With the exception of Fairview and Caldwell Lanes, the primary streets and roads throughout the neighborhood are named after Southern authors and writers. The narrow “byways” are all named for local people who were in the chain of title for property purchased for the New Neighborhood.


“I was born the 30th of November, 1835, in the almost invisible village of Florida, Monroe County, Missouri . . . . The village contained a hundred people and I increased the population by 1 per cent. It is more than many of the best men in history could have done for a town . . . .”

Chapters from My Autobiography (1906) by Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

[Excerpted from Mark Twain: An Illustrated Biography by Geoffrey C. Ward, Dayton Duncan, & Ken Burns (Alfred A. Knopf, 2001)]

Samuel Langhorne Clemens is considered to be one of the most popular American authors. There is not enough space in one newsletter article to do justice to his biography, for it is filled with contradictions and instability. Clemens was a humorist, but also a truthful social critic, particularly in his later years. His works cover a broad range of type and subject, including humorous sketches and stories, travel books, novels, and journalistic works and essays of satire and criticism.

Samuel Clemens’ family was poor. At age 11, he left school to become a printer after his father died. He lived in Hannibal, Missouri, while setting type for the Journal, his brother Orion’s newspaper. In the early 1850s, Clemens also lived briefly in St. Louis, New York City, and Philadelphia. In 1856, he decided to take a riverboat to New Orleans and, from there, go to South America. However, he became so enthralled with the riverboat and the Mississippi River that he became a cub pilot until 1859 and then received a license to pilot the Mississippi between St. Louis and New Orleans. He left the river in 1861 when the outbreak of the Civil War caused the Mississippi to be closed to commercial traffic.

Samuel and his brother, Orion, headed to Nevada by stagecoach. He tried gold mining, but never struck gold. During this period, Clemens began writing humorous stories for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. He also lived for two years in San Francisco. Clemens began his careers in writing and lecturing while in the West. He first used the pen name Mark Twain in 1863. (It likely comes from a riverboat term meaning two fathoms, a depth of 12 feet.) One of his most beloved stories, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” was written in 1865.

Mark Twain traveled to Europe and the Holy Land on a cruise in 1867 and the result was his first travel book, The Innocents Abroad (1869).Following the cruise, Twain met Olivia Langdon of New York and they were married in February of 1870. They had four children, a son, who died in infancy, and three daughters. Twain and his wife lived in Hartford, Connecticut, for twenty years in a home resembling a Mississippi riverboat.

Twain was predominantly unhappy and prone to misfortune during the last twenty years of his life. Two of his daughters and his wife all died in the early 1900s. He was an inept businessman looking for quick schemes to get rich, all resulting in failure. His novels, mainly written between 1873 and 1896, and a world lecture tour in 1895 and 1896, helped recover much of his debt during that time. His later writings reflected his bitter and pessimistic attitudes. He always hoped for moral and social reform and believed that people’s actions were driven by selfishness. After declining health, Mark Twain died on April 21, 1910.

Mark Twain’s reputation as a writer and humorist has only improved since his death. In his day, he was considered the funniest man alive and was a magnificent lecturer. His stories and novels remain classics among a broad range of ages around the world. His works include: The Gilded Age (his first novel in 1873), Tom Sawyer (1876), The Prince and the Pauper (1881), Life on the Mississippi (1883), Huckleberry Finn (1884), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894), and What Is Man? (1906). It is interesting to note that Huckleberry Finn, considered by many to be one of the most popular classic pieces of American literature, was initially published in England and was not published in the United States until a year later.

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