Vol 1 Section 0008

Sam Worked for Orion – First Humorous Articles

Sister Pamela Married Well – Part of Tennessee Land Sold


January Sam ended his commitment to Joseph Ament of the Missouri Courier and went to work with brother Henry for Orion, who promised him a salary of $3.50 a week. Orion was never able to pay Sam a penny. Orion secured cousin Dr. Jim Lampton and uncle John Quarles as sales agents [A. Hoffman 28]. Sam served Orion daily as a printer and editorial assistant. Sam’s attitude toward his older brother was established in the period of his work on the Courier. Wecter called his attitude “a mixture of affection and contempt, which later days hardened into an amalgam of generosity and sadism” [Wecter 225-6].

January 9 Thursday A fire broke out one door from the print shop where Sam worked with brothers Orion, Henry, and a newcomer who was the butt of many of Sam’s practical jokes, Jim Wolfe. This episode was the basis for a humorous sketch printed a week later [Wecter 236].


January 16 Thursday – Sam began his new position on Orion’s newspaper; he wrote a comic piece, “A Gallant Fireman,” lampooning Jim Wolfe, their new apprentice and his dim-witted reaction to a minor fire at a shop next door to the Western Union [ET&S 1: 61]. (Note: Dempsey cites this article as the first known authored by Sam [158].) Sam tried to add vigor to the paper by using local color and frontier language, while Orion filled the paper with moralistic pieces, dull compositions and summaries of national news. The brothers, so different in temperament and style, created conflict which doomed collaboration on the newspaper. As the man of the family, Orion tried to exert control over Sam, but was feckless in the face of the challenge; Sam was bound not to accept any such control.


May A municipal ordinance passed forcing farmers to sell their eggs through the city market. Sam put a letter to the editor in the Hannibal Western Union sarcastically praising this “most eggscellent, eggs-plicit, eggs-travagant and eggs-traordinary ordinance.” Throughout the summer, Sam attempted to inject humor, local interest and pep into Orion’s otherwise dull newspaper [Wecter 239].

June 5 Thursday Orion’s newspaper, the Hannibal Journal, reported on this day that steamboats “were burying their passengers at every wood yard, both from cabin and deck.” Cholera had hit the river again, claiming 24 citizens of Hannibal [Wecter 214].

July 10 Thursday The Hannibal Western Union printed an unsigned article, “The New Costume,” attributed to Sam [Camfield, bibliog.]. It seems likely that Sam wrote other sketches and articles for Orion’s paper, now lost. Note: Dempsey attributes the article to “one of the Clemens boys” [209].


August 28 Thursday – The last day the Hannibal Western Union printed under that name [Benson 7].


August, late Orion took over the Hannibal Journal from “Big Joe” Buchanan’s son, “Little Joe.” Big Joe went to California in the spring of 1850 with his brother Robert [Wecter 239, 223]. Note: Robert (1802-1875), Joseph S. Buchanan (b.1806) [MTP].

September 4 Thursday Orion, from his old office on Bird Street, brought out the first issue of the consolidated Hannibal Journal and Western Union [Wecter 239]. Five months later the name was shortened. Orion had acquired the extinct Hannibal Weekly Dollar Journal which ran a few months in 1849-50 (by Robert Buchanan and Samuel Raymond), as well as the subscription list, and so named the paper from the Hannibal Western Union to the Hannibal Western Union and Journal, and to the shorter, Hannibal Journal [Dempsey 136].

September 9 Tuesday – Orion shortened the name of his weekly paper from the Hannibal Journal and Western Union to the Hannibal Journal [Benson 7].


September 20 Saturday – Sister Pamela (Pamelia), who just turned 24 a week before, married well on this day. Her new husband, William Anderson Moffett (1816-1865) was a successful Hannibal merchant who sold out his interests and moved with his new wife to St. Louis where he established a successful wholesale business. With the growth of Western Territories, St. Louis grew rapidly. The pair married in Green County, Kentucky. Pamela was visiting her Aunt Pamelia and Will Moffett was traveling to visit his Virginia relatives for the first time since he and his brother had left home. Since they had planned a trip to Niagara Falls, they decided to combine the trips [MTBus 19].

Fall – The Clemens family received notice of the sale of part of their Tennessee Land, the asset that the late John Marshall Clemens had put so much faith in. The farmer who purchased the land then discovered it unfit to farm, so Orion went to Tennessee to resolve the issue. His trip took two months and was a total failure. Soon after his return the Journal office burned. Orion moved it to the Hill Street house where the family lived; they all got the paper back up and running [A. Hoffman 29].

Colonel Edward Zane Carroll Judson (1823-1886), who wrote under the pseudonym of Ned Buntline, came to Hannibal to lecture on “Cuba and Her Martyrs.” Judson was the author of The Black Avenger of the Spanish Main, to which Sam referred in his sketch “Jul’us Caesar” and also in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer [Wecter 195; Gribben 362]. Note: Fifteen year old Sam Clemens would undoubtedly have seen Judson speak, having read his “dime novel” works, which Sam later called “Wildcat Literature.” Judson’s arrival was heralded by Orion’s Hannibal Journal.

November 30 Sunday Sam’s sixteenth birthday.


December 29 Monday – A piece by Orion datelined “Near Glasgow, Ky., Dec. 29, 1851” ran in the Journal on Jan. 22, 1852 upon Orion’s return, showing that he left Hannibal on his fruitless trip to Tennessee, somewhat before this date, probably just after Christmas [Wecter 242].