Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hannibal, Missouri

We are still located in St.Peters,Missouri.  Last week we made a trip to Omaha to attend the college graduation of our nephew Michael from Creighton University.  It had been at least twenty years or so since we spent any time in Hannibal, so we decided to take an extra day to see the town again. 
Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens), America's best-loved author spent thirteen years of his childhood in this town.  He was born in 1935 and once made the comment that at that time "Missouri was an unknown new state and needed attractions".  He certainly has been an attraction for Hannibal for many years!  Pictured above is Cardiff Hill, the setting for many of his stories, including Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Sam Clemens returned to this town at least seven times after he left it, the last time was in 1902.   On those visits he usually visited Laura Hawkins, the girl known as Becky Thatcher in Mark Twain's books.  Laura Hawkins moved back to the town in 1875.  Her childhood home is pictured below.
That home is currently being restored so we could not tour it.  We were able to visit the homes of Sam Clemens, as well as that of his friend Tom Blankenship (aka Huckleberry Finn, a character in Mark Twain's book).  We could also step into the law office of John Clemens, the father of Samuel.
Growing up in Hannibal certainly provided Mark Twain with plenty to write about in his book.  In the above building he spent a night hiding out when he had played hookey from school.  It so happened that a corpse was lying on the floor of his Dad's office that same night.  A man had recently been stabbed and the town officials were temporarily holding him for the night in that building.  As a child Sam also saw a slave murdered by his white overseer, and another time a shooting took place right outside of his home. 
In Hannibal is located a Museum Interpretive Center where we learned many more interesting facts regarding Clemen's life as a boy in the town, as well as his life as a steamboat pilot, gold miner, and newspaper writer.
In the Mark Twain Museum Gallery are many wonderful displays pertaining to the books Twain wrote, as well as 15 original Norman Rockwell paintings of Tom and Huck.  After touring that museum I wandered to a back room where a man (Jim Waddell),  impersonating Mark Twain, was doing a monologue on Twain's recollections on his brief stint as a soldier during the Civil War.  We spent way more time than we had planned to in Hannibal, but it was certainly time well spent!

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