Hannibal is a place.
Hannibal is a place with people.
The people are not perfect.
The people are very nice.
The people are in many cases the direct descendants of the people who lived here from 1839 to 1861.
Some aspects of the culture have not changed very much.
If you just blow in and out,
you may not leave with more than you brought.
But you can:
Go to service at the First Presbyterian Church where Jane and Pamela Clemens were members. Sam didn't come here, but his mother's funeral was held here.
Go to service at Willow Street Christian Church or Scott Chapel United Methodist Church and share with descendants of slaves from 1839 - 1865. They will be nice as pie to you and the music is incredible. Tell my friend Joe Miller hi.
Pick up a copy of the Hannibal Courier Post and see what a small town newspaper looks like today. This was Joe Ament's old paper. Sam learned an awful lot here. He first set dialect stories in this paper.
Eat a giant pork tenderloin sandwich (and don't tell your cardiologist or if male and married, your wife.)
Go up to the old Baptist cemetery and see the grave of Agnes Flautleroy, slave of the Hawkins family.
While you're in the Baptist Cemetery walk around and look at the graves. This is where John Marshall and Henry Clemens were originally buried. They are now south of Town in Mt. Olivet.
Come for the Fourth of July and see unabashed patriotism and people having a great time. Yep, it is a sea of white faces, but we are seriously trying to change that. It is a lot like the patriotism that was here between 1839-1861. John Marshall Clemens gave the July 4th Speech in the park in the mid-40s.
Go to one of the many scenic overlooks on Highway 79 and look at the river. The Mississippi is astounding.
If you know enough about Twain to be on this list, you aren't going to learn anything at this museum, but you ought to at least see the house. The Clemens boys put out the Journal from the Parlor! A cow once walked in and ate part of the press!
A lot of Hannibal is bunk. John Marshall Clemens never practiced law here. You can laugh at his law office. You can laugh at the genuine historical markers denoting fictional events from Tom Sawyer. You can even feel smug because you know better. But you need to see it.
If you want real history, you can come up to the Molly Brown Birthplace Museum and learn about a fascinating woman who was born in Hannibal, got rich in Colorado and became a legend. Margaret Tobin Brown was active in the suffrage movement, the labor movement and ran for the U.S. Senate.
You need to come to Hannibal to know where Clemens came from. Everything Shelley wrote is true. But there is more to the story.