S 1: 328-30].

November 19 Thursday Another “Mark Twain’s Letter” (dated Nov. 14) ran in the Morning Call. Subheadings: Nevada Constitutional Convention; Boundary of the State; Right of Suffrage; Corporations; Nevada; Officers; Miscellaneous [Camfield bibliog.].

November 21 Saturday “Lives of the Liars or Joking Justified” ran sometime in mid-Nov. in the Enterprise and on this day in the Gold Hill News [Camfield bibliog.]. “Still Harping” also ran on or about this day in the Enterprise.

November 22 Sunday Sam’s article “On Murders” was published in the Golden Era [Walker 57].

November 29 Sunday Sam’s articles “Ingomar Over the Mountains,” and “Greetings to Artemus Ward” were re-printed in the Golden Era [Walker 57-8]. These pieces were first in the Enterprise sometime earlier in the month, date unknown. The other article, “Play Acting over the Mountains. The Play of ‘Barbarian,’ by Maguire’s Dramatic Troupe at Virginia City!” [Camfield bibliog.]. Note: Camfield conjectures “Announcing Artemus Ward’s Coming” as an Enterprise article for Nov. 20

November 30 MondaySam’s 28th birthday. He attended the ball and supper at Sutliffe’s Hall by the Virginia City Eagle Engine Company, where he gave a speech [ET&S 1: 331].


December 13 Thursday – “A Tide of Eloquence” was printed in the Enterprise, and was reprinted in the Golden Era on Dec. 6.

Afterwards, Mr. Mark Twain being enthusiastically called upon, arose, and without previous preparation, burst forth in a tide of eloquence so grand, so luminous, so beautiful and so resplendent with the gorgeous fires of genius, that the audience were spell-bound by the magic of his words, and gazed in silent wonder in each other’s faces as men who felt that they were listening to one gifted with inspiration [Applause] The proceedings did not end here, but at this point we deemed it best to stop reporting and go to dissipating, as the dread solitude of our position as a sober, rational Christian, in the midst of the driveling and besotted multitude around us, had begun to shroud our spirits with a solemn sadness tinged with fear. At ten o’clock the curtain fell [ET&S 1: 332].

December 2 Wednesday “Mark Twain on Murders” ran in the Morning Call [Camfield bibliog.]. This most likely was another reprint of an Enterprise article from a few days before.

A teamster was murdered and robbed on the public highway between Carson and Virginia, to-day. Our sprightly and efficient officers are on the alert. They calculate to inquire into this thing next week. They are tired of these daily outrages in sight of town, you know [Fatout, MT in VC 114-5].

December 6 Sunday Sam’s article “A Tide of Eloquence” was reprinted in the Golden Era [Walker 66]. It was printed in the Enterprise sometime in November [Camfield bibliog.].

December 8 Tuesday Another “Letter from Mark Twain,” from Carson City, dated (Dec. 5) ran in the Enterprise. Sections: “Church in Carson,” “Questions of Privilege,” “Mr. Stern’s Speech” [Smith 92-5]. Krause gives all of “Mr. Stern’s Speech” parody [58] and discusses allusions [59-60].

December 11 Friday Sam was voted president of the “Third House” of the legislature, a mock body that met in saloons and burlesqued lawmakers and the process of the legislature. The Third House met at 11 PM. Sam made a speech, the text of which was not recorded [Sanborn 213; Fatout, MT Speaking 648].

Sam’s article “Assassination in Carson” (datelined Dec. 10) ran in the Enterprise [Camfield bibliog.].

December 12 Saturday Another “Letter From Mark Twain,” dated this date from Carson City ran on Dec. 15 in the Enterprise.

December 15 Tuesday – “Letter from Mark Twain” (dated Dec. 12) ran in the Enterprise [Camfield bibliog.]. Sections: Logan Hotel; No More Mines; State Printer; School Fund; Hank Monk; The Old Pah-Utah; Carson City; and, Final Report. Sam continued to poke fun at the Pi-Utes, a pioneer association of early Nevada settlers.


Lovejoy has issued the first number of his paper at Washoe City, and the above is its name. It is as pretty as a sweetheart, and as readable as a love-letter – and in my experience, these similes express a good deal. But why should Lovejoy spell it Pah-Utah? That isn’t right – it should be Pi-Uty, or Pi-Ute. I speak by authority. Because I have carefully noted the little speeches of self-gratulation of our noble red brother, and he always delivers himself in this wise: “Pi-Uty boy heepy work – Washoe heep lazy.” But if you question his nationality, he remarks, with oppressive dignity: “Me no dam Washoe – me Pi-Ute!” Wherefore, my researches have satisfied me that one of these, or both, is right. Lovejoy ought to know this, even better than me; he came here before May, 1860, and is, consequently, a blooded Pi-Ute, while I am only an ignorant half-breed [ET&S 1: 169]. Note: John K. Lovejoy

December 18 FridayArtemus Ward (Charles Farrar Browne) visited Virginia City, and looked up kindred bohemian spirits at the office of the Territorial Enterprise. His visit lasted until Dec. 29. Sam returned to Virginia City sometime before this period [MTL 1: 266].

December 19 Saturday – The Enterprise ran Sam’s Dec. 13 dispatch from Carson City reporting the burlesque proceedings of the “Third House” on the Constitutional Convention [Camfield biblio.; Smith 102-110].

December 22 Tuesday – The nationally acclaimed Artemus Ward gave the “Babes in the Woods” lecture at Maguire’s Opera House in Virginia City. Most likely, Sam was in attendance and was greatly influenced by Ward’s acclaim and style. Ward’s lecture was a great success [Powers, MT A Life 132].

December 24 and 25 FridayChristmasArtemus Ward hung around the Enterprise office during his stay in town. Sam and Dan De Quille showed Ward around during his visit. Joe Goodman described the raucous evening that unfolded at Chaumond’s after Ward’s lecture at Silver City, where Ward proposed his well-known toast, “ I give you Upper Canada.” Why? “Because I don’t want it myself” [Fatout, MT in VC 128]:

About midnight, as usual, he [Ward] turned up in the Enterprise office and commanded the editorial slaves to have done with their work, as his royal highness proposed to treat them to an oyster supper…Artemus Ward, Mark Twain, Dan de Quille, Denis McCarthy, [Edward P.] Hingston [Ward’s manager]. and myself sat about the table ….Then begun a flow and reflow of humor it would be presumptuous in me to attempt to even outline. It was on that occasion that Mark Twain fully demonstrated his right to rank above the world’s acknowledged foremost humorist…Course succeeded course and wine followed wine, until day began to break. …The first streaks of dawn were brightening the east when we went into the streets.

      “I can’t walk on the earth,” said Artemus. “I feel like walking on the skies, but as I can’t I’ll walk on the roofs.”

      And he clambered up a shed to the tops of the one-story houses, with Mark Twain after him, and commenced a wild scramble from roof to roof.

The piece ends with Ward spooning mustard to Sam, astride a barrel on the porch of Fred Getzler’s saloon. It was Christmas day, Dec. 25 Friday [MTL 1: 269-270n5]. Ward then gave a second lecture in the evening [Powers, MT A Life 132].

December 2527 Sunday – Sam’s Local Column in the Enterprise: “A Christmas Gift.” Someone sent Sam a “naked, porcelain doll baby” [ET&S 1: 420]. Note: Did Ward send the doll?

December 28 Monday The Virginia City Evening Bulletin quoted Sam’s article in the Enterprise: “Report of Artemus Ward’s Lecture in Virginia City.” The Enterprise article probably ran a day or two before Dec. 28:

There are perhaps fifty subjects treated in it, and there is a passable point in every one of them, and a healthy laugh, also, for any of God’s creatures who hath committed no crime, the ghastly memory of which debars him from smiling again while he lives. The man who is capable of listening to the “Babes in the Wood” from beginning to end without laughing either inwardly or outwardly must have done murder, or at least meditated it, at some time during his life [Mack 296].

December 29 TuesdayArtemus Ward and his manager left Virginia in a mud wagon for Austin, 180 miles away. Fatout reports on the farewell:

“Faithful companions gathered to see them off and to bestow going-away presents: a demijohn of whiskey, feet in a mine somewhere behind Mount Davidson, a pouch of tobacco, a bowie knife guaranteed to have killed two men. Mark Twain presented a copy of the Enterprise, Dan De Quille a sackful of hardboiled eggs” [MT in VC 134].

Fatout also comments on Ward’s influence on Sam, something that has been widely written of:

“In his development as a figure transcending local limits the visit of Ward to Virginia was of major importance. The likenesses between the two are marked and frequent” [MT in VC 130].

Sam reported a Virginia City political meeting for the Enterprise. A short article, “Christmas Presents” of Sam’s also ran in the Enterprise [Smith 110; ET&S 1: 421].


December 30 Wednesday – Sam went to Carson City. His brother Orion was hopeful of a candidacy for secretary of state. Sam’s article, “The Bolters in Convention” was published in the Enterprise [Smith 112-18] and an unsigned article, “A Gorgeous Swindle,” the style of which points decidedly to Sam, and includes a parody of Sir Walter Scott [Smith 118-21; Gribben 617].

December 31 Thursday – Sam reported on the Union party convention to select candidates for Nevada’s first state election, scheduled for Jan.19, 1864. Joe Goodman, Sam’s editor, failed to win the nomination for state printer. Orion did win the nomination for secretary of state [MTL 1: 266].


Late 1863Early 1864 – Sam’s article “Chinatown” was written from San Francisco and ran in the Enterprise:




Accompanied by a fellow-reporter, we made a trip through our Chinese quarter the other night. The Chinese have built their portion of the city to suit themselves; and as they keep neither carriages nor wagons, their streets are not wide enough, as a general thing, to admit of the passage of vehicles. At ten o’clock at night the Chinaman may be seen in all his glory. In every little cooped-up, dingy cavern of a hut, faint with the odor of burning Josh-lights and with nothing to see the gloom by save the sickly, guttering tallow candle, were two or three yellow, long-tailed vagabonds, coiled up on a sort of short truckle-bed, smoking opium, motionless and with their lusterless eyes turned inward from excess of satisfaction — or rather the recent smoker looks thus, immediately after having passed the pipe to his neighbor — for opium-smoking is a comfortless operation, and requires constant attention. A lamp sits on the bed, the length of the long pipe-stem from the smoker’s mouth; he puts a pellet of opium on the end of a wire, sets it on fire, and plasters it into the pipe much as a Christian would fill a hole with putty; then he applies the bowl to the lamp and proceeds to smoke – and the stewing and frying of the drug and the gurgling of the juices in the stem would well-nigh turn the stomach of a statue. John likes it, though; it soothes him; he takes about two dozen whiffs, and then rolls over to dream, Heaven only knows what, for we could not imagine by looking at the soggy creature. Possibly in his visions he travels far away from the gross world and his regular washing, and feasts on succulent rats and birds’-nests in Paradise [Roughing It, Ch. 54].