For those who might be interested: I have been parsing David Fears' Day
By Day, as published by the Center for Mark Twain Studies, for inclusion
in my Twain's Geography web site. I had made a number of attempts at
providing a time-line of Mark Twain's travels but was always
dissatisfied with the results. Day By Day provides a ready made
time-line provided by the years of work put in by David Fears. Most of
the material does not relate to geographic issues but significant
nuggets are found throughout.
Twain’s Geography began as an attempt to create an on-line course in
American History based on Twain’s 1895 tour across North America. He
wrote next-to-nothing on this but treated it as a mere prelude to his
book “Following the Equator”. Fortunately Major Pond kept a journal and
took photographs of the journey. As Olivia accompanied him, Sam wrote no
letters home to her. This section of Twain’s Geography remains the most
complete section of the site.
Another journey taken by Sam Clemens (he was not yet Mark Twain)
occurred in 1861 when he and his brother, Orion, traveled from St.
Joseph, Missouri to Carson City in the Nevada Territory. Previous to my
invention of Twain’s Geography, I was interested in his journey across
the Great Basin, Salt Lake City to Carson City. Again there is little in
the way of geographic information from Mark Twain, as related in his
book “Roughing It”. Fortunately Richard Francis Burton had made the same
journey just the year before and was prolific in describing the landscape.
There was a third journey made by Mark Twain that picqued my interest
before creating Twain’s Geography and that was his lecture tour with
George Washington Cable in 1884 and 1885. It was while plotting this
tour that I first became aware of David Fears’ “Day By Day” and he was
gracious enough to send me pdfs of pertinent sections from his work in
I have since gone on to attempt tracking all of Mark Twain’s travels,
based on his books, not in terms of chronology but geography. This
resulted in the site being difficult to follow,Eurocentric readers
generally prefer a chronological foundation. As a result, Twain’s
Geography is now organized firstly by distinct periods in the life of
Samuel L. Clemens. These periods (which I refer to as “Epochs”) are
perhaps a bit arbitrary but I think they serve the purpose. Epochs
consist of sub-divisions, referred to as “Episodes”, which in turn
Twain’s Geography is not a project about Mark Twain. Mark Twain serves
as my Virgil in a tour through the purgatory of the industrialization of
North America and indeed most of the English-speaking world. “Day By
Day” has been my best source for determining the “where and when” of
Twain’s travels. My single biggest problem searching for information was
identifying the year a particular entry occurred in. Of secondary
importance, and to me minor, is the issue of strange formatting in many
places. It became necessary for me to download pages from the Day By Day
web site and create separate files for each year of interest. From here
it was a simple decision to incorporate the Day By Day entries into the
Twain’s Geography site.
I had not initially intended to include all the Day By Day entries, but
only those I had found of interest. This proved unsatisfactory as I
often hoped for details that I might have over-looked. As of this date I
am still far from a complete parsing of the Day By Day document but
there is quite a bit currently available. The menu bar on Twain’s
Geography contains a Day By Day option. This option provides a method
for searching by date range. Also, each of the major sections of Twain’s
Geography: Epochs, Episodes and Chapters, have an option for selecting
the Day By Day entries significant to that section.
At this time there are two significant departures from the Twain
mythology found in the Day By Day entries. Both are long accepted events
in Twain’s history. The first is Sam Clemens returning to St. Louis from
New York in 1854. He could not have taken a train the entire route as
there were no trains in St. Louis at this time. But I have no clue as to
what Sam actually did on this journey. The second involves a now well
researched idea that Sam Clemens did travel to St. Joseph, Missouri with
Horace Bixby during his time as a cub pilot.
I have included an input field for each of my Day By Day entries,
referred to as an Editorial Note, to allow for commentary about the
entry. I don’t consider myself as an authority on Mark Twain so I am
reluctant to include input here but leave it for any feedback I get from
those scholars that choose to comment. This field is open only to
registered editors for the site.
There is another new form provided for all the major segments of the
site and this is open to anonymous uers. Its requirements are that
identify themselves with an acceptable email address.
I do wish I was more knowledgeable about the events and their causations
of Mark Twain’s lifetime, so that I could adequately compose some
synthesis and analysis of these phenomena. I do attempt this on occasion
but Twain’s Geography remains, for the most part, a “card catalogue” of
references and a gazetteer of locations.
/Unaffiliated Geographer and Twain aficionado/