I received a response to my query about Mark Twain's family after his death
in private E-mail, which pointed me to a most interesting URL for a
compilation of articles about Twain in the New York Times.
According to the Times, Twain's granddaughter and last direct heir, Miss
Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch, died in January 1966, in her room at a Los
Angeles motel where she often stayed. Several bottles of alcohol and pills
were also found in the room. She preferred to use her grandfather's family
name rather than her own - the Times refers to her on second reference as
"A family attorney, Al Matthews, said Miss Clemens had lived on the income
of Twain's estate, which he
estimated at abut $2-million. He said Miss Clemens had an income of $1,500
a month after taxes," according to the article. (I find it interesting that
Twain's estate continued to be that large, and generate that much income,
56 years after his death, especially in light of his bankruptcy in late
life. Henry Rogers, who helped Twain rebuild his finances, seems to have
done a bang-up job.)
An earlier article, from 1962, describes the estate: the value as of Dec.
31 1961 was "$878,952, an increase of $95,467 in the year. Income from all
sources, including royalties of $21,110, amounted to $91,115." The
beneficiary, Mrs. Clara Clemens Samossoud, Clemens's 88-year-old daughter,
of San Diego (hey, right here where I live!), received $75,556 before taxes
(pretty good money even today, much better money in 1961).
The article says describes the estate at the time of Twain's death as
including miscellaneous securities, and possessions including a library
worth $2,000, two horses, a cow, and several vehicles valued at $500, and a
trunk of manuscript copies then considered worthless.
As of 1962, the most profitable item of the estate was 405 shares of IBM,
valued aat $231,037.
The article says royalties from Mark Twain's writing have remained "fairly
constant in recent years,'' and goes on to say, "Fear that they would fall
of sharply as copyrights ran out led, in 1918, to the creation of a sinking
fund fed by $10,000 a year from income. This fund is now worth more than
the rest of the estate."
So what the heck is a "sinking fund"?
BTW, the novel that I remember reading this bit of information initially
was one of Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld books, either "The Fabulous
Riverboat," "The Dark Design," or one of the later ones,, where Sam Clemens
in the afterlife is told about his granddaughter's death by someone who
died even later than he, and the gloomy Clemens takes this information as
confirmation of his own worthlessness.
(I won't post the URL of the Times pieces because I'm not sure if the
sender of the E-mail meant for the information, or her identity, to be
public. I'm not sure if she bcc'd the list on her reply to me; if she did,
her E-mail will turn up presently. )