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].