How Samuel Clemens headed West and Became Mark Twain

Teaching American History
Through Biography
A Teaching American History
Grant: Year 2
How Samuel Clemens Headed
West and Became Mark Twain
By Glenn Oney
This lesson was created as part of
the “What is an American?:
Teaching American History
Through Biography” Teaching
American History Grant Program.
It follows the adventures of a
young man named Samuel
Clemens as he traveled West
during the Civil War, and became
Mark Twain, one of the greatest
writers in American History.
This lesson can be used for
American History courses, as part
of Missouri History curriculum, or
in an American Literature course.
The page numbers reference
Lighting Out For The Territory by
Roy Morris, Jr., the inspiration for
this lesson.
In June 1853, Clemens left his Hannibal, Missouri, home for the first time at the
age of seventeen and went to St. Louis to become a printer’s apprentice at the
St. Louis Evening News. (13)
Sam had learned about printing at the Hannibal Journal and the Hannibal
Western Union, then owned by his brother Orion (pronounced Oh-Ree-On). (13)
Sam and Orion had a strained relationship through most of their lives as Sam
felt his brother ruined every business venture he touched. Sam himself was a
self-diagnosed “lazy man.”
Clemens soon grew bored and in August headed to New York City, where he
found work in a printing shop. (13)
Clemens also spent time in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. before reuniting
with his family the following spring in Muscatine, Iowa. Orion married and
moved the family to Keokuk, Iowa, and Sam would spend over a year working
with his brother in Keokuk at his printing business. (14,18,19)
St. Louis levee, circa 1850s
Samuel Clemens, 1850
Restless again, Samuel Clemens boarded the steamboat Paul Jones piloted by
Captain Horace Bixby. By the time the Sam traveled the Mississippi River to
New Orleans, he had found a new love. (21)
Sam became Capt. Bixby’s prize student as the future Mark Twain learned to
navigate a steamboat on the dangerous Mississippi. (21)
“Bixby’s empire stretched from New Orleans to St. Louis, twelve hundred miles
on the lower Mississippi, each mile menaced by ever-shifting currents, riptides,
shallows, sandbars, quicksand, floating islands, sunken rocks, sunken trees,
sunken boats, loose debris, and the ever-present dangers of collisions with
other boats, shipboard fires, and boiler explosions.” (22)
Despite its “dangers, the life of a steamboat pilot was grandly romantic,
particularly for a young man who had grown up beside the river. Gradually,
Sam learned how to be a pilot.” (22)
After two unpaid years of learning the river from Bixby and others, Samuel
Clemens became fully licensed on April 9, 1859. (22)
Samuel Clemens, 1860
Steamboat: ARAGO
Built: 1860
Tonnage: 268
Clemens' Service: 28 July - 31 August 1860
Samuel Clemens made over 120 trips up and down the Mississippi River over
the next 2 years. The salary of $250 a month meant that he could live well. (22,
An average trip took 25 days (not counting time in port). Around 900
steamboats traveled the Mississippi below St. Louis carrying cargo and up to
200 passengers. (22)
The flat-bottomed boats barely cleared the water, needing 12 feet of water to
float freely. The steersman’s cry of “Mark twain!” or two fathoms, signaling the
safe depth needed would be heard by Clemens many times. (22)
The start of the Civil War in 1861, would put an end to Sam’s career as a
riverboat pilot, as he feared being caught in the crossfire on the Mississippi,
one of the most highly fought over highways in the country.
Ad for the ALONZO CHILD from 1861
Built: 1857
Tonnage: 493
Clemens' Service: 19 September 1860 - 18 November 1860
and 8 January 1861 - 8 May 1861
Co-Pilot: Horace Bixby
Horace Bixby
Missouri was a border state during the Civil War, a slave state that pledged
allegiance with the Union and Abraham Lincoln. Missouri was one of the most
bitterly divided areas during the war, its citizens split between the ideals of the
Confederacy and the Union.
In time, Missouri would witness more than eleven hundred battles and
skirmishes, the third most of any state behind Virginia and Tennessee.
Murderous guerilla fighting would spawn revenge and counter-revenge across
Missouri that would last long after the war was over. (27)
In June 1861, Sam and two friends were sitting on the dock in Hannibal,
Missouri, when a steamboat carrying Union soldiers pulled in. The
commanding officer forcibly drafted the three and took them to St. Louis to
meet with General John B. Grey. The General informed the them that they were
needed to pilot a Union boat up the Missouri River. They protested that they
only knew the Mississippi River and wouldn’t be much help to which the
General proposed that they could just follow another boat. At that moment
General Grey stepped across the hall to meet some female visitors and Sam
and his two friends escaped out a side door and high-tailed it back to Hannibal.
Union Troops Drilling
In St. Louis
The United States Civil War
Clemens’ brush with forced Union service drove him to join the Marion
Rangers, an unofficial local Confederate Army unit with a whopping fifteen
members, upon his return to Hannibal. (26)
Samuel Clemens rode to war on a mule named “Paint Brush”. His gear of war
included a valise, a carpetbag, a pair of blankets, a quilt, a frying pan, an oldfashioned Kentucky squirrel rifle, twenty yards of rope, and an umbrella. (27)
Mark Twain wrote a part fact part fiction version of his time as a soldier titled
“The Private History of a Campaign That Failed” in the Century Magazine’s
December 1885 issue. (28)
Clemens stated that “I knew more about retreating than the man that invented
retreating.” Sam did in fact retreat back to his sister’s house in St. Louis where
he went into hiding from both the Union and Confederate recruiters. (32)
Samuel Clemens soon received an opportunity to put himself many miles away
from the raging, bloody Civil War.
Sam’s brother Orion, had worked with St. Louis lawyer Edward Bates to
campaign hard for Abraham Lincoln in northern Missouri during the 1860
Presidential campaign. Bates became an important Lincoln Cabinet member as
the US Attorney General. In appreciation to his work for Lincoln, the new
Attorney General helped get Orion Clemens appointed as the Secretary to the
Governor of the newly created Nevada Territory. (34)
However, Orion didn’t have enough money to get to Nevada where his new job
awaited. Sam, using money he had saved from his days as a riverboat pilot,
offered to pay Orion’s travel expenses if he could tag along, thus escaping the
ever worsening war. (35)
Orion Clemens
Edward Bates
US Attorney General
Abraham Lincoln
President of the U.S.
The brothers Orion and Samuel had to arrange transportation to get them to
Nevada. On July 18, 1861, they left St. Louis for a six-day trip up the Missouri
River to St. Joseph. In many ways the Missouri could be more dangerous and
challenging than the Mississippi. (37-38)
They reached St. Joseph on July 24 and purchased tickets on the Central
Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express stagecoach line for $150 apiece. (39)
The COC&PP would take them by the northern-most (following the Oregon Trail
much of the way) of the five established routes to the West Coast. The trip was
scheduled to take seventeen days and average one hundred miles per day. (39)
Passengers were expected to sleep sitting up inside the coach. There was no
other option as the first transcontinental railroad wouldn’t be finished for
another decade. (39-40)
The inside of the coach contained 2,700 pounds of mail that the brothers had to
maneuver around. The heat on the trip caused the brothers to strip down to
their underwear while smoking their pipes and taking in the scenery. (40, 48)
During the 1,900 mile trip the stagecoach changed drivers once a day, or every
75 miles, and changed conductors every 250 miles. (53)
Sam and Orion did get to see one of the last Pony Express riders on their trip.
The famous ad for riders, “Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over
eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans
preferred.”, was becoming outdated as the new telegraph became a much more
efficient, and less deadly way to communicate quickly. (54-56)
The brothers also met the outlaw Jack Slade as well as Brigham Young, leader
of the Mormons in the Utah territory. Orion’s first official business as Secretary
to the Governor was to meet with Young and tour Salt Lake City. (57, 63)
On August 14, 1861, the Clemens brothers pulled into Carson City, Nevada,
twenty days after leaving Missouri. (65)
Mark Twain would write about his experiences in the West, including the trip
from Missouri, in his book Roughing It. As always, one must read his accounts
with caution as he liked to sprinkle his fact with fiction.
Illustration by Ed Vebell from
1950's Los Angeles Times Sunday
Of Orion and Samuel Clemens seeing
A Pony Express Rider.
Brigham Young, 1870.
Leader of Latter Day Saint
Movement and founder of
Salt Lake City
Illustration from Mark Twain’s
Roughing It, 1871.
Upon arrival in Carson City, Sam and Orion Clemens were witness to a
gunfight. After claiming their bags they were walking to the hotel and met Jack
Harris who stopped to welcome them to the city. Harris had barely gotten past
hello when he begged leave to interrupt himself. “I’ll have to get you to excuse
me for a minute,” he said. “Yonder is the witness that swore I helped to rob the
California coach – a piece of impertinent intermeddling, sir, for I am not even
acquainted with the man.”
Harris didn’t contradict the man’s testimony, only his meddling. He was in fact
a notorious stagecoach robber. Wells, Fargo & Company even hired Harris to
protect themselves from robbers, which was in fact him, and he even continued
robbing their shipments while they paid him to protect them. Eventually WellsFargo would begin putting live rattlesnakes in their strongboxes and molding
their silver coins into 700 pound weights.
On this day, Harris rode over to a man named Julien “and began to rebuke the
stranger with a six-shooter, and the stranger began to explain with another.”
Harris rode away, nodding politely to the Clemenses “with a bullet through one
of his lungs, and several in his hips.” Blood poured down the sides of the
outlaw’s horse – Twain found it “quite picturesque” – and the incident ended
as quickly as it had begun. (70)
Carson City, 1860’s
Nevada Territory, 1860’s
Sam had heard all about the Comstock Lode, the huge silver strike at nearby
Virginia City. He bought some western clothes and found a partner, or “pard”,
named Johnny K, and they decided to get in the timber business to supply the
building boom going on in Virginia City. The venture was short-lived, as
according to Sam, he left the campfire going one morning and started a forest
fire by Lake Tahoe. (77-78)
Sam next worked with his brother as a clerk for the Nevada Territorial
Legislature beginning in October 1861. (79)
The infant legislature wasn’t without it’s excitement. When Representative
Jacob Van Bokkelen of Virginia City proposed saving money by getting rid of
the $3 a day official chaplain, Representative John Winters of Carson City took
offense. Van Bokkelen challenged him to a duel with pistols, but Winters
instead grabbed a piece of firewood and proceeded to beat his fellow
Representative severely over the head and stomped him with his boots once he
fell to the floor. (80-81)
After his two month stint as legislative clerk, Sam decided to try his hand at
mining, heading to the newest boomtown Unionville with two friends. (83)
Sam soon figured out that the silver wasn’t just lying on the ground to be
picked up and that actual mining was hard work. Instead he began trading in
“feet,” a risky venture that consisted of buying and selling shares, on paper, of
mine claims that were most probably worthless. Soon he had collected thirty
thousand “feet”. Sam and Orion also had invested in mines further south in
Aurora. (86)
“Sam spent the rest of the winter lounging around Carson City, growing a
beard, smoking a pipe . . . He looked and acted the part of a seasoned
prospector, clomping into saloons in high-top Spanish boots, linen shirt, and
blue jeans and sporting a revolver on his hip . . . While his actual money, a few
hundred dollars in savings, steadily dribbled away, Sam counted and spent his
paper millions . . .” (89)
That spring Sam headed south to Aurora to check the Clemens brother’s
holdings. “It did not take Clemens long to realize that most, if not all, were
utterly worthless.” (89-90)
This group of Aurora miners includes three known friends of Sam Clemens
outside a cabin where he was known to have stayed. Only the man on the
right is unidentified. Is he Sam Clemens?
Sam decided to try and mine the holdings in Aurora himself, but soon realized
that Nevada mining had gone from individual effort to mass production.
Sixteen ore-grinding mills had begun operating in Aurora, the most efficient of
which belonged to Joshua E. Clayton. (92)
Clayton’s mill used the stamping method, dropping ore through a chute into a
large box and crushing it with six-ton steel stamps. The crushed ore was then
mixed in vats of water, mercury, and other chemicals, and the gold and silver
were amalgamated with the mercury and separated. Clayton offered to teach
the method to Sam. Clayton said it would take about five to six weeks to learn
the method. Samuel Clemens lasted one. (92)
Sam found a new partner named Calvin Higbie, and in August 1862, they
headed to Mono Lake, 25 miles southwest of Aurora to strike it rich. Higbie and
Clemens do eventually find a promising area, but neither put in the necessary
ten days work regarded to establish legal ownership. Others jumped the claim
and walked away with the gold. Mark Twain, in the dedication to Roughing It
joked that they were “millionaires for ten days.” (95-96)
Virginia City miner, 1869.
Failed as a miner, Sam contemplated his next move, but it was done for him.
William H. Barstow, manager for the Virginia City Territorial Express
newspaper, wrote to Samuel Clemens in late July offering him a $25-a-week
staff writer’s position on the newspaper. Sam jumped at the chance. (97)
By sheer luck, Samuel Clemens had landed a spot on the best newspaper
between St. Louis and San Francisco. The Territorial Enterprise had moved to
Virginia City in 1860 and by September 1861 began publishing an eight page
daily. (100-101)
Virginia City sat upon the Comstock Lode, the greatest silver strike in the
United States. Sitting unbelievably on Mount Davidson, its streets ran east to
west along the eastern slope of the mountain. The boom town had a
population of almost ten thousand residents, who were mostly male. There
were 51 saloons, 2 opera houses, 12 quartz mills, and a generous number of
hotels, restaurants, meat markets, drugstores, and numerous other businesses
including brothels that housed what the locals called “hurdy-gurdy girls”. (101)
This is how Virginia City Nevada looked in the 1860s when Sam Clemens was
a reporter there. As small as it was, Virginia City was one
of the largest towns on the west coast.
Virginia City, Nevada. Circa 1880.
“Among the most popular saloons lining mile-long C Street were the Sazerac,
the Sawdust Corner, and the Bucket of Blood, all serving something called
Pisco Punch and the local staple, Forty-rod, a particularly raw and fiery brand
of house whiskey so named because that was the approximate distance a
tenderfoot could walk before collapsing in a heap.” (101)
“Piper’s Opera House, the town’s center for performing arts, featured
everything from traveling Shakespearean road companies to cage fights
between wildcats, bulldogs, bulls, and bears.” (101)
Regardless of the entertainment, Virginia City was a mining town. Lemuel
Sanford “Sandy” Bowers turned a ten foot claim into a $70,000 a month fortune
becoming Nevada’s first millionaire before dying in 1868 at age 35. (101-102)
Missouri born George Hearst bought into the Ophir mine, cashed out early, and
sunk his earnings into a San Francisco newspaper, the Examiner, which would
become the cornerstone of his son William Randolph Hearst’s global
publishing empire in the twentieth century. (103)
The co-owner and editor of the Territorial Enterprise was 24 year old Joseph
Goodman who was 3 years younger than his newest reporter Samuel Clemens.
Associate editor Rollin Mallory Daggett was associate editor. Daggett drank
hard and lived high. At 16 he walked from Ohio to California, “living for a time
with the Sioux Indians, who understandably considered him crazy for doing so
and thus left him alone.” Daggett went on to make a small fortune in the
California gold rush before finding himself in Virginia City where he opened a
brokerage firm. His work at the paper counted as a hobby for him. (104)
Sam’s closest friend at the paper was William Wright, who wrote under the
name Dan De Quille, would give Clemens his first bit of advice, which Mark
Twain would carry with him the rest of his career: “Get the facts first, then you
can distort them as much as you like.” (104-105)
The Enterprise was “a kind of bachelor’s paradise”, a group of mostly twentysomethings that were far from the killing and dying at the Civil War battlefields
in the East. The newsmen drank, smoked, played pool and cards, played
practical jokes, and ate endless plates of Chinese food. (105)
Territorial Enterprise Office, 1885.
Territorial Enterprise Building
Samuel Clemens “would never be a particularly hard worker – he later boasted
that he made a 50 percent profit on his work for the Enterprise, being paid six
dollars a day and only doing three dollars worth of work.” (105-106)
Sam’s instructions were to “go all over town and ask all sorts of people all
sorts of questions” and “make notes of the information gained, and write them
out for publication.” (106)
Clemens’s assignment was to produce one written column of six-point type per
day. (106)
“The new reported caught on quickly. The hard-drudging miners who made up
the bulk of the Enterprise’s readership wanted to be entertained as well as
informed. Raw facts only went so far. It was up to the writer to open a shallow
vein of truth, then excavate whatever nuggets of amusement lay buried below.”
“Virginia City was a twenty-four hour town, and Clemens’s news beat
comprised everything from the silver mines to the police court.” (109)
Samuel Clemens and the Territorial Enterprise reported on gunslingers with
names like Sugarfoot Mike, Pock-Marked Jake, El Dorado Johnny, Six-Fingered
Pete, and Farmer Pease. (110)
In a town where men outnumbered women 17 to 1, and many of those men had
pockets bulging with gold and silver nuggets, prostitution flourished. An
estimated 200 prostitutes worked Virginia City, “from fumbling back alley
assignations and upstairs saloon cribs to well-appointed pleasure houses.”
“Operating alongside the C Street whorehouses were dozens of opium dens, or
smoking parlors, where miners could go” for a few hours after their labors.
Opium was handled exclusively by Chinese dealers, whose hardworking
countrymen had first brought the drug into the West during the 1849 gold rush.
“Opium was legal in Virginia City until 1876, when town elders suddenly
noticed that many of their own wives and daughters had been seen entering
and exiting the dens.” (111-112)
Virginia City, 1866.
San Francisco Chinatown Opium Den, 1870s.
A “Soiled Dove”
In November 1862, Sam talked the Enterprise into sending him back to Carson
City to cover the second territorial legislature, where his brother Orion had
finally brought his family out west with him. (112)
It was during his reporting from the capital that the bored Samuel Clemens
created a new pen name – Mark Twain in a February 3, 1863, article “Letter from
Carson City”. (115)
Scholars debate the origins of the name Mark Twain. While working for his
brother in Missouri and Iowa, Sam had written under the names W.
Epaminondas Adrastus Perkins, W. Epaminondas Adrastus Blab, Rambler,
Grumbler, Peter Pencilcase’s Son, John Snooks, and Thomas Jefferson
Snodgrass. When he first started at the Territorial Enterprise he used the name
Josh. In the West it was an accepted practice for settlers to change their
names. Everybody had a past. (116)
Most likely the name came from his days as a Mississippi riverboat pilot, when
“Mark twain!” was the leadsman’s call for two fathoms, meaning a ship’s
passage from shallow to safe water. (116)
Shortly after taking the pen name Mark Twain, Samuel Clemens took off for San
Francisco in May 1863 for a two month leave of absence. He decided to live it
up after spending two years bouncing around Nevada. (117)
When Twain returned to Virginia City in early July, it was going through
another boom, with new silver finds being recently found. (117)
The Enterprise was booming as well. In July 1863, the paper moved to a new
three-story brick building on South C Street equipped with steam-powered
presses and reinforced with twenty new employees. (119)
The move was fortunate, a few days later a massive fire swept through the city
destroying many of the buildings west of A Street. “Twain’s rooming house on
B Street was completely destroyed, costing him a trunk-load of mining stock,
whose value he ruefully estimated at between ten cents and two hundred
thousand dollars, and a closet full of new suits he had just purchased in San
Francisco. He barely escaped with his life, diving through a window as oily
black smoke bubbled up the stairs.” (119)
Mark Twain bought a new suit and moved in with his best friend Dan De Quille.
Mark Twain loved a good hoax, especially when news stories were few and far
On October 28, 1863, the Enterprise published Twain’s article “A Bloody
Massacre near Carson”. “Purporting to be an eyewitness account by respected
citizen Abraham Curry, the article recounted the horrific slaughter of his wife
and seven children by one Philip Hopkins, a hitherto respectable mine owner
driven mad by bad investments and crooked bankers.” (121-123)
“A Bloody Massacre near Carson” October 28, 1863
“When word got out that the story was another hoax, outraged subscribers put
up a howl.” Twain offered to resign, but his editor refused to accept it. (122)
Rival journalists were less forgiving. One example of many was the Gold Hill
Daily News that ran an article “Lives of the Liars, or Joking Justified”
questioning Twain’s judgment. The next day, the Enterprise ran a short
correction. (122)
“I Take It All Back” October 29, 1863
Just in time, following the ill-received hoax, Twain left for Carson City to cover
the Territorial Legislature’s attempt to adopt a Nevada Constitution. (123)
Mark Twain’s second winter in Virginia turned out to be his last. Ever the
jokester, one of his satirical newspaper articles got him run out of town.
Virginia City, in the midst of the Civil War was divided like the Blue and the
Gray. The territory of Nevada sided with the Union as did the majority of the
citizens, however periodic fights would break out in Virginia City between proConfederate and pro-Union dwellers.
Mark Twain was well known for picking fights with his pen, especially with rival
reporters. As a joke Twain wrote an article saying Thomas Fitch, editor of the
Union newspaper, had filed a complaint against their landlord (they lived
across the hall from one another) for “slandering the federal government in
general, African-Americans, and Abraham Lincoln in particular, and giving aid
and comfort to the Confederacy”. The Bulletin attacked Twain as “an ass of
prodigious ear, and a malicious and illiterate cuss generally.” (136)
In retaliation, Twain wrote a piece accusing a group of wealthy fund-raising
women in the capital Carson City of diverting charitable funds to help wounded
Union soldiers to “a Miscegenation Society somewhere in the East.”
Miscegenation means interracial marriage or sex. Twain said it was meant as a
joke for his friend Dan De Quille, but an eager typesetter picked it up and
printed it in the next days paper. Regardless, Nevadans were furious and Mark
Twain left Virginia City in a hurry. (138-140)
“Mark Twain’s abrupt departure from Virginia City signaled the end of an era.
For more than 3 years, he had been an enthusiastic participant in the gold rush
culture of Nevada Territory.” (141)
In May 1864, Mark Twain and his friend Steve Gillis headed out to San
Francisco to live it up on their savings and mining stock. However, about a
month into his stay, Twain learned from the Territorial Enterprise that his
partners in the Humboldt County Mine had sold their shares out from under
him for a $3 million profit while he was left holding worthless paper. Mark
Twain was destitute. (141, 149)
Mark Twain found work with the San Francisco Morning Call, the cheapest
newspaper in town. Despite the job, Mark’s debts increased and he struggled
to survive. (150-160)
Despite his hardships, he continued to write, submitting stories to the
Californian magazine. On December 3, 1864, his best story yet, “Lucretia
Smith’s Soldier” about a girl nursing her heavily bandaged war hero boyfriend
back to health only to find out it’s the wrong person, put money in his pocket
and he and Gillis hightailed it 100 miles east of San Francisco to the mining
camp of Jackass Hill, where he would hear a story that would change his life.
Jackass Hill was another miserable mining experience for Mark Twain, except
that he heard some great stories around the camp that he would later publish.
Some show up in Roughing It, but the one he heard from Ben Coon III, in
February 1865, would change everything.
Sitting around the tavern, Coon, a fellow riverboat pilot from Illinois, told the
story that Twain would make famous as “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of
Calaveras County.” (171-172)
“With comedic gold in his pocket, so to speak, Twain decided to return to San
Francisco and resume his writing career.” Mark Twain continued writing other
pieces as he struggled to get “Frog” just right. Finally it was published in the
November 16, 1865, issue of the New York Saturday Press. It was an immediate
success. (172-177)
“What made the story hilarious for readers of the time, and what still gives it an
important place in the history of American humor, is the way in which it is told.
The de facto narrator, Simon Wheeler, is utterly matter-of-fact in both his
approach and his affect. He is not trying to tell a joke or even a funny story,
but merely to give a straightforward account of Jim Smiley and his frog. The
humor comes from his absolute inability to tell the story straight.” (176)
“Twain’s masterstroke, is to keep an entirely straight face while recounting (or
letting Simon Wheeler recount) a patently ridiculous story. Generations of
American comedians have based their entire careers more on their deliveries
than their punch lines.” (176)
“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” is also the title story of an
1867 collection of short stories by Mark Twain. Twain's first book, it collected
27 stories that were previously published in magazines and newspapers.
That 1867 book was the starting point for a prolific literary career, with Twain
being called “the greatest humorist of his age” and “the father of American
literature” by none other than William Faulkner.
His most famous works include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, published in
1876, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, often called “The Great
American Novel”, published in 1884.
Prior to his seminal works Sawyer and Finn, Twain published Roughing It in
1872, a semi-autobiographical account of Twain's journey to Nevada and his
subsequent life in the American West.
James, Ronald M. The Roar and the Silence: A History of Virginia City and the
Comstock Lode. Reno, Nevada: University of Nevada Press, 1998.
Morris Jr., Roy. Lighting out for the Territory: How Samuel Clemens Headed West
and Became Mark Twain. Simon & Schuster: New York, 2010.
Rasmussen, Kent R. Mark Twain for Kids: His Life and Times. Chicago Review
Press: Chicago, 2004.
Mark Twain in the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, 1862-1868.
Mark Twain Wikipedia entry
Cookie Mining Activity – Earth Science Week
Harry S Truman Presidential Library
1. Historical Source Analysis. Have students analyze one or more of the Mark
Twain newspaper sources hyperlinked in the PowerPoint or have them
choose their own from Mark Twain in the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise,
1862-1868 .
Analysis worksheets can be printed off of the Harry S Truman Presidential
Library site
2. Have students complete “Chocolate Chip Mining Activity”. Activity comes from:
Cookie Mining Activity – Earth Science Week
3. Have students make a paddlewheel boat. Use the instructions and templates
from the slides that follow. Activity comes from:
Rasmussen, Kent R. Mark Twain for Kids: His Life and Times. Chicago
Review Press: Chicago. 2004.
The purpose of this activity is to give the player an introduction to the
economics of mining. Each player buys "property," purchases the
"mining equipment," pays for the "mining operation," and finally pays for
the "reclamation." In return, the player receives money for the "ore
mined." The object of the game is to develop the mine, safeguard the
environment, and make as much money as possible.
play money ($19 for each student)
grid paper (1 sheet for each student)
chocolate chip cookie (1 for each student)
toothpicks (flat and round)
paper clips
paper towels (for clean-up)
Taken from
•Each player starts with $19 of play money.
•Each player receives a Cookie Mining sheet (click here) and a sheet of grid paper.
•Each player must buy his/her own "mining property" which is a chocolate chip cookie. Only one "mining property"
per player.
•Two to three types of cookies should be "for sale"; one cheaper one with fewer chocolate chips than the other and
another more pricey cookie with more chocolate chips. For example, sell "Chips Ahoy" cookies for $5.00 and
"Chips Deluxe" for $7.00.
•Players choose their "properties" knowing that the more chips they harvest, the more profit they make.
•After buying the cookie, the player places it on the grid paper and, using a pencil, traces the outline of the cookie.
The player must then count each square that falls inside the circle, recording this number on the Cookie Mining
Spreadsheet along with the properties of the cookie. Note: Count partial squares as a full square.
•Each player must buy his or her own "mining equipment." More than one piece of equipment may be purchased.
Equipment may not be shared between players.
Mining equipment for sale is
Flat toothpick — $2.00 each
Round toothpick — $4.00 each
Paper clips — $6.00 each
Mining costs are $1.00 per minute.
•Sale of a chocolate chip mined from a cookie brings $2.00 (broken chocolate chips can be combined to make one
whole chip).
•After the cookie has been "mined," the cookie fragments and crumbs should be placed back into the circled area
on the grid paper. This can only be accomplished using the mining tools — No fingers or hands allowed.
•Reclamation costs are $1.00 per square over original count. (Any piece of cookie outside of original circle counts
as reclamation.)
Cookie Mining Rules
1. Players cannot use their fingers to hold the cookie. The only things
that can touch the cookie are the mining tools and the paper on which
the cookie is sitting.
2. Players should be allowed a maximum of five minutes to mine their
chocolate chip cookie. Players who finish mining before the five
minutes are used up should only credit the time spent mining.
3. A player can purchase as many mining tools desired; the tools can be
of different types.
4. If the mining tools break, they are no longer usable and a new tool
must be purchased.
5. The players that make money by the end of the game win.
6. All players win at the end of the game because they get to eat the
remains of their cookie!
Social Studies GLE’s
3a. Knowledge of continuity and change in the history of Missouri and the United States
A. Understand he migrations of people from many regions.
J. Understanding economic concepts.
N. Economic development in the United States.
T. Understanding the concept of Place.
U. Understanding relationships within places.
V. Understanding relationships between and among regions.
Z. Missouri history as it relates to major developments of United States History.
4. Knowledge of economic concepts and principles.
A. Knowledge of basic economic concepts, being able to explain and use them to interpret historical and
current events.
5. Knowledge of major elements of geographical study and analysis and their relationship to changes in
society and the environment.
D. Relationships within places (Human-environment interactions)
7. Knowledge of the use of tools of social science inquiry.
F. Interpreting various social studies resources.