Underway at 0715 with Ibi taking her first ride on the roof of the pickup, we headed back to Hannibal. We arrived at 1830 for the night. It rained all night, and we had poor prospects for walking about town in the morning, but the last of the rain cleared through as we ate breakfast.
Samuel Clemens’ life is an amazing story all its own, and as Mark Twain, he brought his childhood and friends to life through the tales of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
The bronze statue of Tom and Huck at the north end of town.
While the stories were based on fact, they were embellished for the benefit of the reader. As Mark Twain said (paraphrased, because I didn’t record the exact words), nothing goes further to ruin a good story than too much truth. He was born in Florida, Missouri, just west of Hannibal, but the family moved to a modest house on Hill Street in Hannibal in 1846.
His father was Justice of the Peace, a position with more title than pay, and the family was always in dire financial straits. Of the buildings central to his young life, only his father’s law office was moved to be included in the museum, and it was only moved one block.
His father's law office, moved from one block further down the hill.
In March, 1847, Samuel’s father was caught in a sleet storm while riding horseback to conduct business at the county seat, Palmyra, about twelve miles away. He contracted pneumonia, and was taken across the street to the home of Dr. Orville Grant, and died in an upstairs bedroom at age 49. Samuel’s mother could no longer afford to keep their house, so the family moved in with the Grants. Then, unable to afford the 25-cents a week for Samuel’s schooling, she informed him he’d have to get a job to support the family. He started at the second floor print shop of the Hannibal Courier across the town’s main street from the Grants’ home, becoming employed at age eleven as a printer’s apprentice.
Dr. Grant's drug store. He, his wife, mother-in-law, and the Clemens'
lived on the second floor.
He left Hannibal in 1853, and it would be twenty years before he started the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Many of the childhood acquaintances found their way into Twain’s books. His mother was Aunt Polly. Laura Hawkins, his childhood sweetheart, lived across the street from the Clemens home, and would be the model for Becky Thatcher.
Becky Thatcher's home.
In the stories, the real-life Tom Blankenship would become Huck Finn, who lived behind them in a log cabin. He was arrested for stealing turkeys in Hannibal, but would later in life reform to become a Justice of the Peace himself in Montana.
Just before he died, Mark Twain wrote and dictated his autobiography with the stipulation that it could not be published for 100 years. His reasoning was he could be painfully honest about the facts, and anyone who might be offended would be dead before the book came out. He passed away in 1910, and the book was just released last year. Knowing my deep interest in this man, his humor and work, Jean got me a copy of this impressive tome. It is secured in a dry bag, so it can go paddling with me.
The stern-wheeler "Mark Twain."
A large tug and tow pushing up river against a Mississippi
nearing flood stage.
Please support Save The Children. Thanks, Jim