TWAIN-L Archives

Mark Twain Forum


Options: Use Forum View

Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Scott Holmes <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 29 Aug 2022 12:25:40 -0700
text/plain (72 lines)
I'm searching for clues and/or speculations as to Sam's whereabouts 
related to his departure from New York City and eventual arrival in 
Cincinnati, where he began his short-lived but famous career on the 
Mississippi River. I have elsewhere noted that Sam could not have 
arrived in St. Louis by train, as there were no trains to speak of in 
St. Louis at this time. St. Louis was a river-city. I have hypothesized 
that he rode in a smoking car(s) from New York to Cincinnati and from 
there a steamer to St. Louis. He later returned to Cincinnati, where he 
came under the tutelage of Horace Bixby. Why and how he went to 
Cincinnati is the subject of William Baker's article from 1979.

What I know about these events are covered in pages in Twain's 
Geography: and

One interesting aside from Baker's article is that Sam's future friend, 
William Dean Howells was in Cincinnati at about the same time as Sam. 
They apparently never met there nor did they at any time in the future 
reminisce about the city.

 From Baker's article:

/"Clemens's official biographer, Albert B. Paine, says Clemens had 
planned to go directly to Cincinnati from St. Louis, "but a new idea--a 
literary idea--came to him and he returned to Keokuk." Where did he get 
the money for that steamer trip and the subsequent train passage to 
Cincinnati? Perhaps he found fifty dollars, as he reports, although he 
might have borrowed it from his sister Pamela's husband, William A. 
Moffett, with the request to keep it a secret; hence the invention of 
finding fifty dollars. River travel to Cincinnati via Cairo and then 
east on the serpentine Ohio River, a distance of 600 miles, would have 
cost only nine dollars, while the trip by railroad via Terre Haute and 
Indianapolis, a distance of 350 miles, would have cost about fifteen 
dollars. But parts of the Ohio were too low for steamers in the fall of 
1856, though he probably could have made a steamer trip as far as 
Louisville. And although the trip by railroad would have necessitated 
three changes of rail lines (the direct 322-mile route was not open 
until April 1857), the rail route was clearly the logical alternative. 
He ended up by taking a crazy zig-zag route that cost about thirty 
dollars (about $25.24 fare plus food, hotel, and porterage). It was a 
sizeable expense for a man who had been working for five dollars a week 
plus room and board, even more remarkable since he claims he never got 
any money at all." /

/"Now it is the dating that concerns us. If I am correct in guessing 
that Clemens took the Snodgrass letter to Keokuk on the day after it was 
written, he would have arrived on 19 October. In his eagerness to see 
Rees he would not have waited longer. Fred Lorch says he spent "a day or 
two" in Keokuk. If we say two days, 20 and 21 October, that would put 
him on the river packet to Quincy on 22 October, arriving by train in 
Chicago that night, where he stayed in "the Massasawit House," 
entraining for Indianapolis on the 23rd. Then he took "the midnight 
thunder and lightning train" from Indianapolis to Cincinnati, arriving 
on the morning of 24 October 1856. If my assumptions are correct, he 
arrived in the center of the western publishing industry about five 
weeks before his twenty-first birthday on 30 November."/

Page 3 and 4 of "Mark Twain in Cincinnati: A Mystery Most Compelling" by 
William Baker published in American Literary Realism, 1870-1910 , 
Autumn, 1979, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Autumn, 1979), pp. 299-315, University of 
Illinois Press. Available on JSTOR - Stable URL:

Suggestions that new information may be found in the Day By Day pages is 
duly noted, however Fears found nothing from the period that other 
scholars haven't found.


/Unaffiliated Geographer and Twain aficionado/