Friday, April 16, 2010

SEPIA SATURDAY- The Mark Twain connection

 I posted this back in 2010. But it's perfect for this week's theme.

My grandmother on my father's side was born and raised in Hannibal, MO. I think anyone from Hannibal finds some connection to Hannibal's most famous citizen, Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens.

Our family's story was that my great great grandmother ( Mary Lacey) was Samuel's girlfriend- some even said they were engaged and that he dedicated a book to her. I haven't found that book but I did find through the census records that they were close neighbors.  Her family was numbered 881 and he was living with a family (Joseph Ament) who was numbered  879.

 I copied this from a biography of him:
 When Samuel was 12, his father died. Samuel had to leave school and work as an apprentice to a printer named Ament for room and board. His brother Orion, who was 22, worked for Ament as a printer.

Sam remained with Ament until he was 15, when his brother Orion bought out the small county newspaper called the Hannibal Journal. They moved the equipment into the Clemens home, and the two brothers ran the paper, with Sam setting most of the type. A younger brother, Henry worked as an apprentice.

They ran the Hannibal Journal for several years. Occasionally, when Orion wasn't around, Samuel would publish light verse and satirical articles that poked fun at local characters and conditions. Although they helped sell the paper, they also alienated some people, contributing to the failure of the paper.

At age 17,( in 1854) Sam left home and moved to New York, where he worked for a short time in a printing office.

In 1854 Mary was about 18 and had her first child. She married someone named Leonard Mefford. I've never found anything to prove his existence.  Do you think it was a coincidence that Samuel left town the same year? Or is there more to this story?

I don't have any photos of Mary but everybody knows what Mark Twain looks like.

Here's the Mark Twain house in Hannibal. (Nancy and I visited here a few years ago while at a trade show in Chicago).
Don't forget to look at the other Sepia Saturday posts. Click here  Sepia Saturday


Martin H. said...

All the time I was reading this, I was longing for there to be more to the story. Fascinating that they both left town in 1854. And no record of Leonard Mefford. Hmmm.....

Barry said...

Wow, now there is an interesting story, replete with mystery and romance. Who could ask for anything more?

How about a guest appearance by Mark Twain?

Just terrific.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

What a hat! What a hairdo! I recently read that this is a special anniversary year for Mark Twain, so your blog post fits and salutes that.

McHargue said...

What did he have on his head in that photo? Can you imagine a 12 year today being apprenticed out? They grew up fast in those days.

I get the feeling that it wasn't a coincidence that he left town:)

Your family has such an interesting cast of characters.

willow said...

I love browsing through those old census records. They're such a treasure trove of info. Be sure to let us know if you find the book he dedicated to Mary. Fascinating bit of family history!

Christine H. said...

She left Sam for Leonard because Leonard was better looking and lived in a more ornate house. Sam was crushed and left town, but without that experience he never would have become the writer he was. (It could be true...)

Vicki Lane said...

What an intriguing possibility . . . Wonderful post, Barbara!

Crazyasa said...

That's awesome! And now you are the writer. I remember from history that he was also a riverboat captain? I guess almost everyone living there would have something to do with riverboats. It's funny you went to the cencus to find this info and this year is a big cencus too. Thanks for stopping by my crazy blog:)

L. D. Burgus said...

This is a very interesting piece. You know that if they had dna of Sam they could check out how close your great great was to him.

John Hayes said...

Great story & good research! Also interesting to see Clemens as a youth--as famous as his image from later life is, I don't think I'd ever seen him as a young man.

Delwyn said...

Hi Barbara

you have created an interesting story with romance and intrigue, bad hair days, and family history...a great marriage of ideas and images,

thank you Barbara

Happy days

Alan Burnett said...

A post rich in history and ripe with expectation. Did they know each other? Was there acquaintance, friendship, or more? Such is the stuff of classic Sepia Saturday posts.

The Silver Fox said...

Speculation can be irritating sometimes, or, as in your case, a great "excuse" for creative imaginings. Nice story.

Margaret said...

Well, I like the thought.... and it isn't out of the realm of reasonable. If you ever find that dedication, you must share it here!


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