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Barbara Schmidt <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 7 Apr 2020 16:05:56 -0500
text/plain (130 lines)
Checking the online letters database — 5 out of 6 letters SLC wrote on Dec.
14, 1884 are from Grand Rapids. The Muskegon entry looks to be an error.
Without seeing the actual letter itself, it is impossible to determine who
may have made the error — SLC or some transcriptionist or other editor. I
have found no news reports in the historical databases of SLC being in
Muskegon in Dec. 1884.


On Tuesday, April 7, 2020, Bird, John C. <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I am doing research on Mark Twain in 1884, so I have pondered this problem
> too. December 4 is, as Scott notes, impossible. December 14, as Ben notes,
> is more plausible, but it seems to me unlikely. As Scott notes, December 14
> was a Sunday, so they surely did not lecture in Muskegon: Cable would
> neither lecture nor travel on a Sunday (Fears in Mark Twain Day by Day
> claims they spoke in Muskegon on both December 4 and December 14. No.)
> Twain was resting on Sunday , forced because of Cable’s refusal to break
> the Sabbath, and he wrote letters to all three daughters (in German) and
> Livy, as well as to Charles Webster, from Grand Rapids, MI. That he would
> interrupt his lazy day of rest to travel northwest to Muskegon, then back
> to Grand Rapids (when the next trip was southwest to Toledo, Ohio) seems
> highly unlikely. Further, he wrote Livy the next day that he had spent the
> night in a hotel in Jackson, Michigan, commenting favorably on the
> furniture. Jackson is midway between Grand Rapids and Toledo, to the
> southeast, so he must have taken a train (without Cable, who would not
> travel until after midnight), presumably to get a jump on the long travel
> day that would have followed on Monday if he went all the way from Grand
> Rapids to Toledo. (He sometimes traveled without Cable for just such a
> reason. Cable had to take some very long trips because of his religious
> convictions.)
> My conjecture is that he wrote the letter on December 14 and, for some
> reason, either carelessness or disguise, wrote Muskegon instead of Grand
> Rapids. Or, since Ben notes the letter is only known from book reprints
> with no day noted, somebody made a mistake in saying “Muskegon.” That may
> be the most likely scenario. (By the way, they never were back in Michigan
> during the rest of the tour.) Just one of the many puzzles in trying to
> follow Twain around in his travels, as both Scott and I are doing in our
> research. I look forward to the experts at the Mark Twain Papers getting to
> this one in the letters.
> By the way, in his excellent website “Mark Twain in his Times,” Stephen
> Railton follows Cardwell and other sources and has them speaking in
> Muskegon on December 4, the impossible date. Steve also calls the tour
> “Twins of Genius,” which Ben Griffin disproves in his article on
> Twainquotes: I keep
> meaning to write Steve and suggest he correct that heading. Not good to
> keep perpetuating a myth.
> Thanks to anyone who has followed us this far down the rabbit hole!
> John Bird
> Sent from Mail<> for
> Windows 10
> From: Benjamin Griffin<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, April 7, 2020 2:20 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: [EXTERNAL] Re: Mark Twain in Muskegon, MI
> During this time when we can't get at the Mark Twain Project materials,
> it's impossible to be sure why or by what means Clemens went to Muskegon;
> but I'd add that the Muskegon letter, which is known only from reprints in
> books, is dateline "December," without date; that the MTP editors haven't
> gotten to the 1884 letters yet; and that the date Dec. 14, while it may be
> a preliminary guess or have some other basis, is plausible since Clemens
> and Cable were in Grand Rapids on Dec. 13.
> Ben Griffin
> Mark Twain Project
> On Fri, Apr 3, 2020 at 11:04 AM scott <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > I am having a difficult time dealing with reports of Mark Twain in
> > Muskegon.  References to it seem to be all linked back to a letter sent
> > to Andrew Chatto.  Caldwell had it dated as December 4, 1884.  It is
> > listed in the Mark Twain project as December 14, 1884.  A December 4
> > date would be absurd.  Caldwell has Twain and Cable travel from Ithaca,
> > NY to Muskegon, then back again to Rochester, New York.  Any tour
> > manager that would set a schedule like that would be immediately fired.
> > I suspect he made of notation error in his notes while researching his
> > book and he merely perpetuated this error, and expanded it, while
> > writing his book.
> >
> > Fears has the date corrected to December 14, the date reported in The
> > Mark Twain Projects list of letters, a Sunday, and reports that they
> > gave a reading in Muskegon on this date.  This is also very unlikely as
> > it would have required Cable to both travel on a train and "work" on a
> > Sunday.
> >
> > There was no train route from Grand Rapids to Muskegon (at least none
> > built by 1870, which is the extent of railroad routes I have
> > available).  There is a route that terminates close to Muskegon,
> > however, at Grand Haven.  This is a 23.6 km line.
> >
> > So, why would Sam travel to Muskegon, on a Sunday, just to post a short
> > letter to his publisher in England?  It appears that Muskegon does feel
> > some affinity to Mark Twain, though.  Their Chamber of Commerce
> > recently sponsored a multimedia event, "When Mark Twain Came To
> > Michigan: Multi-media presentation with Al and David Eicher".
> >
> > Most references I find for Twain in Michigan deal with his 1895 run
> > through the state on his way to the Pacific Ocean. has
> > no mention of a December 14, 1884 speaking engagement.
> >
> CAUTION: This message originated from an external source